Internationally known street artist Tristan Eaton landed in West Palm Beach last Monday and hit the ground running. L.A.-based Eaton is, among other things, a spray-painting ninja and toy designer for Kid Robot and Fisher Price. He's creating a ginormous, 7,000-square-foot mural on the eastern-facing side of the redone six-story Alexander Lofts. The building was once the headquarters for Southern Bell but is now getting a "historical, modern living" face-lift -- soon to be decorated with Eaton's interpretation of Alexander Graham Bell.
"I have never painted a wall this big before, so there is a lot of stuff to figure out." says Eaton. That "stuff" is currently being figured out quite beautifully by Eaton and his team of three assistants. With a job this huge, it takes that many people to handle the logistics while still using daylight to its greatest capacity. Eaton is a public artist with tons of experience, so when he says it's the largest wall he's ever painted, you know it's serious.
From Detroit to London to New York, Eaton has painted walls, cars, and boats. But each time he takes paint to pavement, it's not always as pleasant as his experience in West Palm. "I have come close to getting in trouble way more times than I have actually gotten in trouble," says Eaton. "I have only been arrested for graffiti once."
So how does a street artist who worked on President Obama's 2008 campaign and whose work is also in MOMA's private collection fit into our little city? Rena Blades, president and chief executive officer of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, says "Tristan's work truly represents the diversity among our citizens and the forward-thinking, contemporary cultural identity of our city."
Eaton is already spraying away, creating his interpretation of the inventor of the telephone. The original subject serves as a springboard for his abstract and surreal imagery. He estimates the project will take him two weeks, but the progress has already been astonishing. "It's all eat, sleep, and paint until we are done," says Eaton. "And when we are done, we will celebrate and relax and have a good time. But until then, it's all paint, all day, every day."
Eaton understands the weight his work will have. He emphasizes. "Public art is the most important thing to me to me because it is accessible to everyone for free. It can impact the world in ways that are hard to quantify."
Want to watch Tristan in action? Stop by the Alexander Historic Lofts, located at 326 Fern St. in downtown West Palm, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. for a chance to catch the artist at work.
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