Paris native Mille Arp works on an acrylic painting at her family's home in preparation for her one-woman show, "Reflections of the Soul" at the Bicentennial Art Center from Nov. 17-Dec. 29 (Special to The Prairie Press)

Bringing color to Paris

Millie Arp's mural, art work and windows delight local residents

If you’ve noticed there’s more color in the Paris community, it’s thanks to the art work of Paris native Millie Arp.

who graduated from Millikin University with a bachelor of fine arts in studio art and art education, has quietly been adding her special touches to two buildings in the community — as well as local storefronts.

There hasn’t been a time that Arp hasn’t enjoyed drawing or ceramics. Her paternal grandmother, the late Julie Arp, was an artist and has been a particular inspiration.Her paternal grandfather, Gary Arp, is crafty and makes things with his hands, she said.

Her grandma, she said, “always made things for people. I saw that it was a fun way to give a gift and how happy it made her.”

Arp said her parents have always encouraged her to use her artistic gift.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I went to college,” she recalled. When talking to her high school art teacher, Carrieann Phegley, it was suggested she major in art. “She encouraged me,” Arp said.

At Millkin she decided to major in studio art with concentrations in acrylic painting and ceramic sculpture. She later decided to pursue a teaching degree — which she has never regretted.

Her painting, she explained, is “abstract in theory and realist in approach.”

Arp searched for high quality photos and overlapped them in photoshop providing sort of a double exposure. Her art work can be seen in the windows next to Pearman Pharmacy.

Following graduation, Arp accepted a college intern position at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. “I cleaned strollers to begin with and then was promoted to work in the new Star Wars retail store,” she said.

Arp said while it would’ve been nice to be able to use her talents at Disney, “It’s tough. A lot of the stuff there is graphic design.”

When she completed her year at Disney, the art position at Crestwood School became available. “I applied but I had a lot of hooks in the water at the time looking for a job,” she explained.

Arp served as the school’s art teacher for one school year. “It was lots of fun but exhausting,” she laughed. “I learned more that first year than in all my undergraduate education classes. I learned to be flexible and let things go.”

The position allowed her growth opportunties both personal and professional. She accepted a position at TechShop in St. Louis which provides access to instructional classes, events and over $1 million worth of professional equipment and software at each location.

Arp taught summer camp classes. “We had STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) classes with kids making puzzles and jewelry,” she said. “Fidget spinners were popular, too.”

The Main Street Café mural came about when Phil Holloway, a doctor at Paris Community Hospital/Family Medical Center, mentioned to Arp’s mother, Susan, the possibility of adding the mural to the building, which was previously hidden by adjacent buildings.

“They had a list of things they wanted including a café scene as well as advertising their expresso and coffee,” she said. “They wanted something bright and colorful.”

The mural was a challenge, she said, because she was used to painting on a flat surface. “The siding is corregated,” she said. “I couldn’t draw a straight line. It was up and down.”

Arp estimated the mural would take about 45 hours to complete. “I missed that,” she said. “It took 90 hours.”

Using latex paint, Arp worried about the heat and what it might do to her creation.

Kimberly Shewey approached Arp to paint her building at East Jasper Steet. “She left it to me,” she said. “She wanted something bright.”

The Shewey work might not technically be a mural, but it is creating a lot of comments from community members. The work includes paint brushes and other art supplies found in the do-it-yourself projects for all ages.

Arp said she has been contacted by three or four others who are considering having her lend an artistic touch to fences, barns and businesses.

Besides completing the work at Shewey’s, Arp is busily preparing for her upcoming show at the Bicentennial Art Center and Museum.

Titled “Reflections of the Soul,” a variety of her work will be featured. A reception in her honor is planned from 5-6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 at the center. The show runs until Dec. 29.

Arp has accepted a position as an au pair for a Scottish family in a community outside Glasgow. “I’ll be there for six months,” she said, noting she will be taking care of a 12-year-old daughter of two veterinarians. “It’s a cultural opportunity,” she said.

Arp admitted she would like to be in the studio full time. “One day,” she said.

The Prairie Press

101 Central Avenue Paris, IL 61944