The first BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival, an all Black-produced event, took place from July 24th through the 31st in Detroit, Michigan. It was founded by Sydney G. James of Detroit, Thomas “Detour” Evans of Denver and Max Sansing of Chicago in response to their past experiences of participating in mural festivals where there had been a lack of racial diversity among the participating artists and too many expenses incurred by the artists themselves.

Each of the artists participating in the inaugural BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival was provided with a fee for painting, as well as free lodging, meals and transportation. In addition to live mural painting, the inaugural festival hosted artist talks, panel discussions and pop-up exhibitions.

The image featured above was fashioned by Detroit-bred and based visual artist Sydney G. James. Several more murals that surfaced last month at the BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival — all captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — follow:

Nepali artist Sneha Shrestha aka IMAGINE

Chicago-based Max Sansing and Roxbury, Boston native Rob Gibbs aka Problak

West Coast born and bred Jamaican-American artist “JUST” Giovannie 

Bay Area based artist and singer Zoë Boston

Mexican artist Victor “MARKA27” Quinonez  at work

West Coast-based, self-taught artist Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith aka Wolfe Pack

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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I first came upon WC Bevan‘s mesmerizing aesthetic at an exhibit — curated by Jason Mamarella aka d.w. krsna — that I attended back in 2013 at 17 Frost. I was delighted to rediscover it on the streets of Detroit during my recent trip, where I, also, had a chance to visit the artist’s studio and speak to him.

When and where did you first get up in a public space?

I was about 15 or 16 and living in Ohio. I had gotten my driver’s license, and in between delivering pizzas, I’d find walls under train bridges.

What ignited your interest back then in graffiti?

A punk named Gabe Razor gave me his half-filled black book. He wrote, but never disclosed who he was.

Had you any favorite surfaces to hit up back then?

Besides the walls under the train bridges, I liked abandoned spaces – of any kind — and the quarries.


These days — when you are out on the streets — would you rather work legally or illegally?


Were you ever arrested?

Once in Memphis. I just had to repaint the wall and pose for a photo.

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve ever done while painting in the streets?

In Memphis, I painted a big, googly eyeball 26 stories above the ground while hanging off a bar.

Why did you?

It was fun! Why not? 


Would you rather paint alone or collaborate with others?

I like collaborating with rich people who commission me to paint their walls!

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I don’t feel it much here in Detroit. We’ve all been through so much together.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

About 90%.

How does your family feel about what you are doing 

They love it. They’re cool! My father is a folk musician.


What are some of your other interests?

I record music as a hobby, and I bike.

How do you feel about the engagement of the corporate world with graffiti writers and street artists?

It depends on the nature and mission of the company or corporation. It’s okay as long as the artist is aware of the company’s agenda and can work with it.

What is the main source of your income?

Working on commissioned murals and selling my work privately. 

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes. I’ve been in lots of shows – both group exhibits and solo shows. When I was based in NYC, I showed at 17 Frost.

Wc-Bevan-fantasy street-art

Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you let it flow?

A loose sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

Yes. And, if not, I’ll fix it. So far, I’ve only painted over one piece.

Do you have a formal art education?

I attended the Memphis College of Art for almost two years.

Was it worth it?

It wasn’t the way I wanted to do it, but I did get a lot of art supplies out of it!

WC -Bevan-mural-art-close-up

Are there any particular cultures or movements that have influenced your aesthetic?

I’ve been influenced by South American art, the Renaissance and architectural designs.

How has your work evolved through the years?

With the space and time I’ve had since moving to Detroit, it has evolved quite a bit.  It’s tighter and bigger.

What inspires you these days?

Pure vision and free association.

Do any particular artists inspire you?

JJ Cromer, Martin Ramirez, Louise Nevelson, Kenny Sharf, R Crumb, Motohiro Hayakawa, Minnie Evans


How do you feel about the role of the Internet and social media in all of this?

If a graffiti artist paints something and it doesn’t appear on Instagram, did it really happen?  My advice to graffiti artists is: Don’t show your face or location. But the Internet does make it easier for us to sell T-shirts!

What’s ahead?

Murals in the Market, a trip to Cuba and more painting!

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To provide meaning, encourage reflection, and offer people the possibility of seeing things differently.

Photo credits: 1, 5 & 6 courtesy of the artist; 2-4 & 7 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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A diverse range of faces by artists from across the globe have been greeting us in Detroit public spaces, particularly in Eastern Market. Pictured above is by Chilean artist Dasic Fernandez in Mexicantown. What follows are several more than we came upon this week:

Also by Dasic in Mexicantown


Australian artist Rone for Murals in the Market


New Zealand-based artist Askew One for Murals in the Market


NYC-based Beau Stanton for Murals in the Market


West Coast-based Hueman for Murals in the Market


Bay Area artist Lauren YS for Murals in the Market


Photo credits: 1-3 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 4-6 Tara Murray

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Among the highlights of my recent trip to Detroit were the rich and diverse graffiti walls I came upon while exploring the neighborhoods southwest of downtown Detroit. Back home in NYC, I discovered that these murals, referred to as Station Walls – because of their proximity to the Michigan Central Railroad Station – were facilitated by Grand River Creative Corridor founder Derek Weaver. Here are several more featuring the talents of Detroit’s local writers:











Ramen and Yogrt




Note: First image features Fel3000ft and Iges

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Based in Detroi’s Eastern Market district, 1xRUN is the world’s leading publisher of fine art editions for original art.  Also host to Detroit’s Inner State Gallery, a world-renowned exhibition space, it works with established and emerging artists throughout the globe. When I stopped by on my recent visit to Detroit, I had the opportunity to speak to 1xRUN Production Manager Brian Lacey.

Can you tell us something about your role as 1xRUN production manager? Just what does your job entail?

I am involved with every step of the printing process. I communicate with the artists, set up files for printing, retouch images, trim prints, create certificates of authenticity and I place orders with vendors.

You are an artist. Is that what attracted you to this particular space? 

Yes, as an artist I was drawn to this space. I have a background in graffiti and a degree from the College for Creative Studies, where I studied illustration and fine arts.


Has your experience as a graffiti writer impacted you?

Definitely! Graffiti is a great teacher. I learned a lot from it — on so many levels.

1xRUN collaborates with so many extraordinary artists. How do you select them? Is it a team effort?

Yes! It’s definitely a team effort. We have weekly sessions where a group of us meet to make curatorial decisions. Selections are made by the consensus of us all.


Has your position at 1xRUN presented any personal challenges?

As someone who loves working hands-on, I had to adjust to spending a lot of time in front of a computer. But it’s awesome to be able to look at art all day!

1xRUN is best-known for the first-rate prints it produces. Does it offer anything in addition to prints?

It does offer a number of original works, books and sketches.


What about the name 1xRUN?

It’s about offering limited editions of outstanding works that run for one time (1X) only.  Too many print releases can devalue an artist’s work.

I can see that. I love these images on exhibit in Tag the Jewels. Can you tell us something about this project?

It is a partnership among Run The Jewels, 1xRUN and Mass Appeal. Graffiti artists from around the world created murals celebrating the one year anniversary of Run The Jewels 2 (RTJ2). On exhibit are 20 photos of these murals spanning six continents.


 What a great concept! And what an amazing range of art on display throughout this space! 


1. Brian Lacey to the right of his artwork, T002

2. Jesse Kassel and Elmer for Tag the Jewels

3. See One for Tag the Jewels

4. Binho for Tag the Jewels

5. Frop and Muso for Tag the Jewels

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky



Downtown Detroit’s hugely impressive, ten-story parking structure — known as the Z — serves as a canvas for artworks by over two dozen wonderfully talented artists.  Like the Belt, it is a collaborative venture between Bedrock and the Library Street Collective. Here are several more close-ups from huge murals that I captured last week:

UK-based Lucy McLauchlan

lucy-mclauchlan-mural-Z Detroit

Pose and Revok, MSK


Mexican artist Saner


LA-based Cyrcle


Swiss artist Smash 137


Note: The first image features a close-up from How & Nosm

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Showcasing a range of works by first-rate artists, Downtown Detroit’s Belt Alley is a wondrous open-air gallery. Here are a few more images I captured on my recent visit to the Belt, a collaborative venture between Bedrock Real Estate Services and the Library Street Collective.

Chicago-based Pose, close-up


 Miami-based Douglas Hoekzema aka Hoxxoh, close-up


UK-based Hush


West Coast-based Shepard Fairey aka Obey


Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto aka Vhils


West Coast-based Dave Kinsey, close-up


The Belt is located between the two wings of The Z parking garage on Grand River and Gratiot Avenues in Downtown Detroit’s former garment district.

Note: First image is by West Coast-based Tristan Eaton

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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