The Real Thing

By Thomas Lee
Photos courtesy of Addison Niday

Addison Niday is breathing new life into history. The artist recently began restoring faded murals and old signs around the Savannah River Region after gaining lots of attention from a video he posted online. Niday’s passion for art began when he saw his first Coca-Cola mural on the side of a barn in 1995. Today, that passion has grown into a career as a painter with a current primary focus on the art of restoration. 

His interest in preserving murals started as he took notice of the Coca-Cola mural in the 500 block of Reynolds Street fading away on his daily drive to work. Preserving the weathered mural on the side of the old Coca-Cola bottling plant in summer 2022 quickly sparked public interest. After posting a video of the restoration, his inbox was inundated with requests to rehabilitate more faded artwork around the Peach State. 

From there, the demand for his services expanded when people soon sought him out to restore vintage metal signs. His restoration venture led him to start the Augusta Mural Restoration Project while he continued to restore many murals around the Savannah River Region for free. 

With Coca-Cola content turning into a popular request, Niday decided to reach out to the company. Many murals later while working on one in Lincolnton, he realized that he couldn’t continue restoring murals all around Georgia for free. To his surprise, that same day, the sales manager at Augusta Coca-Cola United connected with Niday and hired him as a freelance vendor artist. 

“It was really miraculous and, by the grace of God, it just kind of fell into place like a little step and I just had to walk up the step.” Niday claims it has been an honor to get to know them, both professionally and personally. “I feel like I’m part of their family and it’s really, really special,” says Niday.

The bulk of Niday’s restoration work is spent on visual advertising such as company logos, brand promotions and other company artwork. From Coca-Cola to MoonPie, Niday turns back the clock with the stroke of a paintbrush and uncovers the vibrant beauty that once was. “I get a chance to be part of bringing that history [back] that no one has seen before,” says Niday. “I feel like I’m bringing it back to life.” 

Niday views the task of being historically accurate as the most critical. This also often proves to be the most time-consuming part of the job, digging through the historical archives at the Augusta University library to be certain his work reflects the original work. “If I can’t find an actual real photograph of the mural in its prime or enough where it accurately tells me what it was, then I won’t do it,” says Niday. “I want to be 100 percent historically accurate.” 

Although he continues to spend many of his days restoring the past, he spares some time for his own designs and creations. Niday’s artistic beginnings stem from his calligraphy work. He does a good deal of hand lettering, painting on chalkboards and windows, and specific wedding planning work. He is proud to be working for the same wedding planner for seven years now, addressing envelopes and making placeholders. 

A newcomer to Augusta, Niday admits the most rewarding part of his time in the Garden City may be the connections he has made with business owners, other artists and the community as a whole. “I really want to thank the downtown community for making me one of their own because I’m not from here,” he says. “I feel like I’m part of a real family and I feel like I belong here.” 

What began as a simple interest to save a piece of art he worried would disappear, Niday’s vision has blossomed into an unimaginable career. “You couldn’t have told me … this was what I was gonna do,” he says. “It wasn’t part of the plan at all, but that’s just the way God has led me.”

As seen in the August/September 2023 issue of Augusta magazine.

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