Street Art

Shopping Small But Thinking Big

November 28, 2015

Juxtapoz has once again teamed up with American Express to curate 20 mural across the United States for Small Business Saturday!

For years, it seemed as if the only art business that was given any serious attention or even proper analyzation was the selling of blue chip paintings in famed galleries around the world. It was if only in these hallowed halls could one constitute the commerce in art, but this was short-sighted in that it missed a huge portion of a new generation of small business in the art world. From emerging galleries to Etsy creatives, print shops and even the artists themselves, the art market has widened and in turn, needed to be taking seriously as platforms of real support. And as we have mentioned time and again, Juxtapoz is a proud, independently owned small business.

Two thousand fourteen was the first of which we at Juxtapoz teamed up with American Express and their Shop Small campaign to curate murals in a few neighborhoods across the United States announced on Small Business Saturday. On November 28, 2015, we once again teamed up for Shop Small, but with a larger focus and more encompassing angle as to include other small business elements of the art world. Not only were 20 murals painted in cities around the USA, but we teamed with fellow small business 1xRUN on a special print release of Seattle-based Mary Iverson’s August 2015 cover image for Juxtapoz. The original painting hangs at the Converse headquarters as part of the Converse Lovejoy Art Program.

We sat down and talked with a few artist participants in the project this year, speaking with them about the neighborhoods they painted in, the subject matter they chose, and why being connect with Shop Small is important to them. The location of the artist’s mural was of utmost importance; they were painted in areas that captured the spirit of Shop Small, places where independent business thrives and connected with the murals that were painted.


Shawn Bullen, Phoenix (in collaboration with artist, Hugo Medina)
In the center of the wall I painted is a film strip depicting 5th and Roosevelt, known as Roosevelt Row in Phoenix, with a few of the small businesses highlighted in the frames. The Stop sign is replaced with the Shop Small symbol to remind people to support these small businesses. Since coming to Phoenix this has been the corner that I have returned to daily for food, coffee, music, books, art and meeting new people. The portraits on the left of the film frame are people that I met at Jobot coffee, who were eager to be a part of the mural. I painted them them pointing at their favorite place on the street. On the First Friday art walk this corner is packed with artists vendors and supporters. Roosevelt Row is a great example of a grass roots small business district. The cafes and bars showcase musicians and artwork on their walls, and the people in the city clearly show their support. I hope that this mural can play it’s little part in supporting the movement of small businesses in the area.

Brandan Odums, New Orleans
I have a long relationship with the shops on Bayou Road in New Orleans; it’s one of my favorite streets in New Orleans. It’s filled with locally black owned shops where the conversations are just as good as the products/ service they offer. Since high school, My interest in history and literature drew me to the Community Book Center (where the mural is painted) years of book suggestions, debates, community meetings, and lectures offered there, has shaped me into the artist I am today. So the opportunity to give back to a space that has given so much to me was indeed a dream come true.

For this painting I collaborated with one of my favorite street artist, READ MORE BOOKS, aka READER, and we sat down with Vera Washington the owner of the store, and brainstormed what message was most important to present. in the end we decided a challenge to the viewer to support small business disguised in the passing on of a book was layered in meanings that would be most effective.

Sravanthi Agrawal, Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications, American Express OPEN
The Shop Small murals, as part of Small Business Saturday, celebrate the importance of independent businesses and highlight how an entire community can come together in creative ways," says Sravanthi Agrawal, Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications, American Express OPEN. "Take Salt Lake City, where 13 children helped local artist Roger Whiting design and paint his mural through the Community Arts of Utah organization. In downtown Minneapolis, Greg Gossel's pop-art-inspired mural on Hennepin Avenue pays homage to the street's history as an entertainment hub.

Art has the potential to inspire a community. The murals are meant to encourage consumers to show their love for the businesses that make their neighborhoods unique throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Stefan Ways, Baltimore
I've always known of Highlandtown in Baltimore well; Baltimore is my hometown. I've shown art in the neighborhood several times and curated a small mural project on Conkling street in a community garden this past June called Shift Baltimore. Recently a friend of mine, Kevin Bernhard, opened a vintage shop called Rust-n-Shine, when I was approached for the Shop Small mural campaign in October, it seemed like a great fit.

Other than the bluebird keeping a watchful eye on it's eggs, most of the objects reflect nic-nacs that might be sold in the store. I added a vintage B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) railway mug as a holder for the nest and as a nod to one of the oldest railways in the nation.

Mary Iverson, Seattle
Nearly every item we purchase, either from a small business or a big box store, will have seen the inside of a shipping container at some point. Either the item itself, or the raw materials that went into creating it, traveled some distance to get to our store shelves, thanks to the shipping industry.

My work celebrates the beauty of this industry, with its elegant cranes, hulking mega ships and colorful freight trains. My work also raises awareness about the existence of the shipping container and its importance in our lives.

This particular mural is situated in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle, a stone's throw away from the port of Seattle. This neighborhood is home to many industrial and light industrial enterprises, plus a growing number of small businesses. While I was working on my wall, I met a lot of folks who regularly lunch at BY's, the family-owned burger joint situated next door to my mural. BY's customers are hard-working, salt of the earth folks, taking a break from a tough day's work. They were grateful for the color I was adding to this somewhat dingy, industrial part of town.

ABOUT THE #SHOPSMALL MURALS
Working with Juxtapoz, the monthly magazine that covers contemporary art, American Express commissioned #ShopSmall murals in neighborhoods around the country to celebrate Small Business Saturday. From DALEK in his home in Raleigh, NC to Claw Money in New York City’s Lower East Side to Mary Iverson in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, artists in twenty cities created works that express and bring to life the special qualities of their local communities.

By engaging the support of local small businesses that embody the vibrancy of the neighborhood, the artists looked to inspire communities to Shop Small on Small Business Saturday—which takes place on November 28th—and throughout the holiday season.