Street Artist Chris Stain talks about his mural last weekend in Albany, and the people who he honors with his work.
After a stint of screen printing with friends in Philadelphia, Chris Stain hopped the train this weekend up the mighty Hudson River to NY’s state capital, whereupon he put up a blue-collar mural.
The stencil-like imagery of two guys you think you know, is a style Stain has been mining since he began in the late nineties; and so it is topically. Time and again he features the very people who keep the wheels of society turning yet who are finding themselves getting pinned under those same wheels, the workers.
Ironically, at a time when the workers’ plight get Foxily attacked, glossed over, and dismissed in the mass media, it takes a street artist using a much older medium to restore their voices. Chris proudly points out that these are the people he grew up around, and he has a special affinity for their lives and a respect for their contribution.
Brooklyn Street Art: Who’s the 518 posse who asked you put of this piece?
Chris Stain: 518 Prints was founded by Jesse Brust, Don Naylor, and Justin Louden. I had worked with them over the years at Equal Vision Records. They put their heads together and started their own shop in the basement of Jesse’s house just about the time I made the move down to the City about 3 years ago.
The shop has flourished, printing mostly merch for touring hardcore bands on everything from basketball jerseys to short shorts. They now run a full shop with several employees, automatic and manual printing equipment, a warehouse and an online merch store for bands. I was asked to come up and paint the building they have taken over.
Brooklyn Street Art: The mural is huge; did you have any help?
Chris Stain: Jesse provided the ladders, paint, food, and space. I started painting around 8:30 pm and finished about 2:30am. I set up my projector and went for it. The piece itself is about 30 ft wide by 14 ft high. It was a nice night. They had a bonfire going, a BBQ, and a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a minute.
Chris Stain: Many of the images I choose have some relation to my upbringing; whether they’re working class or inner-city, it all stems from growing up in Baltimore. I find myself drawn again and again to the subject matter. I cant seem to shake it but don’t find a reason to right now.
Now Chris is back in Brooklyn and feverishly preparing for a much-anticipated collaboration at Ad Hoc Gallery, where he is paired with a kindred soul in street art, Armsrock. The two are preparing “I Know There is Love”, based on the lyrics of a song the same name by the 70’s punk band Crass.
A better pairing of styles may not happen for a while – both artists use the humanity of their subjects, unpolished and unassuming, to reflect back at us the state of our condition (or is that the condition of our state?)