Street Artists : Press

"Rust Magic mural fest maps out its world-renowned artists coming Aug. 1-10"
Source: The Edmonton Journal
Published: 07/11/2019
Author: Fish Griwkowsky

Shooting out of the gates refreshed and revitalized, Rust Magic International Street Mural Festival is ready for Year Four — another 15 artists, local and otherwise, popping their lids and shaking cans starting August 1.

Since 2016, the annual DIY demonstration of bold graffiti writing and large-scale muralism has imported artists from around the planet into our visual neighbourhood, at the same time providing platforms to experiment and grow on for home-bred painters and sprayers, so they too can build reputations and go large in other lands.

Over 45 murals, Whyte Avenue, downtown and 124 Street have benefited from internationally recognized names like PichiAvo, Okuda, Carly Ealey, Stash and Bip, while the local/regional side has magnificent works by Jill Stanton, AJA Louden & Evan Brunt, John James (she’s now an artist living in Paris), Clay Lowe and Calgary’s NasaRimba.

And let’s not forget Fresh Canvas — namely Annaliza Toledo and Trevor Peters — the mastermind “mom and pop” duo behind the festival, sharp artists themselves.

These two have put countless hours and embarrassing amounts of their own money into this non-profit community venture that’s literally changed the face of our city, no holds barred being my favourite local art heroes.

(The fest is funding by a combination of localized business associations, always appreciated private donors and building an business owners looking for that special Rust Magic touch.)

While this year’s roster includes returning artists like Stanton and New York’s Wane COD, newcomers include Japan’s OneQ, Brooklyn’s Adam Fujita, and Diego Loza, formerly of Mexico City, now living here.

One of the biggest names is Slick, Peters says, “from Los Angeles, probably one of the most revered, iconic West Coast graffiti writers.

“He’s broken his style down to cartoon hands, so he’s doing a special spell-out with the hands for Edmonton.”

Toledo notes, “He put it on his Instagram and it got thousands of likes. People were saying, ‘You’re coming here?’ We didn’t know how many people from here liked him.”

Slick’s tribute to our “hockey town” one will face north to Grant MacEwan, going over an existing mural by Wane COD.

Toledo explains, “We’re going to change that one over every two, three years,” a feature wall nod to graffiti’s ephemeral nature.

The reality is murals come and go. One off Whyte was just painted over by new artists; the BiP hand down the block was replaced with a Curious George after vandals repeatedly overwrote it.

Asked how chill they are about having their curatorial work covered, Toledo says, “We’ve gotten there. You wake up and get a photo of one tagged, it’s like, ‘Great.’

“But that’s part of it.”

Peters notes artist Mare139 — an old friend of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol who’s doing the keynote for this year’s fest Aug. 2 — helped him relax, at least a little, about the situation. “We talked about it — graffiti over the murals — and he told me everybody has their own separate realities. ‘You guys already did that, and those kids are doing this now,’ and to not take it personally.

“And that really helped my mentality, huge,” Peters says. “Yeah, we’re not all in this together. We might have common goals, but we’re not unified. And that’s OK.”

The street code as such varies from city to city, Toledo notes.

Peters adds, down deep, “We’re on those kids’ side, so sometimes it feels a bit counterproductive. But to be fair, in New York when Shepard Fairey does a wall, it gets hit hard by all the hardcore bombers.”

Meanwhile, Amuse126 just worked with the Chicago Cubs on their promo merch and Wrigley Field dressing room walls, even throwing the first pitch of a game in May. He returns to Rust Magic 2019 in a big way.

On that, New York-based, Edmonton-born gallery artist Tim Okamura is creating fresh canvas work for a street-art-themed show opening Aug. 9 at Peter Robertson Gallery, which will include art by the festival’s luminaries. Before then, Chicago’s Amuse126 will paint the gallery’s outer walls.

Montreal’s Stare, Barcelona’s Muza, London’s Cenz One and Toronto’s Kwest are also aboard.

One last confirmed artist is Vancouver’s Take 5. Peters notes, “He’s a really old school Canadian graffiti artist, famous for painting trains while being in a wheelchair. He’s also train-hopped across North America.

“He’s also coming to DJ some of the events, a multitalented artist.”

He’ll be doing a wall, too. “I think it’ll be inspiring for people in that community, every community, to see him rocking out a giant mural in a lift.”

Interestingly, a large number of the murals this year are by artists who favour writing — stylized words — instead of depictions of animals and humans.

The organizers each have an opinion about if this was intentional, but Toledo is happy about it. “The letter styles? Totally. That’s part of the education, what we’re always trying to do. It’s been the wish, to really focus on that, because that’s where it all came from.”

The two will be conducting tours during the festival. “We want to give more background about every one of the murals,” says Toledo, “the stories, the artists — everyone’s vision.”

Ticketed events include that Aug. 2 presentation and Q&A with Mare139 at Betty Andrews Recital Hall at MacEwan University, plus a panel discussion with five artists hosted by Brooklyn’s Adam Fujita, whose My Life in Letters podcast has a five-star rating on iTunes.

And if all this wasn’t enough, Rust Magic commissioned a beautiful map, designed by local Studio Tipi, known for their beautiful magazine illustrations and greeting cards. “If there’s one thing people have been asking for,” Toledo laughs, “it’s a map.”

The artefact looks like a takeout menu, and lists off the roster of murals up to this point. Unfolded prints of the map will be on sale during the festival at a pop-up store. “Of course, we’ll have to make another one after this year,” smiles Toledo.

Subject to change, some finalized details are still to come after contracts are signed — we’ll update you closer to the festival.

Peters laughs of the full list, “As soon as we drop it, it’s on.”