The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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New 87 foot mural brightens Fine Arts Building

By Austin Ikard Alex Edwards

After returning from winter break, students walking through the Fine Arts Hall may have noticed a new piece of art accompanying them on their walk. This 87-foot mural, which features a bulldog surrounded by vibrant phrases, trees, and symbols, was created by a graffiti company known as the Color Cartel and has been in the works for a long time.

After receiving funding from the district specifically set aside for campus culture, a committee dedicated to using these funds decided to create a vinyl display on the previously blank wall of the fine arts hall. However, when searching for vendors, committee member and business teacher Wendy Thomspon got another idea.

“In the process of looking at vinyl vendors, I came across Color Cartel and their work is amazing, so I was like, it doesn’t hurt to throw them into the mix,” Thompson said. “It was more expensive but the work is so much more creative, and it got different people excited about it. It was by luck that we found them.”

Originally intended to be painted during the spring break of 2023, the project was continuously delayed until its eventual execution during the first week of January this year. The Color Cartel is a local graffiti company founded in 2011 by Andrew Horner, the designer and one of the artists behind Bowie’s newest piece of art.

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“With this mural, I wanted to bring in different energies for different people [and] different styles that represent graffiti all the way across,” Horner said. “I represented all the different formats of graffiti, threw in some characters, and made it a cohesive, nice experience, so when you walk all the way down that wall you get to have different moments with the piece.”

HANGING UP: Color Cartel founder Andrew “Apse” Horner shows how he sketches out his ideas in his studio by hanging up and down priority murals. (Austin Ikard)

Growing up constantly drawing and being exposed to graffiti, Horner decided to pick up a can of spray paint and give it a try himself.

“I would ride my bike through these tunnels in Arizona and I would just see graffiti everywhere,” Horner said. “I saw people leaving their mark and I decided to start leaving my own mark.”

Eventually, he chose to turn his lifelong recreational passion for graffiti into something more serious.

“In college, there was a night where I was painting on this tower, and it really hit me that I loved it and that it made the whole world simpler for me,” Horner said. “When I was painting graffiti in the middle of the night, everybody was asleep and I was climbing towers and doing graffiti. It just felt like every day I was playing on this chessboard, trying to make my moves, and at night I wasn’t playing that game anymore. That brought so much peace to me that I wanted to get really good at this, I wanted to be an artist, and I wanted this to be a big deal for me.”

Horner began the Color Cartel in 2011 as a brand for his art as well as to create commissioned murals, make clothing, host parties, and more. Since then, the company has worked with many different groups, like five-star hotels, restaurants, Tesla, Ducati, and as of last year, Bowie.

“The first thing that they did was tour the school, and he saw the big tree out front, he found out we had a farm, and that there was a cave under the school,” Thompson said. “He was so excited to do the project that they actually lowered the price for us, and he wants to be more involved in the school.”

This kicked off nearly a year of work that resulted in students and staff alike now having a chance to enjoy the new piece of art representing them and the school.

“The experience of working with Bowie was really clean,” Horner said. “The people there were very progressive-minded, they were very open to us using graffiti style which is something a lot of people think they want, but then some people chicken out, and Bowie didn’t so I really appreciated and respected that.”

This story was originally published on The Dispatch on March 22, 2024.