Kent Youngstrom

The original guard house still stands at Camp North End’s Statesville Avenue entrance. In the spring of 2020, Charlotte transplant Kent Youngstrom was asked to transform the structure, bringing his blend of abstract painting and text art to an unusual—and complicated—canvas. He says he chose these bright hues and textures with the aim to draw attention to the entrance for those passing the site. "Finding You Was Hard. Loving You Is Not." is the most prominent phrase on the building. The words you see across his practice come from the artist’s everyday life, “from morning gym workout jokes, [and] from friends who say things just a little different that I capture, record, and spit back out as simple and piercingly as I can.” While those words bring joy to the couples often photographed here, Youngstrom remembers this project as a challenge. “With siding, brick, stucco, glass, gutters and a few other random textures to deal with, I was constantly battling what tool to use for painting to make it look like one, unified canvas,” he says. “I started by spraying the entire surface white to give myself a visual starting point for the new colors. I ended up using mostly rollers and brushes to apply the final coats with a few spray painted elements as well. Like most of my work, the piece evolved a bit as colors combined and dripped, and took their own courses.” Another arresting phrase to look for on the guard house is one that’s less prominent: On the backdoor, Youngstrom writes, "Every exit is also an entry." This project follows a charge that fuels every component of Youngstrom’s “Words for Friends” mural series, which began in Charlotte and then extended across the globe: “Life is full of reasons to keep your eyes shut, to keep your heart closed, to live a little smaller and to feel a little less,” he says. “I’d like to paint you one good reason to feel a little more."