Painting Over GAIA
Posted by Joshua Yospyn | August 5, 2010
“I thought someone had taken a photo in progress,” says GAIA about seeing a picture on Flickr similar to the one below. But it wasn’t an image documenting the early stages of his giant chicken and hands mural painting. In fact, the photo was taken much later when, as Lauren Gentile with Irvine Contemporary explains, a manager at Whole Foods responded to neighborhood complaints by painting over it.
“If you knew GAIA personally you would feel extra bad about the situation. I mean, the guy slept in that alley overnight to protect his ladder so nothing would stop him from completing the commission,” says Lauren. She also explains how the gallery has permission from Jim Abdo, who owns the block of buildings, to use the alley walls for art projects curated by Martin Irvine. ”It’s just unfortunate that the Whole Foods manager wasn’t in the loop. He said he would watch for new work and know what to tell people [next time].”
It took GAIA between 20-24 hours total, painting from 8 pm to 5 am over a few nights in a row, to complete the mural. ”People don’t have much of a stomach for anything besides advertisements,” he states.
Yet he doesn’t seem that upset. Maybe street artists get used to their work’s impermanence, but there’s a certain irony to this mural – it was legal. None of GAIA’s independent works in DC have been covered up, yet when Irvine commissioned him it was quickly buffed. Thankfully, Whole Foods missed a spot. The artist’s signature still looms just off the top of the building. (You can see it here). It’s the only work in DC GAIA’s ever signed.
“It’s unfortunate that the ‘complainers’ always get heard more loudly than the people who like or at least recognize the art work as a legitimate art project,” says Lauren, but she assures us that new work from this artist is soon to come. In the meantime, if you see someone asleep in an alley, holding paintbrushes and perhaps attached to a “giant-ass ladder,” odds are you’ve found GAIA. Let him paint.
One of GAIA’s murals for Irvine is still up behind the gallery, alongside several other street artists. See more
Photo Credits: Joshua Yospyn/Worn Magazine (please ask permission to use our images)
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