Paint the Town
Carolina Beach's buildings get decked out
The Carolina Beach Mural Project assembled in March. With fundraising efforts and seed money from Island Arts and Culture Alliance, CB Mural Project has since installed three murals in nine months. As the group awaits its 501(c)(3) status, WILMA talked with project founder and president MAUREEN LEWIS, along with mural artists SUSAN NUTTALL and CARLA GARRISON-MATTOS.
Carolina Beach Mural Project Founder and President
Admittedly, MAUREEN LEWIS is not an artist. “I am an avid admirer of art and can arrange a gorgeous charcuterie platter,” she quips. “My superpower is bringing the right people together and executing a sustainable mural plan.”
Nevertheless, each time Lewis (shown above) walks her dog, Braxton, past Jason Parker’s mural Carolina Dreamin at Crush and Grind (7 Harper Avenue), she’s reminded of the warm glow of sunrises, bright colors of native flora, and friendly island life it represents. Lewis’ vision for this and other murals is to directly influence how people see and connect with Carolina Beach.
“Public art provides a bridge between the past, present, and the near future and it is for everyone to experience,” Lewis explains. “Public art also improves the economic growth of a community, supports artists by validating them as important contributors to the community.”
CB Mural Project has four pieces planned for 2021 – even more if a desirable wall and sponsor pop up.
Spring will see the SeaWitch wall celebrate more than three decades of the Carolina Beach Music Festival. Hurricane Alley’s wall will showcase summer on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The group is accepting pitches from artists for those two walls through January 30 (carolinabeachmurals.org for details). While still determining a theme with the historical society, two smaller murals will debut at The Savannah Inn and Kate’s Pancake House by fall.
Mural Artist, Board of Directors Member
SUSAN NUTTALL’s Welcome to Carolina Beach recently debuted on the side of Carolina Beach’s town hall (1121 North Lake Park Boulevard).
Inspired by vintage postcards, modern updates better reflect today’s beachgoers from style to swimwear. The mural took three months to complete with fifty volunteers (ages five to eighty-seven) working in small groups two to three days a week in Nuttall’s garage.
“I love teaching art, so I thought of it as one big art class,” Nuttall says. “I would talk to them and see their skill levels. I would then have them work on an area that would help them feel good about being part of the community mural.”
The greatest challenge was keeping volunteers safe in the middle of a pandemic, cleaning and disinfecting after each group. Just as it has with artists Nuttall most admires, love of art and community prevailed. “Frida Kahlo’s desire to work through life’s problems and never let them stop her from painting,” she muses.
Nuttall started Creative Art by Susan Nuttall more than twenty-four years ago. She finds herself experimenting and challenging herself with a mix of mediums in her commissions, from oils and encaustic to heavy textures and sculptures.
“My favorite subjects are anything to do with the beauty of nature, from landscapes to birds and animals,” she shares. “I also love the challenge of commissions because I have painted things I would not have painted without them.”
Nuttall plans to move into a larger art studio, where she will teach private and group art classes in the spring and continue working with CB Mural Project to pick the next round of artists and advising as needed.
Charlotte-based artist CARLA GARRISON-MATTOS stayed in Southport with her mother-in-law and commuted by ferry each day to paint her Surf and See mural on side of The Veggie Wagon at 608 South Lake Park Boulevard. With fair weather and motivation, it took her less than four days.
“I’d love to create more work in the CB area,” she says. “It is a dream job site!”
Carolina Beach will see more of Garrison-Mattos in 2021, as she and her wife purchased that very home in Southport in December.
A self-described “jack of all trades” artist, Garrison- Mattos has specialized in pet portraits for more than a decade. Her work in Surf and See honors Carolina Beach photographer Robbie Johnson. The scene, featuring surf, waves, and beach flora and fauna, is interrupted by a camera lens zooming in on a surfer to evoke the same movement Johnson often captured in his photos. The biggest challenge, though, for Garrison- Mattos, was painting the water.
“There’s no real structure and so many colors,” she explains. “To capture the essence of water was intimidating to me. Shockingly, I absolutely loved painting water, and now I want to paint it all the time.”
Garrison-Mattos says her favorite medium is acrylic paint, but she has recently grown to appreciate the art of spray-painting, crafting with repurposed objects, random woodworking, airbrushing, window painting, “and really just make anything that pops into my head.”
Already booking murals for this year, Garrison-Mattos continues to take commission-based requests and offers pet portrait painting classes.
“My favorite part about being a full-time artist is that I really never know exactly what is coming next,” she says. “I look forward to each time a client reaches out with a new idea, and I jump in feet first.”
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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