A Change of Art

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The City of Suwanee partnered with local artist Shannon Lake for an out-of-this-world mural on Pierce’s Corner in Old Town Suwanee.

By Alicia Carter | Photos Courtesy the City of Suwanee

You may have noticed that Old Town Suwanee is looking a little different lately. The City of Suwanee has been working to revitalize the downtown area and recently collaborated with local artist Shannon Lake and his family to bring a new captivating mural to Pierce’s Corner.

Built in 1910, Pierce’s Corner was most notably known as “the shop of many things.” It began as a 6,000-square-foot general store but later functioned as a silent movie theater, dentist office, antique store, and gas station, with the second floor once housing a Masonic Lodge. The city purchased the building in 2005 to renovate and preserve this piece of our history. The Suwanee Downtown Development Authority (DDA) took on the expense of the current renovation as its approach centers on strengthening the economic viability of downtown through various initiatives, including aesthetic improvements and historic preservation.

In a forward-thinking move, the Suwanee DDA sought to enhance the beauty of the building with large-scale, unique public art. To achieve this, the city received a matching funds grant from the Gwinnett Creativity Fund. The resulting mural, “Futurist” by Shannon Lake, spans a wall that measures 97 feet long and 30 feet high. Featuring vibrant abstracts alongside the familiar beauty of flowers, the mural’s focal point is an astronaut — a symbol of hope and forward-looking optimism.

Sponsored by the Suwanee Public Arts Commission and the Suwanee DDA, “Futurist” adds yet another impactful public art piece to Suwanee’s extensive offerings and further enriches the cultural landscape of the city.

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with the artist about the meaning behind the mural.

Tell us a little about your artistic background.
I am a mural artist and Georgia native. I have been painting murals for about 30 years. I work with my wife, Tamara, and my son, Lofton. We focus on large exterior artworks. My father was a sign painter, so I grew up painting large signs in public spaces. This eventually led to more creative works — art for public consumption. We are inspired by typography, vintage illustrators, and modern street art.

What was the thought process behind the mural? Tell me more about why you chose the elements you did for the piece.
The concept or design intent for the Suwanee project was to create something everyone could enjoy with a positive message about moving forward to new beginnings. We chose brightly colored abstracts and familiar organic forms. The young astronaut was a well-received concept.

Our thought was that astronauts symbolize hope. Hope for what is out there, hope that we are not alone, hope in our capabilities and ingenuity, hope that by working together humans can push impossible boundaries and achieve success.

What drew you to this project?
We really enjoyed working with the City of Suwanee. They gave us a lot of artistic license and really encouraged us to think outside the realm of typical “historic murals.”

Tell us about working with your wife and son on the project.
We enjoy working as a family of artists and work well together. It was my son, Lofton, who first came up with the concept of an astronaut. To my surprise the city went for it, loving the unexpectedness of it all.

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