What You Missed at the Premiere

We did it!

Saturday, November 1st was the premiere presentation of The Red Line D.C. Project’s SEE / LINE. Collaborators, contributors and interested community members came out to the Angelika Pop-Up film center at Union Market.

Two showings of the film were offered to attendees, as well as a small, celebratory reception with director/producer Saaret Yoseph.

We had a blast with all those that came out! Check out the photos from the event below!

To all those that missed the big night, be sure to catch the film at one — or more! — of the public screenings being held throughout November at various locations near or along the Red line.

Thanks, again to everyone who attended the premiere and to all those that have supported the project during the four amazing years that led us here!

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Red-Eye: Up Against the Wall

A visit to the red line does much for visual wonders and recently, our red line research took us up-close and against a wall of colorful evidence. With red line writers Fame & Grave as our tour guides, we found ourselves somewhere in between Ft. Totten and Brookland — or was it Ft. Totten and Takoma? All we know for sure was there was graffiti high, low and in abundance. See for yourself …

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PHOTOS: OG’s and New Additions

Last week was all about meet-and-greets for Red Line D.C. On the other side of the MBT fences, we were invited into one of the little-known properties lining the red line; this one by Rhode Island Ave metro station. The man waiting for us, opening his doors for an upcoming interview, was Arondo Holmes, owner of Hondo Coffee. Mr. Holmes’ coffee roasting warehouse, directly on the MBT, is one of the properties with a legal mural. His business has been in Edgewood for about 3 years, but he lived and work in the neighborhood 20 years back. He will, no doubt, have some great insights to offer our project. And now, that we’ve done the introduction, we can hardly wait for the interview …

Another newcomer to our project, but OG of the red line, is graffiti writer, CERT, who we interviewed along with writers Some, Fame and Grave. If the name CERT isn’t familiar to you, his work probably is: CERT’s responsible for the oft-photographed and frequently referenced “Sean Taylor” piece at Brookland Ave. metro station as well as, a ton of other productions along the Line. You can even watch commuters call to mind the “Sean Taylor” mural for us when interviewed on the metro. Among the graffiti community, CERT is seen by many as a local legend and, like Mr. Holmes, his personal history with the red line spans about two decades.

We’re happy to have these knowledgeable new additions to Red Line D.C. But until you catch them all on video, check out the slide show of last week’s adventures.

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Work in Progress …

With 2012 approaching, we’re preparing for a new release from Red Line D.C. Editing is currently underway for See Something, Say Something (working title), a short film about the indirect relationship between graffiti writers who get up on the red line and the commuters who ride it everyday. In the weeks past we’ve been reviewing interviews, and archiving photos from “the Line” which a handful of writers have been kind enough to share. Here are a few snapshots that graffiti writer Nepal sent our way to give you a sense of what’s to come.

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November 12, 2011 | Red Line DC on-board and in action. (Photo by Jada Smith)

Looking Back at Our Red Line Ride

This past weekend, five brave souls set their sights on the red line to talk about the metro and art. It was an experiment in filmmaking and community dialogue. We took the risk of approaching strangers and asking them to take a new look at their environment. We asked commuters about their red line histories, experiences riding and interest–if any–in the graffiti that greets them each day. The responses were varied and the results of our little adventure were surprising to all involved. In the days since our all-day shoot, here’s what the small and energetic crew behind Red Line D.C.‘s commuter interviews has had to say about the whole weekend excursion:

I think it was interesting how we were worried about approaching folks, but some people reacted really warmly. It’s an important reminder that filmmaking is a two-way street. We’re not just taking, but there is an exchange …
— Julie Espinosa, videography

I was pleasantly surprised by how open and receptive most people were about talking to us and being filmed; the friendliness of red liners! And, people gave really thoughtful answers, not just yes or no.
— Jada Smith,  interviewing

In general, I was surprised at people’s willingness to talk in such an open space. I only spoke with a couple people, but I was also surprised at how overwhelmingly negative their attitudes towards graffiti were. I mean, I guess my own opinions aren’t a good barometer, but … it seems like people were just forming their opinions [about graffiti on the metro] without discussing at all … They just may not have all the sides to the story.
— Mebrahtu Grmai, videography

The few people I was able to interact with, actually had a lot more to say than I expected. It almost felt like people are quiet, but when given a chance to express themselves, they really open [up]. [In] my experience with the metro people are quiet,  looking down, minding their own business (as much as possible), but that day, the 2-3 people I got to see or talk to, opinions just started flowing out.
— Philippe Bissohong, interviewing

I enjoyed soaking up the metro experience in a group. It attracted a lot of attention, but in ways that allowed us to spark conversations with  curious commuters. Announcing to a packed train that you are doing a metro graffiti documentary is probably the biggest ice breaker I can think of … Once the initial “we’re-transit-strangers-so-we-shouldn’t-speak” awkwardness passed, I was surprised by how many people we’re willing to share their points of view.
— Saaret Yoseph, directing

Read All About It …

August 2011: Wall between Brookland-CUA & Fort Totten metro stations before being painted by MuralsDC.

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 …

What do you think? Listen to McKone’s WAMU story, take a gander at the City Paper article and be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

August 11, 2011: Spray cans in hand for a mural at Edgewood, N.E. across from Rhode Island Ave. metro station.

Come for the Grub, Stay for the Graffiti

Our last pre-fall hoorah has arrived! To wrap up a summer of art across the city, WBL will be hosting an exhibit and BBQ Tuesday night at 1300 H Street, NE. Besides graffiti talk and good grub, expect to find gallery pieces by lead artists and apprentice artists who have contributed to the latest crop of public art projects throughout the District. And keep a lookout for our project, as well. We’ll be bugging you to supply questions for future Red Line D.C. interviews and showing footage of MuralsDC leaving its mark on the red line. Click here, to find out more info. on tonight’s event. If you can’t make it or just can’t wait till then, enjoy a sneak peek below:

An Evening in Edgewood from citylovedc on Vimeo.

More video snippets can be seen here on our Vimeo page. Subscribe to our channel or keep checking back for new Red Line D.C. remixes and teasers.