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Brooklyn Street Art

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Mike Giant Inks a Wall in Chinatown

Posted on August 1, 2012

New York has seen its share of giants. For most people, Mike is just another one.

But for fans of cholo-style graffiti and tattoo inspired art, he is a giant among men. That’s why it was cause for a celebration to see this skate boarding, fixie tricking, graffiti painting, grandpa hipster in suspenders hitting up a fresh white wall with some juicy markers last week under the Manhattan Bridge.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Thermometer-wise, it was one of our worst July days. For a fleeting moment the bespectacled grey buzzcut artist looked like he wasn’t going to take the New York heat while working outside in crushing hot humidity that felt like the inside of a rice cooker here in Chinatown. But the visitor from San Francisco’s Tenderloin rallied, calmed himself, found his personal zen, and focused on his wall with a positive mindset. While a cluster of hosts and fans stood by Giant methodically laid out the kind of precise, sharp lined calligraphic illustration that has distinguished his work and indelibly marked his reputation among the skater-punk-tattooed-graffiti-lowbro West Coast heroes of the last two-plus decades.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Very covered in full color ink himself, except for black and grey sleeves, the sometimes tattooist routinely updates his personal skin art collection with work by the likes of Greg Rojas and Chris Conn, like the recent additions of the Apple logo and the bars from Black Flag among the skulls and snakes and sassy vixens. Also routinely, his exacting and precise drawings sell out at shops and packed gallery shows across the world as his work is compared to that of such Mexican/cholo art pioneers like Mr. Cartoon, Chaz Bojorquez, and Jack Rudy. The symbols and metaphors popping boldly, they frame each other even as their meanings and origins conflict; reptiles, tigers, garden roses and The Grim Reaper sit comfortably alongside ornately carved crosses, the Virgin of Guadalupe and hot tattooed girls in fishnets giving you the finger.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For this street installation, Giant’s act of inking the wall affected the assembled fans and observers like the chanting of Spanish monks in those remote and silent monasteries: a slowly creeping utter peace. He approached the task with serenity, at a pace that seemed to conserve time rather than spend it. In complete control of his craft, he can aptly break away when approached for a chat or to sign a deck or black book.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This gig at Klughaus Gallery was to help promote a group show and launch the 8th issue of Kingbrown magazine and Giant said he was happy to visit the town he once lived in for a year before seeking the quieter pace of San Francisco. Right across from the spot is one of the city’s busiest skateparks and for most of the afternoon his work was accompanied by the unmistakeable sound of some exhibition boards hitting the concrete for friendly competitive trickery. He probably felt at home like this since he’s known to hang at the occasional skatepark or empty swimming pool back on the west coast. And for one day in this unbearable NYC heat, a number of fans were happy to see him knocking out this black and white wall, meditating on the good things that a fine line brings.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The L.E.S. Coleman Skate Park  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A custom designed and painted ramp by Kevin Lyons was used in the competition. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For details to visit the gallery to see Mike Giant’s completed panels in person and to see the rest of the exhibition now open to the general public click here.

Klughaus and Kingbrown produced this event in partnership with Fountain Art fair.

Artists included in the show are Morning Breath, Andy Jenkins, Chris Cycle, Dave Kinsey, “Grotesk” aka Kimou Meyer, Stefan Marx, Kevin Lyons, Mike Giant, Raza Uno aka MAx Vogel, Greg Lamarche, Zach Malfa-Kowalski, Steve Gourlay, Jay Howell, and Ben Horton, Beastman, Phibs, Hiro, Reka, Kyle “Creepy” Hughes-Odgers, Meggs, Sean Morris, Yok, Sheryo, Ross Clugston, Daek, Lister, Numskull, Ian Mutch, Rone/ aka Tyrone Wright.

 

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