Evolving art community in Greensboro

The Friendly Avenue mural "If you could go anywhere" designed by John Beck was painted next to a bus stop and illustrates whimsical monsters riding their own bus. The Greensboro Mural Project works to augment the specific locations of each project, in this case to bring amusement and imagination to the experience of using the city’s public transportation.

Written by Nicole Gonzalez 

Photos by Jenn Morrison

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Charismatic murals and scattered art galleries invite people to explore and take part in the cultural transformation of Downtown Greensboro.

Deeply rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, the art scene in Greensboro exemplifies a balance between historical significance and growing urban influences.

Organizations such as Greensboro’s Elsewhere work to push both the development of downtown and the city’s art community. What began as a thrift shop in 1939 on South Elm Street has been transformed into a vibrant living art museum and creative hub. Elsewhere holds events to engage locals in the growing Greensboro art scene and invites residents from around the world to create work inspired by the decades worth of collected objects that remain fundamental to the space.

At Elsewhere’s recent fundraiser, Partners in City, Neighbors in Community (PICNIC), local artists presented their ideas for community art projects, in hopes of collecting the most votes to win the $1000 pot of donations.

One group, the Greensboro Mural Project, pitched its ideas for various future projects throughout the city with a focus on community engagement through art. The group invited PICNIC attendants to write their own “Love Letters to Greensboro,” which will influence the designs for five murals in each district.

George Scheer, director and co-founder of Elsewhere, said Greensboro’s sidewalk culture has been a major catalyst of the growth of both the organization and the city, from Elsewhere’s artists giving talks to pedestrians through sliding storefront windows before it had the proper building codes to facilitate events, to the painted hopscotch course that weaves throughout downtown sidewalks to Elsewhere’s door.

“Part of being here, inviting crowds, having events, really getting people to this side of the track was a big cultural shift in terms of getting people to think about how culture operates in Greensboro, even people’s desire to go out downtown,” Scheer said.

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