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Friday, August 12, 2022

Graffiti Jam at Mural Festival Celebrates Street Art, Community

“There’s a lot more going on in Vancouver right now. I’m glad Vancouver is starting something like that.” — Justy

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The rattle of spray cans and the smell of paint wafted down Saturday’s west alleys of Main and E.5 as graffiti artists painted a five-meter section of the parking lot wall.

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Brightly colored, and often very abstract, characters in pinks, blues and yellows were painted on black painted walls. On the adjacent purple-and-red background wall was a large black-and-white portrait of a smiling young man, his name spelled out in two-foot-tall white letters: Holden.

The scene was the venue for the fifth Holden College Graffiti Jam, held in honor of young graffiti artist Holden College, who died in 2015 at the age of 21.

“We are in touch with Holden’s mom and she works with VMF to put this all together each year,” said a local graffiti artist. Janasti, organized artists for this year’s graffiti jam. “They asked if someone like me could get some artists together – and that’s what we did.”

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Graffiti is illegal, so all the artists we spoke with for this article requested that they be identified only by their graffiti tag name.

Graffiti Jam at Mural Festival Celebrates Street Art, Community
Graffiti artist Jnasty works at the Holden Courage Graffiti Jam on Saturday as part of Vancouver’s Vancouver Mural Festival.

This project Holden Courage Memorial Fund for Artistsfounded after his death by Courage’s mother, Tara McGuire.

and blog post Since 2017, McGuire has been writing about what doodling means to her son.

“Holden loved to scribble,” she wrote. “He loved everything about it: creativity, smells, friendship, rebellion, music, danger, color, risk and thrill.”

Jnasty, from Hawaii, said she has been painting for about 25 years. He appreciates the memorial and mural festival’s efforts to promote street art around Vancouver.

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“There’s a lot more going on in Vancouver right now,” he said of street art, noting that cities like Toronto have a larger street art culture. “I’m glad Vancouver is starting something like that.”

Tars, a local graffiti artist who has been painting for more than 20 years, agreed, noting that opportunities are hard to find for local street artists.

“Vancouver doesn’t give graffiti writers a lot of opportunities,” he said. “This event is a really good opportunity for us to do our own thing.”

Graffiti artist Tars works at the Holden Courage Graffiti Jam on Saturday as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival in Vancouver.
Graffiti artist Tars works at the Holden Courage Graffiti Jam on Saturday as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival in Vancouver. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Wills, a local graffiti artist who has been painting since the late 80s, appreciated the opportunity to revisit his early passions and connect with old friends, but acknowledged concerns about gentrification. I was.

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“I can’t do this much. I have other responsibilities now,” he said. “So for me, it’s just getting together with friends.”

He noted that large-scale public art works add value not only to neighborhoods, but property prices as well. “I think artists should be compensated for that.”

Victoria-based graffiti artist Theme, who has attended the festival twice in the past, said he was impressed with the impact it had on his neighborhood.

“Every year there’s a new[mural]going up,” he said. “The change it has brought to the city is crazy.”

Graffiti artist Virus works at the Holden Courage Graffiti Jam on Saturday as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival in Vancouver.
Graffiti artist Virus works at the Holden Courage Graffiti Jam on Saturday as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival in Vancouver. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

All the artists Postmedia spoke to said they valued the sense of community and camaraderie fostered by the festival.

“I haven’t seen them in a year,” Wills said. “We’ve been through some crazy times, and now we’re here.”

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