Have you experienced the magic carpet ride on the Rail Trail yet? There are actually two Magic Carpet Murals completed — one just over the tracks from Atherton Mill and a second by the Convention Center — with a third that just began by Triple C Brewing Co. Monday.

Baltimore-based artists Jessie Unterhalter, 32, and Katey Truhn, 33, are in charge of the painting process, invited by Charlotte Center City Partners and backed by funding from an ArtPlace America grant. But there’s plenty of Charlotte inspiration infused.

The artists visited Charlotte a couple of months earlier for a few days of community engagement events around the project. They held pop-up workshops at 7th Street Public Market and Vin Master for community members, who created designs with geometrical shapes and colors that were ultimately used to inform the designs of the final murals.

“It was a bunch of different shapes that we cut out that we thought would be fun to mess around with,” Unterhalter said, as they began to create three distinctively different mural designs.

The two artists went back to Baltimore to design the murals, which they then started painting in Charlotte May 2-5. The first Magic Carpet Mural took about 25 hours.

mural 1

So did the second, which they painted over the weekend.

mural 2

You can jump in and add to the the third mural. Sign up for the volunteer painting session Wednesday, May 11 from 5-8 p.m. and join the masterpiece.

You’ll be working with Unterhalter and Truhn, who aren’t new to magic carpets. They have added these under-the-foot murals to other cities and Charlotte Center City Partners thought this would be a great way to engage people on the trail without too much distraction or blocking of trail.

Plus, it’s interactive. “We never get to walk on art,” Truhn said. “The way people experience it is more intimate. It’s a surprise.”

She added that, unlike a mural on a wall, you don’t have to consider these 100-feet-long, 7-feet-wide works of art as a larger picture. You never see all of the pieces at the same time and as you move across it the experience changes drastically from start to finish.

As for people traversing the patterns, Truhn said, “I just want to brighten their day. … Their journey is enhanced.”

Unterhalter hopes to be “ideally giving people a new language of what public art can be, what art can be. It really can be anything and I think that’s fun.”

They’re not new to magic carpets. But I am. I took my bike over to the first one by Atherton Mill to test it out. And after a bumpy, clumsy start, I took off across the Magic Carpet Mural.

It felt a lot like flying.

Photo: Katie Toussaint

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