Mural goes full steam ahead

EVANSTON — Art is blooming in downtown Evanston, both with local art and particularly with a new mural exploding from the wall opposite 1st Bank. 

Traveling artist Ryan Christenson (known as ARCY) uses spray paint to achieve a colorful mash-up between realistic subjects and large paint splatters and splashes. On his website, he describes his work as a paint-splashed style of large-scale mural art. 

This week, a train mural has taken form in shades of faded copper, slate blue, sagebrush green, dusty yellow and steam gray for a colorful tribute suitable for Evanston’s historic downtown. ARCY began by sketching out the design on Monday and has made serious tracks on the project ever since, and he is scheduled to put the finishing touches on the weeklong project today or tomorrow (Saturday, June 24). 

He’s even hidden at least one surprise in the piece. According to an interview on, ARCY confided that he puts hidden Mickeys (mouse ears) in his work since he took his art worldwide. 

Evanston Urban Renewal Coordinator Jane Law said the project is a partnership between Urban Renewal and 1st Bank, with Renewal Ball and Brewfest funds and 1st Bank property.

“We wanted to do some art downtown and let the community know that we really are doing more things than just working on the Strand Theater,” Law said. “So this is exciting for us, and I’ve really been ... talking to 1st Bank for several years about trying to do something on this wall.”

Rock Springs has worked with ARCY before on murals, which is how Law learned about the artist. Knowing the quality of work he did for Rock Springs, she reached out to ARCY to get a rendition, and when Urban Renewal members liked the rendition, they contracted him to come out to Evanston during his tour. 

“But he really is well known around the country,” she said, “so we’re really very lucky to have him in Evanston. ... We wanted ARCY to create something fabulous and fantastic for us in Evanston, Wyoming, and that’s why he’s here.”

Law declined to disclose the cost of the project, saying simply that it is a “substantial amount” and that ARCY would prefer the cost not be shared.  

“I don’t know that we could afford to do it again,” she said. 

She added that if Urban Renewal seeks out more downtown murals or similar projects, it will probably put out bid requests.

“This is the road we wanted to go down on this particular project,” she said.  

ARCY’s mural is already drawing attention from the community, as people head downtown to see the artist at work and the train appearing on the formerly blank gray wall.

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