MISSOULA – University of Montana Dining’s compost van has a sharp new paint job courtesy of a student graffiti artist who offered his services for free after seeing the plain gray van driving around campus.
The artist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he first saw the van while touring campus last summer. He noticed the van’s rough spray paint job and told himself that if he was accepted to UM he would offer to give the van a facelift. The next time he saw the van on campus he was an enrolled student, and he approached the driver with his the offer.
“The student caught me and said he did street art and would like to redo our van,” said Anastasia Orkwiszewski, garden manager at UM Dining. “It was a volunteer project. We just provided him with the paint and he and his buddies made it beautiful.”
Described as a former plain gray “dumpy-looking” van by Orwkiszewski, it resembles something out of a 60’s movie, a Mystery Machine-esque with bright splashes of color grounded with an earthly sublayer.
“I just don’t like looking at something that is just grey,” the artist said. “I like to look at things and get a story from it. I felt like, looking at the old van, it already had a story. But I could tell one better.”
The van shuttles compost and produce between the campus gardens and other campus venues. The gardens produce around 6,700 pounds of produce at a market value of $13,200, growing approximately 70 different crops. Produce grown in the gardens is served at UM Dining venues.
“I wanted to give a better view of what graffiti art is,” the artist said. “The aerosol medium I feel like is commonly looked down upon, and it doesn’t have to be that way if it’s done right.”
“It looks way cooler,” Orkwiszewski said. “It’s very stylish and will give us a lot of good attention. I’m very grateful.”