Mear One in London - 21/10/2013

Mear One (Kalen Ockerman) has been at the forefront of LA's graffiti and mural culture for nearly three decades. He is famous for having pioneered the Melrose graffiti art movement in the late 80s and is considered by many to be LA's most prolific public muralist.

Mear One has visited London and created a new mural, 'Equality' for the Dulwich Street Art Project, he's then moving on to join Martha Cooper, Cope2, Nick Walker, Logan Hicks, and more, for an international street art event in Paris.

LDNGraffiti had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with the LA artist to talk about his current, and future projects… (Click pics for large photos...)

Hey Mear, How's it going, how's London been to you so far? ... The weather can be a challenge i'm sure!
Well, I'm not a fan of rain, but I've met some amazing people. And that's the thing about travel, you'll meet some people that remind you of the idiots back home and then there are a few diamonds in the rough.

Have you been to London before?
I came out twice last year and painted Bristol and the Shoreditch neighborhood. I got in a lil controversy over my "New World Order Is The Enemy Of Humanity" piece with some uptight Tower Hamlets councilmen and the Mayor all of whom criticized my depiction of the banking elite playing a game of monopoly on the backs of the working class. I guess they tried to frame me as an anti-semite because I drew big old noses on decrepit greed fueled men of authority. I made it clear my mural called out the atrocities that capitalism wages on the lower classes, making a mockery of the ruling elite. I believe that to make change one must destroy his or her illusions in order to liberate him or herself and the rest of humanity. I enjoy dropping a dig at the system that oppresses and destabilizes world economies as a form of control.

What do you think of the Dulwich Art project, and the broader street art scene in London and the UK?
It is good to see Graffiti Art on the streets sponsored by institutions that deal in art.

Your new piece 'Equality' has links to old depictions of 'Madonna and Child' by Murillo, Raphael, Caravaggio, etc, on theme with the Dulwich Picture Gallery initiative to link old master pieces to Street art… How did you find the process, any pressure?
I have been working in the style of the old masters for years now throughout my career, blending a complex form of realism mixed with the supernatural. I feel my new mural "Equality" is contemporary renaissance.

You often work with powerful narratives, mythology, philosophy, politics, and the painting is based on a 2011 serigraph you made, how do you feel about it's original context?
The piece symbolizes the role women and children play in revolution, in the sense of transformative thinking. The world is full of men running shit and they only care for the bottom line never considering the sacrifices made by the mother, the great mother of life. I see nature as an embodiment of love, power, and respect.

And how have the local community reacted?
Well, I found myself on a border again. I find myself here quite often, in a place where I am the protagonist and antagonist. Pretty much I have seen a lot of mothers and children in East Dulwich so I believe that I'm on point with my work but that is a matter of interpretation and one for the public to decide.

Are you planning any further work here?
No more work just the mural I rocked this time in Dulwich, but getting ready to head out to Paris. I did give a short talk about art and intention. I talked about how art conveys a stream of consciousness that can rise above the mediocre level of bland social norms. Repetition and effortlessness are celebrated and effort is shunned quite often. So I dedicated the time to talking about how we can communicate deeper, more meaningful art in our world and lives. Narrative is my method of delivery and I enjoy sharing this idea with children because they may not have had this connection of story and reality brought to their attention by the educational system for the desire to be real.

And then you're off to Paris! Sounds like a great event!…And your plans for the future, any more big projects on the horizon?
To change it.

One last question… Banksy or Team Robbo?

Anything else you'd like to add, any shouts, whatever!
Yes, I'd like to give shout outs to all the amazing new people I've connected with - Stephen Laws of AudioFish (it ain't over till the fat lady sings); Ingrid Beazley at the DPG (stay strong); the entire crew at Patch (yo, Arnuad, I fixed that flag for you); Quintin and Yanni over at Rudimental, a meeting of the minds, brethren; my team Candice and Vestalia for keeping my head on straight; and to London, you always make my time here one hell of a fuckin' experience.

Mear, thank you for your time, it's been a pleasure to catch up with you in London, good luck with the future and all the best! Joe_LDNGraffiti.

Stay tuned for Mear One's print release, available very soon... More information at the top of the page!

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'New World Revolution' print release

'EQUALITY' by Mear One.

Stay tuned for Mear One's print release, available very soon...