Editor’s note: There’s a lot happening in Dallas this weekend. Here, we home in on one event. See our Things To Do page for the full lineup.
Saturday brings the fifth annual Art Walk West, a self-guided tour of West Dallas’ arts community. If you aren’t familiar with the neighborhood, this is a perfect time to get acquainted: Tons of artists will open their studios to visitors, Ex Ovo gallery has a new, Dallas-centric group exhibition titled Next Exit, Sweet Pass Sculpture Park will be open, and a Little D pop-up market will be stationed at Trinity Groves. Meanwhile, 16 artists are taking their talent straight to the streets for Wild West Mural Fest.
The mural fest, now in its second year, is beautifying the area one wall at a time. Each artist has their own space to imagine a Western-themed montage–previous works include cacti and galloping horses. Painting started early this week and will conclude on Saturday during the Art Walk.
The group is mostly local, with a few out of towners in the mix. Drigo, who I recently interviewed, is doing a mural with students from the Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard. Mariell Guzman from Fort Worth and Dallas’ Sour Grapes collective will return to the fest for a second year, while local artists Brennen Bechtol, Dummy Fresh, Mario Sanchez, Tex Moton, and others are participating for the first time. Nicky Davis is repping Houston, Jenny Lane is here from Austin, and Jill Stanton came all the way from Edmonton, Canada to make her mark on Dallas.
For the artists who traveled to be here, it’s an opportunity to add some Texas flair to their usual style. When Eric Karbeling from Miami was given the western theme, he immediately thought of one iconic symbol he had seen on previous business trips to Dallas.
“I remember seeing people driving around with the longhorn skull on their car and being blown away by that,” says Karbeling. His mural at Singleton Blvd. and Topeka Ave. depicts a giant longhorn head made up of abstract paint strokes. While Karbeling has been to Dallas several times before, this is the first time he’s really gotten to experience the art scene.
“It’s cool to see it through a local artist’s eyes, rather than like, either my corporate eyes or if you’re on vacation trying to [see everything],” he says.
Dallas artist Mariel Pohlman is known for her murals around town–she has five in Uptown and a few more in West Dallas–but painting for Wild West Mural Fest has also pushed her outside of her typical practice.
“I’m a commercial muralist, so this is a good opportunity because it’s not commercial, so they said, ‘Ok, just give us Mari,’” she explains. Pohlman made a large, rectangular frame of abstract shapes and squiggles on a wall in the backyard of Sweet Pass Sculpture Park, where it will be used for art film screenings. “This is a pattern I’ve been doing a lot lately…There’s something about interlocking shapes that I like, especially when they’re a similar distance apart, so that’s the methodology.”
Stephanie “SM” Sanz is also a seasoned muralist, but having moved to Dallas from Panama City a short five months ago, this is the first time her work will be on display locally. Before coming here to be near family, she’d been traveling, painting large-scale projects in Panama, Mexico, and Colombia.
“The reason I moved to the States is that I wanted to try a bigger arts scene, so I’m definitely on the lookout for opportunities all the time,” she says. She’s been getting to know Dallas’ tight-knit arts scene, especially through her fellow muralists.
“I feel like it’s small, but it has a group of very talented people in it,” she says. “I think it’s cool that the market isn’t super saturated yet, it’s an opportunity for people to grow.”
For Wild West Mural Fest, Sanz is painting a giant cowgirl motif on a brick wall on Beckley Ave. between Main and Commerce streets.
“I’ve always loved the idea of cowboys, like vintage ones. I mostly do all girls, because I love drawing women who are adventurous and in a strong position. So, I wanted to do some cowgirls that look like real badasses from the Wild West,” she says with a smile.
You can see all of the artists at work this Saturday, October 19 during Art Walk West. Check the Facebook event page for updates, including a map with the artists’ locations.