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Texas

What happened to the art billboards around Fort Worth?

If you drive around Fort Worth long enough, you’ll likely see billboards of artwork instead of advertisements.

These billboards are part of the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art’s “MODERN BILLINGS” program. The program began in 2018 after a conversation between Tiffany Smith, Assistant Curator of Education at Modern, and Communications Director Kendal Lake about a billboard blank when they went to check on progress on a mural that was being painted by Arnoldo Hurtado and Northside. High school graduates.

According to Smith, Lake had a good relationship with Clear Channel Outdoor, and Modern magazine was offered free use of six billboards for six weeks. This was an opportunity they should have taken advantage of.

“I’ve only seen a couple of these billboards in town, but I was wondering what they were and where they came from,” Fort Worth resident Mairian Hernandez said.

Fort Worth resident Mairian Hernandez is one of the residents who spotted them while driving. She was intrigued and puzzled as she tried to determine what it meant, or if it was for an upcoming film.

Billboards are placed along the Jacksboro Highway and Lancaster Avenue. The program is another opportunity for renowned and local artists such as Francisco Josue Alvarado Araujo to showcase their art to the community.

Jesse Barnett, assistant education curator at Modern, is thrilled that the program is able to bring art into residents’ daily commute.

“Sometimes we get emails from some viewers, but I think it’s a good thing for us if ‘MODERN BILLINGS’ stays this kind of ambiguous thing that no one can pinpoint,” Barnett said.

The latest issue of MODERN BILLINGS features past work by Dallas-based artist Stephen Laptisophon. He was officially declared blind in 1994 after intensive treatment for a neurological disorder. His work spans many genres, from paintings to installations to books, and is based on his visually impaired experience.

“It’s like a mini-review of some of the things I’ve done in the past,” Laptisofon said.

The current edition of “MODERN BILLINGS” will run until February, when it will be replaced by works by Khalil Irving, which will also be featured in Modern’s “I’ll Be Your Mirror: Art and the Digital Screen” exhibition.

End dates on billboards remain in place until someone initiates a billboard contract, meaning some works stay months past their expiration date, according to Assistant Curator Smith. They like the program’s flexibility and how the billboards can be used in different ways, such as for student programs or workshops.

Dunbar High School students were also allowed to highlight their personal work. MODERN BILLINGS XII was to celebrate how well the students did in modern collaborative research.

and I don’t work as a curator,” Smith said. “We think it’s something that not only empowers the artists we work with on a regular basis, but also allows our students to present their work to the community.”

Holly Turner, an associate professor of art at the University of Texas at Arlington, recalls seeing a billboard by artist Carly Adrion that plastic kills an estimated 100,000 marine animals every year.

“I thought the design was really strong,” Turner said. “It’s a cool concept for billboards and great publicity for local artists.”

The billboards are a point of reference for residents like Hernandez. She said that it is very important to spread art in society.

“When I saw Survival Symbols right on the Jacksboro highway after a long drive, I knew I was at home,” Hernandez said. “Seeing all these different billboards makes me want to go out and see them all. The next time I drive around the city, I will definitely pop my eyes.”

Juan Salinas II is a Fort Worth Report Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] or call Twitter.



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