Joe Grillo [ VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA, USA ]all artists
Based out of Virginia Beach, Dearraindrop...
began as a clothing label founded by Joe Grillo and Laura Grant in 1998. The group expanded to include more collaborators and the creation of elaborate collages made from recycled materials and large multi-media art installations. When first asked to join the Wynwood project they were a little confused because they didn’t consider themselves street artists. “That just wasn’t a reality when growing up in the late ’90s in suburban southern Virginia,” Laura explains.
The early New York graffiti artists were nevertheless an influence in their work, and Joe cites as examples Kenny Scharf, FUTURA and BLADE—one of the most prolific subway artists during the 1970s. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a 13-year-old kid in New York, staying up late at night, having the option of painting a whole car, and everyone seeing it before it got painted over. That must have been such a thrill.”
Joe and Laura had only visited Miami once before, and though they had a vague idea about what they would paint, they developed most of the imagery when they arrived on location, with the theme of celebrating what makes Miami special. The piece progressed from the bathing suit to the defiant electronic panther, and in “Miami-izing” their pop culture references further, they brought back other images you’d associate with Florida as a kid: palm trees, flamingos and sun-kissed oranges.
The Wynwood Walls gave the artists their first opportunity to paint a large-scale mural, significantly larger than any canvas they had done, and they found working publicly in a new place was notably different from working in a studio. Despite feeling the burning sun on their backs, needing to smear a lot of suntan lotion, and the feeling like they ran out of time, they had a lot of fun. For a future contribution, Joe envisions a US army tank painted all over with Britto-like pop imagery, with continuous smoke coming from the barrel, in front of a demolished Britto palm tree sculpture.