LOVINGSTON — Traveling down Main and Front streets in Lovingston, it’s hard to miss the colorful circles posted on stop signs and telephone poles. Little creatures painted on the bright backgrounds let passersby know “There’s more to life than money,” “Be Happy,” and “Don’t be too busy to be silly” among other words of encouragement.
The pick-me-ups are painted onto what looks like vinyl records and hung at intersections and along streets in historic downtown Lovingston. About a year after they started popping up, the artist (or artists) behind them still remains a mystery to locals.
Lovingston resident and artist Patty Ray Avalon said she started noticing them about a year ago.
“I just thought, ‘Oh, they are darling,’” Avalon said.
For Avalon, the signs make her think of upscale emojis or punctuation marks in her day.
“A comma in a sentence means you pause. These dots around the village makes you pause, too, and think about something upbeat,” Avalon said.
As an artist, Avalon isn’t quite sure how to categorize the signs that make her smile. She said they could be referred to as “outsider art” or a category of art from people who are not professionals but who are self-trained. Avalon also suggested they could go into a “primitive art” category.
“I don’t know. They are almost like a cartoon. It’s a new category we are looking for,” Avalon said.
Avalon said the messages are representative of Lovingston and the residents who live there.
“Lovingston isn’t a real rigid town. We try to embrace everyone and creative expression,” Avalon said.
Lovingston resident Mike Crabill, owner of Crabill Maps, said he and his wife have also been curious as to who is behind the kind words.
“Just driving by, they have caught my eye,” Crabill said.
Crabill said he thinks it has been less than a year since the first ones started cropping up and said they are neat, but he doesn’t know the responsible party.
“The mystery deepens, I guess,” Crabill said after he suggested reaching out to Avalon for clues. Crabill wasn’t the only one to suggest asking Avalon, who said a lot of people think it’s her work.
The vibrant colors, the cute characters and the enthusiasm the messages bring warmth to the area of Nelson County, and the anonymity of the artist adds to the allure. Avalon said that even if she did know the responsible party, she wouldn’t say.
“I think I like the mystery. I hope the people or person reads this and knows how much their little gift means. It takes time and energy and you have to be stealthy to go through the neighborhood. So to them, I say ‘thank you,’” Avalon said.