artist merge distinct styles and backgrounds through creative, romantic connection
The street-art collective BellaPhame will display fine-arts pieces during a pop-up gallery in Greensboro Jan. 9 hosted by Kotis Street Art.
Thursday, Jan. 9
1424 Westover Terrace (formerly Performance Bicycles)
Schedule of Events:
11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Artwork on view to the public
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Presentation from BellaPhame. Following the presentation, guests wearing purple, teal or black will be invited to stand in group photo with the artists.
7:30 to 10 p.m.: Reception
GREENSBORO – How do two artists with two distinct styles and two different color schemes create one painting with one unified theme?
To hear the husband-wife artist collective BellaPhame based in Porto, Portugal, explain it, it’s a combination of hard work – practice, communication, compromise – and the deep spiritual connection that links them creatively and romantically.
Here’s a window into how their collaboration works: Bella of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Phame of Brooklyn, New York, haven’t spent one day apart since 2016.
“I’ve never met anyone with the same motivation to paint as me,” Phame, 37, said. “She always wants to paint.”
“Nothing’s ever a problem when we’re painting together,” said Bella, 33. “It’s never too hard. Once we start it, it just flows.”
On Thursday, fine arts pieces by BellaPhame will be available during a pop-up gallery at 1424 Westover Terrace in Greensboro, hosted by Kotis Street Art. Local developer and restaurateur Marty Kotis, curator of Kotis Street Art, has transformed his space (formerly home of Performance Bicycle) into an art gallery.
The BellaPhame exhibit is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Original silk screens, paper collages and paintings by BellaPhame will be for sale from $60 to $800.
Following a 6:30 p.m. presentation by the artists, guests wearing purple, teal or black – the couple’s trademark color scheme – will be invited to participate in a group photo with the artists.
It will be BellaPhame’s second-ever gallery show.
“This is a unique stopover for BellaPhame, who usually exhibit in New York, Brazil and Portugal,” Kotis said. “This exhibit gives people the chance to own a piece of what they drive by every day.”
Bella and Phame – who have painted together as BellaPhame for two years – are the artists behind the dramatic, eye-catching full-building mural at 4721 Lawndale Drive in Greensboro. The couple spent two weeks turning the unoccupied building’s floor, walls, windows and even the parking lot into one continuous mural. The work, which is lit up at night from the outside and inside, has been visible to passers-by on Lawndale Drive since then. But the opening of the new leg of Greensboro Urban Loop is exposing the piece to a larger group of travellers.
Like the Lawndale Drive mural, pieces from BellaPhame’s new collection feature purple (Phame) and teal (Bella) imagery and block-letter word search puzzles. Some of the pieces will be part of BellaPhame’s new collection focused on equality, something that’s important to both of them. Many of their works feature parallel structures – hearts, hands that are linked, figures hugging, bridges – that symbolize the yin and the yang, balance and equality.
Phame started as a graffiti artist in New York when he was 16. He liked the freedom it gave him.
“I could be a ninja, sneaking out of the house, painting, then sneaking back in,” he said.
Bella, a life-long artist, got her first taste of street art during a workshop in 2012. The two met in Brazil five years ago, and began their collaboration – at first just as artists. Phame paints in an abstract style and Bella in a figurative style, so the two worked in the studio to figure out ways to merge their styles into one cohesive piece.
Over time and travels to other countries, their relationship deepened and the artists became a couple. In 2017 they embarked on Collage365, a one-year challenge to create one paper collage each per day. Midway through the project, they found themselves exchanging collages and finishing the other’s work.
Today, they’re so used to collaborating – and hashing out their ideas in the studio – that they rarely speak while they’re actually painting.
For their next evolution, BellaPhame plans to move beyond murals and fine art and into interior design, home furnishings and sculpture. The artists want to expand their purple-and-teal color palette into hotels, maybe even paint the outside (and inside) of a plane.
“We want people to connect with our work,” said Bella. “We think about the impact of our artwork – about how we can have more of an impact.”
BellaPhame is a husband-and-wife art collective based in Porto, Portugal. Bella is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Phame is from Brooklyn, N.Y. They began to merge their styles and varied influences to build a new body of work that includes murals, collages and screen printing. In 2017, they embarked on a one-year challenge to create one paper collage each per day. This inspired them to explore new mediums and integrate the studio practice with their street art, bringing collage aesthetics to their murals. The purple and teal color palette adopted by the duo, as well as the word search game, are a reflection of this experience. By portraying concepts that are part of their personal lives, they use themselves as elements in their work as a way to bring the viewer closer with their message. Their murals can be found in public spaces across the United States, Brazil and Europe.
About Kotis Street Art
Kotis Street Art is a collection of more than 100 murals curated by Greensboro developer, restaurateur and entrepreneur Marty Kotis. His initial efforts included artwork for restaurant interiors and exteriors in 2010, which led to work with local artists and curators who were seeking walls. By 2017, he was curating and recruiting international artists, including Australian street artist Adnate; Spanish artist Miquel Angel Belinchon Bujes, who goes by Belin; Groovycosta of Barcelona, Spain; French artist JR; the Greek muralist Insane51; and Sipros, a street artist from São Paulo, Brazil. Self-guided tours are available through the Kotis Street Art website.