Once the calling card of urban centers around the globe, street art continues to proliferate more remote reaches of society as spray paint loses still more of its stigma and new communities crave placemaking of their own.
“Most cultural and social actions take place in the historical city centres, pushing suburbs even more to the margin,” states the press release for Sperone167, a new public art project put together by Sicilian painter Igor Scalisi Palminteri, hospitality property and artistic incubator Afea Art & Rooms – Palermo, Salento-based artist Francesco Ferreri aka Chekos, and Lecce-based urban laboratory 167/B Street. Together, they’re bringing Italy’s pastoral margins closer towards the center.
This project connects the suburbs of Sperone, Palermo and 167, Lecce with two new murals. Palminteri will visit Lecce in late March to paint a wall in 167. Students from the Sperone-Pertini secondary school in Palermo will also travel to Lecce to meet the artist and their peers from the G.Stomeo – P.Zimbalo school in the 167 area. Together, all the students will participate in the project through laboratories and meetings–even painting a mural with Chekos and meeting musicians. At the start of April, the project will replicate this experience in Palermo, where Chekos will paint a wall in Sperone and the students from Lecce will visit their new friends from the Sperone-Pertini secondary school on their home turf.
“The idea is to involve the communities in the creation of these work of art with a bottom-up approach, making the two murals a relevant part of the cultural identity of the neighbourhood and create a lasting bond between the people and communities involved in the project,” the release continues. “Such community care will stem directly from the actions carried out together and not come from the top with a salvific attitude.”
Sperone167’s team notes that “street art has thus turned into one of the ingredients of destination branding and territorial marketing: Bristol is now known as Bansky’s alleged hometown and the European capitol of street art, far from its obscure past as an industrial city.” Transformations like this are due to the slackening of old associations between aerosol and sheer vandalism. Another incredibly large part of this shift stems from the work put in by passionate public artists and organizers all over the globe. But in other nuanced ways, we can also attribute street art’s golden era of the past two decades to big business, as developers learn the power a bit of painting can have over their property values.
From facilitating street art tours to meetings between mothers from school and parenting associations, Sperone167 will offer a full-on community celebration centered around paint and color and art, those storied connective tissues. By intentionally grounding the project in people, Sperone167 brings the powerful and passionate facets of street art to underserved areas while mitigating a sense of snazzy art at any cost except the bottom line.
“We usually associate the word ‘care’ to the treatment that takes place after an illness develops,” the release states in a profound show of heart. “We believe in the idea that the word care should regain its preventive role, its meaning as a daily and ordinary action made by a community taking care of itself and of its shared values. This word should remind us that as citizens we should take care of the places we inhabit, because the quality of our life and the life of our peers depends on the quality of the common goods, both tangible and intangible, that we partake in.”
Italy is already laden with some of the world’s most renowned street art, from the Diamante in Calabria to the Murales Park in Ponticelli, Naples. As street art grows in tandem with more tours, more walls, and more geotags, this spring the country’s suburbs share their voice in the chorus. Keep your eyes peeled as the artworks unfold, and consider contributing to their crowdfunding campaign, now live on planbee.bz.