August 11, 2016 - Rob Earnshaw, The Times
Renown graffiti/mural artist Ryan “ARCY” Christenson is back in Porter County creating “seven masterpieces” over a period of five days at the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center.
Last year, Christenson drew attention at the Porter County Fair where he created wall-sized murals featuring farm animals. This time Christenson will paint five permanent murals, a bench and a life-size “Bison-tennial” bison during the live art event celebrating Indiana Dunes Tourism’s 30th anniversary.
On Wednesday Christenson began work on an 8-by-12-foot mural of a sandhill crane. The rest of the week he’ll complete a red fox, a saw-whet owl, a rainbow trout and a white-tail deer — all animals that are often seen in the Indiana Dunes area.
“I love these live-event walls because I can make them come to life in a matter of hours,” Christenson said. “Just seeing it take shape is really enjoyable.”
Christenson said projects like this give him more exposure to the average person who can’t see the massive walls of art he creates throughout the country, including a 30-by-130-foot mural in Chicago a few weeks ago.
“This is just a taste of what I do,” he said.
Christenson said he specializes in photo realism art because it’s an instant wow factor for anybody.
“It’s infused in graffiti-esque style so people see that and say it’s really unique,” he said.
Christenson began his career as a graffiti artist as a teenager.
“Getting my hands on spray paint and understanding this medium opened up all the doors for me,” he said. “I developed a successful career in this style of art.”
Christenson said he was influenced and captivated by the culture of graffiti “taggers” but never went down that road.
“I tell people that if I did go down that road I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said.
Indiana Dunes Tourism Promotions Director Ken Kosky said they hope local residents and visitors will stop by and “see ARCY create amazing works of art and take advantage of the kids’ art activities.”
“The great thing is that once these seven works of art are completed, people can stroll our grounds and enjoy the art walk for years,” Kosky said.
Christenson will be working from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sunday. There will be children art projects all five days, with additional art opportunities and free cake and punch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The Dunes Learning Center on Saturday will also provide field tracking guides for children who can color in animals and stamp what their animal tracks look like in order to identify them during hikes on the trails.
Indiana Dunes Visitor Center is at 1215 N. Ind. 49.