City Paper is not for tourists
The bowl of popcorn in front of Peter Chang didn’t stand a chance. When Chang received an email from the Nationals asking if he and his business partner, Brandon Hill, of the creative agency No Kings Collective would be interested in creating a mural at Nationals Park, Chang did what anyone with exciting news would do.
“I took it and threw it in the air,” Chang says. “True story.”
As longtime baseball fans, the D.C.-based artists eagerly accepted the offer and for the past few days have been working around the clock at the stadium to finish their mural, located next to the escalators leading to the Budweiser Terrace.
The process—coming up with the design and concept—has been two months in the making.
“Baseball’s got a lot of odd culture behind it,” says Hill, who is originally from Baltimore but has called D.C. home for the past decade. “It’s a layer cake when it comes to coming up with ideas. So that’s super intriguing … It’s Americana. I mean the story of baseball is the story of America … That’s spanning three centuries.”
The mural, which the Nationals commissioned and paid for, is set to be completed by Saturday, May 18, and refers back to memorable moments in the franchise’s history. There will be an image inspired from a 1950s poster of the Washington Senators playing the New York Yankees and a silhouette of Ryan Zimmerman, who has played for the Nationals since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005. Written in the top right corner is play-by-play announcer Bob Carpenter‘s trademark “See you later!” call that follows Nationals’ home runs.
For Chang, who grew up in Silver Spring and attended Paint Branch High School, it’s been an educational experience.
“Like with any other project, the Nationals had their input,” he says. “We wanted to include our design and style and aesthetic with their input as much as possible but they’ve been great as far as allowing us a lot of creative freedom. A lot of the input they’ve given is really meaningful. It’s been great to be able to learn new things about the organization we also didn’t know before.”
“Some of the intro culture, that was cool to learn all that and try to infuse it,” adds Hill. “I think it’s cool when things have things that are overt and things that are inside jokes. That’s the best combo.”
No Kings Collective has painted murals and other art work across the District, including the exterior of the Whitman-Walker Health Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center on 14th Street NW, but the chance to create art for the thousands of Nationals fans at home games gives this project extra meaning.
Chang remembers that when the Nationals first returned to D.C. he and his brother would take photos with the team’s mascot, Screech, every year. It became a tradition. He hopes that this mural can become that for fans.
“Every year we’re taking photos and that story is kinda told through time and I can see families coming to this wall,” Chang says. “And over time, you see your kids grow through those photos. That’s an amazing story to tell, through photography, through social media, through the Nationals as an organization.”
This mural, he adds, “is not going anywhere.”