Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Steel Wheels 5's freight train art rolls into Atlanta

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

A model train painted by artist King 157.
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  • A model train painted by artist King 157.

Steel Wheels, a railroad inspired art show at Archive Gallery, rolls into Atlanta this Friday, March 30 featuring work inspired by boxcar art from more than 100 artists. The show includes photography, canvas work, painted railroad memorabilia like signs and hand-painted model trains.

When the modern graffiti or aerosol art movement started in New York City during the 1970s, the canvas of choice was almost always a subway train since it offered a larger audience. Painting a subway train was like sending one's art on tour, trains would travel throughout the five boroughs of NYC, bringing more viewers than just painting on a wall.

Once the subway system started cracking down on graffiti in the '80s and began a comprehensive clean up initiative, painters turned to freight trains that traversed the entire nation instead of just a single city, and the freight movement was born.

Steel Wheels' co-curator and hype man, who prefers to be called "Mendiesel the freight enthusiast," explains the movement's magnitude: "An artist could paint a train in Atlanta and people in the middle of a corn field in Nebraska could see the piece and be inspired by the art."

From a previous Steel Wheels show in 2010 in Atlanta.
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  • From a previous Steel Wheels show in 2010 in Atlanta.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Steel Wheels is the massive collection of model trains painted by aerosol artists from all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. The challenge of painting intricate and complex pieces on model trains yields beautiful results, and allows viewers the mini experience of a painted train rolling through town in a gallery setting.

Mendiesel says there are challenges to a show such as Steel Wheels: "There's still a lot of artists that won't go that route [their art in the gallery setting], but when we started the show it wasn't about making money, it was about showing people this underground culture."

Cope 2, an artist from New York City, is featured in Steel Wheels.
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  • Cope 2, an artist from New York City, is featured in Steel Wheels.

A model train poses an interesting canvas to work on.
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  • A model train poses an interesting canvas to work on.

After two successful Steel Wheels shows in Atlanta, one in Miami, and one in San Francisco, Mendiesel hopes to organize future shows in cities such as Philadelphia, New Orleans and New York City.

Steel Wheels 5 $5. Fri.-Sat., March 30-31, from 7 to midnight. 611 North Ave. 404-246-5043. With Shaheed DjNervex Ewing, DJ Speakerfoxxx, David DjMafioso Rodriguez, Steve DeNir.

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