EVANSTON — Over the space of a week, internationally known spray paint artist ARCY has completed a large mural of a train on a Main Street wall.
ARCY (also known as Ryan Christenson) began sketching out the design early last week and poured long, hard hours into the project. He said on Friday, June 23, after the mural was done, that it involved some 14-hour days and nearly 200 cans of spray paint.
Despite some nerves about whether he could finish it by 3 p.m. on Friday (when Urban Renewal planned to come see the finished product), he finished the mural around noon with plenty of time.
ARCY came to Evanston as part of his Wyoming tour; he is also scheduled to do work in Pinedale, Glenrock and again in Rock Springs this summer. He said that working in Wyoming is an interesting experience, as there is very little public art already in place and his graffiti-type style is especially a new thing for many cities and towns. Evanston’s particular mural, in fact, is the first large-scale work of public wall art in the city, and one of the larger walls — albeit certainly not the largest — that ARCY has done.
“It was right up my alley,” ARCY said. “You know, the bigger the better. … I can only get so small with my lines, and I’m a large-scale artist.”
Especially in Wyoming where cities and towns traditionally hold to Western values and art, ARCY chooses his colors carefully with the goal of matching the city’s atmosphere. When Urban Renewal first approached him about the project, he said, he looked up a lot of train pictures to create his own unique rendition in his style. He also avoided creating any one recognizable train.
“I wanted it to be left up to interpretation,” he said.
The train mural is an example of modern art with a historic subject and muted colors — a train depicted in shades of slate, sage, bronze, navy, shades of sunshine and steam set in front of the brick red of the Blyth and Fargo Co. General Merchandise wall opposite 1st Bank. The effect and artistic contrast is striking, but the colors and subjects are complementary (although ARCY said the near-perfect match was a coincidence).
The original wall was a blank gray canvas but is now a definite attention-grabber for locals and tourists alike. On Friday afternoon when Urban Renewal and 1st Bank representatives came to visit with ARCY and get some pictures, a red car with Utah plates was parked in front of the mural and some people slow-drove by or walked over to see the finished artwork.
ARCY said the paint needs no clear coat because it has sealants in it already, so it should last for several decades, although it will inevitably fade a little with time and sun exposure.
Evanston’s Urban Renewal paid for the project with funds raised at Brewfest and the Renewal Ball. Evanston City Clerk Amy Grenfell said the mural cost about $8,000.