New Orleans art event: Next wave of graffiti debuts installations

Basquiat, Banksy and other graffiti artists celebrated in New Orleans on November 8 and 9. Photo: Sean Cummings' Rice Mill Lofts in the Bywater

NEW ORLEANS, October 29, 2013 — The city of New Orleans will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jean Michel Basquiat’s historic visit to New Orleans with a cutting edge art event on November 8 and 9.

Ever since Basquiat took the art world by storm, beginning with his graffiti pieces in Manhattan and followed by his rise to fame primarily in the fields of Neo-Expressionism and Primitivism, art lovers have been waiting for graffiti to regain its status. Recently, a group of artists have been collaborating in New Orleans, elevating the art form once again. Acclaimed street artist Bansky has been busy imprinting his work on buildings across the city.

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Graffiti art and its offshoots are finally having a renaissance in no small part, thanks to Bywater, an emerging New Orleans neighborhood of creative artists.  Local artists and their fearsome graffiti has been gathering notice and giving street art a patina it hasn’t enjoyed in decades.

On November 8 and 9, several of these installations will be unveiled formally with planned celebrations that will include tributes from Al Diaz, Basquiat’s best friend and cohort in the graffiti collective “SAMO” (Same Old S–); Dylan Roscover, the calligram artist noted for his Time Magazine cover of Obama and Romney, and Brandan Odums, a rising graffiti wizard hailing from the Crescent City itself. Local businessman Sean Cummings, who is known for his efforts to bring aspiring entrepreneurs to New Orleans, is heading up the movement in Bywater.

Here are a few highlights for locals and travelers alike that will take place:

Artists will use the images from six largely unknown polaroids that Basquiat took in New Orleans in 1988 as their source material in transforming the largest graffiti wall in the South to showcase social commentary on New Orleans.

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The Rice Mill Lofts of Sean Cummings, where the brick walls and other surfaces of the building were graffitied while it was being converted from a mill to loft housing. Cummings has preserved this art.

Typographical portraits by Dylan Roscover, Calligram artist. Known for his Time Magazine cover of Obama and Romney and the Steve Jobs calligram. Dylan has created a wall calligram in mixed media of Basquiat at International House, a boutique hotel that features the work of local artisans.

Project Be, the housing project in Bywater slated for destruction in 2014 where rising graffiti artist Brandon Odums has exhibited his work preservation-style. He and fellow artist will reveal their work on the longest public graffiti wall in the south on November 8.

Owner of the Inkwell Press, a New Orleans graphic design and printing studio known for t-shirt graphics, Gabriel Flores, will unveil his work on the public graffiti wall.

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Andrea Poe

Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared in thousands of publications, including Town & Country, Marie Claire and Entrepreneur.  She is the author of several books and her work has appeared in many others, including anthologies and college textbooks. 

Andrea serves as editor of the Travel & Food section at The Washington Times Communities.  Her love of travel has led her to cover everything from remote villages in the Andes to her hometown of New York, from Paris to Pittsburgh, from Beijing to the Bahamas.  No matter where she travels, she likes to uncover the unusual and share with readers those often-overlooked aspects of a place and its people.  She dubs her column Raven’s Eye as a nod to her illustrious (and, yes, infamous) relative, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who knew more than a little something about the quirky and unique.  

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