This post was written by Hatchet reporter Juliana Tamayo.
While last weekend was a kickoff to D.C.’s tourism season, miles away from the action stood the walls of an old, uninhabited alley behind a Big Lots store on Rhode Island Avenue brightened with colors, hip-hop and art.
Artists and musicians gathered all day Sunday to renovate the abandoned area and played with shades and shapes to the music of local DJs on Sunday for the “Fine Lines Mural Jam.”
The annual festival unites the four elements that hip-hop culture comprises: emcees, DJs, breakdancing and graffiti writing. Through ticketed and free performances, it brings the public an opportunity to discover the D.C hip-hop community.
This time, the beats of hip-hop were meant to inspire spontaneous graffiti artists to paint along a 990-foot wall.
Some images turned political, like the likeness of an older man holding a sign reading “all D.C. residents deserve the access to knowledge,” while others emphasized on the beauty of life, some with Hindu references and others using arrows and geometrical figures to create symmetrical figures.
“They had a mural going on here last year as well, we’re just finishing it off, everybody just walked around a chose their spot and we’ll see where it takes us,” Jordan Jackson a former Words, Beats and Life teacher and graffiti artist said.
Walls of colors, from orange, purple, black and red, stranded together to create a canvas of mixed feelings, reflecting what the event looked like with all sorts of people coming and going.
Performance artist Christine Walters painted a graffiti of a red heart on top of an explosion of warm colors, in the heart blossomed a silver tree. She along with others there, had never worked along with multiple artists in one same place, but hearing the music and watching others work inspired her final piece.
“As the DJ transitioned the music, the heart kind of formulated and the tree is just explosion and living,” she said.
Although most of the graffiti artists were performance artists and some professional artists, the walls were also open for any passerby who dared to take on the empty white wall and create a piece of their own art.
“We woke up, saw it was a beautiful day and just came to paint. I just painted what I thought was beautiful,” Marissa Miller, another impromptu artist, said.
While the smell of paint and spray cans wafted in the air, the crowds circled around a group of kids skating. They all wore bright colored t-shirts with the logo “Skate Tribe Girls” on them, a nonprofit for kids to learn how to put their energy into good use. They performed tricks to the beats of the DJ in charge for the afternoon.
“This is a graffiti exhibit, part of a hip-hop festival, we just try to show the good energies in music and art,” DJ Haze said. “It’s all about meeting new people and have everyone enjoy the lyrics and construction of art.”