The North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center may be getting a makeover. The Dunwoody Public Facilities Authority, made up of members of the city council, will allow the Spruill Center for the Arts to make aesthetic improvements to its center at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, which may include painting murals and putting in sculptures. 

“We’re trying to improve the facility,” said Alan Mothner, CEO of the Spruill Center, at a Feb. 8 Public Facilities Authority meeting. “To transform this antiquated school building into a true community center. And that’s really important for us, making this a community center. But it should also be pretty obvious that this is an arts center, and not an old municipal building.”

Volunteers paint a mural design on a courtyard path at the Spruill Center for the Arts in February. (File)

As the property owner of the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, the Public Facilities Authority needs to approve any alterations made to the building. Any changes would still be subject to approval by the Dunwoody Art Commission and the City Council on an individual basis before work could begin. 

Mothner said these alterations could occur sporadically throughout the year. 

“The idea of presenting these in one broad brushstroke was to avoid multiple presentations for each one of these improvements before the Facilities Authority, so we don’t have to come back to you all each month,” Mothner said. “And that will also streamline the process and the timeline for getting a lot of these projects from conception to implementation. 

 The proposed changes include painting murals in different parts of the property, such as on the front facade of the building and a retaining wall that separates the center from an AT&T building next door.

“The front of the building is beige stucco. And nothing says ‘arts center’ like beige stucco,” Mothner joked. “So we’d like to paint.”

Mothner said there were ideas to place sculptures in the grassy area in front of the building, as well as to partner with the Atlanta Knitting Guild and place yarn bombs, a type of street art made up of knitted or crocheted yarn, in the trees. 

Mothner also discussed plans to make the center’s plaza — where painting was recently finished during Dunwoody’s MLK Jr. Day of Service — more of a community gathering area. He said there are post-pandemic plans to host “monthly meet-ups” in the plaza in conjunction with other groups in the city, such as the Dunwoody Library or the Stage Door Players, a local theater company. Both organizations share the building with the Spruill Arts Center.

A representative of the library declined to comment. 

“We’d love to put up lights in there and picnic tables, and really make [the plaza] the heart of the community of the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center,” Mothner said. 

City Councilmember Stacey Harris asked how permanent the changes to the building would be and if there were any plans to have temporary installments. 

“The great thing about paint is that it can always be painted over,” Mothner said in response. “So none of these are intended to necessarily be permanent. I would love to have rotating exhibits, murals, displays throughout the building. That’s the intent.”

Mothner said the Spruill Center board has already approved a front mural entry, but did not share the design as it has not been approved by the Dunwoody Art Commission. 

 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.