State of the arts: Working the mural beat

Hall Fletcher: kids in the mural mix


Hall Fletcher Elementary is on its way toward developing a new mural that’s roughly 30-feet tall and 300-feet wide. The West Asheville science, math and technology magnet elementary school has partnered with the Asheville City Schools Foundation and artists Ian Wilkinson and Alex Irvine. The artists have in turn partnered with the students.

Wilkinson, a painter, and Irvine, a ceramicist, have spent the past three months working with the schools fourth graders on the semester-long project that culminated with a 15-day residency. The project will take a pause for cold weather before commencing with the final installation tin the spring of 2013. This isn’t to say that Wilkinson and Irvine will stop working. Rather, the next couple of months will be spent pressing and firing ceramic tiles designed by the children. With help from UNC-Asheville students, via the Asheville Community Design Lab, Wilkinson says they will be “multiplying the efforts of the kids.”

The two artists began the project by sending the students home with drawing homework: worksheets with blank outlines of the school’s exterior walls. Various features from these drawings were selected by the students and combined with some of Wilkinson and Irvine’s plans.

The mural’s design combines direct painting methods with ceramic tiling to fill in the wall. Among the mural’s motifs are a rising sun, a rolling mountain landscape and a three dimensional tree that will protrude from the corner near the main entrance. Each of the designs is created by a mosaic of mathematic and scientific symbols reflecting the school’s inner workings.

“It’s small pieces making something big,” says Wilkinson.  And with that in mind, the aforementioned mountain landscape is actually a wave of 20-foot-tall silhouettes of the students involved in the project.

The school’s facade is somewhat spartan, a fact that helped spark the initiative. “We want kids that come to Hall Fletcher to feel excited,” Kate Pett, ACSF’s executive director, tells Xpress. ACSF has an ongoing partnership with Hall Fletcher Elementary to assist in transforming the building by using equity funds derived from contributors. These donors range from neighborhood residents to parents and even former students from decades past, Pett says.

The project is partially funded by an Arts in Residency grant from the N.C. Arts Council. For ACSF’s part, they have surpassed matching the initial grant and financed 62 percent of the total $18,500 project. Wilkinson and Irvine submitted an initial design during the application process. But that was immediately tossed once they began working with the students.

Lexington Avenue and Carolina Lane


Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Dersk One and Vincent Luca are the names behind Forever Tattoo’s newest facade. Dersk spent the better part of last Monday painting over Gus Cutty’s former Chick-fil-A CEO-turned-drag queen Dan “Divine” Cathy portrait with a stylized spelling of “The Atomic Bomb.” Shortly after, Luca, an Asheville artist, added an explosive cloud rising from behind the text.

The Lexington Avenue mural doubles as a pseudo-announcement and a large-scale work for the parlor’s current exhibition: “The Atomic Bomb and the End of the World.” The show features the bomb-fearing works of more than a dozen artists, most of them local.

Among them are Gus Cutty and Ishmael, who have been working on a mural in Carolina Lane. Equipped with an industrial paint-sprayer, Ishmael white-washed his well-worn Revolutionary War mural. The duo is repainting an art-deco-themed piece to echo the city’s architectural makeup.

Send your art news to kyle.sherard@gmail.com.

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