In 2012, a real estate development and investment firm, 42 real estate, acquired over 30 buildings in Deep Ellum. The real estate development and investment firm wanted to give back to the community rather than invade it as Deep Ellum locals widely perceived it at the time. Once they acquired the Deep Ellum structures, 42 real estate tried as much as it could to get to the root of what makes folks in Deep Ellum tick. They had an in-depth and lengthy discussion with the locals regarding what was dearest to Deep Ellum folks and discovered that art was an integral part of Deep Ellum and was indispensable to the region’s social fabric. Therefore, the real estate developers started asking themselves questions like how they could help Deep Ellum and artists while making the properties more valuable. The answer was simple–painting the walls with murals and making them a little more colorful.
The 42 murals project was inadvertently launched when a Spanish artist, Adrian Torres, who had just come back from painting murals in the Philippines’ poverty-stricken regions, was about to leave Deep Ellum. Toress had resided at Deep Ellum for a couple of months and was inspired by the urban atmosphere, which reminded him of New York and Europe’s vibe and grittiness. He requested Developer Scott Rohrman to paint a mural on the structure on Exhibition and Main, which is Deep Ellum’s most massive intersection.
Scott Rohrman fell in love with the idea which Adrian Torress had suggested and requested him to paint a mural before leaving. Torress agreed and started the painting towards the end of the summer of that year before the 42 murals project was unofficially launched. And so, the 42 murals project began. That summer, Adrian Torres painted the Deep Ellumphants as the first of what would be 42 murals. The Deep Ellumphants was quite remarkable and became one of the most popular of the 42 murals attracting hundreds of visitors, calls, and artists. The Deep Ellumphants depicts a colorful group of elephants with a raw, captivating quality.
Since the first mural the Deep Ellumphants was initiated, numerous murals have been painted by some of the most talented artists around Dallas, including a grandmother and a 14-year-old high school student. The 42 murals also feature works of teachers from Richardson ISD, Dallas ISD, and an award-winning animator.