Richmond Mural Project Update • June 23rd, 2014
The first week of the Richmond Mural Project (#RMP) is in the bag and it’s been filled with the usual amount of anticipation, anxiety, and great artwork that comes with the territory. There is a noticeable difference with this year’s crop of artists from the past two years. Many of the 2014 artists aren’t full-time traveling muralists but painters who look for opportunities to present their artwork on a larger “canvas”. Most of them are anxious to get home after they do their work here so, overall, their stays in town are much shorter than the artists of previous years.
The highest profile artist at this year’s RMP is definitely NYC-based Ron English. His satirical and critical analysis of American culture through the use of popular images and "culture jamming" has made him one of the most sought after muralists/social commentators in the US.
English’s piece is an ode to a classic work of Salvador Dali’s called Enigma, 20th Century and uses an image of the Shoney’s “Big Boy” to parallel the abstract face in the original Dali piece. This piece will be black and white with some added elements of color sprinkled throughout and will undoubtedly reflect the seedier side of pop culture as most of his murals do.
Ron English (NYC)
LA-based Meggs has also been hard at work putting the finishing touches on his wall at The Pig and Pearl. His style in many ways reminds me of the artist Pose who has been in RVA for the RVA Street Art Festival the past 2 years.
Another stateside RMP artist embracing the usage of American pop culture imagery is David Flores. His first piece uses the classic images of Peanuts characters Snoopy and Woodstock in a playful type engagement that epitomizes their comedic relationship as reflected in the popular cartoon strip.
As an added bit of folly, Flores decided to use Woodstock as an artistic messenger of sorts and use that image in a variety of locations to give the appearance of Woodstock flying around town. It’s a fun way to tie in a variety of different works at different locations.
Flying Woodstock on the side of Black Sheep • David Flores (USA)
Poland’s Robert “TONE” Proch has come and gone while leaving behind a great abstract piece titled “Dance With Uncle Sam” that he did with no sketch as is his standard M.O.
The details and abstract expressions on the faces of the people in the crowd remind me heavily of legendary L.A.-based graffiti artist Mear One. Considering that Mear is one of my heroes, the comparison is a compliment and speaks to the high level of artisanship manifested by Proch.
Robert “TONE” Proch (Poland)
Ekundayo has also finished his piece in Oregon Hill.
Dayo came back early Monday morning to put some “finishing highlights” on his piece. We both agreed that you can be endlessly critical of your work and tinker with it til the end of time so, after a few modest strokes, he decided to consider it DONE.
He’s starting a second piece downtown that may be hard for the public to see, but is guaranteed to be just as high quality as the rest of his work. Thursday is his last day in town and he’s looking forward to getting busy in his studio in Hawaii to prepare for an early 2015 solo show in L.A. I’m sure it will be dope!
SmitheOne has also left RVA but not before finishing two pieces that blend a variety of cross cultural elements into one mural that, in many ways, emphasizes the individual components of his work as opposed to an over-arching theme for the whole mural. With Smithe, the power is in the details…
Stay tuned for more updates as the 2014 Richmond Mural Project wraps up this week. Overall it’s a smaller and tighter group of muralists this time around but the results are just as amazing. Take a ride around town and check ‘em out!
2014 Richmond Mural Project • Weekend Update 6/20/14
The third installation of the Richmond Mural Project started earlier this week under the relentless June heat that has been so “welcoming” to the international artists that have gathered here to paint the town. All week I’ve been hearing RVA locals complaining about the temps and humidity, but I’ve been wondering how Swiss artists Wes21 and Onur could find any comfort in these conditions. After talking with them and Poland’s Robert Proch who is adding his flavor to the wall adjacent to there’s, it was obvious that these guys are true professionals that thrive in any environmental conditions that doesn’t cause their paint to run.
Robert Proch • Poland
Onur (l) and Wes21 • Switzerland
Wes21 and Onur tend to make statements with their murals and received much press and recognition for their “Food Chain” piece last year at the international street art mecca 5 Pointz in Queens, NY.
Onur and Wes21 mural at 5 Pointz • Spring 2013
Luckily I had a chance to visit 5 Pointz with my son last year and see the piece in-person before the whole museum was white-washed in the middle of the night by the building’s owner Jerry Wolkoff thwarting both local and international efforts to have the location recognized as an historic landmark. Wes21 and Onur are making another statement with the piece they are doing here in RVA for a piece they call “Media Frenzy.”
It’s the image of a cyborg fly with a camera for a face seeking out trash (as flies tend to do) to broadcast to a satellite and then directly into people’s homes. It’s a not so subtle statement to the nature of TV broadcasting being more interested in bringing “trash” to the masses rather than useful, substantive programming. Looking forward to seeing the finished product early next week…
In Oregon Hill, LA – based artist Ekundayo has begun one of his surreal pieces that encompasses not just striking images at the forefront but rich and complex backgrounds to accent the main theme of the piece.
Ekundayo • Hawaii
Like Angry Woebots ,who contributed to the first two Richmond Mural Projects, Dayo is a Hawaiian-born artist who uses both his culture and his expertise to help him manifest his unique and abstract expressions that often contain surreal elements similar to those one would find in a Salvador Dali painting.
Smith One • Mexico
Also putting in work right now for the RMP are Mexico’s Smith One and the Polish team Sepe and Chazme who are finding creative ways to deal with the relentless heat and the blinding glare off of the white wall that captures the midday sun and unforgivingly reflects it back at them. Hazards of the industry I suppose, but their pain is RVA’s artistic gain. Looking forward to seeing how all of these amazing works develop over the next few weeks.
Chazme & Sepe • Poland
This Saturday night, June 21st,WDCE’s DJ Sayeed and WRIR’s Mikemetic will be at Balliceaux paying homage to the hip hop and graffiti culture at the foundation of many of these muralists works.
You can find more info on that event here, and stay tuned for more exclusive pix and updates over the next couple of weeks.