New Mural at 801 N Street NW

It’s been pretty gloomy in Washington, DC lately so I was pretty excited to stumble upon a new pop of colour in Shaw. Kuddos to Jessie and Katey, an artistic duo from Baltimore, for working in the rain to turn a dull wall above a parking lot into a vibrant public mural.

Jessie and Katey mural at 801 N Street NW in Washington, DC

The mural is part of the District Wall project sponsored by Blind Whino and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Between September 19th and September 30th, abstract muralists like Jason Woodside (1380 H st NE), Remi Rough (649 Kenyon St NW), Tavar Zawacki (1012 7th St SE) or Waone Interesni Kazki (829 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW) have been painting new pieces of street art around the city. I’m always eager to see more graffiti cover the city’s empty walls. And even though the project was supposed to end September 30, some of the murals are still works in progress. James Reka (Rekaone) just got started on his for example, so there’s still more to come… yeah! 

 

Off the Beaten Path: ToKi’s SYNTH SERIES 002 Yarn Installation

My (Southern Republican) husband always jokes around that he is very vanilla, and that I bring a little bit of spice, the rum raisin flavour if you will, to his life. I don’t know about that, but I definitely bring him out of his comfort zone on a regular basis 😉 Like, the other day, for example, when I “dragged” him semi-willingly to an abandoned warehouse near the Rhode Island Avenue metro stop to check out an art installation by ToKi. Dragged him to this building:

Toki Art Installation

ToKi is a collaborative effort by two recent Howard University architecture graduates, Khai Grubbs and Toluwalase Rufai. Their latest work is a colourful art installation called SYNTH SERIES 002. Their main material: yarn, though I’m not sure I would actually classify this particular work as graffiti knitting (check out this awesome gallery in Time Magazine or this Buzzfeed article to see what happens when crochet meet street art!) Rather than reclaim, transform or personalize a public space, their collaborative work here seeks to study the intersection of music, space & architecture. Their words, not mine 😉 Part of the experience is definitely the thrill of finding the (no-longer-so) secret location and getting into it to find the colourful basking in the light of the top floor of the building, with nothing but silence as soundtrack. It definitely made for an amazing experience and some stunning pictures and instagram shots!

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IMG_2645This is the duo’s second installation.The first one, SYNTH Series 001, took place at Fort Totem Park near the Fort Totem, in a much more open environment.  They have plans to create more such work in the “synth” series throughout the city.

I wonder where they’ll pop up next!!

UPDATE: According to reports, like this instagram post or this one,  the installation was torn down by the owner of the building where it was housed. Le sigh. Though it is the nature of this kind of urban art I guess…

Monsieur JR Goes to Washington

While the entire city is bubbling with Natitudes and buzzing about the Expos Nationals this afternoon, I have been busy obsessing over the new mural that just went up at 1401 T Street, NW. JR is a French artist who considers himself a photographer first, a street artist second and an activist third. His civil-right themed 14th street mural reflects all three elements of his work.

“I am Man” Mural at 14th and T Street NW. Photo by moi, taken at 2PM on Wednesday, October 10 2012 

JR began his career of taking art outside of the traditional setting of museum in Paris, where we have a LOT of museums! He plastered pictures of suburbian youths first on the facade of the grim subsidized housing projects where they live, then on the nicer buildings of posh parisian neighbourhoods. His illegal street art was just the sort of thing the French adore and he received a pretty good Parisian official stamp of approval when he was then asked to wrap Paris’ Hôtel de Ville with his photographs. Since then, this TED Prize winning Frenchie has been pasting large-scale black and white portraits in cities around the world, especially tense areas like Rio’s favellas, the wall between Israel and Palestine, Kenya etc. On two occasions, his work has taken him to the United States…

Inside Out – New York, on the high line [picture courtesy of JR] 
JR pasting in New York, from Inside Out Lakota tribe project, at the corner of Prince & Mulberry. Photo by moi. 
Wrinkles of the City – Los Angeles [picture courtesy of JR] 

… and Washington, D.C. is his third. Brought to the district by Contemporary Wing art gallery (1412 14th street, NW), the civil right themed mural at 1401 T Street NW is part of the artist’s “Unframed” series, which reinterprets in huge formats photos from important photographers taken from the archives of museums. For D.C., he chose a photograph by Civil Rights movement photographer Ernest Withers, of the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike of 1968. I think it’s a great addition to our urban canvas and I’m thrilled that I can now add “had a mural by JR” to the list of thing Washington and Paris have had in common 😉

Pont Louis Philippe decorated by JR to promote Women as Heroes [picture courtesy of Jean-Paul Margnac]