Overunder and ND’A in Nevada

A Street Art Residency is born in Reno

The Street Art scene exists at least partially in tandem with the digital sphere and one of its effects on the concept of community is that artists today are more mobile and internationally connected to one another than their pre-Internet graffiti predecessors were.

The growth of connectivity is producing a foundational change to the world of the Street Artist and his or her relation to society as a hidden and/or marginalized figure. Increasingly it appears that it is impossible to be socially isolated when you are so busy relating, even if anonymously. Unwittingly, the stereotypical vision of the outsider is melting as one is pulled into a collective environment where peers regulate and monitor the actions of one another and settle disputes or give encouragement and opportunities.Harrington and Rojo, Freed from the Wall, Street Art Travels the World, an essay for Eloquent Vandals, 2011

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

Any Street Artist who has visited another city quickly realizes that there is a network of couches across the world – open to the adventurous artist who has paid dues and built a trustworthy or respected reputation among their peers. If you are cool, you’ll find a brand new batch of friends who will help you out. Even as you can remain anonymous on some level in your online presence, a sort of relational database exists in the tribes hands today that enables peers to perform a streetwise background check on you. If you have a solid rep, you’ll easily get offered a place to crash and a tour of favorite spots to hit. That sort of camaraderie has always existed to some extent of course, as well as rivalry.

One relatively new development is the Street Art residency. The concept of a residency (or some variant) is not foreign to academically trained artists and as many artists on the streets today have some formal training, they will have exposure to the idea. But discussing a residency for Street Artists feels ironic as these artists have inherited and altered a scene that once was populated and defined almost exclusively by youth who grew up with far fewer opportunities, resources, or access.

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

As always there are still the philanthropists and the collectors today who give lodging and materials to young artists and many times today these doors are also open to Street Artists. Additionally there are the loosely cobbled-together festivals that are more prevalent in the last 5 years where one artist with leadership qualities is able to pool enough paint, available bedrooms, and beer to invite a collection of peeps to their city to kill some walls.  With the rise in interest in Street Art due to high profile names like Banksy and Fairey, increasingly we are seeing corporate cash is slipping into that model as well so that lifestyle brands can more easily mingle with a scene that might help it sell product.

And so it appears like a natural development to find that OverUnder has a little shack in Nevada for a Street Artist to develop their craft, focus on their skills, and with some luck, to hit up some walls. Still in its beginning stages, OverUnder and his friend and co-Street Artist White Cocoa are hoping this residency can provide a safe space to expand and explore creatively for their hand-picked guests and to possibly work collaboratively. Here are some images from the very first residency guest who arrived this fall from Brooklyn, Street Artist ND’A. Among the local activities they did together were painting walls downtown, hiking a trail historically remembered for cannibalism, and slaughtering a pig on a ranch.

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

“Yeah, so ND’A was just out here and it was a very exciting yet strange time of changes. The residency is still being built up but is very close to being finished. White Cocoa and I built the entire structure with my brother over the summer and we tried to use mostly found materials which is evident by it’s idiosyncrasies. We also made a few trips to Habitat for Humanity and the lumber yard,” OverUnder explains about this multi-windowed shack with a slim sleeping quarter overhead.

The first mural they painted in Reno was at an old Dice factory that is now being converted to a band rehearsal space and a metal shop down by the railroad tracks. ND’A says the process was kind of like a conversation, “We just sort of worked out the idea on the wall – and we have gotten to a point where we communicate well with each other on ideas and we’re able to go back and forth and change things kind of “on the fly”. That’s what I’ve always like about working with OverUnder. He’s really adaptable. It makes it easy to work on the street.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

OverUnder agrees, “The great thing about working with ND’A is that the painting is very conversational. And it goes both ways because anyone that knows ND’A will tell you how friendly and talkative he is, but even more so he holds up a great dialogue on the wall.”

About the piece itself,  OverUnder helps explain what, for many, is work that needs some crib notes, “When painting together we tend to create non-linear totem poles that could be viewed like a cyclical ideogram,” he says.  “For example, this piece could be about being lost in the idea of home, aiming at becoming stronger, snake eye vision and being three sheets to the wind. Of course the dice represent the Flyce Dice factory where the mural is located, the rocker foam hand signals the transformation of the factory into band rooms and a metal shop, and the dogs curly breath hints at the corkscrew tail of the 300 lb pig living just to the right of the frame. So it becomes very lyrical with hints at the past and the present. And if you read into it you can literally read into it.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

“The second mural we painted is found in downtown Reno. In the scene you see two geese watching a royal hand requesting one shot,” he says, “The message in the bottle is delivered at lightning speed to a Native American Medusa grandmother.” Is that clear to you? OverUnder isn’t that worried, “What it all means? We have no idea. But plenty of people walking by told us what it meant to them, which is always cool.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

The experience on the street in Reno and the conversations they had with passersby was a little different from those in some of the rougher areas in Brooklyn or fast-paced Manhattan. Says ND’A, “For the most part we had a really positive interaction with the neighborhood. People seemed to appreciate having a little artwork.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

When not in the cabin working on sketches painting walls in Reno, the artists were hiking up a snow-covered mountain and checking out an icy lake.

OverUnder explains, “We took advantage of our adventurous artist and exposed him to some alpine exploration and painting at Donner Lake. This is the same area that was made notorious by the tales of the cannibalistic Donner party.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

ND’A was pretty enthusiastic, “We went up into the mountains up the Donner Trail and painted in the tunnels and that was a completely awesome experience. It’s really serene and pretty and you are freezing your ass off and you can’t feel your hands.”

“After nearly freezing ND’A we showed him the other side of our diverse landscape by taking him out to a ranch,” OverUnder recounts about ND’A learning to slaughter a pig under the guidance of a Basque rancher.  “None of us knew how we would feel when we did it – but it was a bonding and learning experience. It also provided meat for Thanksgiving and beyond that.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

Not all residencies are the same, and while the FAME festival offers artists incredible food, none have reported having to kill it before eating it. But for the right Street Artist, OverUnder is going to offer some good experiences just by way of location and his lust for experimentation and affinity for collaboration.

ND’A says he liked working together on pieces, “Even though we both work in different mediums we both have similar ideas on style and I think that each one of our styles are significant in their own right but complement each other very well.”

Overunder . ND’A. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

“To say the least, our residency program is not the slight-most traditional; but either is Street Art or any of the passions that give us our drive,” sums up OverUnder, “We loved having ND’A in Reno and look forward to all the work he creates in the future.”

ND’A. Donner Tunnels. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

Overunder . Kelly Peyton. Donner Tunnels. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

The Little Big Clubhouse. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

Donner Lake. Reno, Nevada. November 2012. (photo © Overunder)

To learn more about the Big Little Clubhouse Residency Program click here.



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