Our Stories

Inspired by American Freedom, Art Ignites Dallas


In America, Willie Nelson represents music, culture and values of the West. Growing up in 1980s communist Romania, renowned artist Dan Colcer grabbed on to the icon as the epitome of freedom of expression.

“It was a period of time in my life where I wanted to escape from where I was. It was tough to have a goal or a vision, but every kid wants to be someone, to be somebody.”

Nearly 30 years later, Dan Colcer brought his artistic talents to paint a mural in an unexpected spot- the back parking lot of Preston Royal Shopping Center in Dallas, Texas. Previously, this back lot was exactly that, a seldom used, generic area for parking and waste collection. That is, until Dan decided it was perfect for his next project with EDENS.

Dan was a young child when he first saw American programming on television. It was a was a movie with Willie Nelson – Dan saw the country musician as a brave hero who was allowed to do big things and talk in a big way. “I’m a big fan of any media or music coming from Western culture. In Romania back then, music and movies had a message that was different from our country,” he said.

Using the emblematic red, white and blue of the American flag splashed across the back brick façade of Barnes & Noble, Dan included buried images of the American West – horses, Native Americans and other Western musical crooners – throughout his mural of Willie Nelson himself at the shopping center. Psychedelic and nearly dream-like, Dan infused his art with his own childhood wonder and memory. “I admire Dan for his unique style,” said Stacey Carbone, EDENS’ Senior Designer, Construction, who organized the collaboration. “Dan’s work has transformed an otherwise forgotten space into an artistic destination.”

This work of art now gives shoppers and residents alike a reason to venture beyond the store frontages, and start a conversation about what it means to be a Texan, to be American, to be free.

Preston Royal Willie Nelson mural with gentleman
Preston Royal Willie Nelson man on ladder painting Preston Royal Willie Nelson mural wall with couple