After a few misses trying to get in, I made a couple of calls and figured out how to gain access to the large concrete silos on Ruhlen Court by the Rescue Mission of El Paso.
I had been given a tip to check out the site by Peter Thak. For the last few years The Silos have been host to an underground graffiti art show put together by David “Grave” Herrera and others benefiting the Rescue Mission. His art and work in the local El Paso community is well known and he has even championed a public place where up and comers can legally spray and display their art. I didn’t think that the artwork would still be around but the site is locked up which prevents it from getting tagged or vandalized.
Once you are in, its oddly disorienting. From the outside it appears to be a large rectangle but the building is actually made up of 21 tall concrete silos. The roof has long been removed so there’s lots of available light during the day. The downside to that is the exposure to the elements and the pigeons.
After getting used to the vertigo inducing walls, my friend Vince and I wandered around inside documenting the various works. There was quite a spread in talent and design, no doubt due to the large collection of artists represented.
Historically, graffiti art has been a misunderstood form of artistic expression, in part by being lumped together with gang tagging and vandalism. But if there’s one thing all the excitement over Banksy’s recent New Your residency tells us, its that art is in the eye of the beholder. Many street artists may have started out on the fringes in the murky world of “is it art or destruction of property” but context and prominence need to also be applied to truly understand the aerosol art form.
Our need to get out and breathe clean air brought our time in the tubes to and end. The temporary existence of the works makes the visit worth it though. Given the recycling nature of the space, hopefully future shows here will continue to exhibit the talent willing to lay down paint for the greater good.
The full set can be viewed here: The Silos on Flickr