Brooklyn Street Art

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BSA Film Friday: 05.27.16

Posted on May 27, 2016




Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :

1. I Don’t Expect To Be A Mother, But I Don’t Expect To Die Alone: Olek and Michelle P. Dodson:
2. The Tale of Hillbelly
3. Nychos: Vienna Therapy
4. PangeaSeed’s Sea Walls: Murals For Oceans – New Zealand 2016


BSA Special Feature: Olek and Michelle P. Dodson: I Don’t Expect To Be A Mother, But I Don’t Expect To Die Alone

A walk-through of last years’ installation in the basement of the former Williamsburg Savings Bank by Olek and Michele P. Dodson incorporating crochet and projection mapping. Organized by Santiago Rumney Guggenheim the show was a collection of some of his favorites, including Swoon, Aiko, and light artist Olivia Steele, the immersive room that Olek and Dodson created caught your attention because of its state of flux.

Light projections featured the unraveling of crochet pieces projected on walls, in frames, across of mini Judy Chicago-ish triangle shaped dinner table, and mannequins suspended from the ceiling wrapped in Olek bodysuits. The installation seemed to capture and release the viewer quickly, giving a sense of impermanence. For that matter the whole inaugural show by what was presented as a new gallery appeared to disappear quickly as well. But for that moment,  just when you are sure you were getting it and ready to move on, beauty would take over, patterns overwhelming.

So it’s good to look at this again, albeit without sound, and wonder when that thread will be picked up again.

The Tale of Hillbelly

We leave the city street to a go to the wide open country for this one.

The simplest of stories are our oldest, passed down through folklore and standing as archetypes. Here in a live/animated tale we see a vision of idealized nature and rites of spring with a real orchestra, this yoga performing hillbilly communes with nature and is overcome by it in a foxy manner. Of course it is a metaphor that may be interpreted by myriad philosophers, and we think it looks a lot like this moment.

Created by Darren Rabinovitch with a score by Jeremy Harris.


Nychos: Vienna Therapy.

A brief teaser of an upcoming show by Nychos in New York. He’ll be splitting Freud wide open in public at the Flatiron Plaza June 16th.

Also there’s the June 25th Jonathan Levine opening that will dissect more ICONS, and you may even see a new wall or two soon by this Austrian urban illustrator.


PangeaSeed’s Sea Walls: Murals For Oceans – New Zealand 2016

 “Within the span of five days, 28 large-scale, thought-provoking public murals were realized throughout the Ahuriri and Napier area. Each piece sheds light on New Zealand’s pressing marine environmental issues such as shark finning, overfishing, coastal development, climate change, and endangered marine life conservation, furthering PangeaSeed Foundation’s ARTivism (Art + Activism) initiative.”

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Rubin: “Scandinavia / New York” Studio Works and Murals

Posted on May 26, 2016

An immigrant’s tale, Rubin’s, and a New York story as well. For his first artists monograph the Fin by way of Sweden brazenly tells you his story in a most deliberate and considered way. It’s brazen because it’s a truth that has taken him a long time to be ready to tell, ready to be vulnerable. It’s carefully considered because – that’s his style.


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York Studio Works and Murals. Dokument Press 2016

“New York is still very much a city of opportunities, but only if you are willing to work hard,” he says in the interview, and as you read his story of growing up in working class Sweden, treated as a second class Fin son of two guest workers living in a housing project, losing his father as an adolescent, running the streets and riding trains to nearby Gothenburg as a teen while the drug trade grew – you clearly get the idea that hard work is a lifestyle.

Along the way through his history to his current art on the streets you are regaled with the black and white geometric simplicity and spare dynamism of photography looking across roofs at brutalist architecture, down a long empty escalator at the tram station, up into the gray sky overtaken by a concrete water tower in his hometown Bergsjön, and across a detail of his own monochromatic mid-century modern abstraction on a canvas, spattered strategically to give gently curving geometric forms a crisp, celestial aura.


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York Studio Works and Murals. Dokument Press 2016

In fact it is when he takes a summer college class in photography as a young man that Rubin sights a shift in his worldview. His sharpened observation skills previously had been honed as a hell-raising graff writer and student of style, but now he was framing and containing and seeing the planes and the forms differently.

Seeing the book and speaking with him in person, you’ll quickly know that graffiti is at the root of his work today. Björn Almqvist, author, publisher, and editor of “Graffiti Burners”, also published by Dokument, offers a clear assessment of the graffiti writer who eventually stripped his style down and parlayed it into what we know today.


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York Studio Works and Murals. Dokument Press 2016

“Rubin spent the summer months with his grandmother in Finnish Lapland, but during the rest of the year his who existence revolved around the corner from Rymtorget, with the school and the tram stop only a couple of minutes away,” writes Almqvist. “Nearby was also the garage that Rubin and his friend discovered and transformed into Gothenburg’s most popular Hall of Fame. Rubin soon distinguished himself as a dedicated and skilled graffiti artist. He tried unusual styles and soon found his own forms of expression that inspred graffiti far beyond Bergsjön and Gothenburg. Art became his way of life, his identity and a way for him to relate to society.”


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York Studio Works and Murals. Dokument Press 2016

Years later Rubin still says that “everything originates from graffiti letters,” even though he tired of the restrictions and repetitiveness of simply writing his five letter tag- or five letters and three numbers: Rubin415. “I’ve been told that my style resembles traditional graffiti but with Scandinavian-style clean lines and shapes,” he says. Certainly he has attacked and regaled Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan and points around New York with this developing style over the last handful of years; murals indoors and outside, and a growing number of finished fine art works coming from his Brooklyn studio.

With an un-erring sense of color, the contained compositions offer an antidote to the chaotic quality of city living, but he carefully steps aside of any suburban pleasantry for the sake of safety. These are soaring city lights, swerving streetscapes, jutting smokestacks, rusted hulks, plump water towers, throbbing beams of light, hidden peeping entrances, refracted urban revelation.


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York Studio Works and Murals. Dokument Press 2016

Not only has Rubin quietly made a name for himself with an industrious string of projects that doesn’t seem to end, he has knocked out brick walls, construction fences, rooftops and even a church backyard with sensitivity to context, an awareness of modern design history, and a strength of conviction big enough to alter whatever environment he’s in.


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York Studio Works and Murals. Dokument Press 2016


Rubin. Scandinavia / New York. Studio Works and Murals. Published by Dokument Press 2016. Sweden.


Rubin exhibition Scandinavia / New York is currently on view at the WallsWorks Gallery in The Bronx. Click HERE for further information.

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Icy & Sot: International “Last Supper” & Almighty Dollar in Coney Island

Posted on May 25, 2016

“In this piece they are all figures from different currencies – like from Iran, Korea, China, England, the US, Pakistan…,” says Sot of the new one layer stencil they are preparing for Jeffrey Deitch’s Coney Art Walls, opening this Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn to 80 degree temperatures.

We’re inside their Bushwick studio, which is about the size of a one-car garage and its walls are covered with newly stenciled book covers for their upcoming monograph launch. Icy sits at the bench with a sharply bladed knife casually pressing shapes out of the roll of white paper and flicking them aside.


Icy & Sot. At the studio cutting, cutting, cutting… Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“We have been two days from 11 to 11 cutting,” says Sot as he looks over the rolls of paper accumulating against the wall and begins to roll a cigarette. “And we’re still not finished,” says Icy as he crouches over his work. “I mean we have like 19 parts and we still have some more to cut.”

Fast forward a few days and the light wind is whipping the seagulls overhead in 55 degree oceanside late spring, and the brothers are carefully unrolling and taping their new stencils across a large freestanding wall that adds to a colorful Coney labyrinth and will soon be painted on the other sided by another Brooklyn Street Artist from this generation. It is the second year of this public art show that features graffiti and Street Artists and some new contemporary artists as well who haven’t been known for this scale or venue.


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The huge Icy & Sot dollar sign first came about when they were preparing their show “Cutitalism” in Stavanger, Norway last year for Reed Projects Gallery, for which we wrote the exhibition text, part of which reads “a slicing condemnation of many true costs of free-range rampant capitalism using world currency, razor sharp blades and aerosol.”

By combining the heads from multiple currencies around the last supper of Christian storytelling, you may wonder which one is Judas – but typically the brother’s aren’t saying.


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mainly, they are just happy to have been invited to the second iteration of this outdoor exhibition that highlights many players over the culture of the last 50 years of graffiti and Street Art while acknowledging the older histories of community murals and sign painting in this iconic Coney Island setting. “We always wanted to bring this piece out but we never had an opportunity,” says Icy of the new huge format for a piece that originally used an actual dollar bill as its canvas.

“This is the right, perfect wall for it and this is the time to do it,” says Sot.


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Documenting their own work. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Icy & Sot. Coney Art Walls 2016. Coney Island, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


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Jetsonorama’s New Piece in Telluride and “Wastewater Snow”

Posted on May 24, 2016

“What we do to the mountains we do to ourselves,” says the blocky hand written text across the Native American activists Klee and Princess Benally, and on the face of it you’re bound to agree with this gently oblique environmental sentiment. However, at the base of this black, white and crimson red portrait is a far stronger critique of the commercial practice of using wastewater to make snow for ski bunnies.


Jetsonorama (photo © Jim Hurst)

Street Artist Jetsonorama (real name Chip Thomas) is on a ladder in Telluride just in time for the famed and prestigious Mountain Film Festival and he says he only has a two week permit for this mural during the Memorial Day-centered event that kicks off Wednesday downtown at Sheridan Bar. He seems like he has doubts about locals’ ability to stomach a broadside like this piece of art in public space, but he’s got a long history of bringing people’s history to the people.

It’s sort of an irony that a film festival named after mountains in a picturesque Colorado town that is lauded for its views of said mountains may not be addressing this issue more directly.


Jetsonorama (photo © Chip Thomas)

The website for the festival says that it “showcases nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political and social justice issues that matter” and yet it may takes a couple of tenderly posed Native Americans wheat-pasted on a prominent wall in a 96% white town to really get the conversation going. The festival is giving the new mural full support however and program director Kate Klingsporn even assisted in the installation and wrote about it on the festival blog.

“Chip’s work has made a huge impression in our small town this week and it’s been amazing to talk to people about it,” says David Holbrooke, the Festival Director. “One woman told me she was spending a lot of time with it and a friend told me that it sets the tone for Telluride,” he says and remarks about a spirit in the town that he thinks can countenance difficult issues where others might ignore them.

“Despite it’s size,” Holbrooke say, “Telluride has an unusual history of bold innovation and I think the mural reflects that very much.”


Jetsonorama (photo © Chip Thomas)

And the issue, as explained by native activist Klee Benally in the short video “Waste Water” below, directed by Mari Cleven, is that 13 indigenous nations consider a local mountain range to be sacred and that putting treated sewage effluent upon it is tantamount to desecration. Religious liberty aside, it also appears during public hearings in the video that standards of testing the water used to make this snow may be overlooking some pretty gross ingredients that will later turn local people and animals into science experiments.

“I wanted to help opponents of waste water snow so I interviewed several friends about the issue,” says Jetsonorama, “Whatever they said was written onto their faces and then photographed.” In addition to this large piece he also pasted a handful of other faces in Flagstaff with related opinions written across their faces.


Jetsonorama (photo © Chip Thomas)

This old mining town may like to talk about being home to the first bank robbed by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but will it want to talk about yellow snow or pharmaceutical residues seeping into soil, washing into rivers, eaten by toddlers in snowsuits?

Interestingly, Jetsonorama tells us that the town of Telluride has a ban on public art but an exception was made for the film festival.  The temporary permit is expiring right after Memorial Day and the future of this mural is uncertain. He says that the town council will meet May 31st to determine the mural’s fate.  “My fingers are crossed,” says the artist.




Jetsonorama’s The Painted Desert Project at The Navajo Nation will resume this year with in situ works by Icy & Sot, Sten & Lex among others. We’ll bring you their new works as they appear across the desert.

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