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West Side Mural Bringing Hope To The Community

Reported: May. 21, 2014 12:36 PM EDT
Updated: May. 21, 2014 1:02 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Katelyn Sykes) -- The West Side of Charleston has a history of crime and violence, but people have been trying to take back this community and revitalize the area. One way they are doing it is through art.

If you have driven down Washington Street recently, you might have noticed a very large mural on the side of the building that houses Spa Element and Kanawha Individual Development Solutions Inc. or KIDS. The artist behind it is Charly Jupiter Hamilton and this painting isn't just characters on a wall. There is a strong message the city wants portrayed.

"For their idea, it was to better the community," Hamilton said. "For something to make the West Side feel like they were a destination, that they were a substance and they wanted it to be grand and historic."

Hamilton said he was approached by Main Street West Side and Tighe Bullock, who owns the building, to paint a mural in September. The entire side of the building is covered from top to bottom and depicts a parade of people coming down the street. The pictures are symbols. For example, ice cream cones and wiener dogs symbolize FestivALL events. Flying angels with their fingers on their lips symbolize trying to quiet the crime on the West Side.

"They will never tame us," Hamilton said. "We kind of wanted to embrace a little bit of the untameness of the West side but at the same time not embracing crime at all."

Students from Charleston Montessori drew butterflies and bugs on the mural that Hamilton decided to keep.

He said the mural is a way to bring the whole community together.

"I want them to be happy," he said. "I want them to be somewhat perplexed, somewhat interested. I want it to be interesting for them. I don't want them to just stop. Everybody really likes it. Everybody does feel that it is making the West Side bigger, and people are talking about putting murals in other places."

Hamilton and city leaders hope the mural can help revitalize the city's west side and hope it's something the whole community can appreciate.

"You know the West Side's got a bad reputation but we are in that flood right now, we're in that current," he said. "We can take advantage of it to serve our cause which is to do good and to have something in the community where people feel proud of it and comfortable living in."

Hamilton said he's been approached by other businesses to paint murals on the sides of their buildings.

He said this mural should be done by late June.



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