Murals are everywhere in the District, and there’s a city project dedicated to making sure of that. MuralsDC began in 2007 as an anti-graffiti initiative of the D.C. Department of Public Works, and it has been focused on adding to the city’s mural collection ever since. According to another local organization, DC Murals (no connection), the city has about 200 outdoor murals. Sixty-three are DPW works. They make the District ripe for all kinds of enterprising street art tours. Mural lovers can certainly curate their own adventures.
Four new DPW works went up in the U Street NW area late last year. They vary in style and theme. “In painting our murals ... we try to stay true to the personality and character of the neighborhood,” says MuralsDC coordinator Nancee Lyons.
The mural on the condominium at 1210 V St. NW features two young women, seemingly of different races, facing one another. The artist, Alberto Clerencia, who lives in Spain, has painted a bar covering the young women’s eyes. The work is a commentary on judging people by the “content of their character,” says a MuralsDC news release.
The mural at 624 T St. NW is focused on District life and history. Created by local artists Kate DeCiccio and Rose Jaffe, it presents seven portraits of jazz legends. The billiards motifs? In U Street’s Black Broadway days — when the area was the center of African American business, intellectual and cultural life in the District — 624 T St. was a pool hall. It was frequented by the D.C. native, composer and musician Duke Ellington, who is among those featured in the mural.
Michael Crossett and Skyler Kelly’s work at 2017 11th St. NW is a modernistic tribute to music and to U Street itself. Its drippy “S” in “U Street” is graffiti-inspired.
Airbrush artist Kaliq Crosby’s portrait of Winnifred and William Lee of Lee’s Flowers (1026 U St. NW) celebrates the entrepreneurs and their legacy. The Lees opened their shop in 1945 at 918 U St. NW, then moved to the current address in 1968. With its vibrant colors, the mural honors what has endured on U Street through the years.