i collaborated with a local street artist here in baltimore named nanook. i wanted to do a piece that recognized martha cooper, a baltimore native who is almost singelhandedly responsible for documenting early work on trains in nyc. she and henry chalfant did a bood called "style wars" that writers the world over consider their bible.
nanook + i took martha's image and tweaked it a bit. nanook projected the photo and traced an outline then filled it with graphite shading using the floor of his studio as the background texture making up the kid's body. i took a photograph of the floor and made that into the kids clothes. we placed his image on either side of the alley such that it looks like the kid is racing against himself while looking at his twin.
nanook's piece viewed from marion's kitchen window
the nice thing about this trip to baltimore is getting a chance to know the people in andrew's neighborhood where the mural project is based. it's been interesting considering what the role of street art is in contributing to the gentrification of a neighborhood by increasing property values. will the historically black neighbors get displaced over time?
i met a man on the street today who was admiring the alley piece. his name is sam. he's a veteran of the viet nam era and was stationed in italy and spain. he loved meeting sten + lex and learning that they're from rome. it brought back fond memories for him. he said his mom and grandmother lived in a little, now abandoned, row house 75 years ago as he stood pointing to the abandoned building. his history is in that neighborhood. will he get displaced if the neighborhood becomes too upscale? it's been insightful talking with other artists and people associated with community development about this. the thinking here is that as long as housing urban development (hud), is here subsidizing housing, long term black residents will have a home here.
the community is mixed. there are artists, gays, black and a few whites. i'm thankful for the love they've given us.