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The artist stands before her vision and talks about brush strokes to come.
“I’m going to put urns up here and then there will be a medallion in the center and then these draperies to frame it,” says Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, holding up a scaled drawing of the mural she and her assistant Juan “Jag” Gonzalez are painting on a wall of concrete blocks.
“Because it’s a Hispanic neighborhood, I decided to use a Hispanic theme,” she says of the bull and two vaqueros dominating the 50-foot-by-17-foot creation in shades of blue and white.
It’s one scene in a public art project confronting graffiti and enlivening a stretch of Seventh Street – in time for another weekend of art, music and playful energy in north Oak Cliff.
“It will be a little bit of everything we have to offer,” said Amy Cowan, an organizer of the second annual Oak Cliff Art Crawl. “It will be like a big old Oak Cliff open house.”
Galleries will be open Saturday and Sunday in the Bishop Arts District and around North Tyler and West Seventh streets, where an art installation of sorts will offer a message for change.
Called the Better Block project, it will include three pop-up businesses – an outdoor cafe, a children’s art studio and a flower-gift shop – that will use sidewalks to show how bringing action and interaction to public spaces can enrich public life.
Dallas city code, for example, requires businesses to pay at least $1,000 per year to offer sidewalk cafe seating or to sell flowers or other goods on a sidewalk.
“We’re making a statement about how we’re using our spaces between buildings,” said Scott Griggs, a project leader. “For commercial areas with small businesses, the ordinances make no sense.
“Sidewalks have to provide for movement of people, but we’re treating them as high-speed corridors,” he said. “We want to create this social intercourse out on our sidewalks. We want a jostling proximity. Bring it to life.”
Seventh Street, one block south of Davis Street, will be an event thoroughfare, connecting the Bishop Arts District and action along Tyler Street. For those unable or unwilling to walk, bike, skip, run or crawl, pedicabs will provide rides.
Adding color along the way will be murals by Oak Cliff artists, including Bradshaw-Smith’s work, an enlarged and frustrated Alice of Wonderland fame by Chaitra Linehan, dueling paleta carts by Steve Cruz and a glorious peacock by Brian Jones. Other artists participating in the project are Ray-Mel Cornelius, Kevin Obregon, Brian Scott, Lisa Lindholm, Diane Sikes and Erik Tosten.
“I chose to do a more pleasing mural than my own works,” said a smiling Jones, whose art includes small detailed portraits that delve into the grotesque and absurd.
For years, Bradshaw-Smith has created interior murals and stage sets for ballet performances. For this, her first outdoor spread, she drew ideas from tile murals by Portuguese artists.
“I forgot to give the lion his teeth,” she said, adding a few to a beastly head adorning a water fountain. “A toothless lion would be a sad creature.”
GO & DO: OAK CLIFF ART CRAWL
•Galleries will be open Saturday and Sunday in the Bishop Arts District and around North Tyler and Seventh streets.
•Three bands will perform Saturday night at the Kessler Theater, 1230 W. Davis St., and at the Kessler tonight in a fundraiser for the Seventh Street mural project.
•Bands from Sunset High School will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday outside the Turner House, 401 N. Rosemont Ave.
•Music and art will highlight the Crave art crawl stop from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday outside the new Nova restaurant, 1417 W. Davis St.
•Art will be on display from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Bishop Arts Theater Center, 215 S. Tyler St.; from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Turner House, 401 N. Rosemont Ave.; at the Belmont Hotel, 901 Fort Worth Ave.; and the Beckley BrewHouse, 1111 N. Beckley.
•The Urban Street Bazaar will run from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday in the Bishop Arts District.
•The Bishop Arts Theater Center will have open mike poetry from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, with a film from 3 to 4 p.m.
•Bolsa restaurant, 614 W. Davis St., will have its first monthly market of the year, selling organic produce and locally produced food from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.