All posts tagged: Alexandra Parrish

Atlanta Struggles With Legacy of Two Destroyed Murals and New Regulation

Atlanta Struggles With Legacy of Two Destroyed Murals and New Regulation

Last week on our BSA Film Friday feature we brought you the story of two murals in Atlanta that were destroyed by the community because certain elements of each offended them. The documentary “A Tale of Two Murals” by Public Broadcasting Atlanta and PBS, directed by Trevor Keller, faithfully followed the story that began in 2012 during the Atlanta Living Walls festival. This week we bring you a new essay on the occasion of a new ordinance proposed by the City of Atlanta to regulate the process of reviewing and approving these murals going forward. A former intern and Communications Director of Living Walls, Alexandra Parrish submitted this essay to BSA to give her opinion and perspective on the events during the last two years and what she believes will be the impact of new pending legislation. 

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A brigade of supporters washing the buff off of Roti’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

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By Alexandra Parrish

In the past five years, Atlanta has shaped up to be a veritable hub of the arts. Within this period, the city has witnessed a cultural renaissance thanks to a myriad of impassioned arts organizations and creative individuals. It should be mentioned that the largess of these initiatives came not from city officials, but rather propelled from the ground-up. Of those that have garnered international acclaim is Living Walls, the non-profit arts organization responsible for the installation of over one hundred murals across city limits.

As it stands today, Living Walls, among several other arts organizations and practicing artists are under attack.

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A brigade of supporters washing the buff off of Roti’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

Let’s back track for a minute. Five years ago, Living Walls hosted the first street art conference in Atlanta, inviting over twenty artists from around the globe and their own backyard to complete a series of murals. The impetus behind the event was to garner discussion about public space in Atlanta that seemed overpowered by the freeways that divided neighborhoods, overwhelmed by billboards and generally ignored by the city. Although street art could not solve these problems, it got people talking. Due to the success of the first event, the once deemed “scrappy” organization continued, and murals began to display across the city as the annual conference came and went.

Along the way, Living Walls made a few mistakes. First, the organization was into the third year of operation when the city noted that despite approval by private property owners, every mural that Living Walls was responsible for were done so illegally. The city had in place an ordinance that required the approval of public art from three different city agencies in order to determine if the work was signage. By that time, Living Walls began to seek non-profit status, and in an effort to follow to the law at hand, they obliged to the arduous process of approval. From then on, Living Walls staff made the effort so that every mural was subjected to this procedure.

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A detail of Roti’s mural in Atlanta (image © Google  from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

Second, one mural completed during the 2012 edition sparked controversy. Hyuro, a renowned Spanish artist, completed a mural of a woman in a series of undress in the neighborhood of Chosewood Park. The nudity offended some people; some even deemed the work ‘pornographic.’ When the city was notified, the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) remarked that the work that they approved had, in fact, not made it on the wall: the original sketch by the artist depicted a number of folding chairs. The controversial work was ultimately buffed since it did not appropriately follow procedure.

The third mistake wasn’t exactly a mistake on paper. In 2012, on the tail end of the Hyuro controversy, the French artist Roti painted another expansive mural in the corridor of the Pittsburgh neighborhood. Living Walls, and the artist, followed procedure: the sketch (which made it on the wall, this time) was presented to three departments and approved. About a month after the mural was finished, controversy stirred again. Unfortunately, this is where the story begins.

I believe it’s important that I offer full disclosure: I am the former Communications Director of Living Walls. I started working with the organization back in 2011 as an intern, and continued until I eventually moved from Atlanta in 2013. I am also the partner of Roti, whom I met during his stay in Atlanta two years ago. I’ve witnessed these events unravel before me, and I’ve felt powerless as to how to react. Today I feel the inclination to respond to these events, because with many miles between me and Atlanta and everything that is about to happen, I finally understand.

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Walking past Roti’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

We were in New York City when Roti and I heard the news: Camille Love, Executive Director of the OCA notified Monica Campana, Living Wall’s own Executive Director, that Roti’s mural had to be buffed. No explanation was given initially, but it would only take a matter of hours until we learned that several community members had objected to what they perceived as the murals “demonic” imagery. While Campana rightly justified that the city had approved the content and refused to buff the wall, about six men (including a former congressmen who I still can’t believe held office after watching this video) decided to do it for her – illegally. Despite their attempts, the water-based paint that haphazardly covered Roti’s mural stood no chance. In a matter of hours, over 100 people gathered with soap, water and sponges. Along with the help Department of Transportation, they managed to salvage the mural.

Roti and I were completely floored by the chain of events. I think for any street artist who travels the world painting murals understands that once they’ve done their work, it no longer belongs to them. It belongs to the people who have to see it every day, the communities of which it is in. I urged Roti to issue a statement about his work, but he refused to make any concessions. It didn’t belong to him anymore. We were just witnesses to the theater underway.

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Hyuro’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

When I returned to Atlanta, the saga of Roti’s mural continued. Two council members from the area hosted a press conference to “discuss a resolution” with concerned parties. Conspicuously, Living Walls was not invited, nor anyone else who was in favor of the work. Word travelled fast and as soon as the cameras turned on, a crowd had gathered just opposite Roti’s mural. Those in front of the camera stood in their opposition to the mural, while those standing behind the camera maintained their support. The pundits spoke their grievances and the cameras were turned off. The hostility simmered to a boil once many from the community who believed in the work felt slighted, and seeking the opportunity to discuss their differences, were immediately shot down. I saw fingers pointed, voices raised and accusations slung. It was the most unfortunate event I have ever witnessed, and I will never forget.

Roti’s mural was buffed grey soon thereafter. Those council members who so vigorously opposed Roti’s mural assembled a committee that was determined to draft legislation so that an event like this would never happen again. In the spring of this year, they finally presented the legislation. Once the arts community caught wind of the initial proposal, valid issues were raised. Of the most paramount concern was that this ordinance would give city officials the right to make aesthetic decisions about private property, and anyone with knowledge of American civics can understand that this is a clear encroachment on first amendment rights. The ordinance, which was quickly ostracized by many Atlantans (not only in the arts), was shelved up until last week when the city council decided to take it up again to vote for approval.

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A neighborhood meeting about the fate of Hyuro’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

This brings us where we are today, and where my long-winded explanation of this series of events will come to a close, but only after I offer my consideration of this entire situation. I understand the sentiment shared by those community members who did not approve of Hyuro’s and Roti’s murals is exacted because of just that: they were not notified, so therefore they weren’t given the chance to say yay or nay until the work was already up. I could get into specifics and blame the council members for this point (they represent these communities, and had approved of the work), but I’ll leave that aside. The point is, these people felt disenfranchised by the artwork. But can a hefty bureaucratic measure resolve this issue? Simple answer: no.

That brings me to another concern. The legislation requires a lot of work on behalf of the artist and private property owner. I’ll give the city some credit where it’s due that they are trying to “streamline” the process by funneling all the paperwork through one office, but the paperwork in itself still requires too much red tape over the freedom of expression. I would even dare to suggest that it would deter individuals (or smaller organizations than Living Walls) from making so much as an attempt to follow this draconian procedure. In other words: this legislation stifles creativity.

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Hyuro’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

This civic creativity is what has put Atlanta on the map in terms of the arts and culture. It came from the porches, bars and backyards. These informal networks, which are made on a daily basis, built the cultural capital of Atlanta. And it is precisely because they had the freedom to do so. That is why I will go so far to claim that this legislation is an attack on the arts in Atlanta, because if it is passed, it will eventually alter this practice. If murals are accountable to time-consuming subjugation, so is the imagination of these artists.

I may no longer live in Atlanta, but the city is still part of my identity. I’ve traveled to different places around the world and have had the pleasure of meeting many people who knew of Atlanta, not only because it hosted the Olympics back in 1996, but also because of it’s flourishing arts scene. If the city takes this step to restrict artwork, they will undoubtedly place a constraint on the creative industry that has followed. Those “scrappy” organizations like Living Walls may fall short to the city’s demands, and others may never even surface.

For the sake of creativity, let it be.

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Hyuro’s mural in Atlanta (image courtesy and © of Trevor Keller and PBA from “A Tale of Two Murals”)

An addendum:

*After a public meeting this week with the committee spearheading the legislation, councilmember Joyce Shepard has decided to take more time to review the proposed ordinance. Additionally, she suggested that perhaps arts and legal experts could offer further consultation. While I would like to dictate some optimism on behalf of this news, I find it politics at best. When initial proposal faced criticism from arts organizations and artists alike, city council attempted to thwart constructive input by rescheduling a public meeting nearly five times. This news echoes the habitual avoidance demonstrated by city council since the onset of the proposed legislature.

However, let us hope that the ostracism of the arts community by the city council in drafting this public art ordinance is subject for reversal. Perhaps, this time around city council will review these points made above, which sound loudly among all artists in Atlanta.

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To see the documentary “A Tale of Two Murals” in its entirety, please go to http://www.pba.org/programming/tale-two-murals/

Our thanks to Trevor Keller for the screenshots from the film used to illustrate Ms. Parrish’s essay.

 

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A ‘New Ukraine’ Sculpture in Independence Square by Roti

A ‘New Ukraine’ Sculpture in Independence Square by Roti

French Street Artist Trucks 4 Ton Marble Sculpture with Kiev Crowd Watching

The Prime Minister and his cabinet have quit and the freezing crowds are still demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych. Here in sub-zero Independence Square amidst the Molotov cocktails and burning tires appears a “New Ukraine,” thanks to the just carved sculpture of the same name. Street Artist Roti channeled his rebellious graffiti ethos into this project featuring the image of a Ukrainian woman emerging from the depths. He hopes to inspire the demonstrators who have been mobilized for two months plus.

Inflamed since their presidents’ sudden withdrawal from a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) in November, most say the real oxygen that is feeding this populist fire is disgust with a political class that became corrupt. With this unsanctioned gift of public art Roti examines and tests the ambiguous nature of illegality that also possesses beauty, claiming public space for a rippling people’s movement that now looks like a revolution.

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“New Ukraine” by Roti (photo © Chris Cunningham)

 
Writer, scholar, and occasional BSA contributor, Alexandra Parrish was perfectly placed in Kiev this winter to see the uprisings swell and to witness the carving out of this now historical public sculpture by Roti, as well as its placement. We are pleased that she shares with us today an essay that provides context and background for Roti’s gift to The Euromaiden (Євромайдан, #EuroMaiden #EuroMaidan) and to the related events.

Roti’s “New Ukraine”
by Alexandra Parrish

“Throughout history, art has served as a representation of religious, cultural, political and social movements,” remarks Roti, the 25-year-old artist cum laude. Today, while many artists seemingly work for the market alone, others continue to negotiate the relationship of art to society. French artist Roti is certainly moving towards his own interpretation of such, particularly after the installation of his 2-metre sculpture titled “New Ukraine” in the centre of Kyiv to express his solidarity with the current revolution underway.

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Roti at work in his studio. (photo © Chris Cunningham)

By trade, Roti is a stonecutter specialized in sculpture; in a separate pursuit, he’s negotiated illegality in public space via graffiti for the past decade. An artist in all regard, Roti’s surreal work depicts the spiritual realm, the intangible realities that exist in the mind. He’s found much success with his style, which has allowed him to travel with his work to New York, Atlanta, Paris and London.

However, it was his trip to Ukraine for the Gogol fest back in September of 2013 that sparked an intense appreciation and curiosity about the spirit of the art scene underway, predominately in the capital city of Kyiv. He spent a month deep within the community of artists who have “built beauty out of nothing;” in this experience, he learned how the individual could be a part of a collective. He promised to return, one day.

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Roti at work in his studio. (screen shot from a yet to be released film © Chris Cunningham)

In late November of 2013, rumblings of a new revolution in Ukraine began. Acts of peaceful civil resistance and demonstrations activated Independence Square, the centre of Kyiv. These demonstrations were a direct response to president Yanukovych’s decision to retrench from trade agreements with the European Union in favor of a renewed arrangement with Russia.

The movement, affectionately referred to as “Euromaidan,” has been generally characterized in Western media as an aspiration for EU-integration. However, Ukrainians continue to endure freezing temperatures and police intimidation for a more humanist cause – they are through with Yanukovych’s corrupt government and they demand a better quality of life (the average Ukrainian earns about $300 per month).

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Roti at work in his studio. (screen shot from a yet to be released film © Chris Cunningham)

Roti, after observing the resistance through media outlets and Facebook feeds, felt a strong urge to return. Initially, he felt compelled to just be there. After much consideration, he realized he needed to do something. For months, he’d worked on the concept of a sculpture he assumed would install one day in Paris. Yet the movement happening in Ukraine assigned a new meaning to his initial idea – a woman, emerging from water – an allegory for the current revolution.

Two days after his initial proposal to several friends involved with Euromaidan, he booked a ticket to Kyiv. Two days after that, he miraculously managed to find a rose-marble stone and a workshop. The entire process fell into place so smoothly that his efficiency followed – generally, he would work 14-16 hours a day carving and polishing the stone. By the 13th day, the stone was complete.

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Roti at work in his studio. (screen shot from a yet to be released film © Chris Cunningham)

In the end, he saw life in the sculpture. The ripples had energy and movement. The face of the woman, while modeled after a friend and talented performer of the Dakh Daughters, represented the strength and perseverance of the Ukrainian population. Roti himself felt as if he’d emerged from a descent into the murky waters of insecurity. The sculpture, which he titled “New Ukraine,” became alive in symbolism, hope and energy – everything he felt during his experience and understanding of Euromaidan.

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Roti (photo © Alexej Zaika)

The installation took place on the day of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 2014. At around 6:00 p.m., the procession into Euromaidan began with the Dakh Daughters, who performed traditional Ukrainian folk songs about patriotism and freedom; a truck carrying the 4-tonnes sculpture trailed their spirited performance. “Around 200 people followed us into the centre,” Roti observed.

Everyone was curious, even confused, as no announcements had been officially made. This was, after all, an illegal installation. No authorization was given. However, it didn’t take long for those perplexed observers to understand why this was happening. “New Ukraine” was more than a gift; it was a proclamation of hope. After the sculpture was successfully hoisted from the truck to the ground, people sang and danced into the night in celebration.

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Roti (photo © Alexej Zaika)

Two months into Euromaidan, the celebration of Christmas and the “New Ukraine” sculpture were hardly indicators of an end to the protests, although demonstrations began to decrease in number. On January 16, Yanukovych forcefully passed legislation that would colossally curtail a number of free speech rights, notably the right to assemble and protest. This move sparked civil unrest that ultimately culminated into a violent stand off between protestors and police.

The first deaths of the revolution were reported in the week that followed. Protests spread to nine other cities across Ukraine, marking a fundamental shift in the Ukrainian revolution. While Yanokovych has agreed to make concessions towards peace, talks have yielded no success. The situation may seem dire to some, but there is some hope out of all of it. Increasingly more government buildings are now occupied and riot police and government troops are vastly outnumbered.

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Roti (photo © Alexej Zaika)

Since the rise in tension, greater media attention has been given to the movement and supporters across the world have asked their leaders to enact concessions on the Ukrainian government. During the World Economic Forum in Switzerland Friday, January 24th, 50 Ukrainian sympathizers stood outside with signs that read “thank you for your concern, now do something.”

In a way, this sentiment can be addressed to many of us. Social movements and revolutions require more than assembly, they also command a shift in ideology and action. Roti’s “New Ukraine” sculpture in Kyiv is almost an unconscious rallying call to continue the independent and free ethos of graffiti with new disciplines.

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Roti (photo © Alexej Zaika)

“If I use art illegally, in the graffiti spirit, by giving all this energy inside the stone,” Roti explains, “it can leave an eternal trace of this movement.” Likely, this stone will remain for hundreds of years as a continuous reminder of the Ukrainian revolution.

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Roti (photo © Chris Cunningham)

This article also appears on The Huffington Post 

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Our special thanks to Alex Parrish for sharing her essay with BSA readers.
 
 
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Priceless Culture: Mexican Artist Neuzz in Atlanta For Living Walls 2012

Starting off the week we check in with Living Walls Atlanta for our fourth installment of 2012 and an inspirational installation by a Street Artist and painter from Mexico City named Neuzz.

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

NEUZZ

Text by Alexandra Parrish
Photos by Dustin Chambers and Wil Hughes
Video by Dustin Chambers and Wil Hughes, edited by Dustin Chambers 

Like species, neighborhoods are named endangered. Places lose their value, their splendor and charm over time as shoddy development moves in. Sweet Auburn District, which was once a lively area decades ago, was recently named one of United States’ most endangered places.

The neighborhood that holds Sweet Auburn District, the Old Fourth Ward, has experienced a similar decline. Namely, Edgewood Ave, which is littered with empty buildings and Styrofoam trash. It’s easy to overlook the historic value of the district upon first glance, yet many have measured the significance of O4W in other ways.

Neuzz, aka Miguel Mejía, came to Atlanta to experience the city of grit that reminds him much of his own, Mexico City. The historical determination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. initially attracted Neuzz to Atlanta, where he would complete a wall located in King’s district. His four week stint allowed him to develop a richer understanding of the area; the social and economic congruence to his home city in Mexico inspired him to transform the “sad wall” into art through his rich, vibrant colors.

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Wil Hughes)

His assistant, Keif Schliefer, guided him through the process of completing his largest mural as of yet. The subject matter and motif of the wall comes from his heritage; his style and methodology is derived from his modern understanding. The composition and coloring was entirely influenced by the community – any kind of trash he found, he used as a stencil. His sketch likened a traditional costume-dance to celebrate rain and agriculture (the very rain that prevented work for five days) and incorporated the bees he handled at Keif’s house. Aside from being an artist, architect, civil rights activist and a former firefighter, Keif is also Living Walls Projects’ Chief Engineer and Logistics Director.

Some people grid out their walls while others project, but Neuzz simply laid out a solid base. His work is very symmetrical, yet he entirely relies on his paintbrush and his own hands to serve as his unit of measurement. While he went back and forth on the lift often to ensure proportions, the reward was sweeter in the end – Keif and Miguel developed new techniques, new approaches, that he will take with himself beyond Atlanta.

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

While Neuzz incorporated elements into his wall, the community became stakeholders in the mural. Keif would invite people up onto the lift, where they’d take photos of the wall, the skyline, themselves. While working he’d talk to people, entertain them, learn their stories. Everyone had his or her own experience. Neuzz has the invaluable knack of building relationships despite cultural differences.

One woman told me as she walked by that the wall offered the area “priceless culture.” As artists like Neuzz continue to donate their time enhancing this endangered area, revitalization will take a new meaning.

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Wil Hughes)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Wil Hughes)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Neuzz. Living Walls Atlanta 2012. (photo © Wil Hughes)

To learn more about Living Walls Altanta: The City Speaks and to make a donation to help this year’s conference click here. BSA thanks you for supporting this good work.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Interesni Kazki at Living Walls Atlanta

For our third installment in our series for Living Walls Atlanta: The City Speaks 2012 we are proud to present the Ukranian team of AEC and WAONE most commonly known as Interesni Kazki. The guys as usual are praised for their excellent craftsmanship and work ethic and, may we add, discipline. It must be hard to stay out of the bars when your spot is in the night-time entertainment district but then again maybe Interesni Kazki are of the abstemious sort. Whatever the case, their work and talent is garnering more attention daily in the Street Art world and beyond.

Interesni Kazki

Text by Alexandra Parrish
Photos by Dustin Chambers
Video by Dustin Chambers

Our process with artists is, in essence, quite simple – we house and feed the artists, purchase their paint and materials, and ensure mural completion by offering assistants and steady schedules. In reality, this simple process is foiled by secondary factors, namely weather and compelling distractions. However, when Interesni Kazki arrived in Atlanta, everything fell perfectly into place. They came here to paint with an impeccable work ethic.

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

AEC and WAONE of Interesni Kazki finished their large mural situated in the bar-heavy neighborhood of East Atlanta Village in only five days. They woke up early, ate a modest meal and set off to their wall. From dawn to dusk they meticulously incorporated every finishing touch to their work.

The completed mural epitomizes their signature style, integrating science fiction and religion with obvious Escher influences. The meaning, however, is left for interpretation. AEC noted early on that their work personifies a multitude of meanings. Four days into the process, Monica and I came up with an intoxicated interpretation after a bar crawl – the Shepard (who remarkably looks like Atlanta’s own Evereman) opens Pandora’s box which harvests the “Big Bang,” creating the solar system and human kind. Interesni Kazki’s work truly incites a heap of explanations.

The Ukranian duo plans to return to Atlanta later in the year to complete a much larger mural in the heart of downtown, hopefully to cook the Living Walls team more borscht.

Neuzz, fellow Wynwood Walls artist, and Evereman are next to follow.

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Interesni Kazki (photo © Dustin Chambers)

To learn more about Living Walls Altanta: The City Speaks and to make a donation to help this year’s conference click here. BSA thanks you for supporting this good work.

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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La Pandilla and Trek Matthews in Cabbagetown for Living Walls Atlanta

Let’s start off the week with our 2nd installment of Living Walls in Atlanta for 2012, a splendid overview of Cabbagetown and the installation by three of this years participants creating new murals over a nearly two week stretch, just finished and fresh for you.

La Pandilla and Trek Matthews

Text by Alexandra Parrish
Photos by Dustin Chambers
Video by Albert Lebron

Before I engage you with an individual take of La Pandilla and Trek Matthew’s twelve-day long mural production, I must foray into a brief history lesson; Cabbagetown is a tight-knit neighborhood in Atlanta that is rich with folklore and idiosyncrasies. Adjacent to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, the neighborhood began as a mill town complete with shotgun-style houses built by Jacob Elsas, the factory owner. After recruiting poor whites from the Georgia Appalachian region to work in his factory, Elsas offered free housing to compromise for insignificant wages and working conditions. Legend has it that the neighborhood assumed the moniker “Cabbagetown” after a truck-load of cabbages spilled across the neighborhood; many recount a brutal smell of cabbages that could be assumed to have followed the accident or maybe it just permeated from their kitchens.

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

After an extensive effort towards revitalization (some would say gentrification), Cabbagetown reigns as a treasured locality in Atlanta. Although Krog Tunnel features an ever-changing display of graffiti and street art, the CSX walls that enclose the neighborhood have remained four shades of grey. Surprisingly, when Living Walls contacted the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Association to allow La Pandilla, from Puerto Rico and Trek Matthews from Atlanta to paint two murals, they more than accommodated.

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

As soon as La Pandilla and Trek Matthews began on their wall, joggers, walkers and rubberneckers routinely stopped to chat and observe. Throughout production, community support yielded endless tokens of gratitude – fresh baked bread, beer runs, grilled cheese sandwiches, salvaged fresh-till packaged meals, oral histories and loud music. Even the infamous rogue buffer that verbally threatened La Pandilla (yes, Cabbagetown is home to it’s very own vigilante, occasionally violent buffer) grew to appreciate the finely detailed work that replaced decades of juvenile tags.

The truth is, Alexis Diaz and Juan Fernandez of La Pandilla are insane. Their method of using Chinese ink to translate immensely detailed drawings into full-scale murals costs a lot of time. Although they’d camp out at their wall from sunrise to sunset each day, they failed to finish on time. Hardly defeated, La Pandilla opted to stay an extra day and completed their 25-foot mural in their last hours.

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Three blocks down, Trek Matthews, an emerging artist from Atlanta, began on his first public wall. His work incorporates a mash of Aztec patterns and Native American designs, which turns out nicely on the grey concrete. Despite the daunting height of his wall, Trek toughed it out on a scrappy extension ladder.

In a perfect world Living Walls would serve as proverbial residents of Cabbagetown forever. I could tell Juan felt the same way as he waved saying “bye y’all.

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

La Pandilla (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Trek Matthews (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Trek Matthews (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Trek Matthews (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Trek Matthews (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Trek Matthews (photo © Dustin Chambers)

Trek Matthews (photo © Dustin Chambers)

La Pandilla and Trek Matthews by Albert Lebron (VIDEO)

 

 

To learn more about Living Walls Altanta: The City Speaks and to make a donation to help this year’s conference click here. BSA thanks you for supporting this good work.

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“The Sunrise of Edgewood”, GAIA & Nanook open Living Walls Atlanta 2012

“The Sunrise of Edgewood”, GAIA & Nanook open Living Walls Atlanta 2012

The 3rd Edition of Living Walls begins this spring and BSA is pleased to again partner with Monica Compana and her team to bring you the action in Atlanta for 2012. Supporting the ATL efforts since they popped in ’10, we’ll again bring you updates from the field as the artists converge in Atlanta to bring color, vibrancy and a dialogue with Street Art in the city.

Officially the 2012 conference begins in August but we’ll be bringing you a series of installations leading up to it. This years quality lineup will be a bit more international and focused with skillz on display from Gaia, Nanook, La Pandilla, Trek Matthews, Interesni Kazki, Everman, Neuzz, Pablo Gnecco, and Liqen.

So right now we want to give a huge shout out to our partners in non-crime, writer Alexandra Parrish, who is also Director of Communications for Living Walls, Charles Flemming, Living Walls Media team photographer and Albert Lebron, videographer who will all be BSA contributors to bring to you dispatches from the field. Thank you and welcome.

Gaia and Nanook

Text by Alexandra Parrish
Photos by Charles Flemming
Video by Albert Lebron

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

In terms of mural making, Gaia and Nanook believe public art has the ability to designate place. They are hardly strangers to the rich history layered in the gridded streets of Atlanta. Last weekend, Gaia and Nanook returned to the heart of the south to participate in Living Walls Concepts, a year-round conduit to the conference, which aims to create a more intimate relationship between the artist and the community.

The sketch came naturally – the wall, located on Edgewood Avenue in the heart of Old Fourth Ward sits firmly in the neighborhood Martin Luther King Jr. called home. Gaia and Nanook opted for an equivocal face to represent the street itself – and the passerby’s whom they interacted with regularly; Which is something I’m sure they revel, as Gaia took the time to explain what he was doing to anyone who cared to ask.

After three days and a stunted thunderstorm, Gaia and Nanook named their finished wall “The Sunrise of Edgewood.”

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

Gaia also sent us a description of the project:

“The collaboration that Nanook and I produced on Edgewood avenue is an observation on the neighborhood’s changing complexion. Historically, the Fourth Ward is considered in many regards as the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement so naturally creating Martin Luther King Jr’s face just down the block from the King Home seemed logical.

But rather we created a portrait that was more ambiguous, an everyman face that faded into a rising sun. This vibrant visage is surrounded by a turmoil of rope and vine forms that nanook created which is derived from one of his early street pieces. Now the mural is surrounded by a contentious area whose gentrification is imminent like the endless cycle of the sun.”

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

Gaia and Nanook (photo © Charles Flemming)

“The Sunrise of Edgewood” by Albert Lebron (VIDEO)

 

 

To learn more about Living Walls Altanta: The City Speaks and to make a donation to help this year’s conference click here. BSA thanks you for supporting this good work.

Please follow and like us:
Read more