Street Artists EL Seed And Ruben Sanchez Color In Dubai

Last Friday The Crossway Foundation and Tashkeel sponsored a workshop at The Archive in Safa Park called, “Re-Imagining Your Community Through Art.” It was completely free to everyone, and about 100 people of all ages and cultures came out to collaborate on a permanent mural with street artists eL Seed and Ruben Sanchez.

Dubai truly felt like a village that afternoon, as all of us put on gloves and masks, tagged giant canvases and eventually brought permanent color to a previously dull exterior wall at The Archive. Even though these guys are major artists with international street cred, their humility was just beautiful as they bent down to talk with kids, and helped adults use a spray can for the first time.

There were layers upon layers of tags. The canvas started to look like a work of art.

There were layers upon layers of tags. The canvas started to look like a work of art.

Here is a little background on the artists:eL Seed
Even though his calligrafiti is bright and bold, eL Seed is a quiet person. He wolfed down a plate of eggs at The Archive while we spoke and was friendly but withdrawn (Insert sound of internal out of control squealing here. I got to interview eL Seed! Of course on the outside I was every bit the cool, seasoned journalist). I had the feeling that his native tongue is street art, and having to talk out loud about what he does so intuitively felt like a cheap translation of something perfectly articulated visually.

eL Seed just hit the pause button and relocated to Dubai to begin a one-year residency at Tashkeel. He told me, “The past two or three years were really crazy. I was just doing project after project—some commissioned works and some of my own things. So when Sheikha Lateefa at Tashkeel proposed this residency I accepted because it’s a good way for me step back and make a transition from a career as a graphic artist, and give another dimension to my work as an artist.”

You can read more about eL Seed in my previous blog post here.

Ruben Sanchez
One of the first artists to have introduced street art to Dubai, Ruben comes from Barcelona and it is easy to see his country’s influence in his work. Picasso, Dali, Cubism, and Surrealism definitely seem to be influencers, as is Spanish street culture in general. As a kid he taught himself to paint by adding designs to his brother’s skateboards, and he quite naturally relates to UAE teenagers because those influential years are so ingrained in his ethos as an artist.

You can read more about his solo show, The B-Side at Tashkeel here.

Here is a simple photo blog showing how the workshop worked and what we created together in a single afternoon:

Here is the Before pic of the blank wall and two canvases right before the workshop

Here is the Before pic of the blank wall and two canvases right before the workshop

My friend Julie-Anne and I all suited up in masks and gloves to prevent fumes and stains. We were pretty excited to tag a wall for the first time.

My friend Julie-Anne and I all suited up in masks and gloves to prevent fumes and stains. We were pretty excited to tag a wall for the first time.

First Ruben Sanchez taught everyone how to use a spray can and encouraged each of us to develop our very own tag using a practice canvas. The kids were not shy at all.

First Ruben Sanchez taught everyone how to use a spray can and encouraged each of us to develop our very own tag using a practice canvas. The kids were not shy at all.

The adults went crazy with their practice canvas too. It was kind of exhilarating to have permission to play and experiment in a public space.

The adults went crazy with their practice canvas too. It was kind of exhilarating to have permission to play and experiment in a public space.

While we practiced on the temporary canvases eL Seed outlined the permanent wall. He didn't even sketch this out first. Pretty impressive!

While we practiced on the temporary canvases eL Seed outlined the permanent wall. He didn’t even sketch this out first. Pretty impressive!

Ruben Sanchez adding in his signature flavor

Ruben Sanchez adding in his signature flavor

Now that we had all practiced it was time for the real thing. Everyone got to take a turn filling in the outline on the wall.

Now that we had all practiced it was time for the real thing. Everyone got to take a turn filling in the outline on the wall.

Meanwhile, this guy in the hat who looked like he should have been on the golf course, surprised us all by tagging the canvas with the Burj Khalifa. His sons looked on in wonder. Coolest dad ever!

Meanwhile, this guy in the hat who looked like he should have been on the golf course, surprised us all by tagging the canvas with the Burj Khalifa. His sons looked on in wonder. Coolest dad ever!

eL Seed and Ruben filled in around the edges and we all stood around enjoying the show with our mouths open because they worked so fast

eL Seed and Ruben filled in around the edges and we all stood around enjoying the show with our mouths open because they worked so fast

Ta Da! Here is the final result, a community collaboration that can be enjoyed by everyone

Ta Da! Here is the final result, a community collaboration that can be enjoyed by everyone

Good Idea: You can visit the community mural at The Archive in Safa Park. The mural is on the left side of the building and is permanent.

Photo Credits: Original Images by Danna Lorch