Tag Archives: oakland graffiti art

WHEATPASTES!!

Well, I was gearing up to move on from the whole street art thing I’ve been doing for the past week or so, but then I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop.  I know it came out like a year ago, but lamely I had yet to see it…

All I can say was it was fascinating. Both from the perspective of traveling along with the likes of Shephard Fairey, Banksy, and others during their nighttime escapades… the sheer scale of which, at times, are mind-boggling.  But also following the invention of Mr. Brainwash and his ability to completely infiltrate the conventional art scene with a little PR and a lot of hype, ultimately duping collectors into paying sh*t-tons of money for his seemingly inane pieces of rehashed pop-street-“art,” if you can call it that.  I can’t figure out if the guy’s an idiot or a genius.  But this article in the Economist (Con or can do) poses that his real success may lie in ability as a performance artist above all else…

In any case, right after watching the movie, I came across these large wheatpastes by three different artists…

I love this sleepy owl! The scale of it is quite impressive… I’m assuming it was a smaller sketch that was blown up during reproduction.  The girl below seems to be the same artist.

large wheatpaste, bart tracks, oakland graffiti, east bay wheat paste

oakland graffiti wheatpaste, owl wheatpaste, burl wheatpaste

Here’s a new one by Get Up I hadn’t seen yet…  It’s hard to tell from these pics but this one is larger than life… maybe 10 ft tall?

Get Up, Bart Track wheat paste, guy with phonograph wheatpaste

The one below looks to be a hand-drawn original and includes the words (and image) “Get on the Good Foot”. Makes me wonder if this artist has any relation to the KALX DJ The Good Foot who starts off every set list with James Brown’s “Get on the Good Foot.” Good stuff…

The Good Foot, Get on the Good Foot, oakland graffiti

ART INTERVIEW: Get Up

Did anyone make it to Art Murmur Friday night? I saw a great show on urban street artists (specifically black calligraphers & muralists) tying in nicely with my street art theme of last week, so I’m gonna continue to roll with that for a bit.  I’ll have more on the show, titled Aero Soul 2,  later in the week.

For now, I have my next artist interview installment.  I had initially hoped to have these monthly, but seeing as this is only my second in over a year, you can see that I got a bit off track (ahem). But I have high hopes to get back on track, so if you’ve seen something interesting recently and want a bit more info about the art and/or artist, send me a note and I’ll see what I can do…

Here’s another piece by Get Up – we’ve seen this one before, but with a different color scheme. It exemplifies a cool feature of stencils – that they can be used over and over. My interview with him follows…

Large Wheat Paste art, east bay wheat paste, get up graffiti art

Are you a formally trained artist? What’s your background?

No training or school. I’m pretty new to the whole art thing. I used to draw alot when I was young, up until maybe 7th grade, but I was never serious about it. I’ve done music since I was 13. I started off DJ’ing and then shortly after started making hip hop beats. I have an album out under a different name that features some songs with MC’s and some instrumental tracks.

About a year ago I realized that the music I’m doing, and that I really want to do, is different from what I had released under my previous name. I liked “Get Up” because I wanted something simple, a verb or command, something positive, and I just felt like it went with the theme of the music. Get up and dance, get up and do something etc.. At the same time I thought it would be cool to do some street art-type promo to get the new name out there. I started with the dancing couple with bandannas. I was just having fun, getting a rush doing it, and right away I started getting lots of positive feedback and people were taking it a lot more serious than I was. I really enjoyed painting and the idea of having visuals along with the music. That’s when I decided I would try and branch out more and do music and painting equally. My first piece went up in June 2010 in San Francisco.

Can you talk about some of your influences? (other artists you admire for example)

I really don’t know much about or follow art or artists. I see lots of stuff on the streets and stuff but I rarely know who it’s by. I’m familiar with most of the more popular artists, and I’ve learned about and met lots of artists since I started doing it. My influence is just the world around me and my experiences. I grew up in Philly so I’ve been surrounded by some of the best graffiti for most of my life. I have a few friends that are street/graff artists too so I’ve picked up some things along the way.

What is it about street art that appeals to you?

I love how it’s in your face and so many people see it every day. You can’t do that with music, short of standing on a corner with a boombox. Another thing I love is the interpretation aspect of it, or art in general. It’s also just lots of fun and I think its awesome when people tell me it made them smile or how they enjoy seeing it everyday going to/from work.

It seems that street art has really come into mainstream acceptance in the art world recently (gallery shows, etc.) How do you feel about that?

It’s cool I guess. I don’t really follow that world too much but I have been involved with it a little bit recently. There’s still a huge difference between a street piece and a canvas, but if people like what they see on the street and want to enjoy it in their homes, there’s gotta be somewhere to facilitate that. I do believe that if you are going to sell pieces you should have plenty of affordable art and not just expensive pieces.

How did you get started?

Just wanted to try something new to promote my music and have some fun at the same time.

I’ve seen a number of your larger pieces around Oakland and they seem to be primarily stencils. Is this your main mode of working and if so why?

I started with stencils because I was only interested with doing lots of pieces easily. I didn’t start stenciling to be an “artist”. I’ve been doing simple graphic design for a few years, just for my own music stuff, so I basically just wanted to take what I was doing on the computer and put it everywhere I could. Another thing I do a lot of is painting on cardboard, wood, or canvas and leaving it in the streets for people to take home. I also do lots of stickers and just started doing screen printing.

I’ve noticed that some of your stencils are done on large sheets of paper and then pasted up, rather than painted in place. Can you talk about your process?

I prefer to paint when possible, but some spots are just easier to paste. With posters if you get caught in the act you can still take it down and no damage was done. With paint you’re most likely getting a ticket or going to jail. I was arrested when I was 14 for graffiti, and then in November 2010 I was locked up in London for doing stencils. It’s always best to avoid jail. Posters have the advantage of being able to have more detail and color and still be put up in a minute or two. Paint is more permanent and can go on spots that posters might not stick to.

You seem to have the idea of music incorporated into many of your images, and I understand you’re a musician as well. Can you talk about whether your music inspires your visual art and whether your visual art also inspires your music?

When I started it was strictly to just get my name out there for the music, so that’s why mostly all my pieces are music related. Over the past few months I’ve been getting a lot of interest in the stuff I’m doing so I do see myself exploring other themes that I’m passionate about, and doing stuff more as an “artist” rather than just doing street advertisements. I’ve been doing lots of canvas painting and trying out different media and mediums. I definitely see the music and art inspiring each other. Whether its making a painting to match a song or vice versa.

Are there other central themes you focus on in your work?

Positivity, color, or just things I think are beautiful.

How do you hope to affect people who come in contact with your work?

I always hope for a positive response or feeling, but any reaction is good because it means people are paying attention to whats around them. If I can bring a subject, or situation some attention and get people to think about or discuss it than great. I know I’m probably not going to save the world or fix any problems by putting something on a wall, but If I can brighten up a block and make someone smile, or inspire them to do something positive or make some art themselves then I’m about as happy as can be.

Do you have a favorite color?
Probably green. It represents so many different things but mostly life and growth to me.

Thanks for your time – I really appreciate it.  And thanks for bringing your art to Oakland!

There once was a garden here…

I was in my old hood the other day and passed a fenced in triangle of property at the intersection of 32nd and Union streets. I’ve driven or biked past this spot hundreds of times over the years.

It’s right in front of a couple loft developments, an older converted building called West Clawson Lofts (the building once housed the Clawson Elementary School ) and a newer development called Magnolia Row, built from scratch on the neighboring empty lots in the early 2000’s.

There once was a community garden installed in the small lot. I thought it was wonderful. I never knew who installed it there, but it existed for a year, maybe more, and consisted of raised vegetable beds surrounded by more ornamental flowering plants. One of the cool features was the reuse of old bicycle wheels (without the tires) along the chain link fence. They were used as trellising to encourage climbing plants (like morning glory) to obscure the ugly fence. I thought it was a lovely addition to the neighborhood.

But soon after it was established it was removed. My information is only hearsay so I can’t verify its validity, but someone told me that there was a dispute over the ownership of the lot and that, apparently, the rightful owner was intent upon installing a coffee stand/shop there.

I thought, well it’s a shame the garden is gone. But a coffee stand could be cool too.

It never came.

Years went by, and at one point it seemed promising as a small wood shack was erected inside the fence. But nothing ever followed.

And so for years, we West Oakland neighbors were deprived of our pretty little community garden, and instead, were left with a ramshackle hut inside a weed and litter strewn lot locked inside a chain-link fence. sigh.

empty lot west oakland, vacant lot art installation, west oakland graffiti

But recently some artists have taken measures to reclaim the lot, repurposing the walls of the hut as outdoor gallery space for their art. It currently houses a number of pieces but it looks like the bulk of it was jointly installed by a number of artists working collaboratively: Ras Terms, Dead Eyes, and Safety First included. I’m not sure about other participants.

Ras Terms, Safety First, Dead Eyes, Turnip, empty lot art

collaborative art installation, west oakland graffiti art, empty lot 32nd street

safety first graffiti art, safety first west oakland art

I hope more artists follow suit.

And who knows… maybe one day we could have our garden back too. A peaceful green space to sit and reflect upon the art…

Art Murmur is FUN.

Is there anyone out there who still hasn’t been to Art Murmur? If so, I gotta say, you’re really missing out. This is one fun event, and I feel like it just keeps getting better and better. New gallery spaces are popping up like mushrooms in January. Recent changes to Oakland’s cabaret ordinance make live music at restaurants and cafes now legal (who knew it wasn’t??). And the street vending scene, including gourmet dining offerings on the go, continues to gain steam every time I visit.

We tooled around the central district of the Murmur (between Telegraph & Broadway and 23rd & 26th streets) for a couple hours. In addition to the conventional gallery spaces, you’ve got all kinds of action getting thrown into the mix…

We came across this “street” art on an abandoned building…

nina, cuss, cuss '10

The red one seems to be signed “NINA” while the yellow one has “NINA” incorporated into the drawing at top (in balloons) but is signed “Cuss ’10”.

graffiti street art, oakland art murmur

We encountered a couple new galleries on 25th street (more on these later in the week), but before entering, we spotted this bike parked outside. How can you not love a bike dressed up as a tiger?! I told you Art Murmur was fun. We would see this bike again, but under entirely different circumstances, before our night was through…

art bike, oakland art murmur, oakland art bike

We watched these guys for a bit… It’s always amazing to me how just two people with drums and guitar can build a completely encompassing musical experience.

art murmur oakland, live music art murmur

A street stencil at one of the gallery entrances taunts us…

street stencil, graffiti stencil art, oakland art murmur

The entire block of 23rd street (between Telegraph and Broadway) is closed off for street vending and we came across this giant steel snail spewing fire above the crowd… A young boy was ushered into the cockpit and allowed to pull the reins that triggered the fire. It was pretty hilarious because he wanted to go full throttle 100 percent of the time (boys will be boys). His dad had to tell him, “Just pull it for a bit. Then you gotta let go.”

art car, burning man car, snail car

There’s much more to tell, but I’m trying to save some for later in the week… I’ll just say that as we were wrapping up our Murmur tour, we found ourselves on a Broadway corner waiting for the light to change. We heard the distinct sound of a marching band in the distance, but clearly approaching fast. As the band came around the corner, we saw that they were all on bikes (tuba player included!) Some were costumed and our tiger bike friend was in the mix, and though they seemed a bit lost (I heard them say “Where’s the party?” and “I think we overshot it” and “let’s head back and see if we can find it”), they certainly seemed to be having a raucous good time! Hilarious.

bike parade first friday, marching band on bikes