Downtown needs something.
Something that suddenly brings people out of themselves, into a shared experience — and one worth experiencing again and again. Something that excites, engages this city intellectually, gives its people a reason to bring their friends and friends-of-friends downtown to explore, shop, really participate. Something that secures the brand of downtown in the spaces that make up the downtown, itself.
Downtown needs something. Huntsville needs something.
That something is a kick-butt mural. Maybe two. Heck, maybe murals everywhere. And Red Brick was just awarded the chance to make some by Downtown Huntsville, Inc.
Perspective. In small, often contextual ways, murals are all about perspective — questioning it, affirming it, changing it all by use of the architecture or space of which the mural is a part. Street art murals, in particular, rely heavily on perspective to make their public charge or commentary. Where murals are located and how they're presented are just as important as what they present and who has presented them. There's beauty in how a location is used.There are plenty of mural applications Red Brick's considered that take advantage of perspective in the downtown area. Having a variety of “viewpoint”-challenging murals around downtown may well help to illuminate our own diverse perspectives as a city. The artists we are, we're excited how we might approach perspectives that are distinctly Huntsville.
Murals, like the above mock-up, could have the ability to be strangely unifying for our public. They could generate chit-chat between strangers, or depict to visitors how rare, and lovely, our city is with a quick glance. Any space in our downtown could become a point of conversation.
Forced perspective art — that is, art that must be viewed from a certain angle in order to be seen as intended — is intellectually and physically invigorating. It requests viewers be active. When there are cues that a mural might be connected to something in the environment, viewers will tend to engage with spaces in a way that requests even more exploration: beauty and surprise could be, in so many words, right around the next downtown corner. And exploration is a big promoter of healthy, economy-stimulating foot traffic.
The above is an example of how someone might encounter a forced perspective mural with one building downtown that towers a bit over the other. There are plenty of spaces we’ve noted that can use the environment like this, in surprising ways. If one building’s blasting off, another down the block might be dancing with giant robo-legs, or planted into the ground like a tree, etc. The possibilities are numerous.
This is the space we proposed to DHI to paint a mural, first. It's not going to be a hot air balloon. It's probably going to be something weird, which we'll reveal later.
There’s something thrilling about the sense of discovery a mural in this space could have with the public, though: it’s sort of secret, sort of you’ll-see-it-when-you-see-it-and-then-everybody’s-looking. There’s something enjoyable, too, to the color it’d add to that parking deck: a mural’s brightness on the pale cement would be dramatic, and pedestrians would exit to the street with a freshness to their step, whatever ends up there. We'll figure it out.
This mural could be the start to a entire mural series across the downtown, appealing to the wide spectrum of thinking that makes Huntsville who, and what, it is today. From weirdos and artists, to engineers and military contractors, the shared experiences of murals just like one this might well prompt all walks of life to visit downtown Huntsville, in so many words, to walk it anew. To explore it again, or for the first time.
And isn’t that what a downtown should do? Welcome everyone, again and again, to explore?
What mural would be, as the hashtag now comes to mind, #SoHuntsville?