The North Wilkesboro commissioners on Feb. 25 unanimously approved a designer and mural company for a complete redo of the block-wide mural on the wall of the downtown Yadkin Valley Marketplace.
The commissioners agreed to use a design by Wilkes native Logan Hall of Asheville. Hall already submitted a conceptual version of the design featuring a landscape of the four seasons in western North Carolina.
Hall’s concept includes a backdrop of Grandfather Mountain, Stone Mountain and the Blue Ridge Mountains as they “flow throughout the entire piece to give unity. Flat colors change in the sky as the seasons change.”
Outdoor recreational amenities are featured in the foreground, as sledders, hikers, climbers, fishermen, people canoeing and cyclists are represented on the mural. A large flattop guitar in the spring section represents the annual MerleFest music festival.
Hall conceived a stylistic “Welcome to North Wilkesboro” and the town seal at the right or eastern end of the mural, near the Window World stage where musical acts perform during events.
The project total is estimated at $36,500, which includes $5,000 for Hall’s design, $26,000 for painting done by Atlanta-based Buckhead Murals and $5,500 for priming.
Town Manager Wilson Hooper said the town would likely pick up the tab for priming the wall surface before the painting is done by Buckhead Murals, a full-time mural company owned by a husband and wife.
The town will seek to recoup the remainder of the project cost through private donations and corporate sponsorships. The paint would also be donated.
“Our goal is to fund the wall without using tax dollars,” said Commissioner Andrew Palmer. “My goal is to see the mural done professionally, in a timely manner, and at the best cost. I want to see the project be a victory for the community.”
The board also considered a landscape proposal from Ashe County artist Raney Rogers, whose total cost for the mural was $62,000.
Ashley Barton, executive director of the Wilkes Art Gallery, said the gallery board preferred Hall’s proposal. “Our board unanimously agreed that the more graphic version by (Hall) was more cheerful and well thought out. We also liked that a professional mural painting company would paint the work instead of a lone artist.”
In late 2019, town staff said the mural would be completed through community participation in coordination with the Wilkes Art Gallery. The 380-foot-long, 16.5-foot-tall mural was initially planned and funded by the town and the gallery.
William S. Davis, a Wilkes County native and Charlotte resident, began uncontracted work on the mural in 2016. He said he didn’t make any progress on the project from 2017 to 2019 due to various family circumstances.
In 2019 Davis asked the town if he could finish the mural, but the town declined his offer. Now, his unfinished work on the mural will be completely primed over, according to Hooper.
Davis was paid $13,000 for his work on the mural, including $4,000 from the gallery in 2016 and again in 2017 and $5,000 from the town in 2017.
The town board approved the $20,000 project in April 2016, with $4,000 apiece from the town and the Wilkes Art Gallery in 2016 and 2017 for a total of $16,000. Funding was also to include a Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership grant of $2,000 in 2016 and 2017 for a total of $4,000.
Davis worked on the mural in the summers of 2016 and 2017. He designed the mural and worked with honors art students from Wilkes Central, West Wilkes and East Wilkes high schools in sketching and painting the mural in June 2016 and June 2017.
During the Feb. 26 resumption of the recessed Feb. 25 meeting, the board unanimously:
• approved an amendment to town code prohibiting heavy truck traffic (Class 6 and above, unless permitted) down Finley Avenue and other grid junctions that include Hinshaw, Elizabeth, Franklin and D streets; and
• approved a text amendment to add “lodge” and its definition to the table of uses that will allow Samaritan’s Purse to build a training facility off White Pine Street that would provide free overnight lodging to the company’s apprentices and interns.