David Boatwright’s murals are so iconic, they’ve become an integral part of Charleston’s urban landscape—particularly in the food-and-bev world, where many of the city’s most celebrated eateries boast one of his works.
However, Boatwright wasn’t always the guy interpreting restaurant brands in paint. Raised in Hopkins, South Carolina, he studied painting at San Francisco Art Institute, then worked as a filmmaker and screenwriter. In 1984, he moved back to his home state and returned to painting as a more reliable source of income.
“After I did my first mural at Hank’s, opportunities at Hominy Grill, Taco Boy, and others followed,” says Boatwright.
Today, more than 20 of his murals grace restaurants and other spaces throughout the Lowcountry. This month, he unveils fresh work at the new Mira Winery office on Queen Street. The mural pays homage to Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party—but recasts the fêting friends as local restaurant titans such as Mike Lata and Sean Brock. And at the newly renovated Palmetto Brewery on Huger Street, one of his latest installations is turning heads with five panels depicting the pre-Prohibition beer biz. “It’s a fantasy of the original brewery,” Boatwright says. “Note surreal touches, like a giant beer bottle from the future.”
See his good work yourself: stop by the brewery (open Tuesday-Thursday, 2-7 p.m.; Friday, noon-9 p.m.; and Saturday, noon-6 p.m.) for a pint and a peek.