Local Arts

On the Charlotte mural tour: Nick Napoletano, tinkering with reality

Nicholas Napoletano is a local artist and muralist who brought life to the bare walls of NoDa with his murals. One is painted on the side of Solstice Tavern and the other is a Stella Artois mural on the side of FU Custom Tattoos.
Nicholas Napoletano is a local artist and muralist who brought life to the bare walls of NoDa with his murals. One is painted on the side of Solstice Tavern and the other is a Stella Artois mural on the side of FU Custom Tattoos. akormann@charlotteobserver.com

Nick Napoletano has been in Charlotte for two years, and already has been making waves in mural culture here – literally. Napoletano has been working on a process for “augmented reality” artwork that can move, no screens needed.

One of Napoletano’s pieces that will do this in the future, he says, is the mural that covers the front of Solstice Tavern in NoDa.

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Nicholas Napoletano is a local artist and muralist who brought life to the bare walls of NoDa with his murals. One is painted on the side of Solstice Tavern and the other is a Stella Artois mural on the side of FU Custom Tattoos. Alex Kormann akormann@charlotteobserver.com

The wall is blue, with the profile of a young woman. The sun shines on the opposite side of her face. Purple ribbons float in the air around her. “I incorporated the ribbons to mimic the rhythms of the solstice cycles, and then wove a bunch of narratives into the actual fabric of the piece,” says Napoletano. If you look closely, these narratives are represented by symbols floating in the ribbons. Napoletano put out a call on social media for Charlotteans to send him images that mean the most to them. One example: a drawing one father sent Napoletano of his son’s “narmellow” – a marshmallow, unicorn creature.

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Nicholas Napoletano is a local artist and muralist who brought life to the bare walls of NoDa with his murals. One is painted on the side of Solstice Tavern and the other is a Stella Artois mural on the side of FU Custom Tattoos. Alex Kormann akormann@charlotteobserver.com

Other notable works from Napoletano are his “Women Empowerment” mural outside of Aerial CLT, a Carolina trout outside of Providence Auto Repair, and a mural of drag queen Brandy Alexander outside of Fifteen Ten Antiques, which was completed with the help of Matt Moore and Matt Hooker.

Napoletano is also on a mission to help other Charlotte artists: He teamed up with Binders Art Supplies and local artists Mike Wirth, Osiris Rain and Alex Delarge to give away “starter packs” of spray paints (21 cans each, plus boards) to three aspiring artists. Paint isn’t cheap ($8 to $10 a can or so) and Napoletano says a mural typically takes at least a dozen. So, he says, the group wants to “make sure young artists have a chance” by giving them the tools they need.

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