BlackCatTips in Wilson

BlackCatTips Mural & Street Art | Wilson, NC

The legend of Vollis Simpson and his Whirligigs is well documented and it's what initially drew Southern Folk Artist and Author Kyle "BlackCatTips" Brooks to Wilson, NC for a visit. Once Kyle arrived, he instantly fell in love with the town, its people, and the connection they have to the arts. Likewise, Wilson embraced Kyle and his style of work which aims to "paint the world happy" and put a smile on the faces of people who encounter it. 

Artsuite saw an opportunity to connect Kyle and Wilson in a more meaningful and lasting way by bringing him back to work on a mural and street art project in conjunction with Wilson Arts. The result is a tall, happy "Mountain Man" mural that is cleverly tucked away in a perfect alley in the downtown area, just a short walk from the Whirligig Park. Like most of his work, Kyle's unique mural for Wilson comes with its own story which visitors can hear for themselves in Kyle's own words by scanning a QR code nearby. With or without the story, a stroll past the "weird little alley" in Wilson is sure to make you smile which, in the end, is exactly what Kyle and his work it meant to do. 


Public art is accessible, inclusive and can spark joy. Kyle’s site-specific installation Mountain Man in Wilson in downtown Wilson does just that. The work is uniquely sited at the end of an alley which adds an element of surprise and engagement.

Kyle's work is so much more than just paintings and murals. His self described "Street Folk Art" can be found all across the southeast in the most unpredictable locations.  While in town for his mural project, Kyle also left the town with six of his signature "Street Poems" which can be found all over Wilson in undisclosed and unexpected locations yet often in plain sight. Those who are lucky enough to find them are treated to Kyle's humorous style of short poetry giving them a reason to pause and appreciate the power a spontaneous smile can have on them.

What inspired this mural in this location?

"I went up to Wilson, North Carolina in August, 2021 and met some nice people and took a look around. I looked at some famous Whirligigs and had some baked goods, Zucchini muffins if you wanted to know.  I went back there a couple of months later and I went into an alley that they presented me. I looked up at the walls and the chimneys with metal tip tops. An alley has a particular look and feel to it so I decided I paint a tall skinny thing. I named him 'The Mountain Man of Wilson'. I didn't see any mountains around Wilson. In fact, Wilson's altitude is all of 147 feet which isn't too tall or too high. So in my opinion, they needed a mountain man. I painted one with real pretty stripes and polka dots and a happy face. He's got a glowing halo at the top, where the sun shines off the snow. People from all around can see him and be happy and be inspired.”

— Kyle "BlackCatTips" Brooks, Artist 

What do you hope people take away from the work?

"I've always been inspired by mountains on the horizon and maybe this pointy man is a mountain... a smiling tall mountain. Somebody asked was he a tall, pointy lighthouse? And I say. 'Yes!' because whether he has a light at the top or a snow covered peak of a mountain, he's still showing people the way and making folks think about higher things or things that may be out of reach and how to get to a sunnier place. He's still telling people where to go. Go this way. See the LIGHT. Be happy.”

— Kyle "BlackCatTips" Brooks, Artist

Where can I see the Mural for myself?

Kyle's mural is visible from Goldsboro St. between Barnes St. and Nash St. in downtown Wilson just a short walk from the Whirligig park. Kyle's street poems are in undisclosed locations throughout Wilson often nailed to telephone polls so keep an eye out and see if you can find one. You can also see additional works by Kyle, including a unique set of 'states' he created exclusively for on his profile.

Kyle Brooks and Vollis Simpson

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