All posts tagged: Guido van Helten

Guido Van Helten Soars in Salina, Kansas

Guido Van Helten Soars in Salina, Kansas

Following our previous story on the public/private art initiative “Boom!” festival in Salina, Kansas, we follow today with the one previous project on silos that ushered in many approvals for the festival by Australian mural artist (and photographer) Guido Van Helten.

Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)

Completed in the summer of 2021, the images of children playing a circular game like “Ring-Around-the-Rosie” fairly surround the HD Flour Mill. With a mix of sepia tones and faded pastels, the scene includes a diverse mix of kids rendered with tender respect, a composition that evokes the moment and captures a timeless truth that children and play go together like peanut butter and jelly. Van Helten got to know the community before he began the project, making this work a mirror of life in the area. His technical skill is remarkable, able to render such imagery on rounded forms and shapes in such a way that perspective is not lost.

The project is part of the Salina Kanvas Project and is privately funded by businesses and property owners with an expressed interest in promoting the area and drawing tourism.

Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Martha Cooper)
Guido Van Helten. Salina Kanvas Project. Salina, Kansas. (photo © Tanner Colvin / Salina Kanvas Project)
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BSA Film Friday: 11.04.22

BSA Film Friday: 11.04.22

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Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening:
1. The Wanderers – Guido van Helten. A Film by Selina Miles
2. Leon Keer. “Misfit”
3. Duality: A graffiti story. Trailer

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BSA Special Feature: The Wanderers – Guido van Helten. A Film by Selina Miles

We focus today on one episode of a brilliantly human street art-related video-short series on artists called The Wanderers, directed by Selina Miles. Today we follow the muralist/portraitist/photographer Guido Van Helten as he travels to a small town in Australia to pursue stories, personalities, and a 10-car project on the train. Train writing, indeed!

“I am very interested in portraiture in a documentary style,” he says as you watch him almost tentatively introduce himself to new people. “I was a painter first, and now through this style of working, I’ve become very interested in meeting people and photography. Now I’m pushing myself to involve that in the process.”

A young veteran of storytelling, Miles allows the details of the scene to illustrate unique aspects of life and the people here. Without gawking, the subjects and their environments, and their body language are observed with the same respectful eye that the artist has as well. Each person responds differently, each brave to allow the film camera to capture them while Van Helton establishes a rapport. Ironically, he’s not comfortable with the process himself. “Sometimes this is challenging for me to introduce myself to people.”

These hand paintings of his subject’s eyes on the cars of a train may remind you of the photography of JR plastered across surfaces everywhere with a sense of spectacle – but these take such adept technical skill rendered with a unique warmth that it wouldn’t be fair to compare. Van Helten doesn’t even seem sure what his agenda is, aside from connecting in a human way to another.

Each chapter of this short film illustrates the connections, and you are rewarded with sumptuous sweeping views of the final results as well as the disarming pleasure the artist takes from it. “I enjoyed the idea of not knowing what reaction it could have with the people who see it,” he says of the project. “No one has any idea what this is going to do in the town. Maybe nothing, maybe something. Maybe someone will go home and say, ‘You know what I saw today! –  Something really strange on the side of a train.’ I think that is exciting.”

The Wanderers – Guido van Helten. A Film by Selina Miles

Leon Keer. “Misfit”

Anamorphic street artist Leon Keer does a special project here at Château du Taureau in Baie de Morlaix France. His 3D floor painting ‘MISFIT’, is a reference to the previous use of this compound as a prison for the aristocracy – or at least certain members of their families who might cast them into dishonor.

“Under the Ancien Régime, most of the prisoners at the Château were Breton aristocrats,” says Leon’s description of the previous residents, “which were put in prison at the request of their own families, anxious to avoid dishonor. Libertinism, misalliance, madness, and an immoderate taste for alcohol or gambling could certainly lead to a forced stay at the Château during those days.”

Duality: A graffiti story. Trailer

A new film striking at the heart of the graffiti practice – the fact that many writers have a ‘straight’ life that doesn’t exactly run parallel to their night-time illegal escapades can in hand.

Director by Ryan Dowling, the stories of many are illustrated by the testimony of a small handful of writers who clearly elucidate the complexities of a form of expression that runs the gamut between criminalized and celebrated. Featuring a cast of DUAL, SLOKE ONE, JABER,  MERES ONES, and NEVER – the stories vary, but the narratives return to foundational truths even as the scene evolves. Well produced and executed, Duality will join the list of ‘must-see’ documentaries about graffiti, street art, and everything in between.

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STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam Sails with Maiden Exhibition Catalogue

STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam Sails with Maiden Exhibition Catalogue

In a space massive enough for a Dutch sea vessel, the Street Art Museum of Amsterdam (STRAAT) has one of the largest collections of today’s mural stars anywhere. During its official maiden voyage, curious street art/graffiti/contemporary art fans look to see if this ship is seaworthy. The brainchild of former graffiti writer, curator, and publisher Peter Ernst Coolen in the early 2010s, the D.N.A. of the museum is rooted in his forward vision as much as the ideal waterfront warehouse that showcases close to 200 international artists.

STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam.

Housed in a massive yet austere ship hull-welding hanger that closed in the 1980s, the airy space later hosted flea markets and similar events. Today the STRAAT is evolving into something more closely resembling a museum space due to recent structural and lighting improvements, but it hasn’t become a white box. If its origination story of punk culture, D.I.Y., and a well-loved graffiti Hall of Fame still holds water, this street art home by NDSM Wharf has the potential to be a world-class icon that retains credibility and out-paces other contenders.

The museum delivers a promise with a significant renovation, focused programming, public/private tours, an investment in marketing, branding/partnering, a sexy website, invited curators, and (no Banksy jokes, please) a gift shop. We’ve encountered the palpable energy of the select crew of creative directors, curators, content creators, and experience managers over the last few years. There is the desire to forge a soul of the new enterprise, as helmed by Coolen’s original business partner and civil engineer Peter Hoogewerf.

STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Kobra on the facade.

To appreciate where it may be heading, you now have a guidebook of works by the 200 or so artists who have created canvasses and sculpture here in the permanent collection. Given the wide span presented, the challenge will be to define a direction for this 8000 square meter shipyard space – aside from merely offering a broad survey of current names on the global stage.

STRAAT: Quote from the Streets (Lannoo Uitgeverij) is the name of the opening exhibition and a thick softcover tome of attractive art plates. It offers a collection of artists’ profiles, reflections, and artworks laid out in a spare and modern way, allowing the mind to wander or rest. With an intro by curator and founder of the Paris-based agency Le Grand Jeu Christian Omodeo, the travel/street art blogger Giulia Riva and writer Giovanna Di Giacomo are authors. Their essay explains that the STRAAT collection is organized here according to categories of Aesthetic, Ground, Empathic, and Conscious – with detailed descriptions of the respective characteristics and rationale laid out in the opening texts.

Sliks. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam.

The range of styles and techniques here mirrors many of the mural movements on streets around the world today. The writers give valuable contextual background for decoding what often are high-quality artworks. A unifying and concise overview of each artist is a supporting firmament with enough academic rigor to enlighten the reader – no small feat in a world populated with fanboys and pseudo-intellectualizing. Because of it, this introduction to the museum is more than average data reportage – helping to broaden understanding of this multi-headed hydra called the street art scene. With a firm grip guiding the rudder, this ship looks like it is ready to sail.

ASTRO. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam.
Guido van Helten paints STRAAT’s Peter Hoogewerf. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam.
Ben Slow. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
Adele Renault. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
Ever. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
Mr. June. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
Dan Kitchner. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
Icy & Sot. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
Alaniz. STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.
STRAAT Museum of Amsterdam. Lannoo Uitgeverij.

STRAAT MUSEUM: Quotes From The Streets. Published by Lannoo. Click HERE to learn more about STRAAT and to purchase the book.

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BSA Film Friday: 06.25.21

BSA Film Friday: 06.25.21

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Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening:
1. Guido Van Helten – L’attesa – (The Wait) – 2017
2. “Spaciba” INO in Athens, Greece.
3. TrueSchool Hall of Fame via Dope Cans

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BSA Special Feature: Guido Van Helten – L’attesa – (The Wait) – 2017

Today we look back a couple of years to a massive yet poignant project from artist Guido van Helten in Ragusa, Sicily where he honors the history of a modern place and an age-old practice of youth finding their own significant part of a city to meet up and socialize casually. Part of the third edition of FestiWall, a public art festival, he photographed friends and invited them to write their names in aerosol along the base of a wall while he painted their portraits above on a lift.

“It’s very much an expression of the young people and it is their space,” he says.

“I invited the class who I took photos of to write their names all along the base of that wall. It was a good symbol of them taking back the wall in that space.The wall is a popular space where people come to hang out so there is an energy in that wall and in energy of that space which I really enjoyed”

Guido Van Helten – L’attesa – (The Wait) – 2017

“Spaciba” INO in Athens, Greece.

Accessing a difficult wall using only rope suspension, INO paints this Athens mural of young girl with a big hammer. He says it is a symbol of ” a new generation breaking barriers of equality.”

TrueSchool Hall of Fame via Dope Cans

A short Hall of Fame video with writers from Wrocław, Poland featuring Dope Cans Classic & Dope The Wall

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BSA Film Friday: 04.30.21

BSA Film Friday: 04.30.21

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Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening:
1. REFLECTIONS: Guido Van Helten and The Wellington Dam Mural
2. Mear One in Los Angeles via Bird Man
3. Telmo Miel: Tunnel Vision in Brussels

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BSA Special Feature: REFLECTIONS: Guido Van Helten and The Wellington Dam Mural

A trip today to Wellington Dam, a jewel in the national park in Southwest Australia, only a couple of hours from Perth. Queensland Artist Guido van Helten took care to study the history and people from the dam area to understand their connection to it better – and in the process, it found a more profound connection to the water by some of the people who have lived there for many years.

“It’s just weird to feel like you’re this ‘issue’ in society and that the world is divided with how much they should care about you or how much they should listen to you or should be concerned with issues around your life. It’s weird to be like a battleground,” says co-director and subject Kwesi Thomas says in the opening of the film.

Using a bespoke swing stage, the artist painted the 8000 square meter mural with the help of serious engineering talents from the dam authority, who moved him 30 times to paint in enormous strips of texture and memories.

“I was basically painting while it was moving up and down, up and down,” he says. Part of The Collie Mural Trail that consists of 40 murals throughout the town, Guido says that “Reflections” is inspired by local stories and photographs. In addition to the sheer size and impact of its focus, the video also tells a rather moving story.

Behind the scenes: The making of the Wellington Dam Mural by Guido Van Helten

Mear One in Los Angeles via Bird Man

The Melrose alleys in LA provide inspiration here in this video shot and directed by Birdman – of the tribute to the Czech painter, illustrator and graphic Alphonse Mucha by graffti/muralist Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One.

Choosing the goddess Gaia as muse, Mear One talks in his over-narration of what he say as Mucha’s treatement of the feminine and how it was reflected in the beauty of nature, its harmonious design, function and aesthetic. “I always loved how he expressed visually the spiritual and mystical,” he says. The clarity of his focus is apparent here as he pays honor to the artist as well as science, art, and philosophy.

Telmo Miel: Tunnel Vision in Brussels

Here is a tunnel in Brussels artists Miel (Amsterdam) and Telmo (Rotterdam) painted a human chain metaphorically connecting the neighborhoods of Machelen and Diegem. The public work is meant perhaps to ease among residents amid news reports of increased vandalism, drug use, and traffic nuisances among some. As in many western countries, it may have something to do with economics, race, and class. Says organizer All About Things, a private gallery-fueled public cultural initiative that has locked in many international street artists to beautify the area, “this mishmash of people indicates that we are stronger together.”

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Top 10 Videos On “BSA Film Friday” From 2019

Top 10 Videos On “BSA Film Friday” From 2019

The videos that we present every week on BSA Film Friday give us as much inspiration as they do our readers, and we are honored to see the progression of artists and directors as they continue to capture, document, and share their skills, techniques, and stories. This year we have seen a continued professional quality, a widened scope, a desire to connect with an audience perhaps in a way that we haven’t seen before. Each of these videos, whether completed in-studio or shot by hand on a phone, touched you- and the numbers of clicks and re-shares tell us the story. Or many of them.

No. 10

INTI / “PRIMAVERA INSURRECTA”, Spring Insurrection

From BSA Film Friday 11.29.19

From vandalizing public sculptures to handmade signs to waving banners, banging oil drums and pots and pans, lighting fires, chanting, and dancing in the streets – these are the insistent voices and perspectives coursing through streets in cities around the world, including these scenes from Chile last month. In one of the tales of people’s victory, these marches and mobilizations of citizens pushing for their rights and fighting state overreach actually worked this month and Chile’s protesters have won a path to a new constitution.

During the demonstrations Chilean Street Artist INTI was at work outside in Santiago as well, adding to the public discourse, with his new work entitled “Dignity!” It was a spring insurrection, now culminating in an autumn victory

No. 09

Icy & Sot: Giving Plants. Film By Doug Gillen/FWTV

From: Icy & Sot: Giving Plants and New Life to Refugees in Greece

Street Art brothers Icy and Sot once again lead by example with their latest act of artivism at a refugee camp in Greece.

People chased from their homes by wars in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are now part of a larger conversation in Europe as countries struggle to accept the massive numbers of refugees in the last decade. On the Greek island of Lesbos, the overcrowding of a camp named Moria has produced Olive Grove, a temporary place full of tents, but little nature.

While they have traveled around many international cities in the last five years creating site-specific interventions that contemplate issues of immigration, environmental degradation, and endangered species, the artists felt that the gravity of this place merited something more than just an art installation.

Working with a group called Movement on the Ground and with Doug Gillen of Fifth Wall TV in tow, the two helped build raised gardens and planted vegetables, in addition to handing out many potted plants. Today we have images of persons in the camp from Icy & Sot along with the new video, one of Doug’s best.

No. 08

Guido van Helten in Faulkton, South Dakota by Brian Siskind

From BSA Film Friday 09.20.19

A massive piece by the observant eye of Guido van Helten, who knows how to capture a spirit, a gesture, a knowing expression. Here on a grain elevator in Faulkton, South Dakota, his piece becomes a clarion, captured here by Brian Siskind.

No. 07

Bordalo II “A Life of Waste”

From BSA Film Friday 08.09.19

Bordalo II “A Life of Waste” A short film by Trevor Whelan & Rua Meegan

Spending a lot of time and effort clawing your way to the top of the pile, braying loudly about your achievements and kicking the people behind you back down the hill? Look where you are standing. It’s a mountain of garbage. And you don’t really care for the others up here.

Bordallo II has been examining our culture of waste. And making sculpture from it. “The artwork is really a reflection of what we are,” he says. “I always had my conscience.”

No. 06

“Perpetual Flow” by Jorge Gerada in Morocco

From BSA Film Friday 01.04.19

Land artist Jorge Gerada mounts a large project in Ouarzazate, Morocco that extends over 37,500 meters in this commissioned job for a coffee brand calendar. Using rakes, stones, dark gravel, and vegetable oil, a scene of two hands under running water is created.

No. 05

Calligrafreaks Project – A New Era of Writing

From BSA Film Friday 08.16.19

In a collaborative gallery space or at a barbecue on Devil’s Mountain, Berlin’s calligraffiti writers and artists are showing off the attitude and exactitude of the city as well as the evolution of this art form.

Hosted by Theosone at the “Scriptorium Berlin” and curated by Makearte, a  small selection of scientists artists are convened at the Letters Temple where artists create an exhibition with lucid and ornate letter skillz. Later on Devil’s Mountain (Tefelsberg) they paint together for the first time.

Artists include Theosone, Stohead, Warios, Naok Write, Jan Koke Parisurteil, Scon, Alpha Skao, Belloskoni, YAT, Drury Brennan, CRBZ, Schriftzug, Reano Feros, Paindesign, Alot, Bello, Cay Miles, Naok Write, Scon, Schriftzug, Parisurteil, CRBZ, Reano Feros, YAT.

The sound and editing are sharply done by Abstract Monollog with a certain finesse as well.

No. 04

Paradox and CPT. OLF and Daredevilry in Berlin

From BSA Film Friday 11.01.19

In the videos featuring daredevilry, parkour and graffiti the Lengua Drona has been adding words to our visual vocabulary that were once reserved for extreme sporting, National Geographic docs, Crocodile Dundee and James Bond.

Now the pixação writer and urban climber, Paradox releases unprecedented adventure footage and editing from photographer CPT. Olf, and its sending shockwaves.

Somehow this is a new way to synthesize wall-climbing and train surfing; positioning it as a visual and audio symphony that almost makes you forget that these are graffiti vandals “fucking the system”, pushing their limits – and yours.

As you thrill to these evolving genre-combining aspects of Oleg Cricket, 1Up Crew, Berlin Kidz, and Ang Lee, it’s important to realize that these are real risks that people take that could result in serious injury, death, and rivers of grief if a miscalculation happens. So, yeah, we’re not endorsing the irresponsible risks or a mounting “arms race” of stunts, but we are endorsing the athleticism, imagination, and sheer slickness of this FPV drone mastery, which appears to have taken this stuff up another level.

Hold tight.

No. 03

Gross Domestic Product – Banksy

From BSA Film Friday 10.04.19

The doublespeak of Banksy very effectively demanded a whirlwind of media attention in the art/Street Art world once again this week. The anti-capitalist launched a full street-side exhibition while his personal/anonymous brand benefitted by the new record auction price of 9.9 million pounds with fees for one of his works depicting a “Devolved Parliament” full of apes – precisely during the height of inpending Brexit hysteria

No. 02

Ella & Pitr “Heavy Sleepers”

From BSA Film Friday 01.11.19

A culmination of five years of murals visible from planes, French duo Ella & Pitr nudge you awake on a sleepy Friday to say “Thank you  for being part of this story!” You didn’t even realize that you were a part of it, did you? In a way, you can see your own reflection somewhere here.

Their sleeping giants have appeared in cities around the world, often too big even for the massive rooftops they are crammed uncomfortably atop. With a true knack for childhood wonder and illustration, perhaps because they have a couple of them at home for inspiration, Ella & Pitr bring the petite rebel spirit to these characters; imperfect specimens with stylistic idiosyncrasies and sometimes ornery personalities.

In the end, they were all “heavy sleepers” resting temporarily, as is often the case with (sub)urban interventions variously referred to as Street Art, public art, land art, pavement art…  Make sure you stay for the end of this video that comprised most of the giants.

No. 01

Graffiti Jam in San Francisquito, Queretaro with Martha Cooper

From: A NYC Subway Train In Queretaro, Mexico

When local graff writers in Queretaro, Mexico heard that New York’s famous photographer Martha Cooper was going to be in their town for a new exhibition they decided to welcome her in the best way they knew how: A graffiti jam on a train.

With the help of the organizers at Nueve Arte Urbano, the local kings and queens scored a long wall on a busy major avenue that they could paint subway cars on and convert to an NYC train. They hoped Martha would feel at home seeing this and it looked like she definitely did.

It’s a fast-growing major city without a subway, even though it could definitely use a more inclusive and efficient public transportation system since its quick growth has swelled to a million inhabitants. Scores of multi-national corporations left the US and set up shop here since they wrote the NAFTA trade deal and now employ this highly educated population.

Many universities, lower wages, and an easier regulatory environment have brought the big companies here as well as the fact that the city boasts an attractive protected historical area that was declared a World UNESCO zone. Now they have a subway, at least a temporary painted one.

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BSA Film Friday 09.20.19

BSA Film Friday 09.20.19

Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :
1. “REWILD” from Escif
2. Guido van Helten in Faulkton, South Dakota by Brian Siskind
3. How Artist JR Is Helping Connect Our Humanity Through Street Art

BSA Special Feature: “REWILD” from Escif

As part of our core commitment as a non-commercial platform that has helped hundreds of artists over the last decade+, BSA significantly helped Escif to raise money for his Indiegogo fundraiser in Spring 2017 when we promoted his “Breath-Time” horticultural project heavily as he planted trees to reforest Mount Olivella in Southern Italy.

Today BSA debuts REWILD, a new tree-related project by the Spanish Street Artists – just as the Global Climate March is spreading to cities around the world, including New York.

The concept of the short film is simple: can’t we just push the “Rewind” button?

“The narrative runs in reverse, rewinding the clock on deforestation to undo the damage caused by the unsustainable production of one of the worlds most versatile commodities. Beyond the industrialisation of the land, we end at the beginning, a thriving eco system alive with wildlife. The concept mirrors the real world action of the Sumatran Orangutan Society and their partners in reclaiming land on the borders of the Leuser rainforests to rewild them with indigenous trees, expanding the boundaries of one of the most biodiverse places on earth.”  

Finally, a stunning custom soundtrack by Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah captures and carries this into another world, which is possible.

Shout out to the folks behind the project Splash and Burn: a cultural initiative curated by Ernest Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt run in association with the Sumatran Orangutan Society and the Orangutan Information Centre.  

Guido van Helten in Faulkton, South Dakota by Brian Siskind

A massive piece by the observant eye of Guido van Helten, who knows how to capture a spirit, a gesture, a knowing expression. Here on a grain elevator in Faulkton, South Dakota, his piece becomes a clarion, captured here by Brian Siskind.

How Artist JR Is Helping Connect Our Humanity Through Street Art |

The Brooklyn Museum will be unveiling an exhibition with the works of French Street Artist JR this October. Here’s a small video of him explaining how his work is a connector between humans.

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Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten in Tehran : “The Carpet Repairmen”

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten in Tehran : “The Carpet Repairmen”

Welcome to January 2 and you may be feeling a little more lethargic as you go through your duties today, looking askance at the empty bottles, stray glitter, the new rip in the rug. Yes, there is some damage to the carpet from all that dancing you and your Aunt Francine and cousin Ozzie were doing as the clock struck twelve!

Guess that is why it is called “cutting the rug”.

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten. ‘The Carpet Repairmen”. Tehran, Iran. (photo courtesy of the artists)

No worries, we’re bringing in the ‘The Carpet Repairmen’, a new large scale mural collaboration between Australian Street Artists Guido Van Helten and Fintan Magee that they finished as a commission recently in Tehran, Iran. Meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the Australian Embassy in Iran, the current US president naturally ruined the timing of the celebration of peace and goodwill by putting more sanctions on the country and tension on the event, say the artists.

As one may expect, mural making in Middle Eastern countries has often been reserved for politics anyway; with propagandist messages, murals of martyrs, images recalling war, political leaders. Van Helten and Magee concentrate instead on the valued talents of the carpet makers – a history and work of pride that no one can argue with.

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten. ‘The Carpet Repairmen”. Tehran, Iran. (photo courtesy of the artists)

They tell us:

“This mural is based on images of two carpet repairmen working in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar. Persian carpets are famous world wide for their quality and craftsmanship. Then men work 8-10 hours each day rethreading and stitching old and damaged carpets, the repetitive work requires incredible hand skills and speed. This painting pays homage to the dignity of hard work while putting a human face to an important aspect of craft and culture in Persia.

The painting ‘The Carpet Repairmen’ also act’s as a broader metaphor for working life in Iran. Decades of economic sanctions and blockades on imports and have meant that people have to be resourceful in the country. Reusing, repairing and recycling products has become a necessity. Showing the resilience of the Iranian people and how life goes on in this hospitable, welcoming and ancient culture.”

Fintan Magee & Guido Van Helten. ‘The Carpet Repairmen”. Tehran, Iran. (photo courtesy of the artists)


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BSA Images Of The Week: 09.30.18 – UPEA Special

BSA Images Of The Week: 09.30.18 – UPEA Special


This week we have a selection of the UPEART festivals’ two previous editions of murals – which we were lucky to see this week after driving across the country in an old VW Bora. We hit 8 cities and drove along the border with Russia through some of the most picturesque forests and farmlands that you’ll likely see just to collect images of the murals that this Finnish mural festival has produced with close consultation with Fins in these neighborhoods. A logistical challenge to accomplish, we marvel at how this widespread program is achieved – undoubtedly due to the passion of director Jorgos Fanaris and his insatiable curiosity for discovering talents and giving them a platform for expression.

So here is a sample from what we found from UPEART’s two previous iterations before the recently completed UPEART 2018.

So here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Apolo Torres, Artz, Dulk, Espoo, Fintan Magee, Guido Van Helten, Pat Perry, Smug, Teemu Maenpaa, Tellas, and Telmo & Miel.

Top Image: Millo. UPEA 2017. Jyväskylä, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA 2017. Joensuu, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA 2017. Joensuu, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fintan Magee. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


SMUG. UPEA 2017. Kotka, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SMUG. UPEA 2017. Kotka, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)



Guido van Helten. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Guido van Helten. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pat Perry. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pat Perry. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Teemu Mäenpää. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dulk. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Apolo Torres. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Apolo Torres. UPEA 2017. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Artez. UPEA 2017. Espoo, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tellas. UPEA 2016. Helsinki, Finland. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Murals Across Finland: UPEA ’17 Sweeps More Cities

Murals Across Finland: UPEA ’17 Sweeps More Cities

From the country with the highest standard of living comes a country-wide mural festival called UPEA for 2017! Only in their second year, they are going big here at home.

Messy Desk. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Markus Hänninen)

Okay, the murals are not in every city of this Scandinavian country, but if lead curator and visionary (and former graffiti writer) Jorgos Fanaris realizes his vision, there will be even more than the 40 or so murals the festival has already put up over the last two years in cities like Helsinki, Riihimäki, Kemi, Kotka, Espoo, Turku, and Hyvinkää.

Yes, some of the current international circuit of mural stars are here. So are a stunning selection of Finnish talents and less recognizeable names, making this a conscientious formulation that respects the culture and highlights the global movement simultaneously.


Guido Van Helten. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Erho Aalto)

Like many of today’s mural festivals and far from their illegal Street Art/graffitti roots, many of UPEA 17 are mega-murals; multi-story and sophisticated images borrowing from many strains of art history and popular culture – even conceptual art – as much as anything else.

These and other signs of curatorial/organization maturity are not typically hallmarks of two year old festivals, and we could provide a list of rookie mistakes that have plagued others we’ve covered over the last decade. This is probably because UPEA 17 is the result of many years of on-the-ground organizing experience and street culture knowledge – and multiple false starts and obstacles that blocked organizers in the years leading up to last years inaugural outdoor exhibition. People on the ground will tell you that logistics and costs and bureaucracy and local politics are always factors to pull off a festival well. In our experience, so is time.


Teemu Mäenpää. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

We were lucky to have an extensive interview with Jorgos Fanaris about this years successes, the challenges along the way, and his roots in the scene.

Brooklyn Street Art: How is UPEA 2017 different from the first edition?
Jorgos Fanaris: Compared to UPEA16, UPEA17 was of course much bigger. More artists and more projects, but also bigger projects. The first edition was more of testing the concept and feeling around what we could do. The second edition was really about making an impact, letting everyone know about UPEA as an event that creates notable art in public spaces, that we are serious and we are here to stay.

Millo. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (Photo © John Blåfield)

Brooklyn Street Art: You had an incredibly wide variety of artists painting: From large scale realist portraiture, to surrealism to cartoons, landscape etc…is there a specific style that resonates better with the public?
Jorgos Fanaris: The amount of talented artists that have already participated in UPEA in the first two years, is humbling to say the least. We are very privileged and honored to have had them.

If I evaluate the response the artworks have received from the public, I think raising a specific style in a position that it somehow communicates more with the audience wouldn’t be right. For example if we think realistic portraiture and classic style of Guido van Helten, its easy for anyone to understand that this is technically really difficult to execute in this scale. This year in Hämeenlinna we did the 56m high silos, which of course by the sheer size is something that makes people go “Whooaaaa, how can he do that? We must go and see”.


Dulk. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

The project gathered and still gathers spectators in huge numbers. During the project there were traffic jams in the area on Sundays. On the other hand in Lahti, the artist named Messy Desks did the crazy cartoon style piece that has million things happening. It created a huge buzz and received a lot of response from people. She was getting gifts from people from the area and was taken out for formal dinners after for appreciation and show of gratitude. Kids are ecstatic about it, knocking on the “doors” and “windows” trying to get someone to open.

At the same time, the second wall we did in Lahti with Roberto Ciredz, a surrealistic piece with total harmony, which by no accident is totally different from Messy Desks wall, was voted as people’s favorite of the two in local newspaper. There are so many things that contribute the overall feedback. I think every style and approach has its place and purpose.

Brooklyn Street Art: Murals become part of a neighborhood, part of the storytelling and lifetime benchmark associations and memories people have – as well as part of the fabric and character of a city. How has the festival been received by the people whose daily lives will be impacted with the presence of the murals?
Jorgos Fanaris: The artworks created a lot of excitement and grassroots movement in their own areas and communities. In Kontula Helsinki, the triple walls by Fintan Magee, Apolo Torres and Pat Perry encouraged the residents to do a “night of arts” event for the unveiling of the artworks. They had food, live music, fire performance and other artistic activities. Over 1500 people attended and possibly the event will continue next year.


Eero Lampinen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © Henrik Dagnevall)

In Espoo Matinkylä, where Artez did a great piece, the residents organized an celebration event with huge number of activities, dozens of performances and speakers, about thousand people attending the event. In Kotka, where Smug did the amazing wall right in the city centre, the city made an official unveiling for the wall by closing the street and having a horn orchestra perform. Hundreds of people attended even though it was on a Friday during the work hours.

These are just few examples. We saw a lot of these type of things grow from the artworks we did this year.. We see that street art gets reactions from people who might not be too involved with art in general, like going to the galleries for example. The artworks are a refreshing injection into the community and it’s super exiting for us to see things starting grow from them.

Onur. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © John Blåfield-Valmis)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you get support from community and city officials for the festival?
Jorgos Fanaris: Yes, we are working with the officials in every city we are in. The support has been great, possibly due to the fact that we have been able to create an event this size with fairly limited organization and funding.

Still the way we execute different projects really varies. Regardless of how much the city is involved, the permits, which are always a big thing in Finland, are handled by their own unit inside the city. In some cases the city assists us in the permit process and it can be very helpful. But also in many cases we handle the whole process completely. From searching locations and handling all the permits and other things all the way to executing the artwork. The range is very wide on different projects. Still, the city is involved and even if we are doing permits and related responsibilities ourselves, it helps that they are officially supporting the project in the background. Everyone has a common goal to make the project happen and in a positive spirit they work towards that goal together.

Onur. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © John Blåfield-Valmis)

Brooklyn Street Art: What drives you to make this festival happen? What is the motivation? The incentive?
Jorgos Fanaris: Upeart is a collective of people from various backgrounds; from graffiti, city development to event organizing and more. I think the motivation varies depending on who you ask. But in general, it’s about interest in the possibilities art has in public spaces. The vision to push for ambitious ideas, pushing limits further and willingness to take chances.

I personally, have a graffiti background from late 80’s to beginning of the new millennium. When I painted myself, I was mainly, especially in the later years, interested in graffiti as a tool in getting reactions from ordinary people by using public space or things that move in that space. At some point, I moved away from actively painting and started working in music projects, doing shows and stuff like that.

During those years, Finland gradually started to dismantle the very strict zero tolerance on graffiti and street art they had imposed in the country for years. Many youth and grassroot organizations worked years relentlessly on it and it started finally to show some results around 2008. At some point, I thought the time would be right to start something like this. Do it seriously and professionally. We actually tried to start an ambitious project like UPEA for few years, but it was difficult. We had of course no money at all and with that also no guarantees about anything.


Ricky Lee-Gordon. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Rikupekka Lappalainen)

Then we tried to get a group of people together with the same goal to work on the project. With 3-4 people each contributing a little, combined, it creates an effort big enough to start an interesting thing – on paper at least. It proved to be very difficult. We had actually two tries that failed to make any progress.

We came together with a couple of people, agreed about the goal and how we should work towards it. But when it came down to doing real work for it – nothing much occurred. To me it was really strange. I feel that we wasted a lot of time and energy of course, and it was really frustrating. But eventually, probably after three years or something from the original idea, Upeart started to come together and this time with people who have the drive and are actually willing to work for it. So finally, the organization and the event UPEA was born on the third try.

Brooklyn Street Art: This is a very young festival, only two editions. Did you look at other festivals as an inspiration for UPEA?
Jorgos Fanaris: Yes, of course. You look around other festivals and different things that people do everywhere for ideas. I personally think that there are a lot of new and exciting things happening in several places around the globe. That’s why keeping your eyes open and trying to learn from everything is important. You see things and think, wow that’s so cool, could we do something like that? You add your own ideas in to it and it changes to something else.

Wasp Elder. UPEA Festival  2017. Finland. (photo © Matti Nurmi)

It’s a notable fact that UPEA is so young, like a little baby. We are not there yet and have huge task ahead of us on refining the concept. Already this year we wanted to do several other things besides murals, but we just didn’t have the resources to execute. But its ok, things always need time. The organization needs to grow, the concept needs to be refined and we need to build up our personal networks and several other things. In this process of maturing and finding the way for you, it helps if you see what else is going on around the world.

Brooklyn Street Art: What distinguishes UPEA from other European Street Art Festivals?
Jorgos Fanaris: I guess one obvious thing compared to many others, is that UPEA is a multicity event held all over the country. Finland is a small country, only 5 million people and the biggest city the capitol Helsinki, has only 1 million. When we thought about the concept, we really had to think about what will happen when we do a large number of big artworks and how it progresses when we do this year after year. We thought we would need serious space to execute on the level that we want year after year.

Apolo Torres. UPEA Festival 2017. Finalnd. (photo © Anna Vlasoff)

One thing of course also is that we have seriously big projects, especially on the second edition this year.

Considering we had the 56m high silos, triple side by side 8 story buildings, a complete house on all four sides and several single big 6-8 story buildings and so on, the sizes of the projects were huge. However now that we are looking forward at upcoming years, I think UPEA will become more and more original and mature to something very unique. Also one thing is, that several artists have told me, UPEA is one of the best organized events they have participated in. True or not (I think they are nice and say that in every event), I think this a proper note to end an interview!

Telmo & Miel. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Antti Ryynänen)

Telmo & Miel. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Antti Ryynänen)

Rustam Qbic. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Rustam Qbic. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Artez. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Kaukolehto)

Andrea Wan. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Jorma Simonen)

Smug. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tommi Mattila)

Vesod. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Vesod. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Roberto Ciredz. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Markus Hänninen)

Jussi27. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Anssi Huovinen)

Pat Perry. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Fintan Magee. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Jani Leinonen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)

Logos or graffiti tags? Jani Leinonen. UPEA Festival 2017. Finland. (photo © Tomi Salakari)



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12 Finalist Artists Announced for Contorno Urbano Mural in Barcelona

12 Finalist Artists Announced for Contorno Urbano Mural in Barcelona

Almost 300 artists and collectives from around the world (42 countries) have entered the 2018 Contorno Urbano competition for this wall/residency/7000€ prize in Barcelona! It is astounding how many high caliber artists are at work today in cities everywhere, bringing innovative new techniques and unique perspectives to public space like never before.

After reviewing all applications and submitted materials during a process begun this summer, today we are excited to announce that this list has been narrowed to just 12 finalists. Next month their names will go to the final stage of selection in Barcelona with esteemed co-jurors from organizers and creators in the areas of art academia, mural art, public art, and Street Art to narrow the list to one.

The 12 premiere finalists for the Mural de la Salut in Sant Feliu de Llobregat (Barcelona, Spain) are:

Axel Void
Colectivo Licuado
David de la Mano
Guido Van Helten
Sabotaje al Montaje

Congratulations to each artist! It wasn’t an easy task for the pre-selection committee to decide the best from 300, but your work rose to the top 4% of the applications according to the selection criteria.

#MuralSalut: Finalistas – Finalists from Contorno Urbano on Vimeo.

Among the considerations for selection were academic studies, experience and history creating murals in public space, previous internships or residencies, and suitability of artwork style to the central purpose of this 400 square meter mural.

Each of the 12 finalists will be asked to submit a sketch and a written proposal.

The final stage of the selection will be on November 15th and 16th, with the following professionals travelling to Sant Feliu de Llobregat:

Monica Campana (Cofounder of Living Walls and project manager for the urban art exhibition Open Source),
Fernando Figueroa (PHD in History of Art and independent researcher specialized in graffiti and urban art),
Esteban Marin (President of Contorno Urbano and mural artist),
Jaime Rojo (co-founder of Brooklyn Street Art and curator), and
Veronica Werckmeister (painter and muralist, curator).

The mural will commemorate the neighborhood’s fight 30 years ago to have this public square created for the neighbors instead of building a gas station. After meeting with the Association La Salut and the neighbors who live in the area, members of the jury will review previous artworks and experience of the 12 finalists to help them to select the artist who is best suited for painting the mural.

The winner will receive an artistic residence beginning in Spring 2018 and will receive a 7000€ prize. The wall will be painted after an artistic residency in order for the artist to become acquainted with the historic context of the project and the city itself.

The project is a collaboration between the municipality (Ajuntament) of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Fundacion Contorno Urbano and Kaligrafics.

Kaligrafics: Founded in 1999, it’s the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to graffiti and street art in Cataluña, and a significant record of experience in Spain.

Contorno Urbano: The first Foundation in Spain to be fully dedicated to street art and graffiti. The team has over 10 years’ experience organizing murals and urban art dissemination locally and internationally.

Following in no particular order are the 12 finalists:

Guido Van Helten / United Kingdom

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

Borondo / Spain

Borondo for Urban Nation this spring (UN) in the Tegel section of Berlin. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Escif / Spain

Escif. Living Walls Atlanta. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Daniel “SAN” Muñoz / Spain

Daniel Muñoz. The curtain ( 983 followers). The Highlands, Scotland. (photo © courtesy of the artist)

Axel Void / USA

Axel Void. Los Muros Hablan. El Barrio/Spanish Harlem. NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hyuro / Spain

Hyuro. What In The World PM/12. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin, May 19, 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Colectivo Licuado / Uruguay

Colectivo Licuado. Lisbon, Portugal. (photo © courtesy of Colectivo Licuado)

Millo / Italy

Millo in Kiev for Mural Social Club Festival/NGO Sky Art Foundation. (photo © Maksim Belousov)

Innerfields / Germany

Innerfields for ArtUnitedUs in Kiev, Ukraine. (photo © @dronarium)

David De La Mano / Spain

David De La Mano. Urban Nation Musuem For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sabotaje Al Montaje / Spain

Sabotaje Al Montaje. Los Alcazares. Murcia, Spain. (photo © Lluis Olive Bulbena)

Otecki / Poland

Otecki. Urban Forms. Lodz, Poland. (photo © Courtesy Urban Forms)



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Guido Van Helten, Mr. Estes, and Changing “The Nations” in Nashville

Guido Van Helten, Mr. Estes, and Changing “The Nations” in Nashville

The great irony of painting a mural about the evils of gentrification is that you may indirectly aid gentrification in the process.

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

The up and coming, soon-to-be-hip Nashville neighborhood christened “The Nations” will undoubtedly presently have an ironically old-timey barbershop with Millenially bearded men wearing pocket watches and tattoos as trendy arts neighborhoods often do at the moment.

“You know I grew up on Pennsylvania Ave,” says local Vickie Gilliam Keeton on a Facebook post that addresses the new massive mural by Australian Street Artist Guido Van Helten. “But I’d never heard this area called ‘the nations’ till just in the past 10 years. It was always just West Nashville.” It may be a case of re-branding a former industrial zone for future development.

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

“It used to be Gilette grainery,” says the man who is the subject in the new soaring portrait, 91 year old Lee Estes, who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1920s – a time when houses like his didn’t have indoor plumbing. In an interview with Amy Eskind of Nashville Public Radio he continued “And we had another, Purina grainery, that was demolished years ago, but they left this one as a historical part of the Nations.”

It is a stand out for sure, this old silo, raising into the sky above all the others nearby. With the dignified Mr. Estes representing the past history of the area in almost sepia tones, it is a reassuring reminder of the areas character and working class industrial roots. Three Corners Coffee on Centennial Boulevard may already indicate the changing character of the area that the new mural joins. Describing itself as “a homey coffee shop specializing in great brews, friendly baristas, and vintage charm,” it also sells vintage furnishings, baby onesies, and dish towels and provides a retro 1970s domestic warmth for visitors. Nevertheless it appeared to let down one customer writing on Yelp recently who could not give it five stars. “Deducted one star because they were out of brioche breakfast sandwiches at 9am on a Friday morning.”  From no indoor plumbing to no $5.95 brioche breakfast sandwiches is a bit of a jump.

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

This is all part of a mural project called Nashville Walls Project that has brought a number of Street Artists to the city to paint in the last couple of years, including Herakut, Louis Masai, Curiot, Niels “Shoe” Meulman, Rone, and Tavar “Above” Zawacki. Co-founded by Street Art gallerist and art collector Brian Greif, who produced the movie “Saving Banksy” in which he personally recovers an original Banksy from a wall in San Francisco, the Nashville Walls Project is adding a new excitement and character to the area that is approximately bounded by Charlotte Avenue, the Cumberland River, Richland Creek and the CSX railroad tracks.

We’ve contemplated it in our writings, debated it on panels around the world, listened to impassioned conversations about it in bars, this gentrifying cycle and the accusations lobbed at artists; this cycle of gentrification that the creative community unwittingly aids sometimes through its own industry. There appears to be a direct relationship between the positive aspects of reviving a moribund sector of a town or city with murals and the eventual rise in rents and costs of services that invariably push out the poor and working class.

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

Not surprisingly, the artist who created this beacon of warmth and humanity has the same observations that he has gained from his travels.

“I find the relationship between murals and gentrification conflicting, and in this work there is this conflicting yet harmonious composite of the two sides of social change,” says Van Helton in an interview with the other co-founder of Nashville Walls Project, Éva Boros, published on “There is juxtaposition between a mural that discusses and commemorates the blue-collar demographic while at the same time being a powerful part of the change in the area. This is a dialogue and talking point that I hope this mural can create.”

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

For the moment, this new looming portrait is a fine example of elevating a local citizen in his community and a focal point for neighborhood pride, and Mr. Estes has enjoyed a great amount of congratulations in person from folks who have known him for years. Mr. Van Helten has also received much praise and thanks from people in the area in postings on social media. The young kids painted on the mural around the corner are also local from the community center nearby, representing the future of the neighborhood that many are hopeful for.

Kelly Evans wrote in a Facebook posting to the artist a sentiment that combines the sentiments of many. “From the bottom of my native Nashvillian heart thank you so much for understanding. Before I even read the commentaries and articles, when I stood outside your unfinished work, I understood some of what you are trying to say. This so strongly moved me. Tears of love for our fathers that built this “big little city” poured. My prayer is that we are not priced out of our homes we so lovingly built and raised our families in.”

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

Guido Van Helten for Nashville Walls Project. Nashville, TN. June 2017. (photo © Eric E Johnson)

Brian Siskind documented on Guido Van Helton painting for 17 days to complete the enormous figures. This is his record the final day. Mr. Siskind says he will be combining all the videos into one complete overview of the project shortly.


This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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