Street Art Tuesday
From Riga, Latvia with Blank Canvas
During this week’s Street Art Tuesday we take you around the street art in Riga, the capital of Latvia, which we visited last week for among others the Blank Canvas Street Art Festival. A unique opportunity to see some brand-new street art and meet some of the street artists behind the murals.
Would you like to contribute to the Street Art Tuesday series, either by your own stories or photos or you happen to know the street artist behind a work we featured, feel free to contact us at wkndr(at)artweekenders(dot)com. We love to hear from you and see more street art crossing our paths, either digitally or in real life. #StreetArtTuesday #SArtT
Riga, the Latvian city most known for its abundance of art nouveau structures, isn’t the first city you think of when mentioning the word street art. Generally you’ll indeed see little of it around the city, but thanks to the organization behind the Blank Canvas Street Art Festival we did see some cool works just created when we were in town last week.
Blank Canvas Street Art Festival
This year organised for the first time as part of Riga 2014: European Capital of Culture Event, the festival aims to bring the topic of street art under the wider attention of the public with presentations, workshops and a street art hunt by bike, all with the purpose to discuss the position of street art in today’s world. For us as street art lovers it was a unique chance to hear more about the approach to this form of contemporary art movement in different European countries from the street art specialists themselves, while at the same time see more of the Latvian capital.
A Short Excursion to Stockholm
During his festival talk the Swedish street artist Hop Louie introduced us to the rigid approach to street art in Stockholm, the Swedish capital, where a zero tolerance policy is being maintained against street art of any kind – irrelevant if it’s vandalism, graffiti or real street art – and where not even legally commissioned murals are allowed. Obviously apart from the Banksy event some month ago, which seemed to have been a semi-allowed highly publicised occasion, with still some question marks around it. And no, it was not Banksy who showed up at the end, but he was at least aware of it and reportedly embraced it.
Openness to Street Art in the Latvian Capital
The approach to street art in Riga is very different from the Swedish capital, as the Blank Canvas festival also showed us. Residents of Riga were given the possibility to apply if they were interested in having their walls painted. Thereafter, together with the city council and the aesthetics committee the organization picked a number of walls scattered throughout town on which the national and international street artists could express their creativity, keeping in mind some limitations as regards to colours and content. A fair deal, we’d say.
For Hop Louie – and likely also for the other street artists – it was a whole new experience for a change painting under the supervision of security guards. Even being given more space to paint than initially planned was a nice bonus (although involving some planning challenges), as he told us when we cycled to the mural he painted somewhat out of Riga’s centre.
If you’re interested to see these and the other murals made for the Blank Canvas festival in reality, once you’re in Riga have a look at the map at the festival website for the exact locations, rent a bike and go out and venture off the beaten track for your own street art safari!
If you’re not up for some cycling and/or think you have to venture too far out of town, you can either try to get to the different locations by public transport or just enjoy the street art in the centre of Riga.
Previously in this series: