Mural in downtown Milton inspired by van Gogh

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Jul. 16—MILTON — Three artists inspired by the art of Vincent van Gogh painted a mural in downtown Milton, adding color to South Front Street.

Artists Steve Gibson, Beverley Conrad and Michael Rash combined their skills and efforts and created a colorful mural on the Art Academy of Milton, an 11,000-square foot collaborative art space housed in the former Fraternal Order of the Eagles building at 38 S. Front St. in Milton. The three artists completed the mural over the weekend of July 9.

Gibson, the manager of the building, said the facade of the building was plain when it was purchased last year. The Academy features low-cost classes, artists' studios, performance spaces, photography and video/film sets, all under one roof.

"Unless people knew the address or saw the sign on the door, we looked like any other kind of a tan, neo-gothic facade that's here on the street," said Gibson. "I've wanted to put something up for months."

The mural is a recreation of "Starry Night," one of the most well-known paintings by van Gogh, a Dutch artist in the 1800s. The piece is purposefully left unfinished, instead having two silhouettes still painting the piece on the wall.

"It gives people the understanding that is a place to learn art, to talk about art, to create, and you can collaborate and do things like this," said Gibson.

Gibson said he is a big fan of van Gogh and recently went to an interactive exhibit of the artist's work in North Carolina.

Rash, a writer, said he was involved only in the blacking out of the blocks.

"That's good for me, I'm a writer. All I had to do is paint black," he said. "They came in and did all the special color."

Conrad did the lower parts of the mural, including the tree, the village and the drops of color for the silhouette artists. She said it was tricky due to the lighting of the weekend.

"We were trying to work from a picture on our phones and we couldn't see," said Conrad. "Van Gogh used to get into situations like this. He'd go out to the middle of a sunny field and try to paint, and all the colors would be messed up. He'd go home and say 'Woah. Green sky.' It was fun to throw paint on it."

Gibson said the mural has received a lot of positive feedback from the community and on social media. He said he would love to do more on the building, higher up the front.

The mural is finished just in time for a weekend event, the first gallery show called Obscurities: Pop Up Art Show & Concert on July 29-31. It features original artwork by more than a dozen artists in the region.

Doors open at 5 p.m. July 29. The night will feature an artist reception at 7 p.m. with live music by Desert Low, followed by a concert by The Boog and Zed Nebula at 8 p.m. The concert is $10 a person.

Gallery hours will continue throughout the weekend: 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday.