Last year I found a mural outside of our partner Louisville Visual Art’s office that read “You Are Here.” Such a simple phrase, and yet it meant so much to me in that moment, because it felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be: applying my passion for public art to my work, producing murals for a national campaign with Google Fiber.
The goal of this project was to create community-building activations in celebration of Fiber’s expansion to several new cities: Louisville, Nashville, Kansas City, San Antonio, Austin and Huntsville. After tapping into the cultural nuances of each community, we quickly noticed that each city Fiber selected had a unique and booming art culture, where artists connect with the world and each other via social media and the Internet. A series of murals felt like the perfect way to connect a digital product to active community members in an organic way they were already familiar with.
It’s rare to be able to pursue your passions through work — for me, the timing of this project couldn’t have been better. For a little over a year now, I’ve been building my side hustle as a “pupfluencer,” taking photos of my dog Watson in front of murals. What started as a fun creative outlet has grown into a deep passion of mine. I’ve met artists, fellow mural hunters, and am even in the process of producing a mural with the esteemed Ruben Rojas for a non-profit. And so — it felt extremely serendipitous to have the opportunity to bring Google Fiber’s brand and customers into the street art world.
The combined powers and knowledge of local Fiber teams, art organizations, artists, small business owners, and policymakers brought an authentic gift to life for six different U.S. cities. To share what we were able to create together and to celebrate everyone who made this project possible, I’ve compiled our collection of murals below, along with more information about the people who made them and the locations where the artwork lives.
Partner: Louisville Visual Art
The team at Louisville Visual Art is entrenched in the art scene of Louisville, running art classes, gallery showings, and events. Aside from our work together, they’ve pledged to create 10 murals per year throughout the city to help brighten up the community.
Carlos Gamez de Fancisco
Carlos is a Cuban immigrant who landed in Louisville and made it his home for the past 10 years. In his proposal, he mentioned that “the city opened its doors to me and gave me the opportunity of developing my artistic career.” He was awarded the Key to the City in 2012, and saw this mural as a gift back to them. Pulling from the city’s diverse history, his artwork gives visibility to the most important features of the people of Louisville: acceptance, respect, and tolerance to others.
Carlos’ mural is at the Nitty Gritty, a popular vintage shop in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville. Nitty Gritty is a Louisville staple; the owner Terri has lived in Louisville her whole life. The mural is right across from Hound Dog Press, a letterpress store also born and bred in Louisville.
New mom and local art teacher, Liz chose to highlight the river that runs through Louisville and the flowers that bloom by it. Her husband and son visited the mural daily, which was a treat to witness as the last time she painted a mural she was newly pregnant with her son.
A recent college graduate, Carrie works as a designer at the Speed Art Museum, and this was her first mural. She worked closely with Larry from The Table to make sure the design felt right for such a community landmark. She also worked with esteemed sign painter Kirby Stafford, who has painted several of Carrie’s favorite murals in Louisville.
The Table, where Carrie’s mural is located, is a “pay what you can” restaurant that is inclusive to people from all walks of life. The Table is connected to the Church of the Promise, also started by Larry and his wife, which runs community programs for local children and members. Larry believes deeply in the Promise of Louisville, and the neighborhood of Portland in particular.
Partner: Nashville Walls Project
Nashville Walls Project is the mural scene of Nashville. Owners Brian and Eva produced the documentary“Saving Banksy” (check it out on Netflix!), and are plugged into the art community both in and outside of the city. If you see a fabulous mural in Nashville, it’s likely NWP was in on it.
Former producer turned mural artist, Nathan knows what a “selfie-worthy” mural looks like. From working with Jason Woodside on the huge Gulch mural, Nathan loves to work in bright colors. He’s lived in Nashville for most of his life, and knows a lot about the community (Nathan took us to our favorite restaurant of the trip, Rolf & Daughters).
Nathan’s mural is at Five Points Pizza, right smack dab in the Five Points area of Nashville. This restaurant and to-go pizzeria is a neighborhood staple, with a 24/7 line around the block.
When driving around Nashville, it’s hard to miss the figurative line drawings and geometric designs of a Chris Zidek mural. A Lyft driver of mine was telling me about his favorite murals in Nashville, and half of them were by Chris.
His mural is painted outside of Whiskey Kitchen, a delicious restaurant run by the M Street Group, right down the street from the Google Fiber office. M Street Group owns several spots in this area of the Gulch, just steps away from the famous Kelsey Montague wings and Biscuit Love.
WHAT Creative (Jake)
Fresh off a trip to Japan, Jake from WHAT Creative brought the concept of origami cranes and a wish for peace into his design. The WHAT Creative team most famously painted the quilt mural in partnership with local Nashville kids.
This mural is at the Global Education Center, a Nashville community center with a mission absolutely aligned with this project: to educate and train the community in anti-bias/multicultural education through the arts. The Community Center is located in Charlotte Park, a neighborhood with access to Fiber Internet.
📍Kansas City, KS
For our Kansas City mural series, we worked closely with Mattie Rhodes: a KC-based organization centered around youth development programs, cultural arts programs, mental health services and community development work. We were also aided by MAPIT, the KC government’s Mural Arts Program Inspiring Transformation, which is a partnership between the City of Kansas City, MO and the Mattie Rhodes Center. Both organizations’ in depth knowledge of the art scene in Kansas City were invaluable to the project.
JT teaches art classes to people with disabilities in the KC community, helping them show and sell their artwork. He’s also the official Quality Assessor for a local mural arts program, simultaneously working as a youth mentor in Jackson County.
JT’s mural is at the Gem Theater. This KC Staple was built in 1912 as a silent movie theater serving Kansas City’s African American population. When Mayor Richard Berkley and then City Councilman Emanuel Cleaver spearheaded the revitalization of 18th & Vine in the 1980s, the Gem Theater became a centerpiece of the district’s renovation efforts. Not to mention it’s right across the street from the American Jazz Museum, which is definitely worth a visit.
📍San Antonio, TX
Partner: Nashville Walls Project
Nashville Walls Project connected us to street artist and founder of ArtSlam, Rob Perez, to bring three murals to life in San Antonio. Art Slam was a bi-monthly music art festival that took place in the city, where Rob originally met one of our local mural artists, Nik (more on him below).
Having grown up in Central Texas, Johnny’s giant mural was an homage to the city, incorporating all sorts of elements from San Antonio’s culture. He is extremely active in the arts community, participating in Art Fairs around the globe and continuing to cover walls throughout Central Texas. He also illustrates his work on clothing, zines, and much more.
Johnny’s mural is on the former Korova building, a famous local music venue that has since closed.
Taylor — a.k.a. FEMS — has been working in the arts for several years, and is working towards a degree in art and science. She is strongly influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e prints, although she shows quite a range in her work. This was her first mural, accomplished in acrylic.
Taylor’s mural is on Galvan’s Barber Shop, locally known for great haircuts and good deals, accompanied by free beers. It’s also right by Hi-Tones, a popular San Antonio bar.
Nik “Soup” Soupe (Los Otros)
Nik “Soup” Soupe is a legend in the mural community, representing one half of the painting duo Los Otros with partner David “Shek” Vega. Nik enjoys painting his murals live, and considers the audience an integral part of the creative process.
Nik’s mural is on a local management firm, Facility RX. This wall on St. Mary’s street caught his eye early on as a perfect spot for a tribute to local musician, Lonely Horse. Since our project, Nik has painted the other side of this building too.
Similar to Nashville Walls Project, SprATX is the mural scene in Austin. They’ve got an incredible roster of mural artists to work with, and a wide reach in the mural community for videography, building owners, and supplies. Business partners Molly and Heath built SprATX from the ground up into a well known art collective in the area.
Zuzu is a yoga instructor and an extremely popular mural artist in Austin. She participates in every local mural festival, paints murals for all the top brands, and works closely with SprATX regularly. She’s lived in Austin ever since getting her degree from UT, and swears to never leave. Her concept for this project was a fresh twist on the popular local phrase, “Keep Austin Weird.”
Zu’s mural is on a vacant building that regularly rotates street art. All 4 sides are filled and we were fortunate enough to get the largest side when it opened up. It’s just steps away from the historic 6th Street area in the heart of Downtown Austin.
Mike Truth Johnston
Truth has previously worked with Google Fiber, creating a mural for their office and a wrap design for their vans. A true Southern Gentleman, Mike has deep roots in Austin, especially in the art community. For this piece, Mike drew inspiration from all his favorite things about Austin.
His mural is featured outside the Google Fiber space in downtown, where you can check out what a home looks like equipped with Google Fiber. There are also free wifi and work spaces available.
Mila was born in Russia but her heart resides in Austin, where her mural and art career really took off. Her vibrant style and willingness to dig into a subject made her a true pleasure to work with.
Mila’s mural is on Encore Records, which inspired her design. For over 30 years, this East 6th Street record shop has one of the best selections of metal and hardcore music in Austin.
Our program last year was so successful, that we’ve expanded to one additional city so far in 2018.
Partner: Arts Huntsville
Arts Huntsville is a local non-profit that serves the Huntsville/Madison County residents and children through art programs and events. They have a lot of experience producing murals for large brands, including Whole Foods and The Kroger Co, as well as many local connections in Huntsville ranging from policymakers to building owners.
Robert is a local Huntsville art teacher and adjunct professor, also working as an artist full time. He believes that all people can benefit by becoming more engaged in the arts and the creative process — his entire family helped paint the interactive mural with him.
Robert’s mural is on the John Blue Realty building, in the heart of the Huntsville arts district. The company itself is a local realtor office, but their building is a staple in the community, hosting a farmer’s market on the weekends.
Jahni’s vision stems from his experience growing up in the rocket city, and in the buckle of the southern bible belt — strong Christian training mixed with existentialism and Afrocentricity. Jahni has served as an educator for many years, teaching art from kindergarten to university. Some of his students participated in painting his mural.
This mural is on the side of the brewery Straight to Ale at Campus 805. The building itself used to be a school, but has since converted into a hub for food, drinks and activities in the Huntsville community.
Learn more about Jahni: Website | Instagram | YouTube | Facebook
Learn more about Straight to Ale: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
Learn more about Campus 805: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
To follow the evolution and growth of our murals project, check out Google Fiber on Twitter. Special thanks to our sensational videographer / photographer Emad Rashidi, and his production team at Self Diploma. SprATX met them at Murals in the Market by 1xRun in Detroit, and we immediately connected with their deep roots to the mural community. Our project lives on forever within their beautiful work.
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