by Lexie Wolf
When property owners or businesses owners within the Main Street district are awarded a matching facade grant by the Main Street Pittsboro Design Committee, sometimes the work done includes new paint, new awnings, new windows, or new lighting fixtures. Occasionally a new facade means the addition of a mural like the one at 185 East Street, the home of Yoga Garden Pittsboro. Recently Lexie Wolf, business owner and property owner at Yoga Garden Pittsboro, wrote about the process and meaning of the mural and the importance to her of the work done by Main Street Pittsboro.
What does the mural mean for you? Your business? The downtown district?
Here in downtown Pittsboro, small business owners have endured years of demonstrations and riots, construction, and of course, the pandemic. I happen to run a business that is focused on getting people in a room to breathe together, so the pandemic has been a little tough on us. But we’re resilient and we’re here. I wanted to put something out there that was positive and uplifting and so I approached Main Street Pittsboro with the idea of a mural. They could not have been more welcoming or professional or collaborative. It was a great experience. This design from the very talented artist Loren Pease of Sweetpease Art really resonated with us. In the mural we see the monarch butterflies growing from larva to chrysalis and in the central part of the design, triumphantly and beautifully taking flight. Transformation and growth is certainly a theme in Pittsboro right now and I love that the mural depicts transformation in such an uplifting way.
The word “Breathe” was particularly resonant with the yoga studio community as well. Breath is a central component of yoga practice! Breathing reminds us to be present and mindful. Breathing is life. And for better or for worse, “Breathe” has so much meaning for this moment. “Breathe” reminds us of the pandemic. It reminds us of the Black Lives Matter movement. It reflects the struggles of this particular time and place. We have to remember our struggles in order to learn from them. Breathing is not to be taken for granted. It is a gift. Let us remember to be grateful for each breath. We’ve had incredible feedback from the community about what an uplifting and joyful experience it is to drive by the mural.
What does the work of Main Street Pittsboro mean to you?
I am both a business owner and a property owner downtown. I have been a resident in Chatham for around ten years. Some years before opening the studio I was a policy analyst for the state of North Carolina. I had the opportunity to work on a project with the Main Street program at the state level. So when I was evaluating whether or not to invest in downtown here, the existence of a Main Street program here was a data point for me. I knew what it meant – that someone cared. Someone, or most likely many someones, cared about maintaining a vibrant, historic, and creative downtown business district. I knew also – literally from doing the math—that this translated into dollars. A stronger downtown economy. While the policy analyst in me understands the economics of preserving and supporting downtown, the yogi in me understands what this kind of work does for our souls. History, creativity and quirkiness, individualism, community and collaboration— these are things that make us human. There are large swaths of America—places that are devoid of human personality of any kind. Main Street Pittsboro’s work, to me, is about keeping the downtown a soulful and human place.
The studio opened in 2017 and I made a very intentional decision to invest in and support downtown by purchasing and restoring the historic cottage (c.1900) that we are housed in. It would have probably been much cheaper and easier to rent or buy someplace on the outskirts of town and perhaps in a more modern and easier to maintain building. But I wanted our studio to have a strong sense of place. I wanted the yoga studio to be a distinctly Pittsboro yoga studio and not just any generic corporate strip mall yoga studio. Not all of the people driving by and admiring the mural are going to be inclined to go to a yoga class and that’s perfectly okay. If the people admiring our mural are going to pull into Small B&B for breakfast, awesome. If they’re going to stop at Chatham Business Services to get some work done, great. If they’re going to tell their friends to come to Pittsboro because it’s really cool and quirky, that’s the idea.
The work Main Street does, no matter which business it’s focusing on or promoting in the moment, helps us all. It’s about getting people downtown and making this downtown a place that people want to be—that feels good to be in. It raises us all up as a community, and this mural is a great example of that. I am grateful to have landed here in Pittsboro and so very grateful for all of the people in this community who work together to make it an uplifting and supportive place to be.