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Artworks fresh from the streets

July 03, 2005|Casey Dolan

A blog vigorously curated by Marc and Sara Schiller out of New York, woostercollective.com, bills itself as a "celebration of street art" and presents the colorful and imaginative totems that we daily view in the urban landscape. Sculptures, stencils, full-blown murals, representational or utterly abstract, from Barcelona to Tokyo, are documented.

Four to five years ago, Marc Schiller bought a new digital camera and began taking pictures of street art while walking his dog around SoHo. Now, he receives 350 e-mails every morning. Of street art photo submissions, only 10% wind up as postings. The website receives 45,000 to 75,000 hits a day, was recently profiled on National Public Radio and offers walking tours of New York pointing out the local art.

Schiller is quick to assert that there is no agenda in the decision about what to post.

"The criterion is: Anything we want to share with our friends. It could be that we're moved by it; it could be done by a 12-year-old kid. There's no money from the site. We're not so precious about it."

Wooster has raised familiar debates on the legality of making art on "private" property. Recently, the Manchester Libraries and Information Service in England blocked the site from its computer system "because some of its content fell into the 'Criminal Activity' category."

Schiller replies, "We like to be in the middle, in the gray. We want people to try and get beyond the vandalism for five minutes." He'd like the focus to consider the high stakes many street artists face.

"Every time a street artist does anything, they risk getting arrested. They're not doing it because they're juvenile delinquents. They're making a statement, and that should be celebrated."

Tofer, an L.A. street artist who has been exhibited on the site, praises Wooster: "Marc doesn't discriminate. He wants to expose everybody to what's going on. Wooster is my doughnut in the morning."

-- Casey Dolan

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