Editorial: Proliferation of public art in downtown Dalton is a positive development

Destination, peacock. Peacock, destination.

Dalton will soon be home to a large peacock mural that many hope will attract residents and visitors alike to the downtown business district. The artwork is being painted on the side of Kellie Smith Design Studio, just a few steps from the former Dalton Depot restaurant at the corner of Hamilton and King streets. The peacock was chosen because of Dalton's history on Peacock Alley, a stretch of U.S. Highway 41 where people displayed and sold colorful chenille bedspreads.

The mural will be similar to the angels wings mural in Nashville, Tennessee. By standing in front of that mural, one appears to have angels wings sprouting from the shoulders. Similarly, the peacock mural will give the appearance of extravagant plumage emanating from one's body. Dalton artist Ruth Park is painting the mural. She expects to finish it by month's end.

Community leaders believe the peacock mural will lead to people taking "destination photos" in front of it. Over time, when people see photos of people in front of the mural they will equate it to Dalton, Georgia.

The mural continues the call for more public art in downtown as outlined in the downtown Dalton master plan -- officially called the Renaissance Strategic Vision and Plan -- released in February. The University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute for Government compiled the 204-page plan aiming to further revitalize downtown Dalton. The institute had input from the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation, the Downtown Dalton Development Authority, Believe Greater Dalton and many local citizens, groups and officials. Believe Greater Dalton is a public-private partnership that is implementing a five-year strategic plan for Dalton and Whitfield County.

Research has shown public art often has a positive impact on communities. Public art gives residents a sense of community pride, while it also turns unattractive spaces into vibrant works of art.

Take a stroll or a drive through downtown Dalton and you'll see several pieces of public art already.

There are the Peacocks of Parade statues, which the new mural ties into, and several murals within and around the downtown business district. Above Jack's Pawn Shop is a mural depicting a hunting scene, while the Glenwood Avenue bridge is flanked by a mural promoting Dalton State College and another with four figures from Dalton's history (Civil War Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, businessman and philanthropist Bob Shaw and community leaders Curtis Rivers and Teresa Sosa).

We support the push for more public art in downtown Dalton and throughout Whitfield County. We are especially pleased to see the peacock mural being funded privately by this year's class of Leadership Dalton-Whitfield. There are opportunities for local art students to get involved with public art as well.

We look forward to seeing photos on social media of residents and visitors in front of our peacock mural. Be sure to smile for the camera!

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