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Notes on Street Art Night in Dubai

When you grow up in Boston and then live in New York City (or any number of urban centers where graff rules everything around you), you get spoiled. I sometimes forget that “street art,” in general, is not always part of everyone’s everyday experience. Heck, ART (in general) is not always part of everyone’s everyday experience. I won’t go so far as to say “art” is a new thing happening here in the UAE–that’s just ignorant–but I will say this: Street Art is a new happening. Those of us here to witness have the extremely unique opportunity to watch it develop: how, why, when, where, etc. (I’m sure I will write an essay or two about it when I have time to reflect.) So when The National announced that Maria Urrutia was organizing “Street Art Night” to “appeal to people who don’t normally go to galleries and museums and get them interested in art” and to “promote the cause of street art to the people and the authorities”…I literally jumped up and down.

Consider this: “The project hopes to one day persuade authorities to open up whole swaths of the industrial zone, including factories, labour camps and other buildings, for street artists to freely use as a canvas.”

In the wake of the whitewashing of 5Pointz, for me anyway, the idea that community organizers here in the Emirates are working to create spaces for street artists is particularly poignant. And fascinating. And curios. Street Art Night was an event that brought artists of all kinds together to foster appreciation and build a temporary community around a love for public arts. Alongside the Deep Crates Cartel (Dubai’s pre-eminent hip hop crew), there were kids painting at a pop up studio hosted by the jamjar, canvas artists using oil, acrylics, markers, and stencils…to paint on buses and temporary wooden boards. There were also b-boys breakin’ to the best of oldschool hip hop beats (a personal highlight of the evening). We had a great time and hope to see more events just like it! Here are some snapshots:

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