Everywhere you turn, Westchase District’s identity is becoming a little more colorful through a series of new public art murals painted by Larry Crawford. The artist has been on a prolific painting spree these past months, debuting new works on bridges and retaining walls.
Crawford produced four murals that capture the identity and feel of the area, all of which are a visual treat for one to spy.
The Nutria Mural is on the Deerwood Road bridge that crosses onto Riverview Drive. It abounds with nature, including ducks, a wily coyote, heron and, of course, nutria. Flower Wall is found on CityWest Boulevard and CityPlace Drive, depicting an enlivening burst of flower blooms. Crawford, known to have fun with subjects and their places, added fish to a retaining wall on Briarpark Drive and Westoffice Drive in front of Kazy’s, a supplier of sushi. The work is swimming with deep sea aquatic life. The last mural in his recent series is Taiwan also at Briarpark and Westoffice. The mural’s festive theme has glowing lanterns and bursts of fireworks against a towering skyline as a tribute to its location in front of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
Artist partnership creates visual vitality
Parks Programming Director Louis Jullien, who oversees the District’s public art program, appreciates the partnership with Crawford and the ease of working with him which is why the District commissions him to meet its vision. “Larry has great artistic talent and is very humble and kind,” said Jullien. “We are thankful that we are able to utilize his services in the District. Larry has painted more than 20 murals in Westchase District including large walls on retail centers and along hike and bike trails, traffic signal boxes, and small walls along bridges and sidewalks.
“What makes Larry great is his love for serving others,” added Jullien. “He works with and supports multiple ministries and organizations. His desire to serve is apparent in the attention to detail he gives each one of his murals. He loves the opportunity to brighten someone’s day by adding splashes of color around the District where you may least expect it.”
Art and landscape draw in community
The murals bring an added dimension to the District. “We take into account the surrounding landscape to see if we can complement existing buildings, culture and landscaping,” said Jullien. “We let the artist know about the area in advance and give them a general theme. After that, we usually receive a few renderings before making a final selection on the mural design.”
Jullien said that the selection for new mural sites is based on location, recommendations, cost and approval. The District selects locations that are visible to the public via car, bus, bike, or running/walking. Ideas for recommendations come from project interactions with people or via social media platforms. “We usually complete 5-10 murals a year, depending on the size of the murals. The smaller the size of each mural, the more we can paint each year,” explained Jullien. Once these three criteria are met, the final step is approval. “We obtain approval for public infrastructure fairly quickly,” said Jullien. However, for murals on private property, the District coordinates with the property owner which could take a longer time.
Jullien’s goal has been to build a greater sense of community with public art. “The public loves the murals and have great things to say about the District’s public artwork,” said Jullien. “In fact, many people will stop by to tell the artist they are doing a great job. There have been several instances where patrons have hired Larry to paint murals for them after passing by his artwork.”
Keep your eyes on the lookout for more murals soon. Potential locations include traffic signal boxes along Walnut Bend, Westheimer and Elmside/Woodchase. In addition, walls on Del Monte Drive, Walnut Meadow Center, Woodchase Park and Wilcrest Park are leading spaces for new murals.
For a complete listing of all public art in Westchase District, visit westchasedistrict.com/publicart.