Deep Ellum’s Blues Alley pays homage to the neighborhood’s rich musical history


Deep Ellum has long been one of the city’s most colorful neighborhoods, thanks in no small part to the quirky characters to be found in its concert halls, restaurants, bars, tattoo parlors, and art galleries. art. But the Arts and Entertainment District is also colorful in the strictest definition due to the more than 130 murals that adorn the buildings within. And that was the countdown before the Deep Ellum Foundation teamed up with artist couple Cathryn and Dan Colcer to create Blues Alley, a community mural project on Clover Street that pays homage to the musicians who made the neighborhood famous. before its larger-than-life exterior. the works of art have become backdrops for fashion photo shoots and social media posts.

“After moving to Dallas, I began to understand the cultural significance of Deep Ellum in the world of music, especially the blues. I had also observed how the new district entertainers were the mural artists. That’s when the concept sort of started, when I was trying to combine a honey mustard from blues culture with wall art culture, ”says Dan Colcer.

He took the concept further, drawing inspiration from his childhood in Romania, where houses were painted blue in the Transylvanian countryside. He then recalled in 2013, when the president of the Deep Ellum community association, Sean Fitzgerald, returned from Morocco with a bunch of photos of Chefchaouen, also known as the Blue City. There, in addition to houses and buildings, streets, sidewalks and stairs are also painted blue.

“And that’s when it hit me. How about an entire street in Deep Ellum painted blue, dedicated to the world-changing blues culture created by an interesting mix of local wall artists? ” he says.

The location of the murals was solidified when the owners of The Stack building learned of the project in a meeting with the Deep Ellum Foundation and asked to get involved.

“They took the risk and tried their luck with our local artists. And the end result speaks for itself, ”says Cathryn Colcer of the dramatic images dominated by shades of blue.

With the office building on board to provide the real “fathoms” of the project, the first phase began in early May with the first group of 16.5-foot murals completed by the end of that month. Others were added in June and the rest at the end of August. The second phase, which will be on the second block, from Crowdus Street to Malcolm X Boulevard, is expected to be painted in October, which is also Deep Ellum History Month. The end goal is to cover three blocks of musical history performances accented in azures, cobalts and aquamarines.

The artists of the project were chosen by a jury made up of speakers, members of community associations and other actors involved in the community. Their submissions were voted on and counted based on criteria that included being local to Deep Ellum, Dallas or greater D-FW, as well as their background in wall tagging. The curatorial team then worked to create a workflow in the concept.

The end result will be a diverse but cohesive collection of murals featuring and / or inspired by the music of T-Bone Walker, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Freddie King, as well as lesser-known artists such as Henry Qualls. , Zuzu Bollin and Willard Robison. And based on what’s already done, it’s a spectacular addition to the neighborhood.

“There is a reflection of community in the art that is put on the buildings there. We want to tell a story about the region: how it started, what people were like, how they felt here, who lived here and laid the cultural and literal foundations for what it is today, ”explains Cathryn.

“Dallas is well known for letting its history slip through the cracks of development. Here we present a story, literally written on the walls, accessible and accessible to all. That’s what Blues Alley is.

See the entire ARTing Around D-FW section.

About James Almanza

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