August 28, 2008

Kassab's Visual Pollution Clean-up in Sao Paolo

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Sao Paulo artists Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo obliged London's Tate Gallery by painting their distinctive yellow graffiti on outside walls of the museum. Just a month later, their hometown began rolling gray paint across one of the brothers' murals as part of clean-up efforts.

Officials did an abrupt about-face after the Pandolfos and other artists complained both to the city and in the news media. Now Sao Paulo is creating a registry of street art to be preserved, exempt from Mayor Gilberto Kassab's drive to eliminate "visual pollution.'' The episode is sparking a public discussion of what constitutes art.

"When this happened, we thought, `what a mess,''' said Regina Monteiro, who is director of Projects, Environment and Urban Landscaping and in charge of coordinating the city clean- up. "You have the English pampering our graffiti art, and we're not giving it the least bit of value?''

City officials blamed the paint-over on an overzealous interpretation of the law. The Pandolfos, who are twins, say countless murals and panels already have been lost to misguided efforts under Kassab's Clean City project.

"Outside of Brazil, graffiti art has been much more accepted,'' said Gustavo Pandolfo, speaking by telephone from Barcelona, Spain. "Galleries and museums invite us to do shows. And in Sao Paulo, where we do this mural for free as a present to the people of the city, it's viewed as trash."

Under the Clean City law, enacted in 2006, billboards were removed, signs with large corporate logos were scaled back, and graffiti is being expunged.

The Pandolfos' 680-meter (2,230-foot) mural on retaining walls along the 23 de Maio expressway, south of downtown, was half-covered by gray paint on July 3. The destruction occurred even though the art had been officially sanctioned.

Permission from the city was obtained before the Pandolfos embarked on the project in 2002. The brothers, along with Sao Paulo artist Francisco Rodrigues da Silva, known as Nunca, and Otavio's wife, Nina, spent more than a month decorating the 5- meter-high walls.

On a background of blue, colorful cartoonish faces 3 meters tall look over the eight lanes of traffic. A few of the figures are decked out in traditional regional garb, such as the leather bicorn hat of northeastern Brazilian cowboys.

Some of the city's 800 inspectors "understood the Clean City law to mean paint over anything that's irregular,'' Monteiro said. "Because the law didn't give objective criteria, it was left up to subjective opinion.''

Sao Paulo is developing those criteria, giving priority to cataloguing works of graffiti that were painted with permission from the property owner, Monteiro said. The Clean City law prohibits graffiti that functions as advertising. The city expects the catalog to be ready by November.

"What happened to the mural downtown is a pity,'' said Claudecir Jose Sivieiro, 44, an engineer from Sao Bernardo do Campo. "It was nice, and it wasn't doing anyone any harm.''

Not everyone is a fan. Some residents object to images that contain letters in particular.

"People are ruining the walls scribbling and drawing on them,'' said Armando Alves dos Santos, 74. "It's shameless. You can't have that in neighborhoods; you should paint over all of it.''

The Tate Gallery approached the Pandolfos to participate in its street-art show, which closes today, after they painted Kelburn Castle in Scotland last year at the owners' invitation. In addition to the Pandolfos, known as Os Gemeos, the exhibit shows works by Nunca; Blu of Bologna, Italy; Parisian artist JR; New York collaborative group Faile; and Barcelona's Sixeart.

The artists decorated the Tate's outside walls with paintings 15 meters tall. It is the first major display of street art at a public museum in London, according to museum documents.

Before the crackdown, South America's biggest city had been seen as a place where graffiti artists could go to work without interference from passersby or police, Gustavo Pandolfo said.

"Graffiti would stay up for 10 years, and no one would erase it,'' he said. ``People liked seeing the graffiti.''

Hundreds of the brothers' works have disappeared during the clean-up campaign, he said. That would be a costly loss if measured by the price of their gallery works.

Os Gemeos drawings sell for about $2,000, while paintings sell for about $30,000, said Alexandre Gabriel, 32, artistic director at Galeria Fortes Vilaca, which represents them.

The Tate exhibition is helping change Sao Paulo's perception of its graffiti art, Monteiro said.

"We want to make this part of the city's look,'' she said. ``It's a trademark of the city.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Paulo Winterstein in Sao Paulo at

Last Updated: August 24, 2008 23:04 EDT

August 23, 2008

New Mediums: Thermoplastics

I happened to see the construction workers laying lines down on my bike ride home yesterday. While in Philly I saw some diy versions for punk shows and there is of course Stickman who does a lot of his own diy thermoplastics in NY. Well when I saw the workers laying it down and pouring finely ground glass on it for the reflectivity I thought it could be a good direction to take a memorial project. I found more info about the ingreadiants (below) but will be looking for more diy techniques to add.

I also found a company called StreetArt Impressions, run out of California by Ralph and Dora Taylor. They combined with 40+ year construction guru Don Hays to do whatever it is that they do.

I sent them the below email to find out more

The Process of "Road-marking" Described

Briefly the thermoplastic material is a mixture of a light coloured silica sand, (a bulking agent), a white pigment, (to make it look white), a resin binder, (to hold it all together), and some glass beads, (to make the lines shine in the dark by reflecting the headlight beam back to the driver).

The property of the night-time visibility of a line is known as its retro-reflectivity, or sometimes specific luminance. Glass beads are also added to the still molten thermoplastic line surface to increase the initial retro-reflectivity of the line.

August 22, 2008

Beacon of light

Took the train with Tae up to Dia:Beacon and made the good move of bringing our bikes. Didn't seem like a good idea as we were swimming upstream through Grand Central, but as soon as we touched ground in Beacon it was awesome.

First off everyone should take the train to Beacon. It's around an hour, leaves regularly, and follows the Hudson which has crazy cliffs, islands with castles, and old Cope2 throw ups. Once to the station it's a quick walk, bike, crawl to Dia which was originally the National Biscuit Carton Making and Printing Plant designed by Nabisco’s staff architect Louis N. Wirshing, Jr. and built in 1927. Now it houses conceptual, minimal, and land art by Beuys, Heizer, Lewitt, Smithson, Serra, etc...

Once out of Dia we explored the length of Main and stumbled upon Electric Windows, which just won the 2008 Dutchess County Executive's Arts Award for "Art in Public Places". We then were soliciting around the front of OpenSpace Gallery when Dan of Thundercut (new site / old site)came across us and showed us around the gallery/studio. We was such an awesome guy and also just returned from teaching a street art/signage/mural class in the Dominican Republic through Parsons, The New School Univ. Coincidence? I think not. Anyways, if you ever get a chance definitely check it out. The show up right now is Gaetane Michaux & Sighn which is amazing handcut stencils in bamboo, cloth, and paper. See more of the show here.

August 20, 2008

Beautiful Losers, people and places

Coming back i've noticed so many burnt out, shot up, squatted in, boarded up buildings. Especially as I explore my new neighborhood of Bed Stuy, one can't help but find the abandoned lots and homes. What happened to these places? What's still inside? Rats, that's for sure. But what type of shit went down in these haunts.

I just went and saw the new Aaron Rose doc, 'Beautiful Losers' and it's funny when Espo describes his first time coming to Manhattan. He said he just got off the JMZ in the Lower East Side and a cop car was on fire. Then he said by the time he got to Tompkins Square there were tons of garbage cans on fire. He then goes on to say that he knew he was in a place he loved. Even Cheryl Dunn goes on to say that tons of artists moved to NY in the early 90's because you could squat about anywhere. She says this as she sits in front of a photo of the AMAZE and REVS roller on Wooster where at one point tons of artists lived, but now SOHO is one of the poshest digs in NYC.

August 14, 2008

En route to Vegas

Drove out hwy 50 with my pops to Austin and then down the Big Smokey Valley to Carvers. Passed trucks with tires the size of houses. Cut west to Tonopah where there was nothing French about the F. Dip I had at the Banc. Caught the tailings of moon light on derelict school houses in Goldfield before blasting into Vegas for a 93 degree midnight. What a trip.

August 12, 2008

Carnel Collab @ The Fort

Worked on a dawn to dusk mural with plastic camera turned iPhone jailbreak bird, Chris Carnel. Had no idea what was going on with this one but like how it turned out. The portraits are of the 3 residents that have work spaces inside. On the left is Deux Gros Nez founder and bike aficianodo, Tim Helion. The center is the sign painter extraordinaire and super rad Renoite, Ron Rash (should've done blonde hair and blue eyes but...). And on the end is Nevada hot spring hunter, cave spelunker, snow and skate photographer, Chris Carnel. The mural is at the Tour de Nez HQ, or better known as The Fort, found out at the end of Dickerson Road.

August 11, 2008

Mural on the way

I got an email a little while ago from someone who wants a mural on their house. It's a cool place just down the street from me in Bushwick and the guy works for a neighborhood blog called bushwickbk. More to come when I get back...

August 10, 2008

August 06, 2008

Pyramid Lake

Ok, since I was gone in Reno I got to go to Pyramid Lake, which has got to be the raddest and eeriest place in Nevada. After tip toeing around piles of red hants, burnt barns and forgotten school houses in Wadsworth we made it to the southern entrance of the lake. Once on the res. we stopped at the gas station for stale ass ice cream sandwiches and beaded bracelets. After an arduous stint in some toe truckers loose rock trap we unbeached the bus and made it down the long winding road to the Pyramid. Hit the water at dusk and saw the hugest spiders protecting the island. Amazing just swimming with my bestest homies in some warm and salty desert water. Clear as the truth staring at my feet walk on sand ground from tufa formations named after spirits. Driving home under a skinny moon on a back ass road with no radio and good company.