Discovering Urban Art Magic In Dresden, Germany

Most people who conjure "urban art" and "Germany" in an equation will definitely get an answer of "Berlin", no matter the operator. The bohemian index in that city has not softened since Bowie was recording "Heroes" there in the late '70s, and even though The Wall is down, the urban art scene is still blisteringly hot.

2016-07-13-1468373268-5286858-brooklynstreetartartistunknownjaimerojodresden072016web2.jpg Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jens is also a local historian and cultural observer so whether we were talking about a graffiti tag, aerosol hand styles, the Fürstenzug mural of 23,000 porcelain tiles, the overflow of the Elbe River during a European flood in 2002 or the architectural subterfuge of a former cigarrete factory/mosque named Yenidze that escaped allied bombings in 1945, he proved a friendly, adept and educational host.

2016-07-13-1468376422-2922178-brooklynstreetartopticninjajaimerojodresden072016web1.jpg Optic Ninja - a hand rendered wheat paste. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

However picturesque Dresden in Germany's southeast has its own great murals as well, along with a lively Street Art scene and some saucy political graffiti that rivals the raucous sentiments found in bigger cities.

We were in Dresden a couple of weeks ago to consult on an upcoming international street art exhibition called "Magic City" so naturally we hit the streets with bicycles three days in a row to see if we could find the magic in the city's graffiti, Street Art, and murals whenever time would permit. We were very lucky to get a bike tour from Jens Besser, an artist, author, lecturer, and producer of mural festivals in the city who sped ahead of us through a labyrinth of streets to show us a number of the impressive murals he and partners have brought to Dresdeners in the last decade or so.

2016-07-13-1468376201-6687849-brooklynstreetartopticninjajaimerojodresden072016web2.jpg Optic Ninja (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jens is also a local historian and cultural observer so whether we were talking about a graffiti tag, aerosol hand styles, the Fürstenzug mural of 23,000 porcelain tiles, the overflow of the Elbe River during a European flood in 2002 or the architectural subterfuge of a former cigarrete factory/mosque named Yenidze that escaped allied bombings in 1945, he proved a friendly, adept and educational host.

Unwittingly, or perhaps with purpose, he also briefly led us past the D.I.Y. / anarchy-loving / purple-haired section of town where we saw anti-Pegida Street Art and anti-fascist slogans scrawled along walls - which are rather like catnip to any true subculture sleuth.

2016-07-13-1468373594-6063619-brooklynstreetartFrmOteckijaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Frm-Kid. Otecki for CityBilder - Collaborative Murals in DresdenFriedrichstadt . Curated by Jens Besser and Frank Eckhardt. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We did some investigating on our the following day and got lost riding through Dresden's more bohemian/neglected gritty neighborhoods but that first tour had clued us in to some of the magic that can be found in this city that lies only two hours south of Berlin. The multitude of voices and skills (or lack thereof in the case of the scrawled pieces) that we found on the streets added fuller color to the rich conversations we were witnessing elsewhere, and the city definitely has its own kind of mystery and smart-mouthed character.

2016-07-13-1468373635-8482528-brooklynstreetartothersaddojaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Other . Saddo for CityBilder - Collaborative Murals in Dresden Friedrichstadt. Curarted by Jens Besser and Frank Eckhardt. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468373817-7546784-brooklynstreetartmonodabtargregorjaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Mono Gonzalez. Dabtar . Gregor for Time for Murals. Curated by Jens Besser and Denise Ackermann. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468373884-3324881-brooklynstreetartgraphicsurgeryjaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Graphic Surgery for CityBilder - Collaborative Murals in Dresden Friedrichstadt. Curated by Jens Besser and Frank Eckhardt. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468373921-2810976-brooklynstreetartjbakjaimerojodresden072016web1.jpg JBAK. Detail. For CityBilder - Collaborative Murals in Dresden Friedrichstadt. Curated by Jens Besser and Frank Eckhardt. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468373969-7989917-brooklynstreetartryanspringdoodleymoneylessjaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Ryan Spring Dooley . Moneyless for CityBilder - Collaborative Murals in Dresden Friedrichstadt. Curated by Jens Besser and Frank Eckhardt. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374037-421844-brooklynstreetartkenorh101jaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Kenor . H101 for CityBilder - Collaborative Murals in Dresden Friedrichstadt. Curated by Jens Besser and Frank Eckhardt. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374086-4029848-brooklynstreetartartistunkonwnjaimerojodresden072016web1.jpg Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374131-969960-brooklynstreetartartourettejaimerojodresden072016web.jpg Artourette (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374168-9583960-brooklynstreetartJensBesserjaimerojodresden072016web1.jpg A day and night diptych from Jens Besser (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374207-1019779-brooklynstreetartJensBesserjaimerojodresden072016web2.jpg Jens Besser. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374250-7722267-brooklynstreetartJensBesserjaimerojodresden072016web3.jpg Jens Besser. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374299-670648-brooklynstreetartJensBesserjaimerojodresden072016web4.jpg Jens Besser (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374346-8543865-brooklynstreetartnonamenogamejaimerojodresden072016web.jpg No Name. No Game. - An "open source" roller tag repeated often and seen in many locations in Dresden. We found this one poignant because of the placement of a commercial real estate developer above it, effectively showcasing two uneasy players in the ongoing discussion about the role of art and artists in the gentrification of neighborhoods. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374396-2109588-brooklynstreetartZCKRcrewjaimerojodresden072016web.jpg ZCKR Crew (photo © Jaime Rojo)

2016-07-13-1468374436-9124536-brooklynstreetartsmcgwkzbgjaimerojodresden072016web.jpg SMC. GWK . ZBG (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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