With more than 30 murals framing the streets of the Mercer Street Grassroots District, Princeton is practically an outdoor arts studio.
The open-air gallery added another splash of color this summer thanks to West Virginia-based artist Promise Sloan. Sloan’s creativity landed on a brick wall across from Appalachian Coffee House near The RiffRaff Arts Collective. Now, the once unassuming brick façade flashes two butterfly murals — one large, one more kid-sized — allowing passerbys of all ages to really become part of the scene and offer an interesting moment for those casually people-watching. Each mural is composed of vibrant hues of blue, purple and yellow, causing them to practically jump off the wall. On the larger painting, the words “I still get these silly butterflies,” written across the wingspan draws people in for a closer look.
“I wanted it to be bright, bold and to stand out because I believe we all shine in different ways and at different times,” Sloan said of the mural. “I wanted to convey a splash of happiness and a splash of excitement — something that can turn your day around.”
And Sloan’s work has done just that, according to Lori McKinney, owner of The RiffRaff Arts Collective. McKinney was part of the crew that started downtown Princeton’s renaissance back in 2013.
“It’s brightened the block and brought a ton of smiles,” McKinney said. “People love taking their picture with it, and when they see it online, it’s like an adventure searching for it! They get excited to discover the location, jump out of the car and snag a shot.”
Many people have shared photos of themselves with the murals on social media, using it as a unique backdrop for prom and family photos, vacation memories and festival fun, and allowing Sloan to see how her work is being enjoyed by others.
“I get tagged in photos and it always makes me smile,” she said. “It makes me feel like I have created something that people can enjoy, something that brings people together. When I see my community enjoying it, I feel like it’s my way of giving back to my community for their support.”
Sloan has lived and worked in West Virginia her whole life. She recently became immersed in the Mercer County arts community by teaching painting classes, encouraging other local artists, and working in two downtown businesses, Diamonds & Gold Look and The Bronze Look, to create The Art Cellar, a gathering spot for artists of all types.
“I can always go out of town to visit the larger cities, but the mountains always call me home,” Sloan said. “It’s the simple life that I seek, and doors are always open. I get my peace of mind here which allows me to focus on my creativity.”
Come take a tour of this quaint city’s bustling arts scene and share your photos on social media with #visitmercerwv and #explore304! You never know when something new will pop up, and Princetonians are pleased to note that visiting hours are 24/7.
This post was last updated on August 8, 2019