GOOD VIBES: Holmes transforms blank wall into beach paradise

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Around the beginning of June, Jamall Holmes stepped back from the long, narrow, extended brick wall. The summer sun was already beaming down and the glare off the wall caused him to squint. The sand beneath his feet was hot and the carpenter bees were buzzing.

But in his mind’s eye, on the brick wall Holmes saw a cascading waterfall and young people toasting a good time as the sun slipped into the vast ocean waters.

Holmes said aloud, “I can do this.” And, with a single brush stroke, he began.

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On Monday, Holmes stood before the brick wall and was humbled by what he saw.

The 42-foot by 10-foot mundane wall had been transformed into a place, not exactly of utopia, but somewhere not too distant.

Holmes nodded and then he smiled.

“I’m just proud Nate gave me this opportunity,” he said. “I’m proud that he trusted me to do this.”

Nate Sneed, who owns and operates, The Double Branch, a popular gathering place for college kids, realized that the outdoor gathering area needed a facelift. He envisioned a mural on the dull wall that would appeal to the college crowd. He knew that Jamall Holmes was a good artist and a dedicated young man. Much of the artwork at Flo’s Restaurant in downtown Troy is Holmes’ work and Sneed knew that he could depend on the artist to finish what he started.

What Holmes started on a warm, sunny day in June, he finished on a record-setting hot day in early August with the stroke of a brush that gave a heron its leg.

For Holmes, the “opportunity” has been challenging, perhaps, taxing at times.

“I took one day off each week and a couple of times I took two days off,” Holmes said. “But, from beginning to end, I was so involved in the painting that I didn’t want to stop.”

Holmes said his vision for the mural is its reality.

“I knew what I wanted to paint and I knew how I wanted it to look,” he said. “I wanted the mural to have a feeling of fun, of good times and I want it also to be peaceful and relaxing.
Holmes said he wanted the mural to show friendship and kinship to the time and place.

And, he wanted it to have a sense of movement and adventure and he gave it that with the cascading waterfall that is the foundation of the mural.

“The people depicted in the mural have strong resemblances to those he knows and, yet, are generic enough that they, just might be, someone else.

“You can tell that the people in the mural are friends,” he said. “They are enjoying each other and having a carefree, fun day at the beach.”

And that beach could be anywhere. There is drifting sand and also gentle waves, feeding herons, an aging palm tree and majestic mountains. But it’s the sunset that binds it all together – man, beast and nature, Holmes said.

The sunset is extremely vivid and, through his artistry, Holmes created the feeling that he had hoped to achieve –the feeling of a good time spent with good friends while at the same time, creating a feeling of serenity and the promise of yet another day.

“From beginning to end, the mural was a humbling experience for me,” Holmes said. “It was an opportunity to create art that would set the mood for a good time and a fun time with friends. And, maybe, take them away from their troubles and worries for a while.”

And, for Homes, the mural was a testament to his artistic abilities and also a personal journey of sorts.

Each day that Holmes worked on the mural, he either walked from his apartment on South Brundidge Street or rode his bike to The Double Branch. For him, that was a time of preparation and also reflection.

Holmes is not sure what path his future will take, but the opportunity to paint a mural on a brick wall was, for him, a rewarding experience. But it was not something he did for himself. He never intended it to be. From the first stroke to the last, his intention was “Troy, this is for you!”