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Monday, September 30, 2013

Art Far-Flung: Redefining street art

Posted By on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 1:37 PM

The story of how I came to appreciate the art of Over Under, Labrona, Gaia, Tom GreyEyes, and Jetsonorama began 10 months ago. I was out at the Elizalde Concrete Company Ruins, traipsing around and taking photos. Something in me, boredom perhaps, drew me many miles off the road. I got out to stretch my legs and found perhaps one of the better far-flung art hotspots I've ever seen. It doesn't look like much at first:
click to enlarge 69ff4bc8371c11e2a58222000a1faf0b_7.jpg

I first noticed this, which immediately made me wonder if I was safe. Upon closer inspection, I discovered these were paintball splatters, not bullet holes.
click to enlarge LABRONA
  • Labrona

And then, it just kept getting better and better:

click to enlarge OVER UNDER
  • Over Under
click to enlarge OVER UNDER
  • Over Under
click to enlarge OVER UNDER
  • Over Under
click to enlarge OVER UNDER
  • Over Under

Stumbling upon such an art space feels very much like finding something that you know is special but don't really know why. So, I asked a friend of mine who is more schooled in the finer points of street art, and he ID'd the artists as  Labrona and Over Under (aka OU33). I forgot all about it until two days later when this popped up outside of super remote Goldfield, Nev.: 

click to enlarge OVER UNDER
  • Over Under

It wasn't long until my friend tagged Over Under, whom I now know as artist Erik Burke of Reno, Nev., on Instagram, and he told me the story of putting this up in his underwear because it was so hot that day. The Internet is an amazing place, isn't it?

The works of Over Under suddenly seemed everywhere. Adamana, Ariz., there was this clever piece:
click to enlarge OVER UNDER
  • Over Under

But, wait, this time there was someone else with an art collaboration on display alongside Over Under off in the distance - Labrona:
click to enlarge 8505366395_c7462e0679_o.jpg

click to enlarge 8506474866_f5024f9e61_o.jpg
click to enlarge 8506474926_fc5f966ca9_o.jpg

And then, it all converged in this huge art installation I stumbled upon on the Diné (Navajo) people's land in Cameron, Ariz. I later came to understand this as the Painted Desert Project, hatched by an activist/artist/doctor Chip Thomas (aka Jetsonorama), who lives there.

click to enlarge 9273760208_c4553ee444_o.jpg
click to enlarge JETSONORAMA
  • Jetsonorama
click to enlarge JETSONORAMA
  • Jetsonorama

As I got closer to these buildings - there are tons of them with art, by the way - things just got better and better:

click to enlarge 9272723596_f5ec6595aa_o.jpg
click to enlarge LABRONA X OVER UNDER
  • Labrona x Over Under
click to enlarge JETSONORAMA
  • Jetsonorama

click to enlarge OVER UNDER X GAIA
  • Over Under x Gaia

Standing amongst these buildings, ones both beautiful in their destruction and in their existence, the feeling of being part of a community is heavy. Doing one last pass to look at a lone abandoned barn, things were suddenly familiar.

click to enlarge 9273740866_aeb006539a_o.jpg

I realized I was experiencing the definition of art: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. Here, the art is a feeling of community, which augments the world around us. The true re-definition of street art, minus the street.

For more commentary, follow me on Twitter @dbirdy, for more photos peep my Flickr and to see all videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel here!

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