Sylva selects muralist

The preliminary design by artist Aaron Harris will likely undergo some tweaks before the final version is painted on the Ward’s Plumbing & Heating building. Aaron Harris image The preliminary design by artist Aaron Harris will likely undergo some tweaks before the final version is painted on the Ward’s Plumbing & Heating building. Aaron Harris image

A muralist has been chosen to create the painting that will soon decorate a blank white wall on Mill Street’s Ward Plumbing and Heating building. From a field of 21 applicants, the Sylva Public Arts Committee selected Brevard native Aaron Harris for the job. 

Harris, who goes by the name Eron Hare on his illustration work, currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, and is a graduate of Brevard High School and the Rhode Island School of Design. He’s done work for The New York Times, The New Yorker — and, more locally, Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard. He completed the 13-by-30-foot map mural in May 2017. 

The arts committee had envisioned a design recalling a vintage postcard. Harris’ design features the text “Greetings from Sylva, N.C.” The word “Sylva” is done in block letters, with each letter showing a different scene special to the town — the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, trout in the Tuckaseigee River, Jackson Paper and the Jackson County Public Library building. 

It’s a general concept so far, subject to suggestions and changes from the arts committee. 

“The art committee will recommend changes,” Town Manager Paige Dowling told town commissioners during a Jan. 25 meeting. “He (Harris) will finalize his concept with those recommendations, but this will be the only opportunity the board has to approve it.”

The proposal met a favorable reception from commissioners, with a unanimous vote to accept it. 

“I think it looks great,” said Commissioner David Nestler. 

The arts committee approved the design in a 3-2 vote, with one member absent. Of the 21 applications received, nine were from Jackson County or an adjacent county, and 14 were within the 300-mile secondary preference area, Dowling said. 

The mural, planned to be approximately 22 feet tall and 53 feet long, will be funded through a $10,000 state grant for downtown revitalization, awarded by Jackson County. It will be complete by summertime. 

“I just hope that people will see what we’re doing and they will help donate to that, because I don’t believe we’ll get another grant like we got in the next year or two,” said Mayor Lynda Sossamon. 

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