‘The Unexpected’ mural kicks off at former Mountain Inn site

Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz works on a mural on the east-facing side of the former Mountain Inn building in downtown Fayetteville Tuesday.

Staff photo

Acclaimed Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz is in Fayetteville this week to paint a mural on the east side of the former Mountain Inn building.

Diaz, an artist best known for his worldwide mural work, set up at the corner of College Avenue and Center Street to prepare for the project over the weekend. He was spotted at the site painting on a large boom lift early Tuesday morning.

He is one of several artists selected to participate in this year’s ‘The Unexpected’ street art festival. The week-long event debuted last fall in Fort Smith as part of a local initiative to create excitement for the redevelopment of the downtown area. It included the creation of 11 murals painted by international artists on various buildings, and while the event was considered to be a local success, the work of the seven world-renowned artists brought national and international attention to the city.

The 2016 festival returns to Fort Smith Sept. 2-11, and will include Diaz’ Fayetteville work as an expansion of the event’s footprint this year. With his work actually beginning this week, Diaz is getting a bit of an early start on his mural.

Other muralists announced for this year’s festival include Okuda San Miguel, Guido Van Helten, Jaz, Pastel, Faith 47, Bordalo II, Cyrcle and returning artists D*Face and Maser.

The event will also include a variety of installations, performances, videos, and a mural designed and painted by the UAFS art department and students as well as a collaborative mural between Northside and Southside high schools.

Diaz, to our knowledge, hasn’t revealed the design for his current project. There are several samples of his work on his website, however.

For more information about the project, visit unexpectedfs.com.