Jetsonorama was recently invited to Durango, Colorado to put up a mural, but the story of how the wall came to be is as interesting as the finished product. The mural, headless heroes of the apocalypse, is from a photo that Jetsonorama took while he was in Baltimore earlier this year for Open Walls Baltimore, and now it seems that Durango’s city council is warming up to public art a bit like Baltimore, with special thanks to an 11-year-old boy. Here’s what Jetsonorama wrote about the situation:
in durango my crew there (nick jones, aaron schmitt and brian raymond simmonds) told me about what they went through to get the wall i was going to work on. this past spring they had a graff show called open art surgery: an exploration of public art where a small group of artists from all over the country came for a gallery show. several people collaborated for a kick ass mural loved by the community on the side of a gas station with the owner’s approval. however, the mural violated the city’s sign code. so rather than let the wall go since the mural had so much community support, aaron and his friends met with the city council (i think it was) and presented information at a public forum on the issue as to why the mural should keep running. one of the objections the city had was that the artists hadn’t prepped the wall and the mural was already starting to peel.
dig that. that was one of the city’s concerns as opposed to being totally closed to the possibility of starting a mural program. one of the people who stood before an audience of his community members was 11 year old nick brieger, a big time fan of street art. he was devastated at the thought of the mural leaving. he and his dad know where the spots are around town and will go watch writers paint asking them questions about the process. brian totally digs the art form.
yeah, so anyway – nick was happier than a pig in stink to be working with us yesterday and we were happy to have him there. it’s his wall. he stood before city council and fought for it.
Here’s how Overunder describes the impetus for the project:
The Painted Desert Project began as Jetsonorama, aka Chip Thomas pasted one of his photographs on an abandoned roadside stand only to return months down the road and see the very same stand now open for business. Amazed, he pulled over and chatted with the folks only to learn that their impetus to re-open was based on seeing tourists stop to take photos of the art work. They figured it was the best captive audience they’d seen in years and the only thing to make it better was if there was another one for traffic going the opposite direction. Unabashadly Chip let them know about his altar ego Jetsonorama and the cogs started turning.
Before the paste could dry Chip and fellow street artist Yote had a plan to bring some of their favorite artist to the Painted Desert to paint run-down stands in an attempt to rejuvenate the life of those in need of business and as Chip states, “explore how this might build community.”
Overunder has more about his part in the project on his blog.
We hoped to connect artists with vendors working along the roadside in homemade structures where food and jewelery are sold. We attempted to familiarize artists with the culture before they started painting. Because of the location of this project where large walls are few, the emphasis was on establishing a connection with the community. Both Tom Greyeyes and Breeze are Native American and came to the project already sensitized. We’d hoped to get more local youth involved in working with the artists but will have to pursue this with future iterations of the project.
As much as I enjoy the mural projects going on around the world right now, things like The Painted Desert Project are fantastic low-key but potentially impactful counterpoints to the hype and huge walls that seem to accompany more urban festivals.
Jetsonorama is a talented photographer who took some spectacular photos of the artists at work and of the finished walls and signs, so it’s going to take more than one post to show everything. After the jump, we’ll start with work by Labrona, Breeze and Overunder… Continue reading “The Painted Desert Project – round 1, post 1”
Earlier this month, Labrona and Troy Lovegates aka Other came down from Canada for a few days. Their first stop was Haverford, the small Philadelphia suburb where I go to college. At Haverford College, they painted a mural on the same building that Gaia painted last year. Then, they spent less than 24 hours in Baltimore, but took advantage of every second for painting and getting up. In Baltimore, Martha Cooper invited them to paint in SoWeBo, a part of town where she has been photographing the residents.
Open Walls Baltimore is a project that I have been personally coordinating with the not for profit Station North and is supported by the PNC foundation and a generous Our Town grant from the NEA. The intention is of course to produce great art on the streets and put on for my city that I love so much. Yet, of course, as every public art project must be, the OWB initiative will hopefully produce more than just spectacular murals. This is about an investment in a neighborhood that is burdened by 150 vacant homes and bridging the gaps between the artist community that calls Station North home and the residents of Greenmount West. Inspired by my experience with both Wynwood Walls in Miami and Living Walls in Atlanta, this initial and very exciting start will hopefully result in a continued support for public art and experimental intervention that can become more holistic as time moves forward. The current line up is as follows: Interesni Kazki, Maya Hayuk, Swoon, Specter, Doodles, Jaz, Ever, Freddy Sam, Mata Ruda, Nanook, MOMO, Vhils, Sten and Lex, Chris Stain, Jetsonorama, Overunder, and others. The website is now live. More to come!!!
Just received word from jestonorama about this new project. The scale and concern with local dilemmas always remains inspiring. From his blog: “i asked several friends what their feelings are about the sacred mountain slated to receive artificial snow made from reclaimed waste water. with the help of raechel running, stephanie jackson and rey cantil, their words were written or painted onto their faces and the final images were wheat pasted.”
Hey guys, Gaia here. This is my first post on Vandalog and I really must apologize for taking so long to write an entry. I found these photos of these incredible posters apparently near Tuber City, AZ in the Navajo Nation on the photostream of Yote. I was most struck by their remote location and the trust the artist had that someone would chance upon them who was attentive and appreciative. I think Yote’s documentation of these pieces affirms such determination. Unfortunately I cannot credit the artist because I have no idea who put them up, but thank you anyways.