Insider's Guide to Gaston County Murals
Gaston County has a thriving art community that can be seen through not only the art establishments across the county but also by the many unique murals that are popping up in a variety of creative locations. While the amount of art is growing, art has always had a home in the county, from historic artists to up-and-coming creators.
Gaston County Museum of Art & History Education Manager, Alexander Brooks says “Art has always played a fairly major role in the cultural fabric of Gaston County. The interesting thing is it’s always been sort of an undercurrent that a lot of people haven’t acknowledged or even consciously realized it was there. Just about everyone I speak with talks about a family member or friend that paints, draws, makes music or does pottery.”
Brooks goes on to say, “These murals show beneficial pride. Each of these represent the expression of a love of place and the desire to give back and enrich the place through an artistic medium, to showcase that love and perhaps make it a little more accessible and acknowledgeable to others and to have that kind of pride demonstrated in such an empowering and enriching way is encouraging because it instills the same in the community.”
It is through this lens we view the abundant art on display in various locales throughout the county. Check out this growing list of murals that spotlight artists and give color to the region.
Awaken Gallery Mural in Mount Holly
107 W. Central Ave., Mount Holly
This mural (currently unfinished) is the creation of artist Emily Andress of Awaken Gallery in Mount Holly. So far, the mural features a woman in a dress decorated with symbols related to the Catawba tribe and Irish settlers. As it continues to grow, Andress says the mural will include buildings that are no longer a part of Mount Holly’s historic downtown area, and her skin tone will include “all skin colors as we are all part of what makes Mount Holly a star of diversity.”
Belmont Community Gardens Mural
7 N. Main St., Belmont
Located at the Belmont Community Gardens on Main Street, this mural was donated by eighth-grade students at Gaston Day School in 2018. Student Kristen Mitchell told the Gaston Gazette, “We thought that the flowers represented growth and we really want growth in the community, and we wanted to spark more public art.”
Bottle Tree Mural
102 Davis St., Belmont
This mural from artist, Georgie Nakima, is located at The Bottle Tree, a restaurant in downtown Belmont. Done in the artist’s signature style, this is an eye-catching piece of art that the Belmont community and the owners of The Bottle Tree commissioned in 2019.
132 W. Virginia Ave., Bessemer City
Bessemer City is packed with lots of public art such as “Bessemer Bees,” a mural done by artist, Allan Potter. The mural features bees gathering pollen from sunflowers with Crowders Mountain in the background and is meant to represent the teamwork and resilience of the Bessemer City community. It is located at West Virginia Avenue next to the City Hall Annex.
Caravan Coffee Mural
Though Caravan Coffee is no longer with us, Everyday Market now takes up residence in the shop's former location, the lovely mural still adorning its wall,
Main Street, Cherryville
Found off Main Street in Cherryville, this colorful mural features important parts of Cherryville’s history and community such as the cherry trees that the town derives its name from and a Carolina Freight truck, a company that used to operate in Cherryville and was one of the largest freight carriers in the nation.
Coca-Cola Mural (Cherryville)
Main Street, Cherryville
Another from Main Street in Cherryville, this mural was restored by muralist Andy Thompson as part of Cherryville’s Main Street Program. According to the Shelby Star, “The ad aims to entice passers-by to drink Coca-Cola. The town hopes it’s a quaint addition to a downtown with ambition.”
Coca-Cola Mural (Gastonia)
1109 E. Ozark Ave., Gastonia
This Coca-Cola mural can be found on the side of the Your Equipment Guys restaurant supply store in Gastonia. Depicting a hand holding a glass bottle of coke, this mural is personalized to the business and has the business’ name included on the painting.
200 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia
This 3-wall mural done by artist Bree Stallings is located at Gaston County United Way and according to Stallings it is meant to represent “United Way’s three tenants: financial freedom, education and healthcare.” The mural spans 4,000 square feet and is the largest in the county.
Gaston County Administration Murals
128 W. Main Ave., Gastonia
These colorful panels show various locations featured on the Carolina Thread Trail and are a result of an art contest won by artists Pamela Underwood and Tiz Johnston. According to the artists, “the focus of our design is on the natural resources we are so fortunate to have in Gaston County. By using vibrant colors and incorporating whimsical flowers and organic shapes, the mural concept captures the spirit of nature.” This mural can be found in front of the Gaston County Administration Building.
Goat in a Boat
141 Eighth Ave., Cramerton
This fun piece done by artist Julie Masluk represents the love of the outdoors and the adventuring spirit of Cramerton. Created for people to see as they approach Goat Island Park in downtown Cramerton, this piece can be found at the Cramerton Fire Department. According to Cramerton Mayor Will Cauthen in an interview with the Gaston Gazette, the piece represents the love of the outdoors and adventuring spirit that Cramerton is proud to uphold.
Greetings From Belmont
Mill Street Parking Lot, Belmont
Another mural designed by artist Georgie Nakima, the Greetings From Belmont Mural was painted with help from the Belmont community. After designing the mural, Nakima went to the Mill Street parking lot in downtown Belmont and sketched the outline of the mural and volunteers from the community came out to fill it in.
Mount Holly Garden Mural
126 N. Main St., Mount Holly
This mural done by artist Boyce McKinney and designed by artist Terry Rhyne can be found at the entrance to the Mount Holly Community Garden on Main Street. The mural is a celebration of nature and features some of the crops that are found in the garden such as sunflowers and artichokes. “Back in June of 2019, the Mount Holly Community Garden had a call for artists to submit ideas/concepts for the Community Garden mural. Myself, along with other artists, submitted ideas and concepts,” McKinney said.” “The committee loved the concept that Terry Rhyne submitted. Terry was not a muralist so the committee asked if I would paint her design on the wall. Of course, I had no problem at all with that.”
Shooting in the New Year
100 W. Main St., Cherryville
Created by muralist Joe McKinney as part of the Cherryville Main Street Program, this piece depicts a New Year’s Eve tradition that was started at the founding of Cherryville by German immigrants. Starting at midnight on January 1, the Cherryville New Years Shooters would move across the town and fire muskets in front of homes and businesses to discourage negative entities from threatening the properties. The mural can be found at the Old Ferguson Hardware building in Cherryville.
The Good of the Hive—Bees 1817-1874
127 W. Main Ave., Gastonia
This downtown Gastonia piece was done by artist and activist Matthew Willey as part of The Good of the Hive, Willey’s mission to paint a total of 50,000 bees in murals around the world to raise awareness for environmental issues, with this mural accounting for bees numbers 1817-1874. The location is now home to Running With Scissors.
Pita Wheel Mural
110 S. York St., Gastonia
Glass roll-up doors connect the outdoors to the bar and dining room, where a vibrant Lucille Ball mural by Charlotte’s Andy Rocco covers an entire wall, setting off the bright red leather stools surrounding the restaurant's centerpiece bar.
Stanley Train Mural
Main Street, Stanley
Found at the corner of South Main and West Chestnut Streets, this mural, created by Boyce and Joe McKinney in 2011, portrays a green locomotive stopped at the train depot and is a tribute to Stanley’s importance as a place of gathering and the role that trains have played in the history of the town.
St. Stephens AME Zion Church Playground Mural
201 W. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia
This mural is located at the playground behind St. Stephens AME Zion Church and was designed and created by artists Mark Kuney, Jeanette Fourie, Joyce Payseur and Jessica Knight. The piece depicts a child playing in leaves that have fallen to the ground and features a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
The Summit Beer Shop Mural
122 S. Main St., Mount Holly
Muralist Matt Hooker created this mural for the Summit Beer Shop in downtown Mount Holly. The mural displays a hawk carrying sprigs of holly in one talon and a bundle of hops in the other. Hooker told the Gaston County Museum of Art & History that the mural was intended to reference the Mount Holly Hawks, the local sports team, but also to be visually reminiscent of old-school tattoo designs.
The Children’s Artway
Main Street, Cherryville
This unique alleyway in downtown Cherryville contains murals, metal sculptures and inspirational quotes painted on the walls. It was done by artist and teacher Sherry Bingham as a tribute to children. She told the Gaston County Museum of Art & History that she wanted to inspire people to “stop and smell the cherry blossoms.”
This is Gaston
128 W. Main Ave, Gastonia
Another mural from Bree Stallings, this mural is located on West Main Avenue and features many different staples of Gaston County’s community and history and celebrates the people of the county.
116 N. Main St., Lowell
Welcome to Cramerton!
109 Center St., Cramerton
Representing the town’s unique military connection, this mural done by Bizzell Design tells the story of Major Stuart W. Cramer Jr., who created a twill fabric for military use that led to Cramerton getting the nickname “Khaki Town USA.” The mural also contains a portion of the speech delivered when Cramerton won the Army-Navy “E” Production Award for Cramerton Army Cloth in 1942. It is located at the DesignTech building in Cramerton.