Obelisk Flour Ghost Mural, Moultrie

Moultrie Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Mr. Fish Fry King, Cordele

This a soul food-seafood restaurant. The murals are nice.

Holley Mural Dedication, Lumpkin

Ezekiel and Lonnie Holley

On 24 July 2021 I was honored to attend the dedication of a mural designed by nationally renowned artist Lonnie Holley and painted by his son Ezekiel, on the side of the Singer Hardware building on the square in Lumpkin. Mr. Holley’s work is often classified as Outsider Art, though The New York Times called him “the Insider’s Outsider”.

The work actually comprises two individual works of art. The image on the left is “Born into Color”, and the image at right is “Black in the Midst of the Red, White, and Blue”.

According to his website, Lonnie Holley began working by the time he was five years old. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1950, and lived in a whiskey house, the state fairgrounds, and several foster homes. Holley notes that his early life was chaotic and he never got to experience a real childhood. Perhaps this explains why the artist has such an infectious good spirit today.

Also from Mr. Holley’s website: Since 1979, Holley has devoted his life to the practice of improvisational creativity. His art and music, born out of struggle, hardship, but perhaps more importantly, out of furious curiosity and biological necessity, has manifested itself in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, and sound. Holley’s sculptures are constructed from found materials in the oldest tradition of African American sculpture. Objects, already imbued with cultural and artistic metaphor, are combined into narrative sculptures that commemorate places, people, and events. His work is now in collections of major museums throughout the country, on permanent display in the United Nations, and been displayed in the White House Rose Garden. In January of 2014, Holley completed a one-month artist-in-residence with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva Island, Florida, site of the acclaimed artist’s studio.

A nice crowd turned out for the dedication and braved excessive heat for the opportunity to meet Mr. Holley.

This young man kicked off the ceremony with a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem.

Annie Moye, who organized the event and helped secure the mural, speaks at the dedication.

Mike McFalls, an Associate Professor of Art at Columbus State University and Director of Pasaquan, gave context about Mr. Holley’s place in the art world and a brief overview of his life and career.

Spontaneity was the order of the day, and Mr. Holley was quick to join the improvisational street dance and shared some good moves with the crowd.

Carlonie Holley putting the finishing touches on her chalk art

Mr. Holley also took time to visit with anyone who was so inclined and personally answered many questions from those in attendance.

He also gave a demonstration of his process to local 4-H members.

The hand of the artist

I want to personally thank Annie Moye for inviting me to document the event and to give a special thanks to Lonnie, Ezekiel, and the entire Holley family for allowing me to photograph them. They were really nice folks and I’m honored to have had the opportunity.

Ahmaud Arbery Mural, Brunswick

Today, Ahmaud Arbery should be celebrating his 27th birthday with his family and loved ones, but on 3 February 2020, while jogging in a “white” neighborhood, he became yet another needless victim of racial violence. Unarmed, he was killed in cold blood by a retired law enforcement officer who apparently took offense to the mere presence of an athletic young black man in his neighborhood. This man presumed that Arbery’s race made him a suspect in a spate of recent robberies and acted as judge, jury, and executioner. To make matters worse, the local district attorney didn’t even think Arbery’s death met the definition of murder and charges weren’t brought against the perpetrators until it became a national news story. At this writing, the killer’s son and another man have also been charged not only with murder, but with hate crimes. As a white man, I am disgusted by the racists who committed the crime and the legal system’s abject but unsurprising failure.

The whole affair makes me angry but it’s nice to see this mural in the heart of Brunswick’s African-American community, on Albany Street. It was painted by Brunswick-born Miami artist Marvin Weeks and aims to educate and bring together all who deplore this inexcusable crime. The structure on which it is painted will soon become an African-American cultural center.

DeLamar Hardware Company Murals, Hawkinsville

The Chero-Cola mural, as well as the Dutch Boy Paints and store murals have been nicely restored on this commercial block in downtown Hawkinsville. It is presently home to Batts Drug Company.

 

Conner’s Food Store & Hardware, Pineview

 

Farmers Supply Company & Akin Lodge No. 537, 1910, Taylorsville

Typical of many commercial blocks built in late-19th- and early-20th-century Georgia, this structure served a dual purpose as a general store and Masonic lodge.

World’s First Coca-Cola Mural , 1894, Cartersville

In the early 20th century, Coca-Cola wall paintings, or murals, were ubiquitous in small towns all over America. But through research and authentication by the Coca-Cola Company, it has been determined that the very first such advertisement was created here in Cartersville, on the side of Young Brothers Pharmacy, in 1894. It was painted by syrup salesman James Couden.The Coca-Cola Company regularly refreshed the sign with new paint until the late 1970s, and in the 1980s, Dean Cox, who had purchased the pharmacy from one of the Young brothers’ daughters in 1970, became curious about the historical sign. In 1989, he hired Alison Free and Aggie Ferguson to restore it to its original condition. 25 layers of paint were removed to reveal the mural visible today. Coca-Cola fans and collectors from all over the world have been making pilgrimages to Cartersville to see it ever since.

Cartersville Downtown Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

R. E. Ringer General Merchandise, 1927, Carroll County

This tin-sided false front store should get your attention if you’re traveling on US Highway 27, just south of Carrollton. A sign on the building notes that the store operated from 1927-1957. Like the Johnson Sweet Potato barn, another roadside icon located nearby, the Ringer Store’s Coca-Cola signs and murals have been repainted.

Jackson General Store, Lowell

L. H. Jackson General Merchandise was likely the main store in the crossroads community of Lowell, which had a post office from 1878-1903. It is very typical of late-19th and early-20th-century stores in Georgia. The Coca-Cola mural, though faded significantly, is an amazing survivor.