MuralsDC Celebrates a Summer of Graffiti at the H Street Temporium
WBL’s “The Show,” which displays the work of MuralsDC’s lead and apprentice artists will be taking place at the Temporium (1300 H st, NE) until September 13th. Check it out while you can!
Read All About It …
As a fitting farewell to our summer of graffiti, this week’s issue of the Washington City Paper featured a cover story on the city’s complicated relationship with legal murals and unsanctioned art. Writer Jonna McKone included some familiar names to the fray: Cory Stowers, art director of Words, Beats & Life, Inc.; artist Tim Conlon; and writer FAME — all of whom have been interviewed or involved in Red Line D.C.‘s development in some way, shape or form. (The documentary was given a quick shout-out, too. Woot! Woot!) Before reporting out the WCP article, entitled “Tagging Rights,” McKone did a similar story for WAMU that followed FAME as he hit the line. Both pieces of reporting point to the odd positioning of graffiti culture in D.C., and elsewhere, as more street art finds its way into classrooms, galleries and public art exhibits.
The cultural and artistic tensions that McKone discusses directly inform our work for this project. As MuralsDC adds color to more legal walls around the city, including those along the red line, the significance of these open displays of art becomes increasingly difficult to frame. Is the red line just an old relic of underground art legends, a low-stakes territory for little-known, newbie writers or a transitional place seeing “progress” through public artworks? Clearly, there’s still lots for us to mull over at Red Line D.C. Though, our minds are fixed on a spring/summer release for the documentary, we remain open to the myriad of possibilities for our project. The growing interest in graffiti culture and resulting media attention pushes us to ask: What will Red Line D.C. contribute to the discussion? McKone leaves much room for questioning, as well. She writes, “As the graffiti bubble grows bigger and bigger, its contradictions are being painted in vivid color.” And its with this vast, contradicting color palette in mind, that we set off to paint our own picture …
Back to D.C., Back on the Grind!
It’s manic Monday and we’re starting the week off with a bang! Tomorrow’s “Art of Vandalism” event is guaranteed to be a good time and a great discussion. (Have you RSVP’ed, yet?) So, as we get in gear for Tuesday night, featured panelist, graffiti writer and guest blogger Tim Conlon recounts his personal history with the spray can-sport. Check it out …
As of this year, I have been painting graffiti for over half of my life. It may seem fleeting to have spent so much time on such temporary work, but graffiti has held a permanent design in the person I am, my life experiences, and the people that I keep close to me. I started painting in Baltimore in the early 90′s and it quickly consumed all other interests — like any addiction. I spent countless hours in dangerous neighborhoods and train yards in some of the worst parts of that city. Besides carrying my paint cans, I carried a singular goal: to put aside day-to-day anxieties and just paint. It didn’t matter to me if it was a tag or a piece. The end result was having the satisfaction that I created something for myself in adverse conditions. To me, graffiti is all about problem solving: “How do I get to that particular spot to paint, how should I chose my colors this time, how do I make this particular letter connection work for this piece, and how do I get myself out of this situation?”
Taking a break from real world problems gave me time to think through those issues, while I was quietly painting in the dark. I have risked my life quite a few times to paint graffiti, but the twisted truth is that that graffiti has consistently been my lifesaver.
– Tim Conlon