Tuesday, January 29, 2008
LABEL 228 PROJECT
FROM BOOTLEG MAGAZINE APRIL 2007
Art is anywhere, anytime; it just depends on your viewpoint. Subway cars in the Seventies and Eighties became mobile murals in New York City. Not every artist can afford a canvas to create on; some people’s imagination exceeds their grasp. Sometimes to canvas is bigger than ourselves. Look at Banksy or Michelangelo. Sometimes the canvas is really small.
And free. Complimentary of the U.S. Post Office.
Local artist Camden Noir lived in Wilmington about seven months when the idea arrived one night; to create a book project based on artwork he’d seen drawn on Post Office mailing labels numbered Label 228. The project is composed of street artists, post office stickers, and a common interest….art. The book will be a conglomerate of Label 228 stickers from the post office, recreated and hand done from people all over the world. Camden created several years ago, sticking them up at school “and local downtown shit holes where everyone could see them, but I never actually dedicated myself to doing them.”
The idea came about last March and has found its way around the world via the Internet and MySpace. Having mailed labels to places as disparate as Austria, France, Germany, the U.K. and California, the furthest submission came from Australia.
“Its funny how art brings everyone together.”
Camden is currently working with Gingko Press and “hashing out ideas” he says, hoping to get the book published by late August. “Right now it’s in the air.” The book seeks to collect as much of the artwork possible and present different voices.
“I would see the Label 228 stickers and wondered why people would waste artwork on a stop sign or streetlamp.” As a graffiti artist he understood but wanted to create something to showcase the artwork instead of random chances when someone walks by it.
Street art appeals to Camden, having been a stencil graffiti artist for several years. “You go to a museum and see a painting and admire the brush strokes and textures but with street art, you admire the drain pipe the person climbed to showcase their work.”
Considering it lost art, since few people consider street art legitimate, Camden is interested in graffiti not only for its artistic qualities but the personal risk involved in addition to the emotion behind the work and its meaning.
“I’m interested by the type of spray paint they used or how long they were there and if any cops drove by a street down and couldn’t see them.” Near the parking deck on Front Street there was a piece of an eight foot tall underage kid with a gun signifying the problems in Africa. It moved him to the point he cried when it was covered up.
Peel Magazine has aided in furthering the Label 228 project. The founder agreed to sell the book on his site and do a write-up. “He respects the arts and cares about more than money and ad space, which I respect immensely. It’s going to be a pleasure to work with him.”
Obtaining the labels online has been become harder than it once was. Years ago anyone could go to USPS website, make up a fake name and receive the stickers, a thousand, for free. Now, after seeing how many stickers were being dispersed, the post office has made it more difficult to get them. “You can still go to the local post office and get them by the hundreds.”
Interesting submissions have come in from artists Downtimer and Zoso as well as two collaboration stickers from Downtimer, Matt Linares and Daniel Fleres. But submissions are welcome from everyone, not just big name artists. Everyone is welcome, as are the variety of artistic ideas.
“I received a submission from someone who wrote an anonymous love letter to an unknown person on the postal sticker and sent that in. It was beautiful. Its funny how many words you can fit on a 4" x 5" surface.”
In preparation for an art show June at ArtFuel, Inc. Camden has been preparing large canvas pieces. Doing mostly stencil graffiti on canvas has led to exploring the streets of Wilmington to locate new wall space. The art show is comprised of Camden and two other artists in which the theme is “in your face, open-eyed, political statements and television.”
I ask about being an ‘outsider artist’ and if that’s a fair description. Having met Camden on the street downtown and elsewhere I am a little surprised by his answer. “Most people would consider me an outsider. This is about as sociable as I get,” referring to the interview by e-mail. But the artist is friendly and conversational, yet remains steadfast concerning his privacy, recently ditched the use of phones.