Artist Kendall Doub is bringing life to empty spaces in downtown Winston-Salem with murals painted outside of galleries, restaurants and even in the basement of a nightclub.
“Why I love doing public art is that you reach a much larger demographic,” he says. “Having it on the street, people are going to be artistically influenced whether they realize it or not.”
His compulsion to create art traces back to his childhood. His grandfather noticed Doub’s talent when he could draw perfect circles at a young age. “I would describe the painting in my head and he would paint it up to 18 times until I said he got it just right,” explains Doub. As time went on, he began painting canvases larger and larger. Wanting to go bigger, murals gave him the opportunity to paint canvases the size of buildings.
Doub’s work mirrors his personality: enthusiastic and original. He said he hopes to explore the world, but due to steep expenses, Doub has discovered traveling through his art. His Sandwich Friends, a series of illustrated sandwiches that he made into stickers, can be seen all over Winston-Salem as well as in Canada, South Africa, Italy, and more. He gives stickers to everyone he meets with one rule: you have to take a picture of where you put it. “Give [inanimate objects] eyes because eyes are the window to the soul,” says Doub, “They become alive when you give them eyes.”
In between Trade Street and North Liberty Street, his mural of a broken gumball machine, called “The Baller,” draws on the playfulness of childhood, but posses a deeper meaning. The gumball machine represents the childish ignorance of growing up to be whatever you want to be while the brokenness of the head and the business suit symbolize the loss of the American Dream.
Elise Dean, who was observing the mural, said, “[The Baller] has the ability to inspire people to take a second look at life instead of just taking it for the surface level appearance.”
When Doub isn’t painting murals, he is a board member and public art chairman of the AFAS group, or Art For Art Sake group. AFAS is a volunteer-based nonprofit in Winston-Salem that helps promote local artists and provides opportunities for the community to experience art. AFAS owns galleries, an art center where the community can take art classes, and more. Chris Sutherland, an artist who sells her work at AFAS’s Red Dog Gallery, said, “[Doub] immerses himself completely in the art scene. He truly contributes to the art community here.”
Doub said he joined AFAS hoping to raise money for public art. He helped design and construct part of the ARTivity on the Green, the $2 million urban park on North Liberty Street. When the park opened earlier this year, it became the first art park in Winston-Salem. Doub led the Concrete Canvas Mural Project, which featured ten chosen artists’ murals on a wall in the park. Doub’s own mural, “Bone Crazy,” is featured alongside their works on the wall.
In the future, Doub said he sees potential as the city continues to grow and hopes the city “keep[s] costs down and keep[s] affordable studio spaces.” Doub explains. “I want to see more art galleries, more studios, more murals, more more…We have a lot of cool people doing a lot of cool things.”
“Art is saying here’s nothing and I’m going to create something that didn’t exist before. That did not exist before you made it,” Doub said. “That’s a magical power.”