Fondren has too many blank walls.
That’s the thought of Ron Chane, an artist and the owner of Studio Chane Screenprinting, who is kicking off a mural project during tonight’s Fondren After 5.
Dubbed “Fondren Art Walls Now,” or F.A.W.N., the first mural will be painted on the backside of Fondren Village, along Morgan Place at Fondren Place.
“Fondren could be an outdoor art gallery for the times when this neighborhood is ‘closed,’” Chane said. “It’s not an original concept. I saw photos of walls in Savannah, Georgia and Miami and thought, ‘We can do this in Fondren!’”
Chane’s idea has been in the making for seven years, but, he says, it’s time to act on it. “This neighborhood is growing, and with the upcoming transportation enhancement grant and all the energy with Fondren After 5, we’ve got a lot of eyes on Fondren,” he explained. “Let’s get them to look at Fondren a lot more than they do.”
As creative director for the monthly Fondren After 5, Chane has fifteen walls in mind and will use the first Thursday event to showcase the work.
Kicking off the series is Scott Allen, owner of A+ Signs. His mural work can be seen on walls in Midtown, behind Fondren Public and Sneaky Beans and traffic signal boxes like the one at Court Street and West Street.
“I’ve been thinking for years this would be a cool spot to do a mural,” Allen said early Monday morning, where he had been out since 4am, projecting his sidewalk scene onto the back of William Wallace Salon. “It’s an odd shaped wedge wall and what I’m doing seems to fit the space.”
Allen’s mural is of delivery trucks, cars, and a family on bicycles who has just been to the market for groceries. “It’s influenced by Spanish muralist Diego Rivera and Ocean Springs’ Walter Anderson,” he said. “And it’s twenty years of doing art and whatever just comes out! It’s kind of a big melting pot.”
Atop Rainbow Plaza, on a side wall covered now in graffiti, artist Justin Schultz will take that space into orbit.
Known as an illustrator, Schultz will paint an astronaut there, a piece he hopes will have an element of interaction. “The astronaut is something that would make sense for a weird, high-up location,” he thought. “And, I’ve always had this thing for space.”
You’ve probably seen Schultz’s work for Lemuria, Saltine Oyster Bar and Cathead Vodka, as well as numerous concert posters around town. His mural work can be found in Fondren on walls behind Sneaky Beans. More recently, Schultz has been illustrating for a board game, Feudum, a German-European style board game hoping to launch next year.
For each artist involved, public art has a special meaning. For Schultz, it’s uplifting. “If it brightens someone’s mood, why not?” he asked. “It’s free art, not in a museum and not for sale. That overflows into a sense of community, so, really, it’s everybody’s art.”
With Allen, it’s about a sense of place. “The local art, to me, defines the look and feel of the town,” he said. “With the idea of making this an outdoor art gallery, hopefully, this helps define the look of Fondren.”
Chane is simply practical. “Think about it,” he started. “You pick a friend up from the airport and want to show them around town. You want to show them that Jackson’s not your stereotypical town. Where do you take them? Fondren! Let’s let people know we’re not corporate and cookie cutter and — look at these walls: we have this natural resource of artists.”