The many downtowns throughout Johnston County have an impressive and growing collection of mural art by local and regional artists. Some simply gorgeous to look at and some interactive in a way that invites you to be a part of the work. All of them have interesting things to do nearby from shops to restaurants, to coffee shops, to parks, and more! So come for the art and stay for whatever else our downtowns have in store for you. At the bottom of this blog you will find an interactive map that will give you directions to each mural.
“Greetings from Benson” Mural - Benson
The Town of Benson recently completed its first commissioned mural, by artist Jennifer Wood and partner Buffy Taylor, from Raleigh and Pittsboro respectively. The mural is located on the side of the Neighbors & Associates building along Main Street. The two were chosen following a “call to artists” in June put out by the Benson Art Advisory Board. After sifting through some very talented artists from across the state, the Board ultimately chose Wood and Taylor for their spot-on rendering of the desired theme — a vintage inspired postcard.
The Town encourages everyone to stop by the mural located at 104 E. Main Street and snap a photo. If you’re planning to post your mural selfie on Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms, be sure to use the hashtags #ilovebenson and #bensonlovesart. Plus, grab a bite to eat just across the street at Cornerstone Cafe or shop the many local boutiques along Main Street while you’re in the area!
Benton Card Company Mural - Benson
Have you ever taken a mirror selfie? Give it a try while looking into your reflection at the very center of this unique mural located on the side of the Benton Card Company building at 105 S Wall Street.
El Charro Mural - Benson
Possibly an ode to the ancient indigenous cultures that inhabited Latin America a millennia ago. This mural is beautiful and a surprise find on the south side of the building. Located at 709 S Wall Street.
Fiesta Mexicana Wings Mural - Benson
Eat a delicious meal at this locally-owned establishment and then be sure to pose with these lovely blue wings. Located at 702 E. Parrish Dr.
The Jim Brown Mural - Clayton
This work of art includes 44 different vignettes of historical figures and landmarks as well as representations of business, civic, and cultural life. The mural is 10 feet tall and stretches about 27 feet down the hallway connecting the Clayton Library’s primary collection to the south wing.
Jim Brown of Clayton, an illustrator/designer, and his wife, Ginny, who is also an illustrator/designer, completed the mural in 2010. The mural tells the story of Clayton’s history, from its early days as a small community, through a lot of glory years, to its present-day status as one of the nation’s most talked-about small towns.
The library is located right off Clayton’s Main Street at 100 S Church Street, and that makes it near Clayton favs like Boulevard West coffee shop, The Market at Three Little Birds boutique, and vintage cocktail lounge Revival 1969.
The Lee Mims Mural - Clayton
This mural was painted by local artist and author Lee Mims and is located on Main Street, Clayton. Mims writes popular mystery novels and also paints wildlife. The mural is an historic depiction of Clayton and the area with script at the top that reads, “As long as the earth endures, seed, time, and harvest will never cease”.
The Clayton Center Mural - Clayton
Unveiled in 2009, this mural was Clayton's first public art project; it depicts town scenes and is called "Clayton Patchwork." Local artist Dorothy Demboski worked to give The Clayton Center a permanent 10-foot by 10-foot mural featuring icons from around town. Demboski has won many awards for her work over the years. She has a BFA Degree from Carnegie Mellon University and has also taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Carnegie Mellon.
In addition, the lobby of the Clayton Center hosts a monthly, rotating art exhibit that is sponsored by Clayton Visual Arts which often features local artists. The rotating art stays up all month long and gives the lobby the look of an ever-changing art museum. The Clayton Center, located at 111 E 2nd Street, is also a great starting point for the Clayton Sculpture Trail.
“Not a Banksy” Mural - Clayton
As a bonus to the Clayton art scene, there is a fun bit of street art on the side of the Signage of Clayton building. A homage to the internationally known and mysteriously anonymous street artist Banksy. However, the artist was clear to not take credit; the piece of work is signed “Not a Banksy”.
Dan Lee Mural - Four Oaks
This mural is located near the Four Oaks Post Office and across from Barbour's Grove Park and was painted by a local artist from Four Oaks, Dan Lee.
Kenly 95 Petro Truck Mural - Kenly
A mural on the side of an 18-wheeler?! Believe it. The good news for those that want to see this work of art, the truck stays stationary. The entire big rig is parked inside the Kenly 95 Petro truck stop, on Truck Stop Road in Kenly; Exit 106 off I-95. FYI, just one exit up in Downtown Kenly is the Tobacco Farm Life Museum.
Railroad Street Mural - Selma
This is a life-size mural of a steam engine locomotive painted by Raeford, NC artist Lacey Crime and is located in Downtown Selma. Ron Hester of Hester Properties is the building owner, and donated the space as a blank canvas for this project.
The mural faces the North Carolina Coastal Line that is used by CSX and Amtrak; passengers from up and down the east coast arriving and departing from Selma Union Depot will be able to see the mural. In addition, customers of nearby businesses can enjoy the mural including Trackside Antiques, A Matter of Record, and more.
Vick Park Mural - Selma
The first mural to be created in Downtown Selma, in 2019, features historic landmarks around Selma and was painted in Vick Park, located at 112 E Anderson St. Fayetteville artist and former Selma art teacher Dorothy Finiello painted it. The mural was part of a larger East Anderson Street Redevelopment Plan executed by members of the Town of Selma Appearance Commission, which also included resurfacing, wall improvements, fencing, lighting, benches, tables, and landscaping. Vick Park is used for picnics, community meetings, the Selma Arts and Crafts Market, and other public gatherings.
Neuse River Bridge Mural - Smithfield
Sarah Gaskins and Clar McGeough, two 14-year old friends, enjoyed drawing and shared an affection for the greenway that runs through Smithfield. When it came time to pick a project for their Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest rank in their age group, the girls decided to use their artistic gifts to complete this vibrant, 1,300-square-foot mural that fills every inch of the space under the Market Street bridge. Broken into five panels, the painting features stops along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, including Grandfather Mountain, the Biltmore House, Smithfield, the Surf City Ocean Pier and Cape Hatteras.The mural’s central and largest panel showcases Smithfield. It depicts the Hastings House, the World War I memorial at the Johnston County Courthouse, and it includes a nod to the Ava Gardner Museum. The mural is painted under the US HWY 70 bridge that crosses the Neuse river at 200 S. Front Street.
Evans Jewelers Mural - Smithfield
This outline of a jeweler hard at work depicts which profession visitors will find inside this historic building. Evan’s Jewelers, a multi-generational, family owned and operated jewelry business, is located at 320 E. Market St., directly across from the Ava Gardner Museum in Downtown Smithfield and next door to The Diner or Sami’s Pizza for a great place for a bite to eat in Smithfield.