Photos by Jamie Lee and Joe Dreher
My work "Not A Mural Mural" was selected for ArtFields 2017. An annual, nine-day art competition in Lake City, South Carolina – and the largest competition of its kind – Artfields awards more than $120,000 in cash prizes to artists from across the Southeast. And, it’s also infused new energy, creativity, and growth into Lake City and its surrounding communities.
A Thin Veil. Tar Paper Stencil, Store Bought Flag, Light and Shadow on Wall. 2017 - Patriotism is being used by some as a veil for white supremacy and racism. Once again we have been reminded how thin that veil is and how ignorance, intolerance and hate still exist.
I had a dream. A dream about a mural. A dream about a mural without a wall. A dream about a mural without a wall and without paint. A mural that wasn't a mural by the definition we know. A mural of light and a mural of darkness. A mural that cast a shadow on the earth. I had a dream about a mural that was not a mural at all. I had a dream and then I built it and made it a reality. My wish for everyone is for you to make your dream your reality. With all the love in my heart I share my dream with you.
Works In Progress
Decatur Box Project - Part of an effort to beautify the environment and transform the ubiquitous traffic signal boxes located throughout the city into works of art.
CALVIN. The son of my friend Gail who I have known for sometime. Long enough to see her boy grow up and become a young man. Gail is a single mother and struggled to keep him on the right path but through her example and hard work saw him graduate, find employment and turn 18. This is as much a celebration of her as it is of her son and she will feel that when she sees it. In a time where social injustice towards young black men is so visible and we are mourning for those who have fallen, it is important to take a breath and celebrate those who are with us and tell them how much they matter.
Sponsored by The Friends of English Avenue with assistance from fellow Creative Project residents John Tindal, Meta Gary, Margaret Hiden with the kids and staff of Street Smart Youth Project and members of the community.
Throughout the year artists are asked to donate to charitable organizations. This is a collection of work I have donated to places like The Hambidge Center for Creative Residencies, Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia ( MOCA GA), Decatur Education Foundation to name a few.
Several murals from the 2013 Living Walls, The City Speaks Conference were in need of some tender love and care so I gave them a little of both before Streets Alive Festival. Murals by 3ttman, Know Hope, Marcy Starz and Gyun Hur.
The Art of Nature is sponsored by the Blue Heron Nature Preserve and the Women's Caucus for the Arts GA.
William Massey III invited me along with some other talented artists to join him at the Kinship Cancer Institute to share some Time, Art and Fun with the patients and staff.
New South is a juried exhibition or works on paper at Kai Lin Gallery in Atlanta, GA
I was asked to select from three walls to paint my mural for the campaign. Instead, I encouraged them to let me bring on two additional artists and paint all three walls side by side over the period of a week. The murals for the Not A Crime campaign were painted by Charmaine Minnifield, Fabian Williams and myself (mine is the one with the gold of course).
Commissioned by the High Museum of Art to advertise the Basqiuat: The Unknown Notebooks exhibition.
Artists are asked to donate a piece of furniture that has been embellished with there artwork to be auctioned for the Metro Atlanta Furniture Bank.
Commissioned in 2015 and painted during Art Basil Miami in Wynwood.
A collaboration with #weloveatl for Art on the Beltline. The design for three outdoor gallery spaces in the form of a heart.
Curator for a gallery show featuring nine Graffiti artist all but one originally from other cities but all now call Atlanta home. The show featured large scale works as big as 10 foot by 20 foot representing what the artists would normally do outside but now brought inside the gallery.
My contribution to The Salem Middle School Mural Project in progress. The purpose of the project is to promote art in the schools and as a sustainable career for kids to consider. The way athletes have sports to create teams and pride in community this project will give artists a way to work together and express themselves to others. An ongoing series of artists, many doing their first murals will be painting and assisting the students with their murals.
Wheat Paste Installation at the Blue heron Nature Preserve
An impromptu expression of my love for our city. On my way to visit a friend on the Beltline, I rode by a yard sale and a spool of red yarn caught my eye. Not knowing what I would do with it I purchased it for a dollar. After meeting with friend, I decided to try and weave a heart in the fence above Ponce de Leon Avenue. If it says anything to anyone I hope it says it doesnt take much to show your love and have a big heart.
In September 2014, I painted my first mural in Cabbagetown. I used white primer and black paint leftover from Living Walls. I didn't have a lot of resources but I had an idea and thanks to Sam Parker, the opportunity and the encouragement to paint it.
Verbon C. Grimes Jr.
Photographed by: Joe Dreher @joekingatl
I arrived in the Just Us neighborhood to walk the two blocks that make up the extents of the smallest neighborhood in Atlanta and one of the 45 linked to the Beltline. I was there to find a subject for my portrait of a resident of this neighborhood I had never even heard of a few weeks ago. I was chasing after the mailman to ask him if he knew any interesting people who lived in the neighborhood and I almost ran right by him as he stood in his front yard eating a sandwich. By chance, I saw him and knew instantly that I had found my subject and now I just had to hope he was agreeable to talking to me and having his picture taken.
I said, “Hello, my name is Joe and I am doing an art project on the Beltline.” He responded with “I don’t have no beltline, I’m too skinny,” then he introduced himself as Verbon, Verbon C. Grimes Jr. to be exact. I asked Mr. Grimes to tell me about the neighborhood that I could find little more than a paragraph or two about on Wikipedia. I read that it was the first black built and owned subdivision in Atlanta. He explained to me that because it was within walking distance of the black colleges in the area that most of the residents were administrators, educators or worked at the colleges in some capacity. There were presidents of the universities, doctors, professors, ministers and many affluent members of black society. Verbon told me how the only outsider who used to come around was the building inspector. He remembers it was dark on the street at night because there were only four street lights. At Christmas every year the neighbors would string lights from house to house to create an elaborate neighborhood holiday light displays. The posts that held the lights all pointed north to the North Star.
I asked him how old he was and how long he lived in the neighborhood and his answer to both was “I was there in the beginning, well since 1948” – which would make him 66 years old as best I can tell. I asked if he was married and had any children and he said “I left here when my hair was black and ain’t nobody wanted to live with me after I came back from the Nam.”
“I was in the Army,” he said. “Danger ain’t no stranger for an airborne ranger”.
He told me that he had two cats he called Frick and Frack that he used to walk around the neighborhood and he became known as “the man who walked cats”. I asked him what he liked about the neighborhood and he said the library that is located at the end of the street where he goes everyday it is open to read the papers and enjoy the air conditioning. He started pointing to houses on the street and telling me about some of his neighbors past and present. A minister on one corner, and on the other Mr. Herman Nash, who brought all the entertainers to Atlanta to perform at the Auburn Avenue Casino and the Magnolia Ballroom. He told me he saw James Brown for 50 cents but Ray Charles cost a dollar seventy eight. Mr. Nelson was the librarian at Washington High. Mr. Grey worked for the railroad for forty-four years and then retired and became a security guard. And that house down there is for the President of Clark Atlanta University.
I thanked him for being so friendly and willing to let me take his photo while he talked. I offered to bring him to see the installation when it was in place and he told me the bus route he could take to get there so I am assuming he no longer drives. I went home to look at the photos and printed one out which I delivered to him the next day.