A huge new mural was unveiled in Smoky Hollow. “Spill,” an interpretive mural by Artie Barksdale and Jay Coachman, was inspired by Maya Freelon’s original artwork of the same name. The mural can be viewed on the side of the Peace Raleigh Apartment parking deck at 417 W. Peace St. facing The Hollow.
The mural was inspired by Smoky Hollow’s history, which began in the 1800s when blue-collar mill + railroad workers settled in the low-lying borough. The primarily African American neighborhood was defined by the railroad tracks that still run through the district today.
Deep beneath the bricks of Kane Realty Corporation’s reimagined Smoky Hollow district is a secret creek named Pigeon House Branch. Since Maya specializes in creating works based on water and its effects on color, it was only natural for her work to be incorporated.
The developers wanted to incorporate Maya’s colorful “Spill” into the neighborhood but on a much larger canvas. For the project to work, Maya needed a muralist to recreate her vision to scale. Enter Artie, a Durham-based muralist. He collaborated with Maya, the Smoky Hollow team, and Jay, another local artist, to take on the massive project.
For many long nights, Artie and Jay manned the swing stage scaffolding on the side of the parking garage with countless cans of spray paint, working through rainy weather and windy conditions to create this new landmark together.
On Mon., Aug. 29, the artists reflected on the collaboration. “These are Maya’s lyrics, [and] she was confident enough in me that I could actually sing [them],” Artie said. We think he hit all the right notes.