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Graffiti artists convene to paint murals


Graffiti artists from around the Midwest descended to the south side of Indy over Labor Day weekend. - PHOTO BY MIKE ALLEE.
  • Photo by Mike Allee.
  • Graffiti artists from around the Midwest descended to the south side of Indy over Labor Day weekend.

Indianapolis city officials have recently committed thousands of dollars for murals to be painted on walls and facades throughout the downtown area in anticipation of next year's Super Bowl, but just south of downtown, a loosely organized band of dedicated graffiti artists from across the Midwest spent Labor Day weekend in ninety-degree weather, painting murals for free.

Those driving north or south on Madison Avenue, just south of Eli Lilly, have no doubt noticed the two brightly decorated buildings that have become a destination for free wall painters. It's an evolving canvas: Visit six months from now and someone will have painted over any number of panels and replaced it with a vision of their own. It's the nature of the beast; no free art should last forever.

Every Labor Day weekend for the past nine years, graffiti "writers" from Chicago, Louisville and points in between have gathered to do a mass makeover of both buildings. Paint over everything with a base coat, cover it all up, and then apply new art.

With the exception of sixty cans of high quality spray donated by an art paint company, the project is totally self-funded by the artists. Estimates on the total number of cans vary from 750 to 1500, but nobody really knows how much paint was used for sure. Throw in travel and lodging, scaffolding and cases of fluids and the Labor Day weekend can be a costly one.

According to Merlin, an artist from Cincinnati, "We do it because we love the art. Music - everything, anymore - has become less about the project and more about the profit. This is our protest against the commercialism of it all - without anyone getting hurt. This is true grassroots. People hear the word 'graffiti' and they think vandalism. That's not what we are about. Although I have to admit, there is a bit of a mischievous streak to it all."


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