Angel of Spring, 2015
ArtisT: michael brown
Location: 700 9th Street
(9th Street Flowers/9th Street Dance)
In January 2015, the City of Durham awarded 13 sign and façade grants to independent business owners located in the Ninth Street commercial district, including Larry Wood of Ninth Street Flowers and Bepi Pinner of Ninth Street Dance. Until April 2014 Ninth Street businesses were not eligible to receive funds from the City’s longstanding retail and professional services grant program. However, with the growing concern that smaller businesses would be at a disadvantage to their newly constructed big-box neighbors, such as Harris Teeter, Panera Bread, and Tijuana Flats, the City decided to expand the “Urban Progress Zone” to include Ninth Street.
With their award, Wood and Pinner commissioned a mural by Chapel Hill artist, Michael Brown entitled Angel of Spring. It was Brown’s intent to incorporate the lively nature of the community as well as colors and symbols that reflect the businesses housed within the building. The floating figure on the west side of the wall references the Greek mythological figure, Persephone, the Greek goddess of spring. Her placement in the mural and trail of flowers reflect/anticipate the beautiful bouquets found around the corner in Ninth Street Flowers. At the same time, the figure seems to be dancing off towards the sky in a playful movement, like those performed in the dance studio above.
Michael Brown has been actively painting murals in the Triangle since the late 1980s and is a UNC alumnus. He has completed several projects in Durham, one of which is the locally famous bull sign (c. 2008) in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Brown’s bull sign is modeled after the original kinetic sign in the film Bull Durham (1988, Ron Shelton). Brown’s recreation is a revival of the past symbol of the DBAP, and much like his rejuvenation of the bull sign, his creation of Angel of Spring contributes to the rejuvenation of Durham’s Ninth Street area.