When you walk onto the grounds of the East Texas State Fair this year, you're bound to notice something a little different and a lot more colorful near the entrance – 10 murals of rainforest animals by Ryan ‘ARCY' Christenson, to be exact.
In fact, you may just see the artist working on them himself, as he's set a goal to live paint a mural each day of the fair.
This year's fair brought the Connecticut-born artist to Texas for the first time ever, though this isn't his first go-round at live painting. ARCY has traveled nationally for the past three years, painting at all kinds of events, fairs and festivals, and has been making art for over a decade.
"One event led to the next and then it just really spread like wildfire," he said. "Demand for (live painting) is just incredible because there's not a lot of people doing this right now in this field."
"I started out as a graffiti artist and that really shows in my work – you have that ink splash, paint splatter, drips, that really raw, edgy street feel to it. But it mixes with the photo realism … and so I try to merge those two."
The East Texas State Fair contacted ARCY about his work and brought him to the Lone Star State to create art for the duration of the fair. He tends to paint a variety of animals when working at fairs, saying that it's a subject that people universally enjoy.
ARCY said he loves seeing and hearing the fairgoers' reactions to his work most.
"They don't really see this kind of stuff … especially since it's done with spray paint," he said. "It's a great feeling to be able to get these nice compliments and to know that it makes people happy and makes them smile.
"I just want people to recognize that this can be done in a positive way. So many people see that I'm doing spray paint and they just kind of automatically have that stereotype," he said, noting that he works to educate people about the art and enjoys mentoring young artists in the field.
If you're looking closely on the right side of the tree frog mural, you may notice a symbol that looks like Mickey Mouse – that's intentional.
ARCY said he adds a Mickey Mouse into each piece he creates because his children enjoy finding them.
Once the last spray of paint has been added to his final mural, ARCY will head to New Orleans for a festival and will continue to travel to states around the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast before heading home for a break from the tour.
Until then, stop by the fair and see the artist at work as he makes his canvases come alive through color.
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