New Deep Ellum ‘Blues Alley’ mural honors blues legends

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Desiree Gutierrez

Dan Colcer, his wife and his son pose for a photo in front of ‘Blues Alley,’ a mural created by Dan in collaboration with The Deep Ellum Foundation. Dan enlisted the help of other local artists to paint different sections of the mural.

Victor Manuel Sanchez, Contributing Writer

Hidden behind one of Deep Ellum’s newest garage and office buildings, The Stack Deep Ellum, is the neighborhood’s latest Instagram worthy mural – “Blues Alley.” The once bare walls of the building’s first floor on Clover Street are now covered in shades of blues and complementary tones.

The project comprises 10 murals united together with a musical staff. The music notes are from the song “Deep Ellum Blues.” Building on the cohesive flow of the 10 murals, blues guitar is a prominent theme.

Located between Henry and South Crowdus streets, the mural depicts 10 blues artists.

Deep Ellum has been a hub for local artists and musicians for generations. Housing venues hosting live music and eccentric dive bars, Deep Ellum is now home to local muralist Dan Colcer’s latest project.

Colcer, a Romanian native born in Transylvania, is a well-established artist. According to his website, he moved to Dallas in 2008 and has done work to help beautify the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Some of his projects include the Shed Mural at the Deep Ellum Urban Gardens, Pillars Park and Art Park. In 2017, Colcer was given a character award for his work “Catching Fish” for the 42 Murals Project.

For “Blues Alley,” Colcer collaborated with The Deep Ellum Foundation to shine light on the music Deep Ellum helped cultivate. But this is not the first time Colcer and the foundation collaborated on a project.

“When I moved to Dallas, they were the first ones that would hire me for a mural project,” he said. Colcer’s wife, Cathryn Colcer, is partnering on the venture as the project manager.

Dan’s skills start in the alley with the legendary Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins. Dan said Hopkins is a representative for Texas electric blues and guitar blues. Talking about what he deems mural worthy, Dan said, “The vision is to have the most representative blues musicians of the Texas Blues.”

Inclusivity was an important part of the project and paying tribute to the artists and the many talented painters working on the mural was Dan’s initial goal.

“Invest in local culture and you’re going to sustain local culture,” Colcer said. To accomplish this, local artists were commissioned to work on the mural.

Ebony Lewis, a local history teacher, painted the ninth section of the mural. In an interview with NBC5, Lewis said, “It’s very important that we have representation on projects like these because the talent is there.”

Paulina Serrato and her boyfriend, Jay Bountom, are students at University of North Texas who visited the mural. “It’s such a great way to honor Deep Ellum’s mixing pot roots,” Serrato said.

Bountom said he plays the electric guitar and idolizes Jimi Hendrix, who is one of the embellishments to “Blues Alley.” Bountom said, “It’s so nice to see such a large piece of work that’s as inclusive as it is eye-catching.”

The celebrated faces that adorn Clover Street are the first phase of an ongoing project. Although the work is done for now, phase two of the project is not due to be completed in full until October.