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Wall Dogs: The Midair Muralists Who Paint New York

It’s 8am in Soho, the thermometer reads just above freezing, and the sky is bleak. Taxis splash down the streets; New Yorkers stride with their heads down, leaping over puddles, carelessly bumping into each other. Everyone wants to get out of the cold, out of the rain, into the warmth.

Ten stories above — on a long, skinny platform hanging from the facade of a building at Canal and Mercer in downtown Manhattan — it’s a different story. Climbers’ ropes secured around their torsos, Jason Coatney and Armando Balmaceda stand in a melange of open paint cans and brushes. These two muralists of Colossal Media, the largest hand-painted advertising company in America, are heavily layered in sweatshirts and raincoats. But in this industry, c’est la vie. Paintbrushes in their fingerless-gloved hands, earbuds in their ears — “I like to start out with Miles Davis in the morning,” Coatney smiles, his breath visible in the frigid air — they begin yet another workday in the sky.

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Street Art Project by A Common Name

This year I have been working on a street art project around the Los Angeles area. Rather than using traditional paint or wheat paste methods in a 2D platform, I’ve been using paper in 3D. These sculptures come in all sizes and fit in the holes of buildings and pipes found while walking around. The finished shapes represent geodes, crystal, quartz, or any mineral formation that you would normally find in nature, now in our planned out cities.

A parallel aspect of these “geodes” in nature and in the city is they are always unexpected treasures. You might go hunting for treasures but you generally happen upon them during your adventures or casual interaction with the environment. I enjoy the fact that many people will not notice these, but some astute people will; that these will not last forever and the weather will affect them as naturally as it might in nature. So far I’ve made twelve—several have been trashed or taken away, and one has fallen apart due to rain.