Putting on a smile: After smiley face is destroyed in accident, local artist donates skills to restore local landmark

A local landmark destroyed over the summer is now smiling out at motorists at the intersection of Woodrow Road and F.M. 179.

Nina and A.L. Watson moved into their home there 20 years ago. A.L. Watson painted a large yellow smiley face on a shed attached to his barn at that time. Over the years, it was frequently vandalized by pranksters who stole the eyes and even painted over it completely once.

But although a local artist created a new smiley several years ago with removable eyes that could be made to appear to wink or even sleep, the most recent blow came over the summer when a drunken driver missed the curve along F.M. 179 and drove right through the smiling face.

The Watsons, who also celebrated 60 years of marriage over the summer, set about having the shed, with the smiley buried inside along with a lot of rubble, hauled off. The barn was repaired with new sheet metal.

Woodrow Road residents Nina and A.L. Watson stand by a smiley face that has been repainted on a shed at their home.

And another local artist stepped forward at the end of the summer to donate her skills.

Ann M. Jones, an artist with 30 years of experience in the Wichita Falls and Dallas area, moved to the Lubbock area and is trying to establish herself as an artist here. Her business is known as Ann’s Arts and Designs.

Since she had lived near the Watsons, she was familiar with the old smiley face barn, which many area people knew as a landmark by which they directed people to their own homes. She read about what had happened in the newspaper and decided she could help.

“When I went and talked to them and saw how upset they were about it, pretty much devastated,” she said. “I knew what it looked like before, and I’m pretty good at mimicking stuff. I just wanted it done right.”

Nina Watson said the couple was very happy that Jones graciously volunteered to paint the smiley for free.

Gone are the removable eyes that A.L. Watson enjoyed entertaining passing motorists in the area with. But in place of the old smiley face is a fresh new cutie offering a positive message to those passing by.

Jones said she was inspired by the number of people passing by and giving her a thumbs up during the week it took her to sand the corrugated metal barn, prime it and apply several coats of paint.

“A lot of people were doing a thumbs up,” said Jones of the motorists driving by. “So I decided to give him a thumbs up.”

The Watsons are giving a thumbs up to the work.

Nina Watson said the smiley face barn is an area landmark, and when it was destroyed, she said neighbors and even strangers stopped by daily to ask what had happened and express indignation. Since the new smiley was painted, the couple has added solar lights to it, as well as security.

A.L. Watson said while he liked the old smiley, he also likes the new one.

“Everybody’s happy about it,” said Nina Watson. “We want people to be happy with it, especially the kiddos on the buses.

“Everybody needs to have their lives brightened from time to time.”

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