New mural on Kansas Ave celebrates the mysteries of nature

An old building becomes the canvas for mother earth

Petworth is home to a new, beautiful mural, compliments of two award-winning Brazilian street artists. If you come up Kansas Avenue, just north of Taylor Street, you'll see the mural on the vacant building at 4115 Kansas Ave NW.

What was once a warehouse and offices for a vending company (and a dairy distributor further back in time), 4115 Kansas has sat empty and unused for a very long time. It's been tagged with graffiti and some pretty good amateur street art over the years, but nothing like this.

Brazilian artists Robezio Marqs and Tereza Dequinta (known as the "Acidum Project") were touring North America as the artists-in-residence for mural festivals in Montreal and Oregon when they were invited to Petworth by resident Tom Pipkin (who along with Rob Mandle, organized the colorful Petworth mural on Upshur Street).

Artists Robezio Marqs and Tereza Dequinta

Robezio and Tereza work with Roberta Pardo, who runs Urban Walls Brazil, an organization that uses murals and workshops to create an exchange between US and Brazilian cultures. Roberta houses Brazilan artists in the US through her residency program, where they are able to interact with local artists and work on community art projects like ours in Petworth. (Definitely check out the Urban Walls Brazil site for galleries of some amazing work.) She translated for me when I spoke with the artists (alas, I don't speak Portuguese).

Tom Pipkin and Roberta Pardo

Tom Pipkin and Roberta Pardo

Robezio and Tereza live in Fortaleza, Brazil, where they have been creating dynamic street art for the past 10 years and host one of the largest street art festivals in the country (and recently winning first place in the Top 10 Best Murals / Street Art in Brazil).

They only had three days for this mural, including the time spent visiting the site on Kansas Ave, sketching out the preliminary concepts and designs and then to paint (using many, many cans of spray paint). The finished work, titled Senhora dos Tempos or "Goddess of Time," celebrates Mother Earth, nature, the flow of time and how all life comes from earth.

The long west wall of the building is made up of rolling mountains and oceans that flow up into the softly cascading robes of Mother Earth, who stands on the south wall looking west with the green shoots of life growing up from her hair.

The west wall, mountains, rivers and ocean

Over one arm she has draped a small bag of soil with young saplings, while holding a bag of stars — or a bag of infinite possibilities — as the images of humans are show to float out and away over the dreamy landscape. 

One of the amazing things about this mural is its temporary nature... the building at 4115 Kansas Ave is up for sale, and in time, the mural will be torn down along with the building. That's actually one of the aspects that interested Robezio and Tereza, and inspired the concept of a mother earth and nature. "Everything changes," Roberta said to me, discussing Robezio and Tereza's vision for the mural. "As neighborhoods change, life changes, things come and go. This mural is the same."

I asked Tom Pipkin why and how he chose this building for the street art. "It's an amazing canvas and a beautiful building," he said. "I worked with the owner for a long time to get them to agree. With projects like this, my hope is to bring more art, more public art, to walls in the neighborhood."

Robezio and Tereza worked all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday to complete the large project, finishing up a little after 1am Saturday/Sunday morning. All in all they likely put in close to 40 hours over those three days. Costs were covered by Urban Walls Brazil (for the paint) and the Petworth Alliance for the pneumatic lift and ladders, but the artists worked for free. Watching them wrap up their work near 1am, as Robezio painted detail after finishing detail to the light from two cars and a headlamp, I was impressed by the amount of passion they put into the project, unwilling to stop until their vision of the art was complete. 

They flew back to Brazil early Sunday morning, leaving behind a beautiful piece of original art for Petworth to enjoy.

Below are some pictures of them working on the mural, along with some close-ups of details: