A couple posts back we highlighted the success of the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Since then we’ve noticed numerous articles about street art, about how cities are embracing street art as part of larger urban regeneration efforts. A recent one from gristexplores Baltimore’s big push to make the city a living museum.
What about Sarasota? We already have the chalk festival, the new parking garag
e downtown with its murals, and a history of art from the Ringling Museum to Ringling School of Art + Design to Towles Court. What if the city inventoried volunteers willing to offer the walls of their buildings as urban canvases? What if international artists were invited to join local artists in a citywide exhibition, say a week-long art festival during which residents and visitors could watch the artists complete their work, engage in discussions about art and urban space and community, and even participate in workshops given by the artists? Would a Sarasota overflowing with street art be a more beautiful city? A more dynamic city? A more attractive city for creatives?
An excerpt from the article on Baltimore:
Street artists from around the world are descending on Baltimore this spring to take part in an ambitious — and totally legal — exhibition, producing murals for an event designed to bring new life to a transitional neighborhood.Launched this month and running through the end of May, Open Walls Baltimore is the city’s first officially sanctioned street art exhibition. Twenty walls throughout the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will serve as backdrops for murals that will be created over the course of several weeks. The walls to be painted are a mix of both private homes and commercial buildings, and represent both occupied and vacant structures. “It’s a mus
eum for street art,” says the artist Gaia, who is curating the event.It’s hard to pinpoint when, exactly, street art tipped from illegal enterprise to mainstream arts activity, but it’s safe to say that it was in the groundwater by May 2007 when the anonymous street artistBanksy earned a profile in The New Yorker and people like Brad Pitt started collecting street art. Cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, London, Barcelona, and others have appropriated what was once an illegal art form for economic revitalization purposes.
“You go to the Wynwood [neighborhood in Miami] because you want to see a Shepard Fairey,” Gaia says. “You want to see artwork that has established some fame and recognition and has become a gem. The art there is raising property values.”
Open Walls is not seen as a panacea for a struggling neighborhood, rather it’s happening in concert with a number of other endeavors. In Station North there is new affordable live/work space for artists, and a new Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School. An abandoned clothing factory will soon be home to a design school for public middle and high school students, and nearby MICA, a private arts college, is investing heavily in the area. Slowly but surely, businesses are returning, coffee shops are opening, theaters and galleries are welcoming patrons.