After the ambitious endeavor put on in Rochester this past July, it would be reasonable for the Wall\Therapy organizers to call it a season and kick back for a bit. But the momentum for the local street-art festival is showing no signs of slowing, as Dr. Ian Wilson and his crew have more in store for Rochester and the global communities his organization seeks to help. Continuing now and running through the early winter, more murals will be painted on local buildings, a spotlight will be shined on Impact — the medical philanthropy effort behind Wall\Therapy — and a Global Giving campaign will be launched to raise funds for the medical infrastructure that Wilson aims to install in two third-world communities by the close of the year.
"It was a whirlwind week," says Erich Lehman, owner of 1975 Gallery, who took a strong leadership role in organizing this summer's Wall\Therapy, which focused on the El Camino Trail and the South Wedge. More than 30 murals were created in 10 days, by local artists as well as muralists and graffiti writers who traveled to Rochester from New York City, Newark, Baltimore, Oakland, Nairobi, and Cape Town, among other cities. In effect, the festival produced roughly two-thirds more murals this season than it did the year before.
But the show's not over. Tel Aviv-based artist Know Hope was in town August 19-23 and painted murals on the El Camino Trail, at the Rochester Public Market, and on South Avenue. German artist Case, who painted the giant mermaid and diver on Pennsylvania Avenue behind the Public Market last summer, returned August 18 to paint another giant on South and Gregory, and on August 28, began work on a massive portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Metro Retro/Gel Salon building at Park Avenue and Colby Street. There is yet another potential mural slated for later in September, but Wall\Therapy organizers are still negotiating timing with the jet-set artist's schedule.
Chaos has calmed enough, however, for the lead organizers to reflect a bit on this year's festival. "I got a front-row seat, with so many other folks, to watch some of the modern masters practice their craft alongside some of the best that Rochester has to offer," says Lehman. "Every one of our local artists produced work that held its own with our visiting artists."
New friendships were forged between artists from all over the world, and among Rochesterians, too. "Bridges between quadrants of our city are being built with murals as interconnecting nodes in an expanding visual network," says Wilson. "We've witnessed many perusing our newest all-access 'outdoor galleries.' Some travel from quite a distance to tour the murals," he says.
This year, the team sought to increase both dialogue and awareness about Impact, the driving force behind the mural-making efforts, which seeks to set up medical-imaging infrastructure in third-world communities, beginning with Borgne, Haiti, and Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh. To this end, Wall\Therapy is working with locally based creative agency Partners and Napier to develop a stronger web presence for Impact, leading up to the launch of Impact's Global Giving campaign, which is crowd-sourced funding on a global scale. Wilson has traveled to both of the target locations and plans to tap the talents of artists to tell the stories of the people Impact will help.
Earlier in the summer, Wilson talked about an effort to hold simultaneous pop-up shows with artists in many cities around the nation and the world. Efforts to organize this are still in the works, with a target date being discussed for the spring.
For more information about Impact, Wall\Therapy and its associated upcoming projects, and a map of the dozens of currently existing local murals, visit wall-therapy.com.