Local artist Michael Brown's moonlight mural coats the the east side of the former Yates Motor building on West Franklin Street, which at one time also served as a stage for public art. These days, the building houses the Carolina Ale House, which serves up burgers, barbecue and baby backs -- during warmer months, al fresco.
Syd's Hair Shop has relocated and the brick building is up for rent, but the world-class mural remains, albeit generously faded from the afternoon sun. Michael Brown's "Many Earths" (2002) piece hangs on, thinly coating the westside wall howling for a restoration. Triangulate from here to catch sight of two additional murals. Across the street is Scott Nurkin's neo-signature "Greetings from Chapel Hill" (2013). Turn and face eastward for Brown's "Sea Turtles" (1993).
(photograph taken on W. Rosemary Street near the corner of Columbia Street in Chapel Hill)
He painted the delicate white dogwood blossoms first. Then added a backdrop in a deep green hue. And culminated by repeating blossoms trailing down the side of the building. Michael Brown's mural of North Carolina's state flower, "Dogwoods," evolved in three phases between 2009-2011. It can be seen from the parking lot behind the Chapel Hill Orange County Visitors Bureau on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
Brown has created a sundry of murals across Chapel Hill/Carrboro that have shaped the character of the sister towns including: The Blue Mural, Sea Turtles, Quilt, Parade of Humanity, Jigsaw Puzzle and Marathon.
(photograph taken behind the building at 501 West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill)
Stumped by the oversized jigsaw puzzle pieces painted arbitrarily on a number of Chapel Hill buildings? These pieces stem from a mural wedged in an alley off Franklin Street near the Varsity Theatre.
"Jigsaw Puzzle" (1999) was commissioned by the town of Chapel Hill with the intent to deter vandalism that was often strewn down this stretch between the Rosemary Street lot and Franklin Street. Since Chapel Hill muralist Michael Brown's work was often left untouched, the town suggested Brown erect a mural.
With a troupe of student volunteers, Brown painted one side "Carolina Blue" (though sun-faded over time) to give the claustrophobic alley a more open feel, like that of a daytime sky. As a juxtaposition he added "Duke Blue" on the opposing wall, the one closer to the city of Durham. The dark blue colors also suggested that of a night sky. The mural is a double entendre: Carolina vs. Duke, and Day vs. Night. Brown then added an additional dimension incorporating interlocking puzzle pieces that appear to be missing from the mural. He took this concept a step further by asking the volunteers to paint missing pieces randomly around town, adding mystery to an already elusive piece.
(photographs taken on Franklin Street between Colombia/Henderson streets in the alley near the Varsity Theatre)
Local artist Michael Brown -- best known for his murals scattered throughout Chapel Hill/Carrboro -- partnered with elementary school students for his latest installation. The bold 3-D paint brush streaks red paint across the facade of the newly constructed Shortbread Lofts building on Rosemary Street. A former elementary school math teacher himself, Brown collaborated with fifth graders at Northside Elementary School to create the magnificent piece, crafted from sheet metal.
(photograph taken at 333 W. Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill)
Muralist Michael Brown created this pixelated wall in the mid-1990s with remnant paint from other projects. He encouraged volunteers to create their own color blends to add to the myriad of dizzying squares. Unlike most of his other works, Brown went abstract for this vertiginous piece. Inspired by folk art, "Quilt" is draped along the wall of Walt's Grill and can be seen from Franklin Street.
(photograph taken off of Franklin Street on S. Merritt Mill Road in Chapel Hill)
Soaring dinosaurs are what local muralist Michael Brown originally envisioned for this Chapel Hill wall. But after the town's design review board turned it down, he opted for its kindred sea turtles, believed to have roamed the earth more than 200 million years ago. Brown painted the staggering 30 x 70-foot "Sea Turtle" mural in 1993. He restored the mural in 2011 as part of the Painted Walls Project, an initiative to recondition murals that shape Chapel Hill's character. The piece is on view along the side of the parking deck at the intersection of Rosemary & Columbia streets.
(photograph taken on the corner of Rosemary & Columbia)
A Chapel Hill native who works at Weaver Street Realty in Carrboro, Don quipped: "You only have to be here three years and then you're a native."
He explained how Carrboro used to be rough and tumble and has evolved over the years. "Franklin Street and Chapel Hill was the way Carrboro is now. Hippie then...If my parents found out I was in Carrboro, I'd be in trouble."
What does he like about living here today? "I love that they are two towns acting as one."
Don described how he grew up with local muralist Michael Brown. He said his image appears in the "Parade of Humanity" mural on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. "I'm the one with the bucket with the hole...It's a bit of a left-handed compliment."
(Photographed on Main Street in front of Weaver Street Realty in Carrboro)
Stretching the wall of the Carolina Coffee Shop (Franklin Street), these images spring from Michael Brown's mural "Parade of Humanity" (1997). The idea for the piece originated from the pageant of people who stroll through the alley to and from the University of North Carolina campus. The mural depicts Brown's friends and local curiosities. Brown has painted 19 other murals near downtown Chapel Hill. See Towering Shades of Blue and Herculean Men in Carrboro for images of his wok. The mural is located through Porthole Alley from 138 East Franklin Street to campus.
(photograph taken off of Franklin Street in Chapel Hill)
The "Marathon" mural by Michael Brown (1994) was commissioned by owner, John Dimos, who operated the Greek restaurant that formerly resided in the building in which the painting appears. The mural depicts an ancient Greek marathon as if on a broken plate -- from the Greek tradition celebrating by breaking a plate. In 2012, Dimos, who owns Captain John's Dockside in Chatham County, funded the restoration of the mural.
The mural is located at the convergence of West Rosemary Street and East Main Street in Carrboro. Its appears on the Don Jose Tienda Mexicana.
(photograph taken in Carrboro)