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First mural of Annapolis’ ‘Walking Man,' Carlester Smith, gets finishing touches

Comacell Brown and a team of artists completed work Sunday on a mural honoring Annapolis’ legendary “Walking Man,” Carlester Smith.

This work on Pinky’s West Street Liquors is the first of two planned murals to be painted along West Street to honor Smith.

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Also known as “The West Street Walker” or “The Bag Man,” Smith stopped walking and collecting trash a few years ago, ending his 40-year tradition after his health started to decline.

Brown, lead artist of this mural, said he took a whole day of designing and planning ahead of this weekend’s work. The funds for the mural were raised in one night in late June. The “Walk With Me” fundraiser hosted on Facebook Live by “Hurricane” Kevin Lebling brought in $5,000, which Lebling said will pay for supplies, Brown’s work and a dedication reception at Pinky’s with Smith and his family.

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Brown, an Annapolis native, said working on this mural was “very humbling” for him. Brown calls Smith a local legend.

“I have seen Carlester my whole life, and as I grew up I protected him and told others about his story,” Brown said.

Carlester Smith ("Walking Lester")
Carlester Smith ("Walking Lester") (Alexandra Thorn-Langtry)

Brown said he was excited to share this art with the community.

“It takes a lot of sweat equity to get something done like this,” he said.

Brown didn’t paint the whole wall by himself; he had several artists helping him out: Luther Wright, Dee Ward, Jamison Scott, Maurice Taylor, Letia Smith, Kattisha Smittick and Chad Wilkerson.

While the team painted, passersby honked and stopped to take photos and videos. Some people donated water and food to the artists while they painted.

Letia Smith, Baltimore native, said she was honored to be able to work on this mural.

“It has been amazing,” she said. “This project would not have been done without the support of the community. This is a unique mural. [Smith] is still alive. They usually aren’t for someone alive.”

The second mural is still waiting for funding, and a location has not been chosen yet.

Donations to the Carlester Mural Project can be sent to the Annapolis Community Foundation via PayPal at bit.ly/carlestersmithmural or by check payable to ACF/Carlester mural, addressed to P.O. Box 5736 Annapolis, MD, 21403.

Selene San Felice contributed to this story.

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