Downtown Raleigh's Nina Simone mural has come down after brightening up South Salisbury Street for almost nine months.
Friday morning, workers carefully removed the 40-foot-by-20-foot mural from the east-facing wall of the Raleigh Convention Center, along South Salisbury Street.
The mural, emblazoned with the lyric of a Beatles song Simone recorded in 1971, is the work of Polish-born "yarn bomb" crochet artist Olek. She worked with a local team of more than 100 artists to knit and install the piece last October.
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It’s part of a project called “Love Across the USA,” which Olek was inspired to create following the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Simone, a native of Tryon in Western North Carolina, was the third mural in the series.
While the mural held up pretty well, its colors have visibly faded. So it will be taken down to be stored and repaired as needed.
"Our plan was to keep it up as long as it still looked good," said Sarah Powers, executive director of the Office of Raleigh Arts. "It's a little faded, but we're impressed with how well it's held up to the sun."
Plans are still tentative, but the mural should eventually wind up on display in some fashion at the Tryon Fine Arts Center in Simone's original hometown.
While Olek still owns the work, the artist has already let it go.
"The piece could be up longer, but everything is ephemeral," Olek said. "It's good to let it go so I can make room for something new."
The Simone piece had a total budget of $29,000, with about $18,000 going to Olek, and used material donated by Red Heart Yarn, Powers said.
The Simone mural's time on display in Raleigh coincided with an eventful stretch for the singer, who died in 2003. At the time it went up last fall, fan voting was in progress for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Simone was voted in and inducted into the hall this past April. alongside Bon Jovi and Dire Straits, among others.
Earlier this month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the Tryon house where Simone was born and grew up a National Treasure — one of only 87 nationwide. The artists who bought the house last year hope to turn it into a workspace for other artists.
"Nina's had a good year," said Powers. "I was glad to have her present for her Hall of Fame induction. It was a great time to have that in Raleigh. Celebrate all the good things."