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DC Street Art is Cool Again Thanks to These Graffiti Artists

DC Street Art is Cool Again Thanks to These Graffiti Artists
Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Philadelphia and Baltimore have had city-sanctioned graffiti programs for decades, but government-sponsored street art is a relatively new phenomenon in Washington. Over the past eight years, the MuralsDC project has created works that adorn some 50 facades across the District. Many more have been commissioned privately. Meet the five artists doing the most to influence the scene.

Kelly Towles

dc street art
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

His O Street studio wall is good for practicing his signature cartoonish characters: “It’s almost like a conductor. If you don’t do it in the right manner, the music won’t come out the way you need it to.”


Aniekan

dc street art
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

The artist behind the now-infamous Bill Cosby mural on the outside of Ben’s Chili Bowl, Aniekan Udofia also trades in social commentary, as in “Reloaded,” above, with its pencil-as-weapon imagery. His dream project: “Besides the White House? That would be the ultimate!”

dc street art
“Reloaded,” on 312 Florida Ave., NW. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Decoy

dc street art
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Like many street artists, Decoy (née Alicia Cosnahan) tags under a single moniker. An Army brat born abroad, then art-schooled in the US, she got her start making and hanging posters in DC. A lot of her work is based on kids and their life in the city—“not really how it’s changing but how it is or was.”

dc street art
“Seasons in the City,” on 907 Barry Pl., NW. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Gaia

dc street art
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Twenty-seven-year-old Andrew Pisacane, or Gaia, has pieces all over the world—in DC, his niche is restaurants. If you’ve been to H Street, Northeast, you’ve seen his massive rooster on Smith Commons; at the Barracks Row noodle/sushi bar Nooshi, “Overfishing,” above, makes a dark (but owner-approved) statement.

dc street art
“Overfishing,” on 524 Eighth St., SE. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Chelove

dc street art
Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Cita Sadeli, who grew up in Hyattsville, used to paint (illegally) along the train tracks near Brookland and Takoma in the ’90s. She says “a Chelove piece always has a sense of movement, usually some weird animal characters, and most likely characters flexing a dance, martial arts, or yoga move.”

dc street art
“Crossroads,” on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

This article appears in our January 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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