One of the most famous of the 42 murals in Deep Ellum is Beauty and The King, where artist Leighton Autrey blends femininity (represented by roses) and masculinity (represented by lions) to create a compelling Christian-inspired mural. Another impressive mural is the funky-colored Cosmic Journey, created by project collaborator and curator, Lesli Marshall. The Cosmic Journey is a tribute to Justin and Diane of Pecan Lodge.
Lesli Marshall Incorporated a Texas twist into the mural and expressed gratitude for having the honor of painting a wall where she works and lives. She said that she was happy about the change and the opportunity of being a part of the culture following the buzz created by the 42 murals project. Leslie Marshall, who also paints murals globally for non-profits, has played a great role in the 42 murals project’s success. She was in charge of the proposals, matching artists to walls, and consequently led Deep Ellum’s dramatic transformation.
The idea behind the 42 murals project was easy. Scott Rohrmann, together with his partners, would request North Texas artisans to paint the walls of the expansive Deep Ellum streets with murals. There were more than two hundred proposals in response to the request, of which only 42 would be chosen. The selected 42 artists formed a diversified portfolio with different ages, perspectives, and qualifications. Apart from long term care provisions, the chosen artists were offered a little stipend and an opportunity to put their creativity on the walls and grow their presence on social media.
The 42 murals have made Deep Ellum become one of America’s most highly drenched hotspots for murals, and has rapidly changed the long-held notion that Deep Ellum is a rundown and a dangerous and dirty region in Dallas. Today many tourists flock to Deep Ellum, and the social media popularity of the region and that of the artists involved is growing. The 42 murals project continues to become even more successful. Scott Rohrman doesn’t shy away from admitting that there is a business gain from the 42 murals project. After all, the more folks are attracted to visit Deep Ellum, the more profitable his investment is. The 42 murals project promotes the art culture and boosts the community as well, and Scott Rohrman hopes that it will also boost commerce in the area.
Just like the area of Deep Ellum, the 42 murals project is projected to grow and evolve. Rohrman admits that he is open to change, and the murals are not meant to last perpetually. As the project grows and continues to evolve, new murals may be created over the existing ones. The 42 murals project is a natural process. It is a continuous dialogue about what art entails, and whether art is permanent.
Elm Street is filled with murals in the crannies and nooks of various side streets and alleys from Malcolm X to Good Latimer and in between Commerce and Elm Street. Most of the murals are inspired by the musical history of Deep Ellum and feature paintings of great blues artists, as well as contemporary and other local artists. One of the best ways to explore the 42 murals on Deep Ellum is to randomly walk around the area and discover them one by one.
Since 1873, Dallas has undergone a lot of impressive transformation, most of which revolve around art. With such a rich history that flows and ebbs with art, music, and business, Deep Ellum has become reputed as one of Dallas’ richest cultural districts. This has further been boosted by The 42 Murals project as well as its predecessors, The Renaissance of Deep Ellum and the Deep Ellum Project of 2009. However, with the growing popularity comes the inevitability of street art impermanence. Many murals are painted over existing ones from year to year to create room for subsequent projects as well as real estate development. This exemplifies one of the aspects in which conservation and street art are distinct. Conservation aims at preserving the original purpose and material, while street art murals focus on impermanence, the now and the new, and the viewer’s experience above all. As The 42 Murals Project continues to evolve and take various forms, more artists will get to showcase their talent, and this will solidify Deep Ellum’s reputation and attract more people leading to further growth of the region.