The soon-to-open Condado Tacos continues the legacy of Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley has become one of Ann Arbor’s most popular landmarks. An ever-evolving sight, this alley is a celebration of graffiti in American culture (and the quintessential backdrop for “taken and accepted” Instagram posts). An extension of this historic landmark will soon open at 401 E. Liberty Street – Condado Tacos comes to the heart of campus with original hand-painted graffiti-style murals created by local Detroit artists.

Established in Columbus, Ohio in 2014, Condado has since grown tastefully (literally). Ann Arbor becomes the 30th restaurant and the fifth in Michigan. In addition to being renowned for its margaritas and for its “trendy and subdued atmosphere”, as one Facebook user put it, this restaurant becomes a melting pot where flavors mingle with colors.

Themed “The University of Yum,” Condado Tacos is currently being painted by several artists who hope to tie their signature style to Ann Arbor’s history. The walls mimic the feeling of walking and viewing art at Graffiti Alley, but now with the added bonus of being surrounded by the sweet smell of freshly baked tortillas, chili peppers and cinnamon.

In “Server Alley”, these stimuli are particularly powerful. Artist Oleg Kolbasov, aka Animal Money, grew up in Detroit and sought to create an energizing tunnel for Condado workers. I was lucky enough to steal a few minutes of Animal Money’s time for an in-person interview with The Michigan Daily while it was developing its story on the new location to talk about the opportunity.

Oleg Kolbasov is a University of Michigan alumna who graduated from the Stamps School of Art and Design in 2011. Since then he has lived in San Francisco, New Orleans and Utah as a freelance graphic designer while developing his interest in wall painting and creating a unique dark surreal style. He strives to illustrate “the push and pull spectrum of human essence and the nature of our connections to one another”, as he puts it on his personal website.

The artist at work. Image by Cecilia Duran.

Kolbasov described the Detroit mural scene as “thriving”. The mural is precisely what brought him back to his roots here in Michigan. The Russian-born artist has talked about commissioned works as a way to bring his personal essence to an outside project – although he aims to be hired to create works that fully encapsulate his Animal Money psyche. The artist spoke of his love for Graffiti Alley, a place of “chaos” and ephemeral creations and where community is built.

His piece at the restaurant was a last minute order which he described as a “push and pull process” and which he says will take five days. The brick texture, and the addition of iconic Alley characters such as the Moon Man and Ghost Peppers, are his way of bringing his hyper-realistic style to the cartoonish nature of the Condado Tacos stamp.

Rendering of the mural. Courtesy of Animal Money.

Condado Tacos provides the medium that allows local artists to present their art in relation to a specific region and a collective goal. In an email sent by their public relations manager, Condado Taco announced that the day before the grand opening on March 3, 2022, the restaurant plans to hold a fundraising “community night” where 100% of the proceeds will go to students of the school of art and design. . Condado aims to stimulate the palette – both taste and color – so be sure to check out Ann Arbor’s latest culinary addition for a multi-sensory experience.

Daily Arts Writer Cecilia Duran can be reached at [email protected]

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