Heading south on Main Street or east on Depot Street in downtown Mocksville, you can’t miss “The Running of the Horses,” the new, brightly colored mural adorning the side of the law offices of Martin & Van Hoy in Court Square.
Municipalities across the country are investing in murals to beautify their downtowns, attract visitors, which increases dollars spent in the community, and boost community spirit. Mocksville is no exception.
Commissioned by Mocksville Tourism, in partnership with Davie County Tourism, the 1200 sq ft mural, which took five weeks to complete, is a step forward for East Depot revitalization, according to Mocksville’s Community Development Coordinator, Tami Langdon.
“We have been working on beautification projects in the East Depot area for a couple of years now, including adding planters, benches, a picnic table, and a community garden. This mural is the crowned jewel of the effort and will increase foot traffic to the area in support of these businesses that are a vital part of our town,” Langdon said. “People often stopped to watch, talk to the artists, and take pictures which has been a wonderful thing for the downtown.”
“A nearby merchant has asked that we put benches nearby because of the number of people she has seen drinking their coffee or trying to eat their lunch in front of the mural,” she added. She hopes to add the benches in the next couple of months.
Murals create a sense of destination and increase foot traffic while adding vibrancy, color, and character to the surrounding environment. In fact, murals are even known to enhance public safety by creating a sense that a location is cared for.
Murals have also shown value as economic development initiatives, through increased tourism as commercial retail sectors become more attractive destinations for visitors, as well as local residents. And murals last an average of 20 to 30 years spreading the benefits over a longer period of time than the average project.
The “Running of the Horses” depicts aspects of Mocksville’s history with an artistic flair. “This colorful reimagining of a page out of Mocksville’s town history is calculated to captivate viewers of all ages. It’s brilliant colors imbue the mural with the magical possibility that Mocksville is a place where anything can happen!” . . . said Artist Madelyn Greco, who assisted Artist Cheryl Ann Lipstreu with executing her design.
The horses on the mural represent the “running of the horses” as explained by Davie County native William Lester Richardson, 89. During an interview with Jane McAllister in September, Richardson recalled how wild horses were brought to Mocksville by train from Montana. “During the war years, say about ‘43 or ‘44 maybe on into ‘45 you couldn’t get gasoline to run tractors . . . so they used horses on the farms. They would unload them at the depot, run them right up Depot Street, across Main Street on the square, and down to where Junker’s Mill is. To the right, Daddy had a blacksmith shop there and there was a corral there.”
The large oak tree in the center honors the four oak trees that anchored the town for more than 90 years. Emerging from the oak, Mother Earth faces the east as the sun rises and Mother Earth faces the west as the sun sets, as she provides the energy and growth of both the tree and the town.
“The mural has been an incredible opportunity to build a bridge of connection of the history of downtown Mocksville Depot Street to the modern thriving community that it is today,” shared Lipstreu.“The oak tree is the centerpiece of the design with the strength of its roots supporting the beauty of the energy around it representing the unity and diversity of all the people that call Mocksville home.. . .”
“I am honored to have created my art for your community. It has been a humbling experience to have received such positive feedback, to have met so many wonderful people, all expressing their love and admiration for the art. To hear how much the town has enjoyed seeing its production and how it has been personal for some has been an enlightening experience for Madelyn and me,” added Lipstreu. “I hope it continues to spread joy to visitors of the town for many years to come.”