ArtBeat, CSU commission mural by Atlanta-based HENSE

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 10, 2014 

A giant mural has sprung up in downtown Columbus.

At 1211 Broadway, just north of 12th Street, there is a two-story brick-red wall that faces a parking lot that is now covered is shades of blue, yellow, pink and purple.

It’s the work of Atlanta artist Alex Brewer, better known as HENSE, the noted muralist and “reformed” graffiti artist.

Since 2010, Brewer has produced several commissioned works for the city of Atlanta. Last April, he debuted a nearly 24,000 square-foot mural in Peru.

Together with Columbus State University, ArtBeat commissioned Brewer for its annual, community-wide celebration of the arts.

“We’re really interested in supporting a lot of different forms,” said ArtBeat Chair Helen Johnson.

Johnson said there was no objection from the city and its Uptown Facade Board in getting approval for the project.

ArtBeat 2013 focused on the theme “Arts in the Streets.” It featured Sarah Kent Butler and included an installation called the “Before I Die ...” Wall, where citizens wrote in their dreams on a large chalkboard.

This year’s ArtBeat begins March 13.

Brewer came down to Columbus last Friday; weather permitting, he expects the mural to be finished by week’s end.

Brewer was intially approached last year, but bureaucratic and budget concerns bumped the date, he said.

“To be honest, it worked out for the best, to push it to this year,” he said.

His canvas, as it were, is owned by Developers-Investors, Inc., a subsidiary of W. C. Bradley Co., according to city tax records.

Following a site visit in December and a lot of looking at photographs, Brewer modeled some preliminary ideas in Photoshop.

“I’ve been doing that every night,” Brewer said. “I’ll go back after a day’s work and I’ll just mess around on the computer and try and get ideas. But it never really turns out that way — I just kind of play with different concepts of color and line and shape and form.”

The surface and site specificity are also important.

“In this case it’s brick, I like the way the paint is hitting the brick — it’s got kind of an interesting texture,” Brewer said.

Monday afternoon, much of the wall was covered with paint and what Brewer called “spontaneous mark-making.”

People were drawn in from the street by the the size and vibrancy: Brewer said he had more than 35 gallons of paint for the project, including several shades of several colors, such as yellow and blue.

The untitled work will be exhibited indefinitely, Brewer said. The trick is to produce something both intimate and imitable — a mural this large has be worth being seen from several blocks away.

“A lot of what this piece is about is also education,” Brewer said, “bringing something to the area that maybe is a newish idea.”

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