Walls Of Wonder

Walls Of Wonder

Festival hopes to bring unity, joy to Fayetteville


Originally scheduled for April in conjunction with the Green Heart Festival but sidelined by the coronavirus, Fayetteville’s inaugural street art mural festival has found a way to move forward after all. Sprayetteville will see 11 professional local and regional artists throw up their work on 10 spots in and around Fayetteville’s downtown entertainment district in an event that will hopefully offer a moment of levity and joy in turbulent times.

“Our goal from the very beginning was to bring beauty and culture and art and diversity and all of those things that street art murals bring into a community — not only for the community, but for the tourists that travel into Northwest Arkansas,” explains Loudy Bousman, co-founder of the festival as well as Shaman Art, and owner of American Shaman Kava Bar.

“This is something that’s going to be here for a really long time for people to enjoy and that’s our passion. Especially in these times — with this pandemic, and just the state of the nation and the world, and all of the animosities that are going on — we’re hoping that this will bring some unity into the community and give people something that they can really feel good about.”

“It’s a way for us to give something back to the community because we’re a new business, we’re new in town,” Sprayetteville mural festival co-founder Ranaga Farbiarz says of the event. His business, American Shaman Kava Bar, just celebrated its one year anniversary as everything began shutting down. “I’ve lived in Eureka Springs for 45 years and have been very involved in the art community up there. But my connections to Fayetteville have always been there. We felt like this would be a really great way that we could give something back, for all the love we’ve been shown at the Kava Bar.” Here, artists Jason Jones (left) and Octavio Logo work on a mural May 6 on the side of Mango’s Gourmet Taco Shop on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Fayetteville. Both artists are part of the inaugural Sprayetteville mural festival.
(The Free Weekly/Andy Shupe)

“I’ve been involved in art my entire life, and I love art of all kinds, but what I particularly love about street murals and street art is that it’s open to everyone,” adds Ranaga Farbiarz, the other festival co-founder and Bousman’s partner through Shaman Art and the Kava Bar. “There’s no limit; there’s no barriers to it. It’s there kind of unexpectedly, which is really fun, and it’s just available to everybody.”

Farbiarz and Bousman were inspired to bring some outdoor art to Fayetteville after attending the SpraySeeMO festival in Kansas City last year. Between their former affiliation with the Green Heart Festival — an event centered on art, music, wellness and plant medicine — and their focus on physical and mental wellness and balance through American Shaman, they established Sprayetteville with a vision of planet stewardship through art, wellness, plant medicine and social awareness. Since planning began in December, quite a lot has changed.

“When we had to resurrect it for July, and in the current climate of controversy and all, we didn’t want any of these [murals] to be political or controversial,” Farbiarz reveals. “But we did ask the artists to possibly bring in a message of diversity or social justice, not as a statement, but more as a subtle element, if they could include that. Just to be sensitive to the fact that things have drastically changed from March and April when we were going to mount this, to now.”

The artists do have complete freedom in their creations, though, Farbiarz adds. With a commissioned piece, the artist is being paid to create what the building owner or sponsor wants. In a festival atmosphere, the painters are allowed more freedom in their expression because the walls are donated. That freedom is what was attractive to artist Octavio Logo, whose mural will be located on the downtown burger joint and bar Grub’s but is sponsored by the Walton Arts Center.

“I feel like this is a very first moment where this public art, or murals in general, can move in a direction of artist freedom,” Logo says of the festival but also of public art in Fayetteville being backed by prominent names like the Walton Arts Center. “Having bigger organizations pushing this freedom, I am very lucky and very privileged at having this opportunity.”

“As an anchor arts organization, Walton Arts Center cherishes its role and history as a catalyst and incubator in Fayetteville’s emerging cultural corridor. We’re thrilled to continue our commitment to public art in partnership with Sprayetteville,” offers Laura Goodwin, WAC vice president of learning and engagement.

“The north wall of Grub’s Bar and Grill is a prime mural location, and we’re excited to experience how it will activate the garden space next to it. Since 1992, Walton Arts Center has been charged with managing and maintaining the property that includes Grub’s. We’re confident that Octavio’s transformation of this space will stimulate reflection, inspire enjoyment and renew interest in the cultural corridor.”

Mexican artist and Fayetteville transplant Octavio Logo is one of the artists creating a mural for the inaugural Sprayetteville mural festival. His work has covered four walls in Fayetteville and around a dozen across Northwest Arkansas. For the festival, Logo will be working with spray paint, a medium he doesn’t typically use. “I want to give a sense of more fast street art work, and the figures I’m going to include with my normal process are going to integrate these elements,” he explains. “It’s a little abstract. But I think it’s going to be very nice to see that mix of street art/spray can graffiti with my normal painting process.”
(Courtesy Photo/Octavio Logo)

The significance of the location has, of course, been on Logo’s mind since he landed the space. With another local institution — TheatreSquared — overlooking the corner where these cultural icons meet, his first concepts for the piece revolved completely around the arts, he reveals. Theater, dancing, music — very playful and artistic, he shares.

“My project has changed like three times because I wanted to say something, to do something, and then this crazy year is keeping me super-emotional all the time,” Logo reflects. “It’s very important to me that every piece I do is really meaningful. And that’s sometimes a very mental process; sometimes, no. Sometimes it’s very emotional and fast. This one, particularly, is very special to me, and I want to do so many things there that I hope I can address all of it and do it very fast.”

Another piece of Logo’s puzzle he feels strongly about incorporating is his Mexican heritage. Though the artist lives in south Fayetteville and feels honored that the community has adopted him — “Sometimes I’m seeing in the paper or on television, people say ‘local artist’ and ‘an artist from Fayetteville’” — he actually isn’t those things.

“I’m an immigrant. I’m a brown guy,” he asserts. And while Fayetteville may claim him as a part of the fabric of the community, Logo reveals he’s had his share of traumatizing experiences since moving to Arkansas, his first trip to the United States, only four years ago. “I just wanted to be a professional here, and everything is completely legal, I’m a super serious person, I have all my papers. But at the same time, there’s always this feeling of you’re doing something wrong. You don’t belong here. You should go away.

“A lot of my work has shifted to more of my experience here in these four years,” he goes on. “So everything I do, and like this Sprayetteville festival, to me, it’s always an opportunity to say, ‘I’m an immigrant, I’m brown, and I’m a bad*ss.’ I’m amazing, and there’s many other people like me, and we’re good, and I’m proud of it.”

It’s an odd position to be in, he admits. “I didn’t want to be an immigrant, and I didn’t want to use that to say, ‘I’m an immigrant, you need to listen to me.’ But the environment did that to me. So to some extent, I need to claim it, right? I need to say, ‘I am an immigrant.’ Because if you adopted me, to me it’s great, but at the same time it’s not recognizing that I’m an immigrant and my work is a professional international artist doing this work, not just another local guy. And not because I don’t love to be a local guy, but because to me it represents a lot of different efforts.

“So I think what people should know is we should be more aware about others’ stories, and not everything is so simple. What we see is probably just a little thing about someone’s history.”



Sprayetteville Mural Festival

WHEN — Through July 12

WHERE — Various locations around downtown Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO — sprayettevillestreetart.com


Sprayetteville Participating Artists & Locations:

• Compost Pile — Gearhead Outfitters

• EATS — Free Geek Arkansas

• Jason Jones — Dickson St. Bookstore

• Matt Miller — 26 W. Center Street

• Octavio Logo — Grub’s Downtown

• Samuel Hale — Wash-a-Rama

• Tiger Sasha — B_Unlimited (a collaboration with Marcus Ford)

• Tommy Tropical — Starlight Skatium

• X3mex — Free Geek Arkansas

Categories: In The News