May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023
Over the past year, Wyatt Grant’s paintbrush has grazed the surfaces of brick, plaster, and concrete walls, across town and beyond. His latest mural, at Citizen Vinyl, is a soft and playful display of abstract shapes and bodies. Wyatt says he wants the artwork to respond with the building’s stately architectural details, like its octagonal columns and its windows gridded with glass blocks.
“I don’t want to say too much about it, because in this instance, I wanted to refrain from over-articulating a concept. There’s already so much in the space,” Grant said.
Grant was a natural fit for Citizen Vinyl, not just for his artistic sensibilities, but he was also among the first to work at Coda Analog Shop when it first opened.
“Wyatt understands the flow and how the space works from an on-the-ground perspective,” Citizen Vinyl general manager Colby Caldwell said. “His wall painting reflects a dynamic synthesis of the architecture — both historically and in its current use as a community hub.”
Instead of injecting explicit symbols that speak to the context – vinyl records and musical notes, for instance – he designed a wall that offers up reflection and interpretation.
“If it doesn’t sound too pretentious, I want to have a spiritual moment with the viewer. For it to be an interaction, rather than for the mural to serve itself,” Grant said.
It’s a break from the bombardment of messaging, marketing, and social media chatter that clutters the world outside.
He draws inspiration from Anni and Josef Albers, pioneers of mid-century modernism in their own right. Anni was a textile and print-maker, and Josef was best known for his paintings and contributions to color theory. The Albers, who met while studying at the Bauhaus, actually spent several years here in Western North Carolina. After the Bauhaus closed under Nazi pressure in 1933, the Albers fled from Germany and taught fine art at Black Mountain College.
Textiles are also woven into Grant’s philosophy. It was his emphasis, while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. He says he refers to his background in fiber and textiles as a sort of framework, treating each project, no matter the scale, as a finite structure.
“For instance, here’s the garment or blanket I’m going to start with. From there, you immediately form an economy of images from that process, working from the outside in,” Grant said.
Though the bulk of his work this past year has been taken up by larger-than-life murals, the soft-spoken artist has a penchant for smaller canvases. Grant says he’s planning to get a studio to better reroute his focus back to his regular painting practice. “The roots of where I come from,” he added.
This past year, Grant completed some of his largest murals, for clients including Lululemon and Moog Music. The demand for the large-scale designs appears to speak to a greater desire for a sense of place, meaning, and connection.
“To qualify as a mural, you’re doing it for other people, for the outside world to experience,” Grant said. “You’re designing it to keep people company.”
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