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Sherri Richards, Published July 19 2009

Art goes urban

White paint peels from the cinderblock building’s east side. On its north wall, a masterpiece in spray paint.

Several graffiti artists – also known as urban or aerosol artists – painted the north side of the Alsop storage building, southwest of Fargo’s Plains Art Museum, Saturday morning. The mural painting is part of the museum’s Hip Hop Don’t Stop event, which continues today.

The artists painted from step stools and scaffolding. Hip-hop music thumped from a car’s speakers, and later from DJ’s equipment. Boxes of spray paint cans filled a rolling cart.

The theme for the 150-foot-long mural is DreamWorks “Kung Fu Panda.” Three images of the main character, Po, are intermixed with the artists’ signatures – riots of colors and shapes on a gold background.

Andy Maus, Plains director of education, said the integration of a children’s animated film with the aerosol art is purposeful to “break the myth that graffiti is all about mischief when it’s really a serious art form.”

The storage building is a “legal stage to show what they’re really good at,”

he added.

An artist from Kansas City known as Gear gave a lecture Friday night about aerosol art in the Midwest. Painting, music performances and dancing are scheduled to continue today. The event is informal and spontaneous, like the art form, Maus said.

The mural was ahead of schedule Saturday morning. “You can’t stop an artist when they’re inspired,” Maus said.

Gear had finished his part of the mural. It’s the word “Quisp” – another moniker he goes by – in orange and olive green surrounded by pink.

Each of the 11 artists would add their street names in their own stylized typography.

Another artist from Kansas City called Femme9 said this is known as “piecing.” Her work for the Fargo mural features a curvy script in shades of blue and green.

“As artists, we’re all trying to turn it into our own masterpiece,” she said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556