BENSON – Work on the Town of Benson’s second commissioned mural is complete. Greensboro artist Gina Franco put the finishing touches on the town’s new mural Friday evening — the final brushstrokes on a very bold, colorful, and inspirational piece of public art.
The mural can be seen coming into town just off the interstate on the Main Street facing wall of the Exxon gas station and The Grind coffee shop and creamery (605 East Main Street). It’s hard to miss with its bright reds, deep blues, sunny yellows, and pops of pink and teal.
“I think somebody said it was pop art years ago,” said Franco in an interview last week. “I definitely have some pop art idols so I can see it… but when people ask me to describe it I just say ‘bold and colorful.’”
Bold and colorful was the exact thing the Benson Arts Advisory Board was looking for in a second mural in downtown. The first commissioned mural, completed last year on the Neighbors & Associates building, focussed on Benson’s heritage depicting the Benson Sing, Mule Days, various historic buildings, and the town’s farming heritage.
Franco’s mural depicts a welcoming Benson “feeling” — with its gigantic coffee cups stacked on top of one another with messages like “love grows here,” “come together,” “kindness matters,” and of course “I love Benson.” The last one being a kind of unofficial catchphrase that can be seen around town on signs and bumperstickers.
“I use a lot of text and typography,” explained Franco. “It’s really important for me that people interact with (the mural). I like to create moments where people can use it as a background for pictures and selfies. Interaction is a big part of the style.”
For Franco, Benson’s new mural was the first time she had worked so close to the interstate and as a result she had quite an audience over the three days it took to complete.
“I’ve never had that many eyes on me,” she said. “People were honking and telling me it looked great and cheering me on… it was great to be able to interact with this community because to me every community is so different.”
It seems as if the positive vibes are already spreading. Be sure to stop by the Exxon and see it for yourself, it looks just as good up close as from afar!
This opportunity was made possible by the Johnston County Visitors Bureau through occupancy taxes collected from Benson hotels. These funds are designated specifically for art and marketing projects — no resident tax dollars were used for this project.
Previous projects funded with allocated occupancy taxes include the aforementioned mural on the Neighbors & Associates building and the mule statue at the intersection of Highways 27 and 50.