Schacter has captured a feeling about street art and contemporary muralism, a nagging fear really, that seems to have been bubbling just beneath the surface for a while now. Basically, Schacter argues that street art isn’t rebellious anymore. Rather, that it’s most notable form is as a tool used by corporations to spur gentrification. Agree or disagree, the article is a must-read.
Apologies that this particular link-o-rama is full of self-promotion and conflicts of interesting, but I do think these are all interesting projects and I hope you do too:
It takes a lot to get my excited about a mural festival, but this year’s Wall\Therapy in Rochester, NY looks great. It’s difficult to put on a mural festival. One short cut is to work with obvious artists. Your festival will look like 50 other festivals, but the walls will probably seem impressive. Wall\Therapy has not gone that route. This year in particular, they put together a surprising and diverse line up to create an arguably cohesive body of new work, and the quality of the murals is still strong pretty much across the board. Check out Brooklyn Street Art’s photos and review for the full story.
From the selections I’ve read, I’m still not sure how I feel about the book What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? by Dumar Novy, but a philosophy book centered on the work of a prolific graffiti writer seems like something that should at least catch the interest of Vandalog readers.
Shepard Fairey’s latest print about corporate greed and campaign finance reform is about to drop. It’s a nice print, and I’m always glad to see Shepard tackling this important but not particularly sexy topic. Plus, the profits from this print go to two great organizations fighting for campaign finance reform. I’ll just note that Shepard is working on a couple of projects right now for my employer, but campaign finance reform and political corruption really are topics that I care a lot about.
Speaking of my employer, I recently got to work on a really fun project with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Ben Eine. Back in June, Eine came to Philly for a few days and painted almost 40 of his classic shutter letters. Philly now has a complete Eine alphabet, and then some. Eine’s work can be found throughout the city, but the shutters are definitely clustered in South Philly around Southeast by Southeast, a community center and art space for the neighborhood’s large Southeast Asian refugee community. Brooklyn Street Art has more on this project.
And one more Mural Arts project to mention: JR recently installed a huge mural right in the heart of Philadelphia as part of Open Source, our public art exhibition curated by Pedro Alonzo. The mural is a portrait of Ibrahim Shah, a local food truck chef who came to Philadelphia from Pakistan about a year ago. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a great profile on Ibrahim. I love how this mural looms large on the side of one of the biggest buildings right in the center of Philly, but isn’t actually that visible from the ground except from a few choice locations. Sounds like that could be a problem, I know, but the mural actually pops out from behind buildings in the most surprising places, and catching a glimpse of it winds up being a thrill, a bit of hide and seek. Plus, that game plays into the meaning of the mural, which is about how immigrants are a big part of our cities, but aren’t always celebrated or allowed to be made visible.
Okay, actually, Mural Arts has something coming up with Steve Powers too, but hopefully it will last longer than these signs in NYC! No surprise, a great series of street signs by Powers, installed legally as part of a project with the NYC Department of Transportation, seem to be being ripped down and stolen by greedy collectors or maybe thieves hoping to make a buck. It’s no surprise, but it is still disappointing.
If you’re in New York City, do not miss Faile’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s on now, and visiting is a really exciting experience. Vandalog contributing writer Caroline Caldwell currently works as an assistant at Faile’s studio, but even hearing bits and pieces from her as things were coming together did not prepare me for the awesomeness that is Savage/Sacred Young Minds. Without a doubt, the highlight of the exhibition is the latest and (I think) largest iteration of Faile and Bast’s Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, with custom foosball, pinball, and of course video games. It’s just an unabashedly fun experience. Arrested Motion has photos of much of the exhibition.
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!
I woke up on Day 3 feeling good, I had just been published in my two favorite blogs, I got a good night’s sleep, and I was preparing for a day of driving around the city of Rochester!
My first stop was to check on the progress of the Dal wall. Daleast had certainly progressed but he still had much work to do. I hung for a little but figured I would come back when he is done so I can get some good shots for the people.
My next spot was the Rochester Public Market, which serves as the headquarters for Wall\Therapy. Here I was able to capture some really sweet Instagram videos of Dal and Faith’s walls from past Wall\Therapies. Both of their old walls are easily 100 feet long and could only be captured by stop motion video.
From there it was on to the abandoned subway tunnel in downtown Rochester, which of course is within walking distance of my hotel! I had already figured out that Rochester is a pretty special place, but if there is one significantly more amazing spot in town it has to be the abandoned subway tunnel. The first thing I noticed when entering the space was that getting in was easy as all hell. You often hear about cool spots that require a bit of ninja skills or at least some huevos to get in to, however, this entrance was a downward sloping inclined plane, my favorite!
The first Wall\Therapy piece I noticed was from the artist Freedom, a large piece of Bazooka bubble gum. The entire area is covered in burners, tags, rollers, and pieces, but the cartoonish yet realistic approach to the fake advertisement of gum really made the piece stand out. After entering the tunnel you are greeted by graffiti as far as the eyes can see, it is truly an amazing sight.
The reason I was traveling into the tunnel was because I was told that Roa was in there doing a semi-legal piece, turns out I was a bit wrong, he was indeed there but he had permission to paint in the tunnel. The rest of my afternoon consisted of watching Roa paint his North American Squirrel as well as seeing him execute the highest roller piece I have ever seen. The piece is not done yet, Roa plans on adding some “funk” coming out of the skunk’s rear end today, should be pretty sweet. Also, thanks for the signed can dude!
After the sun went down it was off to the Yard’s building for another artists’ dinner. Again everything was great! Dancing on the fire escape with LNY, Roa, Labrona, and Martha Cooper may be a memory I’ll never forget.
Before bed I took one last ride over to Chris Stain’s wall, which since last night had been painted and painted over by the artist. Chris said he got half way through the first mural, posted yesterday, and realized he didn’t like it. I think I have to agree with Chris and say that I prefer the new wall as well. Here is a shot of it in progress, a final shot should be easy to get since @LeeHalfPenny had to leave in the morning. More from the Roc tomorrow!
I was told yesterday by local superhero @MagnusApollo that the government of Rochester truly believes that its community really loves driving everywhere. While the locals might protest to this idea and insist they would prefer a more congruent and efficient system of transportation, I just ignore everyone and walk. I began yesterday by not heeding my own advice, and taking a “quick jaunt” over to Faith47’s amazing new mural in downtown Rochester.
Faith47 is a person whom I look up to both artistically and personally. I consider her and her husband DALeast to be close friends and anytime I can get some quality time with their respective brains I dive right in. Faith’s wall came together almost in the blink of an eye, and it is stunning. The wall itself and the bridge above are some of the most beautifully aged textures I have ever seen, and somehow Faith made them even more amazing. Her mural, “sic semper erat, et sic semper erit” or “Thus has it always been, and thus shall it ever be” is a beautiful mural left for the people of Rochester, and based on the number of dramatic 90 degree head turns I saw yesterday I think they like it already.
My next move was to go see Faith’s other half DALeast get started on his mural (final shots coming soon). I took the advice of a local who said, “sure you can walk there, it’s pretty close!” It was not pretty close, but hey I can always stand to lose a little off the hammy thighs. When I arrived at Dal’s wall he was just about to start his outline, which was an amazing thing for me to watch. In all the times I have got to hang with Dal I never have gotten to see him paint. I was interested in the process that eventually leads to his amazing 3-D design. Much like a lot of painters, Dal starts with basic lines to get his spacing and placement right. Simplistic, well thought out, and an almost ninja like efficiency define the start of Dal’s murals. Again my presence was not helping the progress of Mr. East’s wall so after getting some much needed life advice and votes of confidence from the man I decided to press on.
The rest of my day consisted of me being passed around the Wall\Therapy crew like the proverbial doobie. Making friends is one of my specialties and I have met some really great souls already in my two days here. The staffing for this great festival has been super on point, extremely welcoming, and more organized then I could have imagined! Highlights from the afternoon and evening include checking out the progress of Gaia’ mural (pictures coming soon), seeing Adam Francy’s wall, meeting Mr. Prvrt and seeing his two animal murals, getting some stickers tagged for my 228 collections, and of course the soon to be infamous #LiftFlood #LiftProblems surrounding Chris Stain’s mural. Just a piece of advice, if you think you flooded your lift’s engine, make sure you actually have the gas turned on, it really helps starting the engine.
A bit late on this one, but tonight the shop/gallery/bookstore Needles and Pens celebrated 10 years of existence with a huge show at The Luggage Store in San Fransisco including work by Know Hope, Deuce Seven, Pez, and so many other talented artists. Luckily, the show is on through June 8th.