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event-armed-forces

“Basically, as the title of the wall means, we would like people to step beyond their own personal boundaries.”
~ Peter Krsko, 30, director of Albus Cavus

Over a three week period in August, five artists and 40 apprentices from the city's Summer Youth Employment Program spray-painted a two story crumbling retaining wall behind Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center in Northeast Washington.  Spanning the length of a city block, what was once ignored by Red Line commuters will be seen as a vibrant streak across a familiar landscape leading to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro stop. Those on foot, who live in or pass through the Edgewood neighborhood, will see it up close: whirling figures, rich hues sprayed up and down its 20-foot height, a rolling progression of five artistic visions sharing one 275-foot-long wall.

"The artwork is just amazing," says Wayne Sumpter, 52, who lives on nearby Channing Street and cuts behind the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center nearly every day. "It definitely gets your attention. It wakes you up. When I come through here I'm not thinking about a lot, but the wall stopped me. It pulls you to it."

The mural, titled "From Edgewood to the Edge of the World," will pull focus from many directions, from many kinds of people. People will see it from the Metro, the parking lot, the train tracks, as they return home to the Edgewood Terrace public housing complex, as they use the Metropolitan Branch Trail, a planned bike-and-walking path that will skirt the mural on its way from Silver Spring to Union Station. "People now stop in this area where typically they cut through," says District artist Quest Skinner, who is one of five professionals contributing to the mural. "It changes your environment. Your environment can be luscious even in the darkest of times…”

These five artists and 40 apprentices from the city's Summer Youth Employment Program spray-painted in both the midday August heat and the glow of car headlights at night. They whitewashed the wall, chalked up a grid, projected images to sketch, tugged scaffolding, slapped on face masks, showered color over concrete, then sat on a curb to soak up the progress. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities partnered with the youth employment program and Albus Cavus, a nonprofit artist collective and mentoring program, to transform the wall and engage local youth.

"Historically, this was the edge of the known world for Washingtonians," says Peter Krsko, 30, director of Albus Cavus. But they "were not afraid to step beyond the border, beyond the edge, and discover something new and exciting and make the city large and more prosperous. Basically, as the title of the wall means, we would like people to step beyond their own personal boundaries."


Excerpts taken from the Washington Post article, Let Us Spray by Dan Zak, Washington Post Staff Writer; Sunday, August 23, 2009.