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'Magnificently beautiful': Loren Pease completes latest mural in Carrboro

Muralist Loren Pease poses for a portrait in front of her butterfly mural on the side of Gray Squirrel Coffee Co. on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023.

As long as the ladder was not too hot to touch, she was painting.

That was artist Loren Pease's approach for the past three and a half weeks, as she brightened up the side of WomanCraft Gifts in Carrboro with a new mural featuring butterflies migrating.

Pease, who described herself as a muralist and maker, has created public murals all over the Triangle, from Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center to Carrboro High School to Southern Village in Chapel Hill.

Her career began in advertising.

“I studied advertising art and did that for quite some time, right out of college, and then realized it wasn't quite creative enough,” Pease said.

She eventually returned to school to study education — but not before picking up mural painting, which she said began with small projects.

“When I was in advertising, people learned that I was artistic and were asking me to paint little things for them, including baby nurseries, and so I started painting baby nurseries,” she said. “So by the time I was teaching high school, my weekends were getting really full of murals.”

As her projects got bigger and expanded beyond nurseries to public spaces, Pease said she decided to put teaching on hold to pursue mural commissions.

One of her favorites was a project she did at Duke’s Children's Hospital, which identified each of its seven wings with one of the seven continents, she said.

“The doctors and nurses used to say — you'd walk into Antarctica, where it was ‘snowing’ — and they'd say, ‘I swear the temperature's dropped five degrees,’" she said. "That one was really exciting, and it made the place feel so much more exciting for the kids.”

Pease said her mission is to make people feel invited into her art, and that she wants people to interact directly with her work.

Her latest mural at East Main Square in Carrboro introduces bright colors and artistry to a previously drab, tan wall between FRANK Gallery and WomanCraft Gifts.

According to Janie Galloway, the marketing chair at WomanCraft Gifts, they are “ecstatically happy” about the mural.

“It brings the arts to mind, and with us here and FRANK Gallery setting up right across the parking lot from us, Peel Gallery just down the street a couple of blocks — this is becoming more of a hub for locally done art and fine crafts,” she said.

The mural shows a scene of butterflies migrating, seemingly off the building and toward downtown Carrboro. They fly out of and over three gold frames, which Pease described as a nod to FRANK Gallery across the street.

She said she hopes to bring the butterfly design throughout the shopping center at East Main Square and further into the community to give the illusion of a migration throughout Carrboro.

Pease worked on the design with Kevin Benedict, who commissioned the mural. She said the design process was the longest she ever worked on — nearly a year — but that she wanted to make sure she got it right.

“It’s really beyond magnificently beautiful, it really, really is,” Sid Keith, the owner of Surplus Sids in Carrboro, said of the new mural. “It’s about as dynamic as one would hope for in anything like that.”

In recent weeks, Pease's summer days have been spent on a ladder with a can of spray paint or a paintbrush in hand.

“As long as the ladder’s not too hot to touch — sometimes, it’s so hot you can’t touch it — then, I would be out there working,” she said.

As the mural inches toward completion, Pease expressed appreciation for the support of the community, an occasional air-conditioned break at Gray Squirrel Coffee Co. and cold water bottles on 100-degree days.

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Passersby stopping to share kind words, stories and their own artwork broke up long days and created a sense of community around her mural, Pease said.

“It’s a nice way to connect with people, and this community has definitely been incredibly inviting,” she said.

Her future projects include an interactive utility box across the street from the Ackland Art Museum and a new mural at 311 E. Main St. in Carrboro — the new home of TABLE, a nonprofit dedicated to providing healthy food for children in Orange County.


@dthlifestyle |