With a deep history that ebbs and flows with business, art and music, Deep Ellum has become acknowledged as one of the most rich artistic districts in our hometown of Dallas. This has been recently boosted by the efforts of 42 Real Estate owner and developer, Scott Rohrman, who, in 2012 began the 42 mural project.
The thoughts for this project began after Rohrman was introduced to Spanish artist, Adrian Torres. Torres had lived in Deep Ellum for several months, and was immediately taken by the urban space, saying the grittiness and vibe reminded him of Europe and New York. He eagerly asked Rohrman if he could paint a mural on the walls of Deep Ellum’s biggest intersection, Main and Exhibition. Once completed, the project was born. The mural attracted hundreds of tourists and calls, and very soon requests from artists began pouring in.
The idea is simple behind the project is simple. Rohrman and his team called upon artists in North Texas to create murals all over the walls of the expansive streets of Deep Ellum. In return to his request, he received over 200 proposals, but of those 200, only 42 would have their art work chosen. The artists ranged in qualifications, age and perspective, with the youngest being 14 years old. From this experience, the chosen artists get to put their souls on the walls, expand their social media presence, and are provided a small stipend.
The art work has made Deep Ellum one of the most heavily saturated mural hot spots in the country, quickly changing the long held, but more recent history of Deep Ellum as a rundown, dirty or even dangerous space within Dallas. With thousands of tourists flocking to the area, the popularity on social media and the growing collective of artists involved, the project continues to thrive. Check out the Interactive walking tour for a virtual tour of the murals.
However, with this increased popularity, comes the inevitable impermanence of street art. Each year, the majority of the murals are painted over to make room for the next year’s project or real estate development. This is one way that street art differs from conservation. While conservation strives to preserve the original material and purpose, street art murals thrive on ephemerality, the new and now and the experience of the viewer over all. I mean, if it isn’t posted all over Instagram, was it even there at all?
In 2017, the contest is currently underway, with only the top 3 offered the possible option of keeping their mural up for another year. However, depending on the location, the mural is not guaranteed safe from development. Nevertheless, the winner is guaranteed a spot in next year’s project, ensuring they can make art for another day. We have already cast our votes for this year! Check out 42 Murals Instagram to cast your vote, and see above for a few contenders this year.