Last weekend Street Artists Gaia and Nanook had some fun touring around with photographer Martha Cooper in her neighborhood of South West Baltimore. Gaia’s ongoing “Legacy” series of big ol’ heads of white men – we should say portraits – who have contributed to the history of urban environments and conditions continues here too.
Photo © Martha Cooper
We’ve been seeing Gaia continue this theme recently in cities like New York, Albany, Atlanta, Miami and even his studio piece in our “Street Art Saved My Life” show last summer in LA – and it’s strangely rewarding and even entertaining…site specific postings of people like NYC’s master builder and corporate beneficiary Robert Moses from mid-20th century may look strange posted in the wilds of decayed New York, yet his big mug is probably more related to the state of our local economy than most people who are running things today. Where Moses’ critics accused him of destroying much of New York’s culture and life through building, Baltimore’s ill-famed developer is accused of killing parts of the city through active neglect. Gaia’s new big head is that of Baltimore billionaire Harry Weinberg, who bought clusters of buildings and abandoned them, effectively bringing blight to part of the city for decades, including today, according to Gaia’s position paper on the topic.
Gaia frequently assists passersby with helpful background information to help explain and contextualize his work like this one-pager above. (copyright Gaia)
“ First we installed a site generated piece of Weinberg’s portrait across the street from his formerly decrepit, now demolished, real estate holdings,” explains Gaia about his travels with the well-known street life photographer. Afterward they all toured with Martha through her hood, hearing her perspective and insights on urban decay and sociological aspects of the neighborhood now better known as the site for the TV show “The Wire” – a tour which is a genuine treat BSA has also enjoyed.
Photo © Martha Cooper
Eventually it was time to put up a Gaia piece created from a Martha photograph of HE3 from the 1970s. Says, Gaia, “The piece is situated in an alley where a lot of the neighbors congregate and is right now the street from the active stables and pigeon coops.”
Nanook at work (photo © Martha Cooper)
See more images by Martha Cooper and read her posting on the events of the day with the guys on 12 oz. Prophet here.
Here is a link to the finished pieces on Gaia’s Flickr
Here is Nanook’s Flickr http://www.flickr.com/people/nanookart/