Last year, CL gave you the whole back story, tons of pictures, a “what does it all meeaaan?” analysis, and generally every piece of information we could cover of the inaugural year of Living Walls, The City Speaks. Which could also have been called “The Badass Street Art and Urbanism Conference That Could”. No doubt, last year’s event marked something special in Atlanta’s history: an announcement that street art can and should exist in a real way here. Plus a declaration that street artists be seen less as law-bashing vandals, and more as generous, talented people who believe that an urban environment should be a vital reflection of the people who live there.
One of the coolest parts of Living Walls is the influx of world-class artists from around the world who fly in to work on murals in our little ol’ city. Plus lots of local talent (of course; Atlanta knows how to rep.) It’s, like, all giving us all a collective, total, giant art boner, naturally. So this year, CL is spending a little more time digging into the artists themselves, to give a little history and context to these visitors and friends. Look for more profiles in the next 10 days.
First up, Evereman.
You probably know all about Evereman (or you would if you had been paying attention.) Around Atlanta (and New York and anywhere else he goes) Evereman's distinctive emblem is everywhere: little magnets on drain pipes, pasted to buildings, hiding in corners, littered around the BeltLine, slapped on cars...once you get in the habit of noticing them, it's impossible not to see them everywhere. Which, according the The Man Himself, is part of the point.
CL hung out with Evereman recently to talk about his participation in Living Walls, the future of Evereman, and other fun stuff. Not surprisingly, the man is a goddamn bottomless hot spring of steaming wisdom and gentle perspective.
CL: You’re a bit of a standout in the Living Walls roster, which is filled mostly with 2-D artists. Where does Evereman fit in the street art spectrum?
Evereman: Noticing these things, picking them up, taking them with you, re-distributing them...it’s a fantastic game. The fun of the whole thing makes people want to find Evereman stuff, so they begin to notice more things, to pay more attention to their surroundings...and when they do find one, they literally get to take a piece of their environment home with them, and then later go out and maybe put the Evereman somewhere else, thereby changing their environment. It’s like a gateway drug to noticing your city more, becoming engaged with it.
CL: So Evereman is like a focusing exercise?
E: In some ways, yes. And in terms of more traditional forms of street art, I think it’s all about making a contribution to the feel of your city. Evereman just takes a slightly different route to connecting with people.
CL: What do you see street art doing for people in a city?
E: It’s a life force; it’s an energy that happens. I often think that the health of a city is reflected somewhat in the degree of art that’s going on in the street, in any city. It’s a very positive thing. It’s connecting like-minded people outside of a norm. i think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to see art when I’m out and about. It let’s you know that there are other people who are alive out there, that you’re less alone.
CL: How will Evereman projects evolve in the future?
E: What I am interested in now is having these pieces stay in circulation, staying out on the street. I don’t want these things to be collectibles. I want it to be something that flows through many hands and is passed around. I want to let people know that the idea isn’t to get as many as you can.
CL: Why is that?
E: Well, fnding them is fun, people enjoy finding them, so pass that along to somebody else. It’s about giving. It’s about cooperating, not competing. These are values that I think society could obviously benefit from. If people really embrace the true idea of Evereman, they get to practice these smalls acts of generosity and making someone else feel excited for a minute.
CL: Is that your view, in the best case scenario, of what the motivation behind street art?
E: Definitely, in a lot of cases. Street art is about contributing something, being generous with your time and talent and message, to everyone’s benefit. You’re interacting with your environment in a way that also emotionally connects other people to the city. And when people are connected, when they really feel something for their surroundings, they're more likely to take care of it and to take an active hand in what is going on around them. In a way, street art can shake people out of their everyday tunnel vision and make them care about their city. That and we just like to make stuff and paint stuff.
CL: What made you want to be involved with Living Walls? We talk a lot about the benefits it has for the city, but as an artist, what’s the biggest appeal?
E: It’s stimulating for the artists and the people involved directly in the event. I think it’s good for all of our creativity...we’re recharging when we’re all together, cranking out a lot of work in a short period of time. It’s a good focusing tool. and on the other side of that, it’s for the public. It’s a public event to come and see this wonderful art. I think it certainly raises the awareness of street art. These are some wonderfully gentle people. They’re not vandals, they’re artists, and as an artist, it’s inspiring to spend time with them.
CL: What do you hope to see happen as a result of this second year of the event, and this second round of lectures and projects?
E: Just keeping up the work, keeping going, doing more and trying to do it better. There’s still a stigma to street art and graffiti. There have been strides made to change that, to stop lumping vandals in with artists. Living Walls is a great part of that.
CL: Speaking of vandals, in your opinion, who gets to draw the line between what is acceptable to express publicly on city walls and what isn’t? Do “vandals” and street artists with negative messages have as much of a right to exercise their creative freedom publicly?
E: Of course, they absolutely have the right to do that. I mean, I was a vandal when i was a kid, painting on whatever and breaking things. I was a very destructive young man. So yeah, i think that we’re not all happy with the way things are going all the time. A person with a can of spray paint or a marker can express their discontent. I think events like Living Walls are wonderful because the promote a more positive interaction with the urban environment, hopefully improving the energy of the city with beautiful art...but that definitely doesn’t mean that thoughts and actions of discontent don’t have a right to be communicated.
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