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David Hale’s Downtown Songbird Mural Will Be Auctioned Off

Credit: Matt Alston

Athens artist David Hale’s songbird mural at the corner of Pulaski and Washington streets was removed over the weekend and will be auctioned off to benefit AthFest Educates, then replaced with a new mural.

The mural, “Birdsong,” was installed in 2016 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of AthFest, with the help of a $20,000 AthFest Educates grant and student artists Kalib Hubbard, Sam Watson, Mara Bastow and Kiran Fernandes.

The 20 panels depicting 20 songbirds found in Georgia will be put up for auction online Oct. 1, with proceeds benefiting AthFest Educates, a nonprofit that raises money for arts and music education via the annual AthFest festival and the AthHalf half marathon (which will go virtual this year).

Hale is collaborating with AthFest Educates on a new mural at the same location facing the Ted’s Most Best courtyard, entitled “Hope,” that he plans to complete by the end of October.

“I have been contemplating Hope often throughout this strange summer and its ability to help us through individual and collective challenges,” Hale said in a news release. “Hope is often misunderstood as a form of longing and yearning for a future that is somehow better than our present circumstance.  I have found in my contemplation that True Hope is born of a deep awareness of the Universal Truth: that Love will always overcome.” 

The new mural will depict 24 swallows carrying branches toward a 25th swallow’s nest.

“Swallows are seen as symbols of Hope for a number of reasons but particularly because they signal the proximity of land for sailors crossing open ocean,” Hale said. “This year’s AthFest was supposed to be the 24th year of a festival that is deeply rooted in our community and culture.  Next year offers a strange consideration if AthFest would still represent its 25th Anniversary.  These are moments when Hope will carry us through and help us build a nest together to perhaps support something truly Unknown.  Hope is integral to our survival, and I personally hope that this creation can be a beacon to help collectively remind ourselves that there is always a distant Shore, even if it is not always seen.” 

AthFest Educates Executive Director Jill Helme thanked Hale for his contributions, as well as building owner Corky Sams and Epiphany, the clothing store that occupies the space.

“David’s heart is so big and his talent so great, having him come to us to offer this is a dream come true. He is such a steadfast supporter of AthFest Educates and this community, and his paintings bring so much joy to so many.” Helme said. “We are excited to see where the songbird panels end up as they move into people’s homes and business, and can’t wait to see the new mural on the wall for all to enjoy.  We’re so grateful to be a part of this community of creative people like David and generous people like the folks at Epiphany and the building owner, Corky Sams, who donated the wall space.”