Few & Far Women Create Beauty & Community at The Ruins
This past weekend, I went to The Napa Ruins, an old abandoned concrete company’s building that has been turned into a street art gallery since it closed in the 50s. For decades, artists were painting the walls. From what some say, most of these times, it was an underground affair complete with alleged trespassing.
However, for the first time, the owners of the space had opened up the space for legal street art. Few & Far Women, a collective of international female muralists and street artists, had their 11th-anniversary party there and a full-on mural jam. They had performers of all types while dozens of female artists worked on art around the property. This free event was inspiring and absolutely beautiful.
On the first day, Saturday, my friend and I roamed the space to see several in-progress pieces. Some artists had gridded out their murals and were referencing their phones as they sketched out their pieces. One woman said to me, “I’m not sure what I’m going to make but I plan to wing it”.
The styles of art varied from graffiti-style lettering, stencil art, and hand-painted murals using spray paint or paint brushes. What my friend and I loved the most is that, although the pieces were peppered throughout the ruins, they had a shared pallet of colors. The base of each piece was a beautiful terracotta and the other colors compliment the background color perfectly.
On Sunday, I went back to peep the final pieces and meet more of the artists who weren’t able to say hello Saturday afternoon. It was then that I learned more about Few & Far Women and the positive influence the crew has on each other.
The power of community:
I have such deep admiration for this group of women. In an art form that is so dominated by men, seeing women come together in this way was just so powerful. It’s beautiful to see this space be beautified with gorgeous work co-created by women from around the world.
Originally created by artist Meme in 2011, Few & Far was created in an effort to bring female graffiti and street artists together.
Speaking of the early days they talk about the crew’s bond with each other, “Being a part of an all-female team aided them in their ideas, their techniques, and their sense of self. The level of fellowship, support, and understanding was a surprising discovery; they had created, without realizing it, a matriarchal model for public artmaking. The group naturally magnetizes attention and with each project, their collaborative process evolves.”
Over the past 11 years, the artist collective of talented women has grown to have Few & Far events and strong connections between members around the globe. Speaking with Ursula X. Young about the community, she told me about how when someone has a piece they are doing in another city, they will call up a Few & Far crew member and they will help each other out. Members are also creating more opportunities for each other. The next event is actually in Miami’s famous mural district, Wynwood. It’s a neighborhood that the team is familiar with having done other collaborations there in the past.
Few & Far founder, Meme, has talked about working as a female graffiti artist, “I try not to think about this much these days, I just want to be who I am without worrying about gender all the time. It will just wear you down. I find it difficult sometimes to be treated fairly and respectfully when I have been for years very devoted to painting. No easy credit is what we like to say.”
What’s the future of the murals themselves?
I asked organizers about the future of the space and we learned that the owner plans on redeveloping the area to be a center for American Canyon residents. Currently called Watson Ranch, online plans show a complete overhaul of the surrounding area.
For now, the space is really raw, several pillars from the original building are only half-standing and the flooring is rough and uneven. Many areas were off-limits with caution tape keeping you safe. The owners of the space did even out some of the grounds to allow art viewers a safer path through the event.
The murals themselves will be preserved as best as possible for people to enjoy during other events at the space. One other event that happens there is “Evening At The Ruins” organized by The American Canyon Community & Parks Foundation.
How do you find the space? The space isn’t easy to find necessarily: go to “501 S Napa Junction Rd.” And then go beyond that until you feel you’re trespassing and might be somewhere you shouldn’t be… you’ve made it to The Napa Ruins.
My final thoughts: Absolutely one of the most amazing weekends with @fewandfarwomen at the Few & Far Women 11th anniversary featuring a mega stunning array of murals and street art by some of the most talented female artists around.
For more information about Few & Far Women, find them online here:
More details on the ins & outs of the event in my previous article here