In “Cloud 9” Jimmy Jenkins’ Trinity Trail mural, a Great blue heron is launching itself from Trinity River banks, barely skimming over the cattails and reeds where a paddling of ducks is hiding.
It is a tranquil, natural scene that is supposed to catch your attention, but not distract too much.
“People go to the river to escape and meditate,” Jenkins said. “I’m responsible for keeping their tranquility in their mind, to pursue the peacefulness in their mind as they run the trail.”
It’s a subtle message, but for Jenkins, art has always been his way to communicate without using words.
Diagnosed as dyslexic as a young child, pigeonholed as a special-ed kid, Jenkins would rush through his school work in class so he could get to the part of the day where he could draw. There, Jenkins found comfort communicating with the stroke of a pen, but in a different way.
“I can say exactly what I want without words,” Jenkins said.
Raised in the Fort Worth area – he went to grade school in North Richland Hills and high school in Keller – he overcame the stigma of his learning disability to graduate from the Texas State Technical School in Waco with degrees in marketing and advertising.
He later found success co-owning and running Fort Worth Screen Printing for 20 years, overseeing 45 employees in creating marketing materials for corporate clients.
But the self-taught artist has been on his own Cloud 9 after deciding to earn a living as an artist. In five years, he’s done 14 murals – including the famous “Monkey Lisa” in the nearby River District – and he was the first artist asked to contribute to what would become the Trinity Trail gallery.
“I hope people see the freedom in nature, that they will free their minds and enjoy the elements,” Jenkins said. “The earth is precise and there are so few things you can trust, but the natural world you always can.”