Fase II de “Proyecto Finokio”

Phase II of the cleaning and painting series over at the Finochietto Factory is tomorrow! Join us Saturday May 28 for a day of events from 10am-7pm, we’ve got an incredible line-up of live muralists, bands and circus performance!!

Improvisativas (jazz-funk band) 2-3pm

Capela Cabaret (circus, acrobatics, contortionists, trapeze) 3-4pm

Kare Rinfleitas & His Latin Bro (salsa-merengue pop group) 4-5pm

 Maderas de la Plata (candombe with 10 percussionists) 5-6pm

Some of the city’s most talented street artists will be joining us to continue the transformation of the factory’s walls into pieces of artwork, engaging the spaces and bringing back this 100+ year old building to the life it deserves!Among countless others, tomorrow you can find these guys (and gals!) hanging out among ladders, paint cans, alleways, mate and cigarettes..

THE ARTISTS: Ever, Roma, Tec, Malegria, Macro, N.N., Pin8, ICE, 1000-E, Andrea Rodriguez and more!

We’re thrilled to be working again in this incredible community and are excited to see each project grow with new artists, performers and residents participating each time! With several walls secured just for the kids to paint, a moon-bounce, relay-races and other interactive activities, the 1,000 residents under the age of 12 should have plenty to keep them busy on this beautiful autumn weekend! We’ll be serving up some hot choripan and cold drinks, so bring your pesos and help contribute to the cause!

A huge thanks to KUWAIT and their generous paint sponsorship!             

Proyecto Finokio, Phase I

With weeks of planning and two days spent hosing, scrubbing and sweeping the grounds of the Finochietto factory in preparation for the day’s events, we all gathered at Valeria and Monte’s apartment Saturday morning staring at the sky filled with doubts about the looming storm.  Despite the deep grey and bulging clouds, the artists, performers, volunteers, local kids, families and curious on-lookers slowly filled the vast plazas and alleyways within the old factory-turned-housing-community. From surprise liters of paint being dropped off and guest-star artists showing up, to the twenty-minute torrential mid-afternoon downpour, the day was filled with immense energy as the 200-300 bodies scurried around like an ant colony performing their various deeds and duties.

Kids from ages 6-15, eager to help, shoveled brick and dirt piles into trash bins, hosed down driveways and brushed away the muddy rain water into the street. With smiles on their freshly painted faces, they ran around with footballs and bikes teasing each other, teasing us, probing the artists with questions and proposals to help paint the beautiful murals that were starting to bring the rotting and mildewed concrete walls to life. With over a dozen artists claiming various walls, gates and entryways, gallons of brightly colored latex paint and aerosols climbed the walls far faster than the weeds and moss that came before them. The alleyways full of ladders, paint cans, backpacks, sketchbooks, kids, bicycles, brooms, wheel-barrels stacked full with old bricks and rubbish, trash bags, hoses, liters of latex paint, and brushes of all shapes, sizes and materials, the factory was buzzing for a good ten hours of immense productivity.

Talking to 23 year-old Colombian artist Juan, aka Juancho Hoyos, I got a bit of insight into the artist’s experience of participating in a community and collaboratively-based project such as this one. “It’s a great experience, sharing with people and with people who really need it. Art always is related to peace… and it’s an honor to be here, to come here and to help these people to become better, I don’t know… to become better in many, many ways- in their lives, in their minds, in their homes…it’s a very beautiful thing.”

Meanwhile, in addition to the seventeen murals being painted throughout the day, the Capela Cabaret circus has set up their trapeze and complete circus show outside in a big open area that by 5pm has become the main attraction of the day. Adults and children alike were fully enthralled by the impressive flipping, dancing, miming, acrobatics, costumes and music brought to life by the talented performers that make up this local collective that lives and works within those same factory walls. To see all members of the community be so engaged and supportive of each other was precisely what this event was after; the vibrant murals and clean common areas will serve as a reminder to all about the physical environment they aim to maintain once the actors leave the stage.  For this first weekend, however, a housing community growing in its own trash was given an opportunity to come together and breathe some fresh air, as a collective unit. From those who came from across town and some from across the world to those who came just right outside their front doors, there was an energy of one-ness that couldn’t be missed by a single spectator.

Asking some of the kids what they thought of the project, I got responses ranging from the Spanish equivalent of “it’s good” and “do you have a boyfriend?” to more elaborate sentiments as “it’s good to have everybody cleaning here because this is our house. And I also really like the paintings, it’s so cool to see so many artists here wanting to paint our house!” When we finally packed up and left late Saturday evening, artist Olivia Ford and I were swarmed with kids literally pushing each other out of the way to hug us and try to keep us there. After denying several invitations to have sleepovers but promising to come back and visit soon, we journeyed back out through the gate toward our own homes across the city. And when I got there, I had to ask myself if it was nearly as “home” as theirs was…

This weekend was community. This weekend was inspiring. This weekend was insight into 3,000 lives lived separately but so connected within the walls that once made up a textile factory and now make up the daily environment for hundreds of families that have proven to each other and have proven to themselves that with a little bit of organization and encouragement they can come together to take control over the cleanliness and visual environment of their own community. This weekend was the seed for everything C=C could have ever hoped these projects to be, and more. Because we were lucky enough to be trusted and welcomed with open arms into the amazing community that lives behind those heavy gates off of Calle Sta Cruz and Enrique Finochietto.

For Valeria, Monte and the other artists and activists living in the building, this was a promising first step to a much larger goal of ongoing awareness and participation by each and every member of the community. With the second phase already in pre-production and scheduled for the last weekend of May, we will be bringing Finochietto a series of projects and activities to encourage the viewpoint of embracing this lifestyle of collaborative living as a sustainable alternative to apathy and non-action. We are beyond inspired and honored to be a part of such a powerful effort to positively reconstruct this community and can’t wait to see the progress as different artists from all over Buenos Aires join us to participate in this next series of events coming this month.

Thank you again to all the artists who donated their time and talent: Malegria, Corona, Joaquin Lavori, FLX, Juancho Hoyos, Alejandra Leon, Cesar Romero Caceres, Andrea Rodriguez, Olivia Ford and many others!!

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C=C At Fabrica Finochietto This Weekend!

Entering through a large driveway on a residential street in the barrio of Parque Patricios, I followed local Colombian street artist Malegria through the winding interior roads of the abandoned CELSA textile factory, now home to over 3,000 residents, to the studio apartment of local circus artist Valeria Arboleda. Amazed by the intricacies and utter scope of the factory and its different buildings, shops, laundromats, alleyways and homes contained within it, I was both overwhelmed and motivated by the living conditions that exist within this unique barrio within one square block of an old deserted factory. Meeting Valerie, I was invited into her home that she shares with her partner Carlos Montenegro Ortega, and hung about with some local artists all chatting about the ongoing series of projects they’re getting together through artistic interventions in their own back yard.

Over fifteen years ago, circus performers, artists and musicians started moving into the abandoned labyrinth of spaces, and soon many families from all over South America followed suit, turning this abandoned factory into it’s own unique multicultural barrio within a barrio. Characteristic in this type of cluster housing, enthusiasm and solidarity among neighbors is high, yet these residents live among an extreme level of population density leading to poor public services, minor government attention, drug addiction, gang affiliation, and in an environment where the propensity to accidents such as fires, floods and disease are threateningly high, with garbage and waste accumulating on the same grounds that the 1,000 local children use to play.

Initiated by current residents and circus performers Valeria Arboleda and Carlos Montenegro Ortega, Proyecto Finokio blossomed from a sincere desire to restore their home to a safe and dignified space where children and adults alike can interact in a supportive and healthy community. Already having supplied paint and materials, additional artists, volunteers, press and event coverage, Concrete = Canvas will continue to act as a sponsor and co-producer in the series of events, in full support of the ideals and goals behind the project. Collaborating with like-minded and inspired young creatives putting their talent to work within their own communities is exactly the type of support we foster and want to encourage here at C=C, and hope we can see this series of projects grow each month as they expand their beautification and clean-up process throughout a series of four weekend-long projects.

About to hop on the bus to head back over to Finochietto now to continue scrubbing, cleaning and painting! More photos and updates to come as the event progresses!

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Angels Land in Buenos Aires

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At a great stencil workshop with local stencil guru Fede from street art collective Run Don’t Walk, 15 local residents of 5 different nationalities collaborated to produce 9 full-sized stencils of Price’s guardian angel images. Five hours of workshopping, chatting, sharing ideas and concerns, technical questions and a test session on the colorful rooftop terrace of Post Street Bar, we were ready for a few beers, a few hours of sleep, and to get to work on Sunday afternoon putting the new skills to action.

With another 15 volunteers the following morning broken up into 4 street teams to cover Palermo, Villa Crespo, Constitucion and San Telmo, we went out with fresh fruit and pastries bought locally from family-run businesses, barrio maps, photographers Olivia Foxglove and Andy Donohoe, our videographer Evan Aagaard, tape, 20 cans of spray paint and freshly cut stencils to cover the town. Leaving Plaza de Mayo with 15 volunteers and ending up with 10 more participants by the end of the day who loved what we were doing and joined along to participate, we traipsed around Buenos Aires for some 8 hours chatting with our neighbors, learning how to paint, networking with the locals who stopped to inquire, hearing the stories of those who wanted to share them, and sparked connections among neighbors, friends and community members that may not have otherwise happened.

“As someone who never studied art but who has a deep appreciation for it, I absolutely loved learning about the materials, the process, and the effort behind each stenciled work I see around the city. Participating on Sunday exposed me to a side of Buenos Aires I had never truly experienced before. I was interacting with my environment in a completely different way- instead of avoiding the areas where homeless people may be, I sought them out. The simple act of approaching and offering food and a positive symbol for their environment sparked conversations I never thought I would have with people I never imagined myself talking to. That is what this first C=C project was about, I think: breaking down social barriers through art. It might not be a sustainable solution to homelessness, however I can honestly say that some of my personal barriers were absolutely broken and it changed my perspective on a population of people that before I was simply afraid of,” reflects project participant Elise Dorsett.

We are so excited that our volunteers were able to have such positive experiences through this first project and can’t wait to keep expanding our perspective and influence to bring these same sentiments directly to those community members we are working with. Many roads opened up this past weekend and as we proceed we will  continue to gain a more solid understanding of the personal and community-based needs and insights to help better serve them firsthand. While Angel Bombing got C=C off the ground here in Buenos Aires, future projects strive to engage the community much deeper on an artistic level, through artist workshops, interviews, and projects based on public participation and communication about what kind of art will be beneficial to each specific community.

This past weekend we were able to hear the personal stories and illustrations of people’s lives from those who were generous enough to share them, and the many that did were eager for open ears and a camera to just listen. To have a different audience than their daily routine normally provides, and in a different context. The group of women who went off to paint in Palermo were shown around the home that has been made by 70 people in an abandoned building just adjacent to the flourishing and trendy shopping area of Palermo SoHo. With proud smiles and a fervent desire to show them a glimpse of their world, the group was taken in and around the winding corridors and rooms created by families and individuals alike over the past years. Happy to have a few angels added to their ever-growing myriad of murals, tags, and dirt that made up the exterior of the building, they sent the group off holding promises to return to deliver prints of their family portraits that were taken by Evan. Sadly, with prints ready to be delivered this weekend, we were informed that the building had been raided by the police and all the families inside were forced to relocate.

Sobering and heartbreaking as the news is, we realize that in working within fringe communities through a vehicle of public art , a sense of permanence is never guaranteed. We are thankful, however, to have been able to experience what we did with those families last week, and are even more motivated through their strength and courage to continue to seek out opportunities to bring art and dialogue to people when and where we can.

Looking forward to sharing news of the next project, coming soon!

“Project: Angel Bombing” about to drop

Concrete = Canvas’s first local intervention, “Project: Angel Bombing” will go down on April 9, with lead artist Mitchell Price of Denver, CO taking charge of the collaboration. Working with several international artists all currently based out of BA, we’ll be dropping guardian angel stencils over the public spaces where much of the city’s homeless population sleeps- from the fancy hood of Recoleta to the alleyways of the city’s Constitución barrio and everywhere in between. Establishing C=C’s presence in the city, the residents of BA will wake up on a (hopefully) sunny Sunday morning in April to discover that dozens (or hundreds?) of guardian angels have landed to watch over the sometimes abused and often neglected homeless members of the BA community. “The idea of this project, in so many words, is to give something back to those people with whom I shared my deepest sympathies, the homeless and the invisible. This project then is not made so much as an effort on my part to make a particular statement to the art world or to most of the residents of Buenos Aires… but these works are made most for those people without shelter and without a voice,” says Price.

With several other international artists in tow for this project as well, we should be working with a plethora of stencils to be drawn, scaled, cut, and sprayed all over the city in one night. With homemade baked goods, boxed juice and snacks on hand, C=C and our crew of volunteers will hit the streets to meet and greet in the untraditional sense, bringing some gifts of food and the gift of art to our neighbors. From Price’s point of view, “I would consider this project to be a success if those people who make their beds every night on the sidewalks of this city are granted a degree of comfort and security by looking at them and knowing that they are there. These angelic figures are intended to bless this city, but particularly to those who live directly beneath them.”

As always, if you are local and interested in participating to any degree, shoot us an email and we’ll make it happen!

On another, uber exciting note- you guys made it happen! This past Thursday, C=C raised $3,470 through our Kickstarter campaign and we’re absolutely thrilled! This was above and beyond what we could’ve expected for our first project and can’t wait to put those dollars to good use. Keep an eye out for our “sponsors” page to come in the next few days, listing our generous donors that make C=C and these artistic interventions possible!

Chicago Arts Archive & Collective Project, “Sixty Inches From Center” featured C=C on their homepage last week, documenting what we’ve been doing down here and our plans for the organization in the weeks and months to come. Founder Callie Humphrey was interviewed by Nicolette Caldwell, co-founder of the Chicago-based initiative, and the result? Check it out HERE! Don’t miss what these cats are doing over there in our beloved Chi-town, bringing the scoop and documentation of artistic happenings on the fringes of the larger venues to the forefront through their archives and online forums.

Artist profiles and more information coming up this week as we prepare to launch our first intervention here in Buenos Aires! Stay tuned…

We’re Kickin’ to Start!

A huge “gracias” to all of our sponsors and donors!! After a little over a month on Kickstarter.com, C=C and our supporters have exceeded the original fundraising goal of $2,500 for Project: Buenos Aires! We’re almost up to $3,000 and still counting in those last pledges before our deadline of THURSDAY MARCH 24.

We could not have achieved this goal without the generous support of our donors, so get ready to to see your dollars in action this autumn (or spring for all of you in the northern hemisphere!) as we officially launch C=C with it’s first series of artistic interventions down here in Buenos Aires! The first project is in the works with lead artist Mitchell Price– more details to come and an exclusive sneak peak for our donors (yes, they get special attention!) about the “Angel Bombing” project that’s about to drop in early April.

Please keep spreading the word about Kickstarter so we can make the most of these remaining 9 days of fundraising- any extra funds will keep us painting here in B.A.! HERE’S THE LINK!

Las Obras de los Callejeros

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As the weeks are progressing we’ve been overwhelmed with the number of artists and creative individuals and organizations that seem to have just fallen into our lap. Last Friday night I had the opportunity to join local organization GraffitiMundo for their street-art tour of some of the more artistically rich neighborhoods throughout B.A. and was blown away by both the quality of the artworks and the intensity with which they were promoted by the crew at GraffitiMundo. It was more to the effect of a hands-on art history lecture of the local street culture, history and dynamics of the scene than simply a tour, and to get such an insider’s perspective of this unique culture that is different here, specifically, than anywhere else in the world, was the key we’ve had been waiting to receive.

Argentina has had a rough and tumultuous political past that has delivered the capital city multi-layered affects as a result. The street art movement here, started with politics. It started with politics in a way that most cities don’t; usually you have the revolutionaries and the anti-government vandals scrawling hate notes or their personal political agendas along highway medians and abandoned buildings, but Buenos Aires became full of paid political advertisements done with a spray can. A good way to make some extra pocket cash huh? Various political parties would round up groups of people to spray-paint their slogans and endorsements all over the city on homes, businesses, abandoned walls and highways, and soon the city became covered with hideous political jargon and graffiti. Well, after the huge economic crash of 2001, everything changed drastically.

The economic market was in chaos, two-thirds of the population was unemployed, most of the country was in the midst of violent protest as confidence in their government quickly evaporated, the president resigned and was replaced by multiple interim presidents from the Peronist party within the year. The people needed a way to survive, a way to get through their days in the midst of such turmoil, and learning that their scribbled political messages were clearly ineffective, a new movement- a movement full of color and life and visual messages became the platform from which many were able to find their voice. Los artistas callajeros were born, and continue to thrive throughout a city which as a general rule, accepts and even welcomes public murals and paintings.

On this fabulous and educational tour given by Graffiti Mundo’s Melissa, we encountered the works by some of the city’s more prolific painters who have more or less been able to sustain their careers as artists from their local studios creating work for set designs, galleries, public and private commissions, graphic design gigs, and other creative endeavors. The formally-trained Jaz, with his bright colors and painterly style seems to be a local favorite (and mine too!), Ever with his big and bold spray-painted faces present across the city, the colorful and often humorous stencils of artist collective Run Don’t Walk, illustration and graphically influenced Kid Gaucho, the leading lady of the streets PumPum, Gualicho’s vivid murals, and Tec with his signature image of a bisected fish, along with many others, were the focal point of our journey through Palermo, Villa Crespo, Las Cañitas, and Chacarita.

Due to the acceptance with which street-art is met here in B.A., the artistas callejeros (street artists) have more freedom, more time, and a lot less stress under which to execute their works, giving them a huge creative advantage over artists in other cities where the fear of arrest or citation plays a major role in their artistic liberties. Stencils can be layered and painstakingly detailed without concern for time, and well-informed paintings can be rendered as precisely as though it were a canvas in the artist’s private studio. There remains a very open community and social etiquette among los artistas de Buenos Aires as a result of the availability of dialogue and non-anonymity. In fact, most of the artists here collaborate on “high-profile” walls and frequently recycle the murals to give other artists the opportunity to be featured  in some of the best spaces. This sense of camaraderie and support is very unlike the typical territorial-driven graffiti artists elsewhere, and to have the opportunity to glance into this world of such grounded and humble artists who share their talents with an open-hearted city is truly enchanting.

Now that we’ve met some of the do-ers and shak-ers of the town, collaborations and projects are in the works while we continue location scouting and fundraising for the initiation of C=C in South America. Stay tuned and pass on the word!

coming soon, to a villa near you: Project Buenos Aires

And here we are, in the artist-saturated, cultural gem of South America: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Continuing our walking tours and artist-spotting research in the weeks to come, the C=C team is down here preparing for our first official artistic intervention in the coming months. Commissioning public works in areas such as Retiro, a central neighborhood beaming with wealth and Colonial-era buildings towering over the cardboard-and-plastic constructed villas, or slums, literally just across the train tracks where thousands of the city’s inhabitants call home, is the name of the game.

Artist research and proposals for projects are already on the way, and we’ll be posting all the progress here, as it occurs. With a city as full of creative locals, entrepreneurial ex-pats, art-lovers and afficionados, antiques-collectors, muralists, sculptors, gallerists, art historians, street artists, cultural tourists, and camera-toting tourists and locals alike– all hungry for more street art– there’s certainly no shortage of possibilities for our grassroots attempt to expand the cultural impact and geographical borders of an already solidly developed underground (and aboveground!) arts scene.

So far it’s been only ten days in the bohemian hood of San Telmo, one of the city’s southernmost barrios that was once a thriving middle class neighborhood of Spanish, Italian and French immigrants, but turned to a working man’s paradise of locals once Yellow Fever drove the moneyed inhabitants to higher ground in the north. Lots of inspiration down here in this gritty yet uber-charming and authentic barrio that seems to be a street-art-lover’s haven. Here are some shots of both the desolate and plentiful concrete walls awaiting their turn as giant canvas, and some work from the local street culture to get an idea of what an artistic nirvana this city could quite easily become in all it’s neighborhoods.

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Buenos Aires, Here we Come!

PROJECT: Buenos Aires

After an unanticipated move from the Chicago area, C=C will in fact be launching its first project in the southern hemisphere, out of the cultural gem of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Research in progress, we are sussing out the details and scope of this first series of artistic interventions to bring vibrance and color into the economically challenged and overshadowed barrios of the thriving international city of which they are apart.

The commercial, financial and cultural South American hub of Buenos Aires is flourishing within the walls of large-scale museums, galleries, businesses and other public and private cultural institutions. Our aim at C=C is to foster creative expression and community outside those walls, to bring color and expression to the people, to the parks, to the streets, with a focus on the lesser developed barrios often obscured from the public’s eye. Our intrinsic belief is that creativity can blossom anywhere when offered a platform on which to shine, to be seen, to be heard, to be available to all it’s neighbors, not just those with the economic or educational means to approach the oft-intimidating atmosphere of a major museum.

Updates will be posted along the way, but as always- if any artists, writers, photographers or any other creative professionals would like to be a part of this movement, don’t hesitate to get in touch. The plane is leaving Los Angeles International Airport in January 2011 for the long journey down to the southern tip of our continent, with aspirations to highlight and exhibit the already beaming talent within the gorgeous country of Argentina.

Cheers!

[photograph of the San Telmo district, courtesy NH Hoteles]

Propeller Fund Submitted!

So, as most of you know we’ve been in the process of applying for the Propeller Fund, a grant program for Chicago-based public art initiatives geared toward independent, small scale collectives and otherwise non-funded organizations. Well, we submitted our application 2 weeks ago and are eagerly awaiting reply (which, unfortunately won’t happen until October).

The funds, if awarded, will go toward the planning and implementation process of our first artistic intervention, Project: Chicago. Artist fees, transportation, insurance, live event production, legal fees, promotion, materials, photography + videography expenses will all be covered by this generous grant if we indeed impressed the execs over at ThreeWalls, Gallery 400 and UIC (organizers and contributors of the Propeller Fund). We are still marching strong in the direction of artist recruitment and planning for the intervention in the hopes of obtaining the assistance of funding through this grant. And, if the money doesn’t come through via the Propeller Fund, well, we’ll just have to get creative right!? Not a challenge we haven’t conquered before…

Stay tuned for Project: Chicago updates! And, as always- any feedback or artist recommendations are more than welcome!

-the crew

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