For decades, street art was viewed as a nuisance. Many worked to keep city walls clean and street artists as far away as possible. However, as cities across the country grow, murals are becoming a way to breathe life and color back into neighborhoods.
Mike Wirth, Rob Reilly, Samantha “Sam” Guzzie, Kevin Taylor, Alex Delarge, Arko & Owl and a host of others are looking to do the same for Charlotte. This artistic crew will help put on The Talking Walls on Oct. 16-19.
In those four days, artists from Charlotte and around the world will come together to paint 15 new murals throughout the city.
“We started this festival because there wasn’t really a platform for street artists,” Wirth, who is co-founder of The Talking Walls, told CharlotteFive.
“Artists have essentially had to build their businesses first before people take them serious, which creates a competitive mindset. We want to be able to combat this way of thinking in artists and unite. There are enough walls for everyone.”
The team members have worked hard to ensure that they include a diverse group of muralists, with the majority of them being women and people of color. Their hope is to rebuild creative cultural dialogue while being culturally relevant.
Art inspires people to hustle and grind for something they love. It can also serve as an avenue for a generational jump out of poverty. When people see others like them on a stage such as this, it invokes in them the desire to want to get out and create, as well.
“We want to take a creative leadership role in the city by bringing 15 new murals annually. We have to ask ourselves, what are we doing as a city to help our communities,” Wirth said.
Every Saturday leading up to the festival, art lovers and supporters can stop by the event headquarters located in the Metropolitan. This space, properly titled “Hole in the Wall,” is next to Hickory Tavern and will serve as a multifaceted creative hub that will include live paintings and a lecture hall, as well as merchandise for sale.
If you’ve passed the Metropolitan recently, you will see murals that were painted by Wirth and Delarge. Because of their relationship with the Metropolitan retail space, they were able to pitch the idea of partnering with them for the mural fest.
“We’re hoping to transform Metropolitan and Midtown into a creative area like NoDa and Plaza Midwood,” Wirth said.
In addition to this festival, there are plans in the works to partner with Optimist Hall and White Point Hall partners to bring a mural there. The team has also been in talks to bring a walkable art gallery to Charlotte’s rail trail soon.
“When I came to Charlotte in 2005, there was nothing like this. Now, there is an artist-led coalition being built to help keep the integrity of the culture.”