SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There’s a lot of empty walls providing the perfect empty canvas for artists along the coast and deep into the Pee Dee.
One of those walls is being painted in Surfside Beach by an artist who has brought blank walls alive across South Carolina.
Artist Tommy Simpson told WMBF News he’s painted around a dozen murals in the South Strand.
One of those is the well-known ‘Hat Lady’ on the side of Surfside Drive’s Borgata restaurant.
Another is the new Shoofly train at Kingston Park mural in Conway, among several others, including restoration projects.
“As long as there’s walls that need color,” Simpson said.
Next time you drive down Surfside Drive toward the ocean, be sure to look at the side of the beach store on Surfside Drive and Ocean Boulevard. You’ll find the Grand Strand’s newest artwork looking back at you from the street.
“Because people love to have their picture taken in front of something like this, with Surfside in it, it’s like a living post card,” Simpson said.
He had just begun working on the ocean and sky late Tuesday morning. He said he planned to have the entire piece done by Wednesday night.
The beach scene wasn’t new to Simpson, he’s lived in Surfside Beach for 14 years.
“I was born in Germany and my father was in the Air Force. He retired at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in the 70s, so we’ve been here since the 60s,” Simpson explained. “I guess that makes me as local as it gets,” he continued with a laugh.
Simpson painted the steam train mural in Conway at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Main Street. He said it took him about a month. He said he channeled history for that mural.
“The Black Mariah ran between Myrtle Beach and Conway, and then the Shoofly ran from Conway, inland. And so, we decided on the Shoofly because it was mostly there on Main Street,” he said of his most recently finished piece.
But Surfside Beach’s main street is much different than Conway’s. It’s a well-traveled gateway to the beach, symbolizing rest, sunshine and relaxation. Like the beach life, it’s easy to slow down and soak up what Simpson’s newest mural is all about.
He said he has murals in Beaufort and Marion up next.
He hopes to expand his work into North Carolina and Georgia towns.
“It’s really taken off. I’m looking forward to doing more things like this in other small towns in South Carolina.”