- Words and Photos by John Domine
On the Road: Dallas, TX
I had just ONE day to explore all that Dallas has to offer with regard to its street art scene. Let's just say, that is a VERY tall order, even for me. The one thing I learned is that it's true what they say. Everything IS bigger in Texas. And that goes for its street art as well. One day wasn't nearly enough to do this southern city justice, but with the time I had, I think I made the most of it.
Since I was staying at a hotel in the Downtown area, I set out from there on foot. Within a few minutes, I was rewarded with an enormously-beautiful composition of music and dance on a 26,000 square foot wall. Welcome to Dallas!
This beautiful piece by Chris Arnold is the perfect example of all things huge in Dallas.
It is located in the Downtown area, on North Pearl Street.
In addition to this big, beautiful wall, I discovered some other larger-than-life artworks in town. Keep your eyes open for some of the cool, giant robot sculptures by Brad Oldham nearby that will make you feel like Alice after consuming the "Drink Me" Potion.
Although there are a few other walls and sculptures to be found in Downtown, the shining star for the Dallas street art scene is in the area known as Deep Ellum. Located on the east side, it is a neighborhood which was developed just after the American Civil War and was originally called Deep Elm. It was largely occupied by former Black slaves and European immigrants. As such, it is one of the most historically-significant areas of the city.
Portrait of "Lightnin'" Hopkins and Lance Lipscomb, a couple of Texas' notable Blues musicians
Since that time, the neighborhood has undergone several incarnations and today is known for its thriving arts and music scene, together with the emergence of breweries, bars and restaurants which brings visitors from Greater Dallas and beyond.
Work by Jorge Gutierrez entitled "Viva Deep Ellum"
Many of the walls in Deep Ellum are curated by the 42 Mural Project. The degree of talent varies, but there is definitely something for everyone. In addition, there are also many other walls commissioned by local businesses. Here are some of my favorites.
While in Deep Ellum, make sure you stop in to the Pecan Lodge on Main Street for what I was told (and can now verify) to be the best barbecue in Dallas. I'm telling you, go! The food there is so delicious. I had no idea until I saw the long line pouring out the front door and asked a would-be patron what all the fuss was about.
I went with the "Three Meats & a Side" combo and selected the brisket, pork ribs and homemade pork sausage with jalapeño and cheddar, with a side of bacon mac & cheese. And of course, I washed it down with a local IPA. The ribs just fell off the bone and the brisket was tender, yet flavorful. I was a happy camper, even if I had just consumed half a pig before noon. I wasn't very hungry at 11 a.m., but somehow, I made it all disappear. Call me a barbecue magician if you like.
Of course, in Dallas, you need to follow up your meal with a healthy portion of dessert. (When in Rome, I always say.) Lucky for me, Emporium Pies was literally next door, a place I was told would "change your life". I went with their Nutty Honey slice (think peanut butter cream and honey on a graham cracker crust with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with crunchy nuts...yum) and a cup o' Joe.
Divine sweetness, for sure. It was worth the thousand-plus calories following the three thousand I piled on from the barbecue. I'd hit my daily calorie limit and then some in just one meal. Goal achieved.
Thankfully, I had more walls to find, so I still had time to burn it off (well, at least some of it).
If you don't consume your body weight in pork and peanut butter like I did and would rather not walk, you are in luck! Dallas has two different companies, Lime and Bird, who offer dockless motorized scooters that you will find scattered all over the city. And I mean all over. I saw two inverted in bushes and another hanging from a stop sign. But if you download the app, you will know exactly where to find them. Sure, you may have to climb Southern Live Oak to get one, but that's part of the fun! If you have limited time in the Big D as I did, this may be a quicker option than hoofing it.
As I mentioned, everything is big in Texas, and that goes for distances between art walls outside of the Deep Ellum neighborhood. This will save you a lot of time, especially under the heat of the Texas sun. Even though the walls may be scattered, there are definitely some that are worth the effort. Here are a few of my favorites further afield:
Colorful Einstein by Michael McPheeters at the Lorenzo Hotel
Beautiful bird by James Bullough at 830 1st Avenue
Work by Jules Muck and Renda Writer at 2651 Logan Street
Set Free. Work by James Bullough at 353 Singleton Blvd.
So, if you have just one day to explore the great city of Dallas, know that it IS possible for you to see some great walls and eat some mouth-watering barbecue. It may not be the smartest (or healthiest) thing to do, but it is definitely possible. Do yourself a favor and give Dallas a couple more days. I am sure there is much more beauty to be discovered. Besides, if you do try the barbecue, you will need a couple more days to walk it off!
What are you waiting for? Dallas is calling.
*Thanks to Brian for the wall tips and Ruth for the food recs. Both on point.