Scenes From Tunnelvision's Mural Reveal, Which Paid Homage To The Torn-Down Deep Ellum Tunnel.
It's not hard to see that Deep Ellum is a haven for local artists — musicians and painters alike. It's written, quite literally, all over this graffiti paradise of a neighborhood. Seems every inch of every single wall in this part of town houses an intricate mural.
Yes, Deep Ellum is a neighborhood that wears both its past and its future on its sleeve. The latter, most recently, can be seen along Elm Street, where road construction markers and dug-up stretches of road hint toward an even more audience-ready cultural future.
But even as changes loom for Deep Ellum, the spirit at the core of the neighborhood lives on. There's just a sense of pride here — a strong one — and, again, you can see it everywhere you look, emblazoned in T-shirts printed with various neighborhood logoso and slogans.
Last Friday night, at the Tunnelvisions mural reveal in the vacated spot at 2625 Main Street, these shirts were in no short supply. That's not surprising: The whole idea of the project was based upon a combination of grassroots art and local history.
The idea for Tunnelvisions spawned as a memoriam for the former Good-Latimer Tunnel that once served as the entryway from Downtown into Deep Ellum. Before the tunnel was demolished in 2007 to make way for the DART rail that now runs through the area, the tunnel — like so many other parts of the neighborhood — was covered by works created by local graffiti artists. It was a fine landmark for the area — and a missed one, too.
So, in an effort to reproduce — granted, on a smaller scale — the nostalgic memory of the tunnel, the people of the Deep Ellum Community Association's Mural Art Deep Ellum project gathered more than two dozen local mural artists to create small-scale murals — works that would be combined and constructed into a miniature, though still very traversable, version of that old tunnel.
You may have seen these murals' creation, live and over four-hour stretches, at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in April. Methods used on that weekend carried. Artists used spray paint, stencils, airbrushing and more traditional brushes to create their sometimes insanely intricate pieces.
At Friday's showing, the the murals were constructed into their place as part of a 12-foot-wide, eight-foot-tall and 32-foot-long tunnel with murals adorning the inside and outside walls before being judged and, eventually, auctioned off. It was a memorable night.
But perhaps the most memorable part came when Kettle Art owner and noted Deep Ellum muralist Frank Campagna, holding a cigarette in one hand and a mic in the other, took to the stage and began telling attendees just why this was such an important show. He spoke of how Dallas should be looking inward to find talented, creative types to build up its city, stressing the importance of a local, grassroots community. Then, as only he can, Campagna blasted city leaders for commissioning out-of-towners for its arts and architecture efforts.
“Who the fuck are they?,” Campagna said. “They aren't from Dallas!”
Indeed, the entire event was about this very community. And seeing a body of work from so many fixtures in Dallas art coming together in such grand form makes one wonder: How do you top an exhibition like this?
Well, you don't. Not yet, anyway.
The next plan for the makeshift tunnel is to take it on the road around Dallas — so that people all around the city, and not just those in Deep Ellum, can see it.
A pop-up tunnel rolling around town on the back of a flatbed? Sounds pretty cool to us.