Fucking brilliant story of street art….of a different sort. I laughed my ass off.
Especially when Esther flashes her ‘gang tattoo’.
It’s an odd accessory for an icon such as the 42-foot-tall blue bear statue stalking the Denver Convention Center, but who else could wear an 8-foot ball and chain of crochet yarn in a complementary hue?
The inscription on this large-scale homage to handiwork read: “Slave to the Craft.”
And who but “Esther” and her gang of four crafty street artists — the Ladies Fancywork Society — could pull off a crochet caper of this magnitude.
“We have wanted to tag it forever,” said Esther, a street artist whose yarn “bombs” and string “grafitti” have enlivened other Denver statuary and landmarks — even lonely park benches and plain-looking bike racks — since 2007.
The ladies literally rolled out the ball and chain at about 4 a.m. today. It took 21 minutes to install the totally temporary jewelry on Lawrence Argent’s steel and fiberglass bear “I See What You Mean.”
It didn’t last long; convention center staff had removed the 15 miles of yarn by 6:40 a.m.
The lone commuter in the street, on a bicycle, stopped to watch.
“He needed something,” said Marilyn Mate. “I like it. It adds some playfulness.”
Before this, the ladies had crocheted 360 feet of “Wild Garden” flowers on chain-link fence around a downtown construction site near Union Station. That time it was legal — they even had a grant.
But Esther kept saying to herself: “One day, Big Blue Bear.”
The bear’s extralegal accoutrement consists of an enormous inflated rubber ball, chain links formed from a dryer-vent duct and an oversized leg cuff made from chicken wire. All of these elements are covered in a thick cozy crocheted from every skein of Red Heart Super Saver Turqua blue acrylic yarn Esther could lay her hands on.
Esther declines to give her real name, preferring to use the alias, which is her grandmother’s name. Her underground crochet society — consisting of mostly 20-something art majors who all use their grandmothers’ names — brings femininity to the gritty world of street art.
Esther lifts up the sleeve of her sweater to reveal her gang tattoo: a crochet hook.
“The DIY crafting culture is really growing,” Jeanne Lois had said, looking up at the giant ball she was wrapping with crocheted strips in preparation for today.
“It’s possible I shouldn’t have had a couple of beers before doing this,” said Esther, as the gang tried to unravel tangles in hundreds of feet of crochet.
“No, it’s only possible with beer,” said “Lucy Lynn.”
There are considerably greater technical challenges with this job than past works, “Maxine” said. “We’re learning as we go.”
And they are making a name for themselves. Queen Latifah is a fan (“We’re in her book.”). Media from the BBC to the Wall Street Journal to a Brazilian fashion magazine have come calling on the Ladies Fancywork Society. But WSJ wouldn’t do the story because Esther refused to give her real name. She bristles a little.
“The art is not the art. The art is the group bringing it to the street. We’re the message,” Esther said. “We’re girly, but we’re street artists.”
And street artists break the rules, she said, and even the law. The infamous British street artist Banksy is not required to give a surname, she said.
Bringing the domestic arts out of the home and into the street has stirred some surprisingly hostile responses, Esther said. Instead of “wasting yarn,” some advised, they should be crocheting hats for the homeless. No one tells painters they should be painting the houses of poor people, she said.
“We annoy a lot of people,” she said. “But we have a right to put our stuff out there. (Crochet) is much more an art of the people than other crafts. When the lower classes couldn’t afford lace, they developed crochet — first with their fingers.
Esther is so enamored of crochet she gave up a well-paying job providing graphic art for computer games to pursue her craft full time. She is creating a series of video craft tutorials called “Craftivore.”
“You think you know how to crochet, and then you hear about ‘abalone crochet,’ ” she said. “There’s always some new obscure thing to learn.”
Like how to crochet a giant ball and chain for a 4-story tall bear.
PS. If you are wondering why I posted this on my blog; 1) I am from Colorado. and b) I do street art (not with yarn).
To see what I do go here: www.streetdeekay.com
Thank you to @MileHiSandy on Twitter for the link to the story in the Denver Post.
Big Blue Bear: