The biggest little city holds secrets and hidden treasures around every corner. Take a walk around the streets. Pay attention to the walls, the sidewalks, the signs, the people. Pay attention. You just might find something worth looking at.
It was the month of hot July. Art was on the minds of everyone. Sidewalks and parks became the hip scene. Melodies and wet paint heightened senses on every corner. As I watched the creativity unfold I realized an artist could blend in with this crowd. I did just that.
The people. The creators. Would not have to search far to collaborate… but they would have to search smart. I was here. I was there. ready for the urban art hunters to get their hands dirty.
GRAB A SHARPIE AND MAP OUT HOW YOU GOT HERE. USE BASIC SYMBOLS AND LINES. YOU MAY CROSS OVER OTHER’S ROUTES.
LAYING DOWN TRACKS.
The project finished with 4+ Alley Art spottings and creatings. Sharpie’s ran dry and the board was a chaotic mess of direction. But under closer inspection I do believe you can begin to see tracks. Tracks telling stories. Tracks guiding. Tracks following. Look close. You will see the beginning of something.
What? Well, we will have to lay down some more tracks for that answer.
type: collaborative found art sculpture. Reno Sculpture Festival.
A new age of art and culture is brewing in the biggest little city. You can feel the impact and the influence at each color-filled corner. Public art is filling in long lost spaces. Spaces meant to be seen. Details frequently missed by busy moving minds.
Metal-works mold the River walk. Artworks stand tall from burns years before. Murals brighten walls with memories and messages. And festivals celebrate and honor the vibrant art and artists driving it all forward.
LARGER THAN LIFE IDEAS.
The idea… collaborate. create big. create fierce. create the impossible.
then… share it with 30,000 people. For free.
The result… Reno Sculpture Fest is a “larger-than-life” art, music, and culture festival spanning across the urban jungle known as Reno.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.
As the people wandered in and out of the giant sculptures that lined the Downtown ReTRAC Alley Art Project #10 awaited their time and interaction.
A simple idea. A bold statement. Most search beyond the ‘box’ for inspiration. This project’s aim was to build the ‘box’. deconstruct it. and finally rebuild it again into something new.
A SINGLE STROKE OF INSPIRATION.
The ‘box’ stood as a giant easel and canvas of scrap woods abstractly attached to each other. As the people wearily approached the piece they were greeted with a brush dripping with wet paint.
A single brushstroke is all each individual would get… but as the crowds filed through the individual strokes began to connect and flow across the uneven surface. The chaotic yet individually precise lines shapes and colors were building something.
WRITE WORDS OF WISDOM OR TRUTH.
An old beaten saw-horse piled high with wood scraps meant for the yard stood next to the easel. A fresh coat of white paint would fast be covered with scribbles in black sharpie ink.
With each new person came reflection over the words others had left. Then, a moment of poetic inspiration would come and a new wisdom would be etched in among the others.
MERGING AT DAWN.
Sunday. A final festival dawn of hazy grey skies and subtle mists of rain or inspiration. I stripped the thoughts and color from their original places. To reinvent. To revive. For it’s when we merge our words with our actions that we can create new and inspired ideas.
GIVE THE PEOPLE BACK THEIR VOICE.
Just as the early morning coffee drinkers and book readers settled into their lazy Sunday routine I stood back from the newly constructed scrap wood canvas of three dimensions.
‘The People’s Philosopher’. As old of an idea as the wood grains he was created from.
Created by the hands and words of the Reno Citizens. Reconstructed by the artist, J.Charboneau. Art for the people, by the people.
– Take back your words. Take back your ideas. create. create. create. –
Humans have celebrated life and land for ages. Ceremonies of dance lit by raging fires. Mystical Gods marked in ancient black night skies. And meditative thoughts by mountainside trees. Let’s not forget about this history before the 1970’s conscious revolution. Let’s not forget that preserving the earth and our natural surroundings is an idea as old as man. Earth Day is a collective reminder to cherish that which gives us life.
EARTH. AIR. FIRE. WATER.
The wooden grid of squares and lines began black and white. But as the people of Reno blocked in the ‘elements’ the complexity of color and life took shape. A mosaic of earth. air. fire. water. A tribute to the day. Another community creation for the Alley Art books.
THOUGHTS FOR TOMORROW.
The festival brought out families and friends to celebrate a day of clean water, fresh air, and appreciation for the natural environment we live within. This idea and practice of awareness and preservation should exist everyday.
We can collectively create a masterpiece… but only if each individual takes the time to add their own positive mark.
type: collaborative painting. 4th Street Block Party
A STREET OF HISTORY VICTORY.
At its earliest of days the street breathed character as thick as the streetcar exhaust that raced its ways. East. West. It stretched wings across the great America.
Victory Way had no mercy for the soft soul. Street lights flickered while the neon motels lit paths for transcontinental passengers. Nothing promised more satisfaction than to witness the honesty of the street. The rough and dirty outer shell just proves how long it’s been around. The inner core is where the stories wait to be told. It’s the stories and the honesty in their words that keep the character alive on 4th.
AND THEN CAME THE RENAISSANCE.
Rebuilding walls of brick and mortar doesn’t bring the beauty back. Actually, it was always there. It’s been there and will be there beyond your and my days.
4th Street leaks its secrets of beauty through the people walking it’s cold grey pavement day in and day out. Those wise enough. Creative enough. Open minded enough to listen to these secrets are those who keep Victory Way as beautiful and true as it began. The Renaissance of Reno is in motion. And Victory Way stands as a playground for those Renaissance Men & Renaissance Women brave, crazy, and inspired enough to honor the truth beneath the gravel and behind the walls.
A Community gathered in celebration is stronger and more impactful than one gathered in protest and anger. Victory Way was a perfect setting to demonstrate this. It began with a rolling Viking Ship and costumed creatives. The road served as their runway as they waved and smiled towards crowds of morning watchers. The celebration of “Victory” rang out before it even began.
SEEN ON FOURTH.
4th street is mostly familiar to me as one glowing a midnight yellow from street lights and stars. Biking by tracks, buses, and empty alleys I keep a keen eye out for the next 4th Street story to lend itself to me. Victory Way is crawling with characters and the wild untamed jungles have nothing on this street. And, Behind all those heavy warehouse doors…
Alley Art was designed for a street like 4th. The recycled and worn wooden canvas rested much too comfortably along the blank concrete wall. The paints were scattered, and the action was just as spontaneous. Rules stopped after directions of color palettes, and the Reno community took full advantage of the open-ended creative process. Splatters. Drips. Words. And shapes began to suggest connections to the place. 4th street stories were emerging through the untamed layers of community creativity. Later, a few outlines from the artist, J.Charboneau would complete the madness.
PAVE YOUR PATH.
The creative dusts finally settled with the sun fading behind western mountain walls. The street stood as it was before the attention began, but a new glint of inspiration now lingered.
4th Street. Victory Way. It’s just a road… but roads give direction. They lead. They divide. They withstand more time than we.
They are paved by man, and the man who paves his own path is an innovator. A dreamer. And a creative victor.
Victory Way will be there for you to walk its course, it will offer you it’s stories, it will guide you through doors you may never have opened. Take what it gives you and make Victory Way a path of your own. It may not ‘just’ be a road after all.
type: collaborative painting. Potentialist Road Show event.
A RENAISSANCE & A ROADSHOW:
It didn’t take long for Alley Art and it’s fearless creative ambassador to find the promised land on the big move out west. As history gave us gold and silver and rough wrangling cowboys, present day gives us an unorthodox artistic renaissance in the biggest little city, Reno.
After a quick settling in among the renaissance pioneers I was informed to load up and hit the road again. My westward trip would continue on to the edge of the earth. To the great big vast expanse of blue. To the big city. The one filled with golden gates and robot dreams. San Francisco.
So just like that Alley Art hit the road again. Heading toward the setting sun. Joining Reno Potentialists on a mission to spread a new sort of wealth to the people and pioneers of the west.
A poem is read to the beat of paint on canvas. A group of musicians flow lyrics and thoughts in costumes of monsters and gold. A painting is completed not by a signature but by a final piano note. All these things happen at the Potentialist Workshop.
The Workshop is a studio-gallery-theatre dedicated to Potentialism. An idea which melds artistic boundaries. An idea where the artist embodies a true creative release. This is what the artists of The Workshop stand for. This is what The Roadshow is all about.
It was only fitting for The Potentialists to join forces with The Merchants once in San Francisco. The exchange was not of goods, but of creative ideas. Two nights were set for showcasing and sharing. Trading secrets, passions, ideas, and creative vibes. The Merchant’s space was a time warp to the beginning of things. When rooms and storefronts were filled with that which mattered. Filled with well crafted things and stories behind them. The Potentialists and The Merchants found brotherhood in creative intention. A lasting exchange more valuable than the gold which was sought after so many years before.
THE SAME URBAN JUNGLE:
San Francisco. Streets of paved gold cement and bright flashing lights billboards. A new era has come for a city built on discovery and wealth. Yet it’s still the same.
Same hills lined with narrow homes and alleys. Same blues music charming the midnight fog. Same city slickers out for a quick buck. It’s still as chaotic as before. Creatures of night prey, sweet birds of day sing. The rain still falls heavy. And the last tokes off the cherry still burn as red as the brick. San Francisco is a city. A jungle. An evolving system where the unique, creative, and collaborative survive.
The community controls the elements of a city. They are the building blocks of creation. Through all the differences. The chaos. The growth. The change… It is the collaborative community that creates a dynamic place to live.
And so began a two night, rain or shineart event. The stages and rooms were set for collaboration and community involvement. Alley Art rolled out canvas and asked for elements to be built. Color. Line. Shape. Text. Build from the basics. Build together. Control the elements of creation.
AS SEEN HERE:
The rain still fell. The streets still said something. It was all there for the taking. Just stop. Look. Listen. and be inspired. The streets of San Francisco hold all the creative life one needs. Subjects and words of inspiration poured out… joining the elements. Art was in the making.
A FINAL DAWN:
Just as dawn’s sun finally peeked it’s head through skyscrapers and glass windows Alley Art and The Roadshow packed up and headed home. A weekend of creation and collaboration gave a fresh glisten to the eyes of the San Fran “building blocks.” Waking with paint still on their hands the dream seemed all too real.
location: Minneapolis @ NE streets, sidewalks, and alleyways
date: May – Sept, 2015
type: collaborative board paintings (3 part series)
Even the wildest and most untamed souls have roots. Roots that ground and stabilize. Roots that flourish from familiar soil. Roots that remind us that as much as we grow and reach outward we also continue to grow and learn from our beginnings. It was time to wander back to my roots.
WET HOT MINNEAPOLIS SUMMER.
Summer in the land of 10,000 lakes comes short and sweet. If you are not quick enough it blows by with the brisk autumn air before you even step out the door. Catch those blissful sunny days of summer and count on endless entertainment. Artwalks. Artfairs. Sidewalk Tours. Festivals. Neighborhood street parties. Parades on bikes, blades, boats and feet. Music by lakes, by rivers, on rooftops and open alley stages. This is wet hot Minneapolis summer.
MINNEAPOLIS BOARD MEETINGS.
Not your average board meeting. Not even close. 3 meetings over the course of 5 months. 7 Boards. And an estimated 200+ meeting members. Topics of discussion action… interactive art and collaboration.
Interactive art “is a form of art that involves the spectator in a way that allows the art to achieve its purpose.”
Collaboration is “working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals.”
THE TASK COMES IN THREES.
May to September boards of 4′ X 6′ were primed, placed, and painted on the streets of NE Minneapolis. Three local artists did the instigating and the fine-tuning while the community of Minneapolis did the coloring and creating. The first “meeting” was held in conjunction with Art-A-Whirl. The second, joined forces with Open Streets NE. And the third held it’s own… leaving crayons for the street wandering crowds of Labor Day weekend.
A CREATIVE BATTLEFIELD. LEAVE IT IN THE STREETS.
Each “meeting” (as they became known) gave the paint soaked swords to the people. No blood was to be shed… these swords were meant to strike to the heart of creation. To give power and potential to the many hands of the city. With no shields to hide behind the creative community of Minneapolis left their paints, crayons, and imaginations out on the battlefield… The streets. Their creative victory to be witnessed by all.
One never expects the things, people, or places that impact their life the most. San Pancho is one of those unexpected places. Filled with unexpected people doing and creating unexpected things.
The beach waves crash at the end of a long San Pancho road. A road filled with noise. Filled with life. Hola’s and smiles. Cowboys and farmers. Markets. Food Carts. Skateboards and bikes. Buskers, surfers and children. Cafe’s. Galleries and shops. Community parks, centers, collectives, and schools. Dogs and Horses. Dancing, laughs, embraces and Adios’s. This one road, from highway to ocean, is the blood line of San Pancho. Not just a route of coming and going, but a route that connects and builds a community.
Walls carry loads, provide shelter, protect, border, and box things in or out. Walls define an area. Constantly built and broken, their definition of a space or a place changes as quickly as the brick goes up. As quickly as the mortar crumbles down.
WALLS OF SAN PANCHO.
The walls of San Pancho. Painted colors. Written Colors. Crumbling colors. Bricks of red, orange, yellow, pink and blue. Murals of boats, lizards, fish, and saints. Recycled mosaics from bowls and bottle-caps. Walls that match flowers, trees, sunsets, and ideas. The walls of San Pancho define the area. They define the community.
COLECTIVO SAN PANCHO.
The perfect wall stood nestled behind palms near the beginning of town. The other side sheltered a collective of local artists. Photos, paintings, and prints. Dances and Films. Clothes and Jewelry. Made by collective hands and creative minds. The perfect wall in this creative space was exactly the spot for fresh paint and a new community collaboration.
The design was drawn. Flyers were hung. The wall was prepped with splashes of blue and white. The artists filed in. They dipped their brushes in reds, yellows, and oranges. The colors of the sun. The colors of meaning and inspiration to the small beach-side town. Each artist applied their own unique “ray” design, but from afar the three suns began to take form. Four long hot days came and went. Days of brushwork, technique, collaboration, and smiles. The mural of three suns now defines the area with new light. A collective effort from a creative, inspired community.
artists: J.Charboneau . Mojo . Jaime Sanchez . Luz Herrera . Gaelle Posada . Flora Abel . Walter Castro Veliz . Gerardo Topete… (more artistic hands unmentioned but grateful for!)
type: tour / collaborative paintings / music / live art / artist showcases / poetry slams
COAST TO COAST
An idea built up from dream state suddenly carved deep within the creative veins that consume the artist self in me. An idea seemingly too big too soon was to be tested and executed across America. The map lay there and the cities began calling out from the page as if the people, the communities, were begging for a creative chance. Dots and lines were drawn, and all of a sudden 13 unrelated places had a connection to each other. The Coast to Coast road trip tour was underway.
Minneapolis. Creative gems hide along a majestic river bed. Musicians making waves. Art-district streets flowing with inspired locals. Bike-ways, green grasses, and cool blue fresh waters.
Chicago. Train and subway lines showcasing street art genius. Historic architecture keeping eyes up and necks cricked. Poets, park artists, and creative city type stamping this Midwest city as the center of it all.
Saint Louis. The gateway to a new type of creative. Sculptural playgrounds. Mouth watering markets. Collective art spaces. All likes of the city highlight the talents of the people. The unique people… building new bridges to connect us all.
Denver. A mountain casting shadows from afar. The shadows dance, sing, create, eat, and live anyway. A cross-way of the country drawing inspiration from all corners. Bright, colorful, flavorful inspiration.
Santa Fe. A place like no other. The streets, the homes, the cafes, the people… like no other. A small charm creating in big, expressive, impressive, like no other, ways.
Moab. One may visit and never leave. Stay for the natural red-orange, dusty beauty. Stay for the sunrises and the sunsets. Stay for the community that is constantly creating, exploring, and growing together.
Las Vegas. Bright lights beam on even brighter stars. A sleepless city. Downtown. Arttown. Paristown. Moneytown. It’s a city of all cities. Of all flavors. Of all creative stars.
Long Beach. A lighthouse leads to coastal creatives. Local shops. Local foods. Local attitudes. It’s all happening here. Work hard. Create more. Inspire all.
San Francisco. Steep city hills keep creative juices rolling. New age innovations. Old school community creations. Mixing up the traditional. Creating new forms of art, media, food, and community.
Portland. A fresh, new, weird that keeps your spirit young and pure. Trucks of food. Bikes of color. Life is anything but ordinary. Creativity thrives. Let your inner child roam free.
Miami. Look beyond the beaches and the palms. Walls become canvas as the outdoor gallery rounds every corner. Flavor and style give this hot stirring city a creative punch.
Philadelphia. History and art go hand in hand. Comics keep things light. Musicians keep things true. Artists keep things interesting. An old community still thrives.
Boston. Harbour and lake views stun the senses. A city re-invented with music, art, and love. Old highways hold as much character as the old red bricks built below them.
New York City. A tangled dirty beautiful mess of art, music, and madness. Night and day the city beats its creative drums. The crowds, the fashions, the foods, the neighborhoods, they all blend uniquely together. One big city. One big dream.
ONLY ONE DAY.
From city to city. This tour had us on the run. Drive all night. Explore all day. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The minutes couldn’t get any faster, but when event days came time stood still. The street side set-up stopped everyone in their tracks. Suddenly, there was enough time to listen to a sidewalk band. Enough time to watch an artist paint a portrait. To hear a poet speak and a friend sing. To laugh, learn, communicate and create. Each city event was only one day. But sometimes only one moment is all we really needed anyway.
THE END OF THE ROAD.
And in the end they hung on white walls side by side. People from each corner of the country. People from different cities, different backgrounds, different jobs, environments, and personalities. In a room fit for 50… over 700 were there. This was the end of the road, and they all showed up.
location: Fremantle, aka Freo @ The Fremantle Fibonacci Centre (the fib)
date: 30th March, 2014
type: collaborative painting / music / live art making
THE END OF THE BLUE LINE.
Embracing Change took place a short train ride south of Perth in the eclectic harbour town known as Freo. The ocean scented streets guide travelers drifters and locals to the soul of it all. To mouth-watering fish & chips. To Little Creatures taps ever flowing with hops and barley. To an old daunting prison howling out stories and mysteries. To bustling markets. To street musicians. Artists. Poets. Dwellers. Cafe connoisseurs. Sailors. To endless boats. boxes. and beaches. To seagulls. To sea smells. The soul of this little town is all there, at the end of the blue line. Ride it to the end. To Fremantle Station.
ART FOUND HERE.
It’s here that John Butler went from busking on street corners to finding his Trio. It’s here that small rooms filled with music lovers saw the likes of Bon Iver and Courtney Barnett before the rest of the world did. And here that street artists and performers outnumber suits & ties. Art is found here. I know because I found it. The first hot sweaty day I wandered the streets lost and bewildered I found art here.
As the old harbour town and my drifting self have changed over the years I thought it no better way to introduce Alley Art to the community than to focus on embracing those changes. A short month of chaotic prep and promo lay out the project’s tracks. Then just like that, we were in motion. A one day art event would fill our senses. And “change” would fill our minds.
THE PULSE OF CREATION.
A 2 x 1 meter canvas was stretched and stapled to an old wooden panel. The blank white space lay there. Inviting hands and time to create it’s painted completion. Scattered around the room were tables filled with ambitious local artists. Brushes got dirty. Art was created, discovered, and sold. Musicians set the pulse of the room with buzzing harmonies and bass beats. mmmm. Tat. mmmm. Tat. People filed in and out. In and out. It was a flowing pulse of creation.
HOURS & NUMBERS.
After over 10 hours of art, music, food, coffee, beers, and conversations a hand full of us remained. We were weary. Exhausted. And maybe a bit delusional. There was not an ounce of creativity left. We had exerted it all. Before the night’s end the last of us sprawled out around the completed community piece to capture still moments of silliness and happiness. Over 60 people had contributed to the painting over those hours. It’s finality showed layers, colors, shapes, words, and patterns. It showed change. and that is all we could have hoped for.
type: collaborative painting / co-event with RAW: Natural Born Artists
A LONE CITY THRIVES.
The most isolated city in the world sits on a coastline of sandy white beaches. Follow the great Swan River from the bay to the city lights. To the park for Kings. To the winding streets hiding savory foods and alleyway cafe’s. Sit in squares with poetry readers, accordian players, and street cart venders. Gaze at murals in cityscape windows and train line stations. This lone city thrives with inspiration put there by it’s people. People who have come, people who have never left.
The first few steps into the venue space leaves you numb. Your senses become overwhelmed with creativity. Art. Jewerly. Make-up. Models. Films. Photos. Fashion. Music Beats and Bright lights. Dedication. Soul. and Passion. The stage is set everywhere. Your city. My city. East. West. North. South. It’s as RAW as art should be.
BLACK & WHITE.
The RAW: Perth showcase began as the hot sun fell behind the shipping container walls. I was an invited artist, and I was ambitious to introduce Alley Art to the buzzing and creative Perth community. The task for them was to reflect on “Today”. To write. draw. express. and create. RAW patrons and artists passed by. The canvas lay there for the creating. It was a task plain as day. Nothing more than a reflection of personal experience. It was all very black and white.
HIGHLIGHTING AN ALL SHADES CITY.
That “today” came and went. As all do. But a quick look back at what a community can create by working together brought final brushstrokes that highlighted a thriving, all shades of grey, city. It’s never just black and white…