You may have noticed a colorful addition to Market Square when driving or walking around downtown Fayetteville: A new mural entitled “Lady Muriel” brightens the side of The Sweet Palette building at 101 Person St.
Patsy Crawford is the mural designer and owner of the Person Street building that houses her bakery business, The Sweet Palette, as well as Blanc Coffee Roasters, owned by Anette Blanc. The mural is located on the western side of the building facing the intersection of Market Square and Green Street. Looming tall over the square stands a woman adorned in pastel and ribbons, standing in contrast to a gold-and-flower halo. In her left hand, she holds an iridescent bubble.
“I looked up what Muriel meant, and it meant ‘sparkling and bright,’” Patsy said. “And I thought that was perfect because [the mural] is brightening up this corner on Market Street.”
The name “Muriel” is also the name of a goddess who was said to “promote peace and harmony,” Patsy added. After much deliberation and help from her sister and the community, Patsy knew this was the right name for her mural.
“Lady Muriel” has been a long time in the making. Patsy envisioned the art piece long before she and two of her three sons, Jeremy and Adam Crawford, began painting it in October 2023.
About five or six years ago, she wondered how they might spruce up the large wall facing Market Square. Facing downtown restrictions on exterior-facing walls, she wasn’t sure how it would be possible.
In 2019, the Cool Springs District initiated the Capitol Encore mural entitled “Captain of Your Fate” at 110 Old St. This colorful mural painted by Dare Coulter extends 143 feet and features children, birds and other creatures. Seeing this mural inspired Patsy to consider whether her own mural might now be a possibility.
“If you go to Asheville, Charlotte and other cities, you see a lot of murals around town,” Adam said. “When you come to Fayetteville, you don’t see a lot of that … We thought it would be great to put some more artwork downtown.”
Patsy studied fashion illustration in her earlier years, so she knew she could design a mural utilizing this unique skill set.
The final design is inspired by one of Patsy’s favorite artists, Alphonse Mucha, the preeminent Czech painter and illustrator of the late 1800s, who specialized in Parisian Art Nouveau. Mucha’s style often featured long, slender, haloed women in pastel colors, sometimes serving as models for biscuits, beauty products and other ad posters.
In 2022, Patsy started the mural approval process with the city and started sketching design ideas inspired by Mucha’s work. Since the mural would be featured outside of Patsy’s bakery, initially, she envisioned the woman carrying a tray of delectable sweets. These sweets were later changed to bubbles for an effervescent touch.
Patsy received a mini grant through the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County during their 2023 fall cycle. Along with a few painting supplies, this grant helped fund the rental fees for a lift to ensure both speed and safety throughout the preparation and painting process.
The mini grants are intended to build capacity for artists, nonprofits, and municipal groups in Cumberland County.
“Mini Grants support one-time cultural arts events with a focus on growing the local arts economy, engaging new and innovative programming, and providing support to diverse artistic mediums to Cumberland County," the Arts Council 2023-2024 Mini Grant Program Guidelines state.
Painting for the “Lady Muriel” piece began in October and took approximately three and a half weeks. Adam, partner and manager of The Sweet Palette, did the prep work to power wash the wall and prepare for painting. His handiwork also included painting the luminous bubbles depicted in the mural.
Jeremy, who works as a freelance artist, flew in for a week from Florida to assist in the mural’s creation with both drawing and painting. The three Crawfords worked day and night to bring Patsy’s vision to life.
It was nice to meet so many people while they worked from the lift, Patsy said, as many passersby would stop to talk from the sidewalk.
After a few finishing touches, the Crawfords declared the mural complete in the middle of November. Where once downtown patrons saw a nondescript, blank wall, now looms a colorful, joyful reminder of peace and harmony.
“We’ve loved seeing the new murals around town, and we wanted to be part of that,” Patsy said about her hopes for the mural.
According to the Cool Spring Downtown District, including this mural, there are now 33 parks, landmarks and art featured in the Fayetteville downtown area. The addition of “Lady Muriel” is one more thoughtful detail that helps Fayetteville feel like home.
Editor's note: Aria Spears is also a columnist for CityView's Homefront, an initiative to write more stories about the issues military families face through weekly columns by Spears and Jaylin Kremer.