During the afternoon of April 26, spray cans were buzzing in outdoor downtown for a grass-roots graffiti party with guest writers from other parts of the world. Much, much later that night, a dance party soundtracked by popular Baltimore DJ Tittsworth also drew a hip crowd to the Parramore warehouse.
Interesting doesn’t even begin to explain this odd pairing of events, and crowd-wise there wasn’t much crossover between the two, even though they were billed together by WPI Entertainment as “Revelation/Revolution” (among other titles). Both were held at the relatively new scorched-earth urban complex that serves as the Central Avenue Studios, across from the firehouse at Parramore and Central. The after-show reports were positive about the dance vibe and Tittsworth’s turntable skills, but it was the wild graffiti jam organized by the local Pintura Project that created a scene unto its own and must be shared and hopefully duplicated.
Color was everywhere – the art, the people, the love. Arms reached high into the blue sky as the bombs hit.
The Revelation confab was also promoted as “The Pintura International Graffiti Conference,” which sounded grand upon first hearing – maybe too much so. But I get the overstatement now, after wandering around and watching the cohesive action that day, and there were writers from China, France, Germany, Canada and Puerto Rico. Overall, a sense of reaching beyond boundaries pervaded as locals and globals sprayed in the sun on the dark side of town.
Too bad the advance promo material didn’t offer many details as to what exactly was going on that day – perhaps more people would have come. Attendance was still comfortably full, though. It all went down in the dusty makeshift courtyard closed in by several warehouses; the facing exterior walls were buffed black to become canvases for what’s typically considered defacement. (Speaking of which, Mayor Buddy Dyer has established a hotline for his Graffiti Information Clearinghouse that’s part of Keep Orlando Beautiful Inc.: 407-254-GRAF.)
While the old buildings have yet to be torn down, it will happen at a nebulous point in time – sooner or later. Meanwhile, local graffiti godfather Robin Van Arsdol’s been working with the city of Orlando and says the land being bulldozed adjacent to his property will be a park soon, if things go according to plan. His master plan culminates in the founding of a museum of contemporary art, provided R.V.’s scavenged signage from Keith Haring’s Pop Shop fetches top dollar at auction. The sign’s authenticity and provenance are being legally established now. (Ever the promoter and eager to keep the dream alive, R.V. staged another reception for the vintage sign prior to the dance.)
Since most graffiti is done undercover, witnessing more than a dozen artists working back-to-back in their spaces along the walls, some jacked tall by ladders, was kind of like stumbling upon a rare wildlife ritual. The smell of aerosol was in the air; music was playing; there was food for sale; and one warehouse housed art and crafts from the B Side Artists.
About a week after the whole affair, R.V. proudly took me on a tour of the al fresco graffiti gallery – which will be around for approximately another week or so and can be viewed from the street. He pointed out the contrasts between the wall done by Orlando old-schoolers (including him), evidenced by bubbly lettering and simplistic designs, and the Orlando crew he says he’s nurturing. Part of that crew is E.S. Barraza and Angel Carreras, who organized all of the graffiti conference using the name Pintura Project. The up-and-comers write in a style that’s color-saturated, edgy and polished, and the lettering is so complex that it can appear unfathomable to the uninitiated. ES and Angel earn mad props for exposing Orlando’s grass-roots graffiti movement. R.V. says planning is underway for another event in late June. And he already has writers calling to claim their space (321-662-1635; Dilcias@bellsouth.net) at his new Saturday gatherings, open to any type of artist, including those caught up in graffiti.
(More photos and links on our arts blog, C2G: www.orlandoweekly.com/blog/C2G.asp.)firstname.lastname@example.org