Love, Hope, and Art: The Murals of Luis Peralta Del Valle

Washington, DC, like other hotbeds of culture, has many claims to local and national fame. Its monuments, museums, and political institutions attract visitors and transplants from far and wide. Half-smokes and mumbo sauce are distinct and delicious products of the District. The influence of go-go music and Georgetown’s Blues Alley club reach well beyond their geographic origins. And DC’s many murals uplift and inspire thousands of passersby every day, depicting everything from impactful historical and contemporary figures to scenes of nature and simple, daily life.

As the murals are quite hard to miss, you won’t easily find a resident who’s unfamiliar with the city’s famous love for them. But what you may find is that many are unfamiliar with one of the hardest-working brushes behind them.

Famous Artist Shares Life Story With Sallie B. Howard Art Majors - Sallie B  Howard School | Public Charter School | Wilson, NC
Chuck Brown Baby, Anacostia

Nicaraguan-born, Southeast DC-based artist Luis Peralta Del Valle is among the most prolific figures in the mural-making business. Del Valle, who was born in 1980 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1985, began making graffiti murals when he was only thirteen years old. After Studying at DC’s Corcoran College of Art and Design (now the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design), Del Valle continued his work with murals in a more formal setting. His award-winning work has been commissioned all over the District by schools, museums, businesses, foundations, and even the Vatican Embassy, and includes sculptures, paintings, and portraits in addition to murals.

Del Valle’s signature murals are known for being as inspiring and powerful as they are large. Most of his works feature either portraits of legendary Black and brown figures—Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Chuck Brown, to name a few—or scenes involving Black and brown people. His reputation for diverse and uplifting imagery has gotten his work commissioned by countless schools (his most faithful customers), the Children’s National Medical Center, and the DC government.

Our separate struggles are really one, Cardozo Educational Center

Love, hope, and art (which happens to be the name of Del Valle’s website) are the driving forces behind Del Valle’s craft. Nearly everything he creates is meant to imbue its viewers with positivity. The artist’s 2019 solo exhibition at the Anacostia Arts Center, “Out of Chaos,” was centered on arriving at positivity and purpose from trial and hardship. The show primarily featured portraits of, in Del Valle’s words, “figures who have converted their pain, challenges and frustration into purpose,” with Chuck Brown and Misty Copeland being two of the most notable subjects.

Del Valle’s mix of positive messaging, technical ability, and maximalist aesthetic has both supplemented and inspired the vast landscape of public art in the capital. Anyone who’s spent any time in DC knows that positivity and portraiture constitute much of that landscape. Stylized depictions of Prince, Marvin Gaye, and Maya Angelou enliven DC’s neighborhoods as regularly as scenes of diverse children flying or wielding paintbrushes do. Consequently, a walk through the city’s streets is very often a walk through culture, a larger-than-life culture being constantly curated by Del Valle and his peers.

Because of artists like Del Valle, DC is as much a city as it is an ever-changing and ever-expanding art gallery for which the cost of admission only asks that you open your heart and mind. Both casual onlookers and the artistic community recognize his works as some of the gallery’s finest, and odds are that he has many more to contribute. On Del Valle’s website, he rightfully characterizes his early uncommissioned pieces as “donations to the city.” Decades later, whether we consider work that was uncommissioned or commissioned, spray painted or painted, it’s abundantly clear that few donors can match his generosity.

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