“I’ve more or less touched every brick,” local artist Mark Smith said.
The Lincolnton resident and perhaps one of the community’s most talented hidden gems has been painting a mural since June 7 on the side of Shalom Baptist Church’s brick building in Lincolnton.
Located on North Aspen Street behind the closed-down 36th Street Bakery on Court Square, the church facility will soon showcase a colorful, peaceful image with symbols of the Christian faith.
Because the church used to be the site of Lincolnton’s Lighthouse Christian Bookstore & Gift Shop, church officials, including Pastor and Lincoln County Fire Marshal Mike Futrell, wanted to keep the lighthouse theme alive for the community.
“The lighthouse has always been a part of this building,” Futrell said.
Smith was chosen for the project after Flatline Graphics owner Jason Ingle walked into Smith’s workplace, Shear Blessing Salon & Spa in Lincolnton, and the two started chatting about his love for art.
Smith credits his family, particularly one of his four sisters and his parents, David Williams and Betty Smith, as the inspiration behind his passion for all things art, including photography and music. Not only did they continually support him during his crafty childhood days but also drove him to do his best.
“I’m not me without them,” Smith said.
While he once painted the Jordan River on the baptistry of another local church, and at a location in Boone, the dark depiction of North Carolina murder suspect Frankie Silver’s historic hanging in Morganton in the late 1800s, this month’s mural is by far the largest and most time-consuming one he’s ever created.
At 15-by-50, the voluminous brick medium for Smith’s artwork has forced him to spend ample time and energy at the site.
After church officials painted the mural’s white base coat, he got to work painting every nook and cranny of the wall’s bricks.
Smith spends most days in the heat climbing up and down his ladder in order to reach the tallest parts of the building, knowing that his labor is not in vain and that the end product will be worth his hours of tedious work.
“It’s not just for the church but for the people of Lincolnton, too,” he said.
Upon completion, the mural will not only display a lighthouse with a beam of light reaching towards three wooden crosses on the picture’s far right side but also a small, white church on the painting’s opposite side with mountains in the background and a river running through the scene’s middle. In addition, at the bottom of the painting will be the following message: “The church reaching upward, inward and outward.”
The mural will most likely first draw people’s eyes to the large grayish-white dove Smith plans to paint in the very foreground as a symbol of hope and peace.
Futrell anticipates the artwork being a reminder of the Christian faith and that believers, like the lighthouse, are meant to shine.
“When people see the church and its people,” he said, “the light of Christ should be shining through.”
Smith more than agreed with the pastor.
“People once used the lighthouse as a guide (to get home),” he said, “and the Lord is the same.”
In the painting, the crosses will reflect the light back towards the church, showing the world the way to Christ, who for Christians, is their “home.”