Guide to 23 Beatties Ford Road corridor murals

Guide to 23 Beatties Ford Road corridor murals

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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Beatties Ford Road corridor murals tell stories.

They aren’t just pretty public art. They’re pieces with purpose.

  • Ask artists Marcus Kiser and Jason Woodberry about the importance of creating art which reflects the community it’s placed in. It’s the code they live by.
  • Talk to Historic West End Partners founder J’Tanya Adams about the artists who create these works, and she’ll tell you artists like Georgie Nakima and Abel Jackson have, “walked the corridor for years, so they have the corridor in their spirits.”

Take a walk with us through the corridor, going from east to west from Uptown to beyond Interstate 85, and explore the murals with us.


 


A city of Charlotte placemaking project, featuring artist Dyair. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

A city of Charlotte placemaking project, featuring artist Dyair. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

1. West End Gateway

Artist: Jamil “Dyair” Steele

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Location: I-77 and West Trade Street

Context: Dyair’s mural, a placemaking project with the city of Charlotte, doesn’t have an official name yet, but Dyair is considering “West End Gateway.” He hopes to complete the mural by late March or early April.

  • It will stretch across each side of the overpass, which was constructed during the 1960s splitting the west side from Uptown.
  • The side closer to Uptown highlights the present, with images of Johnson C. Smith University, West Charlotte High’s marching band, the Gold Line streetcar and Northwest School of the Arts. It’s 68-foot long stretch begins with an image of a Black boy “reflecting fondly on his heritage,” Dyair told me.
  • The west-facing side, which is 113 feet, will start with an image of a young Black girl reflecting on the corridor’s history, including images of Julius Chambers, Dorothy Counts, Frederick Alexander, Chatty Hattie, James Peeler, the JCSU student protest in the 1960s, the Excelsior Club, Garr Memorial Church and Biddleville Elementary.

What they’re saying: The project is designed to help “stitch together the west side, back to Uptown and really create a gateway that celebrates the history and rich culture of Historic West End,” City of Charlotte Urban Design Center manager Erin Chantry told me.


Westend Perpetual Legacy by Abel Jackson. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

2. Westend Perpetual Legacy

Artist: Abel Jackson

Location: 1545 West Trade St.

Context: The mural is a recreation of Jackson’s 2012 work, highlighting Garr Memorial Church, segregation era movie theater the Grand Theatre, Johnson C. Smith’s Biddle Hall and the university’s memorial archway, Old Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

Jackson's original "Westend Perpetual Legacy" sits on Mosaic Village at 1635 West Trade St. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Jackson’s original “Westend Perpetual Legacy” sits on Mosaic Village at 1635 West Trade St. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

3. Arts Factory

Artist: Hasaan Kirkland

Location: JCSU Arts Factory, 1545 West Trade St.

Context: Kirkland, who was a professor at JCSU, created his first large outdoor mural to showcase the university’s visual and performing arts program.


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

4. Intergalactic Soul

Artists: Marcus Kiser and Jason Woodberry

Location: West Complex, 1600 West Trade St.

Context: For nearly a decade, “Intergalactic Soul” has explored political, social and cultural themes through physical exhibits and performance elements. In December 2020, it expanded to include public art.

  • Woodberry once told me during a 2020 interview for The Charlotte Post that the mural isn’t just pretty public art, but rather a reflection of the community.
  • A group of girls at a birthday party at nearby home asked if they could help paint, but since the mural was on an abandoned building behind a fence, the artists couldn’t let them.
  • Instead, they painted four stars, one for each child, so whenever they saw the mural, they would see a reflection of themselves.

What they’re saying: “That made my day,” Woodberry told me in 2020. “Maybe it’s also me being a father, but I just thought it was the coolest thing ever.”


Billie Holiday. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Billie Holiday by Abel Jackson. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

5. Musical Greats

Artists: Chad Cartwright, John Hairston Jr.Abel Jackson, Ricky Singh and Tiffonye Wilkins

Location: West Complex, 1600 West Trade St.

Context: Eight murals by five artists showcase national musical greats: Shirley Caesar, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Stevie Nicks, Carlos Santana, Prince and Garth Brooks.

  • The pieces were placed on canvas banners to preserve the work should they need to be moved.
  • The project was a byproduct of CARES Act funding, which was distributed by the city to Historic West End Partners and the NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association to help put artists to work during the pandemic.

What they’re saying: “It is something to beautify spaces that aren’t being used anymore,” Cartwright told me during a 2021 interview.


N.C. 8 Musical Greats by T'Afo Feimster and Abel Jackson.

“N.C. 8” by T’Afo Feimster and Abel Jackson. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

6. N.C. 8

Artists: T’Afo Feimster and Abel Jackson

Location: West Complex, 1600 West Trade St.

Context: This one focuses on North Carolina musicians, including: Nina Simone from Tryon, Roberta Flack from Black Mountain, Kinston’s Maceo Parker, High Point’s John Coltrane, Newland’s Max Roach, Thelonious Monk of Rocky Mount and Gastonia’s Chuck Brown.

What they’re saying: “The universal language, they say, is music, but I also say it is art as well,” Feimster told me during a 2021 interview.


Manifest Future. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

7. Manifest Future

Artists: Georgie Nakima, who goes by Garden of Journey, and Sloane Siobhan. It’s curated by Janelle Dunlap

Location: West Complex, 1600 West Trade St.

Context: The mural series symbolizes reclamation of space for Black and brown people in a gentrifying neighborhood, encouraging current residents to think about being in this space in the future by using Black faces and Afro-futurism.

What they’re saying: “For me, Manifest Future is really a way of connecting people back to the past, and giving them a familiarity that is present day or even future tense,” Dunlap told me during a 2020 interview. 

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios


Guardians of the Universe 1. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

8. Guardians of the Universe 1 and 2

Artist: T’Afo Feimster 

Location: Venue @1801, 1701 West Trade St.

Context: The pieces are reproductions of Feimster’s paintings, which were selected from his studio by the venue for the building.

What they’re saying: “I almost always paint listening to jazz music,” Feimster told me.

Guardians of the Universe 2. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

9. Charlotte, Past, Present and Future

Artists: Dyair, Curtis King, Kyle Holbrook, Jaxon and Devon Alan Johnson.

Location: Primary Health Care, 508 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: History and culture are on display here. From historic sites, such as the Excelsior Club, Good Samaritan Hospital and Old Mt. Carmel Baptist Church to West Charlotte High School’s marching band and Queen Charlotte to the city’s skyline, it touches on a little bit of everything.

What they’re saying: “We wanted to capture the essence of the community —capture what the Historic West End is about,” Dyair told me once.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

10. Manifest Future

Artist: Georgie Nakima/Garden of Journey, curated by Janelle Dunlap

Location: The intersection of Beatties Ford Rd. and Booker Ave.

Context: Like the first part of the mural series, it’s intended to showcase the neighborhood’s history and culture, while looking toward the future, and helping people see themselves in it.

  • It draws on Historic Washington Heights as a streetcar suburb, and highlights Johnson C. Smith University, Northwest School of the Arts (which was once West Charlotte High), the Excelsior Club and Booker T. Washington.
  • Nakima also included a quote from Washington: “If you want to uplift yourself, uplift others.”

What they’re saying: “I wanted to highlight that Black culture is not a monolith,” Nakima told me during a 2020 interview. “We come in many forms, but we’re still a force as a tribe. You aren’t bringing another down just because you’re uplifting this heritage.”


Makayla Binter mural at The Ritz at Washington Heights. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Makayla Binter mural at The Ritz at Washington Heights. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

11. Queen Charlotte holding a crown

Artist: Makayla Binter

Location: The Ritz at Washington Heights, 1201 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: What was once the site The Ritz Theatre, a segregation-era movie theater, is now an outdoor community space, featuring public art by Binter and Junior Gomez, with Gomez creating The Ritz sign facing the street and Binter painting the mural paying homage to Queen Charlotte, the city’s namesake.  

What they’re saying: “The crown is the crown of Black and brown people of Charlotte, and the other shapes that project off the main center design are movement of Black and people throughout the city, whether that is of their own volition or not,” Binter told me last November.

Go deeper: New outdoor movie and event space opens on west Charlotte’s historic Ritz Theatre site


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

12. Northwest School of the Arts entrance

Artist: Rosalia Torres-Weiner

Location: Northwest School of the Arts, 1415 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: A $22,445 grant from Charlotte’s Housing and Neighborhood Services and support from the Lincoln Heights neighborhood Association allowed Torres-Weiner to complete the mural in two weeks, along with help from volunteer students and adults.

  • Featured artists on the entrance include Audra McDonald, Ella Fitzgerald and Misty Copeland.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

One of eight photos in the Women of the New Tribe outdoor exhibit. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

13. Women of the New Tribe

Artist: Jerry Taliaferro

Location: 1915 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: The exhibit made its debut at the Afro-American Cultural Center, now the Harvey B. Gantt Center, in 2002. It features eight of Taliaferro’s photographs in a public, outdoor exhibit.


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

14. West End

Artists: WMichael Grant and Carla Aaron-Lopez  

E-Makayla Binter and Dammit Wesley 

S-Matthew Clayburn and LordPhly 

T-Justin Surgeon

E-Dyair 

N-Ricky Singh

D-DeNeer Davis 

Location: 2020 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: This is the second mural in the Beatties Ford Strong movement series, which neighborhood residents launched in response to a mass shooting that killed Jamaa Cassell, Christopher Gleaton, Kelly Miller and Dairyon Stevenson in June 2020.

  • Historic West End Partners put a call out for creatives after the incident, and the response was overwhelming.

What they’re saying: “We put one simple post giving people an opportunity to show their love and support for the pain that people are feeling, whether it was through the loss of loved ones or George Floyd, or just inequities and overdue investment in this area, to just come show some love and some support, and 60 artists just showed up,” J’Tanya Adams told me in 2020. 

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios


Georgie Nakima mural at 2020 Beatties Ford Road. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Garden of Journey mural at 2020 Beatties Ford Rd.. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

15. Icon and Rocket

Artist: Georgie Nakima/Garden of Journey

Location: 2020 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: The 2021 mural is part of the Milestone Initiative, a collaboration between DC Comics and Ally, which highlights Black creatives.

Go deeper: A new vision for Beatties Ford Road and LaSalle Street


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

16. Sankofa

Artist: T’Afo Feimster

Location: 2120 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: The Sankofa mural is also part of the Beatties Ford Strong series.

  • The Sankofa symbol comes from the Akan people of Ghana. It typically shows a bird with its head turned back to grab an egg and its feet facing forward. Here the bird is coming out of a book, representing knowledge.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

17. Beatties Ford Road Strong

Artist: Ricky Singh

Location: Niki’s Food Shop, 2200 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: This mural kicked off the Beatties Ford Strong movement series.


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

18. The River of Life

Artist: Abel Jackson

Location: West End Fresh Seafood Market, 2206 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: West End Fresh Seafood Market owner Bernetta Powell commissioned Jackson’s piece through a city placemaking grant. It honors:

  • Bertha Maxwell-Roddey, whose many accomplishments include co-founding the Afro-American Cultural Center, which is now the Gantt Center.
  • James Ferguson II co-founded Charlotte’s first integrated law firm.
  • Chambers, who co-founded that firm with Ferguson and argued Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, which helped desegregate CMS and set the precedent for integrating schools nationally in 1971.
  • “Chatty” Hattie Leeper was the first Black woman on North Carolina’s radio waves and was inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
  • Harvey Gantt, who desegregated Clemson University and served as Charlotte’s first Black mayor.
  • Sarah Stevenson, a leader in desegregating Charlotte schools.

Go deeper: Statue honors Charlotte civil rights champion 


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

19. This Too Shall Pass

Artist: Ricky Singh

Location: West End Fresh Seafood Market, 2206 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: The mural was a collaboration with Charlotte is Creative through the #CountOnMeCLT initiative to encourage COVID-19 safety precautions. It too was part of the Beatties Ford Strong series.


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

20. Animal Fusion

Artist: Randy Berry

Location: 2224 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: Berry was commissioned to paint the mural when the space was The Walk-in Closet Shop, and although he didn’t give it a name at the time, he said he’d call it “Animal Fusion.”


Lulia Market mural by Ricky Singh, Makayla Binter, Bunny Gregory, Katrina Cherry and Tiffonye’ Michelle. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios 

Lulia Market mural by Ricky Singh, Makayla Binter, Bunny Gregory, Katrina Cherry and Tiffonye’ Michelle. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

21. Past, present and future

Artists: Ricky Singh, Makayla Binter, Bunny Gregory, Katrina Cherry and Tiffonye’ Wilkins in collaboration with Charlotte Black Owned, Charlotte is Creative, Community Dream Builders, Digital Charlotte, Hue House and The Block.

Location: Lulia Market, 2425 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: “C” highlights the neighborhood’s roots. L honors West Charlotte High’s impact on the community; it’s the alma mater of the market’s owner, and the market is named for his daughter. T symbolizes the importance of access to technology. Lastly, the crown represents neighborhood pride. 

What they’re saying: Patience shows its value,” Singh told me during a 2021 interview. “I always say, ‘If you want to go far, go together,’ that African proverb. This is a perfect example. This is a combination of a variety of people who came together to make this happen.”


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

22. KNOW JUSTICE

Artists: Georgie Nakima/Garden of Journey and students

Location: McCrorey Family YMCA, 3801 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: YMCA of Greater Charlotte received $2 million from the city of Charlotte to launch Youth and Teen Opportunity Centers focused on summer programing. Nakima worked with students in the Level Up program to create a safe space for teens in the evening. Together, they created KNOW JUSTICE.

What they’re saying: “So grateful for this opportunity and to inspire the next generation of artists 🌊,” Nakima posted on Facebook during summer 2020.


Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

23. Almetto Howey Alexander Labyrinth

Artist: Tom Schulz

Location: McCrorey Family YMCA, 3801 Beatties Ford Rd.

Context: The labyrinth is named for Palmetto Howey Alexander, a lifelong educator whose vision brought it to Beatties Ford Road. It is free and open to all, and is intended for healing and meditation. The labyrinth is also believed to be the first Afro-centric labyrinth in the United States.


Thought bubble: I find it interesting how the Black Lives Matter mural on Tryon Street continues to fade, but murals continue to appear along Beatties Ford Road. The mural in Uptown literally said “Black Lives Matter,” but the murals on the west side do more than say it; they show it.

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