'untitled' kirsten mccrea mural at up here

How UP Here Festival Transformed Sudbury

In August 2016, Up Here made a comeback to Sudbury, Canada with the aim of rebranding the city. The pollution-stricken downtown city of Canada had long been the centre of criticism from outsiders and Up Here was out to refine that notion. A city formerly nicknamed ‘the asshole of Canada’ by the locals was set to become the happiest city in Canada.

Up Here landed in Sudbury already rebranded after their original name, Up Fest was found to infringe on another street art festival from the UK. That was a blow to their Sudbury’s festival event which was much about muralists, musicians and artists, but they still nailed it. To add the icing on the cake, Up Here even launched a mobile app thanks to their shrewd graphic designers and marketers Andrew Knapp and Christian Pelletier.

"you are beautiful" mural from sudbury's up here festival

There were about 16 Up Here’s commissioned murals which were part of the plan of transforming Sudbury and change the perception of the city. Pelletier’s ambition was to make Sudbury a destination for art enthusiasts by turning the city’s downtown to an urban art gallery. The plan involved inviting artists from around Sudbury and across the world to create big murals.

2016’s event rocked with big stage artists, with the likes of Ella and Pitr, Kirsten McCrea, Ola Volo, James Kirkpatrick and Hobz leaving marks of jaw-dropping murals.

'god helmet' mural on Science North building rooftop

The mural at the Science North rooftop is especially breathtaking. Done by French artists Ella and Pitr’, the piece is of great significance to Sudbury as it put the city on the international stage. The mural features a sleeping giant and it’s visible via Google maps. Many people from around the world hunt for Ella and Pitr’s murals all over the internet trying to find the different pieces in Chile and Portugal. And now Sudbury was added into the game. That’s why it matters to the people of this city.

'untitled' mural by kirsten mccrea at up here festival in sudbury

 

The musical offerings at last year’s fest put the focus on female-fronted bands with U.S Girls, Young Galaxy, Dilly Dally and Stars making the headlines. Locals Neli Nenkova and Tracy Baker also made to the podium. People had tough decisions to make. Pelletier called the festival ‘dueling late nights’ which put two bands against each other at different venues. Some hip hop acts were also on the roster as Pelletier was of the idea of diversifying the program in all senses.

up here mural by krueger krew

He also didn’t forget about the fun and creativity for kids. They organized a family day and kids from within Sudbury had a blast of 2016. Kids did face-painting on adults as well as painting mini-murals on cardboards. The organizers believed there’s no better way of gentrifying the city than getting everyone engaged and celebrating the move together.

whos going to take the weight mural from up here mural festival in sudbury

By the time the fest was over, Sudbury was lit by life-worthy elements. It looked renovated with beauty oozing from all corners of the city. Pelletier said last year’s theme was based on terraformation, which according to him is making an inhabitable space livable. They are proud of that achievement.

ostendstrasse frankfurt germany mural in subway (aka metro) tunnel

Ostendstrasse Metro Mural – 6,600 m2 Mural in Frankfurt, Germany

Murals have the power to transform a community. They unite people and teach them about their culture plus their origins. Issues like inequality, violence, unemployment among others are well expressed by murals because of the long-lasting effect. It’s hard to ignore a large painting on a wall somewhere in the street even if it’s been there for many days. And, you somehow realize something new about it every time you see it.

The tunnel in Ostendstrasse metro station in Frankfurt was once considered a dangerous place to wait for a train. The walls were covered in dirt and the area wasn’t bright enough.

Enter Case Maclaim and Does. The two artists combined to create a 6.600 m2 mural in the tunnel. They spent six weeks underground and gave the city a masterpiece. The work began with cleaning the walls which were the major challenge of the project. Not like the dirt was an issue but because the tunnel was not equipped with a system that could allow large amounts of water.

frankfurt mural

Nonetheless, Case and Does had the extra manpower for assistance. They moved in a 1.5-ton compressor that removed grime with dry ice. The walls were then prepared in one color coating which consumed 1,000 liters of paint. They used green as the base color because of its crisp effect. Green also gives a sense of growth, rejuvenation and energy, perhaps what they intended for the people.

frankfurt tunnel mural

The artists followed by applying their designs on the primed walls. They added 2 more color palettes resulting in an awe-inspiring art that span every inch of the wall. Ostendstrasse metro station is now a go-to place for everyone visiting Frankfurt. Many people flock the station for public meetings, take photographs and witness the piece of art.

Case Maclaim Bio

Born Andreas von Chrzanowski, CASE is a German graffiti artist. Case began his work back in 1995 painting with spray cans to create photorealistic graffiti. His style features body shape representations and photorealistic arts. Some of his artistry usually portrays people or the human body. He takes them from their natural form and displays them in a new context often with animalistic, monstrous and mythic elements.

Most of his incredible works can be seen on several walls across Europe. From London to Wroclaw, Seville, Milano and Moscow, Case has caused waves in the international art arena. He has also painted walls in Mexico, New York and Los Angeles. He has been doing projects since 2008 and the Frankfurt painting is a tip of the iceberg.

About Does

Joos van Barneveld aka DOES is a Dutch artist known for his pure style, eye for detail and balanced color palettes. Born in 1982 in The Netherlands, he started crafting in 1997. His talent and years of experience have raised him to international artistry.

His works have featured in several exhibitions around the world. Does works includes prints, illustrative drawings, canvasses and murals. He likes to breathe brightness, dynamism and energy in his art. The Ostendstrasse wall graffiti sums it all.

Thank you Case and Does for breathing new life to Ostendstrasse metro station.

magic finnga wond with students in thunder bay painting macs streetart mural

Mural Project in North Bay Brings Community Together

One of the greatest things about street art and murals, in particular, is their ability to bring people together. This is not only true in the way murals and street art interact with the everyday person, ie. through viewing and playing with pieces of public art, but also in their creation. All around the world, mural programs reach out to community members and introduce people to the power of art, and give them the tools and skills to start or continue their own artistic journey.

Here on the MuralForm blog, we have dedicated a lot of space to the many mural programs we hear about and witness, both locally in Toronto and around the world. It is an important part of who we are and why we do what we do. And today we have yet another incredible example of a mural arts program doing good in a community. This time in North Bay, Ontario.

In the northeastern Ontario town, a local Mac’s decided it was time to give back to the community that has served them so well, and they did it through a simple yet powerful donation: the large wall on the side of their building. A plain wall by any standards, Mac’s convenience store owners, along with North Bay Police and Near North Crime Stoppers, decided to get the local kids and youth involved in a beautification project. The goal: teach the kids how to make murals and paint the wall with a memorable a beautiful piece of street art. They called the project Mac’s StreetArt initiative and it was a huge success from the moment it got started.

mural painted in thunder bay

To make the project a reality, the Mac’s StreetArt initiative invited Toronto muralist and graffiti artist  Magic “Finnga” Wong to their town. Together, they started a three-day program that encouraged participation in every single facet of the mural, from coming up with the design to the actual painting.

Magic Finnga Wong helped the many locals who came out and participated learn the finer points of spray painting, all while teaching them the code of street artists. Namely to respect each other’s work and to contribute to the community rather than to desecrate it. “When you invite the kids from the neighbourhood or anyone in general from the area to come out and paint it makes it theirs,” he said in an interview with Sudbury. “It becomes ownership to the neighbourhood.”

The piece, now finished, is a testament to the power of murals to not only beautify space but enrich people’s lives. Now, these community members have the start of the skills they need to continue on their personal artistic journey. Who knows, the next great graffiti artist may have got their start painting the Mac’s wall in North Bay, Ontario!

drew lausman creating art via explosionism

Explosionism: Using the Power of Fireworks to Make Art

There are thousands of “isms” in the art world. Surrealism, abstract expressionism, postmodernism, regular modernism. They all have a history, their fans and their detractors. But there’s a new “ism” that has come out. It’s called “explosionism” and it’s making quite the bang in the art world.

Explosionism is the creation of Drew Lausman, a Lakeland-based artist who’s lifelong love of fireworks has turned into a brand new art form. At its core, the new art style is both rambunctious and audacious. Lausman dips a firework or firecracker in paint, sets it off and checks out the result. And what results they are, many of which you can check out on Lausman’s Etsy page.

beautiful starry landscape horizon artwork by drew lausman featuring his explosionism style

 

Explosionism, like many amazing innovations, comes from a combination of desperation and tragedy. “Part of my inspiration came from actually having little materials at the time,” Lausman told Business Insider. He goes on to explain “that when his brother passed away in 2009, he left behind a ton of firecrackers, leading Lausman to use those as a way to create art.”

From that initial step forward, Lausman has only improved in his chosen technique, with some seriously incredible results. Many of his paintings, some 200 in just four years, are incredible, beautiful and unlike what you would expect from the process. There is a level of detail and precision to the work you would not normally expect and, in that, it defies expectations.

explosionism artwork by drew lausman

While his art is impressive, as is his output, Lausman is quick to stress the importance of safety and experience when handling fireworks and firecrackers. “Everyone likes playing with fireworks. However, it’s not all fun and games,” he says in one of his demonstration videos. “Creating art with fireworks can be a dangerous craft .When I’m doing multiple explosions, I’ll have parts of the firecracker blow up, basically on my leg, or on my jeans. I make art with fireworks. I still blow myself away sometimes. I’ve done 200 paintings in four years.”

explosionism artwork featuring starry night sky by drew lausman

Explosionism is a brand new genre of art, one that proves unique and new ways of doing things can be created every day. It also stresses the importance of how art gets made, not just the end result, which goes a long way to humanizing artists, an important step for getting the pay they deserve for their labour. Another benefit of explosionism’s approach is Lausman’s output, which allows him the chance to sell his art at lower prices and reach more and more people. It may just be one of the ways of the future that we’re just learning about today!

eduardo kobra's massive olympic mural

Brazilian Mural Artist Creates World’s Biggest Mural by One Person

While the Rio Olympic games came with a large amount of controversy, both during the events themselves and in the planning stages, one thing is certain: it gave a much-needed boost to the vibrant public art culture in the country. Brazil has long had a proud and beautiful public art culture, from the beautiful murals throughout Sao Paulo to the many paintings that have since emerged in Rio during and before the Olympics.

But one mural in particular has stood out amongst the others and for one very good reason: it’s literally the largest. The mural, created entirely by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra, spans over 3,000 square meters of wall space on the “Olympic Boulevard,” a three-mile strip that celebrates the many great things for which the Olympics stand for, such as inclusivity, healthy competition, and the many cultures and ethnicities that make the Olympics such an important event.

The mural itself is called “etnias” (“ethnicities” in Portuguese) and represents the many different kinds of people who make up the Oympic athletes. Based on the five Olympic rings, the mural illustrates five different faces from five different continents. The piece is also drawing from a distinctly Brazilian flavour of mural, with bright colours that are typical of street art and murals found throughout the country.

Overall, the painting took Kobra hundreds of hours to complete. It also required a number of supplies, including 100 gallons of white paint, 1,500 litres of coloured paint, and at least 3,500 cans of spray paint. Kobra worked for over 12 hours a day for weeks to ensure the piece was completed in time for the Olympic Games.

Kobra said he was ecstatic about the piece and the end result. “I was really happy I got to display my work here in Rio de Janeiro,” Kobra said in an interview with the Rio’s official website. “This was something I have wanted to do for a long time. We’re living through a very confusing time with a lot of conflict. I wanted to show that everyone is united, we are all connected.”

Besides being a celebration of the Olympic spirit and the inclusivity that the Games try to represent, the piece also celebrates the wonderful diversity found within Brazil’s own public art scene. Brazil has long encouraged street art throughout its cities and the country holds many different records for murals, public art, and other street art-related achievements. Kobra is also one of hundreds of artists who have become internationally famous for their street art, and his piece adds to the large catalogue of art that continues to influence people around the world. While the Rio games weren’t without incident, it is pieces like Kobra’s that celebrate the Olympic spirit and can come to symbolize what the Games can represent.

the last punch cutter at work

The Dying Art of Punches

In the small town of Torino, Italy, there is an aged man by the name of Giuseppe Branchino. In many ways, he represents the Old World aesthetic: smoking a cigarette and drinking hand-crafted espresso, he goes about his profession: letter punching. The art, a dying breed, is as old as the printing press, but as the world moves from the printed page to the computer screen, people like Mr. Branchino are finding their work automated and digitized.

Mr. Branchino, you see, is one of the world’s last punch cutters, the very old art of carving letterforms into small steel billets for use in printing presses. He is the man that makes fonts a physical reality, meticulously carving tiny letters into steel bases to be used in printing presses. The work itself is gruelling and requires the patience of all the saints in the Vatican. Essentially, it involves making tiny, miniscule letters in steel billets. Each letter only takes a few minutes, if done correctly and without any problems, but the pages have to be then set for the printing presses.

Once the head of the prestigious engraving department at type foundry and printing press manufacturer Nebiolo, Mr. Branchino continues his work in his own workshop. He is one of a dwindling few around the world who still carve the tiny letters for printing presses, and his craft will likely be a fun hobby for even fewer within a decade. Nevertheless, he continues his work and creates small, unappreciated beauty with the written word.

While Mr. Branchino’s profession may be going the way of the dodo, his actual work has been documented in a new film directed by Giorgio Affanni and Gabriele Chiappari called “The Last Punchcutter.” The film, which talks to Mr. Branchino about his work, the craft, and the history of letter punching and typesetting, is part of a larger project called “Griffo, the Great Gala of Letters.” The multidisciplinary project is about Francesco Griffo, a 15th-century Venetian punch cutter and type designer who is perhaps most famous for creating the world’s first italics type. Griffo, having lived over 500 years ago, is still an influential figure in modern font creation and typesetting, but his biography remains muddled and inconclusive. But by looking at the history of letter punching, the Griffo project helps to make many of the details more concrete.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe Branchino continues to soldier on, creating the tiny letters that form the basis of our written communication. And while his job is becoming less necessary in the modern age of computer screens, his work is still extremely important. For without the letter punchers, our world would not have the widespread information it has, nor the history that those letters help create through our many written languages.

artscape 2016 website front page

Street Art Festival: Artscape

Scandinavia is famous for a great number of things. Vikings, great fish, socialism. They’re also home to a young street art festival that’s been steadily growing in size, scope, and ambition for the past couple of years. Started in 2014 in Malmö, Sweden, the Artscape Street Art Festival creates new public art to compete with the billboards and advertisements that are scattered throughout the city. To use their own words: “Great art shouldn’t be confined to only galleries and museums!”

mural by rone being painted on side of a tall building during artscape 2016

The festival began as Scandinavia’s only street art festival and focused on giving space to artists from around the world. When the festival was in full  swing during the summer months of July and August, you could find a great number of artists from around the world. Australia’s Rone, for example, could be seen painting a giant mural on the side of a 12-storey apartment building. The UK’s Cityzen Kane was there as well, along with Sweden’s own Yash. The size and scope of the murals varied greatly, but in the two years that Artscape was in Malmö, the amount of visible and beautiful street art increased substantially.

completed mural by rone at artscape 2016

by Rone

Artscape, the namesake nonprofit organization for the festival, doesn’t just put on one event per year, however, they are active in Sweden and Europe all year long. In fact, they recently unveiled a brand new art project that “remixes” one of Malmö’s oldest landmarks: the famous griffin statue in the city’s square. Constructed in 1437, the griffin was a gift from King Eric XIII to the city, whose coat of arms includes a griffin. Artscape, thinking that 600 years was long enough before doing some a little different, hired three artists to create a new approach to the statue.

mural by zadok from artscape 2015

by Zodak

The three artists, Zadok, Christina Angelina, and Bless, used a variation of the Exquisite Corpse technique, popularized by the surrealist movement, to each create a component of the new Malmö griffin. Each artist took a turn creating a new part of the griffin, with the next artist then adding their concept afterwards. According to Artscape, they “decided to add a humble human to symbolise the people of Malmö. After creating three striking characters, each in a totally different style, the different segments of the wall were switched around to form three new incarnations of the city’s symbol.”

mural by bless at artscape

Bless

The Artscape Street Art Festival moved for 2016 to Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city next to Stockholm, and has expanded in kind. With double the population over Malmö, Gothenberg represents a brand new canvas on which some of the world’s, and especially Europe’s, greatest street artists can create, collaborate, and share with people around the world. In just two short years, Artscape transformed Malmö. Now Gothenberg could experience a similar transformation.

 

2016 leslieville mural painted by elicser

New Leslieville Mural Celebrates Local History

Toronto is one of the great cities of the world, a diverse metropolis with a rich history, progressive citizenship and, of course, beautiful street art. In fact, Toronto’s art scene has only grown with the city itself and people in almost every neighbourhood can point to beautiful, community-focused public art projects. In Kensington Market, the road is adorned with beautiful food graphics promoting the area’s food scene. In St. James Town, people can see the now-famous phoenix mural soaring on a prominent apartment building. And now, Leslieville has its very own mural that celebrates its past and looks towards its future.

Unveiled in September, the mural is a depiction of Alexander Muir sitting under the Maple Leaf Forever tree, which was destroyed during a storm three years ago. Muir, a Toronto poet, educator, soldier and songwriter, was the first principal of the Leslieville Public school and grew up in the area. Appropriately enough, the tree under which he sits in the mural is named after his most famous song, “Maple Leaf Forever.” The mural was painted by local muralist and artist Elicser Elliot and can be seen at the corner of Queen Street East and Jones Avenue.

The mural itself is actually covering up a mural that was created by a group of students twelve years ago. That mural, having since deteriorated and suffered vandalism, was in dire need of updating or repair. But, according to local copyright laws and regulations, the original creators were the only ones allowed to alter or restore the mural. Since their names have been scratched off or painted over, that became next to impossible.

2016 leslieville mural painted by elicser

2016 Leslieville mural painted by Elicser

Replacing the old mural has involved years of hard work by many members of the Leslieville community, who saw collaboration as a key aspect of the new mural. According to Inside Toronto, “Volunteers from the Leslieville Historical Society, members of the Leslieville Business Improvement Area, residents, and Elia, in partnership with the Ralph Thornton Community Centre and Ward 30 Councillor Fletcher’s office, formed a steering committee to discuss the future of the landmark site.”

old leslieville mural painted by students 12 years ago

The old Leslieville mural – damage is clearly visible.

Once a plan was in place, they secured grant funding from the city and mural designs started to pour in. Eventually, the selection process came down to just three artists: Dan Bergeron, Elicser Elliott, and Mediah. To make the final decision, local residents and business owners were invited to Project Gallery to decide on which mural they wanted. Elicser Elliott, often known more simply as ‘Elicser,’ had his design chosen and it was soon installed.

Leslieville has a long and rich history with a number of famous people who have contributed to its identity and success. Now, it continues that tradition with its latest mural, all while contributing to Toronto’s blossoming and diverse art scene.

celebrating wall to wall mural festival in winnipeg

Winnipeg Hosts Month-long Wall-to-Wall Festival

Last September, Winnipeg’s north end was home to a month-long celebration of public art. The event was called the Wall-to-Wall festival and was put on by Winnipeg’s Synonym Art Consultation. It also gave a facelift to one part of the city that could use more colour and artistic celebration.

The Consultation organized two groups of artists to create two gigantic murals that are now part of Winnipeg’s north end. One group, headed by a 17 year-old artist from Nunavut named Parr Josephee, created a mural that you can now see at 611 Main Street. The other group, lead by local artist Kenneth Lavallee, painted a mural dedicated to murdered and missing Indigenous women. “I’m from the North End, too, so this is my hood. It’s a way of having some ownership of your neighbourhood,” Lavallee said in an interview with Metro News. “The idea was to dedicate it to the cause of missing and murdered aboriginal women and have a nice, subtle way to say, ‘hey, we’re still here, we’re still important.’”

mural from wall to wall in winnipeg

Josephee designed her mural with South-American artist pair Bruno Smoky and Shalak Attack. The piece focuses on proposed seismic tests that may occur in Clyde River, which Inuit fear will affect narwhal and other marine mammals. The piece features “features two narwhals with lungs full of water and other life.” Josephee says the piece is in solidarity with that fight.

Josephee is also excited to contribute to Winnipeg’s growing art scene. “It’s amazing,” she said in an interview with the CBC. “When I was younger, I didn’t think I was going to be a part of any murals or anything. I wasn’t expecting this and I’m so happy I’m a part of this.”

aerial view of mural from wall to wall mural festival in winnipeg

Winnipeg artists and volunteers got a little help from outside the city as well. The Toronto-based art collective PA Systems also came out to help organize, prime walls, and paint the murals. A member of the group, Alexa Hatanaka, says public art is an important part of the modern world because it engages people in their everyday lives. “Public art really engages people in a way that’s different,” she told Metro News. “There are so many difficult things we face on this planet that sometimes it’s hard to sit down on the computer and read about it. But art engages you in a different way to start thinking about important issues. I think it’s special in that way.”

The Wall-to-Wall’s willingness to be political and help beautify an area of their city proves that art festivals can be about much more than aesthetics. These pieces reflect real struggles facing communities across the country and in their immediate area, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the festival volunteers.

website header from the cambridge street art festival

The Cambridge International Street Art Festival

We have covered a number of different festivals that have happened over the years. They’re often in incredible cities, like Hong Kong or Sydney; big cities encouraging artists to come out and beautify the streets. But street art festivals aren’t simply happening in big cities, they’re happening everywhere, including the sleepy town of Cambridge, Ontario.

Situated on the slopes of the Grand River, Cambridge is perhaps most famous for sharing its name with a well-known English university, and as a growing place with a great sense of history. What many people don’t know is that it has an amazing relationship with the arts and is a natural fit for its own street art festival, which celebrated its second anniversary this year.

graffiti style street art mural painted at the cambridge street art festival

The Cambridge International Street Art Festival had its start in Florida, of all places, where the festival’s founders came across the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival. The two were instantly inspired by the thousands that had attended and, to put it in their words, “the magical abilities of truly amazing artists creating art, with chalk (or pastels) on the streets.”

The festival has many of the activities and events that you would expect from a street art festival. The city has set aside spaces where artists can create beautiful murals, some of which will become more permanent fixtures in the already beautiful city. Attendees can come by and see the art being made, go to panels about art and street art, and even screen a couple of cool documentaries.

young boy standing next to chalk board art wall at the cambridge street art festival

What makes the Cambridge International Street Art Festival unique is its encouragement of artists of any level to come out and participate. Their chalk art program provides free chalk to anyone who wants it and offers spaces for them to draw up murals, cartoons, or whatever they want. While obviously popular for children, the Festival encourages all attendees who want to draw to come and contribute. And while it gets washed away in the first rain, the pieces people create can be truly beautiful and inspiring.

mural artist sitting next to a perspective mural piece rendered on the street at the cambridge international street art festival

By celebrating local artists and encouraging attendee participation, the Cambridge International Street Art Festival offers a more intimate and unique festival experience than ones further down the road in Southern Ontario. You can see the art truly up close and interact with the artists in a more relaxed environment. Plus, Cambridge is a beautiful city only enhanced by its open embrace of the festival and the artwork it facilitates. Plus, its commitment to participation means you can connect with regular people trying out art, and artists wanting to try something different.

If you live in Southern Ontario, the Cambridge International Street Art Festival is an excellent way to escape the big city and see street art up close. It happens every year in August. Next year’s festival is still taking applications for artists and volunteers, so there’s still a chance to participate.