Painting for hours over Labor Day weekend, with her black chicken, LaFawnduh, in tow, Elizabeth Sanders breathed life into the blank side of Let There Be Rock Schools in Gainesville.
When her husband, Kyle Sanders, opened the school — which offers music lessons to kids and adults — in March 2019, the midtown building at 840 Main St. was “just screaming for a mural,” she said.
The two had several plans for the artistic undertaking, but Kyle said his heavy metal heroes, Dimebag Darrell Abbott and Vinnie Paul Abbott, kept coming to mind.
Those who pass by the mural can now see the two memorialized musicians — Vinnie to the left holding a drumstick in the air and Dimebag to the right, jamming on his guitar.
The two brothers were in the heavy metal band Pantera. Kyle said Dimebag, also known as Dime, was shot and killed while performing on stage in 2004. After his brother’s death, he said Vinnie took a break from performing, then later returned to start the band Hellyeah.
Kyle joined Hellyeah in 2014, serving as the group's bassist for five years. He played alongside Vinnie, who died two years ago.
“When he passed away in 2018, it was probably the roughest patch I’ve ever gone through,” Kyle said. “That’s when a light went off. I knew I needed to start a school and have something positive to focus on.”
Elizabeth, who works as a graphic designer for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine, said she took around a year meticulously planning the mural for Let There Be Rock. Incorporating the franchise’s colors of yellow, orange, pink and black, she painted the two musicians, making sure to accurately portray their expressions. Elizabeth said it was her first mural.
“It was a huge relief because it turned out perfect,” she said, while holding her chicken. “I had a lot of anxiety, especially working on the faces.”
Kyle said shortly after the mural was completed, a lady came by to gaze at the wall.
“She had a Pantera tattoo on her back,” he said. “She sat here and started tearing up. It’s going to mean a lot to a lot of people just to see them forever.”
When Kyle stood back to look at the finished mural for the first time, he said he felt emotional.
“All I can think is how much they would love this,” he said gesturing to the mural and the school. “They lived for music. I think about how happy this would make him (Vinnie) to see the school and this.”