Update: BURNAWAY revisited the Living Walls murals in October of 2010. Click here to read what Santiago Junca and Karen Tauches had to say!
One remarkable detail of the symposium portion of Living Walls occurred to me as I stood outside the auditorium. As I skulked about the courtyard of Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture building last Friday, I eavesdropped on several conversations that were delightfully bilingual. Too bad my ears aren’t at all attuned to the rolling nuances of Spanish, or Portuguese or French for that matter.
Conference attendees not only included familiar faces, but also an inspiring number of artists and professionals visiting from outside Atlanta. BURNAWAY surveyed five individuals to hear their reactions to either Friday’s symposium or Saturday’s art opening at Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery.
Read below for contributions by Daniel Clay, Joe Tsambiras, Mike Germon, Cheree Franco, and Beth Malone.
Proud to live and work in Atlanta
For me, the energy surrounding Living Walls has been palpably electric. Support the event received from local publications, organizations, and artists has been a testament to Atlanta’s want for more public art. I appreciated the lecture series at [Georgia] Tech as juxtaposed with Eyedrum’s spray-paint fumes and the city’s mural-ed walls. The dichotomy was a clever approach by conference organizers to combat negativity that has surrounded graffiti and street art in many ATL communities.
We’ve all been whispering about energetic change taking place in the city’s arts community. The international attention received by Living Walls, as well as the sweaty HORDES of people who showed up at Eyedrum to cheer on erratic Pecha Kucha presentations and gape at wall murals, has helped solidify these suppositions. Congrats and thanks to Blacki and Monica, and everyone else who made Living Walls happen. I’m damn proud to live and work among this collective fire.
—Beth Malone is a writer and cofounder of Dashboard Co-op.
Inspiring because it’s not Brooklyn
It was like working a low-budget movie—the kind where someone’s aunt provides craft services from her own kitchen, sleep schedules are ridiculously shrunken, and, by the end of the first week, you have a dozen new best friends. Cross that with anarchist transgression (squatting, vandalism, rail-hopping, and pin-and-ink tattooing) and the whiff of officiality—goodie bags, conference coffee—and you’ll get something akin to the experience of Living Walls.
This event could have happened in Brooklyn—actually it does happen in Brooklyn, every weekend. But that’s because New York has effective mass transport, because engaging participants requires a mere note in a listserver, and because there’s always someone who’s done it before. Monica Campana and Blacki Migliozzi pulled off Living Walls in a scattered Bible Belt city with artists from three continents, a slew of first-time volunteers and sponsors, and a heap of blind faith. The resulting exhibit is authentic, inspiring, educational, well executed and, because it’s not Brooklyn, extremely important.
I loved the gallery but for me … I couldn’t stay out of the garage, with its reflective puddles, unpredictable lighting, dramatic shadows, and the chemical assault of spray paint. Didn’t I see something like that at Deitch? Or shouldn’t I have?
—Cheree Franco is a journalist and perpetual explorer. chereefranco.wordpress.com
I attended the Living Walls lecture series at Georgia Tech and was lucky to hear a talk by Daniel Lobo from Washington D.C. who considers himself a project manager, researcher, and artist. His presentation was thought provoking and intelligent. Of particular interest to me was his approach to creating urban interventions within a specific environment, exploring the theoretical framework for them, and furthering that exploration by re-categorizing or incorporating them elsewhere.
I also attended the exhibition at Eyedrum. It seemed the artists made good use of the space, and obviously enjoyed working within it. I liked the way the artwork spilled out into the exterior of the building into the adjacent unused (at least to me) warehouse. There was an immense amount of work, some drew my attention [but] others I passed by without much care …. I particularly was drawn to the work of Gaia and Miso.
—Joe Tsambiras is an artist, teacher, and friend-to-cats living and working in Decatur, Georgia. tsambiras.blogspot.com
They were all there to make art
What most people saw of the Living Walls conference was the opening this past weekend at Eyedrum, an exhibition of local and visiting street artists. Large in both scale and attendance, the show was impressive as artwork covered nearly every surface of the enormous space and adjacent warehouse, inside and out. I was fortunate enough to have the time and permission to visit artists throughout the week at Eyedrum and legal walls around the city. While the artists ranged wildly in talent, background and discipline, they were all there to make art and did so with great passion leading up to the conference. The thing that excited me most was the ever-present energy and opportunity surrounding the event. At any given time there was an artist working or another wall being painted. After one day of traveling from wall to wall, meeting artists and snapping photos, I was hooked. The rest of my week was eaten alive by spray paint, projectors, wheat paste, and anticipation.
—Mike Germon is an artist and gallery manager of MINT Gallery. thoughtmarker.net
Public space is elevated to objet d’art
The work of French artist OX illuminates, by way of contrast, a salient element of the great majority of street art from Atlanta and elsewhere exhibited in Living Walls: The potential to speak deeply to the public is stunted for many street artists because they are conceptually shackled to the realm of murals and tagging and to the egotism that is that realm’s currency. OX moves beyond the common practice of simply appropriating public space for the proliferation of personally meaningful marks or imagery by incorporating aesthetic elements of a piece’s environment into the language of the piece itself. The result is work in a place that is also about that place and therefore about anyone who is in that place to see it. The status of the commandeered public space is elevated from that of mere canvas to objet d’art—the viewer graduates from witness to participant, completing the work by observing it. The work thus encourages an eminently personal experience of itself and oneself in a way that no mural or tag can.
—Daniel Clay writes and performs music, creates sound installations, and carves wooden spoons. danielclaymusic.com
Jenna Duffy is a commercial portrait and street fashion photographer. jennaduffy.com