The Grass Is Greener in Rochester for Wall\Therapy 2017: Completed Walls

With a theme of “Art and Activism”, the 2017 edition of Wall\Therapy is happening mid-summer in Rochester with local and national artists coming to complete murals that keep people in mind. More of a grassroots mural festival than many, this one works to deepen engagement with the community through new programming intended to connect residents of all ages. BSA is happy to support Wall\Therapy again this year and we invite you to take a look at a people-powered organization that continues to keep it real.

Most of the walls have been finished here in Rochester and the artists are resting up after a pretty intense week and a half of creating new murals for Wall\Therapy. It’s a perfect time of year here – August is sunny and warm and there are sunflowers in backyards and morning glories climbing fences along empty lots. There’s a lot to do around Rocha-cha, and now there are many more murals that are drawing people together to stand on the sidewalk or hang out a window and examine and discuss.

Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, as they say, and many people don’t realize how much of an adventure they can have going for a walk or a hike through their own city. We were so impressed by a short story that Street Artist Sean9Lugo shared with us that we decided to end our coverage of Wall\Therapy with it – a parable for our relationship with animals and the earth. Additionally, his illustrated, painted wheat-pastes here help to illustrate the story.

Our sincere thanks again to the Wall\Therapy founders, organizers, volunteers, artists, and photographers along with the members of the community who lent a hand and some time to making this successful event happen.

Sean9Lugo.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

“The Grass Can Always Be Greener”

Over the years the people that have inhabited mother earth did not treat her well. She was used and abused – crying thunderous tears that flooded her rivers, cracking her foundation and exposing the howling songs of sorrow that gust across her skies. It was the animals who tried to stop us from breaking her heart but we did not listen and only continued on without any regard. We believed we were making improvements to life, yet it was not us but the flowers, trees and rest of the creatures that suffered the consequences the most.

Something had to be done and it was Olivia who made it her mission to replenish mother earth with the plants and animals that once called her home, but barely survived our arrogance, for this was the only way to revive her broken heart.

One day Olivia sat along the Lower Falls overlook apologizing to mother earth for the damage done when a raccoon nibbling on some clover and dandelion turned to her asking why there was so much sadness in her eyes. After explaining to the raccoon what troubled her he ran away in excitement only to return at a much slower pace atop a turtle. The raccoon and turtle took turns with their story, ultimately saying that it only those whose hearts beat to the same beautiful rhythm as mother earths that could bring the spark back to the horizon across the waters, land, and sky.

Sean9Lugo.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Immediately the raccoon ran into a deep burrow in the ground coming back up with handfuls of soil, each time placing it into Olivia’s hands who smeared it across the turtles shell. It was only the touch of a human that could slowly reverse the damage caused by all of us, and after the last handful was placed on the turtles broadened back, lo and behold the earth began to grow in an instant.

The soil upon the turtles back continued to sprout with blossoms and as it grew the air smelled sweeter, the fish could breathe better and the sky was illuminated with a luminous orb. It had been years since mother earth shone this bright. The animals all around the falls ran to see the beauty that was forming around them and rejoiced but immediately sought council as they knew there was still work to be done with the help of Olivia.

Sean9Lugo.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

Next the ducks received her on their interknit wings and slowly raised her into the skies where she was met by the elder stork who was honored to have Olivia’s presence in the skies with him. With gratitude he passed on to her bags of life, explaining to her that they held creatures that would bless the earth, and again only a humans touch could release the contents of the bags. As she was lowered back to the growing earth around her, which was now carpeted with greener grass and trees sprouting everywhere, she gently placed the bags down. The bags began to roll around with the tops spilling open, releasing fish, land animals, insects and every other creature that for so many years did not exist on mother earth.

Sean9Lugo.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

As soon as the animals embraced their new home they gathered around Olivia proclaiming her the Great Defender of the earth. Other people rushed to her side, tears rolling down their cheeks from the overwhelming beauty that was intensifying across the horizon. It was on this day that people promised to gently care for mother earth and her children because they finally realized that we must live in harmony with all that surrounds us.

El Fin

~ Sean9Lugo

Sean9Lugo in Collaboration with Magnus Champlin.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

BSA: You have been busy the last few days with wheat-pasting your characters around town. Have you been enjoying Rochester?
Sean9Lugo: I love Rochester, it reminds me of a bunch of different cities – Detroit, Philly and The Bronx – all put together in a pot of arroz con gandules.

BSA: How did the collaboration on the naturescape wall come about and are you pleased with the results?
Sean9Lugo: I felt like the final scene/wall needed to have a landscape to bring the story written by Savage Habbit in full circle. I reached out to Erich from Wall Therapy and asked if he knew anyone in town who would like to collaborate and paint a Bob Ross style landscape and he delivered with flying colors, putting me in touch with local artist Magnus Champlin.  So to answer your question, yes I was thrilled to see how the vision came out.

BSA: What is the most common reaction of passerby to your work?
Sean9Lugo: Most people either laugh, say “that’s cute” or question “why the head?”

BSA: If a bear and you were spotting a jar of peanut butter up a tree in the woods at the same time, who would win?
Sean9Lugo: No contest, I would destroy the bear… peanut butter is my shit.

Sarah C. Rutherford.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Sarah C. Rutherford. Detail. Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

Roc Paint Division.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Lisa Barker)

Roc Paint Division. Detail.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Lisa Barker)

Jess X Snow. Detail.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Jess X Snow. Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Ian Kuali’i. Detail.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Lucinda Yrene La Morena. Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

Lucinda Yrene La Morena. Detail.  Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Todd Stahl. Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)

Todd Stahl. Detail. Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Jason Wilder)

Aubrey Roemer. Work in progress. Wall Therapy 2017. Rochester, NY. (photo © Mark Deff)