Simpsonville City Council approved on Tuesday the design and cost of a second mural planned for Downtown Simpsonville.
City Council voted 7-0 at the Committee of the Whole meeting to give the go ahead to artist Lacey Hennessey to execute a mural on South Main Street for $7,600. The mural has been assigned to the southward-facing wall of the building bordered on the north by the alleyway.
Mayor Paul Shewmaker said he is “really looking forward” to seeing the finished mural, which Ms. Hennessey designed as a drive-in movie theater scene.
“It’s going to be special, along with the first one,” Mayor Shewmaker said, referring to the mural that Ms. Hennessey completed on the alleyway wall. “Very fun thing to be involved in.”
Mayor Shewmaker has served on an ad hoc committee that he formed to choose an artist for the downtown murals project. The Mural Artist Selection Committee picked Ms. Hennessey from a pool of 26 applicants after a round of interviews and exhaustive review of submissions to a request for qualifications issued in June.
City Administrator Dianna Gracely said Tuesday night that the Committee wanted the second mural to evoke nostalgia and depict Americana. Ms. Gracely added the Commmittee was “thrilled” with the design that Council ended up approving.
“There are always cars parked along that wall, and so we wanted something that was interactive that would incorporate the vehicles that are typically there,” Ms. Gracely said, referring to the drive-in move theater scene. “Ms. Hennessey very cleverly used elements from the City’s branding to go along with this design.”
The mural design that Council green-lighted Tuesday includes a movie screen with the City’s “S” icon in place of a countdown, diamonds as stars, ‘Simpsonville Drive-In’ as the name of the drive-in movie theater and a Palmetto Tree under a crescent moon in a nod to the South Carolina state flag. Simpsonville Community Relations Specialist Justin Campbell said the interaction between the design and its location will take the mural to another level.
“The Committee knew that the parked vehicles would pose a challenge, but through collaboration with Ms. Hennessey, the greatest concern for the space became its greatest strength,” Campbell said. “Instead of blocking the view of the mural, the vehicles are part of the mural, making the concept ingenious.”
Ms. Hennessey, who is owner of Hennessey in the Home, is expected to begin work on the mural the week of Oct. 19 and finish by the end of the month. She told the City that she hopes the Simpsonville community is excited for another colorful work of art that will enhance the downtown atmosphere.
“Whether you’re walking or driving by, you’ll quickly recognize the appearance of a drive-in theater representing classic Americana,” Ms. Hennessey said. The mural gives several nods to Simpsonville’s brand, such as the diamonds as shown on the sign and in the stars and the countdown ‘S’ on the outdoor screen. I hope those passing by have just that pride in a new addition to the town.”
Funding for the mural includes a donation by the Simpsonville Arts Foundation, Inc., money allocated by Council for the project and a contribution by Hunter Howard, Jr., who agreed to let the City commission murals for his building.
Council also unanimously approved naming the South Main Street alleyway completed in 2019 after the late Hunter Howard Sr., who served as a Summary Court judge in Simpsonville for 20 years. Judge Howard’s legacy will be memorialized in a plaque to be placed on the alleyway wall opposite the first mural that will read “Hunter’s Alley.”
Mayor Shewmaker said naming the alleyway after Judge Howard is a “fitting thing to do” to honor the Howard family.
“I especially like the idea of calling it ‘Hunter’s Alley’ because not only does that honor their family, but it really provides even more of a sense of place,” Mayor Shewmaker said. “It’s something that you can say, and people will understand what you mean. As soon as we put a name on it, it will quickly be adopted as something people recognize who live here in town. I personally support this very much.”
Mr. Howard Jr., Judge Howard’s son, permitted the City to construct the alleyway last year on his property and install the murals on the ends of his property. Mr. Howard said the Howard family is “truly honored” by the City’s decision to name the alley after his father.
“It is located in the middle of the property that he redeveloped in the 80s and surrounds the building that was his courthouse,” Mr. Howard said. “Although he was a very humble person, I know that this would have meant a lot to him. Our family is touched and very appreciative of this tribute.”■