Last October, the fifth edition of The Unexpected returned to Fort Smith, with engaging works of art and music.
Conceived and produced by Justkids – a creative house founded by art curator Charlotte Dutoit – it is dedicated to bringing contemporary art to Northwest Arkansas through immersive public art experiences that generate cultural exchanges between creatives and stimulate community development.
For this reason, Camille Walala – one of the most successful contemporary artists and designers at the time – was invited for the first time for the development of the new project and joined the initiative. What she did was transform a disused 1950s gas station into an exciting work of art renamed as Walala Pump & Go gas station.
The realization of the work has been influenced by many factors including the artist’s travels, the creative vein of Gruppo Memphis – an Italian collective of design and architecture founded by Ettore Sottsass -, the masters of Optical Art – an abstract art movement born in the 60s and which took hold in the following decade – and by the women of the Ndebele tribes, a South African community. All these influences have given rise to a concept that follows the tribal pop style but at the same time proposes colorful geometric patterns that give dynamism to the existing elements of the context.
The architectural support of the 1950s was perfect for the artist to turn it into an engaging social space in a single week, with the extraordinary community effort and collaboration of local artist Nate Meyers and a group of skilled volunteers.
The artist’s bold and playful style incredibly enhances the built space and architecture, creating welcoming social environments.
In addition to Camille Walala, artists such as Okuda San Miguel, Hilda Palafox, Robert Montgomery, and Alexandre Bavard took part in the project.
Text by Anna Cardaci