2015 brought the mural to new heights in the South. The Richmond Mural Project in Virginia, which has an admirable goal of creating 100 murals in the first five years and tethering artists from all over the world, brought to life its fourth installment. Over 60 of those murals have already manifested, creating art within countless nooks and crannies of the city for tourists to seek out and bringing a large boom to the local economy as well.
This was the inspiration for the No Blank Walls Project in Greensboro, North Carolina, the brain child of Jeff Beck, artist and owner of Urban Grinders Coffee Shop in Greensboro, and artist and founder of Create Your City Ryan Saunders. The project is just getting started, but already it’s had an impact within the community. In 2015, The Art of Chase, an artist from Los Angeles, artist Mitch Cook from Greensboro, and Kendall Doub out of Winston-Salem, kicked off the program with three installations.
No Blank Walls’ reach also extends into a collaboration with the City of Greensboro and the Windsor Recreation Center with the Tunnel Project. Six artists painted a tunnel in a local neighborhood to beautify it and make it a safer place for the community.
No Blank Walls will continue its work into 2016, thanks to a $5000 donation from DRA, the Downtown Greensboro Residents Association.
Beck explains, “What’s good is that we now have people coming to us willing to donate walls for us to use instead of having to search for them. We are also working on a large-scale event that will incorporate art, music, beer, and food that I can’t really talk about much until we get more details in place. But it’s going to be really awesome.”
He directs artists wishing to be considered for involvement in the program to email a portfolio to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beck also expressed further wishes for future collaborations across the NC triad with continued work with artists from Winston-Salem, High Point, and Thomasville. He mentioned the Winston-Salem organization Art for Art Sake and Kendall Doub specifically.
AFAS has a strong presence in the arts district in downtown Winston-Salem and, with a private donation, was able to open a public art park in 2015 called ARTivity on the Green on Liberty Street. One portion of that park is a wall of murals. Kendall Doub is on the board of directors of AFAS and is Chairman of Public Art for the organization.
Doub states, “I was involved in the conceptual planning of Artivity on the Green with my contribution being the inclusion of a mural wall at the park. I felt it was very important that contemporary muralism was represented in an art-themed public space. The mural wall is called the Concrete Canvas Wall… and will showcase murals by local and regional artists each year. I am the curator of the Concrete Canvas Mural Fest, which is planned for the first weekend in May 2016 with ten new mural works being painted, live music, etc.”
Doub directs artists interested in being involved to contact AFAS through the website or by contacting him directly at email@example.com. Artists who don’t make the current round will be first in line for the next year.
The murals in downtown Winston-Salem don’t stop there. Public art is found throughout the area, with a concentration on and around Trade Street, the seat of the arts district. Beautification of downtown continues through a collaboration with the city, AFAS, and DADA, the Downtown Arts District Association. Some of the artists have signed their work, like the now well-known DOUB trademark seen on murals done by the city’s own Kendall Doub, but others are more obscure and harder to identify.
With all of the movement toward public art, including current installations in Boone, Asheville, and other NC cities and small towns that have been in place for years, combined with the rising mural scene in and around the Triad, it is easy to see how 2016 will be the year of the mural in North Carolina.
Pat Berryhill is a junior at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. She is seeking her Bachelor’s in creative writing and English. She has been published by Change Seven Magazine and Incunabula. Her artwork has shown at the Womble Carlyle Gallery at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts and Studio7. You can see her work at www.facebook.com/patpunkpop .