The Unexpected Mural Project in Fort Smith 

Fort Smith hosts mural festival second year in a row

  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Mural festivals are typically in big cities. But for the second year, Fort Smith hosted The Unexpected, a mural festival bringing urban contemporary art to Arkansas. 

The Unexpected international artist line-up includes Alexis Diaz, Okuda San Miguel, Guido Van Helten, Jaz, Pastel, Faith 47, Bordalo II, Cyrcle and returning artists D*Face and Maser.

Irish artist Maser, most known for his graffiti and mural paintings, kicked off the event last week with a reception for his new immersive art work. You can find the Fort Smith creation, titled “Argon,” at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Windgate Art and Design building now through Oct. 1. Maser has transformed a gallery space through the use of neon, light, sound, and ribbon. “Argon” is sponsored by UAFS Foundation and in cooperation with the Chancellor’s Coalition for the Visual Arts.

The three dimensional installation is like walking into a painting. He has created three other such installations in London, Zurich, and Munich.

Alexis Diaz contributed to this year’s festival opening with a mural started on Aug. 26 in Fayetteville at the old Mountain Inn building on Center Street and College Avenue. The idea is to interact and provoke people in other regions to experience the art in Fort Smith.In addition to the international artists, two murals were designed and executed by college and high schools students. One is by the UAFS art department and another is a collaborative mural between Northside and Southside High Schools.

  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

In a recent interview, Maser said the mural festival brings a lot of artists from different cultures that bring a lot of energy. “Art is a very powerful thing,” he added. “One mural can do so many things to so many different people.” 

Maser painted the mural at Fort Smith’s BoarderTown Skate Park several years ago. He ended up moving to Fayetteville for a couple of years. He says he found Arkansas to be a very productive place. “I don’t know what it is. The Southern way maybe,” he said with a smile. “This is more my style. It’s chill. You know, big cities are all the same.”  He now lives in London. “I can be quite mobile.”

Maser painted the skate park mural at the invitation of Steve Clark, who lives in Fort Smith and is from that area. They became fast friends and eventually came up with the mural festival idea. “We were talking about doing something here that would be unexpected,” Clark explained. Maser then introduced him to Charlotte Dutoit of JUSTKIDS, which organizes large art events, and the idea became reality.

The Unexpected is curated by JUSTKIDS and organized by 64.6 Downtown. An event map details the location of last year’s 11 murals and this year’s nine murals. It can found online at www.646downtown.com or on the app UnexpectedFS. Both also provide information on the artists, lodging, and more.

  • Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The mural movement is the largest art movement since the Renaissance, Clark believes. He said cities that want to be relevant have to have art.

“This is the kind of city I want to live in,” he added. “We owe it to ourselves to put our best foot forward to be the best city we can be.”

While Clark supports art and dreams big through an entrepreneurial lens, he said he also respects the history of Fort Smith. Some people in the city were concerned about how the murals would fit with the heritage of the town when the concept was introduced last year.

Fort Smith has long been known for its Wild West history and heritage. Its first fort was built at Belle Point, where the Arkansas and Poteau rivers unite. Federal marshals rode out of the United States and into Indian Territory at this juncture. Outlaws collided with Hanging Judge Isaac Parker.

With the addition of the murals, this military settlement has grown into a city that is a meetinghouse for the past, present and future with its well-preserved frontier spirit, its establishment of contemporary arts and entertainment venues, and its thriving community that is building for the future.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Jill Rohrbach

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Trump proposes an unconstitutional ban on flag burning, revoking citizenship

    Donald Trump, the president-elect of the United States, this morning made a public statement, via Twitter, that the flag burning should be disallowed by law: "there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Visit Arkansas

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation