'Winter' arrives: New Five Points Archway Public Art Project mural installed
By Kim Grizzard
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
East Carolina University graduate Vincent Li has been painting the town in Farmville for about two years. Now the artist is making his mark on Greenville as well.
Li's “Winter Wanderers” was selected from among dozens of entries for the new Five Points Archway Public Art Project. The mural, installed Tuesday at Fifth and Evans streets, replaces Alice Holleman's “Hurry,”which had been displayed on the side of Starlight Cafe since 2015.
“It's sort of the new facade of Uptown in a way,” said Holly Garriott, executive director of Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge.
“Winter Wanderers,” which spans five 20-foot-tall panels, is a narrative work depicting three figures making their way through the snow on a moonlit night.
“What we love about it is we see Greenville as a place where people can come together and work together on a common goal,” Garriott said.
Li said the image, which began as a simple drawing in a sketchbook, was designed to represent the relationship he has with his siblings.
“I base a lot of these characters on instances in my life,” he said. “They're snapshots of who I am or what I am feeling at the moment.”
But the work also symbolizes Greenville's forward progression.
“Just as we individually move onward in life in pursuit of dreams, goals and ambitions, so does this city,” Li wrote in his artist's statement. “...With this mural, I hope to convey Greenville's growth and transition into a stronger community through togetherness.”
Born in California, Li grew up in Havelock, moving to Greenville at age 19 to attend Pitt Community College. He later enrolled in ECU's School of Art and Design, where he concentrated in painting and drawing.
Since his graduation in May 2017, Li has spent much of his time working with artist Andrew Wells on more than a dozen public art projects in Farmville, from murals to sign restorations.
“When I do murals, it's for the community,” Li said. “It's not mine anymore, per se, but it's for the people who live here now.
“I think that public art is important,” he said. “Not only does it give the town a personality, it brightens it up a little bit. It also gives people a meeting place.”
Garriott said the Five Points project has a similar philosophy: to create a sense of place through public art.
“Some people will love this piece,” Garriott said of the new mural. “Some people will just lament that the rabbit is gone.
“That's what public art does,” she said. “It creates conversation.”
Garriott said some people have questioned why Greenville's downtown does not have a permanent mural. The Five Points Archway Public Art Project, which is privately funded, is designed to change every three years.
“I think just as we grow as a community and change, this can also tell the story of where we are or tell the story of one artist's view of where Greenville is right now,” she said.
Li also participated in the public art project Play Me, which placed three hand-painted, upright pianos in the city's central business district.
“It makes me happy that I can contribute to the place I've been living in for the past six years,” he said. “It's a way for me to leave my mark, if only temporarily.”
An unveiling ceremony for the Five Points Archway Public Art Project is scheduled for 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Friday at Starlight Cafe, 104 W. Fifth St. The artist will speak at 4:45 p.m. The First Friday Artwalk and Freeboot Friday will be held from 5-8 p.m.