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Grateful for artist’s gift

We’ve been watching it come to life, bit by bit, line by line, paint stroke by paint stroke, transforming a plain ol’ brick wall into an eye-popping masterpiece that just seemed to get better with each day’s work devoted to it.

Of course, I am speaking of the brand spankin’ new mural adorning the side of the Meadows & Co. building on Commerce St.

We have a lengthy article devoted to its development and completion in today’s Advocate, but there was more material that I gathered than space for it. I am personally so excited by the city’s newest community beautification project (because really, it IS) and how it’s already impacted us, that I felt the need to share a little more.

It has been such fun every day or two to scroll through my Facebook feed and see the progress being made by the wonderfully talented Michelle Black. Folks would stop to chat with her on their walks downtown; some out-of-towners have made a special effort to swing by the work-in-progress to see it for themselves and, hopefully, meet the woman creating it. We suspect those numbers will only grow as our public health crisis improves and more people are able to get out and about.

Long before we marveled first-hand her ability as a large-scale permanent muralist, Michelle has been sharing her artistic gifts across Butler County by painting all those fun, whimsical and inspirational window art displays for businesses and offices, along with the colorful mural on the exterior of Georgiana’s Rose Memorial Library.

Did I say Butler County? Make that across lower Alabama, with forays into neighboring Georgia.

While she was working on the Grateful for GREENVILLE mural, she was also painting windows in businesses in Luverne, Troy, Andalusia and other south Alabama cities and towns, plus that trip to Atlanta for a project or two. She has been a busy artist, indeed!

Michelle took the “leap of faith” to start painting full-time in 2010 ( having started her painting business in 2008) and in her portfolio there are plenty of photos documenting projects. There are nine murals at Zoo Atlanta (where she painted her first mural) and a number of murals in communities in the metro Atlanta area, include Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Monroe and more.

Michelle has painted murals inside gyms, daycares, sports facilities, schools and businesses.

But some of her favorite works are the public murals like her latest creation in Greenville. She told me why.

“Public murals are meant to be a source of inspiration, unity or even fun. Tourism is a huge part of public murals because in this day and age, we are constantly taking photos of our lives . . . people love to get their photos taken in front of larger murals or even interacting with one as they take their selfies. It’s a way to commemorate your visit to a specific place, to go back and “remember when” . . . a public mural can completely revive an empty space or an otherwise unseen part of a town or city . . . it can take an ordinary wall you never even realized was there before to a space you look forward to seeing everyday on your way to work or when you visit on the weekends.”

And her favorite image in “Grateful for GREENVILLE” turns out to be the old Depot, where you could say the whole project got its beginning with a conversation Chamber director Tracy Salter had with an ambitious painter who was new in town.

“I love the way that monochromatic image of the depot stands out when it’s surrounded by all that color and vibrance,” Michelle said.

It also took her the longest to paint due to some difficult dimensions with the design crossing into two of the letters.

“I think it looks great. My eye draws to it every time I stand back and look.”

I agree. Michelle Black, I am grateful for my hometown, for its newest mural—and grateful for you.