Hendersonville – Two Hendersonville sidewalks have lasting colorful artistry in time for the holidays, thanks to a collaborative public art project involving dozens of people painting outdoor imagery.
The outdoor project’s two leaders are artists Elizabeth Queen and Diamond Cash. Cash said art evolved as an avid hobby and now a business for her. The Hendersonville High School alumnus developed painting, drawing and photography skills through the local Boys and Girls Club.
Cash painted her murals for hours at a time whenever the weather was clear, mostly within a month’s time. Outdoor exterior paint was used. The overall project took two months. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be at 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3.
Cash painted most of the “Bear Crossing“ landscape mural she designed. It is on a sidewalk along the north edge of Fifth Avenue, between Grove and Pine streets. Its layers were green at the bottom, bright yellow sun rays across the top and in between two shades of blue to depict hazy local Blue Ridge Mountains. Bear silhouettes were added.
That scenic Bear Crossing image was one of three murals the public chose in late September from online submissions and six finalists. There were 830 votes online and 157 in person at community events, City of Hendersonville Downtown Economic Development Coordinator Jamie Carpenter noted. She oversaw the project. An AARP Community Challenge Grant paid for paint supplies.
Two of Cash’s designs were accepted.
Her “Hendo” shows five gesturing hands in various skin shades, reflecting cultural diversity. “Hendo” is a longtime nickname for Hendersonville.
Busy Bee Line
“Hendo Bee Line” by Elizabeth Queen is a lengthy mural on sidewalk along Maple Street from Fifth Avenue to the Historic Train Depot near Seventh Avenue. The three murals provide a more aesthetic corridor that links Seventh Avenue area businesses and residences with Downtown Hendersonville, Carpenter said.
Queen calls Hendo Bee Line a “honeycombed Yellow Brick Road through which pedestrians of all ages can hop, skip or meander through an illustrative border garden made of native pollinators.” They include honeysuckle, black-eyed Susan and purple cone flowers. Why pollinator flowers?
“The pathway salutes our status as a Bee City USA, and the recent ‘For the Good of the Hive Mural’ downtown” that muralist Matt Willey finished in mid-May, beekeeper and organic gardener Queen said. It also salutes “our master gardeners” and “importance of sustainable interactions between man, the community and nature — especially pollinators.”
Further, a four seasons theme symbolizes “different stages of our lives and our community.” Four seasons are distinct in the type of flowers and the amount of color they have.
Public Paint Day
Friends of Downtown Hendersonville volunteers joined the lead artists’ friends and others. “This project has brought a lot of interest and involvement in the community,” Carpenter said. She said the “eye-catching and thoughtful” project brings people together for a productive, artistic goal and leaves lasting outdoor art for people to see as they walk or drive by.
Queen anticipates the murals as landmarks — useful for “meet me at the Bee Line” planning. The murals produce a sense of achievement and pride for painters. “They can say ‘that’s me. I helped make this! It’s inspiring, empowering and affirming.”
Carpenter said “lead artists” Cash and Queen “dedicated long hours, pulling in friends, family and the entire community together.”
They often worked until dark. Queen said people ranging from ages three to 70 painted. Her husband David Queen, a professional metal sculptor, helped very much.
Hendersonville High School art teacher Courtney Bunn Hoelscher painted. She encouraged her students to help. A few did over a span of several days.
Hoelscher and Queen handed out small cups of paint and a brush to participants on Friday, Nov. 12. On that “Public Paint Day,” people got to put their lasting mark on the bee line mural. People signed up online for half-hour volunteer work shifts.
By this point, flower outlines were on the sidewalk. People filled in color in a paint-by-number phase. Numbers signified which color to put in each marked space.
Kathy Kerrigan Menck patiently filled in blue on flowers. The hospital employee said “it’s neat to have more art” outdoors. Another volunteer, Celeste Mayes, said the project “brings new life to this area.”
Sofia Fernandez, a junior at HHS, is among Hoelscher’s students. She painted in wildflowers’ vibrant violet and red shades Like other muralists, she enjoyed seeing her section come to life.
Berit Raines, an HHS senior, is a “hobby artist” who eyes an art history major in college. She painted jewelweed. Her mother, Courtney Raines, said Elizabeth Queen directed her to add a “bedazzling” illusion of many flowers in the background for a sense of depth. So she sprinkled on small bits of color to represent those distant flowers.