A wide, murky stream trickles down a concrete drainage canal. Its muddy green surface reflects the world of colors and shapes on the parallel walls that tower over it.
The graffiti on these walls stretches for half a mile. On one wall, you’ll find the trippy airbrushed lettering you’d see under an overpass. On another stands a melancholy black-and-white scene of a New York subway station.
These are the Walls of Pleasant Grove, where Dallas artist Khadafy “DAP” Branch has spent nearly 13 years turning a canal for wastewater into a canvas for his vibrant and nostalgic murals.
While largely unknown by locals, it’s caught the attention of art lovers across the country.
“For the most part, I do get that reaction that I’m looking for, like, ‘Oh, wow, this is beautiful artwork, it’s not like the bad graffiti’ – that’s what they always say,’” Branch said. “’This is like the mural stuff, you know, this is the good graffiti.’”
Branch, 41, moved with his family from North Dallas to Pleasant Grove when he was in third grade. He had a typical childhood; his parents worked, and he would come home from school to watch his favorite cartoons:ThunderCats, He-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
These animated classics, as well as his deep-rooted love of hip-hop, fueled his creative spark.
The proof is in the paint. One mural captures She-Ra’s determined glare as she flies on her Pegasus, wielding a sword. In another, an homage to Star Wars is also a reference to Style Wars, a 1983 documentary about hip-hop culture and graffiti.