Brandon’s eye-catching masterpiece is a 60-yard-long mural on the side of the Diversified Conveyors building at 960 S. Bellevue in South Memphis.
The project was huge, and Brandon donated a portion of his time to make sure the mural would have the greatest possible impact.
Volunteering his time is typical of this native Memphian. While earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Memphis, he lived in the Orange Mound community and benefited from a program that provided reduced rent in return for volunteer service in an after-school program. He met his wife in that program, and they decided to remain in Orange Mound. Brandon finds the vibrancy of the community inspiring.
That inspiration can be seen in his South Memphis mural. Brightly colored images of people, music, and flowers communicate a positive vibe, while captions encourage passersby to “Get Down” and “Live Life.” To spread the cheerful campaign message even further than South Memphis, the #PowerOverHIV social media hashtag is also visible in the mural.
“Get Down,” the title of the piece, carries a double meaning. It is a reference to the Memphis cultural tradition of music and dance, as represented in the mural by boom boxes and cassette tapes. Simultaneously, it is an appeal to HIV-positive adults to get their viral counts down by sticking to their treatment plans.
How has the community responded to this latest example of urban art? “We got honks all day every day while working on the mural,” Brandon says. “People were sticking their hands out of their windows and giving us thumbs up. Some people would even stop and comment on how much they liked it.”
“Phalon Owen, who lived in the community, came and watched us for a half hour or so. He told me how much he was inspired by the art, and he volunteered to help. So he came every day and probably worked 30 or 40 hours on the mural with me.”
The mural also fulfills a personal goal of Brandon’s. “I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with my wife all over the world, and I’ve seen some of the best murals in the world. Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles—all these places have incredible public art. I want Memphis to be a place where people can enjoy and appreciate art like that. This mural is in a very visible location, so it was an opportunity to further that cause.”