OUR MURAL STORY
It all began in 2008 when Trips for Kids Charlotte started thinking about how we might let folks know, in a big way, that we had the Charlotte Re-Cyclery bike shop at 15th and North Davidson streets. As ideas unfolded, a piece of iconic community art seemed predestined to occur.
First came the idea from Fred Sexton of painting the mural in 24 hours. A local cyclist, a Charlotte Re-Cyclery customer and an idea man, Fred applied the concept of Spencer Lueder’s 24 Hours of Booty event to a painting extravaganza.
Next came the Arts & Science Council grant. Annie Lambla, a wonderful volunteer who didn’t mind getting her hands dirty in the shop, agreed to shepherd the application process. Her efforts paid off as we were awarded a nearly $5,000 grant ($4,900 to be exact) to bring together the community to create a mural based around bicycles, using their physical form and mechanics as inspiration.
Next up was finding the artist, and we literally stumbled upon Will Puckett in mid-2009 when we saw his floor mural at Amelie’s restaurant. After a couple of meetings with him, we could see he would bring a great talent and understanding of our organization to the larger community.
By November, Will presented his “paint by numbers” concept that would enlist the community’s participation as well as document our goals of helping kids obtain a bike through our Earn-A-Bike Program and getting kids on bikes through our Saturday morning Ride Program.
Soon our date was set for April 16-17 — and 24 straight hours of painting and fun.
Thanks to our sponsors, the fundamentals fell in place to continue moving forward. Lowe’s donated the 17 individual pallets we painted and then installed on the wall as one complete mural. Valspar committed the 250 gallons of 42 different colors of paint; Barbizon supplied the lights; the local Multiple Sclerosis Society, the tents and tables; and Lady Jayne’s, the yummy treats.
We also added images to the mural to honor 20 individuals who have meant a lot to TFKC and to Charlotte’s larger cycling community.
Among them were such neighborhood community as Valerie Stepp from Optimist Park and Michael Harper from Lakewood, who identified our mountain-bike Ride Program as a means to challenge their kids to face and overcome obstacles.
Others were three fifth-grade teachers from Hidden Valley Elementary, Terri Nemeth, Laura Long and Chris Bernard. They had used our Ride Program since 2003 to expand the walls of their classrooms to enhance and excite the minds of their students.
Tom Mathews and Patty Smith went on the wall, too — Tom for his work with the Tarheel TrailBlazers, without whom we would not have the wonderful trails we use so often; and Patty for her untiring work with the Dirt Divas and connecting with our kids and contributing so much.
Also depicted were Charles Patton and Dempsey Miller of the Cannonballs Cycling Team — two exemplary men who long ago understood the value of our mission and who have contributed treasure and time to our programs and kids.
We also honored six individuals who have played significant roles in promoting cycling and its benefits in the community: Al Lizarazo, a gentle man and longtime owner of the Bike Gallery, who has spent 50 years putting Charlotteans on two wheels; Neal Boyd, the ultimate bicycle promoter, who believes in cycling and breathes it everyday; Ken Tippett, the City of Charlotte’s bicycle program manager since 2003 who has toiled away at making Charlotte’s streets more bike friendly; Spencer Lueders, whose simple idea of a 24-hour bike ride evolved into a cause, bringing purpose to thousands; and Dan Faris and Martin Zimmerman, then directors of the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, who successfully pushed and prodded local and state officials to see cycling as an enhancement to our community.
Also included were our founders, Michael Perrott, Paula Fricke and Keith Caviness, who each heard of the initial Trips for Kids program in Marin County, Calif., and independent of one another, were inspired to ask “Why not here?”
Finally, there’s Keith Sorensen and Harry Johnson, who over a cold beverage and cold pizza thought a Re-Cyclery might work in Charlotte.
And it all came together.
Under clear skies in mid-April 2010, over 350 “artists” came to contribute. They arrived in groups, as couples, as families and individuals — with as many kids as adults — to paint by number a small part of a much larger story. It’s our story, beautifully portrayed, in 42 colors, for and by our community.