Vrazel’s restaurant mural returns as a trio

Published 4:16 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A 20-foot mural of Mississippi Gulf Coast landmarks that hung for 16 years on a wall of Vrazel’s Fine Dining in Gulfport and was lost in Hurricane Katrina is back.

The restored mural now is in three segments.

Hanging side by side, the Biloxi schooners, Biloxi Lighthouse and Beauvoir are now separate artworks individually framed.

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Bill Vrazel, the restaurant owner, said the mural was buried under a collapsed wall and saved during debris removal. He said there are some tears and bare spots that expert restoration tried to repair.

The mural was painted by Vrazel’s older brother, Wesley Vrazel of Mobile, now deceased.

“The man who was doing the demolition had been in the restaurant before, knew the painting and recognized it,” Vrazel said. “That’s really what saved it.”

When he saw the mural, Vrazel said, they stopped work with the big machines and removed the debris brick by brick.

“He rolled that thing around a huge pipe and called me and said, ’I’ve got something for you.’ We took it home, rolled it out on the driveway and washed it as best we could.

“I took it to Williams Gallery and asked if anybody could restore it. C.J. Lopresto said he probably could. It had tears. He had to sew it in some places. Some paint had washed away,” Vrazel said.

It could not be fixed as one mural and “had to cut it into three different pictures,” Vrazel said.

“I’m real happy with it,” he said.