Tennessee and Texas Sample a Certain Street Savoir Faire
Look out for Le Rat!
He’s getting up in places down south that you wouldn’t normally associate with a French Street Artist, much less the one who started stenciling in a style and manner unusual on Paris walls in ’81 – an antecedent for much of what we later would call ‘Street Art”.
Thanks to gallerist and collector Brian Greif, Blek Le Rat made a run for it through Texas in cities like Waco, Austin, and Houston – after spending a week teaching students at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville how to create stencils in his distinct style.
It was a unique experience for the artist roughly 40 years after he first began doing these same activities illegally and under cover of night – and Greif tells us that the artist was so moved by the large audiences and appreciation by new fans that he is even encouraged to return.
think its time now to go back to the real sources of street art by painting
real walls in real cities and not just the major cities around the world,” says
Blek in an interview with Greif. “We need to touch people by painting walls in
cities that have not experienced this movement.”
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.
“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.
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.
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 NashvilleArts.com “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.”
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.”
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.
“The Nashville Walls Project,” a privately funded business improvement initiative in the downtown district referred to as “The Gulch” has already brought Street Artists like Rone, Above, Herakut, Curiot, Mike Shine, Niels “Shoe” Meulman, Adele Renault, Mars1 and Louis Masai.
Now there are two more. Thanks to gallery owner and art dealer Brian Grief, who also starred in and produced the “Saving Banksy” movie, we have images today of two new walls just completed by artists Jason Woodside and Ian Ross.
Stylistically very different, they each nonetheless knocked out massive walls here between April 10-18, as the weather turned pleasantly Spring-like before the punishing southern sun arrives for summer.
Jason would like to thank local artist Nathan Brown who helped him with the mural, and Ian would like to thank local artist Chris Zidek, who was his trusty assistant for the duration of the project.
Looks like coming up next will be Guido Van Helten, who will be painting a massive mural on a 200-foot abandoned concrete grain silo in an area called The Nations,where real estate developers say they plan for the silo to be the centerpiece of a new West Nashville mixed-use development.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. Calligraphy, Layers and Screen Play; Said Dokins / Ugly Food House
2. Paolo Troilo: The London Afternoon 3. Elisa Capdevila & Ivan Floro for 12 + 1. 4. Jason Woodside and Ian Ross at Nashville Walls Project. 5. The Infinite Now – Armand Dijcks
BSA Special Feature: Calligraphy, Layers and Screen Play; Said Dokins / Ugly Food House
Happy Friday. Time for fun in the studio together.
A snappy glitch-flecked soundtrack lifts and carries this black and white series of brushstrokes, screen sprays, and inky dance steps as layers of calligraphy, automatic pens, Luthis pens, Japanese brushes and a nattering of nibs stack up and slide. Street Artist/fine artist Said Dokins is with the Master Printer of Ugly Food House, Ivonne Adel-Buereos, and the sunset is the theme that inspires all of this activity.
With the world in motion, it is an atmosphere that we desperately try to capture, to somehow document that inspirational moment. Perhaps its not in the activity, but the shared sense of possibility unleashed through play and collaboration.
Paolo Troilo: The London Afternoon
Let your multiple brushes at home? No worries, you can use your fingers. Return to your senses, your ability to create gestural motion upon a canvas, the tactile interaction with the world you first learned. Paolo Troilo is clearly inspired by the same beauty and makes a performance of it through the front window.
Elisa Capdevila & Ivan Floro for 12 + 1. Contorno Urbano
For the 12 + 1 Project Elisa Capdevilla + Ivan Floro turn this grande dame to the side in Barcelona, an introduction of classical into everyday, for everyone.
Jason Woodside and Ian Ross at Nashville Walls Project.
Tough to draw the correlation stylistically between Jason Woodside and Ian Ross but Those Drones/Brian Siskind places them in a series of adoring sweeps of Nashville and it’s real estate, backed by a glowing modern reassuring nostalgia.
…And a quickie of Jason Woodside’s completed piece via Nashville Walls Project
A focused and glad review of the explosion of color and pattern that Jason Woodside plays for the business improvement district in Nashville.
The Infinite Now – Armand Dijcks
Not so much palette cleansing as mind-blowing, awe-inspiring oceanscapes created as cinemagraphs that basically leave you speechless.
Armand Dijcks worked with Australian photographer Ray Collins to set these into infinite motion, surrounded and regaled with music by André Heuvelman from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra along with pianist Jeroen van Vliet.
May we all be inspired and run out to the world to create the positive change we need to have.