The audacity of the organically grown Street Art and graffiti wall, covered with styles and sentiments that are anybody’s guess, people painting whatever the heck they want. It may not be easy to digest, but maybe you’ll find part of it to be inspiring, or challenging, or eye opening. Or all three.
“One person did drive by and yell out the window, ‘This is awful!’ ” says artist Don Pablo Pedro as he lets out a belly laugh. “So that was fun, that was a good one. Other than that I’ve enjoyed it a lot.” He’s talking about the new wall still in progress in Bushwick Brooklyn that is taking shape without input from anyone but the artists. “Yeah there are no real rules, we’re just going out there and having fun. Not trying to do anything that is too important or anything,” says Pablo as he talks about his blue Jesus character with the chastity belt.
Don Pablo Pedro, Smells, Cash4 and Keely. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Usually this sort of work appears on abandoned lots where only few eyes will see it, not on this corner in the still industrial, intensely trafficked, sooty smelly occasionally ear-splittingly loud part of Bushwick. Here you are greeted by very aggressive truck drivers caterwauling by on 18 wheels like bats out of hell. If you are not alert you can be mowed down or choked by the gritty air along with growing numbers of desparados who have settled here in recent years as artists, students, and low-wage workers continue to migrate in search of affordable space to live and work.
Many of the artists painting on this wall come from different directions and backgrounds – graffiti, street art, fine art, painting, woodworking, screen-printing, sculpture – and many have worked collaboratively before. Smells is the curator, if for no other reason than there had to be some sense of order, and according to Don Pablo it won’t be finished until its completely covered. So far the collection includes work from Smells, Cash4, Droid, UFO, Gentu, Keely, Sadue, Don Pablo Pedro, Tony Bones…. “I think it’s still going to go on, it’s kind of a ‘progress wall,’ ” says Pedro.
Don Pablo Pedro, Smells. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
“Now the wall has turned into sort of a more grimey wall, which I love about it. It’s my friends building and he kind of loves that too. It mirrors more of him actually.”
Does he find that passersby have a negative reaction to some of the content of his piece – the nudity, genitalia, the multiple additional boobs? “You know, I was hoping so! I have seen a number of people look at it and laugh, like some of the worker guys in the neighborhood.”
And for this neighborhood, if you call it that, community standards divine that this explosion of tags and characters is cool, not that some of these artists give a rats butt. “The neighbors are really nice. They know most of the artists – the people next door have the art materials place and they’re really nice too.”
Don Pablo Pedro, Cash4 and Keely. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
For Don Pablo Pedro, it’s the genuine artistic freedom he is attracted to and as part of his own practice he finds that he’s still learning about doing collaborative work with others and how to work with rough walls – since his typical practice is on canvas and is done solo and in a studio.
“This is also kind of new for me because I’m working with other people’s art pieces around mine and also the little nuances in the wall; like when I was doing the Jesus figure there were these little weird nail things that were on either side of the door so I used them. Also there were like some little nipple things so I used them. And I think Smells liked using the thing for the vagina so it could sort of spray out. Smells piece is really good. I love that one, it’s really good,” he says enthusiastically.
Don Pablo Pedro working on a fourth character. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
907 Crew . Keely. Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)
907 Crew . Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The Whole Gang. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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