Street Artist Edible Genius : New Topiaries On the Block

Astroturf: It isn’t just for PR Firms Anymore

Astroturf has become so prevalent in sports that you may prefer it over natural grass. When it comes to subverting democracy of the grassroots, as in the case of the fake outrage by store-bought artificial citizens groups fighting against health care or workers rights, I prefer the real thing.


Edible Genius (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As pertains to Street Art, astroturf is cutting a new silhouette in the form of portraits by a new artist we’ve found named Edible Genius. The outlines of old-timey heads and shoulders in artificial grass are a cross between Kara Walker and Edina Tokodi and in this case are symbolic of what we lost in the simplifying of complex issues.  We like to talk about how busy we are, and how we are multi-tasking.  This work is questioning our comprehension of events, and what we are giving up in the simplification of individuals and issues.

The Street Artist who calls himself Edible Genius refers to his pieces as “topiary garden portraits” and has recently been installing them in neighborhoods in Brooklyn as a series. He says they’re a call to simpler times, and speaking to him about his work recently on the street the themes of discontent with mass media and our inability to discern fake from true came up in different ways. Like many young adults, there is a longing for a time he never actually lived in, a nostalgia for an era that looks more genuine and congenial. By putting up Street Art that is simply surreal, he hopes to jog perceptions about what is real.

brooklyn-street-art-edible-genius-jaime-rojo-02-11-1-webEdible Genius (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: What are your silhouettes of?
Edible Genius: My silhouettes are made out of astroturf: “fake grass-artificial grass”. The concept was around the idea that I and some of the artists that I  collaborate with have discussed, which is the belief that our society has become overly complex and artificial for our own good to the point that even our grass is now fake.

Brooklyn Street Art: Tell us about your name “Edible Genius”
Edible Genius: Edible Genius comes from the idea that, I guess is sort of a backlash to current times where a lot of people get their news through sound bites. Because of the nature of a sound bite you have to take a very complex idea and chop it down in a way that sort of it gets distributed to the masses. It is watered down or simplified. People are oftentimes making decisions from what they perceived as facts – or information that they perceive is whole, but it’s actually just a piece of something much greater.

I guess the name is more of a look towards a better time when you could basically pop something in your mouth and be a genius. That’s the edible genius. It would be a lot better if we could take very complex ideas and transmit those ideas in an efficient manner to everyone so when they are making decisions and forming opinions they are based on all the data and facts.


Edible Genius (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Why are you putting your art on the street?
Edible Genius: I have always been interested in public art. When I was growing up I would go around with my grandmother, who was an artist at one point in her life.  She would always take us to public art events and so I think I always viewed it as something that was inherent to any sort of civilization or advanced culture that you’d have a lot of public work. It’s almost as if I viewed it as the highest level one could achieve in the visual arts; creating something that the great majority of people can see. Also I guess, maybe from my middle class upbringing, I don’t view art as something that is for the rich or for a certain niche. I view it as being for everybody because various art exhibitions and public works were available to me when I was younger.


Edible Genius (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: And that’s the reason why you don’t mind when people take your art from the street and bring it home?
Edible Genius: That’s right. I get satisfaction out of knowing that people like the work to begin with. But then the fact that they can take it home is a response to the experiences I had when I was younger and I would go to various art institutions or galleries and I knew that the art was something that I couldn’t financially achieve at the time. If I liked the painting there was no way that I’d be able to ever acquire it. So I think that I like the idea that there’s work that is actually accessible to people and that if they like it then they can have it.  I was educated in finance as well as in art and art history and I’m very cynical with how commercial our society is now. So I think that is great that if people like something, especially art, then they can just have it. They don’t have to get a second job to pay for it or buy on layaway.


Edible Genius (photo © Jaime Rojo)