New Murals Going Up On the Wall Outside of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street

Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street between 12th and 13th St, NW

Back in Oct. 2011 the side of Ben’s Next Door got some great new murals. And on Sunday Ben’s Chili Bowl got in on the action:

I’ll revisit when they’ve all been completed:

59 Comment

  • Interesting to note that there no women worthy of Ben’s wall.

    • Emmaleigh504

      That is very disappointing.

      • I think the concept of the mural is a tribute to their most famous regulars, and although having female representation would be nice, it would seem wrong just to randomly add a woman for the sake of having one. The solution? Famous women need to eat at Ben’s more.

    • None were vocal about loving Ben’s through the years apparently…

      The people in the mural have all been vocal publicly about eating there.

      • I guess that’s more what I was meaning to say: they are famous endorsers of Ben’s. Whether or not Obama is a frequent customer or whether he was president at the time is immaterial; he is still the most famous customer they ever had endorse their restaurant, and is one of two official VIPs at Ben’s. I think that earns him a place on the wall.

        The only woman mentioned so far who seems worthy of a place (I love Aretha more than humanly imaginable, but I doubt she calls herself a Ben’s “fan”) is Eleanor Holmes Norton, and sadly I doubt most people in DC would recognize her…

        I do believe Bill Cosby ate Ben’s on Oprah once, right? That would earn him a place as an official endorser, I’d think. He is known as their biggest champion….

        I strongly believe that women are generally under-represented in our society, especially pictorially, but I’m not sure there’s any woman who truly would fit in this situation. I think Donnie Simpson was even a reach (although he is an underappreciated legend in broadcasting, for sure, and a class act).

        • This is clearly a case of more Bens endorsing Obama than Obama endorsing Bens. Obama ate there once and has not been back. Ben’s is just milking his one visit for all they can.

  • I’m not usually a fan of murals, but this one is great!

    • Agreed. So many of the newer murals I’ve seen going up are generally terrible. But this one and the Chuck Brown mural in Petworth are good ones that should stand the test of time pretty well.

  • How did Obama end up further down the alley than Bill Cosby?

  • Cult of personality, anyone?

  • Cue the discussion on whether they’re allowed to close a public alley.

    Mural looks great! Can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

  • No women and no diversity — figures.

  • Who is the artist?

  • Would be better with some ladies!
    Barbara Jordan and Zora Neal Hurston

    • Did Barbara Jordan or Zora Neale Hurston ever eat at Ben’s Chilli Bowl? Yeah I don’t think so.

      • No – but – Aretha Franklin has, Sheila Johnson has, Dionne Warwick has, Elanore Holmes-Norton has – shall I continue?

        • Feel free to continue all you want. The person didn’t mention any of those women and my response was with regard to the two women they mentioned.

          • Hey grumpy – I was providing examples of prominent AA women who did eat there, as per the flow of conversation. Guessing you failed reading comprehension on your SATs …

  • I love this mural! Chuck Brown and Donnie Simpson were regular fixtures at Ben’s through the years. Bill Cosby has regularly vouched for Ben’s and is its number one customer. Barack is the only president ever to eat a half-smoke at Ben’s. Now he can eat free for life like Bill.

  • The artist is Aniekan Udofia and the project is part of Murals DC. There is an entire review process for work done by Murals DC which I have no doubt the Ali family was part of the review process (if they didn’t down right dictate who to put in the mural). Aniekan and folks will be out there working again today since they were limited yesterday because of the weather. Feel free to stop by and ask them why there are no women in the mural.

  • Wow, love how colorful it is. Nice way to jazz up that alley.

  • To the folks complaining about lack of diversity, etc. here is how the process works.

    Please feel free to contact Murals DC or DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities so you can find out who was part of the process to create/select this mural and you can speak with them directly about your issues with the work. Seems like a more effective way to create change for future projects than kvetching on a website:

    The Process

    Murals DC works together with communities, property owners, and the District to create murals that reflect the character of a community. Here’s how we do it:

    1. Identifying the mural site.
    Murals DC selects sites which are frequent targets of illegal graffiti. Sites are selected based on nominations by community members with the permission of property owners.

    2. Involving the community.
    Community involvement in the development of a mural is instrumental to the success of this project. Murals DC engages in community outreach to gather suggestions and ideas that are then given to the artists to develop mural designs.

    3. Designing mural options.
    The artist creates two to three full color renderings of the design based on community input to present to the community and property owner.

    4. Choosing a design.
    Designs are reviewed by a representative of the property, usually the owner, and community members, usually an ANC Representative and/or Community Representative. The designs are then voted on by these groups along with members of the Department of Public Works staff and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities staff….

    • Regarding 3. – out of curiosity, what “community” was asked for input? It seems like no PoP regulars (and yes, that is a WIDE scope) had even anticipated or expected this mural to come forth.

      • So are you upset that no one asked for your input? I did not know murals needed the approval of PoPville. You should calm your life down.

      • It could have been someone from the ANC, someone from the U St. Neighborhood Assoc., etc., certainly it was someone from Ben’s. But it really all depends on the project.

        Simply because a group of folks who post on a website didn’t know about project doesn’t mean that it wasn’t vetted according to the rules of the project. You’d be surprised how often community meetings/calls for input go out and no one says a word until the project starts. Its happens all the time.

        • Sure – in neighborhoods like Carver, but in such a prominent, well-populated area where the residents are usually thought to be OVER-involved in their communities – it just seems weird that none of the thousands who read this blog or the hundreds who post here had an inkling that a mural was going up. I’m just saying – as a COMMUNITY that – if you can read *this blog is a good example* – likes to give their input on EVERYTHING – if the COMMUNITY was approached for their INPUT on something as evident as a GIANT MURAL – I’m certain many of the COMMUNITY would have thoughtfully provided their INPUT.

          We are not talking about tree-trimming, sewer lines, garbage pickup, bus routes – all the more mundane things the community gives their input on – requested or otherwise – regularly.

          And again – it’s hard to believe they couldn’t come up with a slightly more DIVERSE MURAL considering the COMMUNITY.

          • I know! Why don’t you paint a mural on the side of your building, then we can ALL come critique it.

  • I like it. But it would be a lot cooler if it depicted these famous gentlemen actually eating chili half-smokes.

    • I personally think they look better without shoving food down their mouths. It makes for a better picture of them.

  • It’s one mural, there are thousands of blank walls in this city that can be used to memorialize women, men, children that you feel are worthy if this doesn’t cut it.

    last time I checked an alley wall attached to ben’s chilli bowl is not the zenith for all things good and moral. If this artist wants to create a mural with bill cosby, obama, chuck brown and donnie simpson let him do it and you go worry about your own.

    I’m talking to you thunder, get over yourself.

  • Personal attack? by an anonymous person addressing someone using a pseudonym? oversensitive much?

    I merely stated the person I was responding too and how I disagreed with their stance on the matter at hand. I see nothing personal or of an attack nature in my statement.

    • “I’m talking to you thunder, get over yourself.”

      Telling someone to “get over oneself” is exceptionally personal.

      • Granted, it’s hard to ever really be “personal” on a blog, but being able to disagree like adults and argue elegantly without rudeness seems to be a lost art these days. At least having to type a discourse gives you a extra chance to filter out emotional responses, so we should be able to avoid insulting or dismissing each other on here.

        Plus, saying things like “get over yourself” dilutes your point, and discredits the merit of any things you say. It makes an argument sound much less worthy of reason. Thoughtful discussions or disagreements are always worth having, but the point is to have other people want to consider what you have to say, not to shut them down.

  • You all are just doing waaaaayyyyyy too much on this one.

  • See how devisive art can be? It’s better to avoid such things.

    • i see people just talking it out. some people asked questions. some answered. a few got defensive, but i think it’s more that they didn’t want a discussion at all or misinterpreted the questions.

      • It’s not the artist, it’s the Community board of director. they are in control of the artist what they can have on the wall or not. Thats why if you look at the Murals, the people is painted in vivid color rather then skin tone. When the artist summited their design, they either get rejected or alter. The artist know what is appropiate for the community.

  • The Artist has talent, but has a negative toward life in general and doesn’t really care about the art for Mural DC. Basically He’s is More all about the Money. Research the this Artist, pay close Attention to the detail/Background for each Mural he has done, the detail depend on what this artist is getting pay. Last year for Mural DC, I had a conversation with most of the artist and the Art Director and they have really put all their heart and soul into making Mural’s. What the program should really do is to plate the artist name, title and credit to all the people who has helped this mural happen. I also had conversation with kids who helped making mural DC last year, and if you have seen them. There were the same group of kids who helped out for the entire DC mural last year; well I hope to see more murals next year with the current artist and the younger artist next year. Well this mural gorgeous but still has its pro/con.

  • why is Donnie Simpson in the mural ?

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