Kelly Towles, a leading Washington, D.C. artist, has literally painted the town since moving to the Nation’s Capital in the late 1990s. His murals, showcased on area buildings and garage doors, and paintings, displayed in local galleries and businesses, are electrically playful. From partnerships with DC Brau Brewing Company, Graffiato, Toki Underground, and D.C. United, to working with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Greater Washington Creative Community Initiative to revitalize neighborhoods using his creative energy, he is focused on sharing his passion for street art while making an impact on the local community.
Towles’ characters range from the traditional to the fantastical, retaining hints of people, places, and things that positively influence his life. His works show a broad scope of animation by depicting his take on classical portraiture, personified everyday objects, and abstracted figures. Regardless of the subject matter, the artist’s background in graffiti art weaves through all of his work, a constant reminder that art is his outlet.
Towles’ outlook on society and how individuals cope with the emotional roller coaster of daily life transfers from his spray can to surfaces that are in need of creative influence. For him, the release aspect of graffiti art allows him to express his thoughts on who we are as individuals. Internal conflicts and the “what” that hides beneath the surface are particularly interesting to Towles. He paints with the aspiration of making his viewers smile while simultaneously question and think about what they see.
Many of Towles’ formative years were spent in Alice Springs, Australia, where he watched numerous hours of British Broadcast Channel One, a television channel that aired shows including Astro Boy, Monty Python, and British-dubbed Japanese anime. The influence from the cultures captured by this network comes through in his works and ultimately led to his continued fascination with the art and culture of Asia.
From paintings to large murals and installations as well as commercial and community partnerships, Towles’ body of work is expansive. He has shown locally in Washington at the Adamson Gallery and the Hierarchy Gallery. His large-scale installations include exhibitions in Manifest Hope, Manifest Equality, Re:form School, and Submerge. Recently, he worked with Sweetgreen to provide artwork for their Sweetlife music and food festival and the Georgetown Business Improvement District as a contributor to GLOW. Towles is also a curator, bringing together shows for the Art Yards Project at Navy Yards and exhibitions at Adamson Gallery, Curated Gallery, Transformer Gallery, and Washington Project for the Arts. Additionally, he is the co-owner of DC Meet Market, a community market that supports the District’s small businesses and creative community. Most recently, he organized POW! WOW! DC, an international art movement that celebrates culture, music, and art in cities around the world.
Currently, the artist lives and works in Washington, D.C. with his most treasured possessions: his wife, son, and two dogs.