Birmingham artist continues holiday tradition through COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of holiday traditions this year, but Java Lewis didn’t let it stop the one he started in downtown Birmingham.

Lewis, better known around the community as “Mr. Painterman,” paints Christmas decorations on storefronts each year. He’s been doing the artwork for about 15 years and it’s his way of making people smile during the holidays.

“Christmas is a time to bring unity to everybody,” Lewis said. “And it makes me feel good to be able to contribute to that.”

Bringing holiday joy is more important in 2020 than ever, he said, with the pandemic and all the other issues the country has been through. Lewis continued painting the storefronts because he believed people needed a reason to smile.

“This is really about one of the best Christmases in a way because now it’s needful to give people something to cheer about,” he said.

So when the pandemic threatened Lewis’ annual tradition, he persevered. It may have forced the closure of some businesses, but Lewis still found others to paint.

“Some of the businesses that I was doing are not here anymore because of the situation,” he said. “But it’s a blessing that I was able to get new ones.”

Lewis hopes his artwork will continue to be a blessing to everyone who sees it this season.


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