“Travel broadens the mind.” Well I really hope that’s true! I had the chance to spend a few days in the Bay area, which gave me another opportunity to continue my favorite activity: urban exploration. As a European, it’s a bit risky to show my own vision of America’s urban environment, and express feelings that could be misunderstood. This time, I had the chance to be guided through San Francisco and Oakland by one of the most talented Canadian street artists, Troy Lovegates, based in San Francisco for the last 2 years, and so have my point of view challenged by an insider of the Bay Area art scene. We left SF for Oakland, went through West Oakland, playground of graffiti writers, reached downtown, with its big murals, passed by Athen B. gallery (where Lovegates was showing in a collaborative group exhibition with Zio Zegler, Jaz and EverSiempre), and ended up in Chinatown. I unfortunately do not have photos of Lovegates’ pieces, as his street art pieces are usually buffed or cleaned super fast. And he still has not had the opportunity to legally paint a wall in the Bay area. But he does not despair! Lovegates had to wait years before getting a wall in Montreal, and finally managed to paint2 murals very late after he left Montreal for Toronto…
A friend of mine recently used an interesting phrase: “the open walls movement.” I thought he was using the term as a synonym for “the street art festival circuit,” which upset me, because street art festivals do not have what I would call “open walls.” But really, my friend was commenting on a larger movement perceived to be spreading around the world to use public space differently (insomuch as walls on private property are public space). On the surface, he’s right. Street art festivals, grassroots muralism programs, free walls, curated alleyways and everything in between now exist in cities and small towns around the world.
Does that make a movement? I don’t know. Nobody is getting together to write a manifesto and participants’ aims and methods are diverse, but there is a disparate group of what I’ll call “open walls people” who share a new way of looking at walls and public space: Public walls are for the artists, murals enliven streets and communities, and there should be limited or no government regulation of murals, but advertising in public space should be heavily regulated or eliminated entirely. Simply put, “open walls people” believe in unrestricted art in (often odd) public spaces.
But how open are our walls today? Surfing the web, it sometimes feels like globe-trotting muralists can hop off a plane in any city, find a wall, and begin painting the next day, or that every small European city is covered in murals. That’s simply not true. Despite valiant and well-intentioned efforts, there’s a long way to go before we have anything approaching “open walls.”
I’m back after a brief blogging hiatus. I’ve been meaning to post my review for this great event that happened back in April over in Western Australia for a while now…
Leaving a cold wet 17 degrees in Melbourne, I was pretty damn excited to fly to Perth on the 10th of April, right in time for the grand finale of PUBLIC by Form Gallery in Perth, Western Australia, which I posted a preview of a while ago.
I arrived to a perfect sunny 30 degrees and soon as I hit the ground, I had a good feeling about Perth, I hadn’t been before, but something felt right. I went straight to the hotel and dropped off my bags, and went for an explore. Within a few hundred metres of my hotel, I could see the amazing Phlegm and ROA murals in progress. I made a beeline straight for them. Upon entering the car park I also saw the work of many other great artists. The works were spread throughout the CBD and inner city suburbs. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite pieces from the event.
While the event spanned over ~30 days, the main event was the painting of Perth’s 1st ever giant murals over the last 3/4 days of the event. In total there were around 30 murals painted for the event, spanning across the City of Perth. I was very impressed by the organization of the event by the FORM Gallery crew. With a logistical nightmare trying to coordinate over 45 artists, paint and equipment, all in 35 degree heat, the FORM Crew did an amazing job, Well done guys!!! A very friendly and hospitable crew. Thanks very much for taking such great care of us while we visited.
There was a great selection of artists from ac cross the globe representing all different styles and genres. Unfortunately there was no graffiti, but I suppose street art was a big stretch for conservative Perth, so graffiti may have been avoided for this reason. For a city not really known for street art, the public reaction was encouraging. People of all ages and walks of life filled the city over the weekend. I love walking around randomly and listening to some of the conversations and questions people ask each other. In particular I was really impressed by the public’s reactions to the HEAVY PROJECTS installations (interactive works of art that use Augmented Reality on smart phones and tablets). Here’s a short video the guys out together to document the event (plus some footage from a previous project).
On the Friday night there was also a great show at FORM Gallery – PUBLIC SALON showing off canvases from the contributing artists, some great work on display, check out some shots here.
And finally. This great video by Chad Peacock is a really accurate representation of the event and well put together. Damn it takes me back!!!
The FORM guys also took a number of artists to visit the Pilbara, a very special part of top end of Australia with breathtaking views and incredible nature (also sadly known for mining – the 2 don’t really go hand in hand). A few of the artists had a paint while there, I particularly like the piece by Remed.
After all of the above, any street art fan in Perth would have to be pretty happy, but it didn’t stop there. FORM has continued putting up murals in Perth, with Creepy (aka Kyle Hughes-Odgers) painting at Perth Airport (a sponsor of PUBLIC) and also Vans the Omega and Beastman’s new piece that went up last week.
What I loved most about the event wasn’t just the art, and was not unique to PUBLIC; is the sense of community I felt. This is something I really love about the street art scene. I got to catch up with some great old friends, and made some new ones who I will undoubtedly randomly catch up with again somewhere around the globe.
Fingers crossed that this event is on again next year. I will be there with bells on!
If you are in Perth, check out the full list of artists and the mural map. FORM has also put together this short book called PUBLICation available for Purchase at the Gallery and viewable online for free here. FORM have also started “PUBLIC Urban Art Walks” to give fans a guided tour of the city, well worth checking out.
Ok, so that’s enough, right? Actually no, there’s more. And it’s massive. Due to some logistical 😉 issues SANER was unable to make it over for the original dates. I was gutted to hear this when I found out, but when I found out FORM are still bringing him over in August to paint in Perth and also the Pilbara, I was pretty damn excited! I’ll make sure to cover this later in the month.
A little while ago I heard whispers of something big happening in Perth, Western Australia. I usually only cover Melbourne based art and events, but this is an exception and needs to be shared. I’m heading over to Perth tomorrow so I will be covering the remainder of the event for Vandalog.
PUBLIC started on the 5th of April and continues through to the 13th and will feature street art, projections and installations across the city. 45 amazing artists will paint over 30 giant murals and walls over the fortnight.
The line up is mind blowing and an Australian first, with names like 2501, Phlegm, Yandell Walton, Hayley Welsh, Jordan Seiler, Jerome Davenport, Amok Island, Ian Mutch, Casey Ayres, Chris Nixon, Darren Hutchens, Martin E Wills, Paul Deej, Daek William, Stormie Mills, Hurben, ROA, Ever, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Peche, Natasha Muhl, Phibs, Beastman, Lucas Grogan, Andrew Frazer, Hyuro, Mekel, Mow Skwoz, Drew Straker, Jaz, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Maya Hayuk, Reko Rennie, Pixel Pancho, Jetsonorama, Gaia, Alexis Diaz, Nathan Beard, Remed, Vans the Omega, The Yok and Sheryo and more.
Here’s a couple of work in progress shots I stole from Sam Gorecki via Invurt. More here.
This year’s Wall\Therapy festival is winding down in Rochester, NY, so let’s have a look at the finished work (although a few were already covered by Daniel’s posts). There are a few really killer pieces, including this piece by Ever that I haven’t seen professional photos of yet, and some legal work along abandoned train tracks which is really interesting, but I’m not sure about this spot that looks like a little hall-of-fame setup. Those are valuable to have, but I personally wouldn’t put one in a mural festival these days. Still, plenty of good work all around, and I love that there are way more old-school writers at Wall\Therapy than just about any other mural festival I’ve ever seen besides perhaps a Meeting of Styles event. Conor Harrington knocked it out of the park, and Jessie and Katey did a simple but really effective piece.
With just a few days in town left, I decided to make my Thursday a whirlwind tour through Rochester, and now that I am sitting here thinking about it, I have a feeling that Friday will be much of the same.
I started off my day almost exactly like I did on Wednesday, by checking out the progress on the Daleast mural. I was impressed by the progress that I saw but Dal still had a big section of the wall that he needed to bang out. I was told Thursday evening that the wall is complete and that I had to go see the mural in the morning.
My travels then brought me all around town, specifically the South Wedge section of Rochester. The South Wedge is where cashril plus, Gaia, Conor Harrington, Freddy Sam, Thievin’ Stephen, Cern, Mike Ming, and Adam Francy all have murals. It was really cool to see cashril plus’ mural being that the dude is still in his mid teens! Look out for this guy as he progresses though life. He has the right genes being that he is Faith47’s son.
After a quick lunch it was back into the abandoned subway tunnel to try to catch Roa finishing his North American Skunk. While I was unsuccessful in this venture, I was able to catch some graffiti legends rocking a sick piece. Daze, Binho, and Pose2 rocked a sick wall towards of the end of the natural light in the tunnel; the burner, if you will, is a sick blend of old school letters and characters, my favorite!
Wise2 from Kenya then came down and rocked a throwie as I called it. His combination of stencils and freehand spray painting brought his African mask to life in under an hour!
Another highlight was getting to see local FUA Krew member Cruk rock a sick burner. I am much better versed in the “Street Art” game so whenever I can get a writer to teach me more about graffiti and train painting culture I am always excited. Cruk spent about a day on his burner, which includes found object that are sprayed and then used as part of the installation. While he may not be an official part of the Wall\Therapy team it is easy to see that the locals are pretty down with the cause.
After a quick run to check out the finished Freddy Sam mural, it was off the see LNY as he continued on his wall. Lunar New Year was in the zone when I showed up and I didn’t want to distract the man.
Martha Cooper then me if I’d been to Ever’s wall, and it was at this point which I realized that I had not seen it yet! My timing could not have been better. He had about 30 minutes of work left and I was able to spend that time on the lift with him as he finished a few details on the wall.
The mural is beautiful and kind of trippy, and if you know anything about me you would know that I dig on that combination. The wall itself is very wide and for someone with only an iPhone and an almost nice camera it was fairly difficult to shoot. Hope you like my picstitch!
After visiting Ever’s wall it was off for another night of dinner, drinking, and dancing. This time it included a late night bonfire with local artists, score!
For the last week, Argentinian artists Ever and Sonni, along with Brooklyn-based ND’A, have been at work on a Williamsburg, Brooklyn rooftop. I’m loving the results. Here are a few more images I captured yesterday evening:
Latin America seems like a treasure trove of street art and graffiti. I could spend hours on end looking through these works through groups on Flickr. But for people like me who can’t see it in person, that seems to be the only way to tap into that vibrant and energetic scene. In the last 2 years, I’ve come to know and love a few Argentinian street artists (a few of whom will be featured in this show) but I’m aware that there are so many others who I have yet to come across!
The Talking Walls of Buenos Aires is a group show curated by Graffitimundo, which is based around just that – bringing works by a few of Argentina’s leading street artists to a gallery in Washington DC. Opening July 13th at 6pm at The Fridge gallery, you can catch the work of Buenos Aires Stencil, Cabaio Stencil, Chu, Defi, Ever, Fede Minuchin, Gualicho, Jaz, Malatesta, Mart, Pastel, Pedro Perelman, Poeta, Prensa La Libertad, Pum Pum, Roma, Stencil Land, Sonni, Tec and Tester.
Ever, Alexis Diaz of La Pandilla and Brian Barneclo just wrapped up their visit to The Painted Desert Project, a mural project in the Navajo Nation organized by Jetsonorama. Most of the work for the project is painted on the small stands that pepper the roadside. I’ll be posting more from the project over the next couple of days, but to start with, here’s what Ever painted.
Fans of Ever, it’s time to rejoice. I’m a sucker for affordable art, and Each / One is providing just that right now with 7 prints measuring 11 x 14 inches and available for just $20 each. The idea behind Each / One is that releases are limited not by quantity but by time. So, these prints are available now, but after May 28th, no more will be printed. So it’s still a limited release, just in a slightly different way than we’re used to with prints.