Rene Gagnon Inaugurates Mecka Gallery : Opening Today in Brooklyn

“HI! My name is…

Brooklyn hasn’t opened a new Street Art gallery in a little while – in fact it has lost some formal spaces that welcome artists of the street kind over the past couple of years. So you’ll be happy to know we can now announce a new Street Art show at a new Street Art centric gallery is opening tonight. And you’ll jump out of your boots when you find out there will be a free print release to the first hundred people in line.


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“HI! My name is… A Solo Exhibition of This and That”, a new show by Rene Gagnon opens tonight and inaugurates the Mecka Gallery in Bushwick, or East Williamsburg, depending on which real estate agent or Midwestern transplant is showing you the neighborhood.

“Its really fitting actually,” says Gagnon, whose wheat-paste and stencil work was more prevalent on the streets in North Brooklyn in the mid to late 2000s when the neighborhood was still an industrial wilderness for arriving scrappy artists looking for space, and Ad Hoc gallery was the only game in the area. “This show is a formal introduction of me and my conceptual work in a gallery setting in NYC and a formal introduction of Mecka Gallery. I think it’s perfect.” brooklyn-street-art-rene-gagnon-jaime-rojo-01-14-web-2

Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ironically, it was at another event begun by Ad Hoc’s Garrison and Alison Buxton in Queens in recent years that facilitated this opportunity for Gagnon and Mecka to work together.

“I met Justin DeDemko at the Welling Court Mural Project,” says Gagnon of the huge free Street Art event sponsored by the Buxtons as an opportunity for artists to get get exposure and, not surprisingly, it worked. After discussing the idea of a smaller show with a second artist at Bottleneck Gallery, Justin offered a new possibility.

“He was like, ‘we got something better for you’,” recalls Gagnon about the brand new raw space that DeDemko had in mind as a showcase for street artist. “I was super excited and overwhelmed at the same point,” he says of the October conversation. “I went into high gear and completed the entire body of work for this show in about two and a half months.”

Along with partners Joseph Bouganim, Arseny Libon, and Joshua Harris, DeDemko runs the small south side Williamsburg gallery that focuses on pop art and posters.  Mecka Gallery however  plans to be more of a street art and contemporary art gallery space.

“I have been collecting street art for years,” says DeDemko of his primary expression of interest in the scene thus far. He lists favorites of his eclectic collection to include How & Nosm, Miss Bugs, Judith Supine, Faile, Priest and Banksy. Although this venture will include his three other friends, DeDemko says they “just starting to get into” collecting work by Street Artists. “They have been slowly grabbing some pieces from Phlegm, Faile and Banksy.”


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Already Mecka is lining up a varied roster of artists for planned installations that is spread widely among folks known for Street Art, graffiti, murals, fine art, and one remarkable one known for photography – many of which are not commonly associated with one another. 2014 will showcase names like Pr1est, Judith Supine, a dual show with Martha Cooper and ELLE, a group show with GraffitiPrints including artists like Martin Whatson and Dot Dot Dot, and another duet by Pahnl and Romacouch. DeDemko says the selections are based on who the partners like personally as artists and who is looking to push themselves forward with a certain degree of creative risk involved.

“We want to challenge the artist – we want them to push the boundaries of what they thought their gallery show would be,” says DeDemko of the open approach to planning and installing that Mecka plans to offer artists and that will combine elements of the street in an environmental way rather than simply as a storefront with pieces for sale. “We want to infuse the street and a viewing gallery into one place,” he says. Also, “Expect some very large scale installations down the road.”

The choice of Rene Gagnon as the inaugural show is remarkably appropriate because the artist has ventured into a wide variety of styles that reflect the contemporary idea of what urban art is during his career as a graffiti writer and Street Artist, which started around 1986. Over that time his work has reflected the visual language popular at the time as he likes to investigate processes and techniques that he sees and hopefully to create a new take on a style. Notably, he’s had a few hits that are his and his alone, like the “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” stencil.


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“As you know I have a very diverse body of work,” explains Gagnon when describing the array of pieces he’ll be showing tonight. “It’s always been hard for me to lock down to one approach when creating my work – but honestly it’s the most fulfilling aspect of being an artist. I get to do something different every day which is an extreme positive but the negative is that galleries never know what to expect from me. So when I got this opportunity I wanted to take a look at what I envisioned was one of my greatest strengths. I believe my conceptual ability was at the forefront.”

Will visitors see works that span the previous twenty plus years? You bet. There are plenty of stencils and wheatpasted works that he considers some greatest hits –as well as some more sculptural installations and video work that he has explored in recent years.


Rene Gagnon at work on his installation. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When I decided to go the conceptual route for this show I went back into my print and street archives and realized there were a lot of classic images that I had never made fully realized pieces of fine art so that was my starting point. Also during the first month of preparation I was on a super creative high. I think one day over 20 concepts I deemed worthy of creating were recorded. When I finally had to go into production mode I think I had enough fodder for two or three more shows,” says Gagnon of the font of ideas and inclinations that flooded his mind.

“I’ve always had the ability to turn my creative flow on and off, but that doesn’t mean ideas don’t strike me on a daily basis. I just usually have a balance between creating and producing. For this show it was all creating then a mad fury of producing.”


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Doors open at Mecka Gallery tonight at 6 pm and the first hundred or so people in the door will score “Heart Breaker” a print release that will not be offered for sale, as well as a copy of a book by Michelle Gaudencio titled ‘A small collection of This and That’. It is a pretty generous gift that most galleries and artists would never think of, but Gagnon feels like it is a cool way for people who are not familiar with his work to get to know him better. “It was produced to give the gallery goers some insight into the vast array of artistic approaches I have experimented with.”


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rene Gagnon (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mecka Gallery
65 Meadow Street
Brooklyn, NY 11206

More information on “HI! My name is… A Solo Exhibition of This and That” is HERE.





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