Sunday, January 4, 2015

Call to Artists: Street Art Happening

As part of the Community Arts Gathering March 14-18, 2015
Hosted by the International Sonoran Desert Alliance

Grab a piece of the wall- we plan to enliven an alley between two historic warehouse buildings in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Ajo, AZ.  With over 300 feet of wall space we will divvy it out as designs come in. Find photos of the alley at – Festivals and Events – Community Arts Gathering or feel free to come and check it out in person.

Painting to take place March 14-18, any time of day or night, with programs and audience interaction happening throughout. Artists are invited to arrive earlier than March 14th in order to get it done!
Please note that this is the first time we are doing something like this in Ajo and an excellent chance for you to gain exposure and meet other street artists, as well as community artists attending the larger Community Arts Gathering. We will be garnering resources and supplies between now and March but will not be able to secure a huge budget. We ask for your support and engagement to make this the kind of event you would not want to miss and one we can have again and again and again.

To apply:
1) Create a design using the following words as a guide – cross-culture, place, people, Sonoran Desert, Ajo, mining town; visit to learn more about the Community Arts Gathering event and its themes

2) Email the following materials to by January 9th, 5pm MST
  1. Mural design as a jpeg
  2. contact info
  3. short bio
  4. website (if applicable)
  5. up to 3 photos of your existing workdescribe what it will take to get you to bring your work to Ajo (i.e. supplies, stipend, etc.)
 You will receive a reply within two days and will be contacted in mid-January about coming to Ajo at which time you will be offered what compensation we can provide.

Questions? Contact Morgana Wallace Cooper at (520) 387-3570,

Thursday, July 31, 2014

3rd of 101 Perfect Waves International Murals By Hilton Alves to Take Place in Maui

By: Jessica dos Santos
© 2014  Bruno Lemos
Artist Hilton Alves will paint mural number three of his 101 Perfect Wave International Murals in Wailuku, Maui.  The mural, planned in partnership with the non-profit Made in Hope, will be painted from the 14th to the 16th of August, in Wailuku.  Each of the 101 murals will depict perfect waves from around the world and the 3rd will be based on the magic and beauty of Honolua Bay. 

Made in Hope works to eliminate the exploitation of and violence against women and children. Its hope is to change the culture that cultivates violence by supporting preventative and restorative efforts that foster educational and sustainable economic opportunities for at-risk communities both in Hawaii and around the world.

© 2014  Bruno Lemos
This mural is part of a project, created in 2013, called 101 Perfect Waves International Mural Project. As an artist and a surfer, Hilton wants to share the inspiration that comes from the sea and waves with cities and countries around the world. His aim in painting huge murals and planning activities with local communities is to inspire people to have a greater relationship with art and to take part in environmental preservation. 

© 2014  Bruno Lemos

The project includes a world record mural depicting the famous Pipeline wave, which was completed in October 2013. This mural is the largest wave mural in the world and located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. To paint this huge wall of 5 floors high and 100 meters wide, the artist used about 150 gallons of paint and it took only five days to complete. 

© 2014  Bruno Lemos
The second mural was painted in January this year at Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo and Hilton is happy to be back to focus his art on the Hawaiian Islands and, this time, the beautiful island of Maui. In partnership with Made in Hope, Hilton will invite school kids and community members to paint a mini-mural with him on August 15th while he showcases come of this painting techniques.

To include your city and learn more about the 101 Perfect Waves International Mural Project, visit the official website of the artist,

© 2014  Bruno Lemos


Monday, October 7, 2013

Video Portraits of Artists

California-based filmmaker Chris McKee is producing an ongoing series of video portraits about artists, activists and entrepreneurs following their dreams, titled Callings.

In this short Hugh Gorman, a muralist and mosaic artist who lives in Fair Oaks, CA, explains some of the process and meaning of his pieces.
And in this short Jim Kelly, a jewelry maker who owns and manages Rainbow Bridge Jewelry in Folsom, CA, discusses how he decided to become a jewelry maker and gives tips to other small-business owners and artists.
Jim Kelly has a great website you can see here:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Oakland Community Art Coalition Scores Major Victory Against “Comprehensive Anti-Graffiti Ordinance”

Reprinted from the December 19, 2012 Oakland based Community Revitalization Project.

What’s in a name? For the Oakland Community Art Coalition, everything.  After issuing recommendations to Councilpersons Nancy Nadel and Libby Schaaf and speaking before the Public Works Committee on two occasions, advocating in favor of modifications to a proposed “Comprehensive Anti-Graffiti Ordinance,” the committee recommended adoption of several of the Coalition’s suggestions following a December 12 hearing. The recommendations included removing the word “graffiti” from the ordinance – a major point of contention for the Coalition, who argued that the word refers to a legitimate artistic aesthetic, and isn’t automatically synonymous with vandalism or defacement of property. Other committee recommendations included removing the City Administrator as sole determinator of Restorative Justice remedies, and, most importantly, a directive to city staff to work with community groups on the implementation plan.

On December 18, the full Council agreed to amend the Ordinance according to the Committee’s recommendations, with final modifications coming January 22. The public hearing was a bit of a mixed bag: there was plenty of doubletalk from Councilpeople and city staff, some of whom seemed to attempt to have it both ways: take a seemingly tough stance on crime, while simultaneously professing appreciation for aerosol art and expressing enthusiasm for community input and Restorative Justice measures.

Yet the Council couldn’t pretend that issues around implementation and enforcement didn’t exist.
Desley Brooks noted that tagging wasn’t named in the ordinance, prompting Nadel, who co-authored the ordinance, to admit, “we didn’t discuss tagging.”

Brooks added, “there is some value” to “graffiti”, to which Deputy City Attorney Richard Illgen said, “yes, I agree.”


Rebecca Kaplan noted that suggestions from community groups were incorporated into the ordinance, but asked, “will it only end up being property owners who get fined?”

Illgen sidestepped the question—a valid one, since as much as 50% of tag-blighting is on city or state-owned property—by noting provisions were added “to allow relief for property owners who have been hit multiple times.” What he didn’t say, however, is that that relief is contingent on the identification and apprehension of taggers and vandals – an offense which the Oakland Police Department has publicly stated it won’t investigate.Kaplan then noted the implementation plan “is beyond what’s in the text” of the ordinance—another way of saying that currently, there is no implementation plan. “Who’s responsible?” for enforcement, she wondered—a question for which city staff had no answer.

Outgoing Council member Ignacio de la Fuente expressed concern that “we are doing something here that will really penalize the property owner. How are we going to implement? There’s really no process for enforcement.” Schaaf called the ordinance the “first piece of a much larger effort,” noting there are “consequences IF graffiti writers are caught” (emphasis added), then adding, “we can do some positive programs.”

Following a motion by Nadel to add the word “tagging” to the definitions of offenses, and the adoption of the previously-proposed modifications—including the removal of the word “graffiti” from their “Comprehensive Anti-Graffiti Ordinance”—the Council voted to pass the ordinance.

However, the Council’s comments confirm what anyone who has thoroughly looked at the ordinance has already realized: that the measure is far from comprehensive, lacks a cohesive plan for implementation, and as it currently stands, will be a mechanism for fining property owners who are the hardest hit by tag-blighting vandals, while doing nothing to prevent defacement from occurring in the first place.

Those issues are a big reason why the Oakland Community Art Coalition—a group which includes members of the Community Rejuvenation Project, East Side Arts Alliance, Rock Paper Scissors Collective, the Estria Foundation, and I.C.U. –formed. While we remain skeptical about how enforcement will actually be implemented, we are encouraged by the stated intention of city staff and Council to work with community groups to create and enact the positive programs Schaaf referred to.

The OCAC will continue to push for the creation of a Mural Diversion Program, as part of the Restorative Justice measures referenced in the ordinance. We hope the city will see fit to fully adopt the recommendations we have outlined, which is the first step in rethinking abatement strategy to include beautification efforts which not only deter tagging and vandalism, but enhance the quality of life in blighted areas, instill a sense of community ownership, and promote youth development and artistic expression in a way that upholds creation, not destruction.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CAM Updates and Changes


A note that I am merging a number of projects onto the Community Arts and Murals Blog. So far I've included 17 postings from the Collective Imprints project in Philadelphia. I think you will really enjoy the writing "It's Simple, MOVE" by Gina Renzi, director of the Rotunda, describing her experience in a workshop led by Artist Jodi Netzer. Writer Peter Richman writes his reflections of working on Collective Imprints in a masterful piece entitled "Catalysis".

Also added are the posts from a project at Wakefield Middle School in south Tucson.  The Wakefield mural is an especially important story given proposed school closures in Tucson, and the pressure for teachers and students to conform to an in increasingly constricted learning environment.

There are a number of complications in combining project blogs onto a single site, but the positives are that the many stories and projects will be combined and easy to find in one place.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Murals and Sustainable Design: New Contexts

A new How & Nosm mural in Rochester NY, part of their Wall Therapy program

When it comes to community identity, there is nothing like a mural to trigger dialogue. With the mural movement in full swing almost every large and medium city in our nation now has murals, and new mural organizations and initiatives are popping up everywhere.

From San Luis Obipso to Boston  and Rochester, NY these new murals, and aesthetics, are forcing city councils and residents to struggle with complex issues.

These issues range from first amendment and property rights to sign codes and developing a process to approve designs. These are healthy conversations that promote civic participation and engagement in the arts. Who are we as a people? What images define us? What makes a mural offensive to someone? In July for example a David Choe  mural in Hawai’i was painted over hours after it was finished. Little did local residents know this might have been a once in a lifetime opportunity to be stewards to one of the most important and talented artists of our generation. 

Artist David Choe in his studio. Image: Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new ROA mural in Rochester, NY has perked controversy as well. Synthesis Collaborative who hosted the well know artist and many others in a program called Wall Therapy.  The organizers write:

“Essentially, what we are doing is a community-level intervention in the form of mural art in the public space.  The walls are our vehicle for inspiring and rehabilitating our community.  We are intervening visually to address a fundamental collective need of our citizenry, the need for inspiration.  In addition and quite literally, the walls on which our “therapists” will paint are being resurfaced and rehabilitated…given new life and energy.”
ROA in Rochester with Wall Therapy
Photo: Stephen S. Reardon

Cities that have established mural arts and public arts programs have to contend with these issues and have managed to organize and rally support when controversy arises. With public art it almost always does, and sometimes this is better than being ignored. I think it’s fair to say that most people hope their art inspires, unify and promote all things good. However many well intentioned muralists with no community design and feedback process are running into challenges, especially if they are parachuting in with little knowledge for the places they are working.

My question is what is the responsibility of the artist for contributing to and offering meaning to these conversations – or is it our job to paint and move on?  What is the responsibility of the host agency? Is the responsibility of the host to employ an additional step to site preparation and planning, specifically a Community Arts Integration (CAI) plan? I’ve been watching as this process has taken root since I first started writing about the concept several years ago. In implementing a CAI plan artists and hosts are provided with a wealth of information and strong context for the project.

The idea that artists are critical to the sustainable design and holistic development of our infrastructure is an idea whose time has come. It’s great to see groups like Wall Therapy making the leap towards the inevitable changes we, as a species are engaged in.