Montevallo celebrates community, history and nature through murals

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Move over Austin Texas. Check out Montevallo, Alabama’s newest destination mural. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

If you ever get a chance to visit the city of Montevallo, the college town about 35 miles south of Birmingham, checkout their colorful array of murals.

According to Montevallo Mayor Hollie Cost, the city’s love of murals started a few years ago at one of the more unlikely places… a recycling center.

A bit of an eyesore (aren’t most recycling centers), Montevallo art professor Collin Williams took on the task of transforming the site through public art. It was a huge success.

Building off that accomplishment, Williams and Cost collaborated on pulling together a mural camp for students from 5th grade to 12th grade. Local  Montevallo students mentored the budding artists.

Their first project was the Nurture Nature mural on the side of the Subway facing a busy McDonald’s parking lot. Aside from catching people’s attention it educates folks about nature in and around Montevallo. Murals with a message is a trademark of Professor Williams’ workshops and efforts. 

Nurture Nature Mural in Montevallo by the McDonald’s parking lot. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Town of Murals

Montevallo Sister Cities Mural. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

In May, I took the opportunity to visit the town. Besides the murals, you have the beautiful University of Montevallo campus, Orr Park and just outside downtown American Village, the Alabama National Cemetery and Ebenezer Swamp.  Be mindful, some of the places are not open because of COVID-19. Check ahead.

Back to murals – they are everywhere around town.

They include:

  • Mural depicting the relationship between Montevallo and their Japanese sister city
  • Mural on the side of a barbershop highlighting Monevallo’s history
  • Murals at the Community Gardens, and the outdoor classroom by Ebenezer Swamp
  • New murals at the gateway of the city on the side of the new Slice, a dental office and Food Market. The artist is Birmingham’s own Marcus Fetch.

  According to Cost,  there are also two inside the elementary school and middle

The Newest Mural – Move over Austin, Texas

The latest mural in town was unveiled just before the COVID-19 health crisis hit. 

Playing off the infamous Austin, Texas tourist destination sign, Montevallo, with the help of the University of Alabama Center of Economic was chosen to develop its own iconic town sign.

A community wide project, five local artists paired up with local educational organizations and Main Street.  They cut the ribbon on the project in March.

Move over Austin Texas. Check out Montevallo, Alabama’s newest destination mural. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Why Murals Matter

Murals build community and make them vibrant. 

Montevallo Muralby Marcus Fetch. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Mayor Cost summed it up best:

“I believe it (the murals) is a way to unite our passions in the community. It speaks to the spirit of inclusion that we have.  We bring everybody together over this common element. People may have different ideas, but everyone embraces it.  Everyone enjoys it equally. It sends a real message of who we really are. Everyone of them tells a story about Montevallo.  And that is what makes it special.”

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Pat Byington
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.
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