Dallas' murals are as disjointed as the architecture they're painted on.
The high-end commissioned works, like the walls Shepard Fairey and Faile did for the Dallas Contemporary, are balanced by spaces where local artists were allowed to get handsy. What we don't have much of -- well, never for long anyway -- are renegade teams of muralists. But hey, painting a wall takes time and money, so it's best to find a generous benefactor.
Here's our 10 favorite Dallas murals -- some new, some old. Have another that you like more?
Tough. Start your own blog.
Deep Ellum's urban mural entryway painted on the support beams of the overpass works to set the tone for all visiting the neighborhood. My favorite off all the pillars is this one by Kettle Art favorite Richard Ross. There's something relatable in it: People shout at the sky but still seem disconnected from one other. It's that unity and isolation of city dwelling, told with a nice dose of charming humanity.
Oak Cliff is a cultural mash-up; that blend of styles and influences is what keeps the area so interesting. That's represented here where different personalities paint their own muses in conflicting forms. I prefer this to the more cohesive Oak Cliff mural near Oil and Cotton, which is more staged, more planned. This one's more like a game of pick-up basketball.
The Deep Ellum Urban Garden isn't your ordinary victory patch. It's a labor of love for those living and raising their children in the neighborhood, so it seems fitting that the artwork surrounding it reflects that. Historical in its design and uplifting in its delivery, this mural faces locally carved benches and supporting, smaller murals so neighbors have a place to sit and rest between all that weeding.
I love this new Davis Street mural by Sour Grapes. The crew even went so far as to paint the tree stump next to the thing and to incorporate the fuse box and other building add-ons. It's bright, bold and shows off those characters that the group's been playing around with. More of this, please, Dallas. And hey, Sour Grapes, do you guys ever do stuff with Austin's Briar Bonifacio? If not, let's make that happen.
This one's kept behind bars on South Haskell. It's also guarded by a dog that I'd rather not mess with.
Despite its less-than-visible location, it's fun, and it shifts in tone as you scan its panoramic layout from this fever-dream surreal swamp monster to something much more geometric.
This one on Singleton is a byproduct of the relationship between Dallas Contemporary and Dallas' newest art-loving restaurant incubator, Trinity Groves. It's one of two murals that the Brooklyn-based tag team Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, known collectively as Faile, did while they were in town. I like it. It's got a southern bandit quality to its core and a quality execution. You can see that show, too. It's up at the Dallas Contemporary through December 22 but the museum's on a break until this Thursday, October 3.
This one's back near Sandbar in the Expo/Fair Park area. It's a lot less chaotic than Faile's other mural, and that seems appropriate for this unassuming neighborhood.
Where the first is big and bold, a proclamation-style mood-setter for Trinity Groves, this one is calmer, more subtle, but still decidedly Texan. That's important: When we bring in talent for these larger commissioned works, they should attempt to reflect the tastes and tones of the spaces they inhabit.
Near the intersection of South Haskell and East Side Avenue sits this number. It's a fun collaborative piece by Brooklyn Artist Lil Kool and Trill City Kings with a great graphic style. There's something celebratory about its placement on this textured wall. You slow down as you pass it -- and you wouldn't otherwise; the warehouse-rich district is mostly still seen as an elongated highway ramp.
Let me just say this flat-out: I don't like sales campaigns that masquerade as public art.
This mural wants to sell you on an album called If All Else Fails.
But you don't have to buy that album -- or even know it exists -- to dig this painting. Designed by Sara Kovacs and painted by Three of One Arts on a west-facing wall at Main and Good Latimer, it brings an out-of-the-box angle to the standard Deep Ellum mural. Plus, it looks cool and sometimes that's enough.
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To be fair: If I were making a list of the 10 Worst Murals in Dallas, this would also be on it. That said: I kind of love this mural.
This keyhole-sited painting was in the Design District before the Design District was a thing, and it serves as a final vestige to Skeevy Old Dallas. I mean look at this glorious monstrosity: She's disgusting, the imagery is sexist, the club is certainly a shithole, there's an indoor moon (?) and the picture itself it out of proportion.
Still, you couldn't get away with painting that today. It looks like Patrick Nagel went off the deep end, smoking crack while surrounded by painting supplies. It's utterly offensive. But every time I see it I wonder how it got there. That's something very little public art does. You know what else very little public art does? Spread venereal disease, but this one might be able to. She's pretty ripe.