Winston-Salem artist paints “Depot Street Renaissance” mural

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter and a local artist are working together to let people know that this part of Winston-Salem is very familiar with breaking new ground.

Artist Leo Rucker is using this week to finish the tiny details of a mural that tells a big story of African American success.

“This is how it represents an African American community that was thriving and had everything it would need for almost 40 years or longer,” Rucker said.

On what used to be a blank retaining wall near the intersection of Seventh and Vine Streets in Winston-Salem, Rucker is painting the “Depot Street Renaissance” mural. 

The painting includes the men, women, businesses and churches that were a part of the Depot Street neighborhood. 

Depot Street was one of Winston-Salem’s first prestigious Black neighborhoods. Rucker is thrilled to create a piece of history that represents the neighborhood that once stood in the current day Innovation Quarter.

“It gets me excited, and to be a visual artist recreating history, recreating life, recreating a time period a lot of people saw as an exciting time for them to grow,” Rucker said.

Recreating history is not an easy job. There’s been weather delays and lots of careful research to ensure Rucker is telling the story properly. 

“A lot of the pictures were in black and white,” Rucker said. “Now you have to figure out how do you bring color to this.? How do you keep the mural balanced and not too crowded in one spot?”

In some cases, Rucker turns to personal history to create the mural. He grew up near Depot Street.

“And I would walk these streets and had relatives that lived in the community, and I remember the YMCA you see behind me as well,” Rucker said.

In a few more days, Rucker will be done. But the Depot Street story will continue.

“I want people to be educated, how to use their skills and craft along with understanding a part of a community they may have no idea about,” Rucker said.

A plaque will be placed near the mural to explain its significance.  

But if you can’t wait for the plaque, check out this website.

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