Museum of Public Art

In the state of Louisiana, on the banks of the historic Mississippi River, lies the city of Baton Rouge. It’s a city steeped in culture and history that’s often overshadowed by it’s much louder, more popular Louisiana metropolis New Orleans. But it is here that a small nonprofit museum has been established to celebrate the best public art in the world.

Choosing a town like Baton Rouge for its headquarters makes sense for the Museum of Public Art. In a recent video, Museum Director Kevin Harris explains the importance of public art, and why it’s less invasive than the art in galleries. “The benefit of public art is not necessarily conscious or literal, it’s unconscious,” he says in a video promoting their recent Egoless event,  “And when you try to get people to explain ‘how does this benefit you?’ they can’t consciously come up with a reason, even though it affects them.”

The museum was the brainchild of Mark Rogovin, Marie Burton, and Holly Highfill, leaders in the Chicago mural renaissance. Founded in 1973, the museum and its curators wanted something that rejected the usual means of “making it” in the art community. Instead of barring access, they wanted to open it up and include the community in their artistic endeavours and politics. So the Museum of Public Art was created with a simple but important mission statement, that “the priority audience for which we paint is the audience of our own communities, working people of all ethnic backgrounds. Our subject matter comes from the history and culture, the needs and struggles, of communities. Our art speaks of the dignity of the people and projects a vision of a future free from war and exploitation. The form we have chosen is murals, murals can be a great way to reaching thousands upon thousands of people, since they are in public spaces, accessible to everyone.”

The building itself is small and unassuming, a contrast to the powerful pieces inside, a brick building on the corner of Eddie Robinson and Myrtle in the Old South Baton Rouge Community. The building, naturally, is surrounded with murals that constantly change based on who’s available and who wants to paint. The museum itself is open every Sunday for tours and insights into what public art is, how it’s important to the community, and what’s on display at the museum.

What the Museum of Public Art accomplished is an important mix of what makes street art important and different. While the building itself rotates artists, it’s constantly giving a permanent place to artists who want to connect with the community. It gives an art form that is almost necessarily without a home, without a permanent place, exactly that: a space that can be considered safe and useful for a community that isn’t safe, and is often derided as being useless. Here, public artists are given the museum treatment, their works taken seriously without crossing over into the traditional system that has discriminated and dissuaded thousands of artists from gaining legitimacy and recognition. Instead, this is a museum for street artists, by street artists, and catering to anyone who thinks public art is an important part of our contemporary and historical experience.

Be sure to check out their online gallery.

2014 Roskilde Graffiti Camp

For a graffiti artist, there’s little better than friends, paint, and an endless supply of surfaces to write on. It taps into everything that makes street art great: companionship, artistic collaboration, limitless potential, and, naturally, fun. Nothing quite makes street art as good as doing it with people and getting plenty of space to do it. In many places around the world, this is simply impossible. Laws condemn graffiti, keeping groups small and disconnected while removing any tags and writing they find. In some cases, this makes dedicated artists seek new, more dangerous canvases to write on. So when an event like the Roskilde Graffiti Camp comes along, artists tend to sit up, take notice, and create.

The Roskilde Graffiti Camp was started a couple of years ago by a small and dedicated group of people in Sweden. It’s a place where artists could come and hang out, paint some graffiti, and grab some cold beers after a hard day’s work. It’s only been happening for a couple of years, but the 2014 Roskilde event was easily its biggest, most ambitious, and best attended event. The organizers managed to snag an entire sea container’s worth of shipping cans, each their own different colour, for the event. That adds up to literally kilometres of blank canvas for artists, not a bad way to start a festival.

Past that, the event featured musical performances and more to keep artists and other attendees occupied when not painting or looking at graffiti. Of course, the most fun to be had was during the day, where artists could get involved in collaborative projects and large-scale solo efforts. Watching these pieces unfold over the day was in itself a treat. The end products, as you can see, are absolutely incredible.

Roskilde invited artists from around the world to join in on the fun, including Tizer, Vans the Omega, Sket185, Karski, Beyond, Soten, Rasko, and many more. In all, over 40 artists were there to paint the thousands of feet worth of containers. The results were a mash up of great ideas and distinctive styles, each more interesting and intricate than the last. The friendly competition pushed these artists to prove themselves, but also to absorb other styles, techniques, and approaches. Some of the pieces stand as a testament to the power of cooperation and, in some cases, are some of the best work these artists have ever produced.

The Roskilde Graffiti Camp is yet another example of what can happen when artists are left free to create, collaborate, and engage with each other. Not only did attendees have a chance to look at some international talent as they were writing, getting a behind-the-scenes look into their creative processes, the artists had the opportunity to learn from each other. Friendly competitions and multi-artist projects left us with some of the most unique street art we’ve ever seen. And when an event like this is run by experienced and professional organizers, the energy and excitement is tangible.

Street Art View

I saw a quote awhile ago about the internet: “I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.” From Twitter spats to Buzzfeed lists on our Facebook walls, this is kind of true, but the first part of the quote, the “accessing the entirety of information known to man” part is what makes the internet so exciting. Thankfully, Red Bull has decided to put that idea to good use for street art.

Described as “Google meets graffiti,” the Red Bull Street Art View is like a Google Maps of street art, showcasing, collecting, and cataloguing the best street art from around the world. Basically it asks users to upload pics of their local street art into a Google Maps-style database for people to easily explore street art around the corner and around the world. It proves that street art is not only pervasive, but it’s a global phenomenon, and its enthusiasts are all over the world.

The database is searchable by location and artist, so if you want to see where Banksy’s graffiti was in New York, you can find every known piece with a quick search. Or, if you want to see the extent of Os Gêmeos’ impact and prevalence in São Paulo, then you can search for them on their home turf. Plus there’s the added benefit of archiving these pieces. Since street art is continually erased, either by governmental departments or individual property owners, the Street Art Map keeps a digital archive of a city and artist’s work. It’s like a portfolio, both for an artist and city, that anyone can access at any time.

One of the most interesting parts of the map is looking at how different style have impacted different parts of the world, which areas seem to breed unique visionaries and others that are still under specific artists’ shadows. And the mood of any given city can be captured in just a few pictures. In Halifax, for example, a beautiful large painting of a bridge is right next to a scrawl supporting civil labourers. For a classically blue collar town with a long artistic history, these two pieces side-by-side make sense, and speak to the city’s history and values.

So what the street art map shows us is not only individual pieces, but another way of looking at a city, it’s history, and how and what it finds appropriate for expression. It helps document pieces in the eternal erasing of beautiful street art, keeping digital records of different pieces, but it lets us walk through the city with its underground arts scene at the forefront. And it also shows that the relationship between artist and corporation isn’t necessarily employer-employee, but companies can take an active step in preserving and encouraging an art form that’s everywhere but also transient, recording and celebrating the ways street artists make art that can beautify and challenge.

Saltworks: Motoi Yamammoto, Memory, and Mazes

We here at MuralForm love art, not just wall murals and street art, so when something truly inspiring comes across our path, we have to share. Today, that thing is an item in everyone’s home turned into incredible art. It’s called Saltworks and it’s an ongoing project by Japanese artist Motoi Yamammoto that uses only one ingredient: salt.

Traditional Japanese funerals sometimes feature salt. Funeral goers will throw salt as an act of cleansing, which is where found his inspiration for Saltworks. Yamammoto grew up in Hiroshima and worked on the docks until he was 22 years old and able to support himself on his art, but it was six years later that a traumatic death in his family inspired him to make something beautiful. His sister died when he was 28 of a complicated form of brain cancer, leaving him devastated. Now he uses only salt to create beautiful patterns and incredible sculptures and each one can be seen as a method of cleansing himself, a way to grieve and think about life.

Most of his sculptures are extremely intricate labyrinths that takes hundreds of hours to complete, but each starts with Yamammoto thinking about his sister’s cancer. He takes 3-dimensional brain scans for his inspiration and flattens them for a floor exhibit. From there, he improvises the design as he works, leaving in imperfections and mistakes as a way to record the experience itself and, after the piece has been viewed for several weeks, he invites patrons to help with the cleanup. Together, they sweep up the salt, put it all in jars, and throw it all into the ocean, leaving a clean slate for Yamammoto to start anew.

For Yamammoto himself, the salt mazes are a connection to memory. In a recent interview, he explained that “drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings.” The art itself becomes a lived experience, one that is pushed away when it’s moment is over.

What makes Yamammoto’s art so powerful is its stunning complexity using an extremely mundane medium. We all have salt in our homes but unlike many common items, salt has a dense history and cultural significance around the world. By harnessing salt’s unique qualities, both in its own makeup and cultural importance, Yamammoto blends the mundane with the mystifying, tapping into an audience’s awe at his talent but also the materials itself. A perfect blend of talent and artistic beauty, form and content, and in doing so, he connects to other people’s memory, whether that’s the shared wonder that salt takes up in our cultures and practices, or deeply personal matters of grief, memory, and time.

Ghost Signs: Remnants of Days Gone By

If there’s one singular truth about street art is it fades. No matter what you do, how you preserve it, or how often you come to touch it up, murals and signs will eventually disappear. They’ll be cleaned up, removed, the building may be bought and demolished or renovated, and the art moves away. Sure, we can try to make it more permanent, like when someone removes an entire wall to sell a Banksy graffiti, but by and large street art fades.

But while paintings fade, they sometimes won’t disappear entirely and that’s where Ghost Signs comes in. The idea of a ghost sign is fairly simple and something we’ve all seen: those old painted advertisements on old buildings. Ghost Signs, with capital letters, is an online database that collects snapshots of ghost signs for people to look at. The signs come from around the world from New Mexico to Portugal and are most often advertisements and shop names, sometimes for things we can no longer even advertise, like cigarettes or chewing tobacco. The paint has peeled away, but the trace of old street art remains, almost like a shadow or shade of what was once there. It takes us back to older times, when billboards were painted, not printed, and they were made to last. As writer Rebecca Solnit once said, “Ruins are the unconscious of a city.” Ghost signs are the literal writing of the unconscious in our cities’ histories.

The next time you’re strolling around your town, look for old signs. They’re usually higher up, often painted on brick, and harken back to at least the 60s, before regulations and bans made this particular style of painting nearly impossible. It’s like flipping through old issues of Punch magazine or stepping into the early days of Mad Men. The rules weren’t the same and advertising was less a science and more an abstract attempt to connect. You’ll find the signs in the least likely places and you may find yourself in neighbourhoods that still like the idea of a brick building instead of a skyscraper made of steel and glass. Chances are there’s a great coffee shop nearby as well, which makes for a fun weekend activity.

Ghost Signs gives us small snapshots of the paradox of urbanization and urban decay, the fact that things can fade but still remain. Many of these old signs are attached to condemned buildings, places that no one has bought up or felt the need to remodel or remove. So instead they sit there, a testament to days gone by when the signs and the buildings were newer, when the world operated just a little differently, when sign painting was a way many artists paid their bills. As sign painting becomes more and more a lost art, Ghost Signs documents the history around the world for everyone to see. Perhaps it may even inspire people to take up a brush once more and make beautiful street signs again, ones that in the future will remind people of our present.

Watson Lake’s Sign Post Forest: A Unique Art Project in Canada’s North

Watson Lake is a small town in the Yukon, not far from the British Columbia border. It’s a small town with a population under 1000. Most people make their money in the lumber industry and it sits on the Alaska Highway, a rest stop for people making pilgrimage to Alaska. It’s a quaint town with a long history and it’s the last place you’d expect to have a famous roadside attraction that sees thousands of visitors every year.

Watson Lake is home to the Sign Post Forest, a collection of local and international sign posts that have grown from one sign pointing to Illinois to literally an entire forest of signposts. You’ve probably seen the signpost trees in towns like Halifax, Philipsburg, and other places around the world. Signs that point to the direction of famous cities and state their distance. Well, Watson Lake has a forest of these posts numbering over 100,000.

The Sign Post Forest began in 1942, when a homesick American GI working with the 341st Engineers was ordered to repair a broken sign post. It was a simple job, one that was frequently needed as heavy-duty machinery used roads built for much smaller vehicles. But this particular GI was homesick for his hometown of Danville, Illinois. So, instead of simply fixing the sign, the GI personalized it, putting an extra sign pointing to Danville and stating its distance. Several other people thought this was a good idea and added their hometowns to the sign. Soon, the idea snowballed into what it is today: a forest of signs pointing to nearly every conceivable place on the planet.

In 1942, the Sign Post Forest was a small idea, now it spans two acres, comprising of over 100,000 items ranging from street signs to welcome signs, signatures on dinner plates, and international license plates. Ranging from quirky to seintimental, the Sign Post Forest reflects the town’s daily visitors: people travelling through from different parts, catching a small glimpse into Canada’s most remote areas.

What makes the Sign Post Forest is not its idea, which is one adopted around the world, but its age, method, and adoption by other people. It’s more than a collection of objects, it’s a part of what makes Watson Lake unique. An isolated area where people are prone to homesickness, the Sign Post Forest is an example of how a small, seemingly insignificant place is genuinely connected to the rest of the world. The idea is organic as well, a collection of things from people who want to participate in this small town’s unique art project, and it reflects how Watson Lake itself is a welcoming town despite its location and relative isolation. Watson Lake’s Sign Post Forest is visited by thousands every year despite its remoteness, which makes its art project that much more important for its residents. The signs may point to other places, but they show how everything is really no too far.

Favela Painting

Despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Brazil still struggles with poverty. Many of the biggest cities in the country are surrounded and embedded with favelas, another word for slums, that are home to millions of people. These favelas suffer from problems all too familiar for poor neighbourhoods: violence, lack of access to services, forced migration, and more, but they are also home to blossoming cultural movements, distinct artistic qualities, and hope. People now travel to Brazil to explore everything the country has to offer, including the favelas, and Dutch artists were just two of these people. The difference is these artists stuck around to help the community through involvement.

Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, collectively known as Haas&Hahn, visited Brazil in 2005 to shoot a movie about favela hip-hop culture. Haas&Hahn were fascinated by the culture, art, and especially the people themselves, so they decided to give back to the communities that hosted their filming in a unique way: mural art. A great project for a section of Brazilian culture people seem intent on covering up.

The favelas have come under increased skepticism and persecution over the past decade, especially as Brazil geared up to host the FIFA World Cup this year. Programs to cover up, quite literally, the slums for a good face on the international stage have been in place since 2009. Originally designed to curb the growth, especially since favelas have been growing at a rate larger than the cities to which they are attached, many detractors of the walls also noted they did a pretty good job of blocking them from view. Many pointed to the upcoming soccer tournament, but others speculate that favelas also lower housing prices. In a country with severe economic disparity, the solution for some of the elite is to simply not address the problem. Unfortunately, the problem accounts for over 6% of Brazil’s population, is growing steadily, and getting international attention. For a part of Brazilian culture that is literally being covered up, mural art gives some colour and attention to these famously eclectic districts and the people that live there.

Before travelling to Brazil, Haas&Hahn had a history of big projects, painting entire buildings with murals that fit with the local culture and brought some flavour to neighbourhoods. But this was mostly in their native Netherlands and Europe. Brazil was a little bit different.

As much as favelas have a blossoming culture, they also have very real problems. Drug lords can run entire favelas, where they use the youth as armed muscle they affectionately call “soldados.” Getting into a favela can be dangerous and difficult. Doing something other than looking can cost you your life without the right permissions. So Haas&Hahn had to win over the people and the resident drug lords in their fight, which may be in part why only 3 such projects happened.

But permission was and is the name of the game with Haas&Hahn. Each project required permission from the residents of the favela and the people whose homes they would be painting. Designs were kept loose so residents could have an input in the colours and anyone who didn’t want to participate had their wishes respected.

Since 2007, Haas&Hahn have done a total of three favela painting projects in Rio de Janeiro, each with their own flavour and direction.

The first, “Boy with Kite,” is a smaller and more conventional mural. The mural is essentially its namesake, but the kite itself is nonexistent. Instead, a boy with a string looks out past the blue sky of the mural and towards the rest of the city, drawing the eye way from the mural and towards the favela itself. Rather than cover it up or try and distract from the slum, “Boy with Kite” encourages the viewer to see the surroundings.

The second project is substantially more ambitious, tackling a series of stairs that lead up the hill of a favela Vila Cruzeiro, one of Brazil’s most dangerous and most populated slums, with an estimated population of between 40 000 and 70 000 inhabitants. Rio is a particularly hilly area of the world and the Vila Cruzeiro has a network of steps that lead all over its maze of streets, alleys, and walkways. For their second project, Haas&Hahn recruited local youth to turn one of these sets of stairs, and accompanying drainage pipes, into a cascading river of koi fish. Called “Rio Cruzeiro,” the project is substantially larger than “Boy with Kite” and incorporates the often fluid feel of a favela, which is often built without proper zoning or building codes, giving them a haphazard feel.

The most Haas&Hahn favela painting project Haas&Hahn was “Praca Cantao,” a full-scale mural project that painted the houses of an entire square. Painted with vibrant colours often associated with the favelas, the Praca Cantao square boats a vibrancy seen in the city’s energy and citizens, but not often in their actual homes.

But the key part of the favela paintings is possible not even the art itself, but the community involvement. The artists worked with local youth to give them hands-on painting skills and experience, something many have put on their resume to find employment away from their drug-controlled neighbourhoods. Rather than simply do something they perceive as nice for a group of people, Haas&Hahn got involved, worked together with the people, and left them with something to look at but also some skills to move forward.

Since Brazil, Haas&Hahn moved to slums a little closer to home, Philadelphia, where the poverty level is 167% above the national average. There, the murals have gotten even bigger stretching over 50 storefronts on two blocks. Organized with MuralArts, a program we’ve talked about before, Haas&Hahn’s murals continue to give a city once famous for smokestacks and steel production a new look. Other projects have also popped up in New York, Miami, and the Shenzhen Biennale in China. As for what’s next, Haas&Hahn raised over $100,000 to realize their dream project, painting an entire favela, on Kickstarter last year. They are currently scouting locations, deciding to start after the World Cup ended.

Street Art And Social Media: Similar But Different?

In a world where street art gets painted over and washed away as quick as it’s drawn, many street artists are turning to social media to archive their projects and, at the same time, increase their exposure. We all know social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are permanently marking our lives, turning every picture and event into a searchable database. It can be fun to see pictures from years ago and see how we’ve changed, but it can also be a great way to get people excited about different art projects, and especially street art.

Artists like Jay Shells have been using social media to preserve their art after it’s been washed away, but is social media just a tool for street artists, or are they already social media mavericks?

When you look many street artists’ work, it purposefully injects viewers into the project. It’s designed to turn heads, make people talk, and convey a message. The same can be said about art in galleries or installed in people’s homes, however, so what makes street art a more social form of art and media?

Some argue it’s street art’s baseline interactivity and use of public space, it’s very origins as vandalism as a means to encourage participation and interactivity. At it’s most basic form, street art is paint on a surface in a public forum, be it a building wall, billboard, public transit vehicle, or other similar medium. It’s left out for others to see and uses the space on which it’s used as a part of it’s picture and message. Take Zevs’ controversial Visual Attack series for example. Each piece uses existing advertisements to change the message on billboards by adding paint to the project. It interacts and encourages participation. In that way, street art can become social media.

And the level needed to participate is arguably lower than that of traditional social media. For example, Instagram requires some of the following: a smartphone with a camera, internet access, and a membership to the app. An original Banksy painted on the side of a house in Bristol requires walking down the street in Bristol. Theoretically, if you already live in Bristol, the threshold for becoming part of the Banksy audience and community is much lower, not barring people based on their ability to access technology and internet, but their ability to walk down a street.

Street art breaks the boundary between vandalism and art to comment on many different aspects of our everyday lives, but billboards in particular. Billboards are a particular form of street art that has special protections for one simple reason: it has been paid for. They are unique only in their protection while street art is continually washed away and scrubbed from our streets at a great cost to the city. Naturally, the boundary between lewd graffiti, street art, and billboards is porous but always discussed, but only one of these is legally allowed to stay up. Street artists use these spaces to their advantage and, by doing so, challenge why special provisions are given to corporate street art over other forms of public art.

How One Man’s Love of Hip-Hop is Subverting the Law

Geography has always played an important part in hip-hop and rap culture. Where you’re from is important. It could connect you with like-minded people. It could get you killed. Dropping lyrics about where you’re from is a way of saying who you are, where you started, and how far you’ve come. NYC-based artist Jason Shelowitz, a.k.a. Jay Shells, understands the important of place in hip-hop, so he’s taken the lyrics to where they started.

Taking the form of red street signs, Jay Shells’ “Rap Quotes” puts shout-outs about specific places exactly where they came from. One sign in Stapleton House Village, for example, has lyrics by RZA: “Grew up in Stapleton House Village, where blood flood the waters in the streets like oil spillage.” Up on Broadway and Myrtle, a sign quotes Mos Def. A street post near Carnegie Hall sports lyrics by Busta Rhymes. Slowly but surely, Jay Shells’ signs are popping up all over NYC.

Since the signs themselves mimic official street signs, the very medium of “Rap Quotes” delves into the rebellious and anti-authority sentiments found in much of the hip-hop Jay Shells quotes. The project is less about praising these areas and more giving a visual history to a largely auditory medium. Cam’ron’s lyrics about 145th and Broadway speak directly about the violence he experienced in that area.

With over 60 of these signs now gracing street poles in New York City, Jay Shells crossed to the West Coast to give L.A. a similar treatment. Over 45 signs have been put up in L.A., celebrating the city’s rich hip-hop culture. “Where you at? Western & Imperial, It’s the pure West Coast coming out your stereo” reads one sign that quotes WC. Another quotes Gangsta Rap pioneer Ice Cube: “I never forgot Van Ness & Imperial, look at my life Ice Cube is a miracle.”

Since the East-West Coast is rivalry largely over, Shells had no problem finding some help for “Rap Quotes,” from helping put up the signs, comb rap lyrics for the perfect quotes, and snap some photos so the signs are immortalized in proper place before the signs are taken down by fans, detractors, or the authorities.

Since posting street signs without a permit is illegal pretty much everywhere, Jay Shells is used to seeing his work taken down. But these days, the authorities are the last people to take them down, because fans and detractors usually get to them first. In Harlem, for example, Jay Shells and his colleagues watched from across the street as a freshly installed sign quoting Sadat X was removed. Jay Shells seems unfazed by the entire removal process “He removed the sign and threw it in the trash,” he said in a recent interview, “You can’t please em all.” But despite his laissez-faire attitude about the signs getting removed, he does try and preserve the sentiment on his Twitter (@TheRapQuotes) and by taking the signs off the streets and into galleries.

The most recent gallery to showcase Jay Shells “Rap Quotes,” along with some of his other art projects, is Gallery 1988. Jay Shells hopes to expand the project outwards to other American cities and galleries, taking his subversive work, quite literally, to the streets across America.

That’s Right, this is Legal Graff in NYC

New York, while not as aggressive as L.A. in its anti-graffiti laws, has made it purposefully difficult for people to make street art and have it stay. NYC has set up an anti-graffiti taskforce whose sole job is to go around the Five Boroughs and paint over street art. Sure, some of that may need to be removed, either because it’s unwelcome or offensive, but many of NYC’s greatest street artists have their great work eradicated before people can really appreciate it.
That’s why this street mural is such a curiosity. To the average person with little to no knowledge of the New York graffiti scene, this mural on Allen and Division Streets in Chinatown is just another instance of tagging. Another place where people with spray cans have vandalized a piece of property with territorial markings. But for someone who knows the New York street art scene, this is a pretty cool collaborative effort, and perhaps the beginning of something new.

First, you may notice some pretty famous names on here: Remo, SP, Joz, Easy, Mey, Cinik, Sev, Giz, 17, Chino, Veefer, and Trap are all represented in the tags. These aren’t just some guys with spray paint, these are respected artists. And the end result looks like normal graffiti, the usual tagging people sometimes simply tolerate in their neighbourhoods, but speaks to the history and importance of street art in a city’s aesthetic and visual history.

The other important part of this piece is it’s legal status, in other words, the fact that it isn’t vandalism next of the chopping block for buffing out. Nope, this is fully legal street art, created in partnership with the City of New York. The graffiti collective Animal previously managed to get a mural done in Chinatown, but it took three years of paperwork and the help of a community affairs officer in the 5th precinct to get it done. Here, we expect the same process happened, but this is less overtly a pice of mural art and more a collection of names. Either way, things seem to be changing in NYC for graffiti artists. They are certainly changing elsewhere in the country.

Take, for example, Saber and Zeser’s L.A. mural. For a town with actual legislation against murals, their legal mural for a downtown artstore is an accomplishment simply by its existence. But it’s materials is even more interesting: it uses materials that are used to buff and eradicate mural art. Rollers, fire extinguishers, and other items used that are either directly used or simulate the poor quality paint used to erase graffiti are all used. The result is a stunning visual piece that speaks to the importance of mural art while using the very procedures that keep it somewhat concealed or censored. Even its height, only using the top half of the building, speak to the NYC taskforce’s limited resources in removing higher street art.

Both of these murals stand as testaments to the importance of street art and its gradual reclamation of acceptance and recognition. Both of these cities at one time were almost defined by their graffiti and street art, for better or worse, and both cities have actively attempted to erase that part of their visual history and aesthetic. But with these two murals, that aspect of history is both reclaimed and deemed by the higher authorities as appropriate and necessary. That counts as a win for both.