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Making a ‘Masterpiece’

Venues in downtown Scranton play host to art each First Friday. The buildings themselves recently became art themselves in a new YouTube video called “Scranton Masterpiece” that has been generating buzz since its release last month.

A group calling themselves the Temporary Artists Collective is shown in the video, released March 30, drawing graffiti all over recognizable Scranton landmarks, including the Mall at Steamtown and the Everhart Museum.

The street art contains plugs for First Friday and the art auction held April 8, and the pranksters even manage to short out the lights in the iconic Electric City sign, making the letters spell “art.”

The illegal acts are all accomplished with digital effects. While the group declined a full interview via e-mail, they said they created the video to raise awareness on the importance of art and First Friday.

“‘Art,’ in its purest sense, is human expression - a statement - communicated through a medium that hopefully reaches another human, causing more expression,” the group wrote in an e-mail on April 6. “The only way to suppress free artistic expression is to refuse support, to ignore. See the play, attend the screening, buy the album, look at the painting. Support.”

The group also gave credit for the video’s high production values to 25/8 Productions, a Scranton-based video production studio that creates everything from commercials to music videos. President Mark Dennebaum, Jr. and editor Tim McDermott were less cryptic about their involvement with “Scranton Masterpiece.” T.A.C. asked for help in creating the almost four minute video without the solicitation of First Friday Scranton, adding to the mystery of its release.

Dennebaum and McDermott said they were inspired by the anonymous street artist Banky’s 2010 film “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year.

“That movie was getting a lot of press, so we figured we could kind of hang on the coattails of that and pay homage to it, but not plagiarize it,” Dennebaum said.

Another source of inspiration for the piece was the Bob Dylan song “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” McDermott contacted Jim Reynolds from Maybe Someday, Setty Hopkins from And the Moneynotes, and Underground Saints singer John Smith to perform a cover.

Unlike Banksy’s movie, McDermott and Dennebaum had to spend countless hours creating the illusion that they had vandalized city property.

They never had access to any of the buildings, Dennebaum said, so green screens were used for scenes like the scaling of The Times-Tribune building.

“We wanted people to walk outside and say, ‘Did my building get vandalized and now it’s on the internet?’” Dennebaum said with a laugh.

“All we wanted to do was have fun, and that’s what we did.”

Go online

Watch “Scranton Masterpiece” at http://youtu.be/qAVdQ1xlUM4. For more information of 25/8 Productions, visit www.25-8productionsinc.com.

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