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Graffiti art and jazz?


The Citizens Bank New Haven Jazz Festival finds a unique blend of urban art and style

[New Haven, Conn. — July 19, 2006] — We’re not talking about Rembrandt, Sargent or Monet. Instead, think Andy Warhol goes underground. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Citizens Bank New Haven Jazz Festival presented by Casey Family Services has partnered with local urban artists to create fresh creative and craft live freestyle murals to the rhythms of the free jazz performances.

What exactly are we talking about? Some call it graffiti. We prefer urban art. Is urban art subway cars painted by amateurs or cartoon figures spray painted on buildings? No, we’re talking about pure, expressionist paintings — where walls are canvases and spray cans are the artists’ palettes.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, what do jazz and urban art have in common? A lot. And more importantly — what does urban art have to do with the New Haven Jazz Festival?

Urban art is first and foremost derived from its context. And for the silver anniversary of Jazz on the Green — the context is the past 25 years of the Jazz Fest. Like jazz, urban art is about spontaneous expression — unbarred creativity and relentless skill. Jazz is not simply playing a few notes, it’s a raw idea that lives in the mind and is manifested in a moment that resonates with audiences. And similar to jazz, urban art reaches off its “canvas” and grabs a hold of you. It’s about interpreting your surroundings and throwing it back in a daringly original way.

For the 25th anniversary the “powers that be” decided that it was time to shake things up a little by adding urban art into the mix. The result — for the first year ever the New Haven Jazz Festival hosted a worldwide competition to find the edgiest, freestyle artistic interpretation of the New Haven Jazz Festival’s legacy.

Graphic designers from New York, an artist from Brazil, professionals from the UK and students from around the nation — all competed to have their vision shape the style and become the 25th anniversary’s official commemorative poster. The entries ranged from raw urban art pieces, to colorful graphics, to works of fine art. But in the end one entry — by an up-and-coming Greater New Haven painter — unanimously captured the hearts and votes of the contest’s judges.

And the winner is...

Louis Jefferson III created an inspiring poster titled Jazz to Life, that evokes the smooth but energetic mood of vibrant jazz musicians. Harkening how the Jazz Fest brings the entire City to life each summer — Jefferson’s entry promises to go down in the Festival’s history.

To see his winning artwork and other finalists, tap into


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