Public art project inspires merchandising campaign
by Jennifer Cohron
Jul 20, 2012 | 2191 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new line of merchandise inspired by the 50-Mule Team Public Art Project is available at the Walker County Arts Alliance’s office on 19th Street and at several area retailers. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
A new line of merchandise inspired by the 50-Mule Team Public Art Project is available at the Walker County Arts Alliance’s office on 19th Street and at several area retailers. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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Fans of Walker County Arts Alliance’s 50-Mule Team Public Art Project can now own a piece of their favorite mule.

A new line of mule merchandise includes magnets, posters, calendars, coffee mugs, wine glasses, T-shirts, tote bags, coasters and fly swatters.

The products are available at the WCAA office on 19th Street and at two area retailers, Bernard’s Store for Men in downtown Jasper and The Very Idea on Airport Road.

The mules made their debut last summer as part of the local celebration for “Journey Stories,” a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit that was housed at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center from June through August.

WCAA executive coordinator Beth Sargent said that the mules are as popular today as they were a year ago.

Visitors stop by the WCAA office daily to pick up mule maps or show off their photo albums of all 50 mules.

“Tax revenue is up in the city this year, and I can’t help but think that part of it has to be people coming into town because of the mules,” Sargent said.

WCAA recently received a $4,500 grant from the Alabama Tourism Department to help promote the project outside the county.

Part of the funds will be used to develop a mule rack card that will be distributed at a number of welcome centers throughout the state.

An interactive mule map for the WCAA website is also in the works.

Mules were chosen for the public art project because of the animal’s role in farming, mining and transportation throughout the state’s history.

While most of the fiberglass statues are expected to remain on display for years to come, several are now at private residences after being auctioned in October.