Sunday, March 25, 2012

It doesn't have to mean shit

Posted By on 03.25.12 at 10:10 AM

Left Handed Wave
  • Left Handed Wave

When street art emerged in the 1980s, for some marginalized artists it was a vital mode of communication and expression—particularly in a segregated and polarized city like Chicago. Today, the movement has changed. In Chicago there's a new generation of street artists, and among the more visible is Left Handed Wave, a 23-year-old from Glenview whose street art is popping up all over the city.

You may have seen his work in Wicker Park, Logan Square, or Lincoln Park: three neighborhoods where LHW often pastes his pieces. His character, banana man, has a variety of costumes ranging from a banana suit (naturally) to a ghost costume and Santa Claus uniform. The character is genial and innocuous, as he’s always smiling and waving to passersby, and occasionally he sports Air Jordan sneakers. There's no discernible narrative to the work. According to LHW, this is a purposeful decision. “I first created the banana image for a show at Fug Screens Studios in 2009. I just thought it was really fucking funny. I don’t really believe in cohesive concepts.”

After his show at Fug Screens, LHW pasted a few pieces around Chicago, and soon images of his work started surfacing on Flickr. Since then, LHW’s audience has grown steadily. Now his following is bigger than ever. He has nearly 2,000 followers on Facebook and receives regular e-mails from collectors inquiring about work. “It’s a little overwhelming. I never expected anything. I was raised in the suburbs. I didn’t grow up with friends who broke graf, I’m from a totally different world. It’s an adjustment for me.”

As a rookie, LHW has benefited from the mentorship of some of Chicago’s seasoned street artists: “People have been really cool and encouraged me to go bigger and brighter. They also helped me with my technique. It’s a matter of paying dues and getting around.”

LHW is in New York City this weekend debuting a set of new work. When he returns, he plans on taking a break from the banana man and moving on to a new project. He doesn’t have a concept for this project either: “It doesn’t have to mean shit. It’s just art, it means what it means.” But he does have goals. “I want to hit more marginalized areas. I don’t know anything about the south and west sides, might as well be another country. I want to see what it’s about.”

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