There’s a party going on over on Liberty Street, a real throw-down with Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Chun-Li, Mario, Princess Peach and more, all fussing, fighting and just doing what they do.
We three-dimensional folks can join the two-dimensional ones on Sept. 7, when Ian Purdy hosts a party to celebrate the completion of a giant mural on the north side of his Reboot Arcade Bar.
“I wanted there to be an appreciation of video-game art as art, and I wanted something that was directed toward video-game lovers and children,” Purdy said. “I wanted it to be accessible and a place where you can come see an amazing piece of art — and just make the city a little bit prettier.”
Purdy and Kelly Bone, a Reboot employee, came up with a concept for the wall art, and then Jaclyn Purdy, Ian’s wife, rounded up a passel of local artists to execute Purdy and Bone’s ideas.
“On choosing the artists, I wanted some positive community interaction,” Jaclyn said. “Each artist had a certain square footage, no more than 4-by-7 feet. We were very mathematical about it, but the artists also had plenty of freedom.”
In May, “Tree at Last ...”, a mural that had been in the space since 2009, was painted over, raising concerns about the impermanence of outdoor art. At the time, building owner Mike Coe cited degradation in part of the old mural as an adequate reason to take it down.
Reboot is a retro video-game arcade and bar for grown-ups, so Purdy wanted the new mural to reflect the business and the interests of his customers. The name of the business is also high up on the wall.
“The concept was from Kelly,” Purdy said. “Her idea was to have characters from different games, different years and different genres in one big fight scene — like a Smash Bros. tournament.”
Every party needs a venue, so somebody needed to create a background where the players could play.
“Eric Marks took the lead on that,” Jaclyn Purdy said. “We were struggling with the background design. Eric tried to get all the important downtown buildings that are on Liberty Street.”
“I chose to use Winston-Salem as the background for several reasons,” Marks said. “The view down Liberty Street from the Reboot parking lot seemed fitting, as it had several iconic buildings on view. Plus, a lot of video game action takes place in a street setting.
“My character Donkey Kong needed something to interact with, and, as a King Kong fan, the inspiration for the Empire State building (the Reynolds Building) was a no-brainer.”
The artists are putting the finishing touches on the mural this week.
“We’re wrapping it up this Sunday, and the final coat of varnish will go on next weekend,” Purdy said. “It was a huge, huge project. My wife was the one who organized and took care of all of that.”
“I had never done a mural before,” Jaclyn said. “I kind of knew what it entailed, but something of this size. ... The artists were exceptionally wonderful.
“They were so flexible and easy-going. Once we found out what characters they were going to do, and got them their material, they just took it and ran.”
Jaclyn rented a lift and harnesses and got lectures on safety for the artists who wanted to work on the characters who are high up on the wall.
“People are liking to interact with the characters,” Jaclyn said. “The ones at the bottom are getting the most selfies.”
Marks, who did Donkey Kong and the mural’s cityscape background, lives in Winston-Salem.
“I am a lifelong student of art,” he said. “I have worked in the printing industry since the age of 17, and it has influenced my work heavily. A martial artist for 27 years as well, my Zen is drawing and painting.”
Elijah Kimball, a 13-year-old student at the Arts Based School, painted Leonardo, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and Bowser.
Under the guidance of his mentor, Marks, Elijah drew and painted his design using a graphite transfer technique. His creations are on Instagram @esk.artist.
Jesca Jaymes did Princess Peach and Mario. Jaymes, from Greensboro, specializes in acrylic paintings influenced by pop culture and current events.
A self-taught, full-time artist, Jaymes began her career in 2015 when she focused on glitter props and stage art, recently shifting to bold, colorful Pop Art. Her work is on Instagram @theartsy_siren, and her analog work is at Artmongerz in Greensboro.
Fredo Felix made Chun-Li, Sonic the Hedgehog and Gumba. “I chose Chun-Li kicking Sonic the Hedgehog in a friendly bout, highlighted with an aura that brings the ‘90s nostalgia to the mural,” Felix said.
He grew up in Winston-Salem immersed in such popular culture as “The Simpsons,” Nintendo, “X-Files” and gangster rap. He has been writing graffiti since he was a teenager and tattooing professionally since 2007. His work is on Insta @wynoceros.
Freddy Garcia did Link from the Legend of Zelda. Garcia, aka JAG1, is a 38-year-old mural artist based in Greensboro who has done large-scale murals in the Triad.
He chose Link because it reminded him of his childhood and also one of the first games he played on Nintendo. His work is on Insta @jag_one_ and on Facebook @Freddy Garcia.
Jeff Beck, aka NOS77, painted Dig Dug and Kirby.
Beck, 42, is a mural artist based in Greensboro and has been doing large-scale murals in the Triad for five years. He will be presenting a solo show at Reboot in October called “Violent Delights Have Violent Ends,” themed around villains from ‘80s-’90s cartoons and video games.
Jaeson Pitt painted Goku and Pikachu. Pitt, a Winston-Salem native, chose to paint Goku for his universal appeal and Pikachu because it’s a fan favorite. He says he believes that the contrast of the characters’ backgrounds and associations in Anime and gaming would be ironically awesome.
Joshua Washington, aka Lupé!, studies 2-D/3-D animation and is a manager at Zöes Kitchen. “I love cooking, it’s a another form of art to me,” he said. “I chose Megaman ... because he has always been one of my favorite video game characters ... what better way to show love than to add him in this immersive, diverse mural!”
Washington is on Insta as Lupe Angelo.
Aaron P. Friende, aka Aroc, painted Contra. Friende, 38, said, “Vincent Van Gogh was my earliest inspiration as a child, along with Marvel Comics and Image Comics.”
He is a digital artist, specializing in traditional arts and digital arts and animation. His work can be seen on Insta at animakestudio.
John Slater painted Centipede and Kitana.
Wren Wilson, aka Jackalope Wren, is a multimedia performance artist who specializes in synthesizing disparate areas of knowledge into absurdist videography, music, performance, wearable fashion and immersive installations.
She can often be found at Mixxer makerspace. For more information, visit www.JackalopeWren.com.
“I’ve been here for over a decade as an independent artist and organizer, working on all sorts of creative projects, props, costumes, themed dinners, celebratory events and initiatives,” Wilson said. “But I continue to be amazed at how every year, this town gets to be a cooler and more fun place to be.”