My Catawba County
The Story of the Newton Mural
The Story of the Newton Mural
Catawba County is known as a vibrant arts center, and nothing demonstrates that more than the amazing murals that keep popping up all over the community. We asked Anne Jordan, chair of the Newton Public Art Commission and former Newton mayor, to give us the backstory on the new mural now taking center stage in Downtown Newton.
How and why did the Newton mural take shape?
The Newton Public Art Commission formed in 2017 to facilitate the selection, creation, and installation of great art in public spaces throughout our community. The commission’s work has enlivened our community with sculptures, paintings, events, and programs in its first few years, and installation of a largescale public mural on or near the 1924 Courthouse Square has been a goal since the beginning. Commission members wanted something that would complement Newton’s visual landmarks, generate excitement, add beauty, and become a point of pride for our community.
Where is the mural located, and why was that location selected?
The mural is located on the south side of the building at 11 North College Avenue, home to Callahan’s Café. The wall was a perfect blank canvas—26 feet tall and 109 feet long—for a mural that greets visitors as they come into Downtown Newton from the south. We were fortunate that the property owner, Tim Yount, agreed to work with the commission to have the mural installed on his building.
What are the different components depicted in the mural, and what do they represent?
The mural is inspired by what’s known as a “large letter postcard.” The focus is the word “NEWTON” with a series of vignettes painted within each letter that represent our community:
N: Jacob Fork Park Woodland Loop Bike Trail
E: Old St. Paul’s Church
W: Southeastern Narrow Gauge and Shortline Museum
T: Banjo, guitar and fiddle to represent our tradition of folk and country music
O: 1924 Courthouse
N: Weaving loom honoring our history of textile production
The letters are nestled into a backdrop of beautiful Western North Carolina landscapes. The City’s motto, Brilliant Legacy + Bright Future, is painted in bold lettering in the lower corner.
Who painted the mural, and why was this artist selected?
From a group of about a dozen proposals, the Public Art Commission chose Brevard-based artist Eron Hare for his careful selection of content aimed at ensuring a meaningful representation of our community. Eron studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and his illustrations have been published in the New York Times and The New Yorker. We were impressed by murals he completed for the Town of Sylva, Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, and Oskar Blues Brewery.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about the significance of the mural?
It’s been gratifying to have had such a positive reaction from so many members of our community, especially when you consider how subjective reactions to a piece of art can be. Our volunteer commission members and Eron gave much thought to the content of the mural, and I think that effort yielded a beautiful focal point in Downtown Newton that will be enjoyed for many, many years to come.