CRG, the real estate development and investment arm of Chicago-based Clayco, today announced a new public art installation gracing the facade of the five-story parking garage at Broadway Chapter, its recently completed multifamily development in Fort Worths Near Southside cultural district. The 242-unit community at 401 Hemphill St. will welcome its first residents in July.
CRG partnered with Near Southside’s ArtSouth to select and commission a mural from North Texas artist Eric ‘Drigo’ Rodriguez. The artist selection was driven from a community-led vetting process in February that resulted in 89 applications during the region’s historic ice storm. CRG supplied a $50,000 budget and worked closely with ArtSouth program administrators, who extended the application deadline and supported artists as many completed applications from their cars, warming centers and other public spaces available during the statewide power failures.
CRG worked with a selection committee consisting of Near Southside arts and cultural leaders, including architects, studio artists, gallerists, public artists and art education professionals. The vetting process yielded four finalists. According to the committee, Drigo was awarded the commission due to his immense talent and creativity and the important cultural voice he offers as a Latinx artist representing a historically marginalized community.
“We believe that art can inspire and enhance the daily living experience of our residents,” said Shawn Clark, president of CRG. “Our buildings are canvases and an important way for us to give back to the communities we join. We were delighted to work with Drigo and ArtSouth to create a vibrant artwork that resonates with the community.”
The 5,000-square-foot mural covers the southern facade of Broadway Chapter’s parking garage, visible from Peter Smith Street. Titled Cosmic Journey, the original work reflects the supportive spirit and positive evolution of the neighborhood.
“In so many ways, the Near Southside’s creative community is leading our district in exciting new directions, and Drigo’s mural at Broadway Chapter perfectly captures the neighborhood’s creative energy and personality,” said Mike Brennan, president of Near Southside, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing the Near Southside. “Art in general, and specifically this type of highly visible public art that we all engage with on a daily basis, plays such a major role in connecting our community and enhancing our shared experience living and working in such a great place. Drigo’swork and CRG’s partnership set a new standard for privately funded and publicly accessible art in Fort Worth.”
Drigo, a native of McKinney, Texas, has been painting for eight years. His figurative contemporary mural at Broadway Chapter depicts a colorful scene with tropical imagery that spans five massive concrete panels. Over a months-long time span, Drigo completed all of the work by hand — from priming the concrete panels to sketching the large-scale work using a meticulous grid system to painting the intricate design — using a mechanical lift supplied by CRG.
Intended to pay homage to the collaborative and friendly atmosphere the artist discovered in his first interaction with the Fort Worth community, the artwork is infused with imagery, some of which appears in previous works, that imbues positive energy and represents the diverse people and cultures found in the neighborhood.
“I’m honored to have this opportunity to collaborate with CRG and ArtSouth to bring this vision to life,” Drigo said. “Murals offer a special opportunity to spontaneously impact people’s lives, as anyone can walk by and not only enjoy the work, but also find inspiration in it. Near Southside is this melting pot kind of neighborhood, so I’ve used imagery of plants from all over the world and different cultures coming together. There’s always meaning within every element of my work, but I hope people find their own inspiration and interpretation for what it means to them.”
Drigo completed the mural in just under three months, partnering with friends and fellow artists Stephanie Cortes, Joshua Romero, Hatziel Flories and Will Harpham. Each supported Drigo through priming, sketch work, color fill and final detailing.
Fort Worth’s Near Southside cultural district is a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood located less than a mile from downtown. It boasts a vibrant arts and cultural scene, some of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, and a concentration of design-focused small businesses.
This installation is CRG’s third major art installation and second for its Chapter residential brand. The firm partnered with Chicago-based artist Brandin Hurley for a triptych interior art piece at its Upshore Chapter development in Chicago’s historic Uptown neighborhood. Elsewhere in Chicago, CRG partnered with artist Mauricio Ramirez for a mural at A.M. 1980, a rental community in the Bucktown neighborhood.
“These installations are really a dialogue with the community,” Clark said. “We want to be a part of the communities where we develop, and we hope these projects reflect the character and culture of each.”
The additional finalists for the Broadway Chapter mural were:
· Josef Kristofoletti: Kristofoletti is an internationally working mural artist, whose creations have appeared in several publications, including Wired, PBS NewsHour, The New York Times, The Guardian, Boston Globe, Fast Company and Symmetry Magazine.
· DAAS: Based in Austin, Texas, DAAS is an American contemporary artist internationally recognized for his vibrant, engaging paintings and murals, which utilize abstract and representational imagery.
· Christin Apodaca: Apodaca is an illustrator and muralist living and working in El Paso, Texas, who creates black-and-white line drawings that weave native plants and human existence into surreal, dreamlike compositions.