Bob Sherman doesn't mind the cold.
For the sake of public art, the 70-year-old Coastal Carolina student will tolerate a little stiffness if it means connecting Conway with his passion.
“I’m not as spry as I used to be, but I don’t mind going up and down the ladders," he said. "I don’t mind getting on the scaffolding. I just love art."
Sherman, who describes himself as a “51-year senior,” is working with 10 other students to create a Coastal Carolina-themed mural in downtown Conway called Teal Alley.
Across from Conway’s Garden Walk on Third Avenue, the mural will feature Coastal’s colors of bronze and teal. The artwork will also include numerous Chanticleer logos and school slogans, including “Chants Up!”
Last fall, Conway Downtown Alive expressed interest in collaborating with the university on a Coastal-themed mural.
“They had this idea of Teal Alley and really bringing CCU downtown,” said Yvette Arendt, the assistant professor of visual arts who is overseeing the project. “Conway is our college town. We are physically sandwiched between Conway and Myrtle Beach. Building this relationship really makes sense."
Arendt noted that the mural's location is “important for downtown.”
“It’s an area to highlight,” she said. “I know Conway Downtown Alive was really looking for a destination for Coastal students and families and alumni to come and interact with.”
Arendt hopes the mural also builds school spirit among members of Teal Nation.
“We can have people come and celebrate in a variety of ways,” she said. “Also, when students sign their paperwork and they’re coming and starting their freshman year and their academic side, they can come down, take their photographs and experience that mural space.”
Of the 11 student interns working on the mural, only two have previous mural-making experience. Sherman is one of those students, having assisted with the mural that is at the Grand Strand Masonic Lodge in North Myrtle Beach.
“Their experiences are great in helping with the collaborative process,” Arendt said. “They can talk to me about things that worked on previous murals.”
The crew began tracing the mural on Feb. 4. It's gradually coming to life, though it will take a few months to complete.
“Once you see what the design is going to be at life scale, you see how large and bright and exciting the imagery is,” Arendt said.
The students will be spending their Fridays and Saturdays painting the mural. However, the recent weather has not been cooperative.
“It’s going to be the bane of my existence,” Arendt said.
For Sherman, who worked on the Masonic Lodge Mural during the summer of 2017, the winter weather is completely different from that project.
“It was 95 [degrees] on the last one,” he said. “So it’s certainly a lot colder. I get a little stiff doing it in the cold.”
The mural is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of May, but that date may change.
“That just really depends on how the spring treats us,” Arendt said. “We have to leave it pretty open at this point because there’s just so many factors that we can’t control."
Despite the cold and rainy weather, Sherman enjoys the challenges that come with this mural. And he appreciates what the project is doing in Conway.
“That’s really important,” he said. “It’s good for the students to be involved with the community and it’s good for the community to be involved with the students."
Sherman remains grateful just to participate in the project.
After earning a degree in physics and math from Villanova University in the early 70s, he pursued careers in real estate, science and art.
But art became his focus.
Sherman said that after he graduated from Villanova, he paid off his debt by helping paint the university “from one side to the other.”
“I didn’t quit that job until they asked me to gold leaf the dome on their church and I said no,” Sherman chuckled.
A few years after he and his wife moved to the Grand Strand in 2010, Sherman chose to advance his education a bit further.
“Rather than get a divorce, I decided to get out of my wife’s hair,“ he joked.
Sherman went to the Coastal registrar's office and was told he needed to “major in something.“
That something ended up being art studio.
For someone who enjoys connecting the community with art, the Conway mural project is ideal.
“I just find it nice to not look up and see a dingy building or a dingy alley,” Sherman said. “It’s good for tourism to come down and see a bunch of murals in town.”