Carrboro students see murals so much in their daily lives that at times they can blend into the background. Whether it is the murals in our stairwells, done by two Dominican painters—Carlos Veras and Anthony Vasquez—last year, or one of the more than 30 murals around Chapel Hill and Carrboro, these huge paintings help to make our community the cultured and beautiful place that it is.
In Chapel Hill, murals contribute hugely to the town’s status as a center for culture and arts in The Triangle. A majority of the murals are painted on private property with the owner’s permission, and were done by UNC-Chapel Hill alumni Michael Brown. Brown completed most of his murals during the yearly arts program that he headed, and which employed student volunteers to help him with the painting. This program ran until 2001, and although Brown has only completed a few murals since, his artistic vision has deeply shaped Chapel Hill’s art scene. More recently, Brown completed work on murals at the UNC Student Store and the Franklin Street Mellow Mushroom. The following are several of Brown’s best, and least known, works.
Location: 108 West Rosemary Street, behind Moe’s and Yogurt Pump and next to the homeless shelter.
Description: This is one of the many murals throughout Chapel Hill that was done by the painter Michael Brown. He completed the Many Earths mural in 2002, but hopes to revise it soon, according to the Chapel Hill Recorder. Brown feels that the deeper meaning of the painting—we are one of many earths—is often overlooked. His goal, Chapel Hill Recorder says, is to add a Haiku to the painting that explains it’s meaning.
Location: 305 West Rosemary Street, sort of behind Noodles & Company, on Rosemary Street between Mama Dip’s and Franklin Street.
Description: Another of Michael Brown’s murals, the Paint By Numbers mural is Brown’s most recent contribution to the Chapel Hill mural collection, completed in 2003. His inspiration for the painting was the other painters that work with him on the huge projects, which can be seen in the purposefully-unfinished section of the mural. The numbers theme runs deeper than just the literal paint-by-numbers that Brown uses to make his murals, in that the depicted football players also have numbers on their jerseys.
“Nation of Many Colors”
Location: 101 Lloyd Street, across the street from Rise Biscuits & Donuts, tucked behind Salon2eleven.
Description: This mural, which depicts a map of the Earth superimposed on one of the United States. It was completed by volunteers from the now-defunct non-profit organization El Centro Latino. El Centro was a local Chapel Hill organization that aimed to serve the disadvantaged Latino Chapel Hill residents. However, it was forced to close down in 2009 due to lack of donations. This mural stands on as evidence of the organization’s impact on the Chapel Hill community.
Location: 111 South Merritt Mill Road, on Merritt Mill between the train tracks and Crook’s Corner.
Description: Unfortunately, this mural was recently painted over. It was one of the older murals in Chapel Hill, being completed in the mid-1990s. Another painting by Michael Brown, this was in many ways a collaborative painting. After tracing out the grid pattern, Brown let his disciples mix their own paint colors and color in the squares. The pattern itself was inspired by patchwork quilting.
Photos courtesy The Chapel Hill Recorder