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Floodwall artists retouch murals

BY KATIE PAXTON kpaxton@paducahsun.com

Paducah's historic floodwall murals have stayed pristine and beautiful throughout their 18 years of existence thanks to talented artists, such as Herb Roe, who return to Paducah each summer to retouch the "Wall-to-Wall" project.

Roe is an original member of the design team of Benny Graeff, Doug Dafford, Mike Doherty and Robert Dafford, all from the company Robert Dafford Murals based in Lafayette, La. Roe researched and designed about half of the murals on the wall, learning much about Paducah's history along the way. "It was a lot of hours of research," Roe said.

Every summer since the murals' completion in 2007, Roe and a few others from Robert Dafford Murals, including Robert Dafford himself, travel to Paducah to spend up to four months retouching the murals.

Using industrial acrylic paint, the muralists must mimic each color and brush stroke of the original mural - a painstaking task.

"It takes about two to three weeks to finish (retouching) one mural," said Roe. "Because it's a west-facing wall, the acrylic cracks and fades from all the UV from the sun. We apply a clear coat to slow it down. The most damaging time is in the winter when the temperature fluctuates. It can warp the wall and cause it to fracture."

"Every year a number of the murals, depending on the exposure, have to have some degree of restoration," said Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler. "It may not be the whole mural, but that is left up to the Dafford Mural trained artists. They're the only ones who can retouch them."

Contact Katie Paxton, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8655.

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