Something magical is coming to McKinney. The city has commissioned world-renowned artist Guido van Helten to create a one-of-a-kind mural on historic silos.

Hailing from Australia, van Helten has painted seventy contemporary street art portraits that change the sides of grain elevators, apartment buildings, trains, office buildings, and hospitals into life-like murals representing the community. The residents of McKinney will lend their input on what van Helten should paint on the 100-feet-tall historic concrete silos and grain elevator in the Historic Downtown McKinney Cultural District.

Van Helten was first drawn to street art and started using aerosols at a young age. Inspired by traditional graffiti movements in the inner city of his hometown of Melbourne, Australia, van Helten studied printmaking at Southern Cross University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts.

Van Helten developed his art through traveling, photography, studying architecture, and learning about cultures and their connection with their landscapes. In 2016, van Helten was nominated for his work in Brim, Victoria, for the Sir John Sulman Award at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Van Helten’s interests and his ability to work on large-scale murals have taken him worldwide as a commissioned artist. Van Helten’s work is featured across Europe, Scandinavia, the United States, and Australia.

“Van Helten’s mural installed on our historic silos represents an incredible gift to McKinney. Not only will this mural be one of the largest works in North Texas, but the international reputation of the artist helps build an attraction that spotlights our community,” said Amy Rosenthal, Director of the McKinney Performing Arts Center and McKinney Main Street, in a press release. “It serves as a catalyst for development in a section of our downtown rich with cultural history and helps increase the visibility of our own local artists. This one-of-a-kind work honors our past with an eye toward the future and will astonish visitors of all ages.”

On September 9, 2021, the Texas Commission on the Arts commissioners approved a $90,000 grant as a Cultural District Project. Funding for the project was made possible from grants, private investors, the McKinney Public Art Fund, and HOT taxes.

Restoration work on the silos in McKinney is underway to prepare the structure for van Helten’s painting.