5 New Mural Projects in Washington, D.C., in 2012

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5 New Mural Projects in Washington, D.C., in 2012
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JR's "I Am a Man" mural in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of Samuel Gonzales.)

If you love art and you're curious about street art, then you should definitely check out these places and projects around Washington, D.C. Most of these are new murals done by well-known artists this year.

Ben's Chili Bowl is a popular, famous diner located in northwest Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama visited the diner for lunch in 2009. Now, his face has been immortalized on the diner's outside walls as part of a mural recently painted by Aniekan Udofia as part of MuralsDC, an effort to end illegal graffiti. Other famous faces that are part of the mural include Donnie Simpson, Bill Cosby, and the late Chuck Brown.

JR, a 29-year-old French artist, is known across the world for his unique style of blowing up photographs and turning them into graffiti on street corners and buildings. In his latest installation, he has decided to use the historic image of the 1968 Memphis strike by Ernest Wither and turn it into a three-story masterpiece on 1401 T Street NW in D.C. The photo is in black and white, and it shows workers on strike and civil rights activists holding up signs that read "I am a man." JR completed the mural in October of this year. It won't last long, so go see it while it's still there.

Graffiti artist Alex Brewer, better known as Hense, has recently completed a mural that spans the entire face of an old church in Ward 6 in Washington, D.C. His latest work has been a little different than what his fans have been used to. This mural incorporates very bright color combinations using latex paint that turn the abandoned building into a lively installation, bringing character to the neighborhood. Before this, the Atlanta-based artist completed his "Spray" solo exhibition in September.

The artist who worked with MuralsDC to create the mural at Kalorama and Champlain Street NW, Cita Sadeli, or Chelove, is back with a new mural, which will soon be unveiled. This new mural will be located on 3225 Eighth St. NE as part of MuralsDC's 2012 project. The mural will feature Willy Ninja and other popular figures of the dance scene.

If you live in D.C. and ride the metro, it is no secret that you will encounter countless pieces of graffiti along the famous Red Line, which has been sprayed with art since the late 1980s. Every day, thousands of people who ride the metro are influenced by this graffiti. Whether people like it or not, it has become a part of their lives. The Red Line includes stations like Brookland, Rhode Island Avenue, and the renamed NoMa. This area is known for famous (now removed) pieces like "Obama Hates Borf." In recent years, D.C.'s Department of Public Works has been planning to clean up the Red Line. In 2012, a lot of graffiti on the warehouses on Rhode Island Avenue was removed, leaving many disappointed. The graffiti on the Red Line has influenced so many that a special organization called The Red Line D.C. Project has been created to celebrate the culture of graffiti, remind us of the Red Line's past, and help preserve the graffiti that remains from future removal.

Samuel Gonzales is a resident of the Washington, D.C., area who has been living in Northern Virginia for the past 15 years.

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