One hot and humid Sunday in July, we followed a mural walk in D.C. that was outlined in the Weekend Section of The Washington Post: “Need an art fix? Take a mural stroll.” We didn’t actually walk, because it was about 95°F, so we drove from mural to mural following the walk in the article, putting our masks on every time we hopped out of the car.
Most of the museums in Washington are still closed, going on four months now, so it was fun to have an excuse to go downtown and see some street art. This three-mile walk starts near the Columbia Heights Metro station in Northwest Washington, and it ends at the U Street Station. Many of the artworks have been commissioned by MuralsDC – a public program that funds murals. The pieces on this walk reveal the city’s cultural and economic history, highlighting the city’s native folks.
Here Einstein spray paints his famous formula on the wall like graffiti.
“Buck Hill” is the 70-foot-tall saxophone-playing “wailin’ mailman” painted by Joe Pagac; it celebrates the jazz musician and postal worker.
We found three murals by Aniekan Udofia, one of D.C.’s most well-known visual artists. One of them is a gagged George Washington; another is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
We found a number of famous and recent murals celebrating African American icons such as Paul Robeson (1898 – 1976); he was an American bass baritone concert artist and stage and film actor who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism.
The Torch by Aniekan Udofia, at Ben’s Chili Bowl, is one of the most photographed murals in the city. Here we found Prince, the Obamas and Duke Ellington.
Ben’s Chili Bowl, founded in 1958 by Ben and Virginia Ali, is one of the oldest continuous businesses on U Street. It is also one of the few to survive both the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the years of disruptive Metro construction in the late 1980s. Thanks in part to the patronage of entertainer Bill Cosby, Ben’s has become a national landmark. The restaurant occupies the former Minnehaha Theater, a 1910 movie house that was owned and operated from 1913 to 1920 by Sherman H. Dudley, once a leading vaudeville performer and entrepreneur.
On the corner of Ben’s Chili Bowl, we saw the Obamas draped in an American flag.
Kaliq Crosby painted William P. and Winnifred Lee outside their flower shop at 1026 U. St. NW.
We stopped on a side street to see Aniekan Udofia’s mural of D.C. native Marvin Gaye (710 S St. NW).
We found a number of random murals and buildings along the way.
Three separate murals in an alley celebrate the neighborhood’s musical roots.
I love this one, but I’m not sure what it’s titled or who the artist is.
We found another alley full of murals. Here the alley had a rather pungent odor. 😦
Finally, we saw the very tall “Kindred” by Alberto Clerencia (1210 V St.).
It felt good to get out of the house after four long months of rarely going anywhere interesting.
*Sunday, July 5, 2020*