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'I couldn't sit in my sadness': Conway artist finds solace in murals after devastating loss

Jessica Jones was in the middle of painting a mural when she became widowed at 29 with two small children.

CONWAY, Ark. — The mural overlooking Simon Park in Conway— that's Aurora rising from a Conway rooted in education, agriculture, and industry.

One block down the pride of Conway is a wall guaranteeing the energy of Toadsuck is evident year-round.

One block over, a wall with a sense of humor, a tribute to Conway's achievements... including roundabouts.

And down Front Street, a peacock representing Conway's vibrant, colorful and fun community. The artist, Jessica Jones, discovered her talent only a few years ago.

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"Each mural, each wall is a new learning experience," Jones said.

Debby Andrews, the owner of the Patio Cafe across the street, sees how Jones's mural brings the community together first-hand.

"We have people that come in here and eat, and they'll get their families and go across the street and stand in front of the mural and have their pictures made."

Just Jones's talent was being discovered in the middle of a project two years ago, her husband Monte died. He was the victim of undiscovered heart arrhythmia issues. She was widowed at 29 with two small children.

She said she dropped everything and quit work. Despair and loneliness set in but then...

"But then, I thought, 'what am I gonna do? I can't sit in my sadness, I need something to do. I just can't live like this.'

The murals rescued her.

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"I want to set an example for my kids doing something that I'm passionate about," Jones said, almost giddy at her growing reputation.


She has since been hired to bring another wall in downtown Conway to life.

"This is it," she said, motioning to a large brick wall adjacent to the main street in the downtown area. "This will be the canvas for my next mural."

The wall is brick, not smooth. A challenge that anyone who wasn't familiar with murals would notice. But Jessica doesn't see challenges with walls like these.

"I see lots of opportunity, and not just this wall, but every wall."

Towns with murals tend to do that, make you think anything is possible.

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