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Battle for the Alley: Street Art in Galesburg

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Abby Wendle
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"I sort of tie in street art and tattoo art all into one little mashup," said Diego Perez of Macomb.

Street art – also known as graffiti art – is often done under cover of night.  But on a sunny, hot, and humid mid-summer afternoon in Galesburg it was done during the light of day in a small downtown plaza.

The Galesburg Civic Art Center brought together 14 artists for its first Battle for the Alley.  The artists had three hours to complete a piece based on the theme, “Organic Earth.”

Instead of painting directly onto buildings, each artist was given a masonite board to use as a canvas.  They brought their own paints and their own ideas about how to incorporate the theme, and got to work.

The public chose its favorites in voting done during the event.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Julia Polay is Queen of the Alley. The public chose her painting as the best of the day.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Darbi Dugan at work early during the event. “I got something going on. I don’t know completely yet (what it will be),” Dugan said. Her finished piece was awarded second place.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Third place went to Josh Dixon.

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Credit Rich Egger
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The top three paintings were the first three bolted to the alley walls behind the art center. Polay’s first place piece is on the right, Dugan’s second place painting is in the middle, and Dixon’s third place painting is on the left.

“We are thrilled to give this venue to our artists so that others can see what they are capable of in a very short amount of time. Three hours is not a lot of time to create pieces like this,” said Tuesday Cetin, Executive Director, Galesburg Civic Art Center.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Kayliss Carr works on her painting.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Diego Perez said he frequently switches the tips on spray paint cans. “That will actually change the speed and pace that the paint is coming out of the can.”

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Credit Rich Egger
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Diego Perez’s finished painting, in the alley and ready to hang.

Battle for the Alley was held in Plaza Park, which is squeezed between brick buildings along Main Street, just a few steps down from the Galesburg Civic Art Center’s front door.  Live and recorded music played throughout the event and the public got a chance to watch the artists and talk to them about their craft.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Christina Diaz said the idea for her painting came to her one day at work. “On my lunch break I went outside and I thought about it and then I saw this bumblebee on a flower. And it was just like, ‘Why not? I’m gonna do that,’” said Diaz. “It just spoke to me at that moment. It was a beautiful day and I just wanted to capture that.”

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Credit Rich Egger
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Christina Diaz’s finished painting, in the alley and ready to hang.

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Credit Abby Wendle
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Eric Stegall at work toward the end of the three hour event. “I’m just going with the flow. Going with it as it pops to my head,” said Stegall. “I had no clue what I was going to put to the canvas until I started.”

After the event, the paintings were given a week-and-a-half to dry, then were bolted to the walls in the alley behind the Civic Art Center.  They were then sprayed with a clear coating to protect them from the elements.

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Credit Rich Egger
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Josh Dixon holds up one of the paintings while Slav Dokolasa bolts it into place in the alley behind the Galesburg Civic Art Center.

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Credit Rich Egger
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Tuesday Cetin, Executive Director of the Galesburg Civic Art Center, said the alley is not a high traffic area during the day. She hoped the art work will change that. “We’re hoping to encourage people to come by, stop, take a look at it, and make it more of a destination.”

“This is better than what I envisioned,” said Cetin. “I am so excited to have this opportunity to brighten up our alley out back and also just am really pleased with the city. This is such an awesome opportunity for them as well.”

She said there will “definitely” be another Battle for the Alley next year.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.