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Spokane spray-paint artist Daniel Lopez captures COVID-19 experience with new mural

UPDATED: Mon., May 4, 2020

Street artist Daniel Lopez painted his brush mural titled “intent to distribute” on a Latah Creek Bridge pillar. The painting is in the likeness of YouTube sensation Ed Bassmaster selling toilet paper. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Street artist Daniel Lopez painted his brush mural titled “intent to distribute” on a Latah Creek Bridge pillar. The painting is in the likeness of YouTube sensation Ed Bassmaster selling toilet paper. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Daniel Lopez said he’s been called the area’s “edgy Bob Ross,” but instead of featuring little trees, his newest creation showcases rolls upon rolls of toilet paper and a red Big Gulp from 7-Eleven.

Lopez is the mind behind many of Spokane’s most recognizable murals, the painting of Jesus with a pixelated face on Second Avenue, the birds on the I-90 underpass on Altamont as well as many of the smaller murals on the walls of businesses around the city. His newest piece, “intent to distribute,” covers a significant portion of one of the pillars supporting the Latah Creek Bridge, which carries the traffic from Sunset Highway over the creek and over High Bridge Park.

The mural shows the likeness of pranking YouTube personality Ed Bassmaster as a character from one of his recent sketches about a man selling toilet paper for $10 a roll.

Lopez said he is a fan of Bassmaster, but also wanted to create something public, accessible and understandable during this time. He said while he was painting it, a process that took about six hours, people of all ages laughed at the mural and situation, even if they didn’t recognize the central figure.

“There isn’t a person in the world who can’t relate,” he said.

During a time of quarantine and shortages, it’s also an important time for artists, Lopez said. A decade from now, art from this time – even underneath a bridge – could be meaningful because it tells the story of what people are experiencing now.

“This is perfect for the moment,” he said. “I feel like it needs to be recorded, an artist needs to record it.”

Lopez said he doubts his mural at the base of the bridge will last that long. It has already been tagged twice with graffiti.

He said the location is an area full of graffiti, so he was expecting tags eventually, but needed a big area that was public and free for anyone to go and look.

Much of the art Lopez has done recently was commissioned for private businesses, and he said it was a nice stress reliever to do public art again. He said he has had the time and financial stability to still do those projects, but many artists don’t.

Thursday, Lopez auctioned off one of the most meaningful and personal pieces he’s made, his copy of “American Jesus.” That painting is the only original copy of his mural, and he sold it on a Facebook auction to raise money for artists affected by COVID-19.

Lopez said selling the work hurt, but he had to do something to help other artists. The painting raised $3,100.

Melissa Huggins, executive director for Spokane Arts, said the organization had temporarily run out of grants to help artists struggling from a lack of work due to COVID-19. The organization had distributed $40,000 worth of $100 to $500 grants to artists.

This week an additional $4,000 came into the relief fund from the sale of “American Jesus” and other contributions. Huggins said that has allowed Spokane Arts to reopen the grant application for artists.

Community members can donate to support artists by going to the artist relief page on Spokane Art’s website. Artists who live in the Spokane area who have lost teaching opportunities and jobs can apply from that page as well.

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