Earlier this summer, the #BartBandits caused controversy when they splashed painted images of Bart Simpson on the streetscapes of Plaza Midwood and NoDa. Two schools of thought quickly erupted. One side saw the street art as offensive, while the other side came together over collective enthusiasm for a bold act of creative grit in our community. Can you tell which side I’m on?
Through a random series of events, I recently spent some time with @axldlrg – one of the artists behind the #BartBandit series. Like new friends do, we got to looking through his Instagram account and he shared some stories behind the creation of a few of his other pieces.
But first, some facts about @axldlrg…
An artist for most of his life, @axdlrg traded photography for paint a few years back. “Painting anything is better than a 9 to 5. Even if it’s some simple signage, I’m happiest with a paint brush or paint can in my hand.”
On Street Art vs. Graffiti:
“Graffiti is an ego thing. It’s climbing billboards and tagging your name in hard to get to places. It’s all ‘look at me, look where I am and how high I can go.'”
“Street art – because it’s not your name – can belong to everyone. There’s no ego, people can participate, it becomes a part of the community experience.”
Why Street Art?
“It’s fun. You can go on an adventure to somewhere you’ve never been. You’re surrounded by atmosphere, people, a rush. It builds up to something pretty awesome.”
And now for the stories behind the art as told by @axldlrg…
MinnieRat, Historic Statesville
@alxdlrg put up this drawing of a rat-like Minnie Mouse on the side of a gallery in historic Statesville. The image caused major controversy in Statesville when the city sent the gallery owner a letter saying he had been “victimized by vandals” and would be charged $100 a day if he didn’t buff it.
The owner, who loved the image appealed to keep the art on his building, but lost to Statesville City Council and had to pay to have it removed. Supporters placed flowers at the feet of #MinnieRat when they found out she would be buffed. With pride, @alxdlrg’s mom has the Statesville Record and Landmark articles from the incident hanging on her fridge.
#TiredEarth Series, Artist Warehouse Residency, Statesville
#flamingoShack #tiredEarth #DLRG #streetart #freeart A photo posted by DeLarge (@alxdlrg) on
This image came from a month long artist residency in a Statesville warehouse. For a monthly allowance and paint supply @alxdlrg painted imagery inspired by a recycling theme. His mind went to animal-related post-apocalyptic stuff – because recycling! – like this flamingo carrying a smoke stack heavy civilization on his back. PBR sponsored a showing of the work at the end of the residency.
Wednesday Adams, NoDa
Across from NoDa Brewing, @alxdlrg wheat pasted with the help of @despicable_d_88 a 10 ft tall Wednesday Adams in broad daylight with support from the buildings owner. Within 24 hours the city buffed it without telling anyone about it. Poof, gone.
Butt Bart, Plaza Midwood
Likely his most famous to date, Butt Bart was a collaborative effort with his friend @despicable_d_88 who wanted to go big on his first street art outing.
Butt Bart, the first in the #BartBandit series, lasted a day tops before the city deemed his bare butt cheeks offensive and buffed the image. To much excitement, a heroic looking Bartman, caped and with a Queen City Crown on his chest, quickly filled the void. Reaching hero status, Bartman landed on the cover of Creative Loafing along with a feature story that recounted the series of events leading to the community’s new rally cry, “We Are El Barto!”
Porky Pig, Plaza Midwood
Porky Pig landed on the wall of Workman’s Friend the same night as Butt Bart but barely survived into daylight when authorities immediately removed it.
You can catch some of @alxdlrg latest work at the Art Hole in NoDa starting August 14th.