Will Heron made his mark on Oak Cliff several years ago with a West Davis mural in his minimalist black-and-white style.
The artist, known as Wheron, grew up in Dallas and knew from childhood that he wanted to be a professional artist. Now he’s a ninth-year veteran at a North Dallas charter school, where he teaches part-time. That allows him to work part-time out of his Old East Dallas studio.
West Dallas is perfect for a mural festival because of its mix of old one-story structures, which could be destined for redevelopment as high-end apartments and condos, Heron says. Wall space abounds, and property owners generally want murals.
Heron moved his studio when he moved to Lakewood a couple of years ago. Previously he lived in Oak Cliff and kept a studio in West Dallas and once painted a wall there, on a building that was torn down in 2014.
“I love the temporal nature of public art,” he says. “Knowing that murals will go up for a year or maybe less. The wall can get painted over. Just like life, it’s temporary.”
Last year, he pitched his idea to convene artists, mostly from the Dallas area, to paint 12 murals in one weekend, during Art Walk West. The West Dallas Chamber of Commerce was all in, along with property investor Butch MacGregor. This year, the Trinity Park Conservancy is donating a few walls too.
Artists, asked to interpret “Wild West,” are paid a stipend and given full creative control.
Here’s everything you need to know about West Dallas Mural Fest.
Year one, 2018: Twelve artists from Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Phoenix painted murals for the festival last year. All of the murals are still around, for now. “Some of these buildings will disappear,” Heron says. So catch a glimpse while you can.
Art Walk West:
- Oct. 19, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Self-guided tour of 20 West Dallas studios
- Start at the Belmont Hotel, 901 Ft. Worth Ave.
- Parking and printed maps available.
Wild West Mural Fest 2019:
- Out-of-town artists are coming from Austin, Houston, Miami and Canada.
- Wheron will sit out of painting this year in favor of coordinator duties.
- All 12 walls are in new locations this year except for that of Jenny Lane (see page 12), who is adding to her “Whatever-burger” mural from 2018.
- Dallas-based artist Drigo returns to a new wall in collaboration with students from the Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard school in West Dallas.
- Find a map of this year’s locations at oakcliff.advocatemag.com.
- Provides public art and murals to West Dallas and an opportunity for paid artists to stretch themselves for a wide audience.
- Free // Oct. 19-20
Why mural fest?
“There’s definitely a national trend for more immersive public art, and that ranges the spectrum, from companies commissioning advertising or art for their own buildings, to artists doing it on their own and everything in between. I think riding that wave is great because it’s art that everyone can see and experience, and hopefully that will inspire kids to get into art. I love gallery work. I love museum work. But in my heart of hearts, it’s in this public art that anyone can get into.” —Will Heron