The Beakerhead 4th Street Mural

Beakerhead_4th_Street_Underpass_Mural_Detail_Two_2014_August_17 (1024x683)

As those who have read my blog over the past year – tomorrow is this blog’s one year anniversary BTW – it is easy to figure out that I am interested in Beakerhead and have written about the organization a few times before.

Beakerhead is an interesting project which integrates science and art (and engineering too). I have always been fascinated by this mix.

It is my opinion that this is a natural fit, as both science and art involve research and exploration – albeit with different questions and end results. I have long felt that the two, science and art, are closer cousins than many will admit.

Beakerhead_4th_Street_Underpass_Mural_Detail_One_2014_August_17 (1024x683)

I have been meaning to write about this 27 foot long series of nine different, eco-chalk graffiti figures since May 21st when they first appeared overnight. These figures were designed by Michael Mateyko and Hans Thiessen, a team that is also known as Komboh. The artists talk about these figures here.

Initially, these eco-chalk graffiti figures were intended to be removed by June 2nd shortly after a Beakerhead announcement (presumably the program announcement which happened on June 10th), or alternatively removed as a result of sufficient rainfall – whichever was to occur first.

Neither occurred.

Since the figures have stayed this long, it now seems as if they will probably stay the summer, right through until Beakerhead in September.

There were a few other reasons (I am sure that there are more reasons) that I wanted to talk about them as well. They are:

  • The fascinating dialogue between permanent and temporary public art projects;
  • The interesting dialogue between visual design/communication and fine art;
  • The place of graffiti in the urban environment;
  • The role of graffiti in a public art programme scheme, if any; and,
  • Discussion surrounding the point where graffiti morphs from simple vandalism into art.

I will be quite honest. I really don’t feel like tackling these issues tonight. I have too much to do this week and not enough time. So I will keep it simple and save the longer discussion(s) for another day.

A few weeks ago, time seems to be relative in this context. Regardless, it was probably at least a week ago when I first noticed it. The figures on the east wall of the 4th Street SW underpass got coloured in. From my investigation today (and previously) it would appear as if whoever did this, used coloured chalk.

Here is what this east wall looked like on May 28, 2014.

Beakerhead_4th_Street_Underpass_Mural_East_Wall_2014_May_28 (1024x683)

This is what it looked like earlier this afternoon.

Beakerhead_4th_Street_Underpass_Mural_East_Wall_2014_August_17 (1024x683)

It has been inscribed by those involved. The words “All the colouring done by Dwayne Sullivan + Tess” (if I read the last name correctly, as there is some smudging and the name is not clear). Then there is another note below the other, “facebook us + tell us what you think” placed between figures seven and eight, toward the right.

* * *

I guess in a way this was to be expected.

Leave a series of giant images that bear a certain resemblance to colouring book images – eventually someone will colour them in.

I for one, am not disappointed in the two, possibly three fellow citizens (since punctuation was not added) who were involved. They took the bait, and acted creatively in a sympathetic and supportive manner.

Their actions, to my mind, would seem to align with what Beakerhead is all about – sparking creativity, and fostering innovation in an inspired way.

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