WORDS + PHOTO / COURTESY OF VISIT HOT SPRINGS
A mural will be installed during the next month at Hot Springs’ Northwoods Trail System as part of a new initiative to install 12 pieces of public art across Arkansas. The work is part of ARkanvas, a partnership of OZ Art™, The Unexpected and JustKids.
The artworks will be created across Arkansas during October and November by 12 world-class artists.
The initiative will create public artworks in Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fort Smith (Chaffee Crossing), Conway, Little Rock, Hot Springs, Pine Bluff and Stuttgart.
Artist Camille Walala has been commissioned to do the mural at the Northwoods Pump house. Walala is a multidisciplinary artist working across the fields of art, architecture, textile art, and graphic design, and is a perpetual purveyor of positivity, expressed through vibrant color and bold patterns.
The installation was chosen to bring color to the Northwoods Pump house and help bring inspiration to the artists and individuals in and around Hot Springs for years to come. Completion is anticipated during the first week of November, according to Traci Berry, trails coordinator for Visit Hot Springs.
“We are extremely excited to have been chosen as one of OZArtNWA’s mural sites,” Berry said. “Outdoor recreation and art are two areas that can do much to improve the quality of life for a community. We are creating — and want to continue to create — a sense of place for our community and visitors at Northwoods Trails. Now not only will our residents and visitors be able to enjoy our world-class trails, but they also will be able to enjoy world-class art.”
Hot Springs City Manager Bill Burrough said, “We are pleased and grateful for OZ Art’s™ addition to our city’s increasing number of public-art installations. The ARkanvas mural will be a wonderful enhancement of the experience at the Northwoods Trail System for Hot Springs residents and visitors to our city.”
Mary Zunick, cultural affairs manager for Visit Hot Springs and one of the driving forces behind the just-concluded Arts & The Park Festival, said, “Having been involved with the planning of several murals in Hot Springs over the past few years, it is great to be a part of the ARkanvas project that will add this incredible mural by Camille Walala.”
“Having seen the dynamic colors of her other murals, I know this is going to be a vibrant new addition to the Northwoods — a great way to bring art to nature and will bring art lovers out to enjoy the natural beauty of Northwoods,” Zunick said.
Walala’s practice has taken her all over the world to transform homes and workspaces with her signature tribal-pop style. Drawing on influences including the Memphis Movement, the Ndebele tribe, and op-art master Victor Vasarely, Walala has an irrepressible enthusiasm for playful, graphic patterns that invoke a smile in all who view them.
Recent years have seen her progress from her popular textile-based work to encompass murals, installations, and interior design for: Harrods, Armani, Natuzzi, Topshop, Swatch, Nike, Art Fund, Marie Claire, Converse, Facebook, Nintendo, Urban Outfitters, Converse and ARIA London to name a few.
As purveyor of positivity, expressed through vibrant colors and bold patterns, Walala now focuses on projects with greater scope and at a greater scale than ever before, with an overriding ambition to imbue the world’s urban landscapes with eye-popping installations full of color and soul-stirring energy.
The theme of the ARkanvas initiative is Unite, a tribute to being united through shared outdoor and art experiences across the Natural State. A virtual experience will be launched at www.Arkanvas.com and @OZArtNWA on Instagram and will feature videos of the art, artists, and communities.
“We wanted to do something to celebrate the arts, support artists, and create some excitement in our communities during this incredibly challenging time,” said Olivia Walton, who is leading the project along with Elizabeth Miller, OZ Art™ manager. “We love that murals bring art to everyone, and we hope that these projects will inspire, spark conversation, and promote civic unity.”
Miller added: “Hot Springs brought us the opportunity to bring together two investments important to this family – art and nature. By painting the Pump house, which is at the trailhead of the Northwoods trails, mountain bikers will be exposed every day to art by a world renowned artist.” Participating artists include renowned contemporary figures whose body of work re-imagines public spaces. The ARkanvas initiative will create artworks that range from murals to immersive installations. To curate and produce this initiative, OZ Art™ appointed Justkids, an award-winning, multi-disciplinary, and women-led art platform specialized in public art. They actively collaborate with cities, community organizations, sensible brands and institutional spaces internationally.
“ARkanvas will offer Arkansas residents and visitors a joyous visual escape,” said Charlotte Dutoit, founder of Justkids. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with OZ Art™ and Unexpected to help communities come together through art and cherish their home region’s natural beauty.”
The Unexpected, another partner on the initiative, brings free and accessible art, education, and programs to Arkansas and Fort Smith. Produced by the nonprofit 64.6 Downtown, they create opportunities for a healthy and sustainable creative economy. The Unexpected and 64.6 Downtown have been recognized for their excellence in programming, including the Governor’s Arts Awards for Community Tourism Development and Community Arts Development.
This is not the first time Justkids and the Unexpected have worked together to deliver public art to Arkansas. Over the course of five years, they have brought more than 35 pieces of artwork into public spaces, including the Rainbow Embassy, a 360-degree takeover at an abandoned house in Fort Smith by Okuda San Miguel, and a mural depicting an owl by Alexis Diaz on the historic former Mountain Inn building in downtown Fayetteville.
The ARkanvas project may be followed on Instagram @OZArtNWA and on its website www.Arkanvas.com. OZ Arts™ Facebook page is OZArtNWA.
OZ Art™ brings together a network of art, artists, events, and experiences throughout Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas. Founded in 2017 in the hometown of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and The Momentary, OZ Art™ supports the regional art scene with its collection displayed throughout Bentonville and by collaborating with regional arts organizations. Exploration is a way of life in Bentonville. OZ Art™ brings the newest form of adventure and culture that you don’t want to miss.