Tennessee and Texas Sample a Certain Street Savoir Faire
Look out for Le Rat!
He’s getting up in places down south that you wouldn’t normally associate with a French Street Artist, much less the one who started stenciling in a style and manner unusual on Paris walls in ’81 – an antecedent for much of what we later would call ‘Street Art”.
Thanks to gallerist and collector Brian Greif, Blek Le Rat made a run for it through Texas in cities like Waco, Austin, and Houston – after spending a week teaching students at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville how to create stencils in his distinct style.
It was a unique experience for the artist roughly 40 years after he first began doing these same activities illegally and under cover of night – and Greif tells us that the artist was so moved by the large audiences and appreciation by new fans that he is even encouraged to return.
think its time now to go back to the real sources of street art by painting
real walls in real cities and not just the major cities around the world,” says
Blek in an interview with Greif. “We need to touch people by painting walls in
cities that have not experienced this movement.”
As we near the new year we’ve asked a special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2016 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for him or her. It’s an assortment of treats for you to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for the new year to come. It’s our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ for inspiring us throughout the year.
Artist and director Tee Byford from London/Totnes produced a series called “Driving Sideways” this year for Channel 4 about “Drifters” who like smoke, noise, and pushing car motors to the limit. After that went live he did some drifting of his own across the United States capturing the work Street Artist Louis Masai along with his co-filmmaker Emil Walker. We got to see him at the beginning in Brooklyn and three months later in Miami after he boomeranged to the west coast and back. Today he shares with you one of his favorites from 2016.
Austin, Texas, USA
Date: November 13, 2016
Photograph by Tee Byford
This image represents people power and the people who are I have met along my journey in the States.
For me these are the young people who will change this country for the better and that’s why this image represents a hero image.
Austin is proud to plead, “Keep Austin Weird.” Street Artist Louis Masai felt like his recent visit to that Texas city was not the only part of the US that one could call weird – it was actually a place to seek refuge.
“After the introduction to Chump and his band of merry men for the next 4 years we definitely saw a massive change in the energy of the areas we were driving through,” he says of his post-election leg of a cross-country trip.
He’s probably just feeling that brotherly hate that spiked across the US when the primarily white supporters of Donald Trump asserted their vindictiveness and power across the country, registering in a rise of hate crimes, according to this chart from Forbes magazine by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
But here in Austin his “Art of Beeing” tour brought this topic of Houston Toads and their shrinking numbers to the wall in this city that is rich in arts and music and a bit more of that “live and let live” mentality.
The Amphibians Survival Alliance (www.amphibians.org) says that the decreasing population of these toads is only at 3-4,000 in Houston and Bastrop County and if these are killed off by drought, fire ants, disappearing habitat – they will become extinct.
And on his wall, Louis says about his Austin experience, “I guess the attraction is the abundance of frats and bar culture in the area. I got to know a handful of these homeless folks over the five days this mural took to complete and I can definitely see that the new mural in their neighborhood gave them some new color and appreciation in their lives. Several vowed to protect its longevity, bless them.”
Will he come back to all this weirdness?
Yes, he tells us. “This wall was painted in conjunction with Global Wildlife Conservation. These guys were amazing and I look forward to working with them again soon.”
Later the “Art of Beeing” tour travelled to Tennessee and Louis continued to experience some of that southern hospitality, and a few questions about the Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel. He also was surprised to endure some cold temperatures.
“I don’t think I have ever experienced such a difference in temperature. from 26 degrees (79 F) in Austin to 2 degrees (36 F) in Nashville. Thank you Ecoalf for those jackets, for without them our team surely would have not made this wall happen,” he says.
The Nashville Walls Project has brought artists like Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman, Above, Herakut, and Rone to the city and now Louis added his work to the collection
“I have joined a roster of some of the worlds’ best mural artists and I feel humbled to be a part of this project.,” he says. “Nashville is an up and coming city, experiencing a boom in new residents, again more gentrification is weeping into the city and prices are soaring, apparently about 85 new residents move in a week.”
“The wall that I painted shadows a section of the city that I am sure will get pushed out. Men hang out on the street not doing much; we met a cowboy inspired gentleman that was proud to admit to eating gopher tortoise – a federally protected species. He said he had three in his freezer…he grew up eating what they hunted, from squirrels to rabbits and tortoise. Hopefully my line of work can help to steer people away from eating these species.”
Did Louis change this fellers’ mind? “I think this guy might be too late to inspire.”
But you can help to save one of the rarest species – the Carolina Northern Flying Squirrel, which has been found in North Carolina, east Tennessee, and southwest Virginia. There doesn’t appear to be a specific species trust but you can support the Tennessee Wildlife Federation to protect all local wildlife.
SXSW, the annual music/culture/technology festival winds down the circus-like atmosphere of new bands and big-name performers and ideas cramming venues with one show and roundtable after another, sometimes resulting in chaos. A regular Street Art contributor to this scene, Shepard Fairey hit up some walls as part of the Local to Global Outdoor Gallery Project.
In response to the tragedies created by the tsunami in Japan Shepard Fairey is releasing a new variation on the Dark Wave print. Profits from Dark Wave/Rising Sun will go to relief efforts in Japan.
In these images from Austin, Texas and New Orleans, she begins her portraiture series with what we hope will be many dispatches from the road between now and June, when she expects to complete this exploration of places and people. When looking at these images, it is helpful to recognize that they are not from an app on an Iphone – the wet-plate process was invented around 1850 and begins with bromide, iodide or chloride salts dissolved in collodian – and gets more complicated from there. The laborious process requires a thoughtful approach to the subject, and the results can be stunning, mythic, or even heroic in character and atmosphere in Hasty’s hands.
This cross country “Homeland” trip is financed by donations to her Kickstarter project. While she has reached an initial goal in the first phase, the needs will most likely be double what was originally estimated. Please continue to donate to Robyn’s kick-starter campaign at this link – she still has about 12 days to go before it expires.