Asheville muralist Gus Cutty has memorialized the late downtown character Mell Andree Ailes, Sr. in a new piece of street art. Ailes, a troubled man with an extensive record of arrests, was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street near the Dripolator on Thanksgiving Day 2011. He died the next day of his injuries.
Backstory here from BlogAsheville.
Also known as Andre, Ram and Dre Dog, Ailes was a public menace at times. He was also a well-liked downtown character whose death caused community outcry. He had received help from Western Carolina Rescue Ministry not long before his death, and some describe him as a man who had gotten sober and turned his life around in his last years.
Here’s the original image of Ailes from Asheville photographer, Mike Belleme.
The street-art memorial is at 116 North Lexington in downtown Asheville.
He was also a great spirit as most people who had personal interactions with him. Many people stopped by today and told me about how great he was and stories about him. One that has always stuck with me is that when my friend broke up with his girl and was thrown out of his apartment the same day with no cash Dre bought him dinner and a hotel room (contrary to popular belief he was not homeless). I have heard numerous stories like this, and can say from my standpoint to have dealt with a downtown character for prolly 15 years and not remember having a poor interaction with speaks volumes. RIP Dre