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April 2015

Fusterlandia, Havana, Cuba

Travel to Havana and see the most amazing mosaic neighborhood by the artist Fuster. Fusterlandia is the studio, residence and wild kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster. Geographically we are in Jaimanitas, at the northwestern edge of the Cuban capital, but Jaimanitas has changed a lot since Fuster (as everyone here calls him) got to town 30 years ago and set about remaking the neighbourhood in his own image.

Fuster equal

"When I got here my house was in wood, small," Fuster recalls. "So I decided to do something about it. I started building my dream." He had visited Europe and had came back to Cuba with plenty of inspiration. He had seen Gaudi in Barcelona and Brancusi in Romania. "It seemed impossible to me to do anything like that in Cuba. But all dreams get realised over time."

While Fuster's art can't really be described as groundbreaking (his visual language owes a heavy debt to Picasso and Jean Dubuffet), he has certainly covered a lot of ground with it. Roofs, walls, doorways and benches, stretching for blocks around the epicentre of his studio enclave, are adorned with his brightly coloured sculptures and mosaics : mermaids, fish, palm trees,roosters and Santería saints; quotations from Alejo Carpentier, Onelio Jorge Cardoso, and Ernest Hemingway. More than 80 neighbours have allowed Fuster to use their homes as his canvas.



The Tiger Lillies

Saw the Tiger Lillies perform at St. Ann's Warehouse this past weekend and love this old timey yet contemporary musical feel. Part Weimar, part Bowery, all entertaining yet disturbing. A perfect musical note for the blog:


The Celebration of Street Art in Melborne

Murals add point of difference to home exteriors

This great article by Amelia Barnes needs to be reprinted entirely. Bravo to Melborne! You GET IT about street art!

A mural created by Everfresh on Nightcat Fitzroy.

A mural on The Nightcat building in Fitzroy by Everfresh. Photo: Amelia Barnes

Commissioned murals are giving Melbourne homeowners a chance to stand out from the crowd.

A city renowned for its street art, murals in the inner northern suburbs are creating a point of difference among traditional home exteriors.

Sales Director at Nelson Alexander Arch Staver believes Fitzroy is the most popular location for murals, with Collingwood, Northcote and Brunswick rating a close second.

A mural in Coleman Street, Fitzroy. The artist is unknown.

A mural in Coleman Street, Fitzroy. The artist is unknown. Photo: Amelia Barnes

"There are homes throughout Fitzroy now which have some stunning pieces attached to them that may now be regarded as possibly a 'landmark' type building," Mr Staver says.

"I think that type of kudos ultimately does add value to a piece of real estate."

While murals may not appeal to "downsizing baby boomers from the eastern suburbs", Mr Staver sees capacity for change.

Another Fitzroy mural by Smug.

Another Fitzroy mural by Smug. Photo: Amelia Barnes

"Fitzroy is rapidly developing into a terrific outdoor suburban gallery with people almost always pausing in front of and photographing some of the stunning murals."

"The aesthetic doesn't please everyone, but there is a real engagement happening between buildings and communities that I personally find wonderful, interesting and ultimately valuable," he says.

Melbourne-based artist Lucas Grogan is renowned for his blue and white murals commissioned by homeowners and businesses across the city.

A mural by Lucas Grogan on Fitzroy House.

A mural by Lucas Grogan on Fitzroy House. Photo: Amelia Barnes

Grogan's work spans across multiple disciplines to textiles, drawing and exhibition works, but it is his murals that he is most commonly recognised for.

After moving to Melbourne in 2009 and working in a nearby gallery, Grogan was commissioned by CityLights Projects to create a mural for MoVida located on iconic street art hub Hosier Lane.

A text message-inspired mural titled You Look Terrific Babe propelled Grogan's career, allowing him to transition from a commercial gallery role to full-time work in his own studio.

Part of a Fitzroy mural by Smug.

Part of a Fitzroy mural by Smug. Photo: Amelia Barnes

"The Hosier Lane mural was the first thing I did when I moved to Melbourne and the first mural I ever painted.

"It took off very quickly and it spread online which was great, but I was surprised by its reception," he says.

"My exhibition works are extremely detailed and meticulous, so when I'm given the opportunity to paint a mural it's great to see the works scaled up and out for all to see."

It's not uncommon to see passers-by posing with Grogan's distinct and intricate works, such as his private commission on the corner of George and Moor streets, Fitzroy.

"While I was painting the Fitzroy mural, residents and people walking past would ask what the hell I was doing."

"However, on the last two days, as they began to see it all coming together, locals would call out and say how much they liked it, get photos with it, and even keep an eye out for me in case anyone tried to tag."

The majority of Grogan's clients are individuals requesting a mural for their family home.

"If you're in an area where there is already a lot of tagging and graffiti, a lot of homeowners embrace the environment by commissioning a piece."

Grogan's latest mural, Now Gentrified, a collaboration with Bose, is located on Brunswick behind bar and music venue Howler.

Fitzroy North resident Simon Gruzza is the inherited owner of a street mural, but is unaware of the artwork's origins.

"I have been here with my housemate for a year and a half, and the previous owners who were here for a year didn't know and didn't receive any word about it prior."

Mr Gruzza's research efforts to determine the artist have so far been unsuccessful.

"A man had asked if he could photograph the wall for his collection of street art and claimed to be familiar with the artist but couldn't remember who it was off the top of his head.

"He triumphantly declared he would find out soon and put a note in our box once he found out ...That was three months ago now, sadly."

The bird-adorned mural faces a quiet residential laneway on the corner of Coleman and Napier streets.

"The previous owners inferred they didn't care about it in the slightest, but it does occasionally get tagged, maybe once a year, so they might have maintained it regardless."

"I do like it but it's not something I would go out of my way to commission, whereas my housemate was slightly more welcoming."