Okuda San Miguel's "Universal Chapel" on Rogers and Garrison Avenue.
Okuda San Miguel's 'Universal Chapel' on Rogers and Garrison Avenue. (Photo: The Unexpected)

When you think about places that boast great public art, it's unlikely Fort Smith, Arkansas, will immediately come to mind. But you might find yourself changing your tune once you see the fantabulous work that resulted from a vibrant public arts event that inundated the city in September.

The Unexpected art festival was conceived in 2015 as a way to revitalize the city's downtown district. It's curated by JUSTKIDS, a "network of curators, artists, designers and art consultants that creates international art events and gallery shows, designs conceptual spaces for high-profile clients and connects top-tier urban artists with leading global brands."

One of the most eye-catching works is the "Universal Chapel" (above) — an abandoned house that was transformed into a floor-to-roof rainbow masterpiece. The public piece of art, which is situated at the town's east entrance, was conceived and painted by Okuda San Miguel, a multidisciplinary artist based in Madrid, Spain.

You can observe the behind-the-scenes progress of how the artist and his team put this work together:


A few of the other internationally renowned artists who were invited to share their vision with the small Arkansas city include Alexis Diaz, Guido Van Helten, Faith 47, Cyrcle, Jaz, Pastel, Maser and Bordalo II (whose clever 3-D trash art we've previously written about). Continue on to see photos of their work, and be sure to check out the festival's website to learn more about the event.

Guido Van Helten's massive mural on the exterior of OK Feed Mills.
Guido Van Helten's massive mural on the exterior of OK Feed Mills. (Photo: The Unexpected)

Guido Van Helten's massive mural on the exterior of OK Feed Mills depicts a young African-American woman, an elderly white man and a native American man hailing from the Apache tribe.

Bordalo II's fox sculpture on Garrison Avenue.
Bordalo II's fox sculpture on Garrison Avenue. (Photo: The Unexpected)

The parts for Bordalo II's fox sculpture on Garrison Avenue were sourced from local junk yards in Fort Smith.

Faith 47's "Royal Spirits" mural on 9th Street and B Street.
Faith 47's "Royal Spirits" mural on 9th Street and B Street. (Photo: The Unexpected)

Faith 47's "Royal Spirits" mural on 9th Street and B Street.

Jaz and Pastel's collaborative mural at Goins Warehouse Alley.
Jaz and Pastel's collaborative mural at Goins Warehouse Alley. (Photo: The Unexpected)

Jaz and Pastel's collaborative mural, titled "Rapto Divino En Fort Smith (The Divine Rapt in For Smith)," can be seen from the parking lot of Goins Warehouse Alley.

Owl mural by Alexis Diaz.
Owl mural by Alexis Diaz. (Photo: The Unexpected)

A highly detailed owl mural by Puerto Rico-based artist Alexis Diaz.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.