Ramiro Davaro-Comas hits the road with this one-of-a-kind artist residency for graphic artists, ending at POW! WOW! Worcester.
Ramiro Davaro-Comas already took a group of visual artists to Art Basel last year as a part of the Dripped On The Road artist residency he co-directs. Now, he’s road tripping with these artists again, camping in New York and Vermont, and painting murals in New England cities with local artists along the way.
We asked him to explain a bit more about the inspiration behind Dripped On The Road, how he got to collaborate with the prolific Merkthose and what’s in the works for this year’s POW! WOW! Worcester.
Take: Help us understand Dripped On The Road.
RDC: We invite artists to join us on the road to make work and collaborate with local artists along the way. This collaboration with local artists in each place is what’s important for us. If we can’t fit 10 artists into an RV, then at least we can fit two and collaborate with five more on the way.
I had done a couple of trips in buses and RVs before. I also directed an artist residency program that was a part of The Arts Students League of New York for three years, and most of those programs did not value illustrators, graphic designers, graffiti writers, street artists, muralists—no one like that. [These residencies] were really only supporting artists that went to a school. The more we expand the more people we can support, but for now these are our people.
T: Explain a bit more about the structure of the residency and what other elements of the Dripped On The Road make it different.
RDC: Most residencies are usually in a fixed location and are created for artists and creatives to get out of their typical day-to-day and be put into an environment where they can create for a specific period of time. There’s a couple [mobile residencies]—Amtrak had a writers residency—but there’s nothing in the US, Europe or anywhere else that I’ve heard of that is a residency program like this for visual artists.
Another thing that sets us apart is we pay our artists. We provide a stipend so they can live on the road, pay for most of their food and all their art materials. We also attempt to get them involved in other professional development opportunities when they’re available to us. At the end of this trip, we’re going to paint at Electric Zoo and we’re inviting our resident artist to do this with us. It’s another paid opportunity he gets by being a part of the residency program.
I wanted to provide something for these kinds of artists who weren’t getting served not only with a studio but with other opportunities; professional development, guest lecturing stuff that people in that world don’t often get to do.
T: How did you meet Merkthose and what’s the plan once you get to Boston?
RDC: It might just be all grafitti. I met him painting in Miami at Art Basel. We were painting and kinda just hanging out at this party, an event with some live painting going on. We left the party and there was all this traffic: no cars could move and there’s all these people walking with us; it was probably midnight. And he just started writing, took out a can and started painting on the bank right there. Then, 18 or 20 other kids who saw him doing that were like oh it’s on and started doing it too. This wall just got destroyed in two seconds!
T: Why bring the project to New England?
RDC: Worcester is the first city we moved to when we emigrated from Argentina. Also, POW! WOW! is a big reason we’re coming here. I’ve always wanted to do these kind of projects up here. It’s just a little harder than it is in the New York City since people are usually exposed to this kind of artwork—it’s usually a quick yes or no. In New England, there’s a lot more conversation with people about planning, budgeting, and letting them know what’s going on, letting people know that this is a legitimate visual arts and public arts program.
T: What’s your plan for POW WOW?
RDC: We’ve already submitted our sketch and we’re painting at Electric Haze, where the opening party of POW! WOW! is. All three of us will be painting. We’re each going to do a character, with the background being a faded graffiti wall. We’re going to write some graffiti on the wall, then cover it and write a little bit more, then cover it again. It’s going to say things like “Worcester,” “Wormtown,” “Welcome to The Woo,” and all kinds of Worcester-y names and sayings like that. There’s almost no murals in the POW! WOW! collection that have that kind of stuff, so we really wanted to bring a little bit of that aspect to it. It also matches a lot of the work that I’ve been doing lately—putting graffiti in the background and covering it. It’s not going to be a raw graph. It’ll be very design-y.