The North Wilkesboro commissioners heard an update on plans for a large mural on the back retainer wall of a former downtown parking deck that now is the town’s Yadkin Valley Market Place farmer’s market.
Plans for the mural no longer include portraits of well-known Wilkes County residents through history, said Wilkes Art Gallery Director Cindy Pardue.
Pardue told commissioners during their April meeting that it would include portraits of 15 people with written information on each, with more added later. The 15 were identified in a written summary given to board members.
She told commissioners Tuesday night that deciding which people to include with portraits would be difficult.
The Wilkes Art Gallery is undertaking the mural as a Summer Honors Art Program. Anticipated funding includes $4,000 from the town, about $4,500 from Wilkes Art Gallery donors and about $4,000 from a state arts grant.
The stated purpose of the mural is to “act as a new Wilkes County tourism attraction, an educational resource and colorful backdrop for events held in downtown North Wilkesboro.”
The mural will be about 400 feet long and 18 feet tall, with half of it done this summer and the other half the next summer,
The gallery chose Will Davis, a Wilkes County native and artist who lives in Charlotte, to design, paint and supervise Wilkes high schools honors art students while they assist him. Davis teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Davis explained multiple options when he discussed the project with commissioners Tuesday night.
Commissioners indicated support for a collage concept would also include a “Greetings From” design used in murals elsewhere in the nation. It hasn’t been made clear if the mural will say “Greetings from” North Wilkesboro or Wilkes County.
There was particular interest in a collage design used for the “Greetings from Alpine” mural in Alpine, Texas.
There was discussion about including a train theme since North Wilkesboro developed as a result of the arrival of the train in the 1890s, but it was pointed out that the train no longer comes to the town.
Davis later provided a statement on the project.
He said, “After meeting with the North Wilkesboro Town Board a couple times to discuss potential directions to take the mural, we’ve arrived at what I feel to be a very successful and fitting starting point with a collaged mural of events throughout Wilkes County’s history leading to a ‘Greetings From’ design near the stage end of the Farmer’s Market.
“The goal of the mural to is create a dynamic visual background for the Farmer’s Market which educates students, visitors and community members alike, and I feel confident this design is the best way to represent the diverse history and culture of Wilkes County.
“I’m currently in the process of developing refined sketches of the mural wall, and we will soon be providing an avenue for feedback so that the community is able to provide feedback and be a part of the mural’s development throughout the two-year process.
“As a Wilkes native, artist and educator who continues to find a home in Wilkes for projects (including Film Camp and numerous film productions over the past 10-plus years), I continue to be humbled and amazed by the overwhelming support I’ve received, and could not be more excited to be able to create this important piece commemorating our ongoing cultural legacy and impact.”