Archive for May, 2010

18
May
10

Trying to grab hold of a few good ideas…

Well, it’s been a rough couple of weeks here at the Werkshop, and I’ve been fighting to get my motivation back while at the same time realizing that my creative drive is sporadic, somewhat unfocused and has the unfortunate habit of derailing other elements of my life when allowed to run full-tilt. Maybe it’s an artist thing to be subject to a manic creativity (and sometimes, like when I was putting together the layout and written sections of “The Art of Swap”, it has proven a blessing as a motivator) but I’ve finally recognized that I’ve got to get more focused and find a way to make it work for me. Sometimes I make street art and other times it manifests itself by making me its creator…

I’ve given some thought to learning a couple more craftmanship and art skills, like cabinetmaking, ABS plastic-working and boning up on my knowledge of screenprint making. I’ve also been considering a couple of potential large interventions to pull off this summer, since I’ve got the basic knowhow to be able to work with wood and metal. Trying to think up new and interesting uses of public spaces has always been a favorite theme of mine…

There are a lot of vacant, under-construction and poorly used areas in the vicinity of downtown Montreal which could be converted to some more interesting uses, and picnic areas and sports facilities are two themes I keep coming back to. I’ve been thinking about what I would have to buy, find and make in order to create basketball hoops out of scrap wood and metal. One of the examples I’ve been considering is Brusse’s Streetlove Project , which I absolutely love.

As well, downtown Montreal is severely lacking in bike parking. I wonder how easy it would be to Macgyver up a nifty-looking bike parking fixture. Or perhaps a smaller one, for tricycles…

I’m going to head over to the library and try to borrow a couple of books on innovative slum architecture and built solutions to urban problems. I’ve always had an incredible admiration for some of the creative genius-work which one can find in urban slums, and in a way I as a street artist am aping their work. I’m trying to build things out of discarded materials, using whatever I can find and trying to give our discards a new and productive life…

Here’s a question for my dear Montreal readers…what do you think needs fixing in our city (besides potholes, of course)??

12
May
10

Rants and prints

Academic discourses tend to treat street art and graffiti like blind men envisioning an elephant based on touch. Sociology and anthropology look at it as a subculture based around transgressive behaviour and try to understand what motivates street artists and writers. Art History considers the physical products as being the art of the untrained when not ignoring them altogether. (The fields of Art History and art criticism look upon the street work of the few artists that they do recognize, like Jean-Michel Basquiat, with the awkward tone one would use when discussing a favorite politician’s juvenile indiscretions). Criminology looks at what can be done to prevent law-breaking. Urban studies make a brief mention of street art and graffiti when discussing urban crime and undesireable behaviour.

All in all, it’s a compartmentalized, categorizing and often downright condescending approach. What’s worse about the approach is that it turns a lot of people off from academia by giving them a sense that there isn’t a framework out there that would allow them to put their ideas out and expand upon them. And that’s a damn shame. Because I believe in street art just as much as I believe in good urban design and I’m sure that there must be a number of means of fusing the two together.

And check out My Etsy Shop for the first ever MaksWerks art print!

more to come…

11
May
10

The Ideal City, Etsy and prints to come…

I’ve been thinking about the ways in which streetart and urban planning/design can be merged, and so why not invite people to write their thoughts on their ideal Montreal? Why not play around a little with the public consultation or charrette process a little?

In other news, my Etsy shop is back up and running again, and now updated with brand spanking new stuff! If you’d like to get your hands on an Elmaks original piece, my dear readers, then now’s the time…

More to come on the Etsy shop and the prints that I’m working on…

UPDATE: Had a little time to take a look at how the “Ideal City” book is progressing. Thought I’d scan in a couple images of what’s been written so far. I’m pretty enthused at the fact that people have written in their opinions of how they see the city… of course, since the book is open to the public, crudely drawn penises do show up.

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02
May
10

Street charettes and crumbling concrete

Where to go from here? That’s a question which I’ve been asking myself for a good couple of months.

As you already know, I’ve written a fair bit over the past few months about the potential for a merger of street art and urban design or planning. I’m currently an urban planning student working towards a graduate degree in the field, and I’ve been dwelling on the topic of how to merge my hobby with my future profession for almost two years now. The field of planning is unfortunately too much of a formal and stilted one, and it needs to have some life breathed into it…

I’ve also featured a number of awesome streetart projects (like the Urban Repair Squad) that draw attention to urban problems and others that take a DIY-style approach to fixing some of them in a creative and interesting way.
(I’ve recently discovered the photography and urban installations of Claudia Ficca and David Luciano, in which creative uses are made of some of Montreal’s many potholes. Check it out)

(photo by rllayman on Flickr, from Ficca and Luciano’s “Pothole” exhibition.)

One issue which I’m interested in exploring this summer is the potential for street pieces to gather public input and ideas on future civic plans, expansions and repairs. I’ve got a couple ideas for streetart charettes buzzing around in the far corners of my mind, and I’ll see what comes of them as the next couple of days or weeks go by. As well, Montreal is a city in a constant state of disrepair, with some parts (like the crumbling Turcot Interchange) in a more advanced and unpleasant state than others. Crumbling infrastructure almost seems to scream out for a cheeky Banksyesque stencil or wheatpaste intervention or two. More to come…





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