No Blank Walls selected for DRA donation

by Rebecca Harrelson

The Art of Chase coming back to Greensboro.

Project backers announced this week that the Downtown Residents Association will become a founding sponsor for a mural project organized by the local arts initiative No Blank Walls.No Blank Walls started making creative ideas come to life in 2014. Founders Jeff Beck and Ryan Saunders brought their minds together to focus energy on bringing more street art to Greensboro. With temporary mural projects around the Triad area, different fundraising opportunities and many emails shared, finally a city known for its creative obstacles is giving credit where credit is due. Jeff Beck, local artist and Urban Grinders founder, alongside Ryan Saunders, founder of Create Your City, have been awarded a $5,000 donation through the Downtown Residents Association (DRA). Julia Cox, the Communication Chair for the DRA, spoke with YES! Weekly about the news. “The energy around the No Blank Walls project is very exciting and the Greensboro DRA is proud to be a founding sponsor,” Cox said. “All of our charitable efforts are put toward combating community deterioration, so this project was a great fit for us.” Beck, owner of the one and only street art coffee shop in Greensboro, is extremely excited to see what this opportunity creates for Greensboro and his new business. “No Blank Walls has been a vision of ours for a couple of years now,” Beck said. “By opening Urban Grinders on North Elm I hope to make UG the central hub for the No Blank Walls Mural Project. When local artists as well as out of town artists come to paint murals we want them to have receptions and artists talks here.”There was a project both Saunders and Beck mentioned often in their planning for No Blank Walls, a project in Atlanta they could mold their ideas after. Mónica Campana is the Co-Founder and Executive Director at Living Walls, the City Speaks in Atlanta, Georgia. Campana is coming to Greensboro to celebrate this opportunity and share her knowledge on how to rally a community and its city officials behind such projects. Beck said the grant will help fulfill a key element of his vision. “If you look at the impact that The Richmond Mural Project has had on the city of Richmond and it’s art scene that is the vibe that we are looking to bring here to Greensboro,” Beck said. “I have set up a business here and want to see the art, mural and public art scene thrive and I believe No Blank Walls and Urban Grinders can make that happen along with the help of other likeminded people in the city.”

The Art of Chase.

This news is being kicked off with a weekend full of fundraisers, meet and greets and of course the painting of a Greensboro wall located at 116 East Market St. Ryan Saunders is also the founder of a creative gathering called Dinner with a Side of Culture. It’s a dinner held each month that is open to the public and creative minds around the area. Those dinners are often related to Create Your City projects in Greensboro. The upcoming Dinner with a Side will be held in coordination with the DRA’s sponsorship. The muralist, The Art of Chase, will be painting the DRA sponsored mural at the end of November. The Art of Chase and Monica Campana will be in attendance for this dinner, bringing together ideas and conversation to get everyone’s creative juices flowing. On the morning of Dec. 1, Urban Grinders will hold a Create and Caffeinate with both the Art of Chase and Campana, followed by a closed private meeting with city officials and business owners. Also on Dec. 1, 1618 Downtown is hosting a happy hour for the public to mingle and chat more about upcoming projects in the Greensboro area. Later in the evening, there will be a reservation only fundraiser happening with 24 spots available in hopes to raise more funds for a specific mural project located right here in Greensboro. “Donations gathered during No Blank Walls fundraising will go directly to a larger mural project and festival event featuring six to eight artists over a consolidated two week period,” Saunders said. “All artists will be spread around the Greensboro area creating murals and street art.”The initiative’s closing party will commence on Dec. 4 at Urban Grinders. This First Friday show celebrates those involved in this creative adventure and their friends and families who have supported the arts here in Greensboro. Local artist Mitch Cook will unveil his solo art show in the top floor gallery, as well as his specialized Urban Grinders mural.