SU alum returns to complete graffiti mural in Schine Underground during all-night sessions
SU alum returns to complete graffiti mural in Schine Underground during all-night sessionsAugust 31, 2005Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
While the world sleeps, an artist is completing a piece of art in Syracuse University’s Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center’s Underground. Throughout the night, he primes, sketches and paints, wearing a ventilator mask to protect himself from the strong fumes and dust that fill the stairwell as he works.
Every night this week, from 8 p.m.-8 a.m., Brian T. Gaidry ’90 will be working on “Symphony in Spray,” a mural that he began in 1988 when he was an illustration and animation major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. A professional artist, Gaidry is now an art director for a Boston-based visual communications company. He has worked in the television, film and interactive gaming industries, and his work has been featured on programs such as “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with David Letterman.”
Gaidry was invited to SU to complete the mural in time for the 20th anniversary celebration of the Schine Center, scheduled for Homecoming Weekend, Nov. 11-13. His visit is being sponsored by Student Centers and Programming Services and the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the Division of Student Affairs at SU. Gaidry, who also goes by his tag name, “P. Kasso” arrived in Syracuse last Sunday and began work the following night.
The original mural was commissioned in 1988 to encourage more students to use the space that later became known as The Underground. Schine Center managers wanted to liven up the stairwell that led to the video game arcade, game room and study rooms that occupied the space then. Before Gaidry created “Symphony in Spray,” the walls were simply cinder blocks painted white. Aftera year of working on the mural (during evenings), the space sported a bold and colorful landscape of pop culture icons, urban scenes and images that represented hip hop, then a relatively new genre.
While Gaidry is proud of the work and enjoyed producing it, he is eager to resume work on it. “I had a style, and it was fun, but I didn’t have as much to say then. I’ve got a lot more to share and teach to the younger generations now,” he says.
A long-time fan of hip hop music, Gaidry laments what he calls the decline of the genre, caused mostly by the mass production and marketing of music that celebrates a lifestyle and image, rather than the art form itself. “Hip hop music is an incredible force, it reaches across cultures, religion, age-there is a movement to bring back real underground hip hop, the stuff you were getting before it got sensationalized,” Gaidry says. Some of his old favorite artists include Kool DJ Herc, KRS-One and Grandmaster Flash. He also enjoys contemporary artists such as The Roots, Chuck D and Common.
To give SU students an education on the history of underground hip hop (what he calls “Hip Hop 101”), Gaidry’s new work on the mural will render a history of the genre. While he will maintain elements of the original work, Gaidry will change large sections to show the origin and evolution of hip hop, including a section painted to resemble layers of rock. These strata represent different stages in the history of the genre. His motivation, Gaidry says, is to keep one foot in the past, recognizing hip hop’s pioneers, while reaching forward to a new generation of great artists.
He sees this project as an opportunity to promote art and promote hip hop, with a style that resembles graffiti without being disrespectful of public spaces. “This is about making art, not destroying property,” he says. The new mural remains untitled at this point, but Gaidry is calling it a “remix” of the original work.
For more information on Gaidry, the mural, or the 20th anniversary of Schine Student Center, contact Bridget Talbot at (315) 443-4240. To view images of the mural (pre-update)visit http://students.syr.edu/schine/stairwaymural.html.