The finished piece, and the route to it. Both are completely intertwined.
During yesterday’s creation of Nick Walker’s brand new stencil entitled, “Amerikarma” we met so many people on the sidewalk as we continually shifted our stance under the trees while the sun scorched the Brooklyn sky. The events of the day (as well as the prep for the day) all somehow infuse the artists’ final piece in your mind.
As much advance planning as you make, you’re going to run out of supplies (masking tape). And water. And then you have to have to pee. The natural and man-made elements can aid or complicate (bright light, blasting heat, dripping air conditioners). Visitors stop by to say hello and take pictures and catch up a little or comment, Kathleen from the Front Room brings you the third pitcher of iced tea with cups, and Tanley from Arrested Motion arrives with Thai food for everybody’s lunch.
All the while Nick is calculating and measuring and problem-solving as he executes this new stencil for the first time – discovering what works and what needs to be adjusted. It’s all very ALIVE – the honking horns, the beautiful young women and men in their summer clothes, the 60-ish father from Virginia who stops to ask 3 of us to help him lift a clothes rack into his daughters’ apartment, the musicians going in and out of the downstairs next to us, and Stuart borrowing a kids bike for a spin or another one’s baseball glove for a game of catch across Roebling Street traffic.
By the time Nick is putting the Mickey Pistol portion across the bottom of the bullets and stripes flag, all the conversations have been had, the popsicles eaten, and cell phones have little warnings about low power on their screens. A few finishing details sharpen the image and accentuate the impact before final pictures are taken and chairs are returned to Daniel and Kathleen, along with the orange extension chord.
People now slow down to look at the piece, and the kids start splitting because dinner is ready back home. Nick decides to do a full signature instead of his typical symbol with the date. He likes it so much that he announces he may begin signing all of his stencils like that. The process of making the piece is intrinsically woven into the street environment, and the art is the only only reminder that remains.
Special thanks to Daniel Aycock and Kathleen Vance at the Front Room.