Paint the Walls and they will Come

On my recent Art is Power Europe Tour, I decided to visit a friend in a small, nondescript city in the southernmost province of Limburg called, Heerlen. I assumed that I going to just relax and spend some time with a friend, but what happened was that I had walked into a town in the middle of an artistic renaissance.

In the 60s, Heerlen’s coal industry took a nose dive which led to severe unemployment. A climate of hopelessness, replete with the usual accompanying vices: gambling, prostitution and a heroin epidemic became the reality. All I saw, however, was a beautifully decorated and innovative city, and according to founder, Raenys Martis, that’s the point.

He founded Heerlen Murals to, “put the city on the map and to display and study how art can influence and inspire people.” Raenys, the city of Heelen, the province, property owners, foundations, and companies who support the project all understand that a beautiful city can create hope and attract creatives, entrepreneurs, and others who breathe life into a city.

Check out Heerlen murals at