“Oh Boy, What a Backyard!”

| March 16, 2012 | 2 Comments

When Fred Genau and his wife bought their Light St. home, they couldn’t wait to tear down the ugly cinderblock wall in their backyard. With an alley big enough for parking, they looked forward to tearing it down and getting their car back there. But creating a parking spot would not be easy – they’d have to reposition a stairwell and tear down a big cinderblock gateway.

In the meantime they had an idea.  Dave Bellerose, a long-time friend of the couple, is a talented graffiti artist, so they figured they’d invite him over to put a mural on one of the three walls.  Five four-hour graffiti sessions later, Bellerose has created a one-of-a-kind piece of art that covers all three walls in their backyard.

Bellerose, who works during the day as a climber and trimmer at Lewis Tree Services, has always had a passion for art.  He began tattooing when he was younger, as well as doing artwork with various materials including magic markers.  Bellerose, who moved back and forth between his two hometowns of Boston and Balitmore, had some friends in Charm City who had a passion for graffiti.

He watched them do graffiti, but knew he needed experience before creating any signature pieces. Bellerose practiced his skills at home and eventually participated in some graffiti galleries around town. As a graffiti artist much of your work is done in places that are eventually graffitied over or you have to tag illegal spaces, which Bellerose wasn’t comfortable with.

Many years later, when Bellerose saw the large blank slate in Genau’s backyard he knew he had a chance to create a signature piece that he could come back and see over and over. They were excited to have him tag their wall, but eventually they all decided to let him do the entire backyard.  Genau provided a BBQ and spray paint during each session and Bellerose turned their blank slate into a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

“We love living and being a part of South Baltimore. We knew we wanted the piece to reflect the neighborhood,” Genau told SouthBMore.com.  One wall of the mural is a take on the Great Baltimore Fire with the word “Baltimore” in flames.

Their wall facing the alley includes silhouettes Genau and his wife and “Hon” written above the gate.  It wasn’t just your typical written out Hon though, the “O” featured the head of the Natty Boh guy.  The rest of the wall features a robot made of a spray can.

The north-facing wall has a piece that any fan of Baltimore should love.  The wall says 410, but the “0” features the cartoon Oriole Bird.  I had the chance to watch him create the bird.  While looking at an Oriole Bird on his iPhone, he skillfully created the bird in approximately 15 minutes. There is no denying what it is, a perfectly done cartoon Oriole Bird.

With parking not being as bad as they originally thought it might be, Genau look forward to enjoying their artwork for the foreseeable future. “We can’t wait to throw BBQs, have our friends over and see our great artwork in the background of pictures. We just love how it turned out.  Brittany and I both enjoy art, but it was amazing to have an artist that could express our ideas much more artistically than we could even imagine!” said Genau.

As spring seems to have arrived much earlier than expected, the Genaus should be getting a lot of great use out of their artistic backyard – much sooner than expected!

The South Baltimore Now Podcast Latest Episodes Produced by Nathan Carper: https://www.natecarpercreative.com

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at Kevin@InceptMM.com and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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