By Ann Leach

It’s been “beginning to look a lot like Christmas” for Sandra Dawn for about a year now. As a muralist creating the downtown Joplin window displays at the Newman building (this is her third year to do so), design meetings have been held throughout the year as the planning team identifies the theme and brainstorms the final look that will capture the hearts of children and adults this holiday season. 

“We’ve brainstormed designs since the first of the year,” Dawn said. “I picked up the supplies in mid-October this year and started constructing the window panels soon after that. I finished them the week before Thanksgiving.”

Designed to look like stained glass, this year’s windows will see the addition of two panels that will take the viewer back in time to the turn of the century. 

“They will depict a family scene inside an historic Murphysburg home,” Dawn said. “I am using actual photos from interior Christmas scenes taken in Murphysburg for inspiration.” 

Previous panels created by Dawn featured in the first year included Grand Falls, a ‘49 Ford ‘Woody’ wagon, and Santa. The second year saw a focus on the Newman building itself and the three panels were full of mannequins, toys and a sled full of presents. The two new panels for this year will be added to the north side of the door, facing Main Street.

“Constructing and transporting the panels is the most challenging part,” Dawn said. “I make plexiglass windows that insert into the original frame and being such a large window size, they are extremely fragile.” 

Despite the plexiglass’ strength, it does get brittle when it is cold. “I use extreme caution and it’s a pretty stressful event for me,” Dawn said. “They also have to be laid flat to work on, so it gets hectic in my space for a while.”

Dawn is aided by her partner, David Mason, who contributes a lot of his own ideas to the design process. The Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, which commissions the work, is equally involved in providing guidance on the theme. But the public appreciates the hard work and effort. 

“People have been so supportive of the project,” Dawn said. “I have gotten lots of compliments and love seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they talk to me about how the windows light up at night.”

Dawn has been creating murals since high school but has seen an increase in requests the past couple of years, completing murals in 16 different locations, with more than half of them having multiple murals painted by her as well. 

“I haven’t added them up yet, but 2023 has been equally as busy,” she said. “I have no plans on slowing down and am booked for the remainder of the year and have started filling up for the spring.”

To learn more about Sandra Dawn’s work, follow her Facebook page at

“I am a fan of the holidays. One year, I even dressed up as Mrs. Claus for Halloween and went door to door handing out candy canes. Christmas has always had a special place in my family.” – Sandra Dawn