This marble-front commercial block was built by Drs. F. C. and W. A. Richards. The Coca-Cola mural on the side of the building was restored in recent years.
Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller isn’t well known today, outside music circles, but he should be. The itinerant bluesman left his native Jonesboro after a childhood typical of Black Georgians of his day and after a series of manual labor jobs in various states, wound up in California circa 1920. He worked as a shoe-shine man outside the United Artists studio in Hollywood and was a favorite of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who helped set him up with a hot dog stand. He also got him work as an extra, in such notable films as Thief of Baghdad. With the money he saved from that enterprise, he moved to Oakland and began working for the Southern Pacific Railroad. When his railroad job ended after World War II, he went back to shining shoes, singing as he worked, and gained notice from musicians in the burgeoning Folk movement who were then flocking to the Bay Area. Due to his exposure in local bars and cafes, he recorded his first album in 1958. He had trouble finding, or paying, other musicians to back him up; as a result he invented the fotdella, a six-string bass, rigged with a cymbal. He also invented a rack to hold his harmonica and kazoo. He was a one-man band. Bob Dylan supposedly adopted his harmonica rig after listening to Fuller and recorded his song “You’re No Good” on his first album.
Fuller gained notoriety for “San Francisco Bay Blues”, which was covered by numerous artists including the Grateful Dead, Janis, Joplin, Jim Croce, and Eric Clapton.
The mural, by Shannon Lake, is a nice tribute to this influential artist.
Clayton County calls itself “The Home of Gone With the Wind” and signs of its connection to the popular movie and book abound in Jonesboro. Perhaps one of the boldest statements is this mural (circa 2018) by Shannon Lake featuring film heroine Scarlett O’Hara [a la Vivien Leigh, because that’s how nearly everyone sees her]. It’s brilliantly paired with one of her most famous utterances, “Fiddle Dee Dee!”
This colorful mural was a source of controversy because it didn’t get the proper permits. Apparently, it has been completed. It was designed by Steve Paul, founder of the Lithonia Arts Center, and much of the work was by members of the community. I won’t get into local politics, but I think the community should embrace it.
I haven’t been able to identify this store, yet, but it has one of the coolest signs (below).
It reads: Try your “LUCK FISHING”. There’s a nice pond nearby.
This store was also known as Hill Top Groceries.
Though it closed a few years ago, it has been preserved as a community landmark.
Moultrie Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
This a soul food-seafood restaurant. The murals are nice.
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.
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.
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.
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.