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Street Art

This story from the New York Times published in yesterday's edition is most timely. I'm pretty certain that if I had to be one of the people charged with painting over graffiti I might feel differently about the merit of public expression. For the most part I'm a serious rule follower, however, having been involved in a small way with the art community I know it is very hard to become known, or for that matter, have anyone take you seriously. Frequently,  as in many occupations, it is about who you know.What we learned while taking the Street Art London Tour was that oftentimes the artists want to be noticed.

After taking the bus to the meeting place, Bruce and I mingled with the other attendees until our leader Griff arrived. He is pictured on the left with his bicycle which he wheeled around the whole four hours.
Once again we followed the leader through the side streets of East London, mostly Shoreditch and Brick Lane. When we got back to Matt's flat he told us that, although Griff may be leading tours right now, his education is quite different. Ironically, he's a lawyer.

By far, we were the oldest of the group:
See the gray haired man in the dress shirt with folded arms? You know him! He's standing in front of a commissioned piece, or so we learned from Griff, by Ben Eine who paints large, as you can plainly see, colorful typographical letters on walls and shop shutters. In Orlando we don't have shop shutters, but you see them everywhere in London. Essentially, they are like garage doors often painted bright colors. Ben Eine is one of Matthew's favorites with two framed prints gracing his bedroom walls. Which brings us back to the story from the Times. Art or vandalism?

Depends on what it is. Remember I told you that street artists want to be noticed. Well.......turns out that once they become well known, show in galleries, and sell art, their compatriots in the street art community think they are sell outs! It seems as if they can't win.

Mobstr, another witty street artist gets it:
Without street art my sales figures would be decidedly different. A conundrum for sure.

Griff also explained that there is a code of ethics concerning tagging over another artist's work. Sadly, the tagger that ruined this Banksy piece wasn't aware of the rules.
Actually this piece is in Matt's neighborhood and knowing my interest in the subject, he took us there on our very first day in London. One of the reasons I think Banksy is so popular is because, not only is he a very good artist, he's also quite witty. The caption on the wall next to this piece says, "Anyone caught vandalizing this vandalism will be prosecuted." Clever man that Banksy.

What you can't see in this shot is a Banksy piece, hidden under this wedge shaped plywood cover. 
What's going to happen is that the entire building is slated for demolition except for this wall. When you read about a new hotel concept, Art Hotel, remember you heard it here first! This wall will be the main lobby wall behind reception. Pretty cool huh? Tell me please, why I think that little mouse is so cute in paint. but have no affinity for the real one in my backyard?????

Have any of you seen this film?

If so, then Space Invader will be familiar to you. Here's one example of what he's done around London:
As Griff explained, Space Invader numbers the tiles for easier installation, shown clearly in this photo. If you've seen the film you know that the man who becomes Mr. Brainwash is the cousin of SI. We saw several of his pieces around town. SI, not Mr. Brainwash.

Alice Pasquine, from Rome, was in London with her French boyfriend C215, for a gallery showing, however, before the show they got out in the streets, painting many pieces during our stay. Griff knew where they all were:
The other day I mentioned Stik who is interviewed here. The striking simplicity of his work says alot to me.
Next up for the pictured man was a Harry Potter tour with his wife, who was actually carrying one of the HP hardcover books the whole time. Interesting huh? What you can't see very well in this one is all sorts of baby stik figures. I'm thinking the two large figures represent parents, or maybe the government, saying no to all kinds of activities. My interpretation anyway.

Roa, a Belgian street artist did incredible work, mostly rodents and birds, with a few other animals thrown in for good measure. We learned he does it entirely from his head using no stencils, starting first with the white and then filling in the black. Because the pieces are so intricate, and take several days to complete, he has permission from building owners to bring nature to the urban landscape.
This is somewhat atypical, most of them have fur or feathers, however I thought it was so remarkable I'm posting this one. What you can't tell from this picture is that it is high up on the side of the building. What I hope you can discern is how big it is. Amazing! Remember what I said about tagging over work? Mostly the taggers leave Roa's work alone.

I can't recall who did this cute little guy:
So there you have it. We followed Griff and his white Cannondale bicycle for four hours down alleyways and major streets, marveling all the while at the creativity displayed on the streets of London. Have I convinced you that some street art is okay? I hope so!

p.s. off topic, but I got a very exciting email yesterday--I'm IN for the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival again!

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