The Graffiti-Inspired Street Art of Deep Ellum in Dallas

Texas, Your Texas
••• Moment Editorial/Getty Images / Getty Images
  • 01 of 04

    Welcome to Deep Ellum

    Deep Ellum
    ••• Angela Patterson

    To say that Deep Ellum is a historic neighborhood east of downtown Dallas is an understatement. It would be more appropriate to call Deep Ellum the city's most iconic neighborhood, a vibrant, quirky district of renovated warehouses that's home to amazing restaurants, bars, live music venues, tattoo parlors, apartments, specialty shopping, and some of the best street art in Dallas.

    Since 1873, Deep Ellum has been the Dallas district to discover music and explore art. There is street art around every corner, like the mural on Baker's Ribs depicting the seven geographic regions of Texas in honor of the state's diversity and the Texas State Fair.

    Deep Ellum is located east of I-75 (Central Expressway), and it comprises Pacific, Elm, Main, Commerce and Canton Streets.

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  • 02 of 04

    The Renaissance of Deep Ellum

    The Renaissance of Deep Ellum
    ••• Angela Patterson

    In recent years, Deep Ellum has undergone a renaissance and the area is awash in murals. It has become the largest entertainment district in the region with numerous outside music venues and has sprouted scores of new chef-driven restaurants and high-end specialty shops.

    The Deep Ellum Tunnelvisions project of Susan Reese and Frank Campagna, which was torn down in the late 1990s for redevelopment, was one of the first major art projects to hit this trendy neighborhood. However, murals have been mushrooming since a group of artists associated with Kettle Gallery—including Reese and Campagna—began the Deep Ellum Murals Project in 2009, which was conceived as a new gateway along Good Latimer into the artsy neighborhood.

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  • 03 of 04

    The Deep Ellum Murals Project: 2009

    The Deep Ellum Murals Project: 2009
    ••• Shark Bite. Angela Patterson

    The Deep Ellum Murals Project of 2009 aimed to turn some of the plain, deteriorating exteriors of buildings into beautiful works of art that reflected not only the neighborhood's culture but the rich history of the state and city itself.

    The Deep Ellum Community Association (DECA) spearheaded and approved the project, which also features some art about DECA and its members, which went on to cover over 8,000 square feet of walls in murals created by artists from all walks of life, including a 60-year-old woman who'd never painted a mural and the 16-year-old daughter of the project's founder.

    Above, you can see one of the murals of the Deep Ellum Murals Project of 2009, which was created by Amber Campagna, the daughter of the project's co-founder. The mural reflects her "obsession" with sharks, as she puts it.

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  • 04 of 04

    The 42 Murals Project: 2013

    The 42 Murals Project: 2013
    ••• Gabe McCool’s "Cake" and Haylee Ryan’s "Truelove Series: Akard & Elm, 1938" in Deep Ellum. Tom Fox/Staff Photographer/The Dallas Morning News

    After the surge of murals in 2009, local landlords gave their outdoor walls over to mural painters, and developer Scott Rorhman, after buying up 39 properties since 2012, enlisted north Texas artists to paint 42 murals on his buildings.

    The 42 Murals Project, as it was later named, started when Rorhman's friend, local artist and corporate art curator Lesli Marshall, introduced him to Adrian Torres, a Spanish painter who had lived in the area for several months. Because of their shared love for art and the neighborhood itself, the two teamed up to commission 42 artists from all over Texas to redecorate the walls of this thriving community.

    Since then, most of the paintings have been completed and even more are expected in the coming years. You can even take a guided walking tour of all the art to learn more about this community of artists and the upcoming works that are planned for 2018 and beyond.