BY MARIA D. JAMES — Neighbors, city leaders — even children — rolled up their sleeves to take part in “Bursting on the Scene,” the community mural event hosted by the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (CDC) on Saturday, May 20.
Residents were invited to paint with professional muralists Cory Stowers and Henry Portillo of ART BLOC DC, to create two paint-by-numbers murals on the underpass at the West Hyattsville Metro Station. The event was initially scheduled for Saturday, May 13, but was rescheduled to May 20 due to rain. “Bursting on the Scene” is the original design by Stowers and Portillo, with vibrant, space-warping geometric forms: arrows, stars, psychedelic waves, and telephone poles. The artists’ designs were chosen by juried selection from a pool of 28 submissions by 18 area artists.
“This is significant for me because this is my first sanctioned public arts project,” said Stowers. “It’s also pretty cool because Henry Portillo, who is the designer, has been my student for almost 10 years and this is his first public commission.”
For Stowers, watching the mural come together was an interesting process as he typically only works with his team at ART BLOC DC and not community volunteers.
“We made this particular design as a paint-by-numbers design, and it seems to have really worked out well. People [are] coming in, picking up, and contributing to the final product,” said Stowers.
His student and mural designer Portillo could be seen helping volunteers with a wide toothy grin. His look of pride was for a reason.
“Its been a childhood dream,” said Portillo. “Watching the volunteers … it’s exciting and sorta unreal.”
As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, the CDC reported over 423 people had stopped by. That number included people who came by to ask about the mural, those who paused to enjoy the festivities and those who offered to help paint.
Those who stopped by to paint finished the community portion of the mural. The artists Stowers and Portillo will come in at a later date and add the finishing details.