Posters for a one-week mural festival say it starts Saturday, but local and visiting artists already spray paint on bricks.
BLKOUT Walls, a new Black-led event, is adding 24 large murals on commercial buildings along Oakland Avenue from East Grand Boulevard up to Owens Street, north of the New Center area. (Map of painting sites.)
The goals are to support street art creators with participation fees and visibility, while drawing attention to the North End to "ignite interest in the area as both a residential and commercial destination," organizers post at the inaugural event's site.
In contrast to most mural festivals, they add, "seventy-five percent of the participating muralists and event producers are Black and/or people of color, mirroring the demographics of the city." Painters from Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Memphis and Denver get lodging, meals and transportation stipends.
The founders are Sydney G. James of Detroit, Thomas ("Detour") Evans of Denver and Max Sansing of Chicago.
Detroiters on the scissor lifts along Oakland and a few adjacents streets, such as East Milwaukee as Bethune avenuees, are Phil Simpson, Bakpak Durden, Tylonn Sawyer, Ijania Cortez, Matt ("Ghostbeard") Hutton and Tony Whlgn. Joe ("Cashiesh") Cazeno of Southfield also is painting.
Support comes from the Knight Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Ford Foundation, Detroit Pistons, Vans footwear, Montana Cans spray paint and smallers sponsors.
The festival ends with a July 31 street celebration from noon to 6 p.m. at the Chroma Building, 2937 E. Grand Blvd. -- which James brightened last September with a nine-story mural called "The Girl with the D Earring."
Below are photos of early activity, shot by Lamar Landers for the festival. They show that "the BLKOUT Walls team did NOT come to play," as James posts on social media.