Carolina Beach announces three more muralists for island’s fall installations

Left to right: Raman Bhardwaj, Gina Franco and Tiffany Machler will be creating murals this fall to complete eight works in a year from the Carolina Beach Mural Project. (Port City Daily/Courtesy photos)

CAROLINA BEACH — Five murals down, three more to go through the end of 2021, according to Maureen Lewis, founder of the Carolina Beach Mural Project. Murals number six, seven and eight are slated to be painted at various businesses and landmarks on Pleasure Island, wrapping by mid-October.

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The Carolina Beach Mural Project launched a year ago and to date, with a board of nine members, has completed five art installations at various spots on the island. A program supported by local town officials, business owners and donors, murals represent the history of Carolina Beach in front of its town hall, Seawitch Cafe, Veggie Wagon, Crush & Grind, and Hurricane Alleys.

Lewis said the group received 34 proposals from 17 artists for the next batch of work. The board chose two artists from the Greensboro area, Gina Franco and Raman Bhardwaj, as well as Wilmington artist Tiffany Machler. “Their creative concepts truly matched the personality of the walls and locations,” Lewis said, “the spirit of Carolina Beach and showcased the ‘wow’ factor we were hoping for.”

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The project announced Monday that Franco will do “This Must Be The Place,” featuring sunsets over Carolina Beach, to be painted on the side of the Savannah Inn at the beginning of September. Franco’s public works have been commissioned across the state from Burlington to Gibsonville to Raleigh. According to Lewis, the mural will be “bright and bold and includes a shrimp boat heading to the docks.”

The bright pink building of Kate’s Pancake House will feature the illustration “Indigenous Fly Feaster.” Machler — a multidisciplinary artist who recently opened 11oh9 gallery in downtown Wilmington — will be painting a Venus flytrap. The plant is indigenous to the island and protected in the Carolina Beach Stake Park. Machler’s version will come to life in bright red, green, pink and lavender, Lewis said, and is slated for completion by mid-October. Lewis called the rendering “whimsical,” with a design that incorporates both the restaurant’s benches and awning.  

Bhardwaj will showcase “Carolina Beach’s diverse marine life” at The Dive, according to Lewis. Known as a South Asian freelance painter, muralist and animation designer, Bhardwaj uses neon colors to make his works pop. He has featured exhibits across the world, from India to Norway, and has painted over 30 murals in his home state of North Carolina. “Marine Magic” is projected to be finished by the end of September.

“We are working on signing more contracts with landlords for 2022,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the board is planning another mural that welcomes the hands of the community to complete it (much like their first mural, “Welcome to Carolina Beach,” completed at town hall last fall). They’re also in the early stages of planning for the commission of the centennial celebration of Carolina Beach in 2025.

“We have lots more themes and stories to tell,” she said. “As long as the beach community and island visitors enjoy public art, we will continue to find walls, raise funds and support artists who want to be part of the Carolina Beach Mural Project.”

Information about joining the board or to view all murals completed so far can be found here.


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