Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Atlanta Beltline In Bloom

Out for a walk on the Atlanta Beltline last Friday, I came upon a couple of artists sizing up their nearly-completed work du jour.

Covering the westward wall of the Midtown store Paris On Ponce, an oversized garden nicely took shape on view in the setting sun.

After watching the workers dismantle their operation for the night, I asked if they'd make time for an interview the following morning, which they did. What follows are some notes from that Saturday conversation.

Artist name (main artist): Louise Chen a.k.a. Ouizi

(Rhymes with Sherman Hemsley's sobriquet for Isabel Sanford on "The Jeffersons")


Career: Not much of a written CV is online but there are many photos of murals, drawing paintings; said she started painting murals about four years ago and works are now on view in a few U.S. cities (Detroit, Raleigh, Richmond, Va.) as well as in China (Shanghai). She is a California native. Digging her work.

Second artist name (introduced as 'assistant' for the project): Taylor White


Taylor White Self-Portrait
Career: Extensive CV goes on and on online; lots of mural images including one of an outdoor piece completed in collaboration with Ouizi. Also dig her work, though it was distracting to speak with her given intensity of her gaze (I've gotten lost in eyes like hers).

Project: Floral mural on western exterior of business named Paris on Ponce in Midtown Atlanta

Duration of Project: Part of week starting June 19-20, 2017, as invited artists participating in the OuterSpace Project.

Ouizi received the invitation to participate and traveled to Georgia from Detroit, wher she is now based. I believe they mentioned Taylor now resides in Michigan as well.

Completion Date: June 24, 2017

Inspired by: Classic artists (no specific names provided), contemporary artists, Dutch bokays and botanicals, female artists, Chinese water colors, current tag and graffiti artists or muralists, Banksy (sort of, more so for White) and the illustrator Edward Gorey (when prompted by this blogger's inquiry specifying his name).

Reflecting later, I also considered possible inspiration from John Currin. None of us could think of a female muralist with a following. Escher landscapes like those posted on this blog may also inspire this duo of Ouizi and White.

What else the artist Ouizi wants readers to know: "Women are amazing and should be able to do what they want all of the time forever."

What else I want readers to know: As a P.R. person, if Ouizi was my client I'd encourage her to open and loosen up more when some free publicity walks onto the scene. She's got great stuff -- talk about it!

I was also taken aback to find on June 28 that both artists left behind a mess of empty paint cans and other supplies in a manner akin to litterbugs. Crestfallen, I snapped the photo at right. Sure hope these cans and crap are not still outside on my next Beltline stroll.

They also spent some time trashing the deck at Paris On Ponce with their drivable lift. Forgivable but perhaps avoidable (they made it through almost a week without incident so why pulverize in haste to complete the task at hand?).

Here's a tip for any outdoor or other muralists (and please forgive my Middle-aged mansplaining): Whether or not s/he is revered or loathed, or one "doesn't pay much mind to [her/him], I bet Banksy's crew members clean up after themselves.

Even the eight year olds I asked about the trash knew when it was time to put litter in its place or put away their toys. Sheesh!

Bottom line: Art lovers and Beltline fans can do themselves a favor by making way to Ouizi's latest work now on view up close at Paris On Ponce or from a distance from the nearby rooftop of Ponce City Market facing northeast beside the Beltline bridge over Ponce de Leon Ave. Enjoy!

Photos by Nicholas Wolaver except Taylor White's 2016 Self-Portrait


gabe said...

Man, you really come off as a misogynist. You spent more words writing about how you think these artists should speak and conduct themselves than you spent describing the piece itself. Also, even the way you gratuitously attempt to describe Mz. White's eyes reveals more about your prurient interest and lack of journalistic integrity than it serves to, you know, actually describe anything.

Nicholas Wolaver said...

Thanks, Gabe. You are right. And if you can find me one male American (or anyone regardless of gender) who exists without some degree of misogyny, I'd sure like to interview him or her. Please invite them to contact me and introduce themselves; I bet we can get Matt Lauer and Barbara Walters interested, too, as an interview with any person who is "sans-misogyny" would be a rare find.

By my count, in the post there's an equal and multiple quantity of sentences describing the artists' professional experience and qualifications (a.k.a. their minds, not their physical attributes) with only one sentence about White's eyes. I'm a sucker for eyes -- I'd also bet I'm not the first to "gratuitously" compliment White on hers.

You can ask anyone I know -- I love women! That's part of why I stopped specifically to shine a spotlight on this mural work. But did I refer to Ouizi and White as "women artists?" No. "Artists." Are we not supposed to work toward "gender neutrality" these days? I don't care -- I love women and will continue to do so and share their good works. Based on your feedback, I need to be more thoughtful with my words.

I thought it very chivalrous of you, Gabe, to write in their defense. Is not chivalry another form of misogyny?

In person, the artists provided only brief answers, leaving me to fish for details on their websites. They are both smart women, so it was surprising (and frankly disappointing) they did not want to speak up more, and later left their trash for all to see. Unfortunately, for this writer, any positives of their art, comments, brains, etc., got overshadowed by the trash. They might as well have lit cigarettes or farted, both ugly human actions as difficult to look past as littering.

Hopefully next time I come upon a mural by Ouizi or White -- which I do plan to actively look for during travels to the cities where they painted -- the work will move my thoughts back to their art and talents, of which they have many.

As for your references to integrity: I wrote only the truth about how I felt. Is not "integrity" synonymous with "truth?"

And though I went to journalism school, I'm no pure journalist nor claim to be. This site obviously isn't The New York Times, and my career is P.R. is in the first line of my bio.

It's not my job to tell people what to think about the art; rather, to show the art and encourage discussion. It worked. Thanks for your comments.

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