Spencer gets mural fever

Published 12:10 am Thursday, March 9, 2023

SPENCER — The town of Spencer is joining other area communities in contracting for the design and painting of a mural that will be a self-portrait of the city’s history.

Skye Allan, lead for the North Carolina Fellows from the UNC School of Government and Americorps, is working with the city on a dual project that involves both the design and execution of a new mural that will represent the town’s history, and includes the restoration of 11 “ghost signs” along Salisbury Avenue.

“Ghost signs are unrestored murals,” said Allan, “and we are in the process of restoring 11 of them. But the train mural is, also, a separate project.”

One of the more well-known murals in town, the train mural is on the side of the brick building that houses a new Mexican restaurant, Queso Salsa, and it faces the corner gas station and is visible to anyone driving up Salisbury Avenue toward Salisbury. According to Allan, the mural had some difficulties coming to life, and the underlying facade was already suffering. Currently the sale of the building is in progress, and Allan says once complete, some work will need to be done repointing the brick before any painting can happen, the city does plan for a new mural to be painted.

The completely new mural that represents the town’s history will be painted down the side of the new city hall and police department, said Allan, and the city has contracted with artist Britt Flood.

“We have a committee working on designs with the artist right now,” she said. “Rather than something too literal, we are hoping for something more like the industry murals of Detroit, painted by artist Diego Rivera. We are hoping it can capture the labor and the industry in our history, but also the domestics and those in service, and even a bit of our slave history, because they were a big part of the building of this city.”

The Downtown Spencer Mural Committee is a group of enthusiastic people who are hoping to get visitors and residents alike to “come across the street from the Transportation Museum and get to know us a little.”

To make that even easier, Allan said the new murals will have QR codes on them, much like Charlotte’s Southeast Mural Walk. Scanning the code on a cell phone will bring up additional information on the buildings, the city and act like a self-guided tour.

“We want it to be interactive and engaging and fun,” she said.

This is another step forward for the city in the revitalization of its downtown, and Allan pointed out that there is another project coming that should also be a big draw. A large portion of the current parking lot in front of the town call is going to become a park, she said.

“The goal is for people to get to know Spencer, see all it has to offer and want to spend more time here,” she said.