Note: As of 2018, this building boasts murals on all 4 sides.
“Beneath the Shell” by Michael Reeder is on the north side of the building at 1701 1st Avenue South, in the alley between 1st and Central Avenue. The wall is salmon pink, 30 feet wide and 14 feet tall.
The right half of the mural is taken up by two views of a giant face. The head is painted – sideways – as if an enormous man is lying on the ground, a man so big that his face is as tall as the building.
He’s looking up, past the building’s roof. The top half of his head, on the far right of the mural, has peachy plastic-looking skin and very short brown hair. His hair shines, and is parted on the left, the side closest to the ground. The part reveals his high forehead, the hair looks slick and plastic. His head casts a shadow of dark pink to the bottom right.
His eyes are ringed by shadows, black and empty, echoing a doll or mannequin. Below his blank, staring eyes is a chiseled nose, that’s cut off halfway by the skull, that joins his skin.
The bottom half of his face is painted as a bare-boned skull. Since he’s lying down, the skull continues to the left, at the center of the mural. The skull’s empty eye sockets are cut off halfway by his peachy flesh, so that his head is a bit longer than normal, with the eyes repeated – both living, and dead. The skull has a hole for a missing nose and a single row of bare, broken teeth. The jawbone is missing.
The left half of the mural is a pattern of interwoven dark blue, gold and salmon pink cubes, spilling across the wall and falling underneath the giant head. The cubes are painted to look three-dimensional.
The wall is split into three sections by two narrow columns, projecting slightly from the surface. One of the columns divides the head, separating skin and bare skull. On the left side of the mural is a large square loading door. A diagonal line runs from the lower left corner of the door, up and to the right, toward the mouth of the skull. Below that line, the cubes are darker, as if in a shadow.
The artist, Michael Reeder, is from New Mexico and was named Muralist of the Year in Dallas, Texas.
He paints portraits that explore ideas about identity, ambiguity and ego. He renders faces as if chiseling away in marble, with abstract and exaggerated features, and blank eyes like ancient statues.
Around the left corner of this mural, on the front of this same building, is a comic work by Daniel Mrgan. Behind and to your right, across the parking lot, is a spectacular mural by Dasic Fernandez, a woman with her arms spread wide under multicolored rain.