Asheville Mural Project gets closer to completion

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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From the press release:

The Asheville Mural Project is poised to complete last summer’s work on the concrete support piers of the I-240 Bridge downtown.  The Lexington Avenue side of the Gateway Mural is estimated to be completed by the end of July, where artists Kurt Thaesler, Steve Lister, and Harper Leich have been working to finish the portion dedicated to the arts in Asheville.  Painting is currently well underway, as well as a plan to address the water run-off issue occurring due to the break in the roadway overhead.  

AMP will be honored as the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Chaddick Foundation at the end of June, and hopes to raise interest in the community to match the grant, for a total of $10,000 enabling the collective to complete the mural in it’s entirety, both Lexington and Merrimon sides.  Donations can be made to AMP c/o Arts2People PO Box 1093 Asheville NC 28802, or by visiting our website You may also contact AMP Director, Molly Must, at [email protected]

AMP is also the beneficiary of the first four Lexingon Ave Bizarres and truly wishes to thank the organizers! AMP’s scaffolding this time has been donated which is great as it is helping keep costs down. The team has hit one minor snag where they have been looking to find a solution for the drainage/ roadway leaking problem which is happening directly above the mural. The leaking is resulting in water pouring off the top of the concrete wall (the canvas) and over the top of the finish mural work. They have spoken with a roofer who hopes to come up with a long term solution to protect the mural.

The Gateway mural has been a collaborative effort amongst several painters in the Asheville Mural Project.  So far, for the past three weeks, three painters’ have been hard at work, Harper Leich, Kurt Thaesler and Steve Lister on the Lexington Gateway Mural to finish up the West side’s north section.

They have been really excited to get started on this side of the mural because their design really focused on the center, where both sections of wall supports come together, but do not touch. They felt that this was where the real potential in the mural design was and so it was a great feeling to get started on the north end and complete the other portrait to start the dialogue between the two images. 

The drum circle created by silhouetted drummers also is an element that carries over from one wall the next, and sort of embraces this dialogue… the idea has been hanging out there while AMP has been fundraising and it is great to finally see the core concept taking shape now. 

This west side of the Lexington Avenue mural project was tagged with the theme “Asheville’s Arts”. The general hope is that the life of the mural will summarize the arts and culture of city of Asheville.

AMP will be extending the mural to the Merrimon Avenue side of the bridge, and has gathered a new group of artists to manifest the plan.  One section of the design will be a large stylized image of two individuals playing chess in Pritchard Park.  One of the players in the mural, Charles O’Kelley, plays chess by the outdoor boards in the park “every day the sun shines” and indeed can be found there at the Haywood and Patton intersection on most summer days, contemplating the chess table he brings from home.  Originally reigning from New York, Charles appears playing chess in the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher.

The approach to these two new segments surrounding Merrimon Avenue will be very different from the project’s previous traditional techniques.  Inspired by Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program (, AMP will be using an off-the-wall method of painting on 5’ by 5’ sections of a non-woven fiber nick-named “parachute cloth” that will be applied to the wall with an acrylic medium, similar to wall-papering.  This method presents numerous advantages, namely the ability for many people to work on the project at once, on the walls of studio, or on tables at a community event, eliminating the extended use of scaffolding.  The mural should last longer as well, as the paint will be infused within the fibers and will be safe from peeling.


Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1


  1. Victor Thompson December 15, 2009

    My wife & I visited Asheville (from Phila.) over Thanskgiving. the first thing we saw in the freezing morning while seeking coffee was this incredible mural. I tell everyone it is the "Greatest Mural Ever Painted." (I did see the Sistine Chapel, by the way. if Mike had painted on an overpass pier I would have been more impressed.) this mural is on a level with Watts Towers in L.A. and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It was worth driving 11 hours down and 16 hours home to see this extraordinary masterpiece, though I’m not sure Bonnie would agree. the only problem is that no one in Asheville seems to have a decent photo of the mural. we only had an cellphone camera. going to come back after we find our real camera somewhere in this mess.

  2. Alex Sacui November 9, 2009

    Different communities have different values. I grew up in Youngstown Ohio. No murals for miles and miles. Lived some in Philadelphia. In 1959 Philadelphia’s City Council passed an ordinance that a percentage of construction costs of municipal projects be set aside for fine arts. I believe the percent is 1%.
    Philadelphia’s got a mural every couple blocks.

    The various environments attract different types of people. There’s people who love Ohio and would never move to Philadelphia and there’s people who love a place like Philadelphia and wouldn’t move to Ohio.

    Seems to me that the number of murals is on the rise around here. Might be hard to tell. Murals are supposed to have a lifespan of around 35 years.

  3. Ian Wilkinson July 28, 2009

    in response to the "waste of money in general" comment—What amazing work of art in your mind hasn’t been a waste of money or time. The Sistine Chapel, maybe Michelangelo’s David, or the Great Spinx. I bet you like it better if the whole dang world wasn’t so terribly bright and filled with all those annoying colors. While we are on the subject why do we have to have so many different smells and tastes, and what about little children and all that laughing and carrying on. Go step on a butterfly jerk.

  4. Asheville Dweller July 1, 2009

    Now that is a waste of money in general . . .


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