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New mural encapsulates Valdosta history with hope of boosting tourism

Posted at 7:54 PM, Jul 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-13 19:54:55-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Public art is growing in South Georgia.

Projects like the new mural on Patterson Street and Central Avenue are designed to drive business back to downtown Valdosta. Leaders in the Azalea City say investing in more art could benefit entrepreneurs in the area.

Taylor Shaw is a storyteller. His tools are paint, a brush and a city wall. He's using that canvas to tell Valdosta's story.

"It's just kind of a collaborative effort between me and the community when I do these projects," said Shaw.

He drew his inspiration from an old postcard. That paper reminds him of the quirky side of the Azalea City.

"There was a circus, like Barnum and Baileys, came to town a long long time ago and the elephant got loose, and went on a rampage, and there's a whole story behind it. So that's our weird history imagery in there," Shaw said of his inspiration.

He also features building blocks of the area economy.

"Things like satsumas which are the biggest export from Valdosta, we have Coca-Cola which historically has a very large presence," Shaw explained.

This work of art is jam packed with imagery local to Valdosta. Smaller towns like Valdosta, are embracing public art more with a bigger purpose.

"You get down here, you're able to take a selfie, you can walk from here and go to a great Mediterranean restaurant," said David DiSalvo, Executive Director for Visit Valdosta. "It really brings everything together, and ties it all together as a destination."

It's not just the art attracting people to the area.

"We have a lot of private investment going on," DiSalvo explained. "Of course we have the court house, the renovation of the court house, so we continue to develop our downtown area and make it where people want to come and visit."

Visit and contribute to the future of the city's economy while appreciating the past.

"I hope that there's some realization that there's some cool stuff going on in Valdosta and that they stop and hangout downtown and walk around, and support local businesses and really that's kind of what that's all about for me," Shaw said.

DiSalvo says there are more murals and art coming and other projects he couldn't talk about just yet.

Shaw's next mural is in the works right now. He expects it to be done in about 10 days, weather permitting.