The Baltimore Love Project is the creation of local artist Michael Owen who dreamed up the idea of using love as a logo to inspire others to recognize the love in their own lives, to be kind to one another, and to bring communities together.
Michael Owen grew up in Seattle and Cleveland before moving to Baltimore to pursue an M.F.A. at the Maryland Institute College of Art. One day while sketching in his notebook, the design for the LOVE mural came to him, and he knew he had to find a way to bring his art to the streets. He partnered with painter turned Executive Director of The Love Project, Scott Burkholder, to secure the rights to paint his murals and raise funds to buy supplies. More than ten years since the project began, Owen’s signature silhouette appears on more than twenty walls in and around Baltimore. The mural design is simple, yet impactful. Four hands spell out the word LOVE. The silhouette of hands allows the word to transcend barriers of race, class, and gender. As Owen’s murals began popping up around town, Baltimore residents started to see the LOVE logo as a city icon and coveted having a mural in their own neighborhoods. Investors and developers commissioned Owen to paint his signature mural on their properties to promote positive associations between their companies and the residents in the communities they inhabit.
It seems that everyone wants to be part of a movement dedicating to spreading love. The mural has been painted in parks, high schools, affluent neighborhoods, impoverished neighborhoods, and everywhere in between. Particularly striking versions of the mural can be seen at 07 Broadway East & 2313 North Avenue where a bright yellow background provides an eye-popping contrast to the shaded hands, and the Washington Arboretum mural, where a lush backdrop of trees accentuates the merge of nature and urban art.