Arts & Culture News

Dallas Gets an Obey Giant Water Tower Mural in Deep Ellum

Somehow, Deep Ellum got even cooler this week with a new street art piece by Obey Giant.
Somehow, Deep Ellum got even cooler this week with a new street art piece by Obey Giant. BrittyGriffy/Wikimedia Commons
You don’t have to know a damn thing about art to know the work of Shepard Fairey. The street artist’s ubiquitous poster of former President Barack Obama in red and blue, with the word “Hope” stamped at the bottom, is one of the most iconic presidential images of all time, along with those on Mount Rushmore, those printed on currency and that severed Trump head in a photo by Tyler Shields.

Fairey’s Obey brand, first made famous through an Andre the Giant sticker, morphed into a collective project called Obey Giant, which is now a contributor to Dallas’ street art landscape. Again, actually. Dallas has a long history with Fairey, mostly of not appreciating his work.

In 2012, a Fairey mural commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary was torn down to make room for a diner called Hofmann's Hot Dogs. In 2017, Fairey’s mural on a wall along the bottom of the Belmont Hotel was vandalized with black paint and a homophobic slur.

This time, his art is farther out of reach. On May 19, Obey Giant made a post on its social media channels announcing the completion of a new work featured on a water tower in Deep Ellum.

"I just returned from Dallas where my crew and I painted a 30 foot high surface on a 150 foot high water tower called 'Cultivate Harmony' in the Deep Ellum neighborhood," Fairey wrote. "I was excited to paint a mural in #DeepEllum because the creative energy in the neighborhood is amazing, with art popping up everywhere."

In the post, Fairey wrote that Dallas was the first city to feature his street art and detailed some of the challenges that came with such a tall project.

"My crew and I were working 150 feet up on 19” wide temporary scaffolding with ropes and harnesses for long hours over 3 days," he wrote.

The work features a large eye (is this Dallas' thing now?) circled with the words “Eyes open, minds open,” along with other text reading “Cultivate harmony,” flanking a design including a peace sign.

The collective also “threw in a nod” to Black Flag with the words “Rise Above,” a song by the punk  band and a message Fairey wrote was “encouragement to take the high road.”

Homophobes and hot dogs would have to take a really high road to destroy this one.
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Eva Raggio is the Dallas Observer's music and arts editor, a job she took after several years of writing about local culture and music for the paper. Eva supports the arts by rarely asking to be put on "the list" and always replies to emails, unless the word "pimp" makes up part of the artist's name.
Contact: Eva Raggio