Im in Bondi painting what my hosts are calling a “pop up mural” which is accurate and funny and useful. In those three turns of the phrase I can deliver the state of the Roofers Union address from my temporary/permanent office in beautiful Bondi Junction. Roofers are the guys that fix your roof. Back home they are usually the adventurous types that drink beers at lunch and have no fear of heights. As a graffiti youth and a mature wall painter, i have worked on roof tops for a long time, so I identify as a roofer. Same heights, same hours, but no lunchtime beer, it affects the line quality. In Bondi Junction, on a corrugated steel roof, that buckles a little under my weight, I’ll talk about whats going on.
Pop Up Mural (accurate version)
Since the late 60’s, the Bondi Junction Railway Station has been planned and compromised and scaled back and built and renovated and reassesed. Now it is being rebuilt in a way that opens up the long-buried train tracks to the light of day and makes the best of whats available at this way station to Bondi Beach. When a city is ready to turn a downtown eyesore into uptown eye candy, they call me. I come to town, talk to people, and start painting. The work isnt meant to last, but to kick start the development of the neighborhood. its a mesage that things are starting to “Pop Up”. when I was a 17 year old on a roof my work was a sign that a neighborhood was going down, and now as a 47 year old on a roof my work is a sign that the neighborhood is coming up. Progress!
Pop Up Mural (Funny)
A guy came into ICY SIGNS shop wanting to rope me into a group show with a bunch a familiar artists from the spray paint venacular that he wanted to define as “Urban Pop”. I laughed because it is the latest mangled attempt to label whats been happening in a strata of art for at least 40 years. Graffiti is an elegant term that doesnt cover art. Street Art is an elegant term that doesn’t cover graffiti or art. “Urban Pop”, “Urban”-anything is just marketing lingo designed to gesture towards the city without offending anybody. How do I define what I do? I make art. I use pens and brushes and spray paint in the service of processing life into visual communication. Like Keith Haring or the Bondi Beach sign painter. Categories of art only exist to commodify and sell art. With that band wagon in mind, I am embracing a new term for what I do; Pop Up Art. Its Pop, like Haring, and it pops up, like graffiti, and since the term “pop up shop” no longer has marketing cachet, its funny, and funny is the best art of all. So, if you can tag and can tie a du-rag and think street art is a drag join me and be a POP UP ARTIST.
POP UP (useful)
It takes a lot of effort to make a Pop Up Art project happen. Every time there is hundreds of hours of meetings and emails and proposals that a team of dedicated believers have to navigate through before I even get a call. Its amazing that a government and a community agree that a location needs art, But its magic when they agree on what that art should be. Not everybody knows art, and everybody knows what they like is usually not art. So POP UP is a useful phrase because even if you hate my art, it wont be here long. And if you really like it, you’ll never forget it. So its in that temporary/permanent state of grace I paint for now and maybe forever.
Thanks Waverly Council and China Heights Gallery of Sydney.