The secret’s out. After watching Exit Through the Gift Shop on Netflix, we’re all die-hard Banksy fans. But how do we raise our kids to understand the difference between commissioned works of art and illegal graffiti? Follow the scent of fresh paint and check out our handy guide to the coolest pieces of kid-friendly public art in your neighborhood.
Art: The Traveling Man by Brad Oldham, Brandon Oldenburg and Reel FX Creative Studios
Where to see it: See Walking Tall at the corner of Good Latimer Expressway and Swiss Ave., Waiting on a Train at the corner of Good Latimer Expressway and Gaston Ave., and Awakening at the corner of Good Latimer Expressway and Elm St. in Dallas.
The basics: This $1.4 million, three-part sculpture series features a four-story robot and his stainless steel bird friends in a variety of positions that symbolically celebrate the neighborhood’s history and highlight its future.
Kid factor: At Waiting on a Train, kids can climb into the giant’s lap or sit on a “bench” created from a 15,000-pound portion of the torn down Deep Ellum tunnel entrance for an unmatched view of the city.
Learn more: bradoldham.com
Art: Untitled mural by Sour Grapes
Where to see it: See it on the wall at the foot of the Belmont Hotel at Fort Worth and Sylvan avenues in Oak Cliff. As there are no sidewalks, (slowly) drive by to see the mural and let kids snap pictures from the backseat.
The basics: Funded by the city in 2013, Sour Grapes, an Oak Cliff-based street crew, painted this 3-D-looking mural, which measures more than 60 feet long.
Kid factor: The playful piece features personified skyscrapers and pyramids, as well as the group’s signature Popsicle-shaped characters, surrounding the word “Dallas” in bold white letters. Be on the lookout for the Sour Grapes’ children’s coloring book coming out in May.
Learn more: sourgrapes13.com
Art: Untitled mural by Michael Sieban
Where to see it: 354 Singleton Blvd., Dallas. Near the Calatrava bridge entrance to Trinity Groves.
The basics: After being commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary last June, Sieban (an acclaimed graphic designer and managing editor of the national skateboarding magazine Thrasher) created this mural depicting two large bird-like creatures, using a distinctive style seen in campaigns he’s done for Adidas and Vans.
Kid factor: Kids will feel as if they’re on a scavenger hunt while looking for this piece, found on the side of an old building. While you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for additional murals by Shepard Fairey and FAILE. (They’re hard to miss.)
Learn more: msieben.com
Art: Harmony by Shepard Fairey.
Where to see it: 331 Singleton Blvd., Dallas.
The basics: Although he’s been in his fair share of trouble (16 arrests and a legal battle with the Associated Press), Fairey was commissioned by the Dallas Contemporary in 2012 to complete a series of (legal) murals throughout the city. Despite the controversy, his successes include the famous Barack Obama “Hope” poster and Obey clothing line.
Kid factor: This piece is emotional by nature and depicts the profile view of a woman wearing a peace sign necklace. Give kids a jump-start at interpreting art by asking them how they think she is feeling and what their idea of peace is.
Learn more: dallascontemporary.org
Art: Fountain Columns by Jesús Moroles
Where to see it: Irving Arts Center Sculpture Garden
The basics: Five large Dakota mahogany granite structures make up these majestic fountain columns created by the University of North Texas alumnus. See the pieces any time for free, as the columns are part of the permanent collection.
Kid factor: Kids can touch the textured sides and feel the constant flow of water running down the column’s sides. On your way out, look along the Sculpture Garden wall for the Irving Centennial Mural, created by Francisco Mendoza and Irving students.
Learn more: irvingartscenter.com
Art: Sunday Skaters by Archie St. Claire
Where to see it: At 601 S. Main St. in Grapevine
The basics: Commissioned by the city in 2006, this four-piece sculpture set features three children on roller skates, a small dog and a historic fence.
Kid factor: Made entirely from bronze, the life-size pieces create a variety of fun photo ops for kids. Take a walk along the rest of the Grapevine Public Art Trail, located between the Cotton Belt Depot and Northwest Highway, to see more than 25 pieces of public art, including many more life-size bronze sculptures depicting characters and scenes from Grapevine’s history.
Learn more: grapevinetexasusa.com
Art: Untitled mural by Mick Burson
Where to see it: 227 W. Oak St., Suite 101, Denton
The basics: Completed in 2012 (with the building owner’s permission) by a young artist (and college student at the time), this mural features a series of stacked buildings with different shaped roofs and windows. Locals often use the bright, multicolored painting as a backdrop for photo shoots.
Kid factor: Stop by for a game of I Spy or let kids pick out their favorite house. Spark imaginations while you pretend to enter and exit the tiny houses. Down the street, see more of Burson’s 3-D-style art on the exterior walls of Denton Camera Exchange.
Learn more: mickburson.com
Art: Tabachin Ribbon by Yvonne Domenge
Where to see it: On the Municipal Plaza in downtown Fort Worth
The basics: Recently donated to the city by the Mexican artist, this piece was previously on display for a year and a half in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Kid factor: Kids will feel as if they’ve shrunk when standing next to the 13-foot carbon steel sculpture, resembling a giant abstract sphere. The grand 6,000-pound figure was named after a native Madagascar tree and will entice visitors of all ages to trace its intertwining loops in search of the sculpture’s beginning and end.
Learn more: fwpublicart.org
Art: Parking in Color by PhenomenArts Inc., Christopher Janney
Where to see it: Fort Worth Convention Center Parking Garage, 1200 Houston St.
The basics: This piece of large-scale environmental artwork is comprised of colored glass on each corner of the building and a multicolored, fin-shaped sculpture on one side. In sunlight, the sculpture’s reflection paints the building’s surface. At night, its panels are lit by a series of LED fixtures.
Kid factor: Hop inside the 11-story elevator tower to experience another element of the installation: a “soundscape.” On the way up, kids can hear the sounds of crickets, birds and rodeo resonances.
Learn more: fwpublicart.org
Published March 2015