Arts & Culture News

42 Murals Comes Up With Creative Solution to Allegations of Cheating in Contest

Can Turkyilmaz
The "Deep Rawlins" mural by Steve Hunter was awarded a cash prize and declared "Community Favorite." Last summer, a wedding officiated by the mural's subject, poet and storyteller Rawlins Gilliland, took place in front.
Winners of the 42 Murals: Deep Ellum 2015 Edition contest were announced last week. After several participating artists spoke up about suspicions of voter fraud on Instagram, Scott Rohrman, creator of the contest, came up with a solution to recognize and reward six artists instead of three.

“We created two groups of award recipients,” Rohrman says. “One was based solely on Instagram likes. The second group of award recipients was chosen based on more subjective things. Although we did look at the number of likes they received, we also looked at how the art in this group had impacted the project, the area and the people who interacted with it.”

The winners based on the highest number of Instagram "likes" are:

1. “Dallas History” by Michael McPheeters
2. “Social Worship” by Jeremy Biggers
3. “Viva Deep Ellum” by Jorge Gutierrez

The additional set of winners based on outstanding work, committed community involvement, inspiration to the overall project, number of likes and service are:

1. “Deep Ellumphants” by Adrian Torres – Catalyst Award
2. “Deep Rawlins” by Steve Hunter – Community Award
3. “Catching Fish” by Dan Colcer – Character Award

Community Award winner Steve Hunter says the new set of awards was a positive resolution to what was probably an uncomfortable situation for 42 Real Estate.

“I think they were uncomfortable with being seen as rewarding artists that made the decisions to cheat," Hunter says. “The extra three awards were a great way to end the contest on a positive note. I'm sure that the next contest will involve a more cheat-proof system. I'd like to see them have a voting system based on people taking photos of themselves in front of their favorite artwork as a vote. While it's not flawless, it would definitely remove the option of cheating artists to buy 'likes,' which is what happened this time around.”

While no mural can be guaranteed permanent placement, all six winning artists will receive a cash prize. Hunter plans to give half of his prize to the subject of his mural, Rawlins Gilliland. “I'm excited to see 'Deep Rawlins' win the Community Award as I feel the mural is genuinely popular with the people who live and play in Deep Ellum,” Hunter says. “I was awarded $2,000, and I will be giving half to Gilliland for the hard work he put in to save the mural based on his own portrait.”

In a press release, 42 Murals announced that cash awards might not be given in the next round, which will focus on abstract and realistic portrait-themed murals. The 42 Murals – Deep Ellum 2017 Edition is accepting applications through 4:42 p.m. on April 15. Multiple submissions are allowed and should be emailed to [email protected] A stipend will be paid to the artists, and the artist is not committed to paint the mural just by submitting.