When music speaks to you, you might roll your shoulders, maybe shake your hips. When music speaks to Richard Wilson, he reaches for his paintbrush. “My art is mostly inspired by the music that I love and the people I consider heroes. I’d like to think it’s possible to see or find that feeling in the paintings I create,” he says.
The London-based artist followed the sound to Detroit last September to paint a musical tribute to the city for Murals in the Market. Fast forward to when we speak in early June, and he’s just a few weeks away from finishing a 100-foot tall, 8,000-square-foot mural of Stevie Wonder on the Music Hall’s south-facing wall, wrapping up over a month of work that was self-funded – to the tune of nearly $10,000.
“They didn’t ask me to do the project, I asked them. Life is short and I knew what I wanted to do,” Wilson says. The photo inspiring the portrait is an iconic 1976 snapshot of the singer at the keys. In Wilson’s mural, Stevie is surrounded by instruments that feature prominently in his songs and wearing a ‘Detroit’ T-shirt.
After Wilson finishes this mural, he’ll start work on a second project commissioned by the London-based nonprofit Education Is Not A Crime, also for the Music Hall, on the west wall this time. He says, “I hope, more than anything, that people see the color, whichever ones they need to see, and that my murals do something to brighten a person’s day.”