Anyone who lives in Columbia, Tennessee or frequently passes through the downtown area has probably notice some changes. These changes range from the beautification of the downtown area to signs and murals promoting art and displaying the Muletown brand. This post is about a signature piece of artwork that has become a fixture in the downtown area, and it’s the gateway to the arts district.
I like to think of myself has an artist, too. I can’t paint or draw on an artistic level, but I’ve been developing my eye over the years to see everyday life and moments from an artistic perspective. This artistic perspective can probably be better described as storytelling. Today’s short story, if you will, showcases pictures of the new wall and mural that can be seen welcoming people into Columbia along highway 31 just South of the downtown area.
My short story begins with a drive through the downtown area of Columbia. I was actually looking for another mural to capture when I drove by the wall where I saw an artist at work. I hesitated to stop because I know how it is to be interrupted when you’re in the zone. After debating with myself, I came to the conclusion that I would only get this chance once. Meet Michael Colley.
Here’s a short bio I took from Michael Colley’s Facebook Fan Page.
Michael Colley is a second-generation artist from the Atlanta area. His mother was a successful fashion illustrator and as a result he has been painting since he could walk. He attended Atlanta College of Art and Portfolio Center. While in school he began his professional career as an illustrator or commercial artist at the age of 19. Now 53, his professional career spans over 30 years.
From a lifetime of painting I feel the experience has change me completely. I believe that if we were made in the image of the creator then we were created to create. Without this outlet our lives become stagnated, but with this energetic force our spirits soar. One’s creative spirit will integrate into our own philosophy, spirituality as well as all our relationships. In time, the art we create is us.
~ Michael Colley
I asked Michael if he was ok with me taking some pictures. He told me he did not mind at all. I asked him how long it takes to complete such a project. He said it varies. He mentioned that a lot of the time is waiting for the powers that be to agree on a final design. I complemented his work and talked about myself briefly regarding photography. After our brief conversation, I grabbed some pictures while he continued his work.
Over the years I have grown to love documentary photography and I’ve learned that it’s essential to capture all details, not just the obvious. It’s the small details that are crucial in telling the story. Most of us seldom see the tools that are used to create these murals. It’s obvious that paint and brushes are used, but I never think of paint and brushes when I see a finished mural, nor do I think about the different stages and layers that the artist must build upon to reach completion.
With paint and paint brush in hand, I could not shake Mr. Colley’s hand before my departure, so I settled for a fist bump. I also left my card on one of his tables. I’m glad I got to meet the man behind the art. Over the next few days, I checked on his progress to get an idea when I might come back to capture the completed work. With the face of the mural facing southeast, I wanted to come back in the morning hours. I finally had time to get that last picture, but it was in the afternoon. The lighting was not great, but the sun is low this time of year and there was a haze in the sky. When I knelt to line up my composition, I liked what I saw in the sky above the mural. The clouds resembled a mass of contrails jetting across the sky. The resulting shot is below.
There are two sides to a wall, right? Some of you might be wondering what’s on the other side. Well, the Columbia Fire Department is actually on the other side of this wall. The actual fire department is not just located a few feet from this wall, it is literally depicted on the face of the backside of the wall as a mural, a mural also painted by Michael Colley. Below is a picture of Michael’s work I captured a few months ago.
Kudos to the city of Columbia, Tennessee for putting the money, time and effort into the arts. There are several benefits from these efforts. Some of these benefits include small business creation and increased tourism. It also includes revitalizing rundown areas of the city. The arts can help to preserve culture and heritage which helps to keep such a rich history alive. Ultimately, the arts help create a welcoming environment which fosters a desirable quality of life. Overall, I believe promoting the arts is and will continue to have a positive impact on city of Columbia and its citizens. If you want to see more from Muletown and you don’t follow this blog directly, you can click the Facebook icon at the top of the page and follow me by liking my fan page. As always, thanks for reading!
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