B-More's Carroll Skate Park Gets Extreme Wildstyle Makeover
Some of Baltimore’s best old skool writers banded together to give Carroll Skate Park a much needed facelift. The earlier wall, painted in 2005 by Access Art (see below), had the disheartening slogan, “Pick Up a Passion, Not a Gun” and featured a young boy in jail in the center panel surrounded by kids doing acceptable activities such as skateboarding, photography, reading, playing football and b-boying.
By 2010, this was thoroughly tagged so Stefan WAYS saw an opportunity for a grand graffiti production in the skate park, a place where kids would truly understand and appreciate the art. Securing permits, spray paint, house paint, an airbrush, ladders, stencils, rollers, buckets and other tools was complicated and time consuming . The city didn’t make it easy but by persevering for months, Stefan managed to jump through the required hoops, have his preliminary drawing approved, round up the man and woman power and begin painting on July 30th.
The gathering of artists turned into a celebration of Baltimore’s graffiti history as writers brought out their treasured albums with vintage photos and clippings dating back to the 80’s. The final production was an intricate blending of classic wild-styled names combined with colors, characters, imagery and block letters that could easily be interpreted by the community. Purple predominated as a salute to the Ravens football team. Pigs skateboarding and BMXing referenced Pigtown, the surrounding neighborhood, so called because pigs were herded through the street from the B&O rail yards in the 18th and 19th centuries.
On August 15, after a heavy downpour, WAYS finally put on the finishing touches. Check the interview after the photos to read more about the patience, persistence and diplomacy required to pull off this magnificent production–a true gift to a struggling neighorhood from B-More’s writers.
Interview with Stefan WAYS:
1. Is it correct that you masterminded the whole production?
Yeah for the most part, everyone involved had their own input and style to make the project come together. I did a production with a bunch of writers In Hampden the past two years and the director from Skatepark of Baltimore suggested I paint the one at Carroll. A few weeks later I ran into some associates from Parks and People one day skating at the park and asked them how I should go about doing it.
They gave me the contacts I needed. I approached all the writers this winter with my idea and we met a few times at Jazi’s studio to discuss the idea, composition of the pieces, and color scheme. I approached the Friends of Carroll park for their support followed by me and Wake going to a meeting at Parks and Recs to show the concept I drew up and to get the permits.
2.How long was this in planning stage?
This was planned back in the winter. Everyone did their sketches at Jazi’s studio, and gave them to me and I sketched up the rough to show the city.
3. Did you design it yourself or together with the other guys?
the idea for the theme was mostly mine, everyone had there own ideas and input which came out once the project was set in motion.
4. Did you have any sponsorship at all? How did you pay for the paint?
We all paid for our own paint and didn’t have sponsorship. We had support from Friends of Carroll park, Skatepark of Baltimore, and Steady Baltimore.
5. Tell me about about the colors and theme.
The wall is themed for Pigtown, shown by the street signs of surrounding streets, pig characters interacting with the pieces and the skatepark, the blue and red reflections on the concrete,( a reminder of the tough past and present), tied together by a purple, gray, and yellow color scheme representing the Ravens and the fact that the stadiums are in Pigtown’s backyard. Also with pretty much the exception of me and SZE, who I paint with often, everyone was either from the neighborhood or still lives in the surrounding area.
6. What were some of the hurdles you had to jump over to get permission from the city?
The biggest hurdle was trying to get my foot in the door at the Parks and Recs meeting and to not to use the word graffiti, because the city has a law, anything labeled “graffiti” needs to be painted over. You begin to feel stupid calling it things like, abstract art or high end aerosol art. Also the question of “what do they say.” I had to dance around that a little. The most ironic thing of all is that no one even asked any questions the entire 2 weeks. The city has no process set in stone for anything like this, so they ended up writing us into the permit for “the concert in the park” which happened the first Saturday we were working on the wall. In general, everyone on the parks board was for it.
7. Was anyone in the city helpful or was it an uphill battle?
Surprisingly everyone from the city proved helpful except for the reluctant few who just like to disagree for the sake of disagreeing. The fact we were doing it on our own money and time was what made this so “easy” to get. Thanks to everyone involved and all the other writers that came out to help and hang out, you know who you are, good times, good wall.