street art tour london

And Then Gabriel Novak.

Sam has never understood street art. It’s an epidemic, he thinks, spreading through the city and causing a continual hassle for the people who have to take it down. Sure, a few of the pieces are pretty, but the spray paint scribbles don’t belong out there. He’s continually filing the paperwork on street artists who go through court cases only to be fined and released to the streets where they start the cycle all over again- more spray paint, all over town.

And then Gabriel Novak hires him to appeal for a lower sentence for defiling public property, and even Sam agrees that a year and a half in prison is ridiculous for a man who likes spray painting back alley walls. (“You don’t understand, I can't go to prison! I can’t! I’ve got a wife and thr- four children!” Sam raises an eyebrow. “Okay, not quite, but I do have two dogs and some very nice basil plants.”) Besides, Gabriel insists, in this particular instance, he’d thought he’d had permission.

And then Gabriel Novak offers to show him the scene of the crime, and Sam finds himself walking through a system of streets he barely knew existed outside of papers, all covered in bright patterns and pictures and stenciled messages. Gabriel points out things as he walks, telling Sam about which artist is responsible for which work, and how they’d made it, and Sam finds himself caught up in the idea of something far away from his office and his desk and his paperwork. Sam finds himself in awe of the risk taken for art’s sake, and the way these pieces were designed to exist for only a few weeks, and the messages hidden in each piece.

And then Gabriel Novak shows him what he’d been working on when he’d been stopped (“Old owner let me put up whatever I wanted, but apparently they got new people running the place.”) He looks almost wistful, with his hands jammed in his pockets, and more about not being able to finish the piece than anything else. Sam wants so badly to let him finish fleshing out the branches of a bare blue tree, and the arches of the red birds, the black and navy weaving together to make the background. Sam doesn’t understand why anyone would prefer the dull brown brick to the colorful mural Gabriel was putting up.

And then Gabriel Novak finds one of his spray cans, rolled into a corner- the red one- and nudges Sam and asks if he’ll turn away so Gabriel can at least tag his work. Sam watches with fascination as Gabriel draws a tiny, loopy wing that swirls out to form a “G”, right on the base of the tree. Seeing only encouragement on Sam’s face, he sprays in the left side so the color fades away instead of ending abruptly, then turns to Sam. “Wanna help?” Sam tries to protest that he can’t, not because he’s a law-abiding citizen, but because it’s such beautiful work, and he doesn’t want to ruin it-

And then Gabriel Novak takes Sam’s hand and guides his index finger through the wet red paint to leave a mark in the shape of one final bird. As an afterthought, he uses the wet paint on Sam’s finger to trace out a fading but careful “S.W.” next to Gabriel’s tag, signing both their names together. Gabriel holds his hand for a moment before he releases it, and Sam stands there for another, watching the paint dry behind them as Gabriel smiles at him. Sam feels he’s been introduced to an entirely new, secret world, one the artist is in love with, and it’s the most intimate thing he’s ever known.

And then Sam Winchester pushes Gabriel Novak up against the opposite alley wall and kisses the breath from his lungs, and Gabriel Novak drops the spray paint can to fist his hands in Sam’s hair. He leaves streaks of red but Sam doesn't care, because at this point, he wants to watch Gabriel paint everything and anything; whatever he touches becomes art, and Sam is happy to be art.

(Gabriel Novak gets off with another warning and a fine, which Sam pays in exchange for Gabriel painting a mural on his living room wall. They paint another one, in the bedroom, together, but end up having to wallpaper over them when Sam moves out and into Gabriel’s apartment. They didn’t regret it, though. Street art wasn’t meant to last; they were.)