The 42 Murals Project: Dallas Artists

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.

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Deep Ellumphants by Artist Adrian Torres

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.

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Linus in Blue by Artist Monica Diaz – http://www.instagram.com/snapsnsnarls

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.

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Viva Deep Ellum by Artist Jorge R. Gutierrez, director of the Book of Life – http://www.instagram.com/mexopolis

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?

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Social Worship by Artist Jeremy Biggers – http://www.instagram.com/stemandthorn

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.

Transparency in Art Restoration

The restoration of art is often seen as a luxury service, afforded to some but not others, while cloaked in an air of mystery. However, by continuing this mentality, we are not only doing a disservice to the industry, but also to the very artwork we are trusted to preserve. Whether of cultural significance or sentimentality, or both, all artworks deserve the time and care it takes to maintain their purpose.

For this reason, we are especially concerned about providing quality care, full disclosure of the methods of treatment, and a vastly more accessible price point. By being completely transparent in our processes and the materials, we make the process of restoring your art accessible, meaning that more art can receive the treatment it needs to continue to showcase its personality, your taste and its cultural significance.

Here is a decorative wall hanging we recently completed. For the owner, it is priceless, conjuring up feelings of home, her childhood while also offering a small daily reminder of her mother. It is in these pieces, that we feel most humbled. Family heirlooms connect generations in a deep personal way, and by continuing to push for the equality of sentiment, as opposed to just market value, we preserve areas of history often forgotten. However, due to the overarching thought that these pieces are “not worth” keeping, they are often easily damaged or discarded. Common problems with more sentimental items include light bleaching, nicotine staining common in mid-century households, humidity and plain old careless handling.

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A progress photograph from halfway through the cleaning process

While the before and after is not a massive difference in this case, the piece is now clean of a discolored varnish layer and odorous surface. This allows it to continue its purpose, without obstructing the memory of its owner.

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A simple solution with cotton swabs

The process begins by testing the surface of the piece, with a variety of different solvents, to determine what solution will be most effective in cleaning the varnish, without damaging the delicate paint film underneath. This is a gentle balance, which varies on each piece we work on. This is often why the examination process is as it says, A PROCESS.  We are equipped with a few standard solutions, but in some cases, a custom solution designed by the conservator will be most effective. Once determined, the piece is cleaned by a cotton swab one square inch at a time, paying careful attention to the stability of the paint film underneath.  Afterwards, the clean surface is coated with a natural varnish layer to protect the fresh surface for another generation.

It is our honor and duty to preserve each piece with the same amount of care and detail, but with careful consideration of the time it takes to do so. This is why, with each piece, we evaluate equally, regardless of the provenance or market value.