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Wall \Therapy : Street Art Final Shots From Rochester

07/31/2013 08:28 am ET | Updated Sep 29, 2013

Diagnosis One: America's deflated rustbelt cities can expect a deteriorated dust bowl demeanor until bankruptcy, followed by tumbleweeds.

Diagnosis Two: Street Art and graffiti are inextricably entwined with and contributing factors for broken windows, societal disarray, economic and moral decay of the aforementioned cities.

Both are failed and need to be re-examined.

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Francey. Detail A. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

For the record, Rochester tops lists in terms of liveability, investment in new technology sectors, and has 91% of it’s citizens covered by health insurance – before Obamacare even kicks in. It has lost jobs and population due to stumbling giants like Xerox and Eastman Kodak and recent annual budgets have had significant shortfalls, but Rochester is putting up a good fight in the healthcare sector.

Dr. Ian Wilson should know. Which brings us to the second diagnosis. Ask the former Brooklyn graff writer now radiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center if Street Art is synonymous with crime and disorder, and he'll tell you all about the healing power of Wall\Therapy and murals.

The just-concluded community art project he spearheaded landed local and international graffiti/urban/street artists in Rochester for 10 days of painting - bringing certain parts of the city alive with curious locals hanging out in empty lots and hanging out of slow moving car windows, watching artists with cans as they bobbed up and down on cherry pickers.

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Francey. Detail B. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

Co-curated this year with lead organizer Erich Lehman, Wilson has pulled off a stylistically wide-ranging collection of nearly 30 walls this year that go from aesthetically sweet to academically rooted. An apt balance, if you think of Ian.

It's also been a balancing act to please all constituencies and manage to pull off something fresh; he's dealt with a handful of outspoken critics who question every turn he's made, yet the festival has been buoyed by a curious and enthusiastic under-30 youth culture whose minds explode with excitement at the thought of the global Street Art scene hitting their own city.

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Lady Pink. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Jason Wilder)

"Mural art can enhance the life experience - an arguable effect of the arts in general," the doctor says only a little didactically. All week during Wall\Therapy locals and visitors were taking tours on the El Camino Trail, watching walls going up in the South Wedge, and discussing art and the ideas that the artists are working with - whether it's a portrait of Trayvon Martin in a piece by New Jersey's LNY, a gentlemen's fist fight by Ireland's Conor Harrington, or a tribute to the influence of Xerox on the city by Baltimore's Gaia.

Add the local talents, a cadre of volunteers and photographers and some serious old-skool big graffiti names from NYC rocking styles that started it all, this year there was more action than a Saturday night ER.

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Lady Pink. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

Finally, Wall\Therapy is Wilson's balancing act of bringing art to the people, and medical care to communities in need. Working with a group of colleagues, he has also embarked on a fundraising program to bring diagnostic equipment to people in the developing world who lack access - and he is now talking about cloud-based diagnoses by a pool of volunteer doctors around the world who can interpret the teleradiology scans remotely.

Can he get all the funding and the equipment and the artists and the walls all together at once? "Realistically, this will have to be done in stages or phases, like some of the procedures that I perform," he says. If you've witnessed this years committed volunteers and organizers at Wall\Therapy, it is a fair assumption that these dual goals of art and healing will happen on a growing scale.

"There is no hope without inspiration. The two travel simultaneously, sharing the same bandwidth," explains Wilson.

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ROA. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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ROA. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Mark Deff)

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Jessie and Katey. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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FreddySam. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Mark Deff)

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Gaia. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Mark Deff)

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Faith47. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Mr. Prvrt. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Mr. Prvrt. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Alex Stuart)

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Mr. Prvrt. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Freedom. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Matt De Turck)

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Freedom. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Matt De Turck)

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Wise2. Detail. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Smith. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Range. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Thievin' Stephen. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Thievin' Stephen. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Daze. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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DALeast. Detail A. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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DALeast. Detail B. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Conor Harrington. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Conor Harrington. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Alex Stuart)

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Binho. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Binho. Detail A. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Binho. Detail B. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)

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Change. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Jason Wilder)

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Chris Stain. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Chris Stain)

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Pose2. WALL\THERAPY. Rochester, NY. July 2013. (photo © Josh Saunders)


BSA gives a shout out for the valuable contributions to the Wall\Therapy over the last ten days by the artists, organizers, volunteers, and talented photographers. Special thanks to John Magnus Champlin, Erich Lehman, Ian Wilson, Matt DeTurck, Jason Wilder, Alex Stuart, Mark Deff, Lisa Barker, Mark Deff, and Josh Saunders. Shout out to Instagrammers @WallTherapyNY , @heliosunphoto , and @shotbywilder .

Check out excellent Wall\Therapy coverage by Rebecca Rafferty on the Rochester City Newspaper.

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A version of this article was also posted on Brooklyn Street Art.

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