Just before lunch Tuesday, I saw a young woman crouching with a box of paints on the sidewalk outside the Hyatt House uptown.
Jessica Burns, who works at a bank uptown, had picked one of the few spots left on the plywood boards that have covered the hotel’s first-floor windows since they were shattered during last Wednesday night’s protests. Two hands in the shape of a heart had already materialized on the wooden board under her paintbrush, with a template showing one black hand and one white hand cupping the Charlotte skyline.
“I saw someone else post it on Facebook and I thought it was a really powerful message,” she said. “I just thought it was really beautiful and I wanted to share it with everybody.”
Burns is one of nearly 40 people from the Charlotte area who responded to Hyatt House manager Matt Allen’s request (initially posted on Facebook) for help in beautifying the hotel’s damaged exterior.
She just dropped by on her lunch break and got to work.
Allen said he was ecstatic — the guests love it so far, too. And he only had a few ground rules.
“No profanity,” he said. “And nothing that’s going to be disturbing to anyone, really. I know that’s subjective, but, you know, keep it clean.”
Hyatt House hopes to replace all of the windows soon, Allen said, and new windows are being made now. He has already reached out to some places that may be able to display the beautified boards once they are taken down, like Charlotte Art League, Charlotte Trolley Museum, NoDa Company Store and Open Streets 704, to start.
“If we can sell it, great,” he said of the boards. “We want to leave it up to the artists what they want to do with the proceeds.”
Regardless of the outcome, the artwork is full of healing sentiments. Ten messages worth keeping in mind: