Slowly, attitudes are changing toward a long-controversial form of art: in many cities, street art has evolved from an annoying graffiti on facades to a lively means of expression that many cities are proud of. Of course, it depends on which artist was at work - and how well he mastered his job. Five examples of successful street art culture in NRW.
If you talk about street art in Dortmund, you can't get past them: Olaf Ginzel and Daniela Bekemeier have been running the 44309streetgallery for several years and have put Dortmund on the map of the international mural scene. Their goal of bringing graffiti artists from all over the world to Dortmund to have them design the largest possible buildings there has worked out. More than twenty huge, yes: enormous murals have been created in and around Dortmund's Union district alone. The most famous and largest so far: the pink-grey HYPE lettering on the parking lot of the subway tower, designed by Dortmund's Mark Gmehling. But also Super Bruno by the Spaniard Belin in Langenstraße - the portrait of a young man between Green Batman and Harlequin - is an impressive testimony to the radiance of good street art. Olaf Ginzel and Daniela Bekemeier have put together a public space map with the help of Google Maps so that people who are not familiar with Dortmund can find their way around the Unionviertel right away: A map with 18 different works by renowned artists. What they have in common: they are big! The final word and a kind of mission statement on the subject comes from the makers of 44309streetgallery, we don't want to withhold it from you: "Street art is everything between actionism and pop startum, between street and cinema, between jail and museum."
And this is how you get to the Union Quarter in Dortmund by train: Plan arrival.
Six kilometers of colorful life, or, borrowing a Sponti saying from the seventies: On the facades lies the beach... In Cologne-Ehrenfeld, the Cologne sprayer scene has developed a kind of six-kilometer-long street art route that begins at Liebigstraße and ends at Leyendeckerstraße. There you can see oversized plush donuts, a convertible pulled into the air by purple brause angels, or the graffiti "All cats are bastards" by MEOW - among others. By the way, MEOW is a Cologne street artist who has been active in the graffiti scene for several years - under different names. Like his probably most famous colleague Banksy, who just recently caused a worldwide sensation with his charitable Corona Piece, he has long since developed his own signature: Cat content once avant-garde. Some other highlights in Ehrenfeld's street art cosmos: the Cologne artist collective Captain Borderline has sprayed an impressive monument to the historic Edelweiss Pirates at the corner of Venloer and Schönsteinstraße. Mr. Trash, alias Christian Böhmer, on the other hand, is more contemporary and took aim at the "cell phone idiot" at the corner of Marienstrasse and Hackländerstrasse. His work "Fallen Angel" shows two cell phone tippers with paper bags over their heads. Finally, the portrait of the lady who embellishes the work of the Berliner El Bocho at the Ehrenfelder Bahndamm is poppy: "I miss my Plattenbau" it says and is probably meant ironically. But who knows. That street art in Cologne is now also taken seriously and appreciated by the bourgeoisie, is shown by the way Rhein-Energie deals with the creativity of local sprayers: the artist and self-proclaimed vagrant Fietse Nowitzki is allowed to paint in Cologne now officially beautify power boxes from Rhein Energie.
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And this is how you get to Cologne-Ehrenfeld by train: Plan arrival.
Is this still street art or can it be the natural way to integrate new art forms into our everyday life? As an attempt to combine the themes of nature, culture and economy, the "Wood Art Gallery" was launched in 2015 as part of the "Krefeld Change of Perspective" program. The works of art, which were created five years ago by 20 street artists from around the world in a short period of time, can still be viewed today - even if nature is slowly taking possession of them again. To do so, however, you have to make a pilgrimage to the site of the former Carstanjen cement factory in Krefeld, because here - in the midst of wasteland and small paths - the street artists have individually transformed the concrete artifacts left behind by the Carstanjen company, which were once so drab and unadorned. From the house facade to the concrete tube, a transformation of the creative kind. The fact that such an idea can also be an attractive way to maneuver Street Art into the (predominantly positive) consciousness of a broad population has been impressively proven here in Krefeld. The best example is the yellow "iron snake" entitled "Yellow Submarine" by the American self-taught artist Anat Ronen: One has rarely seen a concrete block shine more colorfully and cheerfully.
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And this is how you get to the Krefeld "Wood Art Gallery": Plan arrival.
That's the way to do it! Where elsewhere often laboriously search for traces of exciting Street art a Düsseldorf native takes the fans of this young art genre by the hand: Klaus Rosskothen invented the Urban Art Walk, a two-hour tour past the exhibits of various street artists in the Bilk and Friedrichstadt districts of Düsseldorf. He is also curator and founder of the gallery Pretty Portal, which deals with all facets of street art, he knows: "Sure, Düsseldorf is in the matter of Urban Art not yet comparable with major metropolises, but it's getting more and more." In Bilk and Friedrichstadt, works by Jana&JS, FinDAC, Pixelpancho or L.E.T. in particular characterize the city's fresh streetscape, while in Flingern it's Düsseldorf artist Klaus Klinger with his group Color fever. He is a veteran of the scene: in the context of the legalization of a formerly "squatted living space" in the Kiefernstraße in Flingern, Germany, he put Color fever implemented an innovative street art concept: The houses that had been occupied since 1980 - and only those with odd numbers - were decorated with striking graffiti under Klinger's direction. In the meantime, Kiefernstraße has become a much-visited meeting place for people who are interested in the somewhat different, more colorful Düsseldorf interest. Or as one newspaper wrote: "Kiefernstraße is the perfect counter-design to the posh Königsallee." Take that as a compliment and stop by. Even if Color fever-founder Klaus Klinger, formerly a student of Gerhard Richter, doesn't see Pine Street at the end of its rope yet: "If the houses on Pine Street could one day be completely designed, that would be great."
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And this is how you get to Düsseldorf's Kiefernstraße by train: Plan arrival.
In Paderborn, people seem to be quite content, says Sven Niemann, because one rarely encounters rebellious or political statements on the walls of the Westphalian city. Instead, there are colorful comic cows, a colorful Ferris wheel or sometimes a melancholy, artistic woman's face. Niemann - a member of Generation Arts, which brings together people from Paderborn's art and culture scene - knows his way around this form of art. A linguist by training, he is not only writing his doctoral thesis on the subject of "graffiti," he is also the official city guide in the cathedral city for this topic. After a test session attracted more than 100 interested listeners, the two-hour graffiti tour is now a permanent feature of the tourist offer in Paderborn. Sven Niemann knows: More than 20 sprayers work in Paderborn, mainly on the Busdorf wall and in the Riemke district. And even CDU city councilor Grabenstroer thinks the graffiti in his city is great and revealed to the local newspaper: "The graffiti behind the Paderhalle in the Paderquell area are still very young and yet in the social networks already something like the landmarks of the city." On his tour, Sven Niemann explains to his guests which stylistic devices sprayers use, what their tags (signatures) mean and where sprayers are allowed to apply paint in the first place. After all, not every location is suitable for this form of decoration, and not every building owner is happy about the colorful images on his buildings. Although Niemann thinks that good graffiti would definitely enrich the cityscape: "There are still an awful lot of gray walls in Paderborn!"
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And this is how you get to Paderborn Busdorfmauer by train: Plan arrival.
Cover photo: The Dortmunder U wants to be a symbol of the city's structural change, a cultural center with a focus on digital media and the promotion of creativity in all conceivable fields of art - including street art. It is also symbolic because the U is located in the building (and as a letter on the roof) of Dortmund's former cult brewery Union. Chic roof garden, by the way... © Carsten Behle
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