In 2021, artist King Saladeen teamed up with the film studio Mural Texas to create a documentary about his work at the Sequoia National Park. Self-taught artist Saladeen is famous for his pop graffiti style and is perhaps best known for his “Money Bear” works. Saladeen credits his late friend John “JP” Thompson, who bought Saladeen his first set of professional art supplies, as the inspiration behind “Money Bear.”
When Saladeen became interested in art during his teenage years, his family fostered his creativity by allowing him to paint the walls of their home. His career highlights include a capsule collection with Champion athletic wear, participation in the “Big Board Floor Art” program of the New York Stock Exchange, and a 200-ft mural on the walls of the Philadephia International Airport. More than solely an artist, Saladeen is also active in philanthropy organizing basketball tournaments and thanksgiving giveaways. Additionally, Saladeen organizes school supply giveaways and handed out approximately 14,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students in New York and Philadelphia in 2021.
Also in 2021, Saladeen worked on a project at Sequoia National Park and documented the process of his work by partnering with Mural Texas. The film’s creator was originally inspired by the idea of the “JP Money Bear” character returning to the forest. Originally created to document Saladeen’s work, the film has subsequently taken on a new meaning as Sequoia National Park was partially destroyed by a wildfire just a few months after the film was recorded.
The film titled Dream Big Sequoia depicts Saladeen working against stunning natural backdrops, highlighting how our world’s natural wonders can be a source of inspiration and artistic creation. Regarding the film, the studio stated, “Sequoia National Park is one of the more fascinating parks in North America, sitting between 4,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation, and home to 40 different sequoia groves, ranging between one and 10,000 Sequoia trees per grove. The Sequoia trees are visually striking and dominant in size, and rising above these giant trees is General Sherman, the largest living sequoia in the world. These gentle giants are both rare in their age, and in their immense size, with a powerful warm red hue, and their massive trunks that look like buildings, this was a beautiful and perfect location to film the next Mural Art Project. Mural Texas didn’t know that this would be one of the last times that this forest would be viewed in its entirety before the devastating KNP Complex fire.”
Watch the documentary below: