helping out at the Living Walls Conference 2012

living walls is a street art festival held in atlanta.  yesterday avery and i got to help out two dozen international women artists putting up graffiti walls around atlanta. well, we delivered pizza lunches to artists (thanks: cameli‘s in little 5 points) and cleaned up an abandoned store for the map release party that night.  but it was helping, and i’ll be sure to show all the places where avery helped, because he’s really the star of the show. my show, anyway.

living walls is in its third year here in atlanta, and it is rapidly gaining popularity.  and why not?  street artists from all over the world come here to put up monumental graphic pieces of public art – and they’re not arrested!  so when i found out they were going to do it again, i signed up to volunteer.  i got in too late to assist one of the artists at their work (but that’s just as well, because they have to work outside.  in atlanta.  in the summer.)  but i was called on to deliver lunch several times, and again yesterday, when i also helped get ready for the living walls block party down edgewood avenue, near the martin luther king historic district of downtown atlanta.

and i was also called on to watch my grandson avery not five minutes later.  so i took him with me.  i’ve always believed in strapping the kid on your back and getting to work, but avery is hitting five years old, so i figured never mind the duct tape – he can help!  and he was a big help.  he carried a paint roller at one point, and a broom, and eight bottles of water in his arms at one time.  mainly, however, avery was a welcome distraction from work for about a dozen artists and helpers, all of whom seemed much entertained by him.  and in the course of it gave him a splendid introduction to making public art

by 10:30 we were out and about.  the first stop was the main warehouse space.  here’s avery posing with a wall in process.  you can see the crane.  this piece is on the wall of the main space, on murphy street.  they’re having a party there tomorrow night, i think, and it’s going to be filled with art.

we went inside to find laura and someone else making breakfast for the artists.  pork sausage and veggie sausage and grilled veggies and maybe even hash browns.  you can just see avery’s hand putting our water jug onto the counter.

here’s avery chatting up one of the artists as she makes herself some breakfast.  he’s quite the ladies’ man at five years old, and they all love him.

i found some chalk on the artists’ table, and set avery to work drawing sharks, i think.  he drew a fair number of them while i was getting my list of things to do.

on the left is martina merlini from italy, and i’m not sure who is on the right.  i don’t know half the people i took pictures of, and there are a disturbing number of lauras and sarahs, and i am not good with names.  feel free to comment on who’s who, and i’ll update the post.

here’s everybody hanging out talking, finishing up breakfast or taking a break from the wall there at the main space, or waiting for a ride to their wall somewhere in atlanta.  at this point they sent me off to get the pizza, so avery and i drove across town to little five points, collected 5 pizzas, and went in search of artists.
the first artist we were supposed to give lunch to was tika, but she had wisely decided to sleep during the hot part of hte day in her fabulous donated hotel room, and work all night, so she wasn’t at her wall, and so i went to the next guys.

this is sten and lex, who don’t want their pictures taken.  they’re from italy also, and poor babies had to hang out in that heat on a white wall all day.  so we brought them a pizza and a bunch of water.  they like gatoraid, too, and the folks at the mainspace made sure to give me extra for them.  you can just barely see avery’s legs, behind the crane.  he was really dubious of the crane at first.

but soon i had them posing for pictures, and this time everybody hid their faces, even avery.  peekaboo.

and pretty soon he was bugging them to take him up on the lift, but we couldn’t stick around because we still had pizzas to deliver.  it took a few moments to make him understand that we had work to do and couldn’t stop to play.

so we went to the arthouse next.  this is an abandoned house in cabbagetown/reynoldstown, and the knitterati and several other groups have been decorating it all week.  all the pink and red (ang orange and green) you see is crocheted onto the railings and steps.  most of the girls were sleeping in after an all-night extravaganza of creativity, and the inside was still wet.

so we went around the back and found nikita gale and patricia lacrete making this way cool spiderweb off the trees in the back yard.  avery found a stake they were using for anchors, and soon he and patricia were having a sword fight.  that was fun, but we still had more pizza to deliver, so again the lecture about duty over playing.  except that everywhere we went avery played with someone, so i guess the lecture was a silly idea.

these are the brave men who cut down all the summer’s growth of brush around the yard so that you could actually walk around.  the place looks great now.

then we moved on around the corner to advise sarah emerson and her helper that there was pizza over at the arthouse.  they were within sight of each other, so it was no problem.  sarah’s a mom, and avery realized this instantly, because he was off chasing and being chased for a couple of minutes.  he loved it.

then we took the remaining pizzas back to the main space, where the scene was completely different.  we had left a few artists having breakfast and settling in to some before-the-wall work, and we came back to find a completely different setup, with loads of people worknig on macs and loads of others running around like chickens with their heads cut off.  on the right is brittni and fabulous monica.  you can see avery in the back, drawing on newly built movable walls.

the guy on the left is an assistant whose name i didn’t catch, that’s laura, and the guy on the right is laurance who gave me my next assignment – cleaning out an old store for that night’s block party.

i’m pretty sure the girl in the center is alex, and the guys on the left are illustrious journalists.  i’m not sure who the guy is, but that’s virginie to his right, and she’s french, i believe.  we spoke for a moment.  in english.  they were there doing interviews, and soon left to go see some more walls.

don’t know who these two are, but they’re very busy.

and more and more busy, and things got hectic for a moment.  avery is messing with the girl moving really fast thru the back of the scene.  everyone else is ignoring him at this point.

that looks like laura and jason carting banners off to the trucks, and laurance is on the phone out in the parking lot, loading his truck to go to edgewood.

artists in the other lot, where i shot the first picture.  the prestigious journalists are interviewing the artists, and everybody else is hanging out in the shade.  i do believe that’s jessie and katey they’re interviewing.

add avery to the spectators, and things get lively fast.  but we’re on our way to the next thing, so come on, avery.

except he had to pose by the wall inside, that the artist was taking a break from.

next thing you know, we’ve got half a slice of pizza into him (no i don’t want pizza.  take it, put it in your mouth, do it now).  he’s been drawing chalk graffiti on the door of the truck while we were out delivering pizzas.  these are all autobots with guns, except for the guy in the middle on the left, who’s carrying a sword.  we stopped at the house to get a broom and some windex and paper towels.  and a little bit more of lunch.

and then we were back at edgewood.  avery was overjoyed.  he really enjoyed running around with sten and lex, and wanted to go right back to playing.  so i unloaded the truck and he ran off to join them.

only in the very beginning did he sit as far back as the cooler, watching them tearing off the stencil.

then they lowered the crane and very jumped aboard, and at that point i left them in charge of avery and went the several blocks to the map release party building that we were to clean.  i thought it safer for him to be with a bunch of artists and a crane lift than to be in an old building with me sweeping up dust.  when i came back for him, he had talked them into taking him up on the crane, harnessed properly of course, and he wanted to go again, but it was time for them to get back to serious work.

there were several people out on the street putting down chalk signs, adorning the street in advance of the block party.

as you can see, avery is carrying a new paint roller in its bag.  it’s really behind him, and so light as to be nothing at all, but on a busy street like edgewood, it’s best not to encumber the boy too much, lest he have trouble holding my hand as we struggle up the street with all the stuff i’m carrying.

this is martina‘s wall.  you can just spot avery using his broom on it.  he’s behind the red cycle, which of course he inspected thoroughly before posing for his picture.

and here we are in the corner building at edgewood and boulevard, where i’ve swept the place out, and am now waiting on a mop and bucket borrowed from edgewood pizza, next door.  you wouldn’t believe how dirty avery got while we were at this location.  omg.

you can see the dust in the beams of light.  this is before mopping.  after we clean it out, they’re going to paint a wall white, put up silky fabric over the windows as a backdrop, and project slide shows by martha cooper and teen witch on the walls for tonight’s map release.

this is the best location in the world.  right at the intersection of boulevard and edgewood, with a great wall already up from a year or two ago, a great pizza joint right next door (edgewood pizza, of course), two bars and a bunch of energy – so much so that every now and then the window you’re looking at gets hit by a wayward car and they have to replace the glass.  i swept a bit of glass out of the front door while i was working there.

thanks to these two, we got the floor washed, and a huge enormous industrial fan to clear the place of the awful dust, and the use of the bathroom for the evening’s guests, estimated to be in the thousands.  i don’t know who the angel to the right is, but the angel to the left is connected with Edgewood Pizza.  All hail the beneficence of angels.

and the girl who washed all the windows – a heroic effort.  they had streaks, but she kept going until there was no more cleaner, and by god they shone clear as, um, glass, when she was done.  avery helped by getting the bottom part of each window.

then after awhile everybody took a break, and explained what was going on to a passerby, and then went back in for more.

when we got back to the truck to go home, sten and lex had gotten this far.  a tireless pair.

at this point avery and i went home, where he went straight into the bath, and i took one myself and then rested up for a minute until it was time to go back out to the block party, which i will have pictures of in the next blog post.

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