Imagine close to five miles of a concrete flood wall along the Mississippi River being covered in opaque spray paint by graffiti artists from throughout the U.S. and the world over a three day weekend. For the last three years a group of local graffiti artists have been traveling to St. Louis for the annual Paint Louis event.
This Labor Day weekend Quad Cities based artists Sean Marple, Gary White, Jermaine Steede, Brian Schultz, Matt Duncan and Ceven Lonegran will join in the fray by mounting a 40' wide x 20' mural on the concrete flood wall a quarter mile from the St. Louis Arch. "It's an exhibition, not a competition," says graffiti guru Lonegran (aka Watergun). "There's artists there painting from every major city in America," as well as "Germany, France and Canada," he says. Lonegran and his crew tout the fact they are from Rock Island, IL while they're surrounded by "top notch" painters from Los Angeles and New York.
Perhaps the Rock Island crew has something going. Rolling Stone Magazine printed a photo of St. Louis based musician Nelly two months ago, using the 1999 mural by the Quad Cities paint crew as a background. "It was a play on the scene of being in trouble and having to write on the blackboard," says Lonegran. Each member of the team will paint their respective area as a self portrait more or less, keeping in mind a unifying theme or color scheme.
"There's a lot of newer and younger graffiti artists working in the Quad Cities," says Lonegran, now older and wiser with a wife and child and starting his second year of a scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute. There's plenty of examples around town of poorly placed graffiti and Lonegran says the newer graffiti artists need to be sensitive to areas that actually need a creative touch versus just painting it where everyone can see it, while having no real artistic value. Paint Louis is a free event open to the public, complete with live music and related events. Check it out at PaintLouis

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