Updated April 15, 2020 - 8:57 am
Don’t fear the character riding an Evel Knievel motorcycle with a maniacal grin and wielding a pair of syringes. He’s on our side.
The figure is central to a mural created overnight, give or take a few hours, at Evel Pie on Fremont Street. The Knievel-themed restaurant’s managing partner Branden Powers enlisted artistic tandem Jeff Lewis and Dustin Hoots to create the installation.
Lewis and Hoots are close friends and veteran Las Vegas artists. Hoots is a staffer at Evel Pie who also heads up Helpful Hoodlums, which has partnered with Powers on charity events over the years.
And the green little man, donning a Knievel bike helmet while stabbing at coronavirus demons, is the creation of Johnny Ace Studios, led by punk-art trailblazers Johnny Ace and Kali Verra.
Lewis and Hoots created their masterpiece in a hurry. Anyone who has scanned the boarded-up businesses along Fremont East knows that — the plywood boards at Evel Pie were clean last week. The duo started Saturday, were halted because of wind and drizzles, then went back to work about noon Monday.
By about 9 p.m., they were finished, and photos of the mural were spreading across social media.
“We’re brush painters, so it’s mostly acrylics and a little bit of spray paint,” Hoots says. “The whole thing took 15, 20 hours of paint time to finish.”
The message is edgy-funny. That’s how Powers likes it.
“We wanted something to show that we were killing the virus, in the spirit of Evel Knievel,” Powers says. “It’s an original character, and he’s been effective. We’ve actually used him to sell shirts to help support our staff.”
That campaign last month pulled in $3,000 to help sidelined workers before the shirts sold out. Powers says more Evel Pie merchandise, including the virus-skewering Johnny Ace character, will be back online this week. Once more, proceeds are going to the restaurant’s furloughed staff.
Lewis and Hoots, meantime, are not finished. They are continuing their work Wednesday downtown at Santos Guisados Tacos Beer at 616 E. Carson St.
Asked if he and Lewis have launched a series of murals at temporarily boarded businesses, Hoots said, “I hope so. I think after this, downtown is actually going to look amazing.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.