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Walls of History
Mural artist Raine Clotfelter wants to paint smalltown America

by Jim McCarty

Raine Clotfelter hopes to promote the history and heritage of small towns through a TV series called “American Town Portrait.” In the show, he will lead a crew of artists in painting murals like the one behind him of Branson. Below: Raine’s painting of a Swift boat in Vietnam is typical of the patriotic themes he has done.

If Raine Clotfelter gets his way, small towns across the country will be in the spotlight. The Navy veteran hopes to launch a new reality TV series called “American Town Portrait” that would see him research a town’s history and paint it on a giant mural in six days.

This lofty goal is just the latest project for Raine, who has painted more than 70 murals. Many of his works have a patriotic theme that reflect the years he spent in the Navy.

Essentially a Navy graphic artist, Raine served his country in a number of capacities. He produced technical illustrations that included work in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He painted murals for recruiting stations and did drawings for magazines. He created blueprints and drew maps.

And he did this with little formal training in art prior to joining the service. “It’s all God-given,” says the 46-year-old Cassville resident. “I just hold the paintbrush and he does the work.”

One of his works, commissioned by the USS Missouri Foundation, shows the beginning and end of World War II. The montage features the USS Arizona Memorial honoring those killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor along with the USS Missouri, where the war officially ended.

Another of his projects is a series of 26 hand-painted wall murals depicting naval history. These led to Raine being classified as a naval historian in 2002.

Raine retired from active duty in 2004. He continued creating art for the likes of Walt Disney, Columbia Pictures, Tri Star Entertainment and Time Warner. One of his jobs was to create artwork to go with sheet music for country music legends Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Hank Williams Jr. and others.

He illustrated an encyclopedia for Bellwin Music, which sells school band music, drawing more than 200 instruments. “I drew every instrument you can think of,” Raine says.

Exposure to music inevitably led him to Branson, where he set up a graphic arts business. One of the employees he hired here eventually became his wife, Laura.

In his search for new adventures, Raine moved to Dallas to do top-secret illustrations for defense contractor Raytheon. But the couple soon discovered they missed Missouri.

Raine’s painting of a Swift boat in Vietnam is typical of the patriotic themes he has done.

“When we came back to see her folks it was so peaceful,” Raine says. “Life is too short to live in an area that’s not home to you. I took a cut in pay, but the quality of life to me is important.”

Raine and his family moved to Cassville where he owned two doughnut shops for a time. Then fate intervened. A member of the Naval Reserves, Raine was called to active duty and sent to Iraq.

In his spare time, he continued to do artwork and technical illustrations to support the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

His tour of duty complete, Raine returned to what he loves most, creating murals. He began by painting a veteran’s mural for the Barry County Courthouse. He’s found Branson to be fertile ground for his efforts. Anyone who has been to the World’s Largest Toy Museum has seen Raine’s work on the museum’s many background sets, and it’s hard to miss the 80-foot Andy Williams Theater mural Raine painted.

Raine says the idea for the show came while watching TV, something he rarely does, while in Georgia where he was painting a mural for Bass Pro Shops. He was surprised to see so many shows about artists, and alarmed that so few shows were suitable for families to watch.

He says his idea to feature small towns was a no-brainer. “Chicago, New York — they could care less. But a town the size of Galena or Cassville, they would be so excited to be part of a national TV show. It would mean a lot of exposure for them. We’ll learn what goes on there and be a part of that town.”

Raine pitched the idea to his friend Dave Houseman, who owns a TV production company in Branson. The two fine-tuned the concept over many cups of coffee, adding the concept of featuring a town hero in the show. For the pilot, Raine, with help from fellow artist Ron Allison, created a mural of Branson that started with the Baldknobbers and ended with Branson Landing.

Production of the series will begin as soon as funds can be raised. Raine and Dave are looking for one more artist who might be interested in working on the show.

Raine sees the TV show becoming his legacy. “Anybody who does artwork, I can almost guarantee 99 percent of them want to do that one piece of art that lives on when the artist is gone. How neat to do something that when you are gone people will still remember. These little towns have big histories. And that history stays around because you painted it.”

The “American Town Portrait” pilot can be found at www.vimeo.com/houseman. Raine can be reached at 104 N. Spring St., Cassville, MO 65625 or by sending e-mail to raine@theraineshow.com.

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