If you travel Beatties Ford Road you’ve probably seen it – the large outdoors mural being painted on the Primary Health Care building just west of the Brookshire Freeway overpass.
The project is the brainchild of a Pittsburgh, Pa., nonprofit that seeks to motivate kids and young adults through artistic expression. When completed, the painting — still unnamed – will depict the Qcity’s past, present and future, said project director Kyle Holbrook.
More important, he said, he hopes the mural will become a focal point for the historically black corridor.
“A mural becomes a voice for a community,” he said. “It’s not like a TV show where you have to turn it on or tune into a channel. It’s going to be up and people are going to see it for 20 to 25 years everyday. It helps to brighten up the community, it helps to give hope.”
Holbrook, CEO of the Pittsburgh-based MLK (Moving the Lives of Kids) Mural Project, said his group has done more than 100 murals in Pennsylvania. The group also has projects planned or underway in Atlanta, Houston, Brazil and Haiti, to name a few.
The Beatties Ford Road mural is the group’s first in Charlotte, but Holbrook said he hopes to do at least 15 here next year.
Before starting the work, he said, he presented the idea to community and church groups along the Beatties Ford Road corridor. He then found local artists – professionals, children and hobbyist – to assist with the actual painting.
“We never want to come into a community and do what we want to do,” Holbrook said. “We want the community to have input as to what the actual artwork will be.”
About 20 young people at some point will work on the painting, which includes depictions of Queen Charlotte, the former Good Samaritan Hospital, native Americans, cotton workers, the Charlotte trolley and a gleaming profile of the city’s skyline, as well as contemporary images of Charlotte life. Each child who works on the mural paints a self-portrait along the bottom.
Holbrook said the Sherwin Williams Foundation donated paint and supplies. Many of the images, he said, were found at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Holbrook said they chose the Primary Health Care building because of its visibility in a high-traffic area, close to Johnson C. Smith University, West Charlotte High School and Northwest School of the Arts.
Jamil “Dyair” Steele, who teaches art at JT Williams Middle School, is one of several local professionals helping to oversee the project. He said he’s been encouraged by early reaction.
“People drive by, honking their horns, letting us know they really, really like the work,” he said. “I think it brings a sense of joy to the community. I think they are pleased with what we are doing out here.”
Steel said he hopes the mural will be a teaching tool: “It forces you to think,” he said. “It forces you to stand and contemplate and ask yourself, ‘What does this mean, and what’s the meaning of this?’ And so you’re actually becoming part of the piece.”
Holbrook said they’ll be working on the project for about another week.
Photo Below: Some of the artists include (l-r) Naeem Glass, Brooke Marlin, Johnathan Marlin, Jamil "Dyer" Steele, Komikka "Special K" Patton, "Jaxon" and Kyle Holbrook.