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Open Walls begins in North Baltimore

Station North Arts District

(Credit: Catherine Mezensky)

Open Walls is a new outdoor mural project in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment district. Street artists from all over the world are painting 20 murals this spring and they hope to be done in time for the Final Friday event on May 25, 2012. The project will include notable artists from around the country, including Overunder, Maya Hayuk and Candy Chang. Murals are being painted on both vacant and occupied buildings to help revitalize a north Baltimore neighborhood that is slowly coming back from years of decay and neglect. While some of the selected artists are noted for graffiti, this art in this project is completely legal.

Known as a street artist, Gaia is the curator of Open Walls  in Baltimore. You may know his work from around Baltimore and his mural is the first in the series, on the front and side of the old New York Fried chicken building on the corner of North Avenue and Charles Street. It depicts a carrier pigeon held in a man’s hand. Gaia is a Maryland Institute College of Art graduate and of the participating artists, his work is perhaps the most recognizable to Baltimore City residents and visitors. For years he has been posting large-scale black and white images composed of line drawings of chickens, pigeons, and figures on vacant buildings downtown. A notable work was a portrait of his grandfather, which once graced the abandoned buildings on Park Avenue behind the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The National Endowment for the Arts is helping to fund the project and Station North Arts and Entertainment LLC organized it. Open Walls was partially inspired by a similar project in Miami, when Wynwood Walls  helped to revitalize a stagnant neighborhood. Now, bike tours highlight the art in Wynwood and it is hoped that the Open Walls murals will spark similar interest in Baltimore.

A map  on the Open Walls web site shows the location of each proposed mural and you can follow the project’s progress on their Facebook page.  You can also keep up with related events on the Station North Arts and Entertainment District web page.