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Posts Tagged ‘street art’

Photo: Obec Louka
Agnes Kašpárková says that she does her artwork for the pleasure it gives her. The 91-year-old artist works
in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic.

I liked this story from Stefan Andrews at Vintage News about a 91-year-old grandmother who’s a kind of street artist.

“For most of her life, Anežka Kašpárková (also known as Agnes) has been making her income by working as a farmer. … Ever since she retired, Kašpárková has used many of the sunny days each year to make her home village of Louka a little bit more beautiful.

“The village is found in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic. The [artist] is now an expert on how to decorate window frames, doors and facades across her village with traditional Moravian folk art. She mostly works on flowery patterns, giving a fresh feeling to the old facades worn by time. …

“Other women have done a similar type of decoration in the past and Kašpárková has worked tirelessly to continue the tradition. …

‘I try to help decorate the world a bit,’ she is recorded as saying.

“Kašpárková uses mainly blue paint and works simply with one small brush. Her color choice blends perfectly with the old, white-painted village houses and buildings.

“Kašpárková says that she does her artwork for the pleasure she gets from it, and that she never makes any plan how her next creation is going to look. She just takes up her brush and gets things going. …

“Given her age, Agnes complains that sometimes she finds it challenging to paint. Yet … she has been comfortable enough to climb a ladder almost every spring and refresh the design on the village chapel.” More at Vintage News, here.

Most people know by now that buildings make great canvases for outdoor murals. I myself have blogged a lot about this form of art. The blue Czech designs represent a different take from urban graffiti, say, as does the current London art walk experienced through windows.

Hannah Jane Parkinson writes at the Guardian, “Artists Walk is … a simple idea for an art trail that began as a joint endeavour between printmaker and painter Rosha Nutt, and her art marketing consultant friend Holly Collier. Those who in normal times would be exhibiting in galleries or community spaces can now place their work in the windows or surroundings of their homes for passers-by to admire. …

“ ‘Lockdown was the catalyst,’ Collier tells [Parkinson]. ‘So many artists have moved studios into their homes. Exhibitions and events have been cancelled. It’s pretty depressing being an artist who can’t show work. We wanted to do something that had a positive action.’ …”

“Until 14 December, London artists working in whichever medium – painters, photographers, illustrators, film-makers, ceramicists and more – can pay £15 to have their location added to the ‘interactive map’ on the website, as well as a short bio and links to the artists’ website and social media profiles, plus a custom poster.

“Collier and Nutt pulled the whole thing together in seven weeks. ‘It’s been late nights, early mornings and a lot of elbow grease,’ Collier says. They applied unsuccessfully for an Arts Council grant, but local collectives and businesses stepped in. An estate agent became a sponsor and organised a leaflet drop. Alexandra Palace – usually home to concerts and comedy gigs – lent its support, including what amounts to a quasi window-residency.” More.

Such a creative way to help artists show their work to potential customers in this difficult year!

Photo: Hannah Jane Parkinson
Paintings displayed by Sarah Barker Brown for Artists Walk 2020 in London.

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Photo: Yagazie Emezi for the New York Times
“The neighborhood of the Médina in Dakar has welcomed street artists from all over the world to practice their craft in what the founder of the project calls an open sky museum,” writes the
New York Times.

You can’t keep a good artist down. Art will out. It’s a reassuring thought. In the course of history, we’ve seen governments that think they know best, branding cutting-edge art and architecture as “degenerate.” Fortunately, such governments don’t last.

In Senegal, Anemona Hartocollis of the New York Times discovered a vibrant street art community that has grown up almost spontaneously.

She writes, “On one wall, the painting of a marabout, a Muslim holy man, peers out from behind a line hung with laundry. Nearby, a poster of an African woman in a bustle has been pasted to a house. …

“These are the painted houses of the Médina, a poor and working-class neighborhood near downtown Dakar. The neighborhood has welcomed street artists from all over the world to practice their craft in what the founder of the project calls the open sky museum. …

“Artists from not just Senegal but Burkina Faso, Algeria, Morocco, Congo, France and Italy have come to paint on these walls. They in turn have brought art lovers and tourists into a neighborhood where they otherwise might not go, to mingle with people they otherwise might not meet. …

“Street art seems to come naturally to Senegal, where many small shops are adorned with images of what they sell. Paintings of scissors signify tailors; heads with fancy hairstyles advertise barbers; images of cows and bowls of milk herald the ubiquitous sweet milk shops; a drawing of a sheep broadcasts the presence of a vendor serving grilled meat.

“Shop art is commissioned by the shop owners, and sometimes painted by them too. But to paint on a house in the Médina neighborhood, it helps to go through Mamadou Boye Diallo, known as Modboye.

“Mr. Diallo, 31, was born and raised in the Médina, the son of an elevator operator. He dropped out of school at 15 to become a break dancer and rollerblader. He got to know the art scene by working as a messenger, delivering fliers on roller blades for art galleries.

In 2010, he created Yataal Art, a nonprofit arts collective, and painted the first wall in the Médina with friends. The beauty of it is that ‘you don’t have to take a nice shower and wear perfume’ to see the art, Mr. Diallo said. …

“ ‘You have to pass by him in order to work in the Médina,’ one of the street artists, Doline Legrand Diop, said. ‘He functions a bit like a curator.’ …

“In the beginning, it was not always easy to convince homeowners to let people paint on their walls.

“ ‘They wanted money,’ Mr. Diallo said. But as the project caught on, they wanted to keep up with their neighbors. …

“The painted-houses project has gotten so big that this year, Delphine Buysse, a Belgian curator, has arranged for artists in residence to live at a luxury hotel in Dakar, the Pullman, for a week, while painting in the Médina.

“One of the most recent wall paintings was a collaboration between Kouka Ntadi, a Congolese-French artist, and Barkinado Bocoum, a Senegalese artist. Mr. Ntadi painted abstract portraits in black-and-white, and Mr. Bocoum added folksier portraits in bright colors.

” Mr. Ntadi loved sharing the neighborhood with the commercial artists of the barbershops and the milk stores.

“ ‘I would say there is not really a border between the two in Africa,’ he said. ‘It’s not like in France or the U.S. where there is a snobbism about art, and you can’t be in marketing. So for sure, we can still be an artist and make a design for a bottle of milk or a side of beef.’ ”

More here.

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When I was last in Manhattan, I took a photo of a putative Banksy stencil. It’s one that the gourmet food emporium Zabar’s helped to preserve in 2013, when the British street artist was said to be tagging all five New York City boroughs.

I have written often about Banksy — here, for instance. I get a real kick out of his ideas and the fact that he works by stealth. (Speaking of that, if you search on the word “stealth” at the blog, you will find all kinds of examples.)

Banksy’s art, like other street art, is not necessarily meant to last for the ages, but he has become such a phenomenon that there are now efforts to restore murals that have been painted over.

The BBC reports from Scotland, “Restoration work is under way on three early works by the artist Banksy which were accidentally painted over with grey emulsion in a Glasgow nightclub.

“The murals, which feature a gun-toting monkey in a tutu and a framed Mona Lisa, were created as part of an exhibition at The Arches in 2001. But they were mistakenly covered in 2007 then left after the club went into administration [bankruptcy] in 2015.

“A team of restorers are expected to take five months to uncover the works. … Banksy created the works, which also feature the words ‘Every time I hear the word culture I release the safety on my 9mm’ when he was beginning his career as a graffiti artist.

“They were shown as part of the ‘Peace is Tough‘ exhibition in March 2001, … but six years later, and long after Banksy had established himself as an international artist, the murals were covered with grey emulsion during refurbishment work at the nightclub.

“When the club went into administration in 2015, the then owners had considered restoring the murals and selling them to clear the club’s debts.

“Chris Bull, technical director at Fine Arts Restoration Co (Farco), which is carrying out the restoration, said the murals were the only known works by Banksy in Scotland with any provenance. …

“The new owners of the venue, Argyle Street Arches, say they now want to save the works for the nation. … Once complete the works will be put on permanent display.”

More at the BBC, here.

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Photo: Joseph Eid / Agence France-Presse
Painting the word “Peace” in Arabic over 85 rooftops on a Tripoli street for a project led by twin Lebanese street artists over a three-year period.

Nearly everyone wants peace. Nearly everyone expresses that over and over. You would think we would have peace by now. One large-scale expression of the world’s fervent wish in a city badly damaged by conflict took three years to accomplish.

Agence France-Presse reports, “From the street below it’s easy to miss the workers daubing rooftops as part of an ambitious art project in two battle-scarred neighbourhoods of Lebanon’s Tripoli.

“But the Ashekman street art duo behind the project say that once they’re done, the pistachio-green rooftops they are painting will spell out the word ‘Salam’ — Arabic for ‘peace’ — on a scale visible from space.

“The project, three years in the making, is the brainchild of 34-year-old twins Mohammed and Omar Kabbani. …

“They chose a site spanning the Bab Al Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen neighbourhoods, which have fought successive rounds of armed clashes in recent years. …

“Peace has been elusive in Sunni-majority Bab Al Tebbaneh and the adjacent Alawite-majority Jabal Mohsen. Fighters from the two areas have battled each other periodically for decades, and the war in neighbouring Syria, pitting a Sunni-dominated uprising against Alawite president Bashar Al Assad, has further stirred existing enmities. …

“Ashekman’s project runs on either side of the infamous Syria Street separating the two neighbourhoods. The duo hired workers from across the divide to help them complete the project.

” ‘All of the workers live here in the neighbourhood, they lived the conflict, some of them got shot,’ Omar Kabbani said.

” ‘Two years ago they were hiding from bullets … now they’re painting their rooftops proudly.’

“The brothers are sensitive to the observation that their project does little to address the most obvious scars of fighting or the area’s desperate poverty, often identified as a catalyst of the violence.

“They say they chose paint that will seal rooftops against rain and reflect ultra-violet rays, cooling the homes below.

“And in order to paint the rooftops, they had to negotiate with residents and often had to clear large amounts of trash and debris. …

“Walid Abu Heit, 29, joined the project as a painter after hearing about it from March, a Lebanese NGO that has worked on reconciliation and rehabilitation in the rival neighbourhoods. …

“He and other workers lugged heavy tubs of paint up seven floors and began plastering a roof with the fluorescent green, which flecked his hands and boots.

” ‘It’s an amazing project,’ he said, smiling and shading his eyes from the blazing sun.

” ‘The word peace, it’s a great word … we haven’t seen it for a long time, now we’re seeing it again.’

Read more here; also at National Public Radio, here.

And ponder the power of artistic twins here, at one of my posts on street artists Os Gemeos. The Greenway’s first giant mural, which they painted, is still my favorite. It makes you think about “The Other” as a sweet little kid.

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Photo: Shelly Davidov/Miami New Times
In Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, street art transformed Jose de Diego Middle School.

It’s interesting to see how street art can be a route to gallery representation for painters, especially if they apply their tagging to public projects.

Ahmed Fakhr writes at Rolling Stone about how painting the walls in a Florida neighborhood helped some artists gain wider recognition.

“Miami is becoming a destination for global collectors looking for a multimillion-dollar Jeff Koons sculpture or one-off by Gerhard Richter. While some opt for the hallowed white-walled galleries to sip white wine, other local artists continue to gain notoriety when by taking to the streets to paint huge murals on bare walls with cans of spray paint. This graffiti explosion was the creation of the street art scene in Wynwood.

“In 2007, Wynwood was a rundown textile and manufacturing area. Then a cohort of street artists decided to bring attention to their neighborhood, but as a way to establish their own art.

“Slowly the area transformed into a haven for creative people looking for a way to express themselves. Soon enough, a developer purchased the properties and capitalized on the growing art culture in the gentrifying area now known as the Wynwood Arts District. …

“Native Robert de los Rios, founder of the RAW project, has been entrenched in street art scene in Miami for years, so he used this opportunity as a way bring art to underfunded schools in the area. ‘Art budgets for schools in the Wynwood area were slashed to zero,’ Rios says.

“So he decided to approach the area school district and street artists from around the world to paint murals on the indoor and outdoor walls of the school. By doing so, Rios hoped this would jumpstart the issue of funding art in schools again and to inspire kids’ creativity. ‘They felt like they were coming to a prison before,’ he says. ‘But now they come to school excited and happy.’ …

“While Rios prides himself in being able to bring an international graffiti scene together to transform the aesthetic of the school, he also collaborated with multiple Miami artists – Ahol Sniffs Glue, Typoe, Santiago Rubino and FL.Mingo – to bring challenging concepts to the school’s campus.

“Typoe, one third of an art collective known as Primary Flight, along with Cristina Gonzalez and Books Bischof, started in Wynwood when Art Basel launched in 2007. Having no luck at the fair, the trio decided street art was more lucrative. … Now they have a gallery space in the Design District.”

Read about more of the artists at Rolling Stone, here, including the one who prefers to stick to illegal tagging of trains and remain anonymous.

I’d be very curious to know how all this has affected the students at the middle school. Perhaps some are aiming to become artists now or are just feeling more special.

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Photo: Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian
This mural of a worker removing one star from the European Union logo appeared overnight in Dover, Kent. It’s Banksy’s reaction to the Brexit vote.

When I was at the magazine and collecting articles for the next issue, I was sometimes surprised to discover I had a whole issue — or almost a whole issue — on one topic. Suddenly several articles on prisoner issues came together, or maybe immigrant issues, or agriculture issues. It was not planned that way, it just happened.

Today I notice that another United Kingdom topic has popped up after yesterday’s entry on UK election artists. This post is about the street artist Banksy and his stealth reaction to the vote that authorized the UK to leave the European Union and expel many immigrants. Hannah Ellis-Petersen at the Guardian reported the story in May.

“A Brexit-inspired mural by Banksy showing a metalworker chipping away at a star on the EU flag has appeared in Dover. …

“The mural, which was confirmed by Banksy’s representatives to be a genuine work by the elusive artist, is his first comment on the Brexit vote last year.

“The stars of the flag ‘stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe,’ according to the EU website. …

“The Dover artwork is across the Channel from Calais, where a Banksy mural appeared at the main refugee camp in 2015, showing the Apple founder, Steve Jobs, whose biological father was a Syrian immigrant,” reminding people that immigrants should be valued. More at the Guardian.

I have posted a few times about this street artist, and once I took a photo of what people said was his work. Check these links to a few of my Banksy posts: herehere, and here.

Banksy appears in Boston. Maybe.

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Photo: SWG3/Facebook
Y
ardworks takes place May 6 and 7
, 2017, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Melita knows I like artistic graffiti. In fact, we are both such fans of Lata_65 (graffiti for old folks) that we intend to try our hand at spray painting if the organization ever comes to the Boston area.

Today Melita shared a link on Facebook about graffiti in Glasgow.

Gregor Kyle wrote at GlasgowLive, “Scotland’s first dedicated graffiti festival will take street art into the heart of the community in Glasgow and open up new opportunities for young people across the city.

“Next weekend (May 6 and 7) in Finnieston, SWG3 will host over 30 of the world’s finest graffiti artists and 50 of Scotland’s street artists at the Yardworks Festival. …

“One of its main aims is to strengthen SWG3’s bond with the local community and the city of Glasgow as a whole.

“School and youth groups have been invited, with the days featuring specialist graffiti workshops and a ‘Creation Station’ for children which will allow everyone the chance to try their hand at painting. …

“ ‘It’s Scotland’s first graffiti festival and the scale of it now, the way it has grown, it’s massive now,’ explained Gaz, who is himself a graffiti artist and part of the management team at SWG3. …

“Most Glaswegians will know SWG3 as a club and concert space but by day it is a thriving hub for artists, filled with studio spaces and workshops. Slowly but steadily it has progressed over the years with the scale and ambitions of its projects growing bigger and bigger.

” ‘The yard is now basically a massive canvas for the artists,’ continued Gaz. ‘We have rendered the walls, wrapped containers in sheet metal – at no small expense – and every surface will be perfect for the artists to paint on. …

” ‘We are trying to build a sense of community in the area, which can be hard sometimes when you have a transient population with some of the students maybe only staying in the flats here for a term and then moving on.

“ ‘Finnieston has this reputation as this hipster area; what people forget is that there is this core population here and in the likes of Partick and Anderston who have lived here a long time. …

“ ‘The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were fantastic for the city. They drew people together and, through a number of projects, connected me with a lot of other artists and graffiti writers that I didn’t know in the city.

“ ‘We will be looking to run workshops in the summer for young people and will try to play our part in improving the area and bringing the community together.’ ”

More at GlasgowLive, here.

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The street art in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a selling point for tourism. It started with unwanted tagging on buildings and evolved into murals authorized by building owners and respected by taggers.

Tampa Bay Times art critic Lennie Bennett has the backstory.

“In recent decades, murals have become a way to spruce up bare walls of buildings and to discourage graffiti. St. Petersburg has street murals in many areas but there is a concentration of them along the downtown Central Avenue corridor. To see them at their best, you need to walk through the area. Even if you travel the route regularly by car, you’ll miss many of them because they adorn the once-drab back walls facing alleys.

“An incentive for owners of the buildings, says [Florida CraftArt executive director Diane Shelly], is that they were regularly ‘tagged,’ meaning a graffiti artist would use an exterior wall as a canvas or to scrawl messages with spray paint. ‘It’s illegal and the city has a graffiti removal program,’ so city workers come out and use whatever paint is available to cover up the tags, which led to a different kind of unsightliness, she said. ‘But taggers respect art, and most won’t tag an existing mural.’ …

“Shelly commissioned Derek Donnelly to create a mural that would replace those painted-over areas and discourage future tagging. ‘A Moment to Reflect ‘was created by Donnelly and Sebastian Coolidge, another well-known street painter whose most beloved work is probably the image of a young man with elongated limbs stretching for an orange on the exterior of the clothing store Freshly Squeezed at First Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

” ‘Reflect’ is the largest of the Central Avenue murals, stretching up four floors. It depicts a businessman wearing a green tie, the color associated with CraftArt’s neighbor and sponsor of the mural, Regions Bank, discovering his creative side. ‘I think it’s the largest free-hand mural in St. Petersburg,’ Shelly says, meaning it wasn’t done using a grid method or projector. …

“Because of the murals’ growing popularity, some business owners rehire the artists to freshen up the works rather than painting over them.

“But in [the experience of Leon Bedore, or Tes One] ‘You end up learning that all murals are temporary art and not intended to stay up forever. (When painting illegally) I felt lucky to have one up for a night. A week was amazing. When an owner didn’t have one removed I thought, ‘” might be on to something if they’re keeping it up.” ‘ ”

The Tampa Bay Times article by Lennie Bennett is here. A comprehensive tour of the murals is here.

Photo: Creative Loafing

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Our friend Mika is back in Hokkaido these days, after several years in New York working in restaurants and perfecting her “house” dancing. But every once in a while she ventures out to help on a street art project. Here is her friend Florence Blanchard’s mural for CBM Network (Crossing Biological Membranes) at the University of Sheffield in England.

At her WordPress site, Florence explains what the art represents, “I am delighted to present my newest mural here – a collaboration with CBMNet at the University Of Sheffield, in conjunction with Festival Of The Mind 2016 / Fear of the Unseen: Engineering Good Bacteria.

“The ‘Crossing Biological Membranes Network’ is composed of scientists working to understand the mechanisms by which substances are transported into, within, and out of cells. Their ultimate aim is to produce knowledge which will enable the development of new technologies in the Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy sector (eg: producing biofuels using E coli bacteria).

“My role in this collaboration has been to translate the CBMNet area of work into a large outdoor mural located within the university campus. For this occasion I have presented my interpretation of a detail of a cell membrane as seen under an electron microscope, having undergone a cryofracture.

“A cryofracture is a procedure in which the sample is frozen quickly and then  broken with a sharp blow so you are able to study its structure in very close detail – Imagine breaking a bar of chocolate with hazelnuts, this way you can see how hazelnuts are positioned inside the bar.”

“For an online animation of a biomembrane cryofracture follow this link: http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/530082/view.”

Check out the WordPress post.

Photo: Florence Ema Blanchard
Blanchard’s street art is tied to a scientific quest: “Engineering Good Bacteria.”

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Among the sights I’ve wanted to photograph in the last few weeks is a sculpture outside the Umbrella Community Arts Center. It invites you to look through and focus on an aspect of the view.

Next up, the old house where Ephraim Bull developed the Concord Grape. Another sign there told me that there was a “Sale Pending.”

My friend Meredith is a featured artist at Concord Art’s new juried show. She has done several treatments of her fica plant, but the one in the show is a lovely collage of painted paper.

I recently discovered on a morning walk that the Providence Preservation Society has generously opened its multilevel garden to the public during certain hours of the day. What a peaceful place to just sit and think! Not far away is the What Cheer Garage (I like the name). Across Providence, you can discover a fine-looking hen on the wall of Olga’s Cup and Saucer, and a street art stencil recommending Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear no evil.

I also like the alley alongside the Providence Performing Arts Center and a hilly street that looks more like Europe than New England.

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Street art is not just for stationary walls any more. According to Kate Essig at WNYC radio, some pretty amazing specimens are now on the move.

“Art in Spain got a sweet new set of wheels thanks to the Truck Art Project,” she writes. “In this collaboration between a transport company and the local art community,  street art takes the form of stunning mobile murals on  — you guessed it —  trucks.

“The project works with popular urban artists like Javier Arce, Suso33, and Marina Vargas to take their works off the wall and put them in motion. …

“The goal of the project is to make contemporary artwork accessible to all, even if it’s just a surprise sighting at a stoplight — so those in Spain who aren’t frequent gallery go-ers can still glimpse this art on the go.” An inspiring array of truck-art photos can be seen here.

And be sure to check out the project website, which reads in part, “Truck Art Project is an original art patronage project launched by the entrepreneur and collector Jaime Colsa, and curated by Fer Francés in contemporary art and Óscar Sanz in urban art. …

“The trucks working with the project will be the gigantic backdrops for the artworks. The initiative thereby becomes a living display of the most current tendencies in the country’s painting, drawing, and urban art (although the ambitious program intends to be even more multidisciplinary, involving other art forms such as photography, music, or cinema), away from the confines of a museum and aimed at non-traditional spectators and contexts that don’t usually lend themselves to contemporary art.”

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Providence has to be the New England capital of playful graffiti. After PVD Fest a week ago, I caught three new bits of cheerful vandalism around town — new to me anyway.

Pasted on a wall near my office was a duck in a suit, which a younger friend informs me should be understood as “ducktales” because the suit has tails.

I especially love graffiti sayings, like the one about being blessed where you stand and the one about explaining to a friend that you are not a Virgo.

Artistic adventurism is not new for Providence. Take a look at the exotic Fleur-de-lis Studio, for example, on Angell Street.

In other Rhode Island photos, we have the playhouse that Farmor gave her Providence grandchildren. Erik put it together, with help from Suzanne and the kids. The 18-month-old now thinks she’s in charge of screwdrivers.

The picture of berries has a robin eating them. You may have to take my word on that. And if you walk around looking up all the time, you’re sure to see interesting tops of buildings.

I’m winding up this photographic array in Massachusetts, with the herb garden behind the church, the sexton’s bonsai trees, and another tree that reminds me of a line from a hymn: “roots, hold me close.”

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Graffiti is not what it used to be. At the Studio 360 radio show, Jack D’Isidoro recently reported on an American city that wanted to be a tourist destination for murals on every wall.

“For decades, street art was bemoaned as a symptom of urban decay and detritus — a sign that system had lost control. …

“Times have changed, however; mainstream culture now recognizes that street art can be iconic, sensational, and good for business.

“But what if it was created with the intention of being a public good, as a tool that could revitalize and beautify a neighborhood? Richmond, the capital of Virginia, decided to find out.

“Now in its fourth year, the Richmond Mural Project brings internationally renowned mural artists to install pieces (with the building owners’ permission) throughout the city. The mission: create the highest concentration of murals in the world, turning Richmond into a global destination for street art lovers.

” ‘I thought, “I can make a change in Richmond,” ‘recalls Shane Pomajambo, a Washington, D.C., art gallery owner and organizer of the project. Initially, he had met with the mayor and city council members with the intention of creating an arts district within the city, but it quickly expanded into a wider effort …

“With a total of 84 murals since the project’s inception, it’s inspired local artists as well, who have added to the impressive displays across Richmond’s brick walls.”

More at Studio 360, where you can also see more Richmond murals.

Photo: Richmond Mural Project
A mural by the artist Ever in the city of Richmond, Virginia

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Once again, the Christian Science Monitor comes up with a story about a person creating positive change in the world.

Jessica Mendoza writes, “Behind a low, unobtrusive brick building [in Boston’s inner city] is a lush, green forest. Brown and silver-gray trees cover the building’s wall, their leafy canopies blocking the sky. Sun-dappled stones sit on tangles of grass. A boy perches on the largest rock, gazing at a distant meadow.

“On the wall’s lower left corner, the word ‘Love’ appears in bright green; opposite is the word in Spanish, ‘Amor,’ in vibrant red.

“The forest is a mural, and even in the dead of winter the 18-by-85-foot painting gives a sense of beauty, warmth, and life – qualities that artist Alex Cook tries to convey in all his work.

“ ‘Art was always a deeply spiritual thing, the most real thing in my life,’ Mr. Cook says. ‘You want to share that kind of feeling.’ …

“An artist for most of his life, Cook has painted on walls all over the United States and has even packed his brushes to travel to and paint in Kenya, Nigeria, and most recently Panajachel, Guatemala. …

“The project began in the fall of 2013 when Cook was performing in New Orleans. There he met Amy Hoyle, then a principal at a local elementary school. Ms. Hoyle was looking for new ways to engage her students and invited Cook to paint a mural on campus, based on the motto of Woodland West Elementary School: ‘Stay curious.’

“Cook delivered, painting two huge faces side by side in a strange, beautiful picture that prompted more questions than answers.

“But he did more than that. Touched by the students, many of whom were poor and had difficult home lives, Cook decided to paint something that would remind them every day of how special they were. The result was a hallway filled with a palette of colors and messages telling all who passed by that they were beautiful, needed, important, and loved. “It’s like walking through a warm hug,” Hoyle says.

Read how Cook made his projects increasingly collaborative, inspiring people from all walks of life (here).

Photo: Ann Hermes
Alex Cook stands in front of one of his large murals, an 18-by-85-foot depiction of a forest in Boston.

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The snowstorms were great for pictures, but spring seems to bring photo ops everywhere you turn.

Here you have a flower pot outside Sally Ann Bake Shop, my neighbor’s weeping cherry, an excavator at my house, a utilitarian fence that is always being decorated by Fort Point artists (this time with bells) or by nature (a flowering tree) or the government (“No Trespassing”).

The lion lives in tiny Wormwood Park. The street art riffing off Boston’s famed Citgo sign is on South Street. The harbor arbor is putting out shoots. At the Brattle Book Shop on West Street, books have come out again in the warmer weather.

Finally, please note the upside down car reflected at the Downtown Crossing CVS.

outside-the-bakery

Mike-Mulligan-shovel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

weeping-cherry

with-bells-on

 

 

 

 

 

 

spring-busting-out

trespassers-will

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a-lion-at-wormwood

4-30-15-harbor-arbor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on-South-St

brattle-books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

upside-down-car

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