By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
What began as a blank canvas with the words “GIVE ME COLOR” painted in white, soon became a colorful piece of art on Saturday.
Redpath Creative and the office of District 5 Councilor Darrell O’Quinn partnered to turn a large blank wall at 1316 1st Ave. North in downtown Birmingham into a historic group mural project. Hundreds turned out during the day to paint, draw and create on the wall.
Despite threatening weather the turnout was impressive, said O’Quinn.
“Tons of people showed up,” he said. “I got there about 12:30 and there were already maybe 100 people there. People came and went all day long.”
Marcus Fetch, owner of Redpath, came up with the idea for Birmingham Color Wall this past winter after area residents asked how they could help with his murals around town which are in Woodlawn, Avondale and downtown Birmingham.
“It’s been difficult to get everybody involved,” he said. “That’s when I spoke to [Darrell O’Quinn] about finding . . . a color wall of Birmingham. I wanted everybody of all ages to be able to come out and paint. No set design just let them come and see what happens.”
About 600 people came to the event, he said.
Downtown Birmingham has revitalized and mural adds to its rebirth, Fetch said.
“With its resurrection, public art is very important because it makes the city stand apart from every other city in the country,” he said. “Every city is known for something, and this gives our city character. And I love it.”
O’Quinn said he thinks public art, especially in places that don’t otherwise get any attention, add to the vibrancy of those areas.
“I think it’s something that’s relatively low-cost and easy to do that can brighten up a neighborhood and draw some interest that those areas wouldn’t get,” he said. “With this particular project it was done in such a way that the entire community could come out and be a part, contribute to that type of artwork that adds vibrancy. The project not only added vibrancy in terms of being a piece of public art but also in its creation that it brought a bunch of people together to do something fun.”
The diversity of people who came out was also impressive, he said.
“It drew in people who may have never come the 1300 block of 1st Avenue North,” he said. “In addition, it drew people from the immediate surrounding areas. I talked to residents from College Hills, Smithfield . . . it was really diverse in terms of the spectrum of ages too. We had small children, seniors, a bunch of young people, high school and college kids especially were out there in large numbers.”
Fetch was also impressed by the number of people who turned out.
“I wanted as many people as possible to come out and experience creating public art and creating a new land mark in town,” Fetch said. “The response was awesome.”
O’Quinn talked about the “lasting impact” of the art.
“The artwork is going to remain there for a long time and will continue to have an impact for the foreseeable future; that really appeals to me,” he said.
He added, “I think public art is extremely valuable in terms of creating vibrancy. It draws people together and rather than simply bricks and mortar, public art gives the city some humanity. It shows that people live here, and we have emotions and things that are important to us that we speak about in the form of art.”
The Birmingham Color Wall has been a passion for a while and Fetch said he wants the series to continue.
“I hope we can do a couple of events each year that are all about public engagement and people are able to create these little landmarks in town and bring color to the city,” Fetch said. “I hope that maybe we can make Birmingham the city of color.”