Street Art as an expressive form is experiencing an international zeitgeist in urban settings with cities like Richmond, Virginia intentionally inviting internationally recognized street artists to paint public murals throughout the city.
The Richmond Mural Project
Curated by Shane Pomajambo, CEO and Creative Director of Art Whino Gallery, the Richmond Mural Project is an overt project designed to use street art to:
Kudos to Shane Pomajambo for such a wonderful collection of street artists - a place to study, learn, and observe the varying artists' techniques and styles!
For a street art enthusiast - Richmond provided a wonderful collection from which to expose me to those artists I typically only see on my Twitter #streetart feed. Artists included: 2501, Andrew Hem, Angry Woebots, Aniekan, Aryz, James Bullough, Caratoes, Chazme and Sepe, Clog Two, Clog Two and Inkten Collaboration, D*Face, David Flores, Ekundayo, Etam Cru, Ever, Evoca1, Gaia, Greg Mike, Inkten, Jaz, Jerkface, La Pandilla, Lelo, Meggs, Moya, Natalia Rak, Nils, Onur, Pixel Pancho, Roa, Robert Proch, Ron English, Scribe, Smithe, Sonni, Stormie Mills, Wes21 and Onur, Nils Westergard, Taylor White, Jason Woodside. Some of my favorites:
Questions about Street Art
This truly was an incredible opportunity to see some great street artists. Curation implies decision making about selection, preservation, maintenance, and collection. A curator facilitates decision making - who's in or out including who or what's acceptable and within the scope or vision for the city's public spaces and built environment. Further, those who endorse a project like this decide what other forms of expression within the public built environment are permittable. Some questions arose as I walked the city:
- Nils Westergard is a fabulous local Richmond artist who participated in the project. What other local artists were invited to participate? Is there a way with these sorts of projects to engage and intentionally highlight local artists' contributions?
- I observed evidences of wall scrubbing where others' expressions had been scrubbed or painted over. With the scrubbed walls - who was silenced? Silencing is about power - who controls the streets and what is permittable? Are the underserved incorporated or provided an opportunity to participate? What was said or displayed that is no longer visible? Are there other venues where those silenced publicly can provide input, have a voice?
- Street art in non-curated occurrences is generally understood as temporal. Is the curated mural understood to be temporary or is there another standard?
- What are the benefits for this sort of mural project? How can or should other cities pursue this sort of project?
- What are existing laws regarding graffiti or street art? If illegal, what was the process for navigating those laws in support of this sort of project?
Street art provides such a rich topic for conversation about community, creative expression, incorporation, philosophy of public art, and legality. Richmond is a terrific place to explore, see great street art, and ponder the questions arising from such a project.
Richmond Logistics Notes
I stayed at the Linden Row Hotel - an incredible space, those who work there are rabid passionate about customer service. For breakfast, a must try are their maple scones! I didn't have a car and found the city easy to navigate - I walked everywhere day and night exploring, observing, and enjoying the city. My one must try was Mama Js - oh my goodness the fried chicken and peach cobbler were ridiculously good!
G40 Summit - (also in Richmond) website: Retrieved from http://www.artwhino.com/exhibitions-1/g40-art-summit-2015
Richmond Mural Project website. Retrieved from http://www.artwhino.com/exhibitions-1/richmond-mural-project-2015
Richmond Mural Locations (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) Map. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z4w_7Jx-pKNQ.kUA6MtBwKc-A&usp=sharing