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Documenting Street Art
Emily Gertz, 8 Dec 04

vinnieray_Being.jpgIndividuals change the world, and art changes individuals--the artists who make it, and the people who experience it--by transforming our perceptions: of ourselves, our ideas, and what's around us.

That's what I love about street art: it jars me out of my bubble and back into seeing the city.

This past Sunday, at the Small Press Center's 17th Annual Independent & Small Press Book Fair, I managed to snag a seat at "Documenting Street Art," a panel of street artists and street art documentarians gathered to discuss the state of the scene and whether street art, as much about where it is as what it is, can be documented and preserved on page or screen.

Overall, the answer seems to be yes. Marc and Sarah Schiller have been doing the heavy online lifting of documentation as the Wooster Collective, devoted to daily updates of the best of the world's street art, along with interviews with street artists, links out to cool stuff, and city guides by Wooster's favorite artists.

Photographer Alice Arnold showed an excerpt from her in-progress street art documentary "To Be Seen," and panel moderator Justin Armstrong, a grad student in cultural anthropology, mentioned plans to publish a "Fieldguide to Street Art."

The artists--including scene notables Swoon, Michael De Feo, Dan Witz, Monster Project, Abe Lincoln Jr., Anera, Skewville, and Ryan Watkins-Hughes--spoke of being inspired by the ephemerality of their street art, creating not-for-sale work in the same spaces as media and advertising. Swoon described it as "unedited, free space" that "ends up being outside the law." Vinnie Ray described his gentle images as "promoting positivity" with their open-ended messages like "loving," "expanding," and "being."

Where ads--whether for iPods, burgers or beers--seem to be forever, street art doesn't last. It's selling me on simply looking closer. Whenever I encounter a street meme, I'm always a little happier.

(Above: Vinnie Ray sticker, found on the Wooster Collective.)

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Folks looking for a street art-smart holidy gift for youngest readers should def. snap up Michael De Feo's book, "alphabet city"--

I saw a copy in the exhibitor's hall of the Small Press Fair--it's sturdy and beautiful.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 8 Dec 04

Thank you so much for publishing news about the Collective. What beautiful work! It is now highlighted on headlines and I plan to show it to artist friends here in Mexico

Posted by: Ron Mader on 9 Dec 04

You're welcome, Ron.

Drop us a line about how Planeta's urban ecotourism conference went.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 9 Dec 04



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