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Tandem Press reopens with a visit from Irish street artist Maser

Maser's works feature bright colors and vintage typefaces.
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With economic recessions come higher levels of depression, the effects of which can last for years. Interventions such as psychotherapy and medication can help, but what about public art? Irish art star Maser is optimistic that it can.

One of the leading purveyors of large-scale graffiti and street paintings, he will visit Madison on Friday, Oct. 4, from 6-9 p.m., to celebrate the 25th year of Gallery Night and the opening of the new, temporary space for Tandem Press at 1741 Commercial Ave.

Maser will start painting one of Tandem's walls during the event. Then he'll create a series of prints during a two-week residency.

"It'll be positive messaging and typography, figurative work that shows the idea of support and community," he says of the piece he's designing for the wall.

He might also draw inspiration from the movements of other artists in the space.

"I'll take a lot of photos as I'm working, and then I may look at how [other artists'] bodies work when they're printing," he explains.

Maser notes that the printmaking residency gives him a chance to tackle a new medium.

"It'll be a big learning curve for me, but I'm very excited," he says.

A similar enthusiasm radiates from many of Maser's pieces, such as a dumpster upcycled with neon-orange diagonal lines and Support, a mural peppered with hot-pink letters and motley cartoon arms and legs. Like many of his works, they feature bright colors and vintage typefaces. These elements may have helped attract youth to his art, says Tandem Press director Paula Panczenko.

She recalls a trip to Dublin to visit her family, which includes several school-age nieces and nephews.

The younger members of the clan "were all talking about Maser," she recalls.

During a walk through the city, she and her husband saw an artist painting a street mural called Live & Love.

"He had all these young people around him, and I had a feeling about him," she says.

She took a deep breath and asked him if he was Maser. He said yes, and she invited him to visit Tandem.

Panczenko says Maser's "upbeat messaging" resonates with people who are struggling or marginalized.

"The Irish economy was hit very hard by the downturn, and a lot of young people were hit hardest," she notes. "[Maser] really believes in street art lifting people's spirits."

Perhaps this is because he recalls being a teenage boy who struggled with school.

"Like most 14-year-old boys, I had a lot of energy, so I started doing graffiti," he says. "It was a great platform to express what I was thinking, and there were no limitations or rules."

Though Maser didn't set out to engage youth, he enjoys interacting with them.

"Making art is often a lonely journey, and getting feedback from them is exciting to me," he says.

Tandem Press visitors can also participate in this dialogue during Gallery Night.

"I'll be working out my ideas on Friday," Maser says. "If you come out, you can chat with me while I'm painting."

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