Despite Washington DC’s zero tolerance policy, its public spaces continue to boast a range of “illegal” works from stickers and paste-ups to out-of-the-way graff pieces. On my recent visit, DC’s prolific sticker artist iwillnot gave me a tour of some works – all done, as he explained, “without permission.” Here is a sampling:
A note from RJ: The following is a guest post by Washington DC’s iwillnot.
Last week I went up to Baltimore to check in with Gaia and see how the walls were coming along for Open Walls Baltimore. While there, I wanted to meet up with a Baltimore artist that I have been following for quite some time now: Nether.
It just so happened I met with him at a time when he was receiving a lot of local press and notoriety for his depiction of an ominous hooded figure in tribute to Trayvon Martin. Placed in desolate and sometimes eerily empty spots, the 7 foot tall by 10 feet wide image is haunting.
Extremely well versed in the local graffiti and street art scene, Nether describes his own work as “an urban art campaign that hopes to impact and beautify BMORE’s bleakness through vibrant street art with the hopes of evoking public discussion.” His images bring to mind the decomposition of society, urban decay, and toxicity of modern life.
His large scale wheat paste images can be found between all of the major walls of OWB. Frankly, it is very difficult NOT to encounter one of his pieces while in the arts district. Their size and excellent placement make them impossible to miss.
I encourage all who are visiting OWB to walk from wall to wall. Along the way, there are some great pieces from local artists. When I asked Gaia, “Okay, who are the local guys? Who is putting stuff up?” He told me “Nobody man, it’s just me Nether and Mata Ruda basically.”
While that is not necessarily the case, especially during Open Walls Baltimore (there are several Overunders throughout the neighborhood). They are definitely making a huge impact on an otherwise bleak urban landscape.
Whats next for Nether? He says, “The Trayvon piece is the first of a larger series that will deal with the stories of ordinary black youth in a progressive manner…The aim of this series is to highlight and iconisize these character’s stories… I think promoting these stories could really inspire others, especially at risk youth.”
Down in D.C. this weekend, I spotted some striking political art — new to the streets. The Nigerian artist Aniekan Udofia’s huge portrait of a gagged George Washington on the corner of 14th and U and iwillnot’s postals satirizing Sarah Palin’s use of the word “refudiate” stand out.