All around our laid-back beach town, colorful murals from the Carolina Beach Mural Project and other artists are popping up on the exteriors of favorite local businesses. Currently in nine locations across Carolina Beach, you can check out intricate, colorful and unique public art, each painted by a different North Carolina artist and showcasing distinct styles and themes depicting the town’s free-spirited vibe.
Explore our colorful town with this all-access guide to Carolina Beach’s island art scene:
“Welcome to Carolina Beach”
The project’s first mural, “Welcome to Carolina Beach,” was painted by Carolina Beach Mural Project board member and artist Susan Nuttall and installed on a billboard on the road leading into town. Her inspiration for the work of art came from a vintage postcard that evoked the nostalgic feeling of arriving to the beach on vacation. Nuttall updated the original postcard’s design to reflect the town’s diverse visitors and residents. The mural was truly a community effort, relying on the help of more than 50 volunteers to paint the mural and utilizing materials donated by local businesses.
“Surf & See”
Once home to a busy bait shop and a surf shop, the building that houses the second mural is now The Veggie Wagon. Carla Garrison Mattos is the creative mind behind the design that celebrates Robbie Johnson – a noted wildlife photographer – and the surf and wildlife scenes showcased in his photos. The design features a camera lens at the center of the work with a play on fisheye and fisheye imagery. While you’re visiting, stop into the Veggie Wagon to grab a sandwich or an organic smoothie for lunch, or get some fresh produce to take home.
Located in the center of town near the Carolina Beach Boardwalk at Crush & Grind, the “Carolina Dreamin’” mural comes from the mind of street artist and muralist Jason Parker. His style is heavily influenced by the DIY spirit of punk rock, early hip hop and skateboarding, drawing inspiration from album covers, concert posters and skateboard graphics. Parker’s bold flair is undeniably present in his colorful mural, which was inspired by Carolina Beach’s brilliant sunrises, the native flora in the dunes and the surfers catching an early morning wave. Grab a hand-crafted cold brew coffee from inside Crush & Grind to sip on as you enjoy the unique work of art or grab a bottle of wine or six pack of craft beer to take with you.
Sharon Dowell’s mural, “Record Weekend,” celebrates Carolina Beach’s decades-long reputation as a destination for live music. It features subtle allusions to records and silhouettes of musicians and crowds, capturing the energy and buzz of live music. Dowell, who believes in the importance of shaping communities through public art, was thrilled to be able to contribute to Carolina Beach’s arts and culture scene. She has been commissioned to beautify neighborhoods from Charlotte, N.C., to Boulder, Colo. Find this mural on the outside of SeaWitch Café & Tiki Bar, where you can savor coastal bites and beverages to the tune of live music from local artists while enjoying the artwork.
“Summer on the Boardwalk”
The “Summer on the Boardwalk” mural pays homage to the rich history and traditions of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, one of the last remaining vintage boardwalks in the country. Artist Scott Nurkin drew inspiration from the boardwalk’s summer seaside amusement rides and fireworks, as well as his own childhood memories of summers spent at Carolina Beach for his design which features Carolina Beach staples like Britt’s Donuts. Nurkin founded The Mural Shop in 2004 and has since created hundreds of murals and illustrations for a wide variety of clientele. You can check out “Summer on the Boardwalk” wrapping around Hurricane Alley’s, and while you’re there, stop into the oceanfront bar and grill for drinks or dinner.
“This Must Be the Place”
The sunsets over Carolina Beach Marina inspired this mural located on the brick wall of the Savannah Inn. “This Must Be the Place” highlights the significance fishing, boating and life on the water play in the culture of Carolina Beach. Artist Gina Elizabeth Franco has a passion for place-making projects that activate blank walls and underused spaces with the goal of encouraging residents and visitors to interact with the space.
This mural, located on the exterior of The Dive, illustrates the marine life of Carolina Beach. “Marine Magic” brings to life an underwater scene featuring a larger-than-life shark, turtle and jellyfish in a kaleidoscope of bright colors. Raman Bharwaj, the South Asian artist behind the design, has painted more than 30 murals in North Carolina and has exhibited his art in India, Norway and the U.S. After snapping a picture with the mural, duck into The Dive to enjoy pub favorites like burgers and fries or surprising finds like a deep fried PB&J dessert.
“Indigenous Fly Feaster”
The building that is now Kate’s Pancake House has been around since the 1950s and was originally a drive thru Tastee Freeze. Today, you can indulge in pancakes, waffles, benedicts and more, all piled high with your choice of toppings. Transforming the exterior of the building, artist Tiffany Machler, owner of Art by Nugget, created a fantastical scene honoring the rare Venus flytrap that only grows natively in Carolina Beach and the surrounding area. A Wilmington native and current resident, Machler serves on the Carolina Beach Mural Project board and is passionate about bringing more public art into the community.
The Final Mural
One more mural is currently planned for this series, but the artist and theme have yet to be announced. The Carolina Beach Mural Project is working with the Federal Point Historical Society to identify a relevant story to tell across the exterior of the building that once housed the island Bingo Hall and a roller-skating rink. Beyond these nine murals, there are plans to continue the beautification of Carolina Beach with additional murals in the future.
“School of Common Sense”
Although not part of the Carolina Beach Mural Project, this mural brings just as much originality and vibrance to the community. Inspired by the local legend of the Fort Fisher Hermit, it was created by local artist Rob Fogle and can be viewed on the exterior of The Last Resort, a colorful beach bar. Otherwise known as Robert Harrill, the Fort Fisher Hermit lived in an abandoned WWII-era bunker at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area from 1955 to 1972.
Take a self-guided tour of Carolina Beach’s murals with this map – and don’t forget to snap a photo to share with us on social media by tagging @CarolinaBeachNC or using our hashtag #OnlyInCB! Each artist has a different background, story and style, so no two murals are alike, offering a truly unique experience each time you visit.