This is the first post in a two-part series based on the visit to Baltimore that Caroline Caldwell and I made last week. We made the trip to see Open Walls Baltimore, but ended up getting a taste of the larger street art and graffiti scenes in Baltimore too. This post is about the work we saw at Open Walls Baltimore. Thanks so much to Gaia, Killian, Martha Cooper, Nanook and AVOID for showing us around the city.
As previously covered, Open Walls Baltimore is Gaia‘s stab a street art/mural art festival. Taking inspirations from festivals like Wynwood Walls and Living Walls, Open Walls Baltimore has been bringing some of the world’s most talented street artists to Baltimore to paint murals. With the help of friends like Martha Cooper and Nanook, Gaia has managed to pull of quite a festival. This video gives a pretty good idea of what’s been going on from Freddy Sam’s perspective:
Like so many mural festivals, Open Walls Baltimore manages to do a lot with a small budget (at least compared to budgets like the budget of the Mural Arts Program). Caroline and I slept in Gaia’s studio next to Ever, which was also being used as Jaz‘ studio so that he could finish the work for his show in Barcelona, the studio for many of Gaia’s friends and the meeting place for most of the Open Walls Baltimore artists. When we arrived in town, Ever was stuck a couple of stories up in the air because his lift had nearly run out of gas. Despite minor snags like that, Open Walls Baltimore’s outward appearance is as a great success. Most, but not all, of the walls look good and have had a positive reception from the community.
Unlike a lot of other mural festivals, Open Walls Baltimore have been pretty honest about the criticism they have received and the double-edged sword that is muralism. This interview with Gaia really highlights just how complicated a mural festival can be for those directly involved and the communities receiving murals.
There are still a few pieces left to be finished, but the festival is winding down. Check out some of what Caroline and I saw on our visit after the jump…