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Murals create a sense of place in many cities and towns across the Upstate

Murals create a sense of place, adding color and character to concrete and helping make downtowns destinations.

Many oversized works of art have appeared across the Upstate recently, but some area towns have been enjoying these public panoramic paintings for years.

“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,” says Herman Keith Jr., a painter and muralist from Anderson. “It’s always good to listen to a good song or read a good book, so why not look at a good picture?”

Keith recently completed Anderson’s Mural On Main in partnership with Leadership Anderson Class 36, which hopes the mural will bring people together and create pride in downtown, says Class 36 Project Manager Addy Smith.

In Greenville, The Beach Company, a Charleston-based development firm, commissioned Guido Van Helten, an award-winning Australian artist, to paint an eight-story mural on the former BB&T building at 301 College Street in downtown.

The recently completed, large-scale photorealistic mural references the history of desegregation in Greenville County schools and immortalizes Mrs. Pearlie Harris, a teacher who touched the lives of generations of Greenville County students.

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If you’ve been to downtown Seneca, it’s hard to miss the 28 feet by 24 feet welcome to Seneca sign along Ram Cat Alley. The cutout letters measure four feet by eight feet, with each panel depicting a different landmark or historical element of the Upstate city west of Clemson and east of Walhalla in Oconee County.

Painted by Seneca resident and muralist Jim Juras, the postcard style painting is a centerpiece of downtown. As a muralist, Juras he enjoys the challenge of creating large-scale paintings that tell a story and shape a sense of place.

Like his Seneca mural, Juras’ Welcome to Six Mile mural has become a focal point in town and the preferred place for a photo op.

Located on an exterior wall of The Scoop Ice Cream Shop on Main Street, the Six Mile mural depicts the history of the small Upstate town from the Cherokee Indians that once occupied the land to the four Medal of Honor winners from Pickens County, three of whom live in Six Mile.

Back in Anderson County, murals in downtown Iva and Honea Path depict early life in these small, rural Upstate communities.

Iva’s mural depicts the old Iva train depot that was built in 1886. Completed by artist Oscar Valasquez in 1991, the mural is dedicated to the town’s forebearers, and the churches and citizens of the community for their contributions to the growth of the Town of Iva.

In Honea Path, a mural in the town square features elements of the town’s past including Chiquola Mill, an 83,000-square-foot cotton mill that operated there from 1903 until 2003.

Chiquola Mill is remembered as the site of a tragic event known as Bloody Thursday or the Uprising of ’34 when seven mill workers were killed, and another 27 injured protesting low wages and poor working conditions exacerbated by the Depression.

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