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NOLA Rising

So I want to tell y'all about a street art project going on in New Orleans that I wish to god I was around to be participating in, cuz I think it's really cool. It's called NOLA Rising, and it was started by this guy, Michael Dingler. I'm not exactly sure when it began, but in the past two years sometime, since Hurricane Katrina.

He started doing pen and ink/marker drawings on pieces of cardboard/poster board, all with the theme of "NOLA Rising," and would tape or staple them up to light posts and electrical poles around the city - beginning, I think, in the Lower 9th Ward. Such a simple concept - public, but removeable and non-defacing, art - with a positive, uplifting message for the struggling people of New Orleans.

It's now grown to include hand-painted colorful signs, which are often group efforts, the product of painting parties sponsored by Dingler and his friends... like this one. He's not the only one who's been making colorful hand-painted signs around town since Katrina - I've seen lots in many different neighborhoods, from simple street name markers to more involved artistic statements. But Dingler's NOLA Rising project has continuity yet embraces individual expression - and his shear numbers are more than impressive, having distributed literally thousands of posters and signs around the city.

Well I feel like this guy and I are kindred spirits. I have never been able to do any public stenciling of my "Rise Up New Orleans" design that I put on clocks, signs and clothes, but I've certainly thought about it since I created the design in the fall of 2005, in those dark limbo days post-Katrina. And my intentions were similar, when I made it - to lift the spirits of folks in New Orleans. (And myself!)

I did get my start doing all this crazy stencil stuff actually DOING street stencilling, for a short while... way back when. But I'll admit I was conflicted about defacing public and/or private property. So I eventually stopped, and turned my interests to more portable surfaces like the clothes and clocks and scrap wood signs. But Michael's got a great thing going... and I think maybe the next time I'm down in NOLA for any length of time, maybe I'll try to get some of my "rise up" stencils out into the world NOLA-Rising-style.

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