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When we started to pitch the idea of covering local art we knew we wanted to start with Demetris “BAMR” Washington. When you walk around Midtown and Downtown you will see his stuff, believe us. From the Downtown Mural to the new WAL (Warehouse Artist Lofts) building, BAMR’s hand has touched our city. In this series, we cover a variety of art, from street art to local studios.

In our first installment, we met with BAMR to talk about his newest piece…

Felix: We should start off with a little about you, who you are, how long you’ve been here?

BAMR: So, my name is Demetris Washington. I go by BAMR. Most people don’t know it’s an acronym. It stands for Becoming A Man Righteously. So, I used to kinda do a lot of illegal work, like tagging in the streets and things like that when I lived in Stockton. Came to Sacramento in 2009, had to change my name, hence BAMR. Gave it a meaning, Becoming A Man Righteously, and it just kinda took off from there. Ya know? Yeah, so I mean the first few jobs that I’d done were for the Sacramento Kings back in 2009. And that was about the first time that I’d seen David Garibaldi perform and it really inspired me. I came from a really, a really negative place and seeing something so positive come from art and the fact that he can get a whole stadium cheering from just one painting, it just really inspired me; so it motivated me to do more with myself. Fast forward a bit, this painting we just did here at WAL was kinda reminiscent of the inspiration that I received from David Garibaldi. You know, just kind of taking that positivity and putting it into my own piece. Each of those balloons has a positive plus sign on them, if you will. Representing this uplifting feeling, a good vibe. You attach yourself to them and they kinda carry you upward to the places that you want to go. Stay away from negativity because, you know, negativity is like a sharp needle. It might pop those balloons.

Felix: What made you decide to do a piece here? (WAL)

BAMR: So, I had been helping Ali Youssefi. He’s the son of the owner of CFY Development that created this building. I’d been coordinating with him for about a year now. I mean, at first I was helping him with the tours, you know, just kinda bringing people in, showing them around. Then, he had the idea of me doing an actual mural on the building. So, here we are now, a year later; it’s finally getting started, getting done. We’re not entirely sure if it’s completely done yet though, you know? So, we might do the octopus kinda reaching up, trying to pull him down. But yeah, we’ll see, we’ll see.

Felix: What do you think of the movement of art and street art here in Sacramento, and where it’s going these next few years?

BAMR: Oh man. I’m pretty happy with it as it is right now. I mean, it’s definitely growing at a high speed pace. I mean, you see a lot of murals going up in the last year alone. So, I mean, about a year ago it was actually my goal to inspire more artists to step out and do more. So, hopefully, I have something to do with a lot of the art that is about to go up in the next few months, you know? To go a little deeper into that, it was actually a project that started called The Beauty of Sacramento. We just kinda put a video out there, reached out to a few nonprofits and just kinda let everybody know, “Hey, if you want your city to be more artsy then you have to take action. No one is going to come from the outside in. You have to build from the inside out.” So hopefully we can keep inspiring others to take (it on) themselves and I’m not the only one doing it, you know?

Felix: What are some of your local influences and what are some local things that have helped you create some of your pieces, if it’s music, and/or different artists?

BAMR: The music scene definitely. I mean, there are so many artists. Too many coming to mind to name right now. As far as art influences, I can name a few. I mean, there is David Garibaldi, there is Shaun Burner. I mean, there’s cats like EMER and Minus who have been around for long before I got here. So art influences: all the OGs pretty much. Any other influences, I mean, I definitely go to the river often and just meditate and sketch. I think the peace that I receive there is kinda one of the biggest influences on my art. It’s like I definitely want to put out images (so) that others can feel the same peace that I feel when I create it.Felix: What’s next for you?

BAMR: Recently, we just finished a project with the California Endowment on Del Paso Boulevard. We did two walls, one was 90 feet and the other was around 150 feet. I put together a full team of artists, videographers and things like that. We got it done. So, hopefully, we can take it to Oak Park and do the same thing there. That’s pretty much the next move and what I’m focused on for right now. So, yeah. I’m moving it to Oak Park.


Photos | Liz Simpson