Popular Hollywood muralist Tristan Eaton believes “public art has the ability to inspire and transform our communities.” And while his latest piece in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, TX may not carry the same name value as his vaunted 2020 piece “Now and Forever” on its surface, the collage captures much of the rich history of Deep Ellum and does great justice in honoring the neighborhood’s longstanding – and still enduring – contributions to Black Americana.
Standing nine stories high and covering an 8,500-square-foot area of Dallas’ new office building, The Stack, Eaton’s mural is secured through the next ten years and meant to spark deep conversation about Deep Ellum’s legacy through the next decade. “I only have one setting, which is over the top, everything I can muster, working as hard as I can, bringing all the detail and love I can into the project,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “When you’re driving down the street and see it for three seconds, I want it to have a visual impact. But I want there to be a lot more there for people who spend the time and look into it.”
For his research, Eaton toured Dallas’ Fair Park, where he visited The Women’s Building and The Hall of State, which demanded the incorporation of the classic Texas star to his art. However, as he learned more about Juneteenth and the North Star’s importance for escaped slaves, he moved towards using a Black cowgirl with her gaze fixated upon the star.
The mural also honors other Deep Ellum heroes and sprinkles them in various ways throughout the art. A portion of it actually references four older murals by Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas that were on Dallas’ Hall of Negro Life before the hall was destroyed in 1937. William Sidney Pittman, Dallas’ first Black architect, is also featured in the collage, as are blues legend Huddie William Ledbetter (better known as Lead Belly) and R&B genius Erykah Badu. Eaton even took the step of reaching out to UGK’s Bun B about working on the mural.
“Very proud of the final result of my #DEEPELLUM mural,” Eaton captioned on his IG post about the mural. “A lot of work went into the design & conceptualization of this one. Thank you, @goldmanglobalarts & @jessicagoldmansrebnick for making this happen!”
Please make sure to list Eaton’s new mural as one of the “Places You Must See” during your next visit to the Lone Star State, and learn more about Deep Ellum’s place in African American history.