If ‘art for the people’ ever existed, the new fresco art mural at the Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville is the ultimate example. Based on the Beatitudes Scriptures, the fresco gives dignity to those who make their home on the streets of Asheville. In a world that worships the rich and powerful, this fresco art calls out “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
The Appalachian Mural Trail has recently added this important fresco mural to its expanding showcase of meaningful public art.
The principle artist of this year long art project is locally born Christopher Holt, with assisting artists Jill Hooper, Caleb Clark, John Dempsey and Anselme Long. Each of the artists gave their hearts to this project. Students of Ben Long, a well-known fresco artist who resides in Asheville, the artists also brought high quality to the painting process.
Founding minister of the Haywood Street Congregation, Brian Combs, believes what’s most sacred is often those who are overlooked. He says about the mural, “Using the ancient art form of fresco— a technique which applies colored pigment to wet plaster creating a durable canvas in perpetuity— homeless and formally homeless congregants became models. Each were drawn in detail and painted with dignity, investing in the slow and deliberate process of rendering the sacred in each individual.”
Located at 297 Haywood Street, the church offers a Downtown Welcome Table, Gardens, Respite for the homeless, God’s Outfitters with clean clothing ‘for the taking’ and inspired worship services every Wednesday at 12:30 & Sunday at 11 a.m. The fresco will be blessed on Wednesday, Nov. 13 during worship services and an official fresco unveiling is scheduled for Nov. 14.
Visitors are invited to view the fresco when the church is open, Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and during weekend viewing hours. Visit visit.haywoodstreetfresco.org for a schedule of viewing times when a docent will be available to guide your visit, or contact April Nance to schedule a group visit. April Nance, Fresco Host, is available for greeting visitors and sharing information about the fresco. Tools to facilitate the visitor experience include a kiosk with video and photo displays documenting the production process and the meaning behind the fresco. Stories about all the people that are painted in the fresco are a part of the documentation.
The Appalachian Mural Trail now showcases over 90 public cultural murals from Clay County North Carolina all the way up into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Included in the mural trail gallery are two other churches with Ben Long frescos; Holy Trinity Church in Glendale Springs and St Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Jefferson, NC. You can see the murals, read stories about the artists & why public art is so important, and find directions to travel the trail at muraltrail.com, the mural trail’s mobile responsive website, which is an art lover’s paradise. Once at a mural location you can take a ‘Selfie’ in front of the mural, upload it to muraltrail.com and receive a free, high quality “I Hiked the Appalachian Mural Trail” tee shirt in the mail. When you visit the Haywood Street Fresco, remember to snap your Selfie in front of this very special ‘art for the people.’