Katie Murray loves to while away a Sunday afternoon in an art museum. 

But the Fort Worth artist also knows that too many people, either because of their busy lives or the intimidation they feel, miss out on the “peaceful stimulation” a visit to a museum can bring.     

As the Trinity Trails Mural Gallery curator Murray spanned that divide by bringing to the bike-riding, jogging, strolling public 26 museum-quality murals along the Trinity River’s banks.  

“We are bringing fine art out into the plain air and allowing it to exist where everyone can see it,” Murray said. “It’s museum quality – taken outside.” 

Murray tapped into everything she’s ever learned in her career to collect and present the Trinity Trail artwork for the Tarrant Regional Water District. 

Creative officer for a M2G Ventures, a Fort Worth real estate company that uses public art in its projects, Murray has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree in painting from Texas Woman’s University in Denton.   

Murray, co-founder and chief advisor to the Art Room, a local gallery, also briefly studied fashion merchandising and interior design at Texas Christian University and architecture at Texas Tech University. It all fed into the broader perspective she used as curator. 

“Curating is like one of my favorite things, it’s better for me than making art,” Murray said. 

Murray, also curator for Inspiration Alley in Fort Worth’s Foundry District, first had to  

wade through the roughly 250 submissions received by the water district for the gallery. 

From that large group, 85 artists were asked to submit specific designs based around the general theme of rivers, water and nature. By who was selected to be in that group, Murray knew the submissions would range from the avant-garde to the realistic. 

“We wanted them to know that they didn’t have to paint the river and a riverscape. We liked them because of the art they make,” Murray said.   

The 25 artists finally selected are diverse. Among them are two school teachers, a graphic novel artist, a children’s book illustrator, and a financial advisor. One artist used to be a social worker; another works as a bartender on the side. Some are trained; some are self-taught.   

“Sometimes you can see the layers of somebody’s soul in the piece,” she said. 

Murray worked with them all, helping them to either refine their designs, or maybe even go in an entirely different direction. Each mural is carefully placed along the 13-miles of the river, sometimes to interact with its surroundings, others so the artwork can “talk” to each other.  

Murray believes the collection allows patrons’ brains – whether they are riding a bike on the trail or floating by on the river in a boat – to be stimulated in the most natural of settings. 

“The most beautiful gift we have is nature, and to have art reflect nature, it is something we need to provide us a little peace. And in today’s society, we need it,” Murray said. 

Next time you’re out on the trails, keep your eyes open for the colorful creations popping up along the river. You can also follow @TrinityTrails on Instagram to see more pictures of completed and in-progress structures!

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