It's a Bird, a Plane ... No, It's a Mural
Above the roof line of the 7-11 store you'll find a colorful commissioned mural, entitled "Together" of an animated family portrait. The couple and their bulldog are now former residents of the row house. Painted by Washington, D.C. muralist Kelly Towles, it's clear even from a distance this mural makes viewers smile while simultaneously questioning and thinking about what they see. His works show a broad scope of animation by depicting his take on classical portraiture, personified everyday objects, and abstracted figures. Towles mural may be best viewed from the triangular parklet across from the 7-11 store.
Primary colors in wall mural brighten up the roof line
The mural of a family and their beloved dog make the patio space more inviting
Another otherwise dull wall brought to life by whimsical mural, "Scout," for D.C. Walls event, 2021
This mural combines fabric and other elements
Kelly Towles taking a break
Backstory and Context
The 7-11 is actually in one of the oldest buildings in the Foggy Bottom Historic District, built 1879. It was built as a dwelling, but has been used as a grocery/convenience store for many decades. For less than a week in April, 1959, "Beatnik" Bill Walker operated a Greenwich Village-type coffee house, called "Coffee 'n' Confusion" at the property.
Despite his current position as professional artist and D.C. muralist, Towles started his artistic career at a grocery store. “I started working at Whole Foods when it was Fresh Fields, just working in produce,” he says. “I would always do the chalkboards, you know— this was right after high school.” While working at the grocery store, he decided to earn a degree in fine arts from the University of Maryland."
In custom works like one, Towles’ characters range from the traditional to the fantastical, retaining hints of people, places, and things that positively influence his life. According to his website, the release aspect of graffiti art allows him to express his thoughts on who we are as individuals. Internal conflicts and the “what” that hides beneath the surface are particularly interesting to Towles. His outlook on society and how individuals cope with the emotional roller coaster of daily life transfers from his spray can to surfaces that are in need of creative influence. Regardless of the subject matter, the artist’s background in graffiti art weaves through all of his work, a constant reminder that art is his outlet.
In addition to custom commissions, he is a busy guy. He works with local arts groups to revitalize neighborhoods using his creative energy, to share his passion for street art while making an impact on the local community. His murals, showcased on area buildings and garage doors, and paintings, displayed in local galleries and businesses, are electrically playful.
Kelly Towles moved to D.C. in the late 1990s. He is the co-owner of DC Meet Market, a community market that supports the District’s small businesses and creative community. Most recently, he organized POW! WOW! DC, an international art movement that celebrates culture, music, and art in cities around the world.
Personal communications with artist, 2022
Towels website and instagram account (see links below)
D.C. Walls Festival (see link below)
Kate Sayre, "Public Art: Fair Game: Artist Kelly Towles on Spray Painting the Walls of D.C." Newfound Journal: Vol 1, Issue 3, Fall 2010
Realtor website, 2021
Phillips Collection website, Phillips 100 logo event, 2021