All posts tagged: NC

GAIA :  New Mural Work in Greenville, Atlanta, Detroit

GAIA : New Mural Work in Greenville, Atlanta, Detroit

The traveling Street Artist and historian / student / observer / critic of urban planning, anthropology, people’s movements who goes by the moniker GAIA shares with us today some of the back stories for recent  murals he has authored.

When he posts on his Facebook page that he is looking for recommendations for reading about a certain city or culture where he will be soon visiting, you can have a degree of certainty that GAIA will soon be depicting what he learns with portraiture and dioramic imagery that illustrates what he has found. This fascination for self-education and public education through public artworks has roots in mural history that has persisted for decades in cities and neighborhoods around the world.


Gaia “City of Altruism”. Detail. Greenville, NC. June, 2014. (photo © Gaia)

Typically public murals are stories told from a formal city or town historical perspective or come about from the distilled sentiment of a community to address or commemorate pivotal people and events that formed and molded the direction or DNA of a population.  With Gaia’s personal study, criterion for selection, and style of storytelling one wonders if there is not a GAIA school of mural making that has been evolving over these last five years – one that already appears to have adherents and enthusiastic co-creators – and which reflects his focus on social movements, political machinations, industry, economic drivers, and anthropology.

Here are recent examples of work by Gaia and collaborators in three American cities (although his work is not limited to just this continent) along with some explanatory text from the artist to help contextualize the stories and players evoked within them.

“City of Altruism” – Greenville, North Carolina

Part of #yearofaltruism, the mural features the warped images of four mills that have been repurposed or are slated for renovation and that flow through the Reedy River falls. Previously sites of industry and working class employment that are now used for shopping, upper-income lofts, and entertainment culture, these mills are part of a local heritage that GAIA wanted to preserve.

“Global competition restructures the lives of working class and white collar communities as the South meets the 21st century,” he explains as he describes the new piece. “The calla lilies are a nod to the Bible-minded nature of Greenville; the flowers represent purity yet are also poisonous. These are paired with the tumbling red brick of change and destruction. A single story brick duplex emerges out of the top left of the composition with the phrases “Webster Street” and “Phillis Wheatley” as a memorial to the African American neighborhood that has been erased from this area.”

Gaia would like to thank The Year Of Altruism Foundation for including him in their programming and for inviting him to Greenville, with special thanks to Steve Cohen and Don Kliburg for orchestrating the project. 


Gaia “City of Altruism” Greenville, NC. June, 2014. (photo © Gaia)

“Boundary” – Atlanta, Georgia

GAIA in collaboration with artists Nanook, Ozmo and Matt Cogdil created these three warped Bierstadt paintings that fade into images of Mayor Hartsfield and of H. Rap Brown in the bottom corner. The project was completed for Living Walls, the City Speaks in the city’s West End, which GAIA describes as “an industrial neighborhood that is used as a buffer with the construction of Interstate 20 to prevent Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh from encroaching further north into the downtown and the Mosley Park areas.”


Gaia, Nanook, Ozmo and Matt Cogdil collaboration. “Boundary”. Process shot. Atlanta, Georgia. Living Walls Atlanta 2014 (photo © Gaia)


Gaia, Nanook, Ozmo and Matt Cogdil collaboration. “Boundary”. Detail. Atlanta, Georgia. Living Walls Atlanta 2014 (photo © Gaia)


Gaia, Nanook, Ozmo and Matt Cogdil collaboration. “Boundary”. Detail. Atlanta, Georgia. Living Walls Atlanta 2014 (photo © Gaia)


Gaia, Nanook, Ozmo and Matt Cogdil collaboration. “Boundary”. Atlanta, Georgia. Living Walls Atlanta 2014 (photo © Gaia)

The Murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit, Michigan

The primary focus of the elongated piece is a memorial to #VincentChin who, observes GAIA, “passed in 1982 in an altercation that possessed attributes of a hate crime and whose perpetrators who were given lenient sentencing in a plea bargain.”

With that image as the central one, GAIA combines images of leaders whose careers directly or indirectly could be tied to that event, he says.  He describes the mural like this: “Painting post war economic miracles as a portrait of global competition that led to layoffs in Detroit and fueled the frustration and xenophobia behind Vincent Chin’s murder”.


Gaia. Memorial to Vincent Chin. Process shot. Detroit. June, 2014. (photo © Gaia)


Gaia. Memorial to Vincent Chin. Process shot. Detroit. June, 2014. (photo © Gaia)

Here are the other players in the mural, as described by GAIA;

“Wirtschaftswunder” Ludwig Erhard was a German politician notable for his role in Germany’s robust post war recovery.


Gaia. Memorial to Vincent Chin. Process shot. Detroit. June, 2014. (photo © Gaia)

Sun Yun-suan (Chinese: 孫運璿; pinyin: Sūn Yùnxuán; November 11, 1913 – February 15, 2006) was a Chinese engineer and politician. As minister of economic affairs from 1969 to 1978 and Premier of the Republic of China from 1978 to 1984, he was credited for overseeing the transformation of Taiwan from being a mainly agricultural economy to an export powerhouse.

Hayato Ikeda (池田 勇人 Ikeda Hayato?, 3 December 1899 – 13 August 1965) was a Japanese politician and the 58th, 59th and 60th Prime Minister of Japan from 19 July 1960 to 9 November 1964. Takafusa Nakamura, a leading economic historian, described Ikeda as “the single most important figure in Japan’s rapid growth. He should long be remembered as the man who pulled together a national consensus for economic growth.”


Gaia. Memorial to Vincent Chin. Detroit. June, 2014. (photo © Gaia)






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Chris Stain Gets Ready for the DNC in Charlotte

Chris Stain Gets Ready for the DNC in Charlotte

Street Artist Chris Stain is in Charlotte, North Carolina as the city prepares for the Democratic National Convention coming here on September 3rd.  Art on the streets historically has employed political themes and motivations, explicitly or implicitly, and this new installation by Stain again draws attention to the plight of the everyday person barely afloat on a teetering raft in an economic storm.

When you look at the work on the street, you find that Street Artists continue to address issues that affect the poor and Chris Stain has always kept these people front and center in his work. The street is actually one of the few places today where you will find these people represented so prominently because mysteriously, during a time of incredible need and insecurity, poor people are almost invisible on the glossy high-production “political” TV shows and websites and they are absent from most policy talk today – on the right or left.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC (photo © Chris Stain)

In town with other artists who have worked in the street, Imminent Disaster, Greg Haberny, and Ben Wolf, Stain is taking part in “America Now”, a show and residency hosted by the McColl Center for Visual Art. With fellow artist Josh Macphee alongside him, Chris was able to knock this piece out in a few nights. He says he can see that Charlotte has been improving its downtown area quite a bit and he just hopes they don’t forget about the rest of the city’s residents who aren’t quite as well-to-do.

Brooklyn Street Art: Why did you pick this location?
Chris Stain: The wall location was offered to me by the McColl Center for Visual Art. The building is affiliated with their facility. There has been a lot new construction and renovation in Uptown Charlotte over the past 10 years. However there are outlying neighborhoods still in need of assistance.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Does Charlotte have a lot going for it right now?
Chris Stain: Charlotte is preparing for the Democratic National Convention this September. According to the Miami Herald the federal government gave the police force $50 million dollars to update their technology and arsenal for crowd control. Charlotte is a financial hub of the south and has much to protect in the way of banking and business. Surprisingly their seems to be strong support though for Arts and Humanities throughout downtown for the privileged with major museums and performance spaces.


Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your subjects are often regular people who are working and just getting by. Did you see many people like that in the streets of Charlotte?
Chris Stain:
From what I experienced and picked up on after the work week some shops close up due to lack of commerce. That’s when one store owner told me “The Homeless come out.” Most of my interactions were with people who didn’t live directly downtown. People would stop and comment, “Nice Job! That’s reality!”. I was there for a week before I started the mural but it didn’t take long to recognize the familiar vibe of separation and uneasiness of the new downtown that had dropped in on the old neighborhood. As an outsider I can’t give an exact account of all the politics but going off my first impression and gut instinct I chose the images I did to create the mural. Their is more to NC than just the Panthers (football team) and I that’s who I was rooting for.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Birds fly high in so many of your works. Is that an aesthetic decision entirely – a way to use the space? Or do you think they somehow are symbolic of something more?
Chris Stain:
Yes the birds are symbolic and also they are an aesthetic choice. The birds are a great way to activate the negative space in the composition. On a personal level they represent hope; the concept of ideas taking flight. Once those ideas take flight they have the potential to be life changing. Creativity is a protest against complacency.

Brooklyn Street Art: What are people on the street saying about the pending arrival of the Democratic National Convention?
Chris Stain:
Saturday we had an open studio visit at the McColl Center for Visual Art. Myself and 3 other NYC artists were asked to make work in conjunction with the upcoming DNC. My work dealt with the protest angle. The people that I talked with that day, for the most part, seemed nervous about the influx of others and the potential mayhem it will bring to this easy-going small city.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Chris Stain and Josh Macphee from their indoor installation at the McColl Center for Visual Art. Charlotte, NC. (photo © Ben Premeaux)

Chris Stain at the McColl Center for Visual Art. Charlotte, NC. (photo © Chris Stain)


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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Flanders Art Gallery Presents “Make Ends Meet” Olek, Jonathan Brilliant and Mathew Curran (Raleigh, NC)

Make Ends Meet

Make Ends Meet

Jun 1, 2012 – Jul 21, 2012

Henry Moore is credited with saying, “There’s no retirement for an artist; it’s your way of living, so there’s no end to it.” Moore’s words outline art making not simply as profession, but as compulsion. Make Ends Meet is an exhibition that celebrates the repetition of a daily grind, as it features the incredibly inventive, yet remarkably labor-intensive works of Jonathan Brilliant, Mathew Curran, and Olek. Only compulsion could inspire these artists to employ the countless connections, cuts, and knots necessary to create their works.

Jonathan Brilliant’s oeuvre appropriates the throwaway accessories of the coffee shop – the wooden stirrers, the cardboard sleeves, and the plastic lids – to create tension-woven installations and an assortment of prints inspired by those installations. His large-scale forms, utilizing thousands of these often overlooked items, thread, engulf, and cocoon space. His concentration on such materials speaks not only to his personal attachment to the coffee shop; as he writes, “In my vision [of the installations as the “Goldsworthy of the coffee shop project”], the coffee shop is my natural environment and source of inspiration for materials.” It also demonstrates Ray Oldenburg’s urban sociology theory that locations like coffee shops are the “third place” in an active community, following the spheres of work and home. Brilliant’s installations give abstracted form to this third place. Because coffee shops are communal locations for sustenance and socialization, their contents are immediately recognizable to a wide audience. However, in his methodical, excruciatingly exacting constructions, Brilliant combines these items in such a fashion that he negates their seeming familiarity and insignificance. Their resulting beauty instead appears sublimely foreign.

Mathew Curran has spent years exploring the potential in stencil art. An art form that offers technical possibilities of traditional printmaking and also represents a form of urban art, each stencil requires hours of cutting with an unforgiving X-acto blade. His current stencil work negotiates the intersections of natural and urban life. For him, nature is “a background character in every one of our interactions,” regardless of one’s location in the world. To communicate this duality, he has started turning to representations of white-tailed deer and ravens. While the choice of animals as his subject matter may seem to suggest an essential, potentially simpler, state of being, he uses jagged strokes to remind the viewer that the frenzy of urban life is echoed in the chaos of nature. Ravens have a long-standing connotation of death, and he utilizes studies of hunted, dead deer in his compositions. For him, these animals are metaphorical stand-ins for the complexities of survival across habitats and species. In this exhibition, he evolved from his traditional black-and-white palette, and he introduces the color of North Carolina red clay in his works to make specific reference to one of the current background characters of his home and environment.

Olek has spent the past decade in America “aggressively re-weaving the world as she sees fit.” She describes her own compulsion best when she writes, “A loop after loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet.” Whether she uses wool or balloons, few things are safe from her intervention, be it covering the Wall Street Bull or entrapping a shopping cart in crochet. Olek is an artist for whom the entire world is her inspiration and installation. Past pieces include reclaiming entire rooms with crochet, filling a gallery with balloon sculptures, and creating full body suits before sending their wearers into the streets. Drawing from anything between intangible text messages and found everyday objects, she absorbs all into her process and allows them to reemerge covered in her multi-looped, hyper-colored, crocheted visions.

 302 South West Street  Raleigh, NC 27603 • (919) 834-5044
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Derek Dipietro Re-Imagines C215

College student Derek Dipietro fell for some stencils by French Street Artist C215 on his recent trip to Amsterdam. The stenciled images are most likely of people who live in the area, as C215 likes to photograph neighborhoods’ residents, frequently the marginalized among them.  The artist considers his stencils to be a gift to the community, and a way for a locality to retain its individual character. Dipietro was so impressed by what he found that he began to play with and alter his photos using image software called Aperture, and in the process began to create new interpretations.

brooklyn-street-art-c215-derek-Dipietro-amsterdam-3-webDerek’s orginal photo of some stencils by Street Artist C215. Below are two re-interpretations of the boy stencil he made using Aperture. (photo © Derek Dipietro)

From working with C215 to create his most recent monograph, we know that the artist encourages photographers to interpret his work in any way they wish, so he no doubt would be pleased to see this youth from North Carolina State University learning how to tweak photos of his work.  Since we like to celebrate the creative spirit, we’re excited anytime somebody wants to share his or her creations too.


C215 (photo © Derek Dipietro)

It’s also part of technological and cultural literacy for us all to understand the new tools that are employed to alter imagery throughout the world today, and to appreciate and respect the power that we all wield with creative mouse clicking. Similarly, we have to consider our responsibility to attribute authorship and how to protect it, and when. In the wrong hands, an artist’s work can be abused or appropriated for profit, which is where the grey areas get defined.

Keep up your studies Derek and thanks for sharing your work and your interpretations of the work of C215.


C215 (photo © Derek Dipietro)


Dipietro’s original photo above and his re-interpretation of the image below.  (photo © Derek Dipietro)


C215 (photo © Derek Dipietro)


Derek also sent this photo of a house he took in Santa Cruz, CA. By using the same process he used for the C215 images, the house is quickly transformed. © Derek Dipietro

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