Felipe Ortiz, a Colombian artist from Massachusetts, will paint four murals under the Interstate 26 overpass on North Roan Street.
Johnson City has commissioned an artist from Massachusetts to paint a mural on the four walls under the I-26 overpass at North Roan Street.
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition. 
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition.
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition.
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition.
Felipe Ortiz, a Colombian artist from Massachusetts, will paint four murals under the Interstate 26 overpass on North Roan Street.
Johnson City has commissioned an artist from Massachusetts to paint a mural on the four walls under the I-26 overpass at North Roan Street.
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition. 
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition.
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition.
One of four mural designs by artist Felipe Ortiz that will appear on walls under the I-26 overpass on North Roan Street. Minor adjustments may be made to composition.
In his latest series of murals, artist Felipe Ortiz uses a theme called “explosive nature” to highlight the colorful vibrancy and dynamism of the natural world.
It’s a style he’s applying to a project in Johnson City, which he will paint across four walls under the Interstate 26 overpass along North Roan Street. Johnson City commissioners approved the artwork in June, and the project has received signoff from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The city will pay Ortiz $58,500 for the project, which will center on “a sense of movement, wellness and the beauty of our natural surroundings,” staff said in a report to commissioners.
The murals will show animals native to the region and people enjoying natural environments, including a butterfly pollinating a flower, a kayaker navigating a stream and a mountain biker traveling along a hilly landscape.
Ortiz expects to begin on the project in May, which will take about a month to complete.
Originally from Colombia, Ortiz has lived in Massachusetts for about 20 years, but he travels extensively for public art projects, which he has been focusing on for about six years.
Ortiz enjoys those trips because it allows him to meet different people and encounter new cultures, but he’s also able to connect with residents from backgrounds similar to his.
“As a Latin American artist, one of the most surprising things I think when traveling the United States is how often you find your people,” Ortiz said. “I’ve found Hispanic communities and individuals from Latin America in almost every single place I’ve traveled in the states.”
Ortiz said he mainly paints in Massachusetts, but he’s also completed projects in Miami, Los Angeles, Wichita, Albuquerque, Puerto Rico and other cities.
As he prepares to paint artwork highlighting the outdoor landscape of Northeast Tennessee, Ortiz is looking forward to touring the diversity — and biodiversity — of Johnson City. Ortiz said he’s visited places in the Appalachian Mountains but not specifically Johnson City.
“I’m really looking forward to exploring beforehand before I get painting and be able to get some of the reference first-hand,” Ortiz said.
As he was researching the project, Ortiz said he communicated with city employee Cheyenne Kumbhare, who helps coordinate public art projects, and Cole Hendrix, a member of the Public Art Committee, to learn more about the region.
They shared information about the local environment, Ortiz said, which helped serve as a starting point.
Ortiz said he typically tries to get to a city at least a week beforehand to take hikes, shoot photos and get a sense of a place.
“Explosive nature” is a style that started in Colombia, Ortiz said.
He moved to the United States when he was 15 and now has dual citizenship. Ortiz took a trip back to Colombia after spending about half his life in the U.S., which had a permanent impact on his technique.
The trip re-energized his appreciation for natural environments and themes, which in his art can combine abstract shapes with recognizable flora and fauna.
Ortiz’s mural is one of a series of public installations officials have recently commissioned in Johnson City.
“I think that murals in general in a lot of cities kind of give the temperature of a place,” said Vanessa Mayoraz, the chair of the Johnson City Public Art Committee. They help demonstrate how a community sees itself.
She said the committee has a two-part selection process, which draws on input from members of the community. A wide range of people review submissions, Mayoraz said, and projects can attract about 120 applicants.
Jurors look for projects that will enhance the lives of people living here, Mayoraz said. Officials also closely follow conversations about the concept of “placemaking,” an approach that the Project for Public Spaces says “inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community.”
A happy community, she notes, is more likely to attract visitors.
“In general, we all agree on the fact that Johnson City is trying to showcase itself and has things to showcase,” Mayoraz said. The natural environment is one of them.
David Floyd covers Johnson City government, Johnson City schools and Ballad Health for the Johnson City Press. He grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from ETSU, where he was the executive editor of the school paper.
{{description}}
Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.
Sign up to receive news and updates from this site directly to your desktop.
Click on the bell icon to manage your notifications at any time.
Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.
Please disable your ad blocker, whitelist our site, or purchase a subscription
Sorry, an error occurred.

Sign up with

Check your email for details.
Invalid password or account does not exist
Sign in with
Submitting this form below will send a message to your email with a link to change your password.
An email message containing instructions on how to reset your password has been sent to the e-mail address listed on your account.

Secure & Encrypted
Secure transaction. Cancel anytime.

Thank you. Your purchase was successful.
A receipt was sent to your email.

source

Shop Sephari