Artist Carlos Donjuan hosted a community meeting Friday to introduce Oak Cliff to the massive murals that he and his brothers, Arturo and Miguel, will be painting at the Oak Cliff end of the Jefferson Street Viaduct. The three Donjuan brothers are part of the Oak Cliff-based artists collective Sour Grapes, who recently painted a wall at the Belmont Motel. Those artists started collaborating when they were students at Sunset High School, and Carlos Donjuan says he and his brothers have been studying murals since they were very young.
“We used to take trips to other cities just to look at murals,” he says. “We hope that Dallas can become that kind of a city.”
Donjuan says the inspiration for the artwork came from his memories as a kid crossing the bridge to Dallas with his parents and “the creatures I imagined that lived down there in the Trinity River.” Donjuan has a 2-year-old son, who also is an inspiration, he says. “The art world is not very kid friendly, and I want to introduce art to kids and people who otherwise are not familiar with the art world,” he says. “It’s there for everyone to see.”
The largest of the three murals will comprise about 300 square feet. Its theme is the sky and clouds. The second mural features trees and imaginary forest creatures. And the third is water with a fanciful pump station and sea creatures.
The artists expect to start painting soon and work throughout August until they finish sometime at the beginning of September. They invite the community to visit while they work or even volunteer (details below) because these murals are for everyone.
“Growing up, we always would see murals go up, and we would never know who the artist was or even that they were being done,” Donjuan says. “That’s why it’s important to us to have some community involvement.”
To sign up for a volunteer slot, contact Kendall Ferguson in the Office of Cultural Affairs, [email protected]. The city commissioned the mural, using $50,000 from 2003 municipal bond funds, at the urging of outgoing City Councilwoman Delia Jasso.
Here are the renderings, created by Carlos Donjuan: