Here Comes the Sun, c. 1975 (conserved in early 1990s)


Location: 119 E. Main Street


The design for the mural Here Comes the Sun resulted from a student art competition in 1975 sponsored by the Downtown Revitalization Foundation, the Durham Arts Council, the Council for Creative Art in Public Schools, and the city and county schools of Durham. Of the thirty student submissions from Durham, Hillside, and Jordan High Schools, fifteen-year-old Karen Stern’s design came in first place.  Stern remembers her art teacher urging her to participate, calling her “on the fly to draw something” for Jordan High School.

Karen explained she thought “Durham needed some sunshine.” Her original sunburst drawing can be seen on the front page of the Durham Morning Herald’s Easter Sunday paper (March 30th, 1975). If examined closely, there are slight variances from this prototype and what exists today; the rays of the sun alternate in different colors, the shapes of the clouds are not exact copies, and the curvature of the birds’ wings have altered. Of this last point, Karen recalls her friend describing them as “flying mustaches.”

This variance may come from the mural’s restoration.  Over the years, the mural experienced significant fading from sun damage and deterioration from a lack of conservation. It was in 1993 that Bill Kalkhof started Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI), and that same year he raised approximately $5,000 to restore the mural to its original condition.

Though she cannot remember whether she or a sponsor named the mural, it brings to mind one of George Harrison’s best-known Beatles compositions. In his biography Harrison states:

'Here Comes the Sun' was written at the time when Apple [Records] was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: 'Sign this' and 'sign that.' Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton’s house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote 'Here Comes the Sun' [released in 1969].