Detroit North End festival produces 20 murals, a return engagement

Robin Buckson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The BLKOUT Walls Mural Festival — a brainchild of Detroit artist Sydney G. James, Thomas "Detour" Evans of Denver and Max Sansing of Chicago — has inspired more than 20 murals in Detroit's North End neighborhood. 

The murals cover a wide variety of subject matter and include a plethora of colors. Seventy-five percent of the participants in the July festival and event producers were Black or people of color, representing Detroit's demographics. The artists were given a mural fee as well as food and lodging compensation.

"The inaugural festival was better than I could have ever dreamed,” James said. “The community groups and neighborhood showed the program and all the participating artists including 'drop-ins' so much love and support.”

The plan is for BLKOUT Walls to be held every two years in Detroit, he said. James is eyeing Oakland, Calif., for a 2022 festival and a return to Detroit in 2023.

“Every artist gave it their all and it shows in the work,” James said of the Detroit murals. “Beautiful friendships and connections were made, and it was just overall successful.”