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Brooklyn Street Art

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OverUnder in Seattle: Peculiar Portraits & Mural for “Urban Artworks”

Posted on April 21, 2015

Reno averages 114 cloudy days per year.  Seattle is about twice that number. Can you blame Overunder for moving to Reno? Despite the endless days of gray, Seattle’s pretty nice to live in, according to many. The economy is fueled by the high tech industry and is also one of the most progressive cities socially, recently enacting a $15 minimum wage, new taxes on the wealthiest 1%, and there are well funded social services for the homeless and those seriously in need.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. “Kurt Kobangs” Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

And truthfully, painting under gray skies is actually preferable to burning under hours of blasting sun, so Overunder recently returned to Seattle to create a new mural for Urban Artworks, a youth oriented public art program that is celebrating its 20th year. In addition to the “monster mural”, Overunder also had the opportunity to complete some characteristically “free-range” installations, the kind we were more familiar with when Brooklyn was his stomping ground a few years ago.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

A very distinctive style on the street that recalls work of pals Labrona, Troy Lovegates, even Barry McGee and more West Coast folk surrealists, OU continues his visual anagrams on the street that toss around the elements now familiar to his vocabulary – rolldown gates, distorted monochromatic figures, brownstone facades, somewhat brooding expressions, wit. You’ll see the linework is cleaner and more confident than ever, the palette pleasingly saturated, the waving curvilinear forms now more expressive even as they beguile.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

We wanted to see what he had to say about his work now, and how his pieces on the street came about, and how he conjured the new mural for Urban Artworks;

Brooklyn Street Art: We notice that you are doing a number of portraits recently, and that they are fairly compact. Are these people in your life or your imagination?

Overunder: The wheat paste pieces are mostly imagined although a little reality sneaks in time and again for trips. When I travel I like to make pieces about place so naturally the people that live there become game for sampling. For example one piece is of a good Seattle friend who spends each year fishing in Alaska to make money for travel. That piece shows a man engrossed in a tornado emerging from a boat atop a coin.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe a typical process for creating one of these – do you sketch, paint, cut-out, and wheat-paste?
Overunder: The process is very pure, just spray paint on paper. A typical process involves tacking a roll of paper up, cracking a beer, and just seeing what happens with a can of spray. Oh and maybe a little Freddie Gibbs or Isaiah Rashad as soundtrack.

I try to keep each piece to an hour or less so they don’t get over-worked and then I cut them straight off the wall.  For every 2 or 3 pieces I put up in the streets probably 1 piece gets tossed in the trash and another archived so I can look back at my progression (sometimes regression). These pieces are very liberating and give me the freedom that I can’t achieve in my murals. It’s just my subconscious and the medium. Especially now that most of my murals involve more research, time, supplies, and stamps of approval from various parties.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: How do you chose the text that sometimes goes directly over the face, and what is it about?

Overunder: I don’t want my wheat pastes to be precious or special and the best way to de-virginize that smooth and perfect paper is to christen it with whatever’s on my mind. In a way the text chooses me. A lot of times I have no idea what I’m writing but it becomes brutally honest. There is a reason why diary and diarrhea are found next to each other in the dictionary.

Since I put shading and line work over the top the text gets pushed back and becomes more of a technique to build background texture. i.e. a kneeling red figure I put up in the ID (International District) reads, ‘There is comfort and then there is convenience and then there is undeniable devotion and then there is unquestionable kinship and then there is regrettable choices and then there is all the other stuff.’

That could be interpreted many ways but to me it was a joke about my inability to distinguish between then and than.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you connect with Urban Artworks and can you describe the organization?
Overunder: They reached out to me after hearing about me through mutual friends. It was inspiring to learn about them as they are a very unique organization that works specifically with adjudicated youth to create public art. The youth are paid by the county to work on projects and they gain work readiness skills, art experience, and self confidence through the creation of their murals.

Urban ArtWorks also takes pride in giving aspiring muralists opportunities to build their own portfolios and skill sets through the whole process. The program is in its 20th year and looking to build their roster by working more with artists beyond the Seattle area – so, I hope to be back to create with them again and maybe even lead a youth mural next time.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Brooklyn Street Art: The mural features airborne creatures … and a cassette tape that looks like a mix of home jams. How do these fit together?
Overunder: Under the supportive assistance of Urban Artworks I created this mural titled “Contribute” for a new apartment development on Capitol Hill. While the theme involves showing birds flying to a nest with gifts to contribute I was also fortunate enough to involve several of my all-time favorite Seattle artists as they helped contribute to the overall mural.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

Collaboration has always been important to me as a humbling bi-product of process and as a tool for apprenticeship. Aside from Derek Yost (who assisted on most of the mural), I involved No Touching Ground, Kyler Martz, Yale Wolf, Paulina Cholewinski, and Kathleen Warren who is the Director for Urban Artworks. The mural itself combines Gulls, Swallows, Killdeers, and other two-winged friends reported to be seen most by the Seattle Audubon Society.

I tried to create some movement amongst the large space by weaving birds, birch trees, and unspooled cassette tape as it gets tangled in the birds nest. The background blue gradient utilizes the natural shadows cast by the architecture to create an abstract sundial from sunrise to just past high noon.

Brooklyn Street Art: Why does it always seem to be raining in Seattle?
Overunder: I don’t know but I do know that that is the reason why I moved out of Seattle in 2004.

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Process shot. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Process shot. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Process shot. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Kathleen Warren/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Detail. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Erik Burke/Urban Art Works)

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Overunder AKA Erik Burke. Urban Art Works. Seattle. March 2015. (photo © Jake Hanson/Urban Art Works)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Tuco Wallach: Manimals in the Back Alley and Back Yard

Posted on April 20, 2015

Who’s that Raccoon Strumming a Guitar in the Woods?

Let’s be clear, these are staged photos in an outdoor setting – similar in technique to miniature outside artists such as Joe Iurato and Isaac Cordal. In a way, one recalls the games of childhood where you projected yourself onto a toy in a fictional setting — at the wheel of a racing Matchbox car or marching around a sand castle or drowning Ken in the pool at Malibu Barbie’s Dream house.

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

By positioning cast members into new circumstances and using your imagination, the directer (you) uses the natural and man-made environment as a movie or theater “set” to infer a storyline, a narrative. In this case the French street artist Tuco Wallach is also conceiving of, photographing, manipulating, painting and sculpting the characters – the result are the famed man/animal hybrids that George Bush warned us of. Their everyday non-chalance casts doubt on unreality and placing them in environments helps you to broaden your imagination and begin your story…

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

Brooklyn Street Art: Let’s start with your name. Is it inspired by the character, Tuco Ramirez, masterfully played by Eli Wallach as the “Ugly” dude in Sergio Leone’s “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”?
Tuco: Exactly. I’m a complete fan of spaghetti westerns and especially “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – the music, the atmosphere, and the characters… Sometimes people believe that my name comes from Tuco Salamanca of Breaking Bad. Even though I like that show also, I really prefer the “loser Tuco” created by Sergio Leone.

Brooklyn Street Art: Judging from the photos of your outdoor installations they appear to be fastidiously staged and professionally lit as if they were shot on a set. Do you leave the artwork at the exact location where the photo was taken?
Tuco: I try each time to find a special spot for my cutouts, a place where the character seems to be comfortable. I like to play with the weather too: snow, sun, rain, shadows.. For the moment, I don’t leave the artwork where the picture has been taken. I really wanted at the beginning to do it, but to be honest, most times the wood shape falls to the ground after shooting it so I’ll need to improve my technique before I can do that.

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

Brooklyn Street Art: You are doing hybrid stencils with men and animals. What sparks your imagination, attracts you to hybrids?
Tuco: Since childhood, I always appreciated illustrations with humans and animals! And I grew up in a little village, in the countryside.  I can’t really explain it. Maybe it sounds a little cliché but I think humans are animals. I particularly like mixing humans and animals.

I believe these creatures, which I call “manimals” may cause people to pose questions about them; What are manimals doing within these urban structures? What do they think about our modern cities? Maybe they represent a wild side in that is opposition to the “concrete world” around them? Have they got a different look because of their origins? What do they imagine when watching us and what do we think when seeing them?

I suppose manimals have a universal mythological side: they represent both the good and evil, they are for everyone, children and adults, they could be seductive and disturbing … The most important thing for me is: they must surprise.

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

Brooklyn Street Art: What are the pros and the cons of working with small stencils wheat pasted on wood cut boards?
Tuco: I used to paint on various stuff: walls, papers, stickers. At home primarily I paint on wood, but also on maps, books… Honestly, I really like to make big drawings on walls when I have the opportunity. Each time I make large pieces, it is such a good feeling and I want to do it more!

However it is also very pleasant to make small stencils, to try to be very precise when cutting. As I said before I like painting on wood, and working with the wood shapes. I also enjoy using my jigsaw to cut the character, breathe the smell of the wood. It’s like a little challenge each time for me – don’t break the piece of wood, don’t scratch the colors, find the right place at the right moment for the picture.

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you think that eventually wild animals and dense cities where humans live will collide and merge with one another and it will be common to see bears, coyotes, alligators, bob cats, deer and other fauna roaming the streets of big metropolis?
Tuco: With this question, I mean when you speak about big cities, this is the dream I have every night!

As I said before, I lived an in rural area when I was a child. Sometimes when you are there you can see a deer, and each time, it is completely magic. I want to believe that one day we can really live with animals in urban areas. And I’m optimistic, for example, I spent a while in London and each day I saw foxes near a church because the priest fed them. But I have to be honest too, how will I react if I meet a bear or an alligator? For a very long time now we have been chasing animals away from cities; maybe now they need revenge!

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you think that wild fauna will be called invasive species as they move into metropolitan dwellings in search of food and water? As you say, humans have been the invaders of their habitats but the tables may turn.
Tuco: Such an interesting question! Who are the invaders in fact? And who will be the future invaders?

When I draw manimals, I try to dream about cohabitation between humans and animals. For an example, when a manimal rides a skateboard, for me, he has the primitive instinct of an animal and the reflexive capacity of a human.

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

Maybe I have to put small and bigger wood shapes all around the world to support my thought: live together! With my stencils, I always use a picture I’ve taken (not necessarily the animal head, but the rest of it). Each of my drawings has a special story in my mind, a narrative. Here’s a guy wandering at the market on Sunday morning, here is a musician sitting at a street corner, a grandmother walking quietly.. Then I add an animal head to the body and it continues the story for me. It marks the duality, the union between humans and animals.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you always leave an installation behind in the cities and countries you visit?
Tuco: Yes. In most places I visit I take a homemade sticker or something else to leave a little souvenir in the street.

Most of the times, I travel with small pieces in my bag. If I can make a child smile I believe I that I win something. Just for this reason I want to continue.

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

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Tuco Wallach (photo © Tuco Wallach)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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BSA Images Of The Week: 04.19.15

Posted on April 19, 2015

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Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring #dysturb, Balu, Banjo, Bifido, bunnyM, D7606, Dan Plasma, Don’t Fret, Ideal, Left Handed Wave, Martian Code Art, Mr. Prvrt, Myth, Nineta, Obey, Stay Busy, UNO, UTA, and Vers.

Top Image: UTA. Portrait of Michelle Obama. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Balu (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Myth (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ideal (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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bunny M (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Image of a kid walking on the street with a tag on the wall, wheat-pasted on a wall on the street. Banjo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bifido “Who Eats The Worm” in Naples, Italy. (photo © Bifido)

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Nineta (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nineta (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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D7606 has Debbie hanging on the telephone. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stay Busy by Panic & Chupa (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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OBEY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Uno in Berlin (photo © UNO)

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Dysturb with saxaphone accompaniment (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dysturb (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dont Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Martian Code Art (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mr. PRVRT (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Left Handed Wave (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Plasma (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Vers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. NYC Subway. April, 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Stikman Spring Break 2015

Posted on April 18, 2015

Spring has broken out all over New York! It’s time to go topless on the Coney Island Beach! And in front of the Bowery Wall today where Ron English is putting up more Popaganda! He’s doing more painting on top of the wheat-pasted critique of consumerism that he began yesterday.

Also it’s time to try and spot those enigmatic little stiff stick men by Stikman that have been popping up in unexpected places. How does he continuously morph himself into new shapes and yet retain his sturdy character? Have a great sunny afternoon and go see the new wall and say hi to Martha for us. Oh, and Ron too of course. xo

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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