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Local Artist Transforms Blighted Housing Complex

Some local artists are getting local and national attention for transforming  public housing complex into an underground art gallery.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter takes us on a tour, and talks to the artist who started it all.

For Brandan Odems it’s been a labor of love.

During the past few months he’s used cans of spray paint to transform the Florida housing projects into an underground art gallery.

He calls it “Project Be.”

“Being a part of project be is not about the past, not about the future, but just that moment in being, so,” Odems said.

Odems started out solo, but that was short lived.

When his YouTube video went viral, he was joined by other local artists who are now using artwork to spark healthy conversations.

“Before it was just a blighted property,” Odems said. “Nobody was looking at it; it was over looked, it was forgotten and by some way of art we’ve transformed it into gold.”

In some areas there are small phrases with meanings larger than life; in other areas, murals cover entire walls.

“People who I’m inspired by people I look up to,” Odems explained.

People like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Marley, and Malcolm X.

Each represents hope, strength, and change.

It’s inspiration that is needed in the 9th ward neighborhood, near Law and Congress Streets.

“When people over look these spaces, when they overlook the potential of what this site could be they also overlook the potential of how great this community could be,” Odems said. “So I think these paintings are a testament to how great the narrative of struggle is.”

But the gallery will soon come tumbling down to make way for new housing.

For that, Odems says bring on the bulldozers. He’s not worried about the art.

“This will be here forever in our brains. But it will be better served as housing so.”

The 14-million dollar project will provide homes for 51-families.

Former tenants will be given first option to rent.

The development is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2014.

1 Comment

  • Lisa Wu

    Looks like he has the same attitude sidewalk artists do, when they work in chalk that will only last until the next rain. Glad we at least have the video footage.

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