By Virginia Bridges
There is a new dancer on Ninth Street, and she is permanently arched toward the heavens trailing a purple stream of flowers, butterflies and stars.
The colorful mural on the corner of Ninth and Perry streets is the result of a collaboration between two longtime small-business owners. The mural was one of 13 sign and facade projects funded by a total of $70,932 in city grants.
The changes are the latest alteration on the rapidly changing business district, which as of November now includes a Harris Teeter in the new Shops at Erwin Mill mixed-use project on the west side of Ninth Street.
Bepi Pinner, owner of Ninth Street Dance, bought the business about 22 years ago and has been pining for a mural ever since. Every time she walked in the door that leads to her upstairs dance studio, she would look at the wall on the corner of Ninth and Perry streets and think “gee, that wall really needs a mural.”
“I actually had an artist that I know draw me a sketch in exchange for a class,” said Pinner, 66, but nothing ever came of it.
After the city offered the grant option, Wood, who owns the building that houses Ninth Street Dance and Ninth Street Flowers, asked Pinner if she needed a sign or an awning.
“I said, ‘Not really,’” Pinner said, “’but how about a mural?’”
Goddess of spring
The business owners were approved for an up to $6,407 matching grant. They hired Michael Brown, 60, of Chapel Hill, who painted the sea turtles on a downtown Chapel Hill parking deck, children flying around the room at a Chatham County library and the steam locomotive on the Raleigh Amtrak Station.
The Ninth Street mural, Brown said, is a “throwback” to the goddess of spring, Persephone, who is often trailing a cloak of flowers, stars and fairies.
From start to finish, the project took 12 days, including nine days painting while temperatures soared into the upper 90s.