- Book Review by Erica Stella
Sold's Stack of Books: New Orleans: Murals, Street Art & Graffiti Volume 1
Throughout this wonderful and inspiring subculture of art, there have been notably strong women behind the scenes. Their varied work is fueled by passion, and they are committed to documenting and educating the public. We live to highlight the artists that create public art; but the documenters, directors, curators and writers will be the story tellers that put graffiti and street art into the history books. At Sold Magazine, we have taken note that many of these soldiers are female.
Meet Kady Yellow.
Kady is the woman behind New Orleans: Murals, Street Art & Graffiti Volume 1: New Orleans' 1st book on street art & graffiti, a visual storytelling of the city of New Orleans' Urban Art.
Born and raised in Binghamton, NY, Kady grew up with a drive that could only come from a "small town, not far from the biggest city" mentality. At the age of 17, Kady was the youngest Commissioner for Downtown Development, founded the Department of Public Art, and later established a Public Art Advisory Board, and named Mayoral Advisor to the City of Binghamton. She then graduated with a Bachelor's in both Mathematics and Graphic Design from SUNY Binghamton.
In 2013, Kady moved to Brooklyn, designed and taught an undergraduate course on graffiti history, street art politics, and mural making for SUNY. She moved to New Orleans, LA from NYC in 2015, and had the opportunity to continue teaching her curriculum.
In 2016, she traveled to Bunnell Street Art Center in Alaska, where she helped the town of 5,000 launch their first mural program.
Kady then went on to work in Ireland at the Galway International Arts Festival managing public art programming. Later that year, she earned her Master’s in Arts Administration at the University of New Orleans. In addition to publishing her first book, she also writes for Street Art United States. She continues to implement mural programming around the country, like her most recent project: FLINT x NOLA (merging the cultures of these two cities in need), with the Flint Public Art Project.
This book, released on September 19, 2019 is a collection of photos, interviews and the stories behind the art found in the streets of the Marigny/Bywater neighborhoods specifically. An educational tool for street art fanatics, and a gift for anyone wanting to learn about the NOLA artists and local art history.
A first of its kind, and just the beginning for this young author; the full-color, hardcover book includes never-before-told stories over 163 gorgeous pages. Coincided by photographs from Leone Julitte, Brandon Ore, Corrie Simpson, Anthony Bora, Marco Rasi, Carlos Fundora, and Kady herself, the interviews and biographies of 70 artists, over 210 sites throughout the area pay attention to both the underground and the formal-permission world. The colorful pages bring to life the street art scene in the Crescent City.
Gems dropped throughout:
Learn why local artist Jay McKay’s signature is the camouflage, or why Fat Kids’ work feels nostalgic when you see it, or who the women are in SWAN’s portraits. The book looks at how this ephemeral art form has adorned the streets of New Orleans; from the 9th Ward, to The Art Garage, to a special place called "The End of The World". It shares the context of these murals, tags, wheatpastes, slap-ups, and mural masterpieces alike. (highlights below)
Started in the 80's, Top Mob is the most relevant and long running New Orleans' crew, influenced by NYC graffiti photographs. These photos made their migration South, and inspired kids to do the same in their own streets. Just as the South influenced the hip hop beats originated in the Bronx, Southern style was sprinkled on to their graffiti style as well.
Hobo-graffiti writer originally from East Bay, CA, he was named after the brand Old Crow Whiskey; by his elder train riders one night, despite his young age. Old Crow found himself first painting in New Orleans in '01, but it kept calling him back. He came back many times over the years to paint, and since '14 calls it his permanent home. This was the case with many traveling artist, there is something unique and authentic about this special Southern city.
The Gray Ghost
The most compelling of tales amongst a pot of gold, The Gray Ghost AKA Fred Radtke is the anti-graffiti activist who went to great lengths to silence his local wall writers. He drew worldwide attention for his aggressive buffing habit, and the controversial drama eventually drew the attention of Banksy, traveling to the city to make his public opposition known.
The collection is not limited to the local heroes, although there are many. You will see remnants from trips, (and the stories to go along) from names like: Eduardo Kobra, Jeremy Novy, Sara Erenthal, Meg Zany, Drew Meritt, Louis Masai, Nick Walker, Banksy, Swoon, Shiro, Hugo Gyrl, Homo Riot, KOOK, elSol25, and Jules 'Muck' Rock.
During her time living in New Orleans, Kady built close friendships with artists. She saw how special public art was in this city, especially after Katrina. Many of the artists needed help getting their voices heard, and she was the woman to do it.
Leading up to the production of this publication, Kady was reminded of a powerful moment standing in the Martha Cooper Library at Urban Nation in Berlin. She was compelled to share the message that we need to document more. We need to tell the stories. We need more people, authentically from the scene, to write about it all. She realized it was the right time to write her first book on muralists and graffiti artists, and New Orleans was the right place to start.
Kady's message is not just to the public, but to the other documenters in this scene. An anecdote I have heard from street art fans for almost a decade:
"All I want is for the people who do not look up and all around them, to start."
This young woman from upstate, NY has come a long way in a short amount of time, and she is just trying to make sense of the world around her. By using outdoor art to make the world a more comfortable place, she's found a happiness from seeing the world differently, and has come at this movement from the inside out. Exactly the way it should be. Public art has allowed people from many different backgrounds and disciplines to come together and share experiences. If there's one thing that could bring the world together, it is art - without it, earth is just eh.
You can purchase your own copy of New Orleans: Murals, Street Art & Graffiti Volume 1
*And look out for Volume 2 that will cover the 7th ward, CBD, Central City, and Bayou-St John, to be out in 2020.
It will include work by LOVE, Louis Masai, Flashyken, and MUCH, MUCH MORE!