The walls are primed. Paint and brush are available. Artists from around the city and around the world flock to Rochester.
Wall\Therapy kicks off Saturday to celebrate its 10th anniversary and final annual week-long festival painting fresh murals on buildings across the city. The event features more than a dozen muralists, a film screening, artist workshops and more from July 23-31.
While this week-long extravaganza will be the last of its kind, organizers say they will continue to facilitate mural installation and will bring individual artists or small groups of artists to Rochester where possible.
RELATED: Wall\Therapy marks 10 years with one final festival
CITY previously announced this year’s artist roster, which includes six Wall\Therapy alumni: New Mexico-based Indigenous painter Nani Chacon (2018), London-based Irish artist Conor Harrington (2013), Canadian artist Jarus (2014), and Hawaiian-born artist Ian Kuali’i (2017), California-born artist Faring Purth (2013), and Rochester artist Brittany Williams (2015).
The list also includes several artists new to Wall\Therapy: Rochester native Ephraim Gebre, whose John Lewis mural on State Street has received national acclaim, will be his first Wall\Therapy mural with RIT Professor and create artist Luvon Sheppard; Detroit-based artist Sydney G. James; Daniel Jesse Lewis of Berkeley, California; South African artist Elléna Lourens; and Keya Tama, the son of South African artist and Wall\Therapy graduate Faith47.
This year’s 10 wall locations are now live on the Wall\Therapy website and are matched to each artist as follows:
Conor Harrington will paint at 114 St. Paul St. across from the World Wide News parking lot on a wall previously painted by Belgian artist ROA that had previously been vandalized. Seeing ROA’s ‘Sleeping Bears’ mural disappear is bittersweet, but perhaps now we can finally put to rest the excessive attention the mural has received as a source of controversy.
Conor Harrington will paint the brick facade of 114 St. Paul St., which for years housed Belgian artist ROA’s infamous black-and-white mural “Sleeping Bears.” The work was widely planned, and at times the controversy it generated overshadowed the scope of the event’s achievements over the years.
RELATED: Rochester’s infamous ‘Sleeping Bears’ mural vandalized
Brittany Williams will paint at 36 King Street off West Main – in a building that formerly housed the Frederick Douglass Resource Center – and Ephraim Gebre will paint with Luvon Sheppard at 488 West Main St. near Sheppard’s Joy Gallery.
Located downtown on Monroe Ave. Nani Chacon has a mural at Strangebird Beer (62 Marshall Street) and Ian Kuali’i will be painting at Purple Cow Studios (143 S. Union St.).
Over in the East End, Keya Tama has a wall on East Ave. 318 claimed, on the building housing Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta and Akimbo Books.
In addition to the abundance of murals in the Public Market District, Elléna Lourens will paint at Tiny Fish Printing (258 Hayward Ave.), and just north of the Inner Loop, Sydney G. James will paint a mural at the S&T Lounge Restaurant (330 North St.).
Further north, you can catch Faring Purth and Daniel Jesse Lewis painting the back wall at Auto Finishers (1711 N. Clinton Ave.), and Jarus is painting Barrett Wood Products at 50 Jessie St. — pop by Donuts Delite while you’re in the neighborhood .
There’s no formal theme for this year’s harvest of murals, but organizers gave a loose challenge to participating artists to create work that explores something they want to talk about in relation to the state of the world.
Aside from how the murals are made, there are other ways to participate in this year’s Wall\Therapy Festival. Related events taking place over the coming week include:
• A screening of the documentary ‘MARTHA’ is scheduled for a screening on July 26th at The Little Theater in honor of renowned street art photographer Martha Cooper, who will be back in town to photograph the festival again this year. The free demonstration will be followed by a Q&A with Cooper.
• A group discussion on July 28 from 6:00pm to 8:30pm (details to be posted at wall-therapy.com).
• A watercolor workshop with Luvon Sheppard on July 30 from 12pm to 2pm (details to be announced)
• The Tiny Fish print will be celebrating its 15th anniversary on July 30 from 4pm to 8pm, coordinated with the unveiling of Elléna Lourens’ new mural on site.
Wall\Therapy officially launched as an annual festival in 2012, a summer after founder Dr. Ian Wilson had brought together a small group of South African-based muralists with local artists to quietly paint murals with uplifting messages on Troup Street and around the Rochester Public Market.
From there, the project grew into an annual, highly anticipated event that brought together artists from around the world to paint walls across the city. It highlighted the work of Rochester artists and featured film screenings, dance parties and public art conferences.
Rebecca Rafferty is CITY’s Life Editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.