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A Mural by Michael Brown

Stroll around the streets of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and you will notice a number of beautiful murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings. These works are the creation of Chapel Hill artist Michael Brown. A graduate of the art department at UNC, Michael makes his living making art and has done commissions around North Carolina and as far a-field as Massachusetts.

In Chapel Hill, many of his murals are prominently displayed, like "Postcards" on the wall of the former Avid Reader or "Pencil" on the wall along Henderson Street next to the post office. Others take a little hunting to locate. "Amber Alley," for instance, can be found stretching across the back walls of several Franklin Street businesses, and is easily seen from the commons area atop the parking deck on Rosemary Street. Porthole Alley, the north side campus access, also houses a mural. The most unusual mural can be found on the side of Walt's Grill at Merrit Mill Road. Titled "Quilts," the small squares of color reference both folk tradition and high modernist painting.

The murals began in the 1980's with help from local high school students and have been a community-based project from the very beginning. Many were painted with the help of these students, who painted the walls as high as they could reach, before Michael finished them. [43].

Take the walking tour and see them for yourself. Murals can be found in:

1. Amber Alley
2. Porthole Alley ("Parade")
3. Alley next to Sorrell Building ("jig-saw")
4. Rosemary St Parking Garage (scenes a la Altmaria/Lascaux)
5. W. Wall of Bank of America: parking lot on Rosemary Street (street figures)
6. Centura Bank parking lot facing Columbia St (sea turtles)
7. East wall of General Motors: parking lot of 411 West (scenes of trees in various climates)
8. West Wall of the Avid Reader (old diary, Baptist Church)
9. West Wall of Carolina Cleaners (Hands)
10. Post Office, retaining wall in Henderson Street
11. Blue Night: back of building, facing parking lot on Rosemary Street
12. Alley wall of Studio Supply (Musicians)
13. Post Office, interior (The Selling of Lots)
14. Patio Loco/McDonalds (Parrots)

The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill

All Text and Photos © 2004.