City Hosts Annual ‘Paint Louis’ Event
Last weekend, the city of St. Louis hosted the 26th annual “Paint Louis” event, where artists reportedly applied graffiti murals to a flood wall on the banks of the Mississippi River.
According to local news reports, more than 500 artists descended on the city from Sept. 1–3 for the weekend-long art and music festival, in which murals were applied to the three-mile-long, 20-foot-tall flood wall.
John Harrington, one of the event founders, said that Paint Louis became a tradition after the wall was constructed in response to local flooding 30 years ago.
'Art brings people together': Paint Louis 2023 celebrates its 26th year https://t.co/2GA0010jXu— KSDK News (@ksdknews) September 2, 2023
"After the flood of '93, the Army Corps of Engineers built this wall to keep the city from flooding, and we decided to paint on it," said Harrington.
This year’s murals reportedly depict important messages, including a celebration of hip-hop music coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the genre, as well as a call for attention to the impacts of human trafficking.
"We have a big problem on our continent, which is the missing indigenous women. All the kidnappings and killings, so we want to represent that, to remind people and bring awareness," one artist told KSDK-TV.
Harrington said that he believes that the unique event is finally getting the recognition he feels it deserves.
"When we started this 26 years ago, nobody wanted it. Now it's cool," he said.
"It's been going on for 26 years and it sounds like now with support of this city, it's going to be going on for another 26 years.”
Coverage and photos of the murals painted during the event from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch can be found here.
Other Recent US Murals
In July, local officials in Hartford, Connecticut held an unveiling ceremony for what is being touted as the tallest mural in New England.
The 170-foot mural on the side of downtown Hartford’s 18-story Millennium apartment building is reportedly titled “Reawakening Wonder” and is the work of local artist Michael Rice. It depicts Samuel Gonzalez, a 10-year-old boy from East Hartford, holding and gazing into a glass jar of fireflies.
According to a report from WTIC News, in 2021, representatives from public arts organization RiseUP for the Arts contacted the Millennium's owner, Shelbourne Global Solutions, to discuss the building as a potential site for a new mural.
"I immediately reached out to them and said, 'This wall needs a mural!'" said Matt Conway, RiseUP's executive director. "It's one of the best canvasses in the entire state... They were incredible partners, and we started the process then."
Rice said that he used about 600 cans of spray paint to complete the project. Painting reportedly began on May 3 and took roughly seven weeks. The team reportedly used a suspended swing stage, commonly used in window-washing, to reach the heights needed to finish the mural.
According to NBC Connecticut, the mural cost about $100,000 to complete. The building owner reportedly paid half of those costs, with the rest covered by federal funding.
Also in July, a local artist in St. Petersburg, Florida, hoped to “spread joy one sunflower at a time” through a community project featuring “paint-by-number” style murals. The Happy Mural Project was established in 2020 by artist Alyssa Marie as a way to inspire and uplift communities through positive engagement.
According to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, Marie said that she noticed the public’s interest in the process after years of painting murals.
To involve the public, Marie reportedly borrowed the model of the paint-by-numbers books she’d used as a child. The process begins with a photo of actual sunflowers and by taking a straight-on photo of the wall where the mural will go.
Marie moves elements around on the photo until the composition is “just right” on her iPad. Then, she sends it to Adobe Illustrator, minimizing her design to as few colors as possible while keeping the integrity of the design. The result is an image made up of solid shapes that get numbered.
Prior to painting, she projects the outlines of the image on a wall and maps out the lines in black permanent marker. She also assigns the colors to a number that’s written in the corresponding field.
Volunteers who register are assigned a number and color combination, receiving a bucket of paint that is numbered accordingly. Projects have been completed at both public spaces and private residential locations.