Mural work begins at Walker Park basketball courts

Unveiling party to include a giveaway of 1,000 pair of shoes for local kids.
Jeremy Navarrette works on a mural on the recently resurfaced basketball courts at Walker Park on Monday, July 31, 2023. (Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

The basketball courts at Walker Park are getting a makeover this week.

Local artist Jeremy Navarrette is painting a new mural on the recently resurfaced courts as part of a project sponsored by Walmart and the AND1 street basketball brand.

The footwear and apparel company has recently been refurbishing public courts across the country as part of its “Paint the Park” initiative.

Navarrette was selected to design the Fayetteville mural about year after completing a mural for the city on the south end of the retaining wall along Nelson Hackett Boulevard.

The City Council in May voted 7-1 to approve the basketball court project. Former council member Sonia Harvey voted against and said she was worried the mural would be seen more as an advertisement for AND1 rather than public art, considering the designs have all included brand recognition.

Navarrette presented some preliminary designs to the Fayetteville Arts Council earlier this month, but was asked to reduce the size of the AND1 logo by member Bob Stafford, who was one of three people to advocate for the project during public comment at the May 2 City Council meeting.

Stafford said he argued against Harvey’s suggestion that the mural would be an advertisement, but the preliminary designs he saw did indeed look more like brand promotion.

Navarrette revised his work and the committee on Wednesday saw three new finalists for the design, all which included smaller AND1 logos moved to the bottom corner. The designs were all similar, with a basketball player surrounded by fall-colored foliage and hills.

Three finalist design options by Jeremy Navarrette. The city’s Arts Council chose the top design for the new mural. (City of Fayetteville)

One option included a depiction of Old Main, but that design was ruled out after Joanna Bell, the city’s arts and culture director, said the university would not allow the use of its imagery in the mural.

The committee approved the final design, which features the words “Born to Ball” in graffiti-style lettering across the sky above the basketball player.

Outlining work began on Friday and as of Monday morning, Navarrette had begun painting the blue sky and clouds.

A small ribbon-cutting is planned for Friday, followed by a community unveiling celebration at the courts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug 5 that includes a giveaway of 1,000 pair of shoes for students in kindergarten through 6th grade, as well as 1,000 basketballs on a first come, first serve basis. A spokesperson from AND1 said attendees can also expect food, drinks, a DJ, a skills and drills clinic and appearances from AND1 legends Rafer “Skip 2 My Lou” Alston and Shane “The Dribble Machine” Woney.