Joan Vorderbruggen wants to see more art in storefronts - but not in the way you might think.
The artist wants to turn blighted streets and empty business spaces into places for public art, in the hope of revitalizing suffering neighborhoods. The project is called "Artists in Storefronts."
Her first stop? The Whittier neighborhood.
Starting April 27, vacant and underused storefronts, as well as street corners and building facades, will feature everything from murals to yarn bombs to video projects.
The idea is to create an "interactive, walkable exhibit open to everyone."
Vorderbruggen, who has won awards for her work in storefront design, says she was inspired by Wing Young Huie's University Avenue project.
I started imagining an entire city block in a declining business area as this urban walking gallery, something everyone could participate in that would also help the community. And I thought, why not start it here in Whittier, in my own backyard?
The Whittier project will run through early June. Vorderbruggen says she plans to eventually expand the project to other neighborhoods.
Namely: When is street art art, and when is it vandalism?
The question has already drawn quite a few responses, with many agreeing that if the artist didn't get permission to create the work of art on someone else's property, then it's vandalism, no matter how good it is.
However, one commenter named Brian, thinks it's more complicated than that:
"Vandalism" is a legal term, and "art" is not, so the two are not mutually exclusive. I can appreciate the artistic merit of something, while also condemning its creation as an act of vandalism.
Certainly our view of graffiti changes depending on the context and time. Ancient graffiti in Rome (carved into buildings - imagine trying to clean that up) included curses, magic spells and declarations of love as well as political rhetoric. Now those markings leave important clues for historians and anthropologists.
In the case of HOTTEA, he switched from spraypaint to yarn to create a work that doesn't last much more than a couple of weeks before breaking down.
HOTTEA - a.k.a. Eric Rieger - says he got tasered four or five times as a graffiti artist before he switched from spray paint to yarn.
MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel
Banksy, a graffiti artist in England, has become so wildly popular that many building owners choose to leave his stenciled works up as an attraction.
Stencil graffiti by Banksy
Photo Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons
One of Banksy's pieces reads "If graffiti changed anything it would be illegal."
Sao Paulo, Brazil is generally considered to be home to one of the richest graffiti scenes in the world.
In an article for Time Out New York, Terrance Lindall, executive director of the Williamsburg Art and Historic Center said graffiti is a necessary means of expression for the poor and oppressed.
Graffiti is revolutionary, in my opinion and any revolution might be considered a crime. People who are oppressed or suppressed need an outlet, so they write on walls--it's free.
So what do you think? How do you differentiate between art and vandalism? And, how do you tell the difference between graffiti that's art, and graffiti that's simply writing on a wall?(1 Comments)
It's hard to believe that the Pianos on Parade have graced the streets of St Paul (and one place in Minneapolis and at the airport) for almost two months. This weekend the grand experiment in public music-making ends as Keys 4/4 Kids roll the boxes back to their warehouse and repair shop in St Paul.
For Project Manager Kelsey Shanesy, it's been a learning experience.
"We have learned many things!" she laughed when I tracked her down this morning. "We have learned that the pianos under overhangs fare far better than the ones that do not have overhands, that just have tarps."
Part of the experiment was seeing how the 20 pianos dotted around the city would survive the elements, and it turns out that Mother Nature chose June and July 2011 as a time to set all sorts of record-breaking weather, none of it piano-friendly.
"We had a very tough summer for them," says Shanesy. "If it wasn't pouring down with rain it was, you know 98 degrees and humid, neither of which is very good for a piano. But many of them fared very well and they are going to continue to be working pianos." She paused briefly before adding "And a few of them are now completely done. They have reached the end of their lifecycle with this project," she laughed again.
Despite the odd piano corpse here and there Shanesy says the project appears to have been a big success.
"I'm really sad that we couldn't leave it out longer," she said, "Because it really seemed like at the end it really seemed to take off."
Shanesy (below) says while the weather didn't co-operate there was no human vandalism. Earlier in the summer she said she hoped the instruments would create moments of spontaneous community, and that seems to have happened time and again.
She says last weekend she attended a charity fundraiser where a young man played all 20 of the pianos, and also a concert at the Landmark Center piano where people gathered to "send good energy" to the victims of the Japanese tsunami.
So a colleague of mine, ok - my BOSS - brought a couple of photos in to work to show me this morning. He knows I enjoy biking the Gateway Trail, and that I cover the arts, so he thought I'd be amused by the visual debate.
On one side of a tunnel, there's this:
On the other side, written atop layers of graffiti that have been white-washed, there's this:
Now, there are often bits of graffiti on the interior walls of tunnels along the Gateway, mostly harmless, and sometimes quite beautiful. For a while my favorite was one that said "Uff-da" just at the point in the ride where I was feeling exactly that sentiment. But inevitably the graffiti is cleaned up each year, leaving a wall patchworked in shades of white and grey.
Well, the images got me thinking, why isn't there any "official" art on the Gateway Trail?
It turns out, art is on the way.
I tuned in to a Gateway State Trail Podcast (yes, they have a Gateway Trail podcast! I couldn't believe it either), and learned that the Gateway Trail Association (They have an association, too!) worked with the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, and the Mississippi Magnet Creative Arts School to create some original art for the trail.
Under the guidance of artist David Vang, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders came up with images that represent the word "welcome" to them. They then created approximately 300 ceramic tiles featuring those welcoming images.
The tiles are expected to go up at the end of June, affixed to a pergola next to the Arlington parking lot. Eventually the pergola will serve as a welcoming gateway to a community garden.
Gateway Trail Association boardmember Noreen Farrell says it's been a long time coming; she originally started pursuing art for the trail in the late 1980s.
We had seen some information from England about how they had art on their trail. And we thought this was wonderful. We've always wanted to enhance the trail and to make it very neighborhood friendly. We found out most of the people using the trail live within ten miles, and we wanted them to feel some ownership of the trail.
Well, at lease in the case of "Firefly Alley," it looks as though they already feel some ownership.
Ah, to be young and limber. Parkour - the art of "freerunning" - combines martial arts with gymnastics. The idea is to traverse an obstacle course as smoothly, and as quickly as possible, using only your body. Practioners of parkour are called "traceurs."
Frenchman David Belle created the sport, and it's since taken off in action films, most notably District 13 and District 13: Ultimatum (starring Belle) and the opening scene in the James Bond film Casino Royale (the only time I found myself rooting for the bad guy in a Bond film).
This week City Pages reports on the rise of parkour in Minnesota, particularly in Eagan.
"It's really weird to think that just a few years ago we would get like six people out here for weekend training; today we had like 30," [Chad] Zwadlo says. "The major national jams will sometimes only get like 50 people, and we're pulling numbers close to that on a random Sunday."
As for why parkour is growing at such a rapid rate, especially in the Twin Cities, Skinny says the answer is that it's the most natural sport of all.
"Think about it like this: When you're a kid, you just run around and climb on bars and jump off of stuff. You're playing," Skinny says. "Then as we get older, society tells you that you need to stop doing that. They tell us that we need start walking in a straight line on the sidewalk, telling us to stop playing.
"What we're doing here today, this is just us getting back to our roots: We're playing and having fun."
Of course, the article also talks about the dangers of doing a back-flip on concrete. Interested in becoming a traceur? Find out about classes in the sport here.
There's a lovely article in the New York Times about the rise in "yarn-bombing." In essence, women are taking to the streets to add their own commentary with knitting needles, making the world a warmer, fuzzier place. Malia Wollan (woolen?) writes:
It is a global phenomenon, with yarn bombers taking their brightly colored fuzzy work to Europe, Asia and beyond. In Paris, a yarn culprit has filled sidewalk cracks with colorful knots of yarn. In Denver, a group called Ladies Fancywork Society has crocheted tree trunks, park benches and public telephones. Seattle has the YarnCore collective ("Hardcore Chicks With Sharp Sticks") and Stockholm has the knit crew Masquerade. In London, Knit the City has "yarnstormed" fountains and fences. And in Melbourne, Australia, a woman known as Bali conjures up cozies for bike racks and bus stops.
To record their ephemeral works (the fragile pieces begin to fray within weeks), yarn bombers photograph and videotape their creations and upload them to blogs, social networks and Web sites for all the world to see.
Sometimes called grandma graffiti, the movement got a boost, and a manifesto, in 2009 with the publication of the book "Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti," by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain, knitters from Vancouver, Canada. It is part coffee-table book, with color photographs of creative bombs, and part tutorial, with tips like wearing "ninja" black to avoid capture.
Grandma graffiti artists dressed in ninja black - I love it!
Check out this video of yarn artist Olek as she wraps the bull of Wall Street into his own little knit cozy.