Despite a little hassle from a neighborhood resident known to watch for graffiti vandals from treetops, the Puerto Rican duo La Pandilla and Atlanta local Trek Matthews gave homes to two new murals in Cabbagetown this week thanks to Living Walls. The project is taking shape over several days near the corner where Carroll Street changes names and becomes Wylie Street. The week culminates with a gallery show opening at 7-11PM this Saturday, March 24, 2012, at the Jane building in Grant Park featuring installations, prints, t-shirts, and a video by Albert Lebron. All profits will go directly to the artists, although donations can be made to Living Walls, who recently received their nonprofit status.
La Pandilla consists of Juan Fernandez and Alexis Diaz who met at the Escuela Central de Artes Visuales of Puerto Rico. Fernandez graduated and went on to study architecture and sculpture while Diaz became an illustrator, but the two found a common interest in revitalizing the neighborhood streets of Santurce with drawings of imaginative hybrid creatures. After their neighborhood murals attracted international attention, the boys began traveling outside of Puerto Rico in December of 2010 to spread the love.
I stopped by their wall in Cabbagetown this week to deliver an official Atlanta welcome with some Mexican Coke and King of Pops. I immediately was overwhelmed by the amount of intense work they had committed to doing. But, in comparison to the colossal elephant-hippo hybrid creature they unveiled during Art Basel Miami Beach this past December, I’m sure these guys aren’t worried at all.
Diaz and Fernandez sketch their murals in pencil and fill in large color blocks of chartreuse green and baby pink. They meticulously execute all of the line work using tiny brushes dipped in cups of Chinese calligraphy ink. Every inch of the mural receives the same attention to detail as would a giant drawing; no detail is skipped or looked over. The two friends work skillfully and don’t stop to say much. I can’t tell the distinction between who has worked on what sections of the wall. Their efforts are seamless and have unified the separate identities apparent in their first few collaborative murals in Puerto Rico.
Just a short walk further down Wylie Street, Trek Matthews is also working on his first contribution to Living Walls. His pen-and-ink drawings translate nicely onto the concrete brick wall and reclaim what was once an eyesore in the neighborhood. During last summer’s Living Walls Conference, he acted as the point person for Living Walls’s visiting artist, Gaia. This year, at only 19 years old, he returns as a featured artist rather than simply playing host. A graphic design student at Georgia State University, Matthews is contributing quite an ambitious piece, a Native American-influenced spirit fox ornamented with geometric patterns and subtle color accents. The story is proof of how Living Walls creates opportunities for young artists in Atlanta and how street art generates inspiration in our communities.
Check out the videos below to see more work by La Pandilla and Trek Matthews:
Above: Video for La Pandilla’s project during Art Basel Miami Beach 2011.
Above: Video by Living Walls about Trek Matthews work