Visitors to the Governor Office Building will now see a three-dimensional work of art by a Los Angeles artist commissioned to create a mural by the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
Artist Todd Gray flew to Missouri this past weekend to assemble "Fragmented," a deconstructed American flag created with wood boxes assembled four layers deep. It hangs on the right side of the wall as you enter the former Hotel Governor.
The art piece was purchased by Rich Howerton, who owns the building and leases it to the Missouri Public Service Commission and four other tenants.
Gray has been a professional artist for 35 years. He's created art with stars and stripes for most of his career, but this is his first work of art representing the American Flag.
"I call it 'fragmented.' I thought it's a pretty good name for what's been going on in the world," Gray said.
It's a fragmented flag, just like the United States, Gray said.
"It's dynamic, it's got movement, it's got energy, and it's pretty well-balanced for the most part. I feel pretty good about it. I don't let anything leave my studio that I'm not happy with," he said.
Two years ago, with the help of a few other artists, Gray completed a mural at the World Trade Center, the area where terrorists destroyed the twin towers in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The mural was intended to bring happy vibes and bright colors to the business district.
Gray, influenced by pop art such as Andy Warhol, created the mural on corrugated metal siding, making the project even more challenging.
He spent more money creating the art than he was paid, but he considered it an honor.
"When they gave me the opportunity, I would have gladly painted a bathroom," he said. "I didn't care. It was such an opportunity. And frankly, the education and the opportunity it's gotten me are invaluable."
Howerton said he picked the work of art because of his love for American flags.
"I just love flags, and this is a very unique flag by a unique artist," he said. "I'm just patriotic. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about America."
He's also put a pair of flags atop the Governor Office Building, and he's been talking to High Street building owners about installing flags in front of their buildings.
In addition to being patriotic, Howerton believes flags along High Street will promote downtown business.
"Can you imagine how uplifting that would be for downtown Jefferson City to see on both sides of (High) Street, just rows of American flags?" he said.