Missouri artist’s flag mural draws big reaction online

Ray Harvey's latest project in Concordia, Missouri
Ray Harvey's latest project in Concordia, Missouri(Ray Harvey Art)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 1:52 PM CDT
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CONCORDIA, Mo. (KCTV) - Driving along I-70 in central Missouri, many wouldn’t give a small town like Concordia a second glance. But for one artist, it’s just his latest canvas.

Artist Ray Harvey has spent the last 30 years of his life transforming downtowns into travel destinations by taking blank walls along city streets and using his brush to create a public masterpiece. His new project, a 100-foot flag mural, is just the latest example.

“Every small town needs an arch,” Harvey said, referencing the iconic Gateway Arch in St. Louis. “For [Concordia], this is their arch.”

Harvey was originally commissioned in January by the Concordia Lions Club and the Concordia Fair board for the project. A wall at the corner of 6th and Main was given for the project, with the Lions Club requesting a flag in the project.

What transpired was a 100-foot mural that includes a waving American flag, the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, and a soaring eagle. The piece took 11 days to complete and has garnered thousands of views on Facebook. Harvey said his patriotic murals seem to get the most response from people.

“Patriotic stuff is what I like to do,” Harvey said. “It’s being real. There’s a hunger for it.”

Harvey, who started with a degree in graphics and designed toy packages in the 80s, went to freelance work in 1986. As the advertising and design industry changed during the recession in the 90s, he also began to change. He noticed house painters turning to painting murals.

“If I can teach myself to paint large, I’ll be on to something,” Harvey said.

And, he was right. Over the past 30 years, he’s traveled across the country, painting murals for anyone who will have him. His motto “have paint, will travel” seems to be serving him well. As of August this year, he will have completed 22 full-size murals in the town of Hannibal, Missouri alone. Harvey also has contributed to Cuba, Missouri’s title of “Mural City U.S.A.” by painting several pieces along Route 66 in town.

“I’ve become the backroads artist,” Harvey said.

His murals, which always seem to be well-received, are giving people reasons to hit the roads and visit these towns where they might not have stopped before. Harvey said these paintings are a different vehicle for patriotism, and it gives these town something to rally around.

Harvey said he enjoys going to these small towns and giving them these paintings.

“We’ve got this small town with 2,400 people and now people will get off the highway to see it,” Harvey said. “It pulls people into town and gives them a reason to come into town for more than just gas and chips.”

Other people have picked up on the popularity of these murals, especially online. Since finishing the Concordia project and posting it on Facebook, several people have reached out to Harvey about commissioning new projects.

“It’s quite a legacy,” Harvey said.

If you’d like to see more of Harvey’s work, you can visit his website here.