Ensley adds 6th mural on its way to become Alabama’s most colorful place

Over 2 years ago, I wrote a story about a new mural on the side of the Bethesda Life Center at 321 19th Street Ensley in Birmingham’s Ensley community.

Artist Ukuu Tafari’s beautifully painted mural, which was commissioned by The Color Project Ensley launched a movement.

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Six Murals

Bethesda Life Center at 321 19th Street Ensley. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

As of this past weekend, there are now six murals near and alongside 19th Street, Ensley’s downtown district. The newest mural brings Ensley one step closer to The Color Project Ensley’s Brian Voice Porter Hawkins vision of transforming Ensley into “the most colorful place in Alabama.” 

The vision 

In a nutshell, The Color Project Ensley is an initiative that uses public art, gardens, light and sound to address the issues of health, safety, crime, and violence. 

According to Hawkins, along with the murals, The Color Project is talking with merchants about installing a “soundscape” and changing street lights to LEDs, so that the colors from the lights can be lit up based on what is happening in the community. 

The group also wants to foster pocket parks and community gardens.

By celebrating its history and the arts, Hawkins and the community intend to turn downtown Ensley into a vibrant, colorful destination. With six murals and more initiatives to come, including plans to redevelop the Ramsay-McCormack Building, they are well on their way!

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Now – Let’s See the Murals!

The newest mural is by Dewon Moton that was finishing up this past weekend. It is on 19th Street and Avenue I.

Avenue F and 19th/20th Street Ensley

This mural is by Erin Leann Mitchell. According to Hawkins it was commissioned by the Birmingham Legion FC and AT&T.

Mural by Erin Leann Mitchell. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Mitchell had a gallery show scheduled at Birmingham Museum of Art. Here is a April 15, 2020 BMA interview of the artist.

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Hope Building on Avenue E

Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

This mural on the Hope Building was just recently re-touched after nearly fading away.

Behind the Volcano Club – 514 19th Street Ensley

The owner of the Volcano Gentlemen’s Club commissioned this mural by Dewon Moton. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Side of Gilmer Drugs – 413 19th Street Ensley

Mural on the side of Gilmer Drugs in Downtown Ensley by Jamie Bonfiglio. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Commissioned by Ensley Alive and painted by renown Birmingham artist Jamie Bonfiglio – Hawkins description of this stunning mural on the side of Gilmer Drugs:

“She is Ensley. She is the personification of Ensley. We asked people what Ensley looks like and this was the most consistent vision people had of Ensley.”

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321 19th Street Ensley

Birmingham murals
Ensley Alive mural on the side of the Bethesda Health Center in Ensley. Photo was taken in 2018. In the photo, left to right, Birmingham Museum of Arts Director Graham Boettcher, Bethesda Health Center’s Bettina Bryd-Giles and mural artist Ukuu Tafari

The mural that launched The Color Project movement in Ensley.

Want to learn more about The Color Project and become part of this community movement? Visit the Ensley Alive website.

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.