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The timing — and setting — were perfect for Langston Allston.

On his way to New Orleans after spending the summer painting murals in Chicago, the Uni High and University of Illinois grad made a pit stop in his hometown of Champaign at the request of a friend.

On Tuesday, Allston was wrapping up a two-day project that brought color and purpose to the side of North First Street Barbershop at 204 First St. The giant, wordless mural is of three people embracing.

“The message,” Alston said, “is about loving and caring for people. It’s about supporting community through passion and empathy.”

Passersby were impressed.

“I haven’t had a chance to paint here in a long time — or in this part of town,” said Allston, 28, who’s been painting C-U walls for years. “It’s exciting to me. I’m getting to say ‘hi’ to a lot of people.”

Allston started painting at 10 a.m. Monday and was to finish by Tuesday night. He was invited by family friend Dusty Frye, who raised money to make the project possible.

— Jim Rossow

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