Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Stencil Nation on Cross Currents (2009)
(Click link to access player)

I’m in the process of saying farewell to StencilNation.org. The book is officially out of print (Manic D Press has corrected me, stating that the fourth printing is still in print) and the website was designed (by Antonio Gomez) in the heady days when Adobe Flash was du jour. With the rise of mobile phones and HTML5 (and the whole responsive site mania), it is time to retire the Stencil Nation site and redirect to Stencil Archive (the mothership).

While backing up Stencil Nation one last time, I saw a random mp3 file on the top level of the site’s backend. I clicked listen and it was a Cross Currents interview I did while on the book tour. It was a great experience and it actually riled up a listener who felt that all public art was vandalism. Fun!

I guess I was worried about taking up too much memory back then. Good thing the cloud revolution caught up and now memory is practically infinite. The interview mp3 is on this site’s cloud, and WordPress even allows super easy linking via its “Add Media” button.

Here’s my original post about the interview:

Had a great bike ride over to the KALW studio near McClearen Park this morning and interviewed with Penny Nelson for Cross Currents. The engineer, a bike commuter, told me another route that sent me through the park and then down Mission St. in the Excelsior District. Found some stencils along that ride home! They posted the show early so here’s the goods. Fast forward in about 3 and a half minutes to hear my segment. About 10 minutes long total.

Original Article Here.

Russell Howze has been enthralled with the street art of San Francisco for decades. He can instantly recognize the work of the city’s most prominent graffiti artists, and knows which Mission District alleys house the most memorable pieces. Howze, a stencil artist himself, maintains a website dedicated to street art, and has written a book on the subject.

As a general rule, graffiti doesn’t pay; Howze is driven by his love of the art form, not by profits. But with the help of a new startup called Vayable, he’s beginning to turn his passion into a career as a tour guide, helping travelers discover the hidden artworks on city buildings and sidewalks. “It’s starting to pay a lot of the bills,” he says. As his reputation grows, he hopes he may be able to turn his street art curator side gig into a full-time job.

Vayable is an online platform that helps travelers find new experiences led by local guides. “The company was born out of my own experiences as a traveler,” says founder and CEO, Jamie Wong. “I love going off the beaten path when I travel, and friends started asking me to create experiences for them to replicate my trips. I built the company to expand beyond my own experiences, and help everyone find that sense of cross-cultural exploration.”

Vayable launched with 70 guides in April 2011, and customers began booking experiences within the first hour of going live. Since then, the company’s been growing at a rate of 30 percent each week.

In San Francisco, Howze’s three-hour street art tour of the Mission District is a top seller; other popular experiences in the region include a sommelier-guided tour of Northern California wineries; a fishing excursion in the San Francisco Bay; and a guided biking tour through the city.

The concept marks a sea change from the traditional tourism industry, which is dominated by large companies that stick to tried-and-true tourist attractions. Vayable is dedicated to giving its users choices in how they want to experience an area, encouraging them to follow their own passions in planning a trip.

Though some guides had been offering professional tours independently prior to working with Vayable, many are new to the field. “Many of our guides are everyday people with access to special knowledge, or a community or space. We’re giving anybody the tools to build and curate an experience out of their interests or passions,” says Wong.

Vayable allows guides to set the prices for their tours, collecting a 15% commission on confirmed bookings. “Many of the guides are supplementing their income in really significant ways,” says Wong. “They love the flexibility. They can have a day job and then follow their passion when they’re not at work and supplement their income through Vayable, to help them pay the bills or afford a trip.”

The company is now offering experiences in over 600 cities on six continents, and growing every day. “With technology, there’s a whole new way to connect,” says Wong. “We’re using these online connections to power offline interactions, and to help travelers and locals alike find meaningful ways to connect with new communities.”

CELL at 7 (and 16)

Author: Russell

Back in 2003, a major shift had happened at CELLspace. Events had been shut down and a large group of volunteers had pretty much left 2050 Bryant to start the Mission Market back on Florida Street. Tensions were high, people were burned out, and CELL needed to pay rent. CELL had had one of its few retreats to try to reform the regroup after many caretakers left in a huge pile of animosity. Then the war in Iraq started. We had all been protesting to not start this war and most of us saw the meta-narrative of CELL’s plight as that of the world’s.

I was personally down about the war and CELL. I’d backed off a bit to take a break, but I was answering the info email address (because no one else was). Since 1996, CELLspace has inspired many people to start their own space. There’s the Crucible, the Box Shop, and many others. From time to time, people would stop by to study CELL. And we would get emails asking about how to start a space. At the time I was answering info@cellspace, I got an email from Bucketworks in Milwaukee, WI (now in its 9th year!!). They were starting up a space and had great questions about how to do it. They caught me at a time where I must’ve been ready to talk raw and candidly about what was going on at CELL.

CELL had just turned 7 when the email arrived. I had just finished co-producing the Funky Puppet Supper, which was an amazing show that touched on CELL’s plight and the plight of war with Iraq. I pulled the original emails off of the Oblio hard drive last week, and decided, for CELL’s 16th Birthday (this Spring Equinox), to post it on here in its entirety. It is emotional, raw, unedited (well, I did take out a few bits that were too personal). It is a great snapshot of how I saw CELL back in 2003.

I had no help in answering the questions. I did not answer this based upon any horizontal process. So do not expect this to be the definitive angle on what was happening at the time. Remember, I was going to CELL meetings with about 3 other people while about 12 people were meeting and running the Mission Market. And a group of workers had left the space. These were hard times.

Being a lover of history, I cannot pass up adding the following Q&A about CELL to my Month of Blog. Happy 16th birthday CELLspace! So many amazing and intense memories.

……………… (more…)

SF Weekly Promotes My Tour

Author: Russell

Original blog post here.

Graffiti Guru Offers Street Art Tours

Howzegraffiti1.jpg

art by Get Up, Upper Haight St.

​No matter how cool you are, there’s still a pretty good chance that the only thing you know about street art is sometimes you come across it, and sometimes it’s amazing. Who did it? What’s behind it? Where can you see more? Who knows?

We do. Or, we know who knows: stencil artist Russell Howze. He’s the author of Stencil Nation, and he offers a three-hour, small-group tour called Scout for Street Art. Howze just started giving these tours two weeks ago, and promises to provide “expert explanations, stories, and background for most of the art that constantly changes on the streets.” And he’s not joking about the “expert” part.

RusellHowzebiopic.jpg
Russell Howze

​Howze has dedicated his life to street art, especially stencils, and he knows a lot about the S.F. street art scene. “I have this particular affinity for San Francisco street art,” Howze says, “especially Mission district — there’s something really special and magical about it.”

Originally from Greenville, S.C., Howze has lived in San Francisco since 1997. Since he saw his first stencil in 1990 in Clemson, S.C., Howze has been photographing the public art in places around the world. In 2002 he created an online stencil archive, which features tens of thousands of photos of stencils. Stencil Nation, published in 2008, is the paperback extension of his site, documenting 350 artists in 28 countries.

Howze does not have a fixed schedule for his tour — you can just sign up by yourself or in a group ($37) per person and state your preferred times. The tour is run through Vayable, a company that draws on locals to give their own tours. Anyone can sign up to offer a tour, and Vayable acts as the conduit, handling bookings and payments. Vayable operates worldwide, and as one might expect, it offers numerous S.F. tours, including horseback riding on Ocean Beach, a used bookstore crawl, and a potentially perilous “Whiskey on Wheels” tour.

Vayable hosts a mixer called “A Vayable Idea” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Galeria de la Raza, where Howze will start the night with a 10-minute talk, “The Present Future of Street Art.” The event is free, but you can register here.

NBC Catches a Phish(head)

Author: Russell

Had to head down to the Shoreline a few weeks ago to check out the 3.0 version of my favorite 1990s band Phish (they’ve broken up two times prior to this). They’re much better than the last time I saw them (the mud-mired Coventry, VT festival), mostly in part to lead guitarist Trey Anastasio’s going clean and sober (addicted to Big Pharma pills). Delicate show that kicked out the jams, and played the one song I wanted at the top of the show (Golgi Apparatus).

Josh Keppel, a photo-journalist from a local NBC Web site, snapped this pic of me for his cheeky “Jam Band Parking Lot” spread. I have to remind folks that “jam band” wasn’t a term when I started going to Phish shows. I think jam bands suck anyway.

rsl_phish_lot

Russell Howze from San Francisco wore his hat from the 1995-1996 Phish tour saying, "it's vintage you know," when asked about his ensemble. A fellow Phish fan tried to explain to me the significance of the name "Wilson" embroidered on the arm of Howze's marching band coat, but my eyes glazed over at the lengthy explanation. Something about Gamehendge Wilson...?

Andy Blue from the League of Pissed Off Voters called me up yesterday to see if I had any plans last night. None, really. So he told me to stop by Pirate Cat Radio/Cafe before 7pm to sit on a panel and discuss graffiti on the League’s weekly show. All worked out nicely, so I met up with Reyes, Cuba, Chris (who co-created the new local books with Steve Rotman), Eddie, and Eclairacuda to have a one-hour talk about what’s going on in SF with graffiti and street art. The talk mostly discussed spray graffiti, so it was great to hear Chris, Cuba, and Reyes talk about what’s going on in their world. Chris has great thoughts and concepts about what’s happening. Eddie and I got to throw in some angles too. And the writers, including the always entertaining Eclair, kept things real throughout.

You can hear the discussion here. Make sure you scroll half way through the two-hour show to get to the graffiti talk.

Thanks to Andy Blue, a fan and grey-area participant of the scene, for pulling us together in what may become an ongoing dialog about the City’s Zero Graffiti stance, and how absurd that goal truly is.

May 14 KALW Interview…

Author: Russell

Stencil Nation on Cross Currents

Had a great bike ride over to the KALW studio near McClearen Park this morning and interviewed with Penny Nelson for Cross Currents. The engineer, a bike commuter, told me another route that sent me through the park and then down Mission St. in the Excelsior District. Found some stencils along that ride home! They posted the show early so here’s the goods. Fast forward in about 3 and a half minutes to hear my segment. About 10 minutes long total.