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Kotis turns RED Cinema wall into another showcase for street art
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Kotis turns RED Cinema wall into another showcase for street art

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GREENSBORO — Developer Marty Kotis is determined to turn Greensboro into a street art destination, one mural at a time.

Kotis has commissioned another mural by another internationally known artist — this time British painter Dan Kitchener.

Kitchener, who goes by DANK, is a rock star in the street art world, holding shows and painting gritty cityscapes around the world.

About 10 days ago, he set up shop at Kotis’s RED Cinemas on Battleground Avenue in a section now known as Midtown.

Armed with 1,060 cans of spray paint and a hydraulic lift, DANK transformed the theater’s south-facing red wall into a futuristic Tokyo, complete with flying cars. The 80-foot by 28-foot “canvas” is now home to several of DANK’s signature looks — geishas, along with rain-slicked streets and bright lights reflecting off of them.

He’s hoping to finish any last-minute details Monday, since he plans to fly home Tuesday.

Moviegoers gawked at DANK’s artistry on their way in and out of the movies this week, marveling at his deftness with aerosol cans (hint: it’s all about the nozzle tips).

The inspiration? Kotis wanted to pay tribute to the classic movie “Blade Runner” and the newly released “Blade Runner 2049.”

It is, after all, a movie theater.

The project is Kotis’s latest art installation at one of his buildings, something that’s fast becoming one of his signature looks.

In August, Kotis brought renown street artist Matt Adnate from Australia to paint two murals celebrating the Lumbee American Indian tribe — one on the Midtown Financial Advisors building in Midtown and the other at an underpass at Tracks Bazaar near Eugene Street.

Local artist Brian Lewis, who goes by JEKS, is responsible for another mural that went up at RED Cinemas this month.

This one, near the box office, depicts Ryan Gosling’s character from “Blade Runner 2049.” A bearded Gosling peers through a magnifying glass, making one eye appear larger than the other.

Kotis is hoping word spreads that Greensboro is home to an impressive and eclectic collection of street art — everything from realism to abstract and avant garde.

“It ups our credentials around the world in terms of becoming a street art destination,” Kotis said.

“What we’re finding is that we are kind of leading the charge on this.”

Kotis got interested in street art during visits to Berlin, ground zero of the street-art movement. It takes art out of museums and allows people to view it 24 hours a day, he said.

People also can watch it change over time due to weather and aging.

Other local artists and entrepreneurs discovered street art around the same time as Kotis.

Ryan Saunders, who now works for Kotis, was a co-founder of the city’s No Blank Walls project. Urban Grinders, a coffee shop at Revolution Mill, features indoor murals on its walls.

Kotis is hoping to paint more murals along RED Cinema’s walls — or even inside parking decks he’s hoping to build beside and behind the theater.

Eventually, a segment of the Atlantic and Yadkin Greenway will run behind the theater, then hook up with the Downtown Greenway to lead people to Tracks Bazaar.

Kotis envisions it becoming a walking tour of street art. He’ll light the murals on his building, as he has on the one DANK is finishing up.

Kotis said he’s also trying to put together a catalog of all the street art in Greensboro — from the murals on downtown’s Bellemeade Parking Deck to the lollipop on Gate City Station at the corner of Church and Washington streets.

Think of it as art you don’t have to go into a museum to see, he said.

“The core message of this is that it’s public,” said Kotis. “It’s something people can see rather than being tucked away in a museum.”

Contact Margaret Moffett at 336-373-7031 and follow @MargaretMoffett on Twitter.

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