In the near future, while driving down some secluded highway, you might pass by a handful of giant surrealist murals out in the middle of nowhere. If you’re from North Texas, and particularly if you frequent Deep Ellum, you’ll likely recognize something about these murals. You may not be able to put your finger on its source, but there will probably be a sense of familiarity in them. That’s because it’ll be the work of Preston Pannek and his business partner Adrienne Creasey.
The two artists have built a reputation for themselves over the years in Dallas. Last year, through their company House of Pannek, they painted 10 murals around Deep Ellum on their own dime. A little over a year ago, they decided to embark on their largest project yet, taking their murals across the country.
“There will be crazy pop-art murals that are in the middle of nowhere that you wouldn’t expect to see,” Pannek says. “Like, driving down Highway 80 and all of a sudden you see a barn that has a 50-foot mural that’s not country art, not art of some towels or trees or something like that, but some outright crazy, surreal paintings that will really draw you in and make you wonder how they got there.”
About half of the mural work Pannek and Creasey do is initiated by local business and property owners. However, with the countrywide project, it takes a little more work to find spots for their murals. The difficulty lies in persuading people, Pannek says.
“When I go to these country houses out in the middle of nowhere, every single one can be a pain,” he says. “You’re trying to convince somebody who you’ve never met before to let you paint one of their walls.”
Additionally, Pannek says, they don't know if the people they'll approach even like art. But, once the persuading is done, the real work can begin.
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Painting a mural on the side of a barn, miles away from most of the necessary resources, is much different from doing this kind of work in Dallas, an artistic epicenter. With this in mind, Pannek went out for a trial run last year, equipped with a hefty supply of spray paint.
“These areas that we’re going to be in, there’s not like easy access to supplies,” Pannek says. “It’s not like there’s a spray paint store or a ladder place out in the middle of nowhere, so we have to make sure we have all the equipment that we need to have and more.”
Last week, Pannek and Creasey hopped into their blue Toyota Tundra with about 200 cans of spray paint, two 15-foot extension ladders and their dog Gracie, for a road trip to Lake O' The Pines. Pannek's mother owns some property up there. On the way, he and Creasey hoped to stumble upon at least one wall they could turn into art.
Traveling up Highway 80, the artists found some spots that showed promise. But it wasn't until they got to Lake O' The Pines that they found their first wall. It belonged to a convenience store called Brushy Landing. What was once a faded red and orange brick wall is now one of Pannek and Creasey's butterfly murals. It will take several trips to get these murals up across the country, but they're trips that the couple is willing to make.