Cuba, Missouri: One aspect of Viva Cuba’s Mural Project has never been discussed before. That subject is the inclusion of three canine companions in Cuba’s artwork. It’s a tail wagger of a story, and now is the time to reveal it.
Pillsbury, a basset hound, was the first to make an appearance in the Viva Cuba Mural Project with his presence in the Apple/Barrel Mural on Washington Street. Artist Shelly Steiger borrowed scaffolding from local lumberyard owner Bob Wilson during the project. To show her appreciation, she painted his dog Pillsbury into the mural. Pillsbury had been given to the Wilson family when his previous owners had to relocate and couldn’t take him along. As dogs tend to do, Pillsbury soon created his own place in his new family’s heart. Pillsbury has since gone on to a better place (although he had a pretty sweet deal at the Wilsons), but his role in Cuba’s history is apparent for all to see.
The second dog in Viva Cuba’s mural project is in the River Mural, sponsored by the Bass family. The dog in the canoe belongs to Robert “Bear” Bass and is a more or less constant companion to Mr. Bass as he makes his daily rounds running Ozark Outdoors, a local river resort. The mural was painted by local artists Shelly Smith Steiger and Julie Balogh Brand. Brand was responsible for Milo’s realistic depiction in the mural.
The third canine to make it into the public art of Cuba, Mo is Jazzy, a Welsh terrier, who belongs to Viva Cuba member Jane Reed. During a Viva Cuba meeting when the group was looking at a preliminary artist’s sketch for a painting to go onto one of the traffic control boxes at the Hwy. 19 and Route 66 intersection, Reed noticed that there was a dog penciled in.
As a joke, she said, “Hey, my dog could go in the painting.” Someone in the group laughed and asked her how much money she would like to pay to get her dog into the painting. To continue the joke, every time the painting came up in a meeting or an email, she reminded members that her dog Jazzy was available.
Without Reed’s knowledge, Viva Cuba members obtained photos of Jazzy from Reed’s husband and gave them to Missouri artist Julie Wiegand, who painted the dog into the mural. When Reed viewed the mural for the first time, she was surprised to see Jazzy was in the painting–both front and back.
So now you know, that Cuba, Missouri is not only a town that cares about its history and art but also recognizes the importance of its canine companions.
If you like seeing “dogs in art” view Route 66 artist Missouri artist Ray Harvey’s series “Dogs of Route 66.” Harvey painted Cuba’s Bette Davis mural at the History at the 4-Way murals.