Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brazil's National Day of Graffiti - March 27, 2010

On Brazil's "National Day of Graffiti" Eder and I hit the streets for two events in Salvador where over 50 graffiti artists at each got together to paint walls... it was quite a day. Rain showers in the morning threatened to postpone the events but the skies cleared - a token of good luck.

The first event was in Cajazeiras 7 - a neighborhood waaaaayyyyy outside the city center. There were about 25 graffiti artists - some of the most well-known in the city - painting a huge white wall that surrounds a middle school. Some of the students from the school did some painting too... the theme for the wall was "South Africa" so everyone did something related. I hung out with the many onlookers (of which there were many - perhaps 50-100 as the day went on). There were guys drinking under a tree and selling raffle tickets for some traditional Easter raffle. There was a group of young guys in a rap group hanging out who later performed when the sound system got set up. There were some families of the artists who would come by and hang out and watch as they painted. Some artists smoked some big spliffs, others were more pure and just focuses on the work.

After that wall we headed over to another neighborhood called Cabula, where there was a wall in front of the State University (UNEB) that Denis Sena (the artists who originally came to NYC with Eder) had organized. These guys were younger, less experienced, the wall a lot more destroyed with little prep (i.e scrapping off old paint, painting a good base of acrylic before starting to paint). So we got to work using diluted yellow paint to cover up all the old work. It was 2pm so i was really hot and went to sit in the car across the street. The security guards at the entrance to the University came over to me and invited me to have water and rest in their A/C office (this type of stuff happens alllll the time to me - the 8 month belly helps - see blog "being pregnant in Brazil). Unfortunately, the glasses of water were the only signs of support from the University. Even though they had announced the event on their website and had said they were supporting it, they did nothing to help - no donated paint, no food, no financial support, nothing. A few people who either worked or studied there came over to express their disdain for this - frustrated that there aren't more ways that the university is helping out youth doing something so good for their neighborhood.

At both events it was great to observe the passersby making comments. Little kids are particularly enthralled - once a baby - had to be less than 1 years old, in the arms of his mom, made all these excited gestures towards the wall as they passed. At another point a woman pulled up in her car with her son and enthusiastically congratulated the artists and asked for contact info for some of them, wanting to hire someone to do graffiti in her house. I gave her some of their websites and emails and she called Eder the next day! Pretty exciting. But the most impressive moment was when this camouflaged SUV pulls up all U.S. military painted and there's 4 armed "Military Police" inside. They stopped right in front of Eder's piece and just stared at it, nodding their heads and saying how much they liked the piece.

I'm still trying to figure out my role in all of this. Eder and I want to put together a book about Salvador's graffiti scene, so I think pretty soon I'll be doing some interviews and collecting more data. For now, I'm just making a presence, saying hi to artists I haven't seen since I was here in 2006, making some connections and getting my ideas together. If any of you have some thoughts about the book - questions you think I should ask, angles we should take, themes to explore, let me know.. I'm open to ideas!!!

I think the photos speak for themselves so here you are.... til the next blog,

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