We just wrapped up our latest show – No Can Left Behind – at 941 Geary/White Walls. It was our most challenging and ambitious exhibition to date. We have so many people to thank for bringing it all together, but we have to start at the beginning with Haste CBS, Alex “Neonski” of MTN Colors North America, and Justin Giarla of White Walls.
For our show, No Can Left Behind”, we decided on that title simply because it is the mantra that moves us. Our mission is turn every discarded spray can into a work of art and we really wanted to drive that message with the size and scale of the work. Secondly, it was an immediate challenge to ourselves to use every can we had in the studio. With the help and support of Stash Maleski and I.C.U Art we’ve collected and processed more than ten-thousand cans at the Venice Art Walls over the last two years. The 3000 sq ft exhibition warehouse at 941 Geary was a perfect location for us to go big and prove to ourselves and to the art community that we could create something scaled and worthy of a large public space. In addition to the thousands of cans we’ve collected, MTN donated another 1500 defective white spray-paint cans to be used for our show.
Immediately after being offered the show and seeing the space, we were inspired with ideas we wanted to execute. The really big idea we had – the centerpiece of the entire show – was something completely new for us and something we had no idea how to build. Graffitree, as it would later be dubbed, for the trew that graffiti grew, was to stand as tall as possible underneath the 20 ft ceiling and bright skylight. This monumental task would become just part of the ideas to be included in No Can left Behind”. While we wrapped our heads around what would be our biggest project to date. The ideas did not stop however, and in order to support the Graffiitree, we were gearing up to produce hundreds of hand cut spray paint flowers, as well as a special project with MTN and collaborated with three different generations of graffiti artists to create what we hoped to be a show of a lifetime.
Knowing the mountain that lie ahed, we started pre-fabricating everything back at our studio, Chalk. Our team had the bandsaws running for months as we processed each and every can one at a time and slowly emptied all our of collection bins. Fresh flowers were being cut daily, colors panels were sorted and laid out for Graffitree’s trunk, can-vases were being built for our fifteen collaborating artist, steel was being welded, and time was running out as it tends to do. With all the work that needed to be done, we were amazed at how organized our execution had become, which in time we would be commended on by the gallery curator Justin Giarla. We owe it to our exceptional team that we couldn’t have done it without. To all of our Chalk brothers – Jason Wolske, Justin Mitchell, Jordan Wolske, Christopher Neff, Michael Mazzola – we give it up to you for helping bring it all together. We had mad support and help too from our homies Charlie Murphy and Garret Wasserman.
It was one thing to build everything and set it up, but moving a 20 ft metal tree 400 miles along with hundreds of other pieces meant we had to set some hard dates to stop production, start packing, and get moving. Taking a lesson from our Burning Man days, we designed Graffitree in sections, so that it could easily be moved and regrown at will. As for the rest of the work, we were a month away, and still had hundreds and hundreds of flowers that needed finishing, collaborative canscapes that still needed to be picked up, our Fresh Flower Cart and lowrider trike to be made pretty as well as and tons of tools and materials. Trying our best we did actually manage to leave on the date we set and with everything packed. It was all working out according to plan. A short U-haul trip later, we arrived in the bay area two weeks before the opening with our rowdy bunch. GO TEAM!
In addition to our boys, the White Walls crew also came through strong and made our install a dream. Justin runs a tight ship at White Walls, so another big thanks to his crew, especially Panda and Ben for pitching in so much to help make the show a real hit. All the work wasn’t without its fair share of stories, and for anyone who has spent time in San Francisco’s tenderloin, they know there is no shortage of weird and amazing people. As time went on with our show our crew had the pleasure of meeting many of them, and getting to know others on a more personal basis. Plenty of stories to recount at a later time. As more of our team came from Los Angeles, and family Debbie and Dennis came from as far away as Florida, we worked around the clock for two weeks straight and finished with enough time to take a shower and have a celebratory cold one before walking into our show.
If there was anything we could say we loved about the show was that the response was amazing. The faces of the crowd were filled with wonder, and from their lips came both praise as well as some criticism and critique too. All commentary was welcomed as we got to mill about and enjoy the colorful fruits of our labor with family and new friends. We were exhausted and with good right, our team couldn’t look at another spraypaint can and frankly neither could we. So after a brief trip to Sonoma to relax, it was time to head back home and unplugged for a couple of weeks. We were scheduled to be back at White Walls at the end of July for a closing BBQ and panel discussion with Apex, Neon of MTN, Desi WOME, CANLOVE, and Stash Maleski.
Closing day came and the day was beautiful. Tons of people showed up and Giarla was the dutiful grill master feeding all the hungry faces that were waiting in line. We had a nice discussion on the panel and it was a solid closing to end a successful show. We have tons of photos from the event and a many thanks to Colin M. Day, Rj Paganini, and Michael Mazzola for capturing it all on film. And thank you as well to Chor Boogie, for lending his amazing spray paint skills to some of our Hand-Cut Flowers during the closing show.
Another special thank you to MTN and all of the artists who collaborated with us on the 1500 Project. Out of the 1500 white cans we received, we created 2 large collaborative murals and built 15 of our signature Canscapes out of only White MTN 94 cans, and gave them to the following artists: RISK, Augustine Kofie, MearOne, HasteCBS, APEX, Codak, Neils “Shoe” Meulman, Chad Hasegawa, Word to Mother, KRUSH TWS, MEGGS, PEOPLE LA, NEON, and NEF, ESTRIA and CRAYONE. The 1500 Project was an unprecedented idea that allowed CANLOVE to reach out and involve other artists in our process as well as created a new conversation between street artists and their medium. We were thrilled with the way everything turned out, and look forward to collaborating with more artists around the world.