baltimore

Background Noise, Episode 49: Gaia by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 49, THE FOCUS IS ON GAIA (photo via  gammablog.com )

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 49, THE FOCUS IS ON GAIA (photo via gammablog.com)

PHOTO BY SCOTT LYNCH

PHOTO BY SCOTT LYNCH

Four Generations of Arabbers, Baltimore, MD 2013

Four Generations of Arabbers, Baltimore, MD 2013

I saw Gaia in action once. Funny thing was, although I was very impressed by his work in progress, I wasn't aware that it was him at the time. I was walking south on 1st Ave in Manhattan's East Village, and saw someone painting a beautiful mural of two bulls bashing heads on the security gate of the Empellon Cocina restaurant. I made a mental note to go back at some point a few days later and see who it was. Much to my surprise, it was Gaia. A few weeks later, I found myself at that very restaurant with my wife and a friend, and noticed that not only did Gaia do the facade, he also had painted the walls behind the bar. 

Gaia is a very busy man, with seemingly an endless amount of energy (I had a lot of energy in my late 20s as well). Technically, although he grew up in New York's Upper East Side, he calls Baltimore home, but from the sound of it, he rarely spends much time there. He's constantly being called to places all around the world to do his murals, which have become a hot commodity these days. He has murals in Cape Town, South Africa, has done murals at Art Basel, had a solo show at NYC's Jonathan Levine Gallery, and even curated Open Walls Baltimore, a mural festival featuring work from contemporaries such as Maya Hayuk, Swoon, Chris Stain, OverUnder and others. To be honest, I'm surprised he has time to sleep. 

The work itself often depicts animal imagery, which comes from his fascination with bringing nature to urban landscapes. This animal imagery sometimes depicts animals with human hands and torsos, resulting in a very interesting juxtaposition. He tends to lean toward social and political messages as well, incorporating portraits of influential, and sometimes controversial urban developers. 

He was recently asked by Atlanta's Center for Civil and Human Rights to complete a mural for its Martin Luther King Jr gallery and temporary exhibition space. He impressed them with a mural based on the Twitter #iftheygunnedmedown phenomenon. Read more about that here.

It seems as though the more murals he does, the more work he gets. The word of mouth just doesn't stop, and I don't think Gaia will ever stop either.

What was your first concert?
I dont like to go to big concerts, especially not festivals. Most memorable concert was Philip Glass performed by Bruce Levingston

Last concert?
I went to a show last night in Baltimore which has one of the best small venue/diy space scenes in the country. Saw a member of Smoke Bellow play an electronic set

First album you bought?
Mase - Harlem World

Last album you bought?
Last album I bought was Roomful of Teeth by Roomful of Teeth

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst

Who is your musical hero?
Philip Glass

How important is music to your creative process?
As a consumer of music, and not having any musical experience since orchestra practice in high school, I am blessed to be able to enjoy the boundless nature of music without being privy to criticism. Because painting is such a contemplative, labor intensive process, I prefer repetitive music of all sorts in order to help pass the time. 


Sita Ram - Alice Coltrane
Victim of a Drive By - Triple Six Mafia
Prashanti - Ravi Shankar
RIP Kevin Miller - Isaiah Rashad
A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close - Bruce Levingston
Stainless Staining Lisa Moore 
Medicine Man Rip Ho - Tommy Wright III
Klepsydra - Kate Moore
Courante - Roomful of Teeth 
Busta ass Niggas - Lady Bee
Hai Na - Art Blakey
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 1 - Josquin
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 2 - Josquin
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 3 - Josquin
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 4 - Josquin
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 5 - Josquin
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 6 - Josquin
Ave Maris... virgo serena, Pt. 7 - Josquin
Workers Comp - Mos Def

Check out Gaia's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. Check out Gaia's website at gaiastreetart.com

Background Noise, Episode 35: Chris Stain by Matt Bomarr

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 35, the focus is on artist Chris Stain

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 35, the focus is on artist Chris Stain

Gil Scott-Heron - photo via  BrooklynStreetArt.com

Gil Scott-Heron - photo via BrooklynStreetArt.com

NYC-based artist Chris Stain celebrates the people's people. Like Parisian street artist C215 (featured in episode 24), Chris Stain chooses to draw attention to the lesser-known, the lesser-seen faces of the world. From innocent children to the hard-worn working class.

He's a former graffiti artist, taking inspiration from Beat Street in the 80s, writing the name SAVAGE, before moving on to calling himself STAIN. From there, he progressed into stencil art, a format he uses to this day. It's through his perfection of his stencil art that he's able to piece together the murals he does, projecting the stencils onto walls at night (with permission, of course), and using that projection as a base to build off of. He prefers this approach because it allows him a bit more freedom to experiment, as opposed to putting an actual stencil to a wall and doing it that way.

His murals will often be chosen to fit their surroundings. Stain always takes into account the neighborhood he is working in, and will do his best to portray something that will reflect that neighborhood and what he thinks the community will like.

Chris is part of the Pittsburgh-based artist cooperative Justseeds, a "decentralized network of 24 artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance." He's also currently an art teacher in New York City.

photo by  Lois Stavksy

photo by Lois Stavksy

What was your first concert?
Dead Milkmen opened for Henry Rollins after Black Flag broke up 1986 or 87

Last concert/show?
CRASS when they played NYC with Steve Ignorant on vocals on the Last Supper tour

photo by  Lois Stavsky

photo by Lois Stavsky

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Ozzy, Diary of a Madman on vinyl

Last album you bought?
The Roots...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin 

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
7 Seconds "Walk Together Rock Together", Minor Threat "Out of Step", Grandmaster Flash "The Message", CRASS "Christ The Album",  Rammellzee "Beat Bop", Husker DU "Zen Arcade", Gil Scot Heron "Winter In America", Miles Davis " In A silent way", CHet Baker " ALone Together", John Coltrane " A love Supreme", Rites of Spring " 7 inch", Embrace "Embrace", T-LA Rock " It's Yours"

Who is your musical hero?
Ian Mackaye not just for the music but overall as a person and his contribution to society in general. How important do you think music is to your creative process? Music certainly aids the process by taking me deeper into the emotions I am trying to convey in the work.

Check out Chris Stain's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. Check out Chris's website here.

Shark Tank - "Red Rain" by Matt Bomarr

shark tank - "red rain" (download) [audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/13778479-ef5.mp3]

Shark Tank consists of Grand Buffet's Lord Grunge, Baltimore rapper Height, Mickey Free and Brendan Richmond.  This is their first "single," released for free via their Bandcamp page not long ago.  This song has absolutely nothing to do with the Peter Gabriel song of the same name.  I always find this song's chorus bouncing around in my head.  Fans of any of the artists involved will definitely love this. Full length record is in the works. bandcamp

Pictureplane vs. Future Islands - "Old Dreamer" by Matt Bomarr

Denver's Pictureplane (Travis Egedy) takes on Future Islands' "Old Friend" and "Little Dreamer" from their new record Wave Like Home, and makes his own version, appropriately titled "Old Dreamer". Future Islands have been touring like crazy, and are getting ready to head to Europe to play some more shows with their fellow Baltimore maniac Dan Deacon. Pictureplane is best known for his great remix of Health's "Lost Time" from their Health/Disco remix record. You can purchase Pictureplane's newish record Turquoise Trail here. Pick up Wave Like Home from Future Islands here. Now, if I could only convince Travis to send us the Restiform Bodies remix he was supposed to give us ;)