I’ve spent a lot of time scrolling through photos under Instagram hashtags like #StudioDIYwallcrawl, #ABMlovesmurals and #Ihavethisthingwithwalls and jealously wondering why DC can’t be on LA’s level with the patterned street art murals.
It turns out I’m wrong.
Over the last few months, I’ve attempted to hit up as many of the murals that we do have, and along the way I’m finding the District has its little pockets of color too. Just like New York, we’ve got a Jason Woodside polka-dotted mural, and also a mural by Australian artist James Reka at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Terrace. We even have a church turned technicolor events venue, which is pretty cool if you ask me. Here is where to find them:
19th and N. Moore Streets (technically in Arlington, Va.)
3500 O St NW (behind the Saxbys Coffee)
429 L’Enfant Plaza SW (the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Terrace)
1309 5th St NE (at Union Market DC)
66 Rhode Island Ave NE
635 North Carolina Ave SE (at the William H Rumsey Aquatic Center)
19th Street NW (between Belmont Road and Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan)
700 Delaware Ave SW (at Blind Whino)
Follow my street art adventures on Instagram, where I’m using the hashtag #DCWallCrawl.
If you’ve ever watched the documentary (mockumentary?) Exit Through the Gift Shop, you may remember Thierry Guetta, the clumsy Frenchman with a video camera permanently attached to his hand. After Guetta discovers his cousin is the street artist Invader, he finds himself following along to film Invader + friends putting art out on the streets, eventually meeting guys like Banksy and Shepard Fairey, and compiling his footage into what eventually became Exit Through the Gift Shop. But another thing you may have noticed is by the end of the film, Banksy wants Guetta out of the way so he encourages him to work on his own art, and from that encouragement, the artist “Mr. Brainwash” is born.
I remember watching Exit Through the Gift Shop when it was first released in 2010 and thinking, All of this is cool, but I’m never going to see any of that art here in DC. Yet here I am six years after the release, and the coolest thing has happened! To celebrate International Women’s Day, Mr. Brainwash created a series of murals at DC’s Union Market that highlight Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn movement. Each piece of the mural has some inspirational phrase on it like “Follow Your Heart” and “Love is the Answer,” which are all meant to push the White House’s efforts to support access to education for the 62 million adolescent girls around the world who are not in school.
I visited Union Market just a little over a week after the murals were put up. Someone already has splattered paint across some areas of the work, so if anyone out there is interested in seeing these, I’d go soon! To view images of the murals, use the hashtags #lifeisbeautiful, #62milliongirls and #letgirlslearn.