One of my favorite ongoing projects is Ben Wheeler, Texas. Over the past 4 years I have been involved in the renovation and revitalization of this little community in East Texas about 40 minutes west of Tyler on Highway 64.
Several years ago a crazy guy named Brooks Gremmels retired to Ben Wheeler where he decided to revitalize the little ghost town and put it back on the map. Check out their website to read more about their story. http://www.benwheelertx.com
My first project was to paint a mural on the stage back wall in Moore’s Store - the old grocery store turned restaurant/music venue. Brooks is a huge car and music guy so we immediately hit it off. As I was painting a blue Model A roadster in the mural of old downtown Ben Wheeler he snuck up behind me and said, “I’ve got one exactly like that.” He would regularly bring one of his cars up to the store while I was working and once he let me drive his Cobra Daytona Coupe - what a rush.
That was the beginning of a great relationship. Since then I have designed several logos including the one for Ben Wheeler, Moore’s Store, and 3 Feral Hog Festivals. Brooks wanted to do another mural on the outside brick wall of one of the buildings soI worked up a nostalgic RC and Moon Pie design. I shot it over to RC Corporate and Moon Pie to get their permission to use their brands - which they did. Moon Pie wanted to know the back story of the town. When I told them, they said, “This is exactly the kind of community we want to be involved in. Would they be interested in putting on a Moon Pie Festival?” I told Brooks and he blew his curly white top. So plans are in the works to put on a Moon Pie Festival hopefully in the next year.
Brooks wanted a place to display some of his antique motorcycle collection so he opened Scoots and Scoops - an ice cream parlor / antique motorcycle museum. Inside you can take a break from the heat with a scoop or 2 of Blue Bell while looking over some smokin’ hot fully restored vintage Indians, Simplexes, Mustang scooters, Nortons as well as some crazy race bikes. My favorite is a fully decked out Indian Super Chief from the ’50’s.
They converted the old blacksmith shop into a trendy bistro where you can relax and enjoy a panini and a class of wine.
We’ve talked about putting in an art gallery where I could display some paintings. Maybe someday. Brooks said, “Really, this whole town is your gallery.”
If you ever find yourself on Hwy 64, 30 miles east of Canton, swing through Ben Weeler - “The little town that could.” And, if you see a crazy guy with curly white hair stompin’ around, go tell him, “Hey.” You’ll be glad did.