Mural needs a lifeline

Work has stalled on the transformation of the concrete below the Interstate 240 overpass and alongside Lexington Avenue in Asheville into a brightly colored scene complete with mosaics and mirrors. The mural project needs a cash infusion: about $10,000 to $15,000 to finish.

Work in progress: The massive murals beneath the I-240 overpass have come a long way, but the volunteer artists who are completing it say that they’ll need more funds to finish. Photo by Jason Sandford.

“We are out of money,” says Molly Must, the project’s organizer.
Painting has taken longer than anticipated—so the scaffold rental has been more expensive than was originally budgeted. Must would be happy to find a builder who could loan scaffolding, and the project needs more money to complete the unfinished pillars.

“We have enough paint and sealer to finish, we just need scaffolding and a stipend for the artists: Paying artists for their work, although it is a small amount on a per hour basis, is important to us,” Must says.

The Asheville Mural Project, working under the nonprofit group Arts2People, has received about $10,000 from the city of Asheville, Greenlife Grocery, The EcoBuilders and the Downtown Asheville Residents Network, among others. Sherwin-Williams has provided paint and primer and Paul Dixon has put in work on the project.

Must, a landscaper by day, and five other artists have worked on the mural before and after their regular jobs. They’re currently doing some painting on the places they can reach without scaffolding, but can’t move forward until they raise more funds.

A fundraiser for the project will be held at the YMI Cultural Center on Saturday, Dec. 20. The 7 p.m. event will feature a buffet-style dinner with 15 to 20 local independent restaurants donating food, including Bouchon, Mela, The Marketplace and Early Girl. There will be music, an art auction, live painting, speakers and a slideshow showing the progress of the mural. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Individual tickets are $35. They’re available at Malaprop’s, by calling Must at 582-6951 or the YMI at 252-4614, or by visiting the Arts2People Web site at

“It’s been an incredible learning experience, and we’re learning how to be more efficient,” Must says.

If you want to make a donation to the project, go to the Arts2people Web site or e-mail

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15 thoughts on “Mural needs a lifeline

  1. just some guy

    The city should have never given money for this. This sort of fundraising should have been the approach to the project to begin with.
    “Paying artists for their work, although it is a small amount on a per hour basis, is important to us” if it so important to this non-profit then why don’t they pay musicians for LAaAF fest.
    “It’s been an incredible learning experience, and we’re learning how to be more efficient” Especially when your wasting tax payer money. Someone should fully investigate arts2people, and hopefully the city will not waste our money again on this group.

  2. jen

    The under pass is barely seen as you pass by in the first place. I’m sure there were better uses for the money than this.

  3. Rebecca Sulock

    As for the underpass barely being seen:

    Lots of people walk downtown from Montford, UNCA and other midtown locales. Now we’re treated to a brilliant scene created by local artists. It puts a smile on my face every time.

    And to the guy who believes this is a waste of taxpayer money:

    There are economic reasons for creating murals and other public art projects. Many businesses benefit from Asheville’s status as an arts destination — from the restaurants downtown, to the builders, developers and realtors who benefit from people being charmed by Asheville and relocating.

  4. antinuke

    I believe that these murals might be the best in the whole world. I have never seen anything like them. In the west and southwest highway underpasses are often painted attractively by the cities, but their painting projects are more geometric. Nothing like these.

    These murals are one of the most amazing attractions of Asheville. The chamber of commerce should chip in magnificently and publicize them. Especially since Pack Square has been torn up for so long. With the “center” of the city in a state of disrepair, the heart of Asheville is clearly on Lexington Avenue.

    In addition to the chamber of commerce supporting this project, the city should give it more money. The torn up Pack Square stuff is costing millions of dollars and will NEVER be completed.
    The $10,000 mural project should be extended sideways to Merrimon so both sides of Merrimon and both sides of Lexington show visitors what Asheville is all about. Asheville is different and beautiful and totally remarkable, but much more so with the mural project. And thanks to Sherwin Williams and the other donors.

  5. Connie Bostic

    The pittance “waisted” on the mural can’t hold a candle to the money spent on “fixing” the park in front of city – county plaza! And it hasen’t presented AAsheville’s visitors with a huge ugly mud hole for-I forget-how many years is it now?

  6. CynLou

    Murals are beautiful. That’s what’s wrong with our culture: if you go to Europe, art is everywhere and it’s appreciated everywhere. What happened to our culture? Why do we not spend MORE money investing in creating things? Without that balance of all-business with creativity, we stagnate and are in danger of deteriorating as a culture. Way to go Asheville in setting an example for the rest of the country. The people who think art is a waste need to look at themselves and the potentially bleak lives they lead. Art is culture and lack of it suggests lack of culture.

  7. AshevilleObserver

    Is it possible to make the photos “clickable” to a larger size?

  8. Connie Bostic

    There is parking beside the mural-go down and get a look at the real thing! The halos done in tile and mirror are so nice, and the foot on the man carving on the other side is realy well done.

  9. dave

    This mural is a benefit for downtown and the cost is amazingly minimal compared to nearly every other city-funded boondoggle in the last ten years. I bet the city spends more on a fireworks display than on this mural.

  10. It is remarkable to read the reaction to this project on here.

    I think the mural is beautifully done.

    I believe it is worth every penny.

    I believe those who are defacing private property more and more through graffiti should be targeted by police, and the penalty should be hard labor, not some kind of fine or wrist slap.

    I believe the mural is exponentially more powerful than the sculptures purchased by the Art Board or whomever.

  11. Photographer

    Regarding the comment addressing graffiti, this mural would have been better served had it been a project for graffiti artists.

  12. Kitty Love

    Thank you all for your incredible support. Thanks to the musicians and all the artists who over the years at LAAFF have helped us raise money to paint the mural. I invite you all to check out the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, which has an annual budget of over 6 million dollars, to see what the Asheville Mural Project can ultimately become: a tool for community, economic and cultural development, a tool for ameliorating vandalism, a tool for embracing disenfranchised youth, a tool for remembering beauty. I love Miss Molly!

  13. WallyM

    Love the project! It’s barely what the city wastes in a few days and make the city better.

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