The project began a year ago, and though several murals have already been restored, organizers said they are having difficulty raising funds to complete the job.
Brown, the artist and restoration specialist for each mural, said that the creative process for each of his murals is different.
“People would assume that each of the murals was done by a different person,” Brown said. “But they were all done by me.”
A UNC graduate of 1977, Brown painted houses to pay for school, he said.
“I wanted to be an artist since I was four years old,” Brown said.
In 1989, he painted his first mural — the “Blue Mural” on the corner of Rosemary and Franklin streets. He continued to paint one a year for about 20 years.
Today, his work decorates the facades of many familiar Chapel Hill buildings.
“There’s a lot of love for the murals in town,” said Meg McGurk, assistant director of the Downtown Partnership. “People identify with different ones.”
Ernest Dollar, executive director of the preservation society, said that the project is currently focused on the sea turtle mural along Columbia Street.
“We get tear-jerking, emotional e-mails about that mural from people,” Dollar said. “This one woman was talking about how every day she takes her daughter to school, she waves to the mama turtle and the baby turtle.”
To boost support for the project, the preservation society partnered with Chapel Hill’s Framer’s Market and Gallery to host a fundraiser in October. All of the proceeds will benefit the restoration of the sea turtle mural.
The event, at the Rams Plaza on Fordham Blvd., will feature mural photography by Ruth Ware and a tour of the works led by Brown.
“We’re going for a street fair atmosphere,” said University Photo owner Peter Wilson, one of the fundraiser’s organizers.
And though money is at the heart of the event — they hope to raise $3,500 to restore the turtle mural — Mary Anne Steinis, owner of Framer’s Market, said the fundraiser is really about celebrating the history of Brown’s murals.
Brown said he is happy that local organizations are working to raise the funds to preserve his murals — because he knows he couldn’t handle it on his own.
“I’m the painter. I’m not the politician or the fund raiser,” Brown said. “I don’t know the whole process.”
“I’m just glad some people want to do it.”
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