Murals have transformed the streets into canvases in 2020. Will Watson, a Baltimore-based artist, wanted to make sure his own street mural echoed the messages of the many others seen throughout the country this year. At Topside Outside, a new outdoor dining space at Hotel Revival in Mount Vernon, Watson’s mural opens with a Black fist raised high in the air.
“I wanted the mural to speak directly to the Black Lives Matter street murals, without the literal text,” says Watson. The resulting mural, Watson’s largest to date, does just that while also honoring many elements and landmarks of Baltimore: the iconic park bench, the Washington Memorial (also visible just steps from the restaurant), a raven, and more. The mural, stretching across the seating area of the outdoor restaurant, is vibrant and colorful – a signature of Watson’s work.
Watson is an artist and activist from Indianapolis now living in Baltimore. As can be seen from his new mural, Watson often integrates his activism into his art. Watson earned a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis, Herron School of Art and Design. He has been featured in galleries in Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Rhode Island and more.
“I felt honored to be called upon for such a unique project idea,” says Watson of being asked by Hotel Revival directly to create the mural. “I enjoy using as many colors as possible, and for this piece I wanted to up the vibrancy and emotion with color to reflect the energy of this city.” Guests can now dine atop Watson’s mural, enjoying meals with a striking homage to Baltimore City at their feet. The hotel is also displaying a selection of Watson’s artwork in their first floor throughout the month of September.
Watson’s work can also be currently seen in BOPA’s “B2020” Virtual Exhibition, available here until October 31, 2020. “B2020” is an art exhibition presenting the best of emerging talent based and creating in Baltimore City, delivering curated voices in tune with Black Lives Matter. The theme is a presentation of Black, Male and Body. “B2020” honors the 1994 landmark exhibition “Black Male” at the Whitney Museum of American Art curated by Thelma Golden. Watson’s artwork in the exhibition includes two pieces of mixed media and oil on canvas.
The “B2020” Virtual Exhibition was part of BOPA’s Art in August programming, a month-long celebration of arts experiences. Art in August also featured virtual artist talks, an online artists’ market, virtual DJ nights and small, in-person Artist Pop-Up Galleries. Watson kicked off Art in August as the first artist participating in the Pop-Ups. The Artist Pop-Ups were developed by BOPA alongside Hot Sauce Artist Collective, a group of talented Baltimore-based artists. Along with Watson, the Pop-Ups featured the work of Baltimore artists AMBROSE, Marie Amegah, Italo De Dea and McKinley Wallace III.
After kicking off our month-long celebration of the arts in August, Watson continues to shine into September by bringing his trademark color and vibrancy to Hotel Revival. Learn more about Will Watson here and make sure to visit Topside Outside at Hotel Revival for dinner, drinks and table-side art.