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Asphalt Renaissance: The Pavement Art of

Kurt Wenner

Learned his craft in Italy. Artworks would take several days to complete, so he would cover it with plastic at night to protect it from the elements. But the local vagrants would strip back the plastic and pretend to draw on pic (using cigarette butt!) to earn a few coins. So Wenner organised the most capable ones to do shifts through the night. Late one night hepassed by and heard one of his "assisstants" giving an elaborate art history lecture to a group of spectators. The guy had listened carefully to the answers Wenner had given to questions, memorised them, and was now able to speak with convincing authority and gusto.

One of the street people was an old crone selling flowers. When his paintings drew a crowd she would appear and pretend to berate him, criticizing the lack of religious icons in his pics, and pointing out how empty his tip baskets were. Her harangues always stimulated the crowd into opening their purses. After they had dispersed, she would quietly circle the picture and pluck a couple of bills from each basket as compensation. Before leaving, she would leave behind an offering of some particularly poor roses.

A problem that so much of the offerings he received were coins, worth very little. Banks would not change them for notes, and merchants refused them as payment. Finally found a pizzeria near Trevi Fountain that was always short of change bc tourists would throw theirs in the fountain. So owner took coins off his hands at a discount rate.

Welcomed into schools in California bc they had no budget for art supplies at all. But kids cd get chalk, and he taught them to draw on the wide spaces of asphalt that schools always had.

Wenner would cover his drawings with plastic at the end of the day. But vagrants would strip it off and pretend to be working on it, drawing invisible strokes with a cigarette butt, to earn some donations. Wenner eventually hired them to protect his work. he went back on evening and found the rostered homeless guy, who had listened carefully to Wenner's answers to FAQs, was convincingly lecturing the small crowd.

There was one old crone who sold roses, and who would put on a show to help Wenner, berating him for being a poor artist and 'look how little money you have been given'. Naturally the crowd would vote with their cash, and afterwards she would quietly circle the painting and pluck a bill or two from each basket as her compensation. before leaving, she would leave behind an offering of some particularly poor roses.

Italy has coins of very low denominations, and the banks refuse to change them for notes because so much trouble to count, and so shops won't accept them as payment either. Wenner was getting 4000 coins a week, so spending them was not easy. He eventually found a cafe near the Trevi fountain that was short of change because tourists wanted to throw coins.

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