All posts tagged: Maryland

BSA Images Of The Week: 10.05.14

BSA Images Of The Week: 10.05.14



School’s back in session, the Jews just celebrated a new year, Kobra painted new portraits of Warhol and Basquiat in Williamsburg, and if you were at Brooklyn Museum last night you got to see Street Artist and muralist Don Rimx and us live – and us with markers in our hands looking completely lost.

But that’s not nearly all the action this week; Gaia was in the Rockaways, Dain showed up in BK, the old Os Gemeos was “unveiled” on Houston Street, Nychos was in Hamburg, Nick Walker was in Yonkers, Ludo was readying his big solo show in London, we marked a year since Banksy hit NYC, students were in the streets in Hong Kong, ebola showed up in Texas, banks are being cracked open by cyber hacks, the US has begun another war, the new SNL is almost unwatchable, and you better start thinking about your Halloween costume.

Other than that, not much is happening.

Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring $howta, Apples on Pictures, Conor Harrington, Dain, EKG, Funky13, Jack the Beard, Jeff Huntington, Jesse James, Matthew Reid, Mr. Prvrt, Os Gemeos, Pyramid Oracle, Ramiro Davaros-Coma, Sam3, Square, Stikman, and What Is Adam.

Top Image >> EKG and Stikman collaboration. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


MR. PRVRT for The Bushwick Collective. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Not sure if this is true. Jack the Beard (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Brazilian twins Os Gemeos are back on the Houston Wall after a long hibernation under a constructed cover that hosted Shepard Fairey, Faile, and a petite litany of others. So if you missed this the first time around and you are in NYC go and take a look before the wall comes down. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Os Gemeos. Otavio and Gustavo. They painted the mural on a hot day on July 10, 2009. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


New work from Dain has recently appeared in Soho and parts of Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


A portrait of Maya Angelou; a collaboration between Jesse James and Jeff Huntington for Annapolis, Maryland’s first Street Art Festival. (photo © Jesse James)

““I think that the courage to confront evil and turn it by dint of will into something applicable to the development of our evolution, individually and collectively, is exciting, honorable.” ~ Maya Angelou ~

Facing Evil With Maya Angelou (Full Show)


Ramiro Davaros-Coma (photo © Jaime Rojo)


An Unknown Artist made this original piece from duct tape in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


What Is Adam? Apparently a pipe-smoking duck sailor. That’s what. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Square is back with this melting facade (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Another melting facade, this time from Conor Harrington for The L.I.S.A. Project. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Sam3 in Rome, Italy for Wunderkammern Gallery. (photo © Giorgio Coen Cagli)


Apple On Pictures (photo © Jaime Rojo)


2 Face Work (photo © Jaime Rojo)


2 Face Work with Ai Wei Wei in the center. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Matthew Reid (photo © Jaime Rojo)


$howta (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Pyramid Oracle for The Bushwick Collective (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Funky13 (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Untitled. Reflection. Flatiron Building. Manhattan, NYC. Fall 2014. Via Instagram @jaimerojoa (photo © Jaime Rojo)






Please note: All content including images and text are ©, 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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Street Art and Activism with “The Slumlord Project” in Baltimore

In a twist on the Broken Windows Theory, Street Artists are using their skills to combat urban blight in Baltimore with “The Slumlord Project”. By drawing the attention of neighbors to abandoned and vacant properties and giving pertinent ownership information to take action on, 17 artists are spray painting and wheat-pasting in a D.I.Y. educational program that aims to renew the social contract in communities hard hit by crumbling real estate, crime, and diminished opportunity.


Harlequinade. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)

With tongue in cheek, Baltimore Street Artist Nether calls “The Slumlord Project” an “unsanctioned public art festival”, where artists are invited to conceive of targeted installations on neglected properties. Along with Carol Ott, the founder of website and organization The Slumlord Watch, he encouraged artists to create with a sense of focus to draw attention to the companies, investors, private tax payers, and even the Housing Authority of Baltimore City about the large swaths of depressing and dangerous buildings decaying where neighborhoods and communities once flourished.

The result? A good old-fashioned bricks and mortar shaming project that calls property owners on the carpet, activates city agency responses, and encourages neighbors to get involved in a civic way to improve conditions on their block.


Harelequinade. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)

“The goal of the project was to catalyze a larger conversation about Baltimore’s ignored vacancy issue,” says the Nether, who had been putting up his wheat-pasted portraits of neighborhood folks on boarded-up doorways of the city’s abandoned buildings when he met Ott and became impressed with her enthusiastic online blog that documents the sad side of Bmore. Just how many buildings are vacant ranges from the city estimate of 16,000 to community group estimates of more than 40,000. But just looking at a Google map that uses some of the data from the groups website gives an idea how widespread the problem of vacancy is in Baltimore.

“It’s really frustrating when the government won’t acknowledge the problem,” says Ott in a video about her experience with her organization and her work to make neighborhoods structurally safer, “You cannot fix what you won’t acknowledge.”


Nanook. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)

Now with “Wall Hunters Inc”, a recently created non-profit organization, Nether has invited 17 artists to create this new series of installations that combine art and activism – installing unauthorized artwork on various dilapidated vacant houses. Next to the art are posted notices that incorporate QR codes that link to online data on the Slumlord Watch website so community members may learn about the housing and safety code violations on the property and about the owner responsible for the property’s decline. When neighbors started accessing this information, phones began ringing. Already some of the properties have been razed because of their precarious condition and the danger they posed.

Here are the stories of some of these installations as told by artists themselves and along with images of their work you can read some informational, insightful, even poetic, observations about their pieces for “The Slumlord Project”. As you read, you realize that some undertook a fair amount of research  to understand the relationship of their art with the vacant and abandoned property.

Underlying some of these stories are also critiques of the developers who have more recently begun rehabilitating or renaming neighborhoods, social conditions, and the history of the properties. Below the images of the new pieces here some of the artists give background of their process and the conditions. While we would have liked to confirm the names of some of the landlords who have been referenced in their accounts, we could not in time for publication and felt it would not be responsible to print them.



Jetsonorama. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“I spent a month in Baltimore in 1982. Shortly after leaving I heard Nina Simone’s version of Randy Newman’s song ‘Baltimore.’ Though I’ve never heard Randy Newman’s version, Nina sang is like she owned it and defined the persevering spirit of the city.

I shot this image in May of 2012 during Open Walls Baltimore. The girl in the photo, Johnnyasia, is an apprentice of Tony Divers, who is known at the Birdman of Greenmount West. The lyrics of the song appear around the periphery of the photo as a shout out to the city.”


Stefan Ways. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“When conjuring up an idea I will be the first to admit I did play it a little “safe” going for a Raven — Baltimore’s football mascot — but I feel the piece received a very positive response from the community. That was important to me since they are the ones who not only have to live with the eyesore of the building, but my semi-permanent installation as well. I created a mixed-media piece of a Raven building a nest. Wood slats from the building are held tightly in its grasp while “caution” tape blows in the wind from its calling beak. Nether popped up the QR code and we were out in a couple hours.

To our surprise, days later the QR code displaying the owners info had been torn down. Nether went and put it up again – it was later found torn down. About a week later Demolition signs were put all over the property – did our project come to fruition? Nobody is quite sure, but I want to say ‘yes’. The property was eventually demolished about two weeks after its set date. All and all I am so glad for the neighborhood that those terrible buildings are gone.

The project was amazing to be a part of and everyone’s work was held in high regard by everyone – community members, the police, the drug boys, city officials, the general public, and fellow artists. Wall Hunters has now made me look at my work, where I work, and my city in a much more specific way and I hope to do many more ‘unsanctioned murals’.”


Stefan Ways. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


Nether. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“The piece I made for my second install for the Wall Hunters ‘Slumlord Project’ was a piece that I designed for the Cherry Hill/ Westport/ Mt. Winan’s area of southwest Baltimore. This is an area of town that is very off-the-map and many people don’t even know it exists. It’s an area with a lot of historic importance, has been crippled by drugs, vacancy, and poverty since the 90s, and soon will be developed into the new “Harbor West”. It was created after FDR’s “New Deal” and was built for black veterans returning from WW2. I find it most interesting and shameful when developers change the names of neighborhoods as they develop them. This area will become another example of that.

The character in the piece is my good friend Troy, who is from Cherry Hill. Troy has talked to me a lot about the area’s history, and he encouraged me to do a Wall Hunters piece on the side of the abandoned Mt. Winan Projects.

The Mt. Winans projects have some unsettling history in the dating from the 1990s. The police department twice, in 1995 and 1998, tried to put police substations into the projects and both times the substations were firebombed before opening. The drug operation running out of the Mt. Winans projects was estimated by some to gross $100,000 a month.

It is my belief, and the belief of many people in the area, that the City and developer’s plans are to destroy the collapsed identity of the area rather than help it once again thrive. In the piece, Troy is holding together three structures which symbolize the fading history of the area, probably never to be revitalized. From left to right, a burned down abandoned multi-purpose center at the top of Cherry Hill which has been turned to a methadone clinic, some Westport-style row houses along Annapolis Boulevard, and the Section 8 building called The Cherry Hill Homes.”


Gaia. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“This piece depicts the crown of King Tut with the visage replaced by a cotton field that fades into another row home owned by Rochkind. A normal suburban home from Pikesville with eagle wings floats above the words Exodus in Hebrew and English. Rather than vilify an individual who could fairly be labeled a slumlord, this piece visualizes the connection between the Jewish and African American experience with migration.”


Gaia. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


Mata Ruda. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)

Mata Ruda

“ ‘The Slumlord Project’ is a direct overture to a much-needed, urgent dialogue layered with complexity. To put it simply, the project is a visual catalyst for reform. From its conception to the moment I approached the wall with paint, two terms, in particular, had resonated with me: narrative, as a lead-up and description to a conversation of the condition of a specific form.

I painted a bust depicting a Greek Hellenistic muse next to a deteriorating cube. I chose the muse as a source of knowledge, relating a historical narrative of the neglected block. And for posterity, the bust of the muse personifies a face of prudence, relating the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of knowledge, reason, and truth.”


LNY. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“ ‘Shawnee’s Call’ was totally colored by the public conversation Baltimore was having about the “Wall Hunters” project on paper and around town. I arrived a day before the Baltimore Sun published this article voicing businessman and real estate owner Stanley Rochkind’s allegations of racism as a distraction to the real issue and I was painting on yet another one of his neglected properties. Needless to say the whole experience was very political but that is the point: anything that happens in the public realm is inherently political. Loitering, picking up trash, smoking, putting up illegal murals, commenting on newspaper articles – it all comes loaded with meaning so my attempt was to channel that focus and attention back to the core of this project, which the mural depicts.”

From what I understand, a neighbor of this property called the Baltimore Slumwatch and reported the property next to her house along with its violations, which, in turn, led me to that location to paint and it is this small act of concerned citizenship that the mural celebrates.”


Pablo Machioli. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)

Pablo Machioli

To describe his project and his experience, artists Pablo Machioli wrote this poem.

“Breathing Peace”

Mother Nature’s arms warmed
By colorful patches of human skin.

Urgently they break through
Among millions of fallen daisies,
And open our windows.

They beg us to look outwards,
They beg us to look inwards .

Outside there’s Milagro, but she is my sister.
She’s nine years old.
Each time she inhales, a daisy falls,
Each time exhales, a dove is born.

Each dove brings a vein in its beak:
To continue sewing patches ,
To continue warming arms,
To continue opening windows,
To enable us to look outwards and inwards,
And to let us and them breath peace.


Sorta. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“Like many of the pieces in the project, mine was catered for the specific property. The “Vacant” that I pasted up on was noted as a lead paint infested dwelling. The house, which is listed as being owned by the Mayor and City Council, sits on the corner of a block with occupied houses all around it. Many of these houses have children living in them.

Lead paint exposure has been proven to cause many problems for growing children, including learning disabilities. The subject of the piece is a real person, the son of a friend of mine. He’s holding a Baltimore City Schools report card with failing grades and he’s standing in an oversized bucket of Dutch Boy lead paint.

I loved this project and the piece as the majority of my street works are portraits of people from the community. Additionally I often focus on children. But more often than not I try to capture real life topics, regardless of content and put it all together in a tasteful way. Sometimes I fail at this.

However I know who is walking or driving down that street. As a parent I am cautious to not offend other parents who might be exposed to my work without compromising the point I’m trying to make. The best part about street art for me is the interactions I have with the people walking up and down the street when I’m installing something. Baltimore offers a lot of love for street art and street artists; at least that’s been my experience. They seem to appreciate it. I mean, what’s easier to look at, a 14 foot tall portrait of a young man or the naked vacant building behind it that has been sitting there rotting for years?”


Sorta. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


Specter. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“ ‘The Scaffold’ is a work that uses elements of construction and demolition
to comment on the uncertainty of vacant properties in Baltimore. The stairs have an eerie emptiness to them that reflects on this uncertainty leaving the viewer in limbo and questioning the fate of these structures.”


Specter. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


Tefcon. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“In addition to my installation, I was given the opportunity to design the ‘Wall Hunters’ logo. The project was rooted in some pretty complicated cultural issues. Attempting to broach such an involved ideology was causing me to churn out this… overly complex, incomprehensible logo art. So, I decided to approach both the logo and my piece from a more literal standpoint, using animal hunting imagery.

I illustrated the lettering for the logo, adding a pair of horns as the ‘t’ in ‘Hunters.’ I mimicked the knotty / gnarled horn texture throughout the lettering and added a cool light source to give it some dimension. My installation was a carryover from the logo. I chose to go with a hunter character in a ‘hero’ pose. I would never go as far as to say what we were doing was heroic as I have too much respect for the actual heroes out there. However, I did consider the participants and the overall project to be a force for good and I wanted to convey that feeling in my piece.”


Sirus. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


NohJColey. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


Doom. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“This piece was pasted on what was reported to be the former base of operations for a self-proclaimed ‘King of Baltimore’, who was a convicted cocaine dealer and slumlord. These properties have been vacant for over 10 years.”


Doom. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


Cera. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


“In order for this piece to function, it simply needed to be activated. Creating ‘A Ship Will Sink With A Neglectful Captain,’ was such an exciting experience.

One of the more crucial points I try my hardest to maintain in my practice is the attention given to the viewer. Working on this wall, with this community, gave me the opportunity to see the their reactions to my artwork as well as their interest and noninterest.

Literally speaking with the community while working on this piece helped me understand what I do in my practice, and why I do it. I’m there for the process of assembling content, altering content, fragmenting it and spreading it out in layers. But I’m mostly driven by our people and our commonality.”


Cera. Slumlord Project, Baltimore Summer 2013. (photo © Tarek Turkey)


For more information on The Baltimore Slumlord Watch please click HERE:

For more information on The Wall Hunters Slumlord Project please click HERE:



Please note: All content including images and text are ©, 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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Creative Alliance Presents: “Zim Zum” A Collaboration Exhibit with MOMO, Michael Owen and GAIA. (Baltimore, Maryland)


ZimZum Show Explodes Street Art World with Genre-­‐Defying Piece Created by Street Artists MOMO, Michael Owen, & Gaia Opens Sept 15, 2012, 7-­‐9pm

ZimZum turns street art on its head with a first-­‐time collaboration between renowned artists Michael Owen, Gaia, and MOMO, by merging the work of multiple street artists into one unified piece that subsumes the individual styles of the artists into a new, singular voice. Such an intertwined, profound collaboration is rarely done in the street art world, where maintaining one’s unique imprint is at the essence of the genre.

The colossal work will fill the Main Gallery and spill onto the street, thereby pushing street art and the artists in a second way. The work must resonate with two radically different audiences simultaneously: the gallery world and the pedestrian consumer of street art, the casual passer-­‐by. ZimZum is the kabbalistic idea that the creation of the universe was caused by God breathing in then out.

With large wheat paste line drawings of animals and historic figures referencing urban development, Gaia has burst into public view since 2009, exhibiting internationally from New York to Seoul, and Los Angeles to Amsterdam. Michael Owen is known as the artist behind the Baltimore Love Project, a planned series of 20 murals across Baltimore with silhouetted hands spelling the word “Love.” He’s also a Resident Artist at the Creative Alliance and has completed numerous public and private commissions, including one of the world’s longest murals in the underpass near the Baltimore neighborhood of Highlandtown. MOMO garnered early notice for “the world’s largest tag,” an innocuous, wobbly, 8-­‐mile line of orange paint, spelling his name across the streets of Manhattan. He has since emerged as a leading presence internationally, with beautiful, site-­‐sensitive, geometric-­‐abstract murals pushing both abstraction and street art in new directions.

Following the opening, stay for the Sweatboxx Dance Party, from the producers of the successful FUSION series, paying tribute to the Baltimore club scene. We dare you to dance ALL NIGHT LONG! Two DJs, Booman (B-­‐More) and Jav (Chocolate City), bring you the best of Baltimore Club and classic Hip Hop in one night. DJ Booman Is well known for his Doo Dew Kidz classics like “Watch Out For The Big Girl.” He’s engineered remixes for Usher, Katy Perry and Michael Jackson. DJ Jav (Javier Velasco) is a regular on WPFW’s “Decipher” Hip Hop Show.

Creative Alliance at The Patterson
3134 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224

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MOMO Up In The Air: Geometry, Color and Balance in Baltimore

MOMO has just completed what he calls the largest mural he has ever done in the US. Baltimore is the lucky recipient of this piece by one of Street Art’s modern abstractionists, a fine artist who has proven to be a quietly inspired force for exploration in one of the developing new directions for Street Art.

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The city of Baltimore has it charms and many people here will greet you and offer to help you or chat for a minute, and this weekend it was evident that Open Walls Baltimore has touched off an excitement in a few of the neighborhoods here.  MOMO’s own contribution enlivens and activates such a large space that you can imagine the empty lot it’s in turning into a playground or park or at least a block party. We saw so many youth and children in this neighborhood with eyes wide and full of curiosity and interest in participating in the act of creativity. Perhaps work like this can eventually put doors on boarded homes, shore up foundations, create a sense of hope and connectedness and community engagement that supercedes mere dreams of making money.

During the MOMO installation, the blasting sun was ongoing and so was the serenade of the incessant singing of mockingbirds in nearby trees. Sincere thanks to MOMO for letting us get a close look at his process and his work.

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. Wild flowers on the vast empty lot. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Please note: All content including images and text are ©, 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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Baltimore Opens Its Walls To Street Art

Abstract geometrist and Street Artist MOMO is still sweeping across a massive brick wall in his cherry picker as he leads Open Walls Baltimore across the finish line with more than twenty artists and murals spread across these blocks straight off “The Wire” TV series.



MOMO. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. Stay tuned for process shots of MOMO’s wall on BSA tomorrow. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Oh, man, he’s really getting it down over there,” says local pigeon trainer Tony Divers, who is looking out his back door past the bird’s coop at the new 5-story MOMO piece coming alive in the empty lot next door. Mr. Tony, whose pigeons have also had a starring role in the series, himself became the subject of a massive building-sized portrait by Jetsonorama two blocks up the street.


VHILS. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Welcome to Open Walls Baltimore.

New York Street Artist Gaia had been racing his fixie around this town since he started studying at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) a few years ago. In between trips back home he began hitting walls with his large scale paste-ups on sides of some of the abandoned buildings that comprise entire blocks in this city. Somewhere along the way he gradually fell in love with the neighborhood and it’s lively conversations on the stoop, secret speakeasies on the weekend, and eclectic shows with Dan Deacon and the Wham City Arts Collective.

Freshly graduated, the talkative 23 year old artist with a natural knack for organizing decided to stay in B’more and plot a Street Art revitalization of sorts. With Ben Stone and Rebecca Chan of Station North Arts & Entertainment as partners, the trio secured monetary backing and city support for 20 artists to come and paint murals this spring.  When asked if the grand outlay of almost a hundred thousand dollars is a civic/private program, Gaia is quick to answer, “Totally private. I guess you could call it civic because they’re non-profit.”

Gaia. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Armed with a budget and Gaia’s knowledge of Street Artists on the scene, the team was able to garner a wide collection of artists to create murals. When Baltimore native and famous graffiti/hip-hop photographer Martha Cooper agreed to shoot it all, Gaia knew OWB was going to be a hit. Large walls were pretty easily secured with help from the City of Baltimore and sponsors helped with paint and services. From March to May the neighborhoods of Station North and Greenmount West have played host to internationally known Street Art names of the moment like Vhils, Sten and Lex, Swoon, Jaz, MOMO, and Interesni Kazki getting up on walls alongside a list of local and regional talents.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The reviews and interactions between the organizers, artists and local residents have generally been positive in this part of town where the drug trade has filled the vacuum since all the factories died and communities were destroyed. With “art as a gentrifying force” being a huge discussion, these hippy kids have formed community in bombed out factory buildings here over the last decade and a burgeoning artists community has somehow sustained itself tenuously through the rigors of a ruthless recession. Programmatically OWB is not entirely new as a cultural stimulus but this sort of “jump-start” approach to engendering a creative renaissance by public/private development may be watched carefully by other cities as a possible formula to imitate.

Sten & Lex. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For the upbeat organizer/curator of the project, it’s been extremely gratifying and an eye opener to be accountable to such a range of interests, “I learned that murals can be a little threatening to people and bring out their latent fears and that the parties you think who are going to be most afraid generally might not be,” Gaia explains, “and the ones you think might be the most into it – provide the most criticism.”

“For example the artists community turned out to be the one that was most afraid of being a gentrifying force and was most critical of the project. And all the legacy residents were generally not bringing that up, even if I asked them,” he says.


Sculptor John Ahearn performs a live casting of a couple. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Two young art fans watch in wonderment as Mr. Ahearn applies the liquid rubber to cast the mold. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mr. Ahearn’s street installation of previous casts. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Street Artist Nanook, also a student at nearby MICA and a logistical lynchpin for OWB, created his own mural that strikes at the historic manufacturing base that once provided a livelihood for the people who lived in many of these abandoned buildings. For him, the artist’s role is to connect the lines between past and present, “And so it’s just about bringing back these signifiers to the neighborhood. Especially for this housing area that was built to house the people who were working at these factories. It has been interesting to meet the people who are old enough to have worked at these factories – they actually worked at the coat factory and the rudder factory and the bottling factory down the street.”

As he smokes and points to the gears and the large hand on his mural, Nanook also talks about the former coat factory two blocks away that is now being renovated to be a magnet art school, and the possibility that work by creatives can create help neighborhoods re-imagine a future, “I think most artists are intermediaries for the communities they reside in.”


Swoon. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As we tour around the streets with Ms. Cooper, we make sure to hit the hot graffiti spot in town, an alley she’s known for more than 50 years and one that has provided uninterrupted opportunity for exploration with an aerosol can for many artists who start out here. “Usually there are people painting back here and there’s often somebody doing a fashion shoot back here,” she remarks while snapping images of tags and colorful pieces. “There was a “Wild Style” reunion here a few years ago with Charlie (Ahearn), and they painted all kinds of stuff. It’s fun and they all come to this – because there really aren’t too many locations to do this”

While we watch a handful of 20-year-olds pulling cans from backpacks and arranging them on the cracked concrete in front of a wall, we talk to Jeremy, a local Baltimore artist who also makes puppetry and masks. He says he likes the effect that OWB has been having on the neighborhood. “It’s an interesting project. It’s nice to see a kind of subtle but effective change. Baltimore is kind of rough. But because (OWB) is there it invokes something different and the space actually is transformed.”

On a Friday evening at a block party celebrating the completion of the final wall, Gaia is happy with how it has turned out, and pleased with the multiple conversations he’s been able to have with people in the community about murals, walls, pigeons, paint, and wheat-paste. “My only curatorial process was matching the artists with walls and sites that I thought would be pertinent and I thought would really work with the artists’ process – that was my biggest goal and it succeeded.”

Interesni Kazki. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ever. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JAZ. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JAZ. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Freddy Sam. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Specter. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Maya Hayuk. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Josh Van Horn. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Overunder created a new facade within the facade of this building and a tribute to a local resident, Dennis Livingston. Says Gaia, “OverUnder is remarkably improvisational and really works well with children and people and is super engaging.” Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Overunder.Dennis Livinston. Detail. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mata Ruda. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Doodles. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jetsonorama’s portrait of Mr. Tony as he watches his pigeons in the sky. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A Jetsonorama and Nanook collaboration from a Martha Cooper photograph. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A Jetsonorama and Nanook collaboration from a Martha Cooper photograph. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A Jetsonorama and Nanook collaboration from a Martha Cooper photograph. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Nanook’s wall in progress. Open Walls Baltimore 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Open Walls Baltimore includes the following artists: Gaia (Baltimore), Momo (New Orleans), Doodles (Port Townsend, WA), Maya Hayuk (New York City), Ever (Buenos Aires, Argentina,  Overunder (Reno, NV), John Ahearn (New York City)
Specter (Montreal), Mata Ruda (Baltimore), Josh Van Horn (Baltimore) , Caitlin Cunningham (Baltimore) , Jessie Unterhalter & Katey Truhn (Baltimore), Freddy Sam (Capetown, South Africa), Intersni Kazki (Kiev, Ukraine),
Gary Kachadourian (Baltimore), Chris Stain (New York City, Baltimore), Billy Mode (Baltimore),  Jetsonorama (Arizona), Swoon (New York City), Sten and Lex (Italy), Nanook (Baltimore), Jaz (Buenos Aires, Argentina), and Vhils (Portugal)


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Martha Cooper, Photographer of Art on the Streets for Six Decades

Martha Cooper landed in LA yesterday and will spend the next week installing her photos and their remixed new versions beside them, even flanking hers like stereo speakers. Since the press release has gone out we thought we’d share with you the bio written by Steven P. Harrington and the promo photo by Jaime Rojo which will appear in a special issue of The Art Street Journal dedicated entirely to her to come out this week.


Martha and Pablo at home, with a portrait of her sitting on a train car with camera in hand painted by Os Gemeos overlooking the scene. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper, Photographer of Art on the Streets for Six Decades

Written by Steven P. Harrington, this article is featured in The Art Street Journal vol ii – issue v.

The daughter of a Baltimore camera store owner, Martha Cooper’s romance with photography began in the 1940s when bobby-soxers and penny loafers were the sign of edgy youth culture. Her dad, an amateur photographer himself, gave his small girl a camera and together they hit the streets in search of adventure. “Yeah, my father used to take me out and we would take pictures. That’s what I thought photography was…we were just looking for pictures,” she recalls. Six decades later, Cooper is still looking for pictures; meanwhile, many works from her archive are cited as pivotal recordings of the birth of hip-hop culture and its plastic art form, graffiti.

During the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, Cooper earned a Bachelors of Art degree in Iowa, taught English for the Peace Corps in Thailand and rode a motorcycle from Bangkok to obtain a graduate degree at Oxford. As a freelancer and staff photographer in Japan, Maryland and Rhode Island in the early 1970s she moved to the media and art center of New York City to catch bigger fish. Landing a job on the staff of The New York Post in 1977, she discovered that the resistant and competitive boys club of photographers there were reluctant to countenance this scrappy young woman shooting hard news stories and Studio 54 celebrities.

Hungry for discovery, Cooper would spend her time to and from assignments in bombed-out neighborhoods, where she took pictures of kids entertaining themselves with games they devised on the street, often with the humblest of materials. It was during one of those trips that she stumbled on graffiti and the members of its community. She met a young boy who suggested she photograph the work she was seeing, then showed her a stylized drawing of his name, or piece, in his notebook.

Then he asked her if she wanted to meet “The King”.

Following this lead to Brooklyn, Cooper met Dondi, the citywide-famous graffiti writer who kept a published photo of hers in his black book because its background contained one of his graffiti throw-ups. Cooper quickly realized that she had stumbled into a lively street culture and became an avid student of the teen writers she befriended. By the time she took her last news picture for the New York Post in 1980, her primary desire was to capture as many pieces, tags, and trains as she possibly could find. Today, she remarks on her near-obsessive devotion to documenting New York’s graffiti: waking before dawn to hit the street, waiting five hours for a freshly painted #2 train to pass with the sun at her back and countless secret adventures with vandals in train yards, evading transit police in order to pursue a shot.

Joining efforts with fellow graffiti photographer, Henry Chalfant, Cooper proposed putting together a book of their documentation. The pair endured multiple rejections from publishers while lugging around a big “dummy” book with their pictures glued to the pages. Eventually, however, they landed a deal and Subway Art was published in 1984. Although not an immediate success, it came to sell half a million copies and established itself as a holy book for fans, aspiring artists and art historians worldwide.

By the time the 25th anniversary edition was published in 2009, generations of graffiti and street artists had been influenced by it and the hip-hop culture Cooper and Chalfant had captured had gone global.

In the intervening years, Martha Cooper never stopped shooting. Her love of serendipity on the street and the exploration of cultures led her to publish thousands of photos in books such as R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art, Hip Hop Files 1979-1984, We B*Girlz, Street Play, New York State of Mind, Tag Town, Going Postal, and Name Tagging. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, Natural History, and Vibe. While she is still shooting graffiti, street art and the occasional break dance competition today, Cooper’s current project involves documenting people and events in Sowebo, a drug-riddled neighborhood in her birthplace of Baltimore.


Steven P. Harrington is editor-in-chief of and co-author (with Jaime Rojo) of Brooklyn Street Art and Street Art New York, both by Prestel Publishing. He and Jaime Rojo are also contributing writers on street art for The Huffington Post.



Photographs by Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper ; Remix


Original remixes of these photographs in a range of media by Aeon, John Ahearn, Aiko, Bio, Nicer & B-Gee, Blade, Blanco, Mark Bode, Burning Candy, Victor Castillo, Cey, Cekis, Claw, Cosbe, Crash, Dabs & Myla, Anton van Dalen, Daze, Dearraindrop, Jane Dickson, Dr. Revolt, Shepard Fairey, Faust, Flying Fortress, Freedom, Fumakaka, Futura, Gaia, Grotesk, Logan Hicks, How & Nosm, LA II, Lady Pink, Anthony Lister, The London Police, Mare 139, Barry McGee, Nazza Stencil, Nunca, José Parlá, Quik, Lee Quinones, Kenny Scharf, Sharp, Skewville, Chris Stain, Subway Art History, Swoon, T-Kid, Terror161 and more.

Carmichael Gallery is pleased to announce Martha Cooper: Remix, an expansive group show featuring highlights from Martha Cooper’s photographic archive and works by over 50 artists who have created their own unique interpretations of her iconic, historically significant imagery. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Saturday, April 9 from 6 to 8pm with Martha Cooper and several of the participating artists in attendance. The exhibition will run through May 7, 2011.

Click on the link below to read BSA interview with Martha Cooper:

Carmichael Gallery

5795 Washington Blvd

Culver City, CA 90232

April 9 – May 7, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 9, 6-8pm



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Day 6: FINAL: General Howe’s “Battle of Brooklyn 2010”


This historic week for Brooklyn and the U.S. is being marked daily by New York Street Artist General Howe at the sites where the actual “Battle of Brooklyn” took place exactly 234 years earlier. Brooklyn Street Art is pleased to bring you daily updates on the plundering of boundaries between Street Art, performance art, and historical land-marking along with live social media updates by Kianga Ellis. All week we will travel around Brooklyn tracing the troop movements as General Howe stages small-scale battle scenes to connect us with history and possibly examine the childhood pastime of playing “war”.


“Largest battle of the entire Revolutionary War”

On this same ground, in these neighborhoods and streets that have names that are the same or similar to what they were 234  years ago today, the army of George Washington suffered it’s biggest loss.

Today the installations by Street Artist General Howe came to a booming crescendo as we raced after him across Brooklyn, erecting all manner of art pieces to commemorate the day when the American army was surrounded and nearly decimated. The largest battle fought in North America up to that point, the American Continental army suffered greatly – outnumbered, surrounded, and overpowered by the high-tech professional Brits and Hessians.

On this day, August 27th, hundreds of soldiers were killed and hundreds more taken prisoner down to the Wallabout Bay (Navy Yard). During the night on the 29th the remaining Patriots escaped across the river by boat to Manhattan while the Brits hunkered down only a few hundred yards away.

© Jaime Rojo

© Jaime Rojo

The Battle Of Brooklyn begins here in a watermelon patch where hungry British soldiers had stopped to eat the fruit just below Greenwood Cemetery and The Red Line Inn. The Patriots caught them and fired on them and the rest of the war unfolded from here. (General Howe: Greenwood Cemetery Area.) (© Jaime Rojo)
General Howe: Greenwood Cemetery Area. The Battle Of Brooklyn begins here in a watermelon . Below the Cemetery and The Red Line Inn there was a watermellon patch. The Britsh soldiers were hungry and stop to eat. The Patriots saw them and fired on them and the rest of the war unfolded from here (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe describes August 27th:

The Action:


With an outstanding flanking maneuver begun the previous day, the British outsmart the American defense. Simultaneously, full-blown combat begins near a tavern close to the Greenwood Cemetery.  As fighting ensues, many Patriot soldiers flee across the Gowanus Creek to a fortified location in Brooklyn Heights.

The Maryland 400 stay behind to hold off the British while their American comrades escape. A crucial battle takes place at the Vechte house, a farmhouse now known as the Old Stone House located in modern-day Park Slope. Many Patriot soldiers make it to safety thanks to this dedicated unit from Maryland, but some Americans are killed and drowned by the British in the Gowanus Creek. By the end of this day, the largest battle of the entire Revolutionary War will be fought and conclude in a devastating defeat for the Americans. About 300 Patriot soldiers are killed and over 1,000 captured. On the night of August 29, 1776, General George Washington personally leads an astonishing evacuation of the entire American army across the East River to Manhattan.

The Landscape: Greenwood Cemetery, Crown Heights, Prospect Park, Park Slope, Gowanus and Brooklyn Heights

General Howe: Americans retreated across the Gowanas and had to swim since the bridge was set on fire causing many soldiers to perish by drowing (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe: Americans retreated across the Gowanus and had to swim since the bridge was set on fire causing many soldiers to perish by drowning (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe (© Jaime Rojo)

Gowanas Canal. Brooklyn, NY (© Jaime Rojo)
Gowanus Canal. Brooklyn, NY (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe: At The Old Stone House 400 Americans from Maryland were defending from this position and distracting the British while the Patriots fled across the Gowanus for safety (© Jaime Rojo)

At The Old Stone House the “Maryland 400” defended from this position and distracted the British while Patriots fled across the Gowanus for safety. General Howe (© Jaime Rojo)

Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. NYC (© Jaime Rojo)

The actual Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn. NYC (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe. (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe. (© Jaime Rojo)

The Corner of Atlantic Ave and Court Street in Brooklyn is a former location of a fort where General George Washington was observed how the Battle of Brooklyn was unfolding. General Howe: (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe:The Corner of Atlantic Ave and Court St. in Brooklyn is a former location of a fort where General George Washington was observing how the Battle of Brooklyn was unfolding (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe (© Jaime Rojo)

General Howe (© Jaime Rojo)

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This six-day event is shared live with the public complete with historical quotes, the General’s musings, and twitpics by Kianga Ellis on

Twitter ( (subject hashtag “#RevWar” if you like)

and Foursquare (


HuffPost-ButtonSee our interview with General Howe, “WAR ON APATHY” on The Huffington Post

Link to other days in the Battle of Brooklynjust click the date.


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