Midtown Raleigh News

“Love, Raleigh” mosaic asks Raleigh residents to share what they love

A sampling of the notes on the “Love, Raleigh” mosaic.
A sampling of the notes on the “Love, Raleigh” mosaic. sbarr@newsobserver.com

A downtown mosaic composed of more than 2,000 handwritten notes offers a glimpse into the lives and loves of the city’s residents.

The multicolored pieces of paper are each the size of a sticky note, and each features one individual’s answer to the question, “What do you love?”

Emma, 8, loves Batman. Carly, 22, loves her students. Seth, 42, loves lazy Sundays. Others love autumn, the city’s museums, Cardinal Gibbons High School, margaritas or Father and Son Antiques.

For many, the prompt led them to the people closest to them. “My children,” “my husband,” “my sister,” “my mom and dad,” “my daughters,” “my family,” they wrote on their notes of yellow, orange, purple, white, blue or green.

The “Love, Raleigh” mosaic is the latest project by Beautifying Emerging Spaces Together, or BEST, a nonprofit group dedicated to community-driven artistic projects. Volunteers collected the notes, which hang on an 18-foot-by-6-foot wire frame in the lobby of the Capital Bank building.

Some of the notes capture a moment or an afternoon – someone loves sunshine when it’s 78 degrees with a breeze – and others a love that may last much longer.

“I love Sarah,” wrote William, 24, in uppercase letters on his white piece of paper. “I love William,” wrote Sarah, 24, in careful cursive on the white paper that hangs beside his.

The blocks of color on the mosaic are designed to look like Raleigh’s skyline, with mountains and the coast on either side. From the lobby of the building, a viewer can see the back of the mosaic, where the line shining through the window creates a stained-glass effect. From the sidewalk on Davie Street, each of the notes are visible.

Joe Lawson, an artist who designed the grid for the project, was drawn to the idea because it would depend on community involvement, with people capturing in their own handwriting something important to them.

“I liked how genuine the interaction was going to be,” he said.

Julianne Gonski, the project manager at BEST, said she was impressed by how carefully participants considered the topic of love, a thoughtfulness she hopes viewers will see as well.

“I would hope they would take away how positive people are and maybe realize some things about Raleigh they didn’t know,” she said.