This is 22-year-old Gregory Mitchell. He’s a graffiti artist in Southern West Virginia.
But it’s not what you think of when you first hear graffiti.
His is art.
The old Baileysville High School in Wyoming County, now the Baileysville Community Center, displays a portion of Gregory’s art:
One of the churches in the area even had Gregory paint their youth room.
He also lent his talents to a display in Welch for the premier of “Hollow”, the award-winning interactive documentary about McDowell County from Elaine Sheldon.
What inspired him to paint isn’t what you expect.
“The coal trains, I reckon,” he said. He saw those paintings not as vandalism but art. He began with sketches of people and events that had significant meaning to him.
While a student at Wyoming East High School, 29 miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. A grandson of miners, it moved him.
Gregory is picture of a true Mountaineer with his love of hunting, ginsenging, banjo playing, and art.
If he’s not sitting in the hollow playing his banjo or roaming the mountains looking for game or ginseng, Gregory is either on-call for his local volunteer fire department or working for Jan-Care Ambulance as an EMT.
Like the rest of us, he’s always thankful that “Mountaineers Are Always Free”.