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Ben's Chili Bowl In DC Embraces Graffiti Art With A New Mural Featuring, Chuck Brown, Donnie Simpson, Bill Cosby and President Obama

7:47 PM, Aug 28, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The iconic eatery Ben's Chili Bowl in northwest D.C. is getting an artistic flare.

Aniekan Udofia, the lead artist, and other artists from MuralsDC, a project that aims to replace illegal graffiti with artistic works, wrapped up Tuesday evening after working on the mural for six days.

The vibrant colors used on the side of the restaurant depict the faces of famous diners like President Obama, Donnie Simpson, Chuck Brown and Bill Cosby, who has been grabbing a bite to eat at the establishment since he was a student at Howard University.

PHOTOS: DC Murals

MuralsDC launched in 2007 and has created over 36 murals in the district. The program was initiated by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham in an effort to diminish illegal graffiti.

"At once point the district was spending almost $1 million dollars in eradicating graffiti," Nancee Lyons, Public Affairs Specialist for the District's Department of Public Works said. She also manages the MuralsDC program.

Every year the program selects a handful of artists to learn or master the art of aerosol painting. The apprentices work along lead artists who teach them the skills needed to eventually collaborate on a mural in D.C.

"I always wanted to use spray paint and make art, so this was the perfect opportunity," Anne Boisvert, artist and 2012 apprentice said.

The district followed the model of other cities nationwide that have used this approach to curb illegal graffiti.

"Philadelphia has the largest public art program in the country and these cities have found that when there is public art or murals graffiti diminishes," Lyons said. "People respect artists work and it rarely gets tagged over.

The district currently allocates $100,000 dollars a year to keep the program afloat, according to Lyons.

"Initially we had to beg business that had issues with graffiti to let us put up murals," she added. "But the public has now seen how [the murals] revitalizes communities."

To learn more about MuralsDC visit: muralsdc.org.

Story by: Jackie B. Diaz

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