Living Walls in action

Spring Street Elk 3.jpg

The Elk is still unnamed, but we're playing with Elke. Too on the nose?

Update: Check out Sebastien's account of getting his wall included. He also has photos from a bunch of other murals.

Last night we got to watch a little of the Living Walls project in action. And it was cool.

We caught muralists Broken Crow in the midst of putting up this giant Elk on the wall of a house on Spring Street in Albany.

The finished product, and some thoughts from Broken Crow, after the jump

Spring Street Elk.jpg

John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons, aka Broken Crow, came to Albany from Minnesota this week. As of Wednesday they'd done four murals and they're hoping to finish about seven while they're in town for Living Walls.

Broken Crow has worked on murals all over the world. The professional mural painters' work can be found on walls in Africa, England, France and cities all over the United States. Most of their murals include animals. A mural they finished earlier in the week at Second Street and Bogart Terrace shows a group of wolves.

BrokenCrow Wolves.jpg

"Part of what we do is we reintroduce animals to where they've been removed from." Says John. We painted some predators yesterday -- a couple of wolves eating a carcass so we released some prey today."

So what do they want people to think when they look at a giant elk or wolves on the side of a building?

"We want people to really think about their cities and really think about their lives," says John. "And hopefully by seeing something really really big and really really beautiful they will stop and enjoy the moment a little bit more and realize that things happen outside of the city."

"It depends on the individual," Mike says. Any reaction is a good reaction. We're all in this together -- its just as much for us as it is for the community ... we love doing it. We just hope that other people are happy."

All of Broken Crow's work is site specific. They chose this elk for the Spring Street wall (donated by Sebastien) because when you stand in the right spot, it will look like the elk is eating the leaves off the trees. "We wanted this guy to be interacting without the plants," John says.

Spring Street Elk 2.jpg

In this case, the building actually influenced the shape of the piece. "There's a really nice line where the break off from the old building was," Mike points out, "and we just kind of ran up and placed the head so the line was part of the neck shading."

Mike and John say they're also looking to create fun landmarks with their art. "We've gotten emails from moms who are like 'My kids are so proud that we live by the pink goat!'," John remembers. "And even though they had nothing to do with the actual painting of the mural, it became like a point of pride and a part of the community."

"These murals will really change the city in a positive way," says Mike, "they'll help it be looked at as a contemporary cutting edge place -- 'Oh look at all this cool stuff that s going on. And the artists that they're bringing in will have worldwide recognition instantly because o f the internet."

Here's a partial list of where you can see some of the other Living Walls murals.


Why? For God's sake Why are they painting these things? I'd rather see nothing at all than this crap which (thankfully) will weather into a featureless blur in a few years.

As to the artists having worldwide recognition because of the internet, anyone with a Flickr account can have that.

Really amazing how they used the existing texture and colors of the wall in the piece itself. First thing I noticed, it's brilliant.

from the eating the trees thing to the shading of the brick, jesus that's incredible.

There are more of these out there, and they tend to take you by surprise when you come across. I found two more in the vicinity of 63 Livingston. The living walls project is just fantastic. There was a time, centuries ago, when art could only be seen, and appreciated, but only the most wealthy and privileged, and only if royalty or the church commissioned it. Sure, nowadays anyone can Google the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, but seeing a picture of that massive work just doesn't compare with staring up at it in real life. Nothing compares to seeing art in context, first hand! --- this testimonial from a guy who most of the time "doesn't get it" and simply isn't "into art." I can appreciate what's being done here in Albany and I can only say, keep up the good work!

A side note that this building (I'm guessing on the exact address) is also undergoing gut-rehab. Kudos there, too!

nice bit in the TU today on the LW. Check out the performances this Saturday!

Seriously beautiful.

I have 60 feet of stockade fencing along my property line that needs to be painted. Thanks for the inspiration!

@ Eric

I'm a big fan, just hoping I can get my hands on a map of sorts so we can find all this great stuff, complete with artists info.
pretty please?

Very happy about how it turned out last night. The bricks where the old building was are indeed lighter and they completely incorporated that feature into the design. I'll have more photos soon. Both artists were very nice to interact with and articulate about the whole process. The mural is huge and looks pretty kick-ass at night, I'll try to install some lights. I spent some quality time cleaning the wall and the trash that had accumulated there for years, hopefully with more lights on at night and this piece of art this could slow down littering a bit. This private parking lot is used by state workers during the day, I wish I could have seen their faces this morning.

I went for a run and passed by last night as they were setting up. What an improvement for that lot. Glad to see this project happening in Albany!

Reminds me of "Northern Exposure." I like it!

Beautiful - I love it.

I second the request for a location map! There doesn't seem to be one on the Living Walls website. Could you guys make a Google map? :-)

@JVG, Jessica R: We're planning one. We just have to get around to take the photos.

@JVG, @Jessica: I made a map last night, I'll update it with photos later today. The addresses are the ones found on the LW page but I update the pin positions using Street View, so it's pretty accurate if you zoom in. These are the murals as of yesterday, I'll update with the new ones once I hear about them. I'll attach photos tonight.

@Greg @S THANKS!!

A map of the awesome murals in Troy would be great too. The Food Co-op's adornment with a mural inspired by John Hampshire was entirely overlooked except for a blurb in the Troy Record.

Hi Mary, of course you would be covering the living walls project. Come down and see the progress of muralist Nick Mann. Can be seen from Broadway on the back wall of Silver Fox Salvage. Camille

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