Public art is defined as art forms incorporated into the fabric of a community, with the assistance

of citizen participation. Marion’s recently installed Founders’ Art Walk makes that connection.

The Appalachian Mural Trail added this art series to its growing list of community based cultural murals. Each mural tells a story of life in Marion, according to Trail organizers.

As McDowell County’s 175th anniversary celebration was being planned, an opportunity presented itself to include the arts. The county’s tourism authority and those associated with the Historic Carson House discussed the concept of creating an outdoor art display which became a reality. Organizers identified artistic partners and Marion business owners agreed to host mural panels.

Soon thereafter, the Founders’ Art Walk was created and installed throughout Marion’s downtown Main Street neighborhood.

The first six murals depict a variety of favorite local sites, including historical properties.

The Lake Tahoma Casino, the Marion Train Depot, Historic Carson House, Lake James, Tom’s Creek Waterfall, and the classic 19th century architecture of Marion’s Main Street. Marion’s logo is, “Where Main Street Meets the Mountains,” and the image includes iconic Mt. Ida.

Participating artists include McDowell High School students and art teachers. Retired art teacher

and free-lance artist Karen Dark supervised the art work and artists. Christi Shaw is a county art teacher and educator who worked to provide materials, studio space and she painted the Lake James mural. Local art student Korryn Shedlock and Marion artist Holly Whitsett were major contributors and project artists.

Each canvas is a custom made, wooden structure built by Mike Lucas, who has created over 200 similar forms as part of the McDowell Quilt Trail project. The city of Marion installed each piece, created and donated individual mural name plates to identify each piece and artist. The McDowell County Tourism Authority provided project funding and printed promotional brochures.

The walk covers three blocks in downtown Marion’s Main Street neighborhood. To find directions and to preview these murals go to . The Appalachian mural Trail website has over 75 cultural murals showcased that are located throughout North Carolina and Virginia.

The Appalachian Mural Trail honors mural projects that bring folks together to create public art

that uplifts their community in such a beautiful way.

Karen Dark is a retired art teacher and free-lance artist. She completed the Historic Carson House mural and contributed to the Downtown Marion, Lake Tahoma Casino, and Marion Depot murals. Marion Baker, another local artist, assisted Karen with the Downtown Marion mural.

Cristi Shaw is a county art teacher and educator. Cristi contributed to the Lake James/Short Off Mountain mural. She also worked to recruit the artists, coordinate schedules, assisted with painting materials and provided studio space.

Korryn Shedlock is a senior at McDowell High School. Korryn’s passion for the arts inspired her to assist in the drawing and painting of four of the six murals. She completed the Tom’s Creek Falls mural and assisted with the Lake Tahoma Casino and Lake James/Short Off pieces.

Holly Whitsett is a local Marion resident and artist. She is multi-talented and skilled in many art forms. She completed the Historic Marion Depot mural with the assistance of McDowell High School student, Ashley Jimison.

McDowell County resident Mike Lucas, created the wooden structures serving as a canvas for these distinctive pieces of art. Mike and Jill Lucas created the McDowell County Quilt Trail, with over 200 outdoor installations.

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