Rome needs to get in on the mural trend.

Cities across the country are making themselves Instagram-worthy with bright, colorful and cool murals that attract visitors.

These are the large paintings on the sides of buildings and walls. I’ve seen them in several larger cities I’ve visited and there’s always a bunch of people lining up to have their photo taken (or to take a selfie) in front of the bright, colorful images.

One of the ones I see a lot on social media is the pair of giant wings. There’s one in Nashville and tons of people line up to have their photo taken beneath those big beautiful wings.

I was in Houston, Texas, recently and they’ve got a collection of buildings in a particular area where they’ve asked artists to paint murals on all the walls. There are about five or six buildings in sort of a rectangular layout and all the walls have a different mural on them. So people park their cars and they take their photos next to their favorite one.

It’s a really cool attraction for a town or city because it uses an existing structure and it adds beauty and an interesting visual to the environment.

But it can also be a revenue producer.

Look how many people in Rome have had their photo made in front of the wall at that new restaurant Aventine. I haven’t been to the restaurant yet, but almost everyone who goes gets their photo made in front of that wall because it’s a great backdrop. Whoever came up with the idea for that plain white (or off white) wall and the restaurant’s simple logo is a genius. It’s a great-looking wall and a ton of people stop and have their photos taken in front of it. Then they share it on social media.

This may not seem like a huge deal, but social media reaches thousands and thousands of people. All those smiling faces in front of a Rome structure give people a positive image of our community.

So what’s stopping us from having more big beautiful murals in town. Obviously we’d need the space. It would be great if property owners would allow this to be done on their buildings. They could do it privately, I suppose. Or they could allow the city to do it.

Obviously you’d need to consider the location of the mural and the subject. But in the right spot and with the right images, it could attract a ton of people to a particular area.

I have a few suggestions for possible subjects. Keep in mind, you’d want these murals to be in safe, easily accessible areas and you’d want them to be big, bold, bright, colorful and interesting. You want people to think “I really wanna have my photo made next to that.”

Now of course you can always use generic images that are pretty and colorful. Pretty pictures will attract people. But if we wanted to tailor the murals to Rome here are a few suggestions:

1. Rome locales: Picture this — a huge wall sectioned off into several panels. Each panel could bear a colorful image of different parts of Rome. You could have a downtown scene, a river scene, Berry College, or images representing Armuchee, Coosa, Lindale or Silver Creek. And that area’s name would be worked into the artwork. That way visitors might want to have their photo taken next to the panel that they like best, and locals could have their photo taken next to “their” part of town.

2. Something for the kids: Kids love cartoon characters, princesses, superheroes and movie characters.

3. Dogs: David Mathis told me about this restaurant down in Florida. It’s got a huge mural on one of the walls where people pay to have their dog painted into the mural. That money could go to our PAWS facility or could be divided to help several animal welfare groups. So anyway, this massive mural now has dozens and dozens of dogs of all breeds and colors painted on there and the cool part is that if your dog is on there and then it passes away, they’ll paint a little halo over its head. How awesome is that? Dog lovers would definitely pay to have their pooches added to Rome’s “Dog Wall,” I promise you. And people from all over would come to have their photos taken at the famous Dog Wall.

4. SEC teams: People from all over the south would want to take a photo next to a giant wall with the name, logo and colors of their favorite team.

4. Country Legends: This one is my personal favorite. There have been several major country music stars who’ve performed in Rome. What about a cool mural with all their faces and it says something like “Rome Loves Country Music.” Randy Davis helped me out with some history (because he’s the oldest living Georgian). Did y’all know that a slew of legit country legends have played in Rome over the years? The great Loretta Lynn’s played here and so did Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams Jr., Alabama and others. How cool would it be to have a big ole mural commemorating Rome’s country ties? People from all over would come get their photos made in front of that.

Let’s make this happen, Rome. It doesn’t have to be a big expense to the city. Surely a business could offer up the side of their building? And perhaps another local company can pay for supplies and pay the artist. And it doesn’t have to be one single project. We could have murals in different parts of town.

In the age of selfies and Instagram, Rome needs to market itself in a visual way. We have a beautiful city. Why not provide ready-made backdrops for visitors and locals to pose for pics?

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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