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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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Toronto Road Murals Cause Stir

When you walk through Kensington Market in Toronto, the last thing you would consider out of character is drawings on the street. The longtime hub for vintage clothing, quirky bars, and hipster dining establishments, the area has built a reputation on being very different from the rest of Toronto. But this year, artist proposals for a road mural caused more than a disagreement, it turned into a fight at City Hall.

Last year, Toronto’s city councilors considered banning road murals, citing that they “place considerable administrative, regulatory, and maintenance burdens on the city.” The decision was met with considerable opposition by local artists and community members, who say public art installations can beautify and bring people together.

For one local resident in particular, Dave Meslin, the reasons for the potential ban didn’t make any sense. “We’re not asking for money. We’re not asking for staff to come and help us paint,” he told Metro News earlier this year. “We’re just asking for permission.”

With the potential backlash from community leaders and residents in different parts of Toronto, the City decided instead to opt for a pilot program. From August to October of this year, they allowed street mural painting on specific streets in Kensington Market. The designs, materials, and the process would all have to be put through the project for review, but ultimately the program went ahead.

With permission to move forward, the Kensington Market business association found artist Victor Fraser, who stenciled all the paintings for the mural. Community members were then invited to paint in the drawings. A special vinyl paint was used for all of the murals, which is supposed to last for six to nine months and withstand rain, snow, and more.

Artist Victor Fraser decided to highlight Kensington Market’s famous food scene, creating images of fresh foods that draw on computer iconography. “A lot of people work on the computer, and they don’t realize the reality of reality,” he told The Toronto Star in an interview. “I tried to represent their computer styles, which is very choppy, crisp, and hard, and that’s the best way to have vegetables.”

The street murals have now all been completed as of October, 2016 and have each elevated the beauty and artistic wealth of the area, and indeed the city. The collaborative effort at every step, from the fight to have the murals to the design of the items to the interactive elements in their creation, the murals represent how a community can lobby, design, and create something that betters their neighbourhood.

The pilot project may result in four more murals for the Kensington Market area but the idea is spreading to other areas of the city. Community activist Dave Meslin hopes these types of projects will be more common and widespread throughout Toronto.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Artist Profile: Diego Rivera

While many people will point to Frida Kahlo as Mexico’s most famous artist, the impact of Diego Rivera on murals, both in his home country of Mexico and around the world, is still felt today. Known for his particularly large frescoes, his work helped to establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art.

Rivera grew up in Mexico and studied art from a young age. His studies would eventually take him to France and Italy, where he learned from such artists as Eduardo Chicharro, Ilya Ehrenburg, Chaim Soutine, and Amedeo Modigliani. While in Europe, Rivera witnessed firsthand the growing popularity of cubism and his own work saw a heavy cubist influence in those early days. He gradually shifted towards post-impressionism a few years later before coming back to Mexico at the request of Mexican officials. It was during this period that he and two other artists, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, started painting frescos and murals for the Mexican government.

Rivera’s mural style became and important moment in Mexican history, not simply because of their political messages (much of his work dealt with Mexican history and its major revolution in 1910) but because of their incorporation of Mexican art styles. While trained mostly in Europe, Rivera used “large, simplified figures and bold colors with an Aztec influence.” His frescos also took storytelling techniques from the Maya, and many of his larger pieces tell entire stories. Combining his technical training from Europe with his Mexican heritage, his work became widely renowned and continues as an example of Mexican art to this day.

Diego Rivera is one of Mexico’s most famous and most notorious painters, mostly due to his volatile relationship with Frida Kahlo. Rivera met Kahlo while he was still married to his second wife, Guadalupe Marín. They met at a party hosted by a mutual acquaintance, Tina Modotti, where Kahlo asked for Rivera’s opinion about her paintings. Later, Rivero was quoted as saying Kahlo’s art had “an unusual energy of expression, precise delineation of character, and true severity … They had a fundamental plastic honesty, and an artistic personality of their own … It was obvious to me that this girl was an authentic artist.”

Despite being 20 years her senior, and being a noted womanizer, the two married in a civil ceremony at the town hall of Coyoacán on August 21, 1929. They remained married for ten years but divorced due to “their mutual infidelities and his violent temper.” The divorce was short-lived, however, and they remarried in 1940, staying together until her death in 1954.

Diego Rivera is often eclipsed by his wife and life, but his art remains an important moment for muralists and street art. Despite sharing a close relationship with the Mexican government, his ability to weave a distinctly Mexican style into his work helped pave the way for a national character of art. Other countries, such as Brazil, has made similar steps, drawing on the skills of muralists around the world and infusing them with a nationalistic flavour. His work, while largely lost now, is a testament to the importance of producing and supporting local artists.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Kimye and Murals

Earlier this year in the quiet city of Chippendale, Australia, a mural appeared that made headlines around the world. The piece, created by Australian street artist Scott Marsh, was a recreation of a meme that circulated around the internet the previous year. The meme, and the subsequent mural, depicted Kanye West kissing his wife Kim Kardashian, except her face was replaced with another Kanye face. The meme had been shown around the world and, consequently, the mural also gained its fair amount of attention, including from Kanye West’s staff.

Marsh claims that he received a call from Kanye’s management shortly after the mural went viral, asking to have the piece taken down. In response, Marsh announced he had created a print of the mural and that it was for sale, for $100,000 and a lifetime supply of Kanye-designed Yeezy Boost sneakers. When that print was purchased, he would paint over the original mural.

While no one from Kanye’s team has taken responsibility, Marsh received the money a few days later and, a few days after that, he painted over the mural. Marsh, for his part, was surprised that things happened the way they did, starting with the mural gaining so much attention. ‘’I’m surprised there has been so much worldwide attention,” Marsh told the Illawarra Mercury. “I did it as a kind of a funny jab at the occult celebrity and celebrity culture and the power of media, in particular social media.’’ Marsh could not have picked a more appropriate subject for his work. Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian have become some of the biggest celebrities in the world precisely because of their approach to social media and their lifestyle (and, in the case of Kanye, because of his music).

When we talk about celebrity in the modern age, we are talking about their permeance, their ability to move through the separations and layers of our society with relative ease. Today, a social media post can be copied, altered, copied again, and sent around the world. It can show up on news sites and, in rare instances, on the side of a wall in Chippendale, Australia. And people can turn celebrity into almost anything. Ronald Reagan used his celebrity to help him win the presidency and another presidential hopeful is using the same tactics again today.

A celebrity’s ability to show up anywhere is a double-edged sword as well, one that the Kardashians have been trying to master for years. There strikes a balance between people’s forgetfulness and the internet’s ability to keep anything and everything easily searchable and accessible. Kanye may have allegedly forked over six figures to have a mural removed, but pictures of the mural are easily found through a simple Google search.

Street art and murals can challenge and provoke in multiple ways, including towards our obsessions with celebrity. For Marsh, tapping into our love of the rich and famous has earned him money and fame as well. But, as he says, these things can be fleeting.

‘’The attention has definitely lifted my profile. It’s just a matter now that I’ve got to work really hard and try and turn that into something tangible rather than 15 minutes of fame.’’

Donald Trump Murals: Putting the Political Back into Street Art

Donald Trump has long been a controversial figure, from his rise in the eighties as a real estate and property mogul to his recent bid to become the President of the United States of America. He’s long been in the public eye and, at this point, is quite comfortable in front of a camera, a pulpit, or a boardroom filled with cameras. And with so much notoriety, The Donald has also gained the attention of some very talented, and very angry, street artists.

Graffiti, as it is sometimes pejoratively called, has also been closely associated with declarations, whether they’re political, territorial, or simply making a statement. Being illegal in so many different ways, it can also be a political statement through its very existence and, in the way that many people see it during their daily routine, its ability to capture an audience is similarly a political act. For some, the politics is key, and now that Donald Trump has decided to try and become one of the world’s most powerful people, artists are flocking at the chance to show off what they really think of him and his bid to become president.

One such piece showed up in Donald Trump’s hometown of New York City by a popular graffiti artist known only as “Hanksy.” The American-born artist is known for his tongue-in-cheek and often controversial comedic pieces, choosing to use the power of humour to convey his messages. For The Donald, Hanksy certainly has his opinions, and he certainly wasn’t shy of displaying them: a pile of feces featuring Donald’s face and famous hair (or possibly hair-piece). Hanksy took to Twitter to describe his artistic process, which wasn’t too complex even if the message is powerful: “okay. so I started with the fact that Trump kinda rhymes with dump. but I think I’m just gonna paint him as a giant pile of shit.”

Hanksy’s message will certainly have some detractors, but many people in New York have long had an antagonistic relationship with the owner of Trump International. Trump, and his extremely wealthy father before him, invested in multiple real estate initiatives that are tied to the gentrification and extreme, now legendary, housing prices in New York, and many people are sure to enjoy Hanksy’s take on Trump.

Trump’s campaign and infamy has made its way north of the border as well, with a Winnipeg artist giving visitors of a local pub’s men’s room something to ponder while they pee. The District Stop nightclub in the city’s Entertainment District features a painting of Trump, but with his mouth as one of the urinals. It was designed as a statement and publicity stunt, and it’s now international fame is certainly making people stop by.

Street art has always been political, so for artists to take their graffiti and point it at such a controversial figure is no surprise. And whatever your opinions about Trump are, it has at least led to some interesting art pieces around the world. They do certainly have a theme, though, one that may not be too far off the mark.

Chattanooga MLK Mural Mixes Messages of Hope with Interactive Elements

In the quiet town of Chattanooga, Tennessee, there is an old AT&T building. It sat quiet, much like the town, for years, a grey set of blocks in a wide parking lot. It was functional, but the exterior became an eyesore for the nearby residents. And for one artist, it became an opportunity to talk about important issues, and share some beauty with a small Tennessee city. The City of Chattanooga saw the building as an opportunity rather than simply a problem, and the result was a mural that’s as interactive as it is tied to American history.

Chattanooga contacted nationally-praised artist Meg Saligman for the project, raising over $200,000 in the process to help her create something beautiful, significant, and appropriate. The project, after all, involved an entire building, not simply a single wall, and that meant Saligman was going to need time, supplies, and help. The project allowed Saligman the opportunity to hire six Chattanooga artists to help, giving them valuable paid professional experience and the opportunity to work on a collaborative project in their hometown.

Saligman’s design for the mural was inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. and was unveiled on January 18, 2016, three days shy of what would have been the civil rights leader’s 87th birthday. Saligman took inspiration from the renowned leader and decided that the mural should engage the audience on multiple levels. With a project of such magnitude, creating activities, it seems, is a good way to keep an audience looking. She used Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech as inspiration for some activities, recreating metaphors and visual imagery found in that beautiful and important speech. Nines were also hidden throughout the mural on all sides of the building, and familiar faces from the period were used.

As for the artist herself, Meg Saligman is a living legend in the public art community. Named one of the ten most influential American muralists of the past decade by the Public Art Review in 2006, she has won numerous awards and created projects around the country. She specializes in absorbing local styles, mostly by collaborating with local artists, to bring something to the public that is both familiar, given it is part of their community, and created with intent and serious artistic talent. The results, as the citizens of Chattanooga can attest, are outstanding.

Saligman’s mural in Chattanooga demonstrates two key things about public art: its ability to capture and hold attention and the importance of collaboration. With Saligman, she chose to use local artists to create something meaningful for the city, acting as a project manager to help some of the city’s artists create a piece with local flavour. The end result also shows the many ways that artists can grab and hold attention, whether it’s through facial recognition, familiar imagery, or even a small game of “spot the 9s.” Art without an audience, especially public art, can often miss the point.

Antonio Ramos, Death by Mural

Last October young volunteer, muralist, and street artist Antonio Ramos was gunned down in West Oakland. He and his fellow artists were in the midst of painting an anti-violence mural that was meant to be enjoyed by the entire city. Designed by middle-schoolers, the piece was called “Self as Superheroes” and was part of a city-wide initiative to use the power of street art to talk about the challenges facing Oakland and its surrounding communities. 

Oakland is a city of opposing ideas. At once a rougher city than the nearby San Francisco, it is simultaneously heralded as The Bay Area’s own Brooklyn but also a city of danger, of systemic problems, and one that has a long ways to go. The very act of shooting a young street artist for painting a charity-funded mural seems to speak to many of the problems the city faces, and has indeed become a testament to Oakland’s many challenges. 

“Self as Superheroes” is part of the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, a six-mural project funded and started by local non-profit Attitudinal Healing Connection, which is dedicated to spreading messages of anti-violence. Every mural is painted on a freeway underpass and hopes to convey messages of anti-violence and peaceful resolution in a city where stories of gentrification are met with worrisome crime statistics. 

Ramos’ death was met with widespread condemnation and a city that came together. A fund was started to help his family cover the funeral costs. Those who worked on the mural finished it in his honour, and many residents came to the piece, the place where Ramos died, to pay their respects and build a small shrine in his honour. His death has become a symbol of how far Oakland still needs to go in terms of crime, violence, and a community that needs to build with its citizens. 

Of the many things that Ramos’ death has come to represent, from Oakland’s crime to arguments surrounding gentrification, is that art is still powerful, still relevant, and still very important. Ramos was gunned down while making art, while trying to communicate something very real and very important to the people of his town. The art, and the very act of scribbling it onto a wall, proves that street artists, as conveyors of important messages, are still feared and therefore tried to be silenced. And while the true motivations of the shooter are still a mystery, we can still see how Ramos’ passion for anti-violence lives on through his artistic contributions.

The Biggest Mural in Pachuca, Mexico

If there’s one thing that’s true about street art, it’s that it’s getting bigger. Sometimes that means it’s getting more recognition, being displayed in more and more places, or the artists themselves are enjoying more and more attention, and hopefully compensation, for their work. But if you’re in Pachuca, Mexico, when you say that street art’s getting bigger, you’re probably referring to size over anything else.

The reason that you’d immediately think of a big, sizeable mural over the recognition or traction street art is gaining is probably because you’ve walked by the neighbourhood of Palmitas. This neighbourhood, just like the many colourful residential neighbourhoods, has plenty of fun houses made with different hues and tones, but there’s a key difference: Palmitas wasn’t the result of cheap paint or building supplies, it was done by professional muralists and local people through a government grant.

Palmitas, like many places in Mexico, is a nice neighbourhood that needing some sprucing up. The area was suffering in many different ways, from street violence and poverty to larger issues like unemployment and a lack of funds for neighbourhood problems. So the Mexican government decided to intervene and help out the neighbourhood. In the process, they managed to land the little place on the world stage.

Starting out as a grant, the Mexican government envisioned a mural project that could improve the area. The goal of the project, however, was not just to beautify the area, but to give it a facelift in all areas, and to give the people something to be proud of. For expert advice and project leaders, the government turned to the German collective, a group of designers and artists who set about planning the project.

Once it was down on paper, the project was massive. Over 20,000 square feet of walls needed to be painted, stretching across over 200 homes in the neighbourhood, all of which were settled up a small hill above a main road. Bright colours were chosen for the mural, with bold patterns that could be easily painted across the facades. With such a large project, the German collective couldn’t do it themselves, so they enlisted the help of locals, giving them work to do in the year that the project took to be completed.

The project was a resounding success. According to Street Art News, the the project brought immediate results, improving the lives of many of the residents pretty much from the seond paint hit the walls. “On top of beautifying the neighbourhood, the project has been a tool of social transformation,” the magazine reported, “During the process, the violence amongst younger people has been entirely eradicated and several jobs created.” While there may have been only 209 houses filled with 452 families, the results were felt by a much larger amount of people, starting the the town of Pachuca and rippling out across the world.