If you’re heading south on River Oaks Boulevard, you might just think you’ve taken a wrong turn into Oz.
That’s because the yellow brick road and Dorothy and company are winding along the side of a building.
Trista Morris’ sprawling Wizard of Oz-inspired mural is one of only a few painted walls in the small Westside town. City leaders approved it to give River Oaks a little pop of vibrancy. The new mural will be the first in the area since they forced the metaphysical shop Maven’s Moon to cover theirs back in February 2020. The repeating numbers and patterns surrounding a woman with large eyes were considered as signage. The city has a policy that only 20% of a mural can have letters or numbers.
Morris’ mural got its start in the summer of 2020, but Morris started painting only in early February, not long after she began work as an event manager at Boulevard Brew. Owner Kris Franks mentioned to his new hire that he wanted a mural in his part of town. Located in a strip mall at 5406 River Oaks Blvd. on the wall of Josefina’s Mexican Café, the mural is a space over from Boulevard Brew.
Franks, Morris recalled, “just walks in one day and says, ‘We need a mural’ and asks me if I know any mural artists.”
Apparently, Franks had no idea Morris had completed five murals before.
Along with the perhaps not-so-Cowardly Lion (paying tribute to Castleberry High School’s mascot), the Tin Man has a purple heart.
“There are parallels between The Wizard of Oz themes and the themes of River Oaks,” Morris said. “It was the working class and the military community that built the area and of course the contribution of the railroad, which I haven’t figured out yet but I’m thinking might be the yellow brick road situation.”
City officials were “gung-ho” about Morris’ idea, she said.
The artist is currently adding touches to her artwork. Characters like the Lion, Scarecrow, and Dorothy are outlined to be filled in soon and detailed, along with a skyline of Downtown Fort Worth.
Morris, Franks said, “has been instrumental in helping Boulevard Brew to realize and grow into its mission as a chic coffee shop which promotes local art and culture. It’s a masterpiece inspiring the American spirit of resilience, creativity, and diversity. Big plans are currently underway at Boulevard Brew.”
Franks added that the coffee shop collectively brought the Wizard of Oz idea to the city. Boulevard Brew is currently undergoing a remodel to incorporate some of the mural’s themes, including a working kitchen and an artist space with a stage for performances, musical and theatrical.
“Sometimes when I take on creative projects, there is something that pulls me along saying, ‘I’m doing this for a reason,’ ” Morris said. “What I hope the mural does is help bring eyes to the city of River Oaks and perhaps draw the area into the modern age.”