by Eric Ginsburg
A small strip of shade ran alongside the building across the parking lot, giving Kendall Doub just enough space to pause and observe his work. All it really needed now was some minor touch-ups, his artist signature and a crown.
“The Northern King,”, Doub’s first mural in High Point, took twice as long as it might have if the weather had cooperated, he said.
“It’s either been raining or too dag-gone hot,” Doub said, beads of sweat gathering on the side of his face as he looked up at his creation.
Named for the northern cardinal it depicts, “The Northern King” shows the regal red bird perched on a dogwood branch, a Carolina blue sky behind it. Using a 22-foot ladder, Doub covered most of the back wall of the French Interiors building in downtown High Point but intentionally left corners showing the original faded white paint on the bricks.
Constructed in the 1920s, the building looked like it hadn’t been painted since, Doub said, with the exception of a large tree frog mural that Brian Davis recently painted along the building’s north side.
Doub, a lifelong Winston-Salem resident, knew he wanted to stick with an animal theme given the proximity to Davis’ work, opting for the state bird. He intentionally picked a safe and conservative theme, because this piece is about something bigger than his canvas.
The folks at High Point’s 512 Collective and the ubiquitous Ryan Saunders are hoping to kick off the High Point Mural Project, and Doub aims for “The Northern Cardinal” to act as a showcase of what’s possible.
Rather than an abstract painting or graffiti , Doub said something that emphasized the ability to create fine art in a public setting might help convince people to get on board. He thinks High Point could be the epicenter of the Triad, eventually morphing into the mural capital of the state.
Doub has already painted several public, outdoor murals in Winston-Salem, the largest of which is 20 by 100 feet, but his hometown’s small city core and building structure is less desirable than High Point, he said. The Triad’s smallest city boasts many more large, windowless blank walls, he said, and the people behind the mural project have already scouted upwards of 20 potential sites.
“People here are screaming for it,” Doub said, adding that there isn’t much else happening culturally in High Point. “They want more substance in their community.”
The cost of “The Northern Cardinal” came out of Doub’s pocket, though the building owner donated the use of the wall, but the goal is to raise funds for the High Point Mural Project to bring in renowned street artists from around the country. Saunders recently facilitated a visit by Patch Whisky, who created two murals in Greensboro during his stay and who plans to return for a new piece in High Point soon.
That excites Doub, who travels annually to Richmond, Va. for the two-week Richmond Mural Project that draws a slate of international artists to take over walls in the city. Doub watches, documents and talks with the “guys that I look up to as rock stars.”
“Beyond being an artist myself, I am an art uber and mega fan,” he said.
This year’s two-week sprint in Richmond recently ended, and Doub still seems energized. That, and the momentum building around the project in High Point, could be the beginning of a watershed moment for High Point artistically.
Doub works as a graphic designer to support himself, referring to his mural work as basically a second full-time job. In addition to his more visible murals, Doub also has been hired to paint several private commercial murals inside of homes and recently helped UNC School of the Arts students create a four-part mural illustrating themes from their science curriculum.
“If I could just travel the country and paint walls that’s what I’d do, man,” he said. “I quickly fell in love with doing large art.”
Doub grew tired of working in a studio and quickly recognized the more widespread visibility and broader impact of a mural. That’s most gratifying artistically, he said.
He describes most of his work as illustrative now, frequently in a nostalgic Americana vein that calls to mind the 1980s and ’90s. In one mural he’s planning, Doub envisions a kid in a Red Flyer wagon, peering through a toilet-paper roll turned monocular with a cardboard kingdom behind him.
“Now that I’m getting older and staring down 40 I miss being a kid,” he said, adding that painting murals helps to keep him young.
Kendall Doub can be reached at [email protected] and his work is visible at thatguydoub.tumblr.com.