Dallas Morning News Story on the 7th Street Mural Project

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Jaslin Gamez created a Virgin Mary in yellow, green, brown and pink. Asher Roberts smeared brown paint on yellow as background for a guitar. Jose Campos contributed an orange race car with a trail of flames.

Just like that, the Seventh Street mural project began taking shape Saturday morning in north Oak Cliff.

In the days ahead, 11 muralists will have their say on walls along Seventh west of the Bishop Arts District. Project organizers see the outdoor art as a possible deterrent to graffiti taggers and a way to enliven an area they would like to make more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

The plan is to have most of the murals in place by the Oak Cliff Art Crawl, April 10-11.

On Saturday, 36 young artists joined the party.

“I’m impressed. There’s some good stuff,” said Steve Cruz, project organizer.

The students used 20 colors and worked on fiberboard donated by Cruz.

Owner of the Mighty Fine Arts gallery, Cruz painted the 24-by-24-inch boards black to help the colors pop out and the youngsters to better visualize their work. Next week he plans to mount the works on the wall facing Seventh Street behind ABC Party Headquarters, 1414 W. Davis St.

The idea is to keep the paintings up for a couple of years and then replace them with others in a sort of rotating show, he said. Because the property lies in the Winnetka Heights Historic District, its walls can’t have permanent murals.

Saturday’s artists attend four elementary schools in Oak Cliff: Rosemont, Peabody, Kahn and Winnetka. They came with colorful sketches and quickly, attentively took to the boards, outlining their work with pencils. In time, some wore their paint.

Armed with a ruler, Jesus Ramirez sat seriously measuring and erasing, measuring and erasing to get a circle correctly situated on his square.

The Peabody fifth-grader’s sketch featured a kaleidoscopic blend of blues, reds, purples and pinks inside the circle with flames, stars and lightning bolts around its perimeter.

So what does Jesus call it? “I don’t really know,” he said grinning. “I was trying to draw a soccer ball, but I came up with that.”

When told his work will be mounted on a wall for others to see, Jesus was impressed and to the point: “Wow.”

Anthony Trujillo and his father, Derrek Benoit, collaborated on an orange heart, red and green peace symbol, yellow happy face, and powder blue and brown guitar.

“I’ve been tracing it for him, and he fills it in,” Benoit said.

“I did all the coloring,” said Anthony, a Rosemont second-grader.

Azarely Ramirez first outlined a circle on her board and wrote “Love” all around it. Her sketch called for a peace symbol as well, colored red, yellow, green and purple.

Asked about her creation, the Peabody fourth-grader said: “I say our world has to know we are not supposed to fight. And we should love each other.

“That’s what we were made for.”