This Is Carolina: Paint strokes give new color to downtown scene

This Is Carolina: Lake City Murals

LAKE CITY, SC (WMBF) - There are many towns scattered across South Carolina, some waiting to be returned to former glory, and others are thriving with the times. Lake City is one of the latter.

It’s historic building fronts are kept bustling with mom and pop shops and trendy restaurants keep the parking spots filled. But this city has uniquely made a name for itself through art.

You could say Lake City was like an empty canvas, and people came in and painted bright, complimentary colors across it over time.

“I don't know if I should use the word strange, but I don't know how it worked out this way,” Alabama muralist Donald Walker said. “There’s a lot going on, it’s fun, there’s a lot of places you can go eat, a lot of things to see. But the people are just very small-town friendly still. Hopefully it’ll stay that way, that’s been great.”

Walker told WMBF News that ArtFields asked him to come paint the side of an old gas station.

He’s turned it into a bug mural with 27 mini-paintings hidden within it.

"Transformation. So, going from caterpillars to butterflies. When we got here and realized that you'd be standing right in front of it, we had to do something to make it interesting from up close,” Walker explained.

Onlookers can find everything from a shark, Spiderman and dogs.

"I just tried to come up with the weirdest things you could hide in a bug mural,” Walker said.

“What’s the weirdest so far?” WMBF’s Meredith Helline asked.

“Maybe Darth Vader,” Walker said, pointing to its hidden location. Down Saul Street, people will find a Florida couple bringing “a new hope” to a different blank wall.

This one faces a sunshine yellow snack shack, that was recently revitalized and now filled with customers.

"I love the way it peeps around the corner when you look down the street, it's kind of neat,” muralist Andrew Wilson said of his bundle of green beans mural, hand-painted with his wife.

The green beans are wrapped by a bandana with a strawberry print and tobacco leaf.

"We knew that green beans were big in different time periods, and that strawberries and tobacco all are part of that history, so we really wanted to do something that tied it all together,” Sarah Wilson said.

The Wilson’s call their art partnership “Hand in Hand.”

“It’s kind of a joke because Hand in Hand actually came out of our wedding. We each wrote our own vows, and all that we knew about the other was we had the same size paper. And ironically the last three lines in both of ours were hand-in-hand. So as cheesy as it sounds, it really was there from the time we were married. We thought that fits us in our life, and when we decided to do this that’s it, hand-in-hand everything we do,” Sarah Wilson said.

She said they both gave up their day jobs as a teacher and newspaper editor to become artists, traveling in their new portable tiny home, with their dog.

“We like to really get to know the people, and spend time, and this makes it to simple for us to do,” the Wilsons said.

Walker and the Wilsons were asked to paint the murals by people leading ArtFields.

The artists each said they have murals across the country, and their respective mural will take, in all, about two weeks to finish. ArtFields goes through Saturday May 4.

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