Art Forum article Nov 2012 Tri, Tri Again by Cathryn Drake
She took this great picture of the Tire Totem project. Zahkro’s son is having some fun in the back.
My mosaic medallions are installed by Mike and Emily from Mosaika Art and Design!
The Protest that Never Ends
The Artisterium V, the annual international contemporary art exhibition and series of public art events, opens in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on October 5th, and runs through October 15, 2012.
“Artisterium” is an evolving curatorial platform. Each year, its overall theme always responds to timely social concerns, such as alternative ways of development (“Modus Operandi – in Quest of a Different Way”, 2008), changes on general and personal levels (“The Manifest of Changes and an Inner Experience”, 2009), artistic reflection on re-envisioning the future (“Imagine the Future”, 2010) and the willingness to embrace open-ended subjects as a way to critically engage with important social, political, urban, private and aesthetic issues (“Free Fall”, 2011).
The theme of the 2012 Artisterium V is “The Protest that Never Ends”. This theme offers an opportunity to research and showcase artistic and theoretical reflections on a wide range of PROTEST forms that we are currently experiencing globally. The show aims to provide a platform to explore what is worth protesting and how a creative work can become a “catalyst for changes”.
STREETWISE: AT ELIAVA BAZAAR
chuka Nino Kuprava, the founding curator of the project, is a textile painter. She is a co-founder of the Georgian Textile Group, and head of the Educational and Exposition Programs at the State Silk Museum Tbilisi.
curated by lydia Matthews (co-sponsored by the US Embassy in Tbilisi and the Curatorial Design Research Lab at Parsons The New School for Design, New York, USA)
Streetwise features seven artists/artist collectives from New York and California whose diverse projects in the public sphere have earned critical and popular acclaim. From large scale muralists with roots in graffiti art, to hip hop musician/writers, to artists who transformed a filthy city alley into a lush forested community park, to eco-oriented textile designers working in urban farmer’s markets, to researchers who facilitate virtual and actual cross-cultural think tanks aimed at solving problems in people’s daily lives–these artists understand the value of wisdom that can be generated by working with others to actively re-negotiate the urban environment. Streetwise highlights projects from the United States, but it also creates a platform to catalyze broader dialogues about new forms of participatory public art practice that are already emerging in the Republic of Georgia. It is meant to provoke the following question: what forms of knowledge can artists and designers use to re- envision their local environment, re-shaping it into a more vital, socially just and ecologically balanced place?
During Artisterium, Streetwise artists will work closely with local designers, artists, cultural activists, as well as Georgians they meet on the streets—to imagine interventions within the Eliava neighborhood and establish an international network for an ongoing exchange of creative knowledge. Georgian artistic collaborators include students/faculty from the tbilisi State academy of arts and the center for contemporary art tbilisi, artists from the Fleet Group, Urban Reactor, Group Bouillon, the Georgian textile Group, the State Silk Museum, la Maison Bleue, artists recently involved in “Batumi Backyards project,” as well as the eliava Group project team. They will engage two sites: Artisterium’s Karvalsa gallery (which will serve as an active workshop space and staging ground for planning the week’s off-site projects), and the Eliava neighborhood (where most of the projects will manifest.) Between Oct. 6-13th, U.S. artists will offer public talks, educational workshops and opportunities to co-design site-specific works within Eliava Bazaar. The project explores what it means to be “street-wise”, emphasizing open-ended, cross-cultural exchange and a spirit of subversive play. their exchange will culminate in an open House celebration at eliava Bazaar on Saturday, october 13th, to which the public is invited.
I must admit that I had barely heard of Tbilisi, Georgia before Lydia Matthews showed me the curatorial projects she had been working on there during my visit with her at Parsons in New York City. It still didn’t register until I got some an email from Laurie Lazer and Lydia while I was in Berlin. The US Embassy had come through with support to bring several artists from the United States to the Artisterium. Lydia, working with local textile artist Chuka, was planning Streetwise in the Eliava Bazaar and bringing artists who could intervene in this chaotic and challenging post soviet public market.
Lydia sent pictures of the market to us and once I saw the stacks of tires thought of Tire Temple, a project I had done in Oakland with refugee kids from Cambodian New Generation. I didn’t know how I would make this happen in Eliava but I started collecting materials for the project and the lecture/workshop I was scheduled to give at the Tbilisi Art Academy in hopes of getting some students interested in working with me. Just a few days before the Artisterium opening Georgia was having its first parliamentary election and there were major street protests over prison abuse by the current administration. There was worry that there would be violence. The Georgian Dream party won and there were no protests while we were there.
On Monday we went to Eliava. The sprawling market is a graveyard of crashed cars. We wound around the market till we came to rows and rows of stacked tires. At one corner was a particularly appealing tire set up with a view to the city behind it. Chuka introduced me to the merchant of this tire stall and the project began. Zakhro was welcoming, helpful and ready to be part of this strange art event that came come his way. I asked him what he wanted me to paint and he quickly answered a lion and eagle.
The paint was fast drying toxic car enamel. The masks minimal but effective enough. It drizzled and got muddy. Eli, a young artist who volunteered to help me communicate quickly became a creative collaborator. Zahkro collected the discarded tires from the roofs and prepped them for us.
I took a trip to LA for the press conference in front of Calle de la Eternidad to present the plan to preserve it.
Teaming Up to Save Historic Downtown Mural and
Preserve Building’s Historic Features
Developer David L. Gray teams up with SPARC, Councilmember Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway
Initiative & artist Johanna Poethig to preserve “Calle de la Eternidad” mural before wall comes down
LOS ANGELES (June 15, 2012) – In an agreement brokered by Councilmember José Huizar, David L. Gray, a prominent Los Angeles’ developer and architect, has teamed up with SPARC, one of the Southland’s premier mural preservation organizations, to digitally preserve the historic Calle de la Eternidad (Eternity Street) mural on a building Gray owns on Broadway. This as the developer begins renovations to restore some of the 1911 building’s historic features by removing a façade added to the building in the 1950s. In the 1990s, the Calle de la Eternidad mural was painted onto that façade.
As part of the mural preservation plan, SPARC, under the leadership of artist Judy Baca, used high-tech equipment to digitally scan and document the entire mural, with plans to reproduce the iconic piece on the building’s south facing wall at 83 percent of its original size at a later date. The developer Gray graciously incurred the costs of the digital scanning procedure and flew in artist Johanna Poethig so she could attend Friday’s announcement before removal of the façade and the mural begins in the coming days.
“This effort highlights two things I am extremely passionate about – the historic preservation of our iconic buildings and our beautiful murals,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “I want to thank David L. Gray for reaching out to my office and going above and beyond his legal obligations because he wanted to do the right thing. He is setting a high bar for others in the City. And thank you to Judy Baca, SPARC and Johanna Poethig for their talent, dedication and work in restoring the iconic Calle de la Eternidad mural.”
Originally known as the Zobel Building, the property is located at 351-353 Broadway. The original façade was built with windows overlooking Broadway. In the 1950s, a “modern” solid façade with the name of the Department Store “Graysons” in large letters was erected, completely covering the windows of the building from the second floor to the roof.
While the building’s upper-floors currently are empty, Gray intends on restoring and rehabilitating the building with creative office uses and ground-floor retail.
In order to restore the original underlying façade and expose the windows, which are necessary for reactivation, the 1950s solid façade must be removed along with the mural.
“Through Councilmember Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative, I see an exciting restoration movement on Broadway bringing hi-tech digital and post production offices, as well as entertainment venues, restaurants and bars to Broadway. Historic preservation is a key component of this movement and through the restoration of the Zoebel building, along with the preservation of the Calle de la Eternidad mural, I am proud to be part of the latest chapter in Broadway’s rich history.”
The digital file of the mural assembled by SPARC will be restored by the original artist, Johanna Poethig, and then put on a canvas retouched again by hand before being relocated to the south side of the building. The method is called miraflage, a painting technique traced back to the renaissance, wherein the canvas is adhered to a site-specific wall, giving the work an appearance of being directly painted onto the surface.
“This iconic mural painted by the great artist Johanna Poethig, means so much to the citizens of Los Angeles and over the years has become a key jewel and cultural marker for historic Broadway,” said Judy Baca, Founder and Executive Director of SPARC. “SPARC is pleased to be partnering with Councilmember Huizar and Mr. Gray to make sure this mural stays part of the visual landscape of Broadway. With my latest digital innovation in fine art mural production, a technique I recently utilized for the RFK School and the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex murals, SPARC will work with Johanna in our UCLA@SPARC Cesar Chavez Digital/Mural Lab to bring back Calle de la Eternidad almost at full scale. Of course, this can only happen once funding is secured.”
In 1993, a one-inch thick plaster/stucco slab was added to the building’s façade before Poethig painted the Calle de la Eternidad mural. Calle de la Eternidad was Broadway’s original name. The mural was originally produced through SPARC.
“Calle de la Eternidad is one of the most important murals of my over three-decade career,” said artist Johanna Poethig. “Painting this mural on Broadway in the early 1990s was an amazing experience as I swung in the scaffolding above this vibrant street in Downtown Los Angeles. The view of the finished red and gold mural against the steel and mirror towers is a classic image of art in the urban landscape. SPARC’s dedication to the mural movement, innovative approach to preserving this mural and all the parties involved in this effort, are a testament to the importance of monumental murals as landmarks in our cities. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who is working to save this mural.”
Me So Horny – symposium set up
Curated and organized by Edwin Ramoran, artists from the exhibit presented more images and talked about the work in the show. Rico Reyes, my collaborator from Barrionics joined in from Berlin on skype. We took advantage of some wait time to plan our next piece!
My “classic” Four Letter Word Products (House of Cargo)
Great work in the show:
Carol and Susan join me at the symposium!