Wednesday, August 24, 2011

COLLECTIVE SOUL

     After a beef link sandwich and macaroni and cheese at Cassie’s, I drove west.

Juan organizes the artists and coordinates the project.

     Around and through the Art’s District, I turned down the lane alongside the tracks.  I could see the artists were at work, and I slowed down and asked if I could shoot some photos.  ‘Yeah, cool,’ the man said.  Four or five artists were working on the wall.  In September I’d shot a few photos and posted them as Industrial Chic http://indian-hill.blogspot.com/2010/09/industrial-chic.html.  

     After I pulled over and stopped, I checked with another man and asked if it was okay to shoot. 

     ‘You into shooting graffiti?’ the guy said.

     ‘I’m into art.  I don’t call this graffiti.’  I explained that I’d been here before and had talked to another man after posting Industrial Chic

Stigma

     Stigma works as a tattoo artist, at his home, and at a studio in Hollywood.  In school, he says ‘Every class was art.  English, math, science.  It was all art.’  Now he’s got an entire wall to work on, with eight other artists. 

     Juan organizes the project and coordinates who works on the wall.  'We’ll be working here probably a little bit this week,’ Juan explains, ‘and on into at least next weekend.’  In addition to Juan and Stigma, two others are working today.  They have step ladders and cardboard boxes crammed full of paint cans.  Sometimes, Juan says, people drive by and yell things about graffiti.  ‘Tag somewhere else,’ he says they say.  Obscenities get thrown around, he says, but they ignore it.  They have permission from the owner of the wall and the Pomona Police officers watch out for them.

     Stigma is working on a stretch of wall roughly eight feet high and twelve feet long.  ‘I’ve had the idea for a few years.  It stays in my head and I work on it in my mind.  Sometimes I sketch out something on paper.’  I ask him if the scale of the work is especially challenging, compared to working with tattoo art, on human skin.  ‘I can change it on the wall if I don’t like something or need to change a detail.  Can’t do that with tattoos.’

     These artists don’t get a lot of visitors to their open air installation, on the south side of the tracks.  It doesn’t seem to bother them.  We agreed to keep in touch.  I said I wanted to do another series when the wall is progressing, and when it’s done.

     Juan navigates the bureaucracy and politics of city hall to make sure they don’t get shut down, and the other influences of the neighborhood. 

     ‘No carefully placed campaign donations?’ I asked.

     ‘We’re low-pro, bro,’ Juan said.  Low profile, the way they work with the landowner and the city.     

The art, however, is of the highest profile.

2 comments:

Timecheck said...

Nice piece of photo-journalism

Kurt Taylor said...

Gracias, T-Check..