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Mural On Main brings energy to downtown Anderson

Herman Keith Jr. believes that murals are energy. That’s why he joined with Leadership Anderson Class 36 to design and install 1,700 square feet of dynamic, colorful public art in downtown Anderson.

“Murals give off energy just like a good song would, especially at times like this when people are a little anxious and a little stressed,” Keith said. “It’s always good to listen to a good song or read a good book, so why not look at a good picture.”

Each annual Leadership Anderson class from the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce goes in search of a community improvement project. Members of Class 36 decided to use the power of art to bring people together and to help create pride in downtown, says Class 36 Project Manager Addy Smith.

“The technique used allowed us to get almost 300 community members involved in painting the project,” Smith said. “We want people to not only enjoy this art but enjoy this space.”

The mural on the side of Countybank along Orr Street uses a parachute cloth technique with the design divided into 5’x5’ square panels. All 72 panels were sponsored and painted by a local business, organization or individual. Keith then took each painted panel back to his Orangeburg studio to unify them, making sure that the mural flows with each panel supporting the next.

“The technique that I use for public art is very community driven and inclusive,” says Keith, an Anderson native whose father taught art at TL Hanna High School for 33 years and whose mother was choral director at Westside High School for about that long.

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The mural design and installation process are patterned after quilting, Keith explains.

“Over the centuries, quilters have joined together scraps of fabric to create a quilt to keep the human body warm,” Keith said. “This quilt motif represents keeping the spirit warm, bringing in different pieces and parts to make a greater whole. Bringing together different communities, different people, different colors and photographs. Bringing together differences to make a greater good.”

Entitled “The Power of Art,” the mural off Main street tells the story of how Anderson became the Electric City. Orange portions of the mural are a map of Anderson County in 1890, with red portions representing the City of Anderson in 1890. Blue portions of the mural represent the landscape along the Rocky River where William C. Whitner built a hydroelectric plant to supply electricity to run a cotton gin.

“It’s almost like a visual history lesson,” says Keith.

It’s also an opportunity for Keith to bring art experiences from his varied travels back to South Carolina in the form of public art.

“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to bring my experiences back to my hometown of Anderson and to share my art experiences with my community,” he said.

For more information, visit MuralOnMain.com.

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