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Artist Scott Nurkin finishes his latest mural

Scott Nurkin alongside his newest mural at He's Not Here
Scott Nurkin alongside his newest mural at He's Not Here

The 41-year-old bar and Chapel Hill landmark He’s Not Here is newly decorated with a mural in tribute to Chapel Hill — and it didn’t cost a dime.

Scott Nurkin, local mural artist and UNC alumnus from the class of 2000, recently finished his newest piece, “Greetings from Chapel Hill.” The mural, which can be found on the back wall of the bar facing Rosemary Street, is a replica of a 1941 postcard by German illustrator Curt Teich.

“I paint murals for a living so I thought it would be an honor to paint one in respect to my alma mater,” Nurkin said.

Nurkin, who said he has done numerous murals around town in the past, was offered a grant from the town of Chapel Hill’s Downtown Art program.

Steve Wright, the public art coordinator for Chapel Hill, said the program is meant to enhance the experience of downtown.

Last spring, the program put out a call for artists to paint a mural downtown, and Nurkin was selected as one of five local artists to get a grant for his project.

Nurkin received $2,200 from the town for his time, materials and supplies, Wright said.

“Greeting from Chapel Hill” was the first of Nurkin’s murals to be sponsored by the town.

“I hope folks are pleasantly surprised by what used to be an unremarkable space downtown,” Wright said.

Nurkin said he began working on the piece in June but didn’t finish the project until Oct. 19 due to various restrictions on the space.

“Because of the proximity of the mural to this parking lot, I could only work on weekends and at night,” Nurkin said.

“This mural boiled down to a full week’s worth of time, partitioned off.”

One of Nurkin’s other downtown projects includes paintings of North Carolina musicians that were once on display at Pepper’s Pizza, now closed. But Nurkin’s new mural is not his first work at He’s Not.

“I have been painting murals at He’s Not for beer companies, and I’ve worked with the owners a lot in the past,” Nurkin said.

Though the town commissioned the mural, Nurkin had to independently search for a space downtown. He inquired about the He’s Not wall in March, and got approval soon after.

“There’s not a lot of real estate left in Chapel Hill for large-scale murals,” he said.

UNC senior Hannah Choueke, a bartender at He’s Not, said the mural adds to the classic Chapel Hill-feel of the bar.

“Having Nurkin’s art on the inside and outside makes He’s Not a place that the people of Chapel Hill want to remember,” she said.

“It makes me feel really good about my bar.”

A young artist herself, Choueke said it was a privilege to meet Nurkin because as a mural artist, he makes a living through commission.

“It’s really encouraging that freelance artists can still find work in this day and age,” she said.

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