A little drizzle didn’t deter two community groups from throwing a party to unveil 14,000 square feet of murals in NoMa last night.
The NoMa Business Improvement District and hip-hop nonprofit group Words Beats & Life welcomed about 75 people for the official debut of the “largest public art project” in the District. The celebration included free gelato and popcorn, face paint, music and break dancing.
Rain initially forced attendees under a large tent at Storey Park (1005 1st St. NE), where 55 artists designed the murals. But the party went on as rain lightened and organizers moved out of the shelter.
“After July Fourth, when I was literally soaked to the bone, I don’t even notice the rain anymore,” NoMa BID president Robin-Eve Jasper said with a chuckle.
Victoria Murray Baatin, legislative and community affairs director for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, thanked artists and members of the community for their time and contributions. The artists used more than 200 gallons of primer and 500 cans of paint for the murals, beginning work in May.
“This mural really illustrates the value of talent and the importance of collaboration,” she said. “Public art is a catalyst for change often times and it can create a sense of community and liven the day-to-day activity of any given place. Certainly, this space achieves that.”
Artist Max Gibbons of Words Beats & Life painted a large black and blue calligraphy mandala in the center of the park. He said all of the poems that make up the mural came from the program’s students who are 10 to 22 years old.
“They put their hearts and souls into writing about their communities and their neighborhoods,” he said. “So I took what they wrote, put it in a design and physically put it in this location.”