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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The largest graffiti art commission in history?! O1NE Yas Island

I finally got to the wall at O1NE Yas Island!!! A few of my students came (along with the most excellent photographer Scott Barfield) and we spent an hour basking in the literal awesomeness of this wall. The basics: 18 international artists, 5500 cans of paint, about 15? lifts, and an 18 meter high 2,500 sqm round building. Professional pics to come…but for now here is a link to the public Facebook Album.

Interested in some news on the project? Here are some links:

http://www.7daysindubai.com/PHOTOS-Graffiti-artists-brush-huge-wall-O1NE-Yas/story-19848992-detail/story.html

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/o1ne-yas-island-unveils-world-s-largest-graffiti-mural-519963.html

http://blogs.thenational.ae/lifestyle/scene-heard/new-graffiti-covered-nightclub-to-open-on-yas-island

http://www.dubainightplanner.com/NewsDetails.aspx?NID=349&t=Sky-Management-gives-a-peek-to-O1NE-Yas-Island—the-largest-privately-owned-graffiti-wall-in-the-world

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shoes full of desert sand

More Sneak Previews of Production on YAS island

Just a little update if anyone is paying attention. Facebook is a magical thing with lots of photos. It seems there is a team of writers (because the wall is GIANT), one of whom is ZEDZ from the Netherlands. Armed with 5500 cans here are some more process shots found on Facebook. Photos courtesy of RS Visuals and Karski Mooiemuur. More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/rsvisuals.nl

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