downtown murals

photo courtesy of  Meanz Chan

photo courtesy of Meanz Chan

If you've been downtown the last few months, you've no doubt noticed the murals painted on the side of RoCA. As more have been added over the last couple of months, I've become curious about who was involved and how they were chosen to take part in the project. 

Well, wouldn't you know that a few weeks ago artist, Meanz Chan, messaged me about the possibility of featuring the project here on the site? Um, yes please! Meanz is the artist behind the insect-themed mural you see above, while Tia Rodemeyer is the brains behind the beautiful reindeer mural a few pictures down. 

Meanz and Tia are also co-founders of DSM Girl Gang. Heard of them? They're doing all sorts of crazy cool stuff here in the city: art shows, galleries, and tons of other events that are blazing new trails here in Des Moines. Our city is better because of them.

Okay, are you ready to learn about how all this got started? More after the jump...

photo courtesy of   Meanz Chan

photo courtesy of Meanz Chan

Meanz connected to me the project organizer, Liz Lidgett, and she was able to answer some of my first few questions. 

On getting the ball rolling. Ever since their opening, there's been an ongoing conversation with RoCA about what to do with that big green wall. We decided that a "quilt" of temporary murals would be the best use of the space. 

During the preliminary stages, I reached out to artists whose work I've admired. As things progressed, I tried to curate a wall that represented a wide variety of local talent with diverse styles and perspective. 

On people's reactions to the pieces. It's been wonderful to hear how people respond to each mural differently. Whether you love or hate a piece, it's good to see that conversations are being sparked. Our hope is to replace the pieces every five years or so. The third level will be the final row for a few years because as we get higher up with each piece, the amount of coordination becomes greater. 

We look forward to working with more artists in the future. I’m so proud to be a part of this project and to have worked with so many amazing local artists!

I went down to watch Tia paint a couple of Friday's ago and she appeared very at ease with using a hydraulic lift WHILE PAINTING. But seriously: that takes talent. I talked with Meanz and Tia about the project below.

On their initial reaction to being invited into the project.

Tia: Disbelief! This was literally a years-long dream - dream in the most actual sense. It's something I would've only imagined being a part of a few years ago and even now, it feels a little surreal to be involved in such a project. I really feel that I lucked into this whole opportunity.

On the difficulty of working on such a large scale. 

Tia: I don't exactly know why, but I really love painting in public. I enjoy knowing that people are watching the process unfold and taking pictures of it as it goes, too. I enjoyed that aspect immensely. 

Meanz: I've never had any experience painting on such a large scale and I'm also terrified of heights, but how could I turn down this opportunity? I've always wanted to do a mural, something that would be in the public eye. Ever since college!

from my Instagram

from my Instagram

from my In  stagram

from my Instagram

On being involved with the DSM Girl Gang.

Tia: I was always a 'creative' person, but it was all very private. Through the Girl Gang I've gotten a chance to gain confidence in myself and my abilities, as well as face all different levels of personal discomfort in order to grow. Sometimes I stop and look at how different I've become as a person and an artist and I can scarcely believe it. 

Meanz: It has helped me push myself creatively and out of my comfort zone socially. I hope it has helped others in the same way, too. I still feel like I have a lot to work on, but having the support and encouragement within this community makes it all worthwhile.

Photo by  Liz Brown

Photo by Liz Brown

What are you waiting for? Go take a look of the final product! And for more information on DSM Girl Gang, you can check out their site. I can't speak highly enough of the Gang and everything that they're doing here. Mad props.   

Isn't this city great? I hope you always leave this space feeling encouraged about the direction our city is headed. Okay. Talk soon! 80/35 converge coming up.....