Every morning and every afternoon, I walk from the city parking lot behind the buildings on the east side of Main Street to the newspaper office through the alley that empties onto Main Street at the Person County Courthouse.
Happy festival lighting makes the wide alley a pleasant, safe place to walk even after dark.
But it’s a boring walk. Tall brick buildings on either side rise up well above a normal sightline, so there’s nothing to see other than the opening at the other end of the alley.
I’d been hearing bits and pieces about a new public art display that was to be displayed in the alleyway.
On Monday, I turned into the alley on my way to an interview and, lo and behold, there stood Uptown Roxboro Director Lynda Clayton and Kirby Theater director Erin Hill, watching as Phillip Fish and Mike Clayton drilled holes into the side of the wall on one of the buildings.
Hill said a set of five pictures would be hung in the next few minutes. Three more will come in August, I learned from Clayton.
When I returned an hour later everyone was gone and I approached the alley, excited to see the works.
Alas, there was nothing but empty brick walls.
Hill sent me a note a short time later to say Fish and Clayton had been called away to address a more pressing need. But, she said, they hoped to return later in the day.
And, return they did. I shared a laugh with Clayton as we watched the two men take measurements and talk about them and then take more measurements and talk a little bit more.
“Measure twice, cut once,” I told Clayton.
In pretty short order, the five paintings by Kate Lagaly, were hung and, on my way home, I stopped to look at each one. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will say each of the paintings have a distinct Person County flavor, which will give anyone looking at them a moment of pride and nostalgia.
It may well seem like a small thing when we debate back and forth over such weighty issues as tax increases, school funding and commercial development.
But I would argue that a city that takes pride in the way it looks is a community that has a lot more to offer than one who doesn’t devote some attention to how it looks. The same could be said, by the way, about the trash on our roadsides, but that’s another column.
Let’s put it this way. First impressions matter. If you were interviewing two candidates for an open position and one came into your workplace looking disheveled and dirty and the other came in wearing crisp, neat work attire, which one would leave a better impression on you?
Roxboro upgraded its wardrobe on Monday with the new art. I hope you’ll go see it the next time you wander through Uptown.