Wendell looks for location for first downtown mural

mhankerson@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2013 

— The town of Wendell is quietly moving forward with plans to begin a downtown mural project and began looking at locations they thought would be fitting for the first mural last week.

The Wendell Planning Department and members of the Appearance Commission viewed 18 potential locations and weighed the pros and cons of different buildings on a walking tour last week.

Some were too old. Some sat too far back from the street. Others had too many windows or not enough foot traffic on the street.

Some buildings would need too much prep work and would push the price higher, an important consideration for a group that has a small budget to work with.

Wendell’s Appearance Commission formed in 1984 and took a break six years later. It didn’t meet for 10 years and was re-instated in 2000. It disbanded again in 2006 and re-formed in 2012.

Since then, it’s been working on various projects with its $500 budget. Anything over that must be raised through donations or fundraising.

The commission started raising money for the mural project at this year’s Harvest Festival. They raised about $150 selling treats for children and dogs.

Following their efforts at the Harvest Festival, a resident donated two handmade birdhouses that the town is using in a raffle to raise money for the mural project. Patrick Reidy, the planning department’s staff liasion for the mural project, said they hope to raise $2,000.

The price of art

The final price of the project depends on several factors the town hasn’t decided on yet: the size and style of the mural. The town has been working with Chapel Hill-based muralist Michael Brown to find a spot and create a concept.

Once the town picks a site, Brown will draft the mural and give the town a final cost so the commission will know how much additional money it needs to raise.

Right now, Brown considers himself as just an adviser in Wendell’s project.

“The process of making (a mural) can take years,” Brown said. Clients have to find a fitting location, draft a concept and then find a way to fund what they want.

Brown has completed projects that have cost less than $3,000 and more than $100,000. He said price depends on several factors – if the mural is tall and he has to rent a lift, for example, it will cost more. If a group wants to apply varnish to help a mural last longer, that could add hundreds of dollars to the cost.

“(Residents) get a real sense that this is theirs and it belongs to them,” he said.

The locations the commission saw are not final considerations. They served as examples of usable spaces for murals and the Appearance Commission is still asking building owners if they would be interested in becoming home to the town’s first mural.

Commission members have said they hope to begin painting the mural by next spring.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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