Reporting by Nicole Gonzalez. Photography by Jenn Morrison.
Charismatic murals, scattered art galleries and a widespread painted hopscotch across the city’s sidewalks invite community members to explore and take part in the cultural transformation of downtown Greensboro.
Deeply rooted in the civil rights movement, the art scene in Greensboro is a balance between historical significance and growing urban influences.
Organizations such as Greensboro’s Elsewhere work to push the development of both the city’s downtown and art community. What began as a thrift shop in 1939 on South Elm Street has transformed into a vibrant artist residency, museum and creative hub. Elsewhere holds events to engage locals in the Greensboro art scene and invites artists from around the world to create work inspired by the decades’ worth of collected objects that remain fundamental to the space.
At Elsewhere’s annual fundraiser, Partners in City, Neighbors in Community (PICNIC), on Feb. 3, local artists presented their ideas for community art projects, in hopes of collecting the most votes to win the $1,000 pot of donations.
One group, the Greensboro Mural Project, pitched its ideas for various future projects throughout the city with a focus on community engagement through art. The group invited PICNIC attendants to write their own “Love Letters to Greensboro,” which will influence the designs for five murals in each district.
The Project recently began its own residency at Revolution Mill, sharing the revitalized manufacturing space with writers, mixed media artists and filmmakers. In addition to the murals in each district, the muralists will also be co-creating a mural on the legacy of the Underground Railroad and civil rights movement in the city, inviting community members to take part in open design sessions.
George Scheer, director and co-founder of Elsewhere, said Greensboro’s sidewalk culture has been a catalyst for the growth for the organization, from talks to pedestrians through the sliding storefront windows before it had the proper building codes to have events, to the painted hopscotch course that weaves throughout downtown sidewalks to Elsewhere’s door.
“Part of being here, inviting crowds, having events, really getting people to this side of the track was a big cultural shift in terms of getting people to think about how culture operates in Greensboro, even people’s desire to go out downtown,” Scheer said.