Work begins on new mural in downtown Fayetteville

Photos: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Work is underway on a new large-scale public art project in downtown Fayetteville.

Los Angeles-based artist Bumblebee began preliminary sketch work Tuesday on a three-story-tall mural on the southwest corner of the Fayetteville Town Center parking garage, located at South Block Avenue and West Rock Street.

The project was approved in May when the Advertising and Promotion Commission signed off on a $25,000 contract with Bentonville-based Monument Studio LLC (aka Fellow Human Gallery) to facilitate the mural.

Bumblebee’s work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions across the United States, as well as in Asia and Europe. Some of his high-profile murals can be found at Google headquarters in Venice Beach, Calif., and at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

“Fayetteville has a history of supporting the arts, and we are proud to work with Experience Fayetteville to contribute to the richness of public, visual art in the region,” said Chris Sparks, co-founder of Fellow Human. “We are very excited to bring Bumblebee to continue the work of spreading art and culture in Northwest Arkansas.”

Funding comes from the commission’s public art budget, to which the group allocated $25,000 toward this year.

The group allocated $105,000 for public art in 2016 when it commissioned JustKids to coordinate a series of works around town as part of the 2017 Green Candy public art project. Those works included a large-scale mural on the west side of the former Hog Haus Brewing Co. building at the corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue, a mural at the David W. McKee Architects studio near the intersection of West Center Street and Frisco Trail, and a mural at the southwest corner of West Mountain Street and East Avenue on the downtown square. The project also included hosting three artists at the Walker-Stone House who created a variety of public works.

Rawn said her team learned a lot while working with JustKids.

“One of the things that we learned is that bringing in out-of-area artists to do large-scale public projects is something we can do, and we can do quite well,” said Rawn. “It really works well when instead of us contracting directly with an artist, we’re working with a firm or gallery or curator who does that for a living, and who has those artist contacts, and also who is better suited to engage with the artist.”

Rawn said since parking decks aren’t always the most attractive structures, putting a mural on the side of the Town Center’s deck could be something unique and exciting for downtown Fayetteville.

Bumblebee’s work will be temporarily featured at the Experience Fayetteville Visitors Center through Friday, July 26, according to a news release. The center is located at 21 S. Block Ave. and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to- 1 p.m. on Saturday.