Brazilian muralists make ‘Unexpected’ return to downtown Fort Smith

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,944 views 

The mural created in 2015 by Bicicleta Sem Freio in downtown Fort Smith.

Brazilian mural artists Bicicleta Sem Freio will return to Fort Smith to kick off spring with a new mural installation for The Unexpected. The duo will create a new mural on the same downtown Fort Smith wall they used in 2015.

Bicicleta Sem Freio unveiled “Catira” in the 800 block of Garrison during the The Unexpected’s inaugural mural festival in 2015. The Catira is a typical dance from the interior area of Brazil that is performed by ranchers and farmers.

The work is part of a “spring popup event” that leads into the 64.6 Downtown’s Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series, which will feature a lineup of music artists who will perform at the Riverfront Amphitheater at 6 p.m. each Thursday from May 11 to June 8 and a fall series at 6 p.m. each Saturday Sept. 2-30.

Translating to “bicycles without brakes” in English, Bicicleta Sem Freio is a Brazilian design and illustration duo typified by highly-expressive line work and expansive color palettes often juxtaposing surreal forms with marine life, phantoms, kaleidoscopic flesh work, and classic rock n’ roll iconography, according to The Unexpected website. In addition to their large-scale outdoor works across the United States, Europe and Brazil, they have collaborated with brands such as Nike, Absolute, Converse, and Vans.

“We are really excited to see what they bring,” said Unexpected Director Claire Kolberg said about the new work by Bicicleta.

Arkansas mural artist Jason Jones, who has helped many of the artists who have participated in the Fort Smith mural art project, will be another feature artist in the spring popup event, Kolberg said. Jones will complete a mural activation on the Habitat for Humanity building in the 400 block of Towson Avenue. The artists are coming into Fort Smith Monday and Tuesday (April 17-18) and should begin their artworks around April 19.

“They will be getting started by the middle of the week, so definitely by the  weekend people can go out and see what they are doing,” Kolberg said. “We’re hoping people will print off the maps, go and see the other installations and also see what these artists are doing.”

Produced by the non-profit 64.6 Downtown since 2015, The Unexpected brings free and accessible art, education and programs to Arkansas and Fort Smith. 64.6 Downtown is funded and created by Propak founder Steve Clark. Over the years, The Unexpected has featured a variety of artists.

64.6 Downtown announced the lineup for its Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series earlier this month. The organization received a $90,000 grant from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation to continue the outdoor music series it has held the last two years for another three years, 64.6 Downtown Executive Director Talicia Richardson announced last fall. The family-friendly concerts at the Riverfront Park in downtown feature a variety of music genres and are designed to bring free, accessible and inclusive music to the community, Richardson said.

Following is this year’s concert schedule.
May 11
Allison Grace followed by headliner Brother Maven, an original three-piece American Rock/Soul band, a band that draws from sounds of the 70’s and 80’s like the Eagles, The Doobie Brothers and Michael Jackson

May 18
Kemistri featuring Nicky Parrish, who include R&B, gospel, neo soul, country, blues, hip-hop reggae and salsa in their lineup

May 25
Big Sam’s Funky Nation, known for a boisterous blend of funk, jazz, rock, and hip-hop

June 1
Duo Divina, an Arkansas-based duo that draws influence from artists like ABBA, Selena, Juan Gabriel, and the tropical genre

June 8
Saving Escape, a band known for bluesy riffs, thunderous bass and drums and strong vocals that draws influence from prominent rock bands in history

The fall lineup of five more concerts will be announced at a later date. The concerts are free and open to the public. There will be food/drink vendors, a KidsZone, and a vendor Makerspace area at the concerts.