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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"That's the Whole Point of Taking Mushrooms" -- Making Art at Outside Lands

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Sam Flores and N8 Van Dyke work together on a mural.
  • Sam Flores and N8 Van Dyke work together on a mural.

Juxtapoz magazine did a phenomenal job curating the art for Outside Lands this weekend. Every day of the festival, it had local and international artists filling up three murals with breathtaking art. The artists braved the cold, turning their visual art into performance art by using broad strokes and interacting with the crowd. The work would take all day, and when concert-goers returned to the park the next afternoon, they could admire the now propped up murals in a new place and take some pictures.

Sam Flores, a San Fransisco visual artist, who painted on Friday and Saturday with his friend and collaborator N8 Van Dyke, explained how the process for painting in front of a live audience was different than in a studio.

"You need to do it backwards," he said. Explaining that, in front of a crowd, he paints the outlines and colors first, which is more entertaining to the eye and helps the viewer see where he is going with the mural, then filling in the details later.

  • The finished version of the first mural.

Flores's side of the piece was very punchy and colorful, featuring flowers and birds. He joked about his last name when explaining his reasoning for depicting flowers, "I like birds and flowers for some reason, and he's the ape man (points to Van Dyke)."

Flores said he felt honored and excited to be part of the festival for the second year in a row because some of the music at Outside Lands is what he grew up listening to, and what inspires him. "When I paint, I listen to this kind of music. And just to be part of this and incorporate the art with the music -- it's just a great collaboration," he said through a big grin before returning to his work, mentioning that he was trying to get done before seven to see Metallica.

  • Getting to work on another mural.

N8 Van Dyke, painting an ape on his half of the mural said of his Outside Lands experience, "It's really good for us artists. We spend so much time in our studio working with no feedback. One of the amazing things about [painting at Outside Lands] is interacting with fans, making new fans, and their reaction and just vibing off of that. It makes you use the broad strokes. Really get expressive and work with your arm not just your wrist. I've created artwork here that I'd be too timid and shy to do on my own."

Van Dyke, who has been painting apes for 15 years, explained his fascination with primates, "I think there is something about them that is like a really black and white version of humans, without all the greys in between. They like you or they hate you. If you don't bug them they won't bug you kind of thing."

  • The finished version of the second mural.

Another muralist, Skinner, who was unfazed by the performance side of things since he has played in bands before, explained the inspiration for his piece. "I was kind of hoping people on drugs would walk by and be like, 'Ooooh I love wizards!' People love wizards, man. People on drugs just ... if you're on mushrooms, you want to see a wizard. That's the whole point of taking mushrooms!"

  • Skinner finishing the details of his mural with a red cup filled with paint and a brush.

Skinner told us some kids actually saw his art while walking by and came up to him and said, "Oh my god. Wanna take some mushrooms?" He replied, "No, but thank you for coming!" and thought to himself "Yes! You're here!"

But they weren't they only ones who were drawn to the art. Throughout the day many people headed from one stage to another stopped in their tracks for the beautiful murals being created in front of them. Fans came up and talked to the artists, giving them praise and thanks, sometimes talking about other times they had met. One girl even talked her way into being able to finish up an orange bubble at the bottom of Flores and Van Dyke's mural.

Jonathan Nieman and James Johnson sat on the grass around the murals, waiting to meet up with their friends and admiring the art that was being created. "It's as entertaining if not more than any of the people playing right now," Nieman said.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.


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