Walls of Pho Hoa – Permission Graffiti Walls Curator Ed Seymour II

What’s your name and job title for the share walls project?

My name is Ed Seymour II and I curate the walls at Pho Hoa of Orlando (website). This project was originally designed as a legal paint spot for my crew and friends of mine who paint graffiti as well as large scale art murals. Graffiti was aways meant to be illegal and the artists who paint the restaurant are celebrating the legal aspect of graffiti and public art. After the walls started to fill up, local news media outlets started covering the blank walls we were covering. Once word got around town that there was a new ‘legal’ wall in town, almost all of the walls had been covered.

Why is a project like Pho Walls important to a city?

In my opinion, cities that embrace graffiti and street art are more culturally diverse. A few years ago this city was fine without art murals and larger groups of expressionists. We would still do the things necessary to live and survive even without the arts. Personally, I much rather live and survive in a world of color created by local artists in a progressive city like Orlando, Florida. Don’t you?

An incident happened recently at the walls. What happened?

Part of graffiti and street art is understanding that not everyone likes to follow or respect the rules. At Pho Hoa we have 1 rule and a set of guidelines for artists who wish to contribute. Ask permission first and abide by our code of conduct (no nudity, violence, drug references, etc). This is how we let the City of Orlando know that we do regulate our murals and no trespassing is allowed after hours.

Recently an artist who just moved to town painted without permission.
When that happens, I will touch base with that artist if possible, remind them of our one rule and most of the time that wall will stay up and everyone walks away with an understanding. Just about every artist who has painted Pho Hoa in the past year who asked to paint will paint and the majority have approached our project with positivity and respect.
Sometimes situations arise and there needs to be a disconnect with that artist.

You’re considering shuttering the share walls at Pho Hoa. What happened?

I’ve always considered what it would be like to stop the project completely or if life got in the way who would I pass the reins to. Sometimes being a curator puts you in delicate situations where feelings can get hurt and reputations can be destroyed all because of one disagreement between myself and the artist.

I’m representing a family owned restaurant that trusts me to be professional and unbiased which can be very difficult.
In the past few years I’ve learned to keep my temper under control as well as putting myself in the other person’s shoes. Most times, the project pushes me to go and do bigger and better things with the artists who have teamed up with us like the Creative City Project, Artlando and The Mystery Meat car show.
Then there are those trying times when certain shady individuals either vandalize our property (neighbors property) or take to the internet to ‘express themselves’. Words hurt no matter how tough of an artist you might be everyone has feelings. I’ve been through enough to know that one person will never keep me from succeeding and for every time I think about closing the walls there are hundreds of other times I think about how I can make them bigger and better.

What would you put in its place?

At the end of the day I do not own the building or restaurant and if I left the project i’m almost certain that the owner and my very good friend Christopher Le would continue to work with artists. I’d like to think I taught him just a little bit about our art scene and just like he has trusted me to keep this project organized that I could trust him to keep it up without me. Nothing lasts forever except memories and legacies.

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