I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the "First in Flight" state when I decided to explore North Carolina's urban art scene. With all the negative headlines recently with controversy over Confederate statues, ill-informed Transgender Laws and KKK racist bile, I had no reason to think I would actually find anything remotely redeeming, much less, beautiful, about this place. I was happy to be proven wrong, at least in the cities I explored.
Basing myself in Duke University's backyard of Durham, I ventured out to some of North Carolina's more open-minded and creative locales: Asheville, Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Each one had something special to offer the casual visitor with art on the brain.
"My buddy Topr and I started the event to promote graffiti culture and history in Asheville. Ishmael, Trek6 and Ian Wilkinson have all played important roles in making it happen from the beginning. Two years ago, we officially brought in Ian to help produce the event. At the core, it was an excuse to get our out-of-town graffiti friends to come to town and paint and drink beer and eat BBQ."
What could be better than enjoying beers and BBQ with like-minded friends while adding a little color to the neighborhood? Sounds like the makings of magic to me.
Here are a few pics of the main wall from this year's event:
Walking around the compound is like exploring a huge outdoor museum of murals and graff. And if you get too hot or hungry after taking in all the beauty on the walls, you can always stop in at the 12 Bones Smokehouse for some BBQ and beers of your own, located right in the middle of it all, on Foundry Street. Once you have fueled up, take another stroll around to sober up while soaking up the beauty one more time before hitting the road.
Elsewhere in Asheville, there are also works of note, with pieces by Gus Cutty, Patch Whisky, and Huns. Many of them lie along Haywood Road, but you can find pieces scattered throughout town. And if you want to check out any of the previous year's Burners & BBQ walls, head to The Odditorium (2014) or Sky Lanes Bowling Alley (2015).
If you venture beyond the art epicenter of Asheville, you should head on over to Winston-Salem, where there are some fun walls worth checking out, including a piece by Kendall Doub entitled "The Baller", which features a broken man-turned-gumball machine which will leave you questioning the meaning of life. (You may need another beer for that.)
"It's a great way to pull people into the work", Doub says. "I strongly believe mural/street art is a great way to bring people into the arts. Not everyone will visit a gallery or a museum but we all walk down the street".