Priest Comes to Brooklyn and Puts Ego on the Alter

Priests are really taking a beating in public opinion these days, and with good reason (see U.N. report this week). One New Orleans priest visiting Brooklyn this week hopes to change all those negative perceptions and replace them with new ones by taunting the church, law enforcement, the KKK, illegal immigrants, Street Art fans, and, well, anyone really.

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PRIEST (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Priest is the Po-Boy’s Banksy, a less talented stencillist perhaps by half, but equally smart and witty if he applies himself. You won’t need to buzz saw through a concrete wall to get a Priest piece – if you arrive early tonight he’ll give you one. For that money you won’t find a better blender of graffiti’s nihlism with street art’s self-indulgent sarcasm as he rifles through the visual tropes and winking in-jokes you have grown to know and tire of.

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

Without reading into it too far, it appears that he’s also questioning the necessity for polarization between the vocabularies of graffiti and Street Art. For the new kids who didn’t absorb the context the styles were developed in and have no interest in it, the practices and visual vocab have all been dropped into a cultural food processor. Welcome to the ‘teens.

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PRIEST (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Originally from Mobile Alabama, “Priest landed in the only place a person with zero skills and a computer could: the superficial world of street art,” says his wife in the press release for the solo “ALTARed Ego,” opening tonight at Mecka Gallery in East Williamsburg. The approach could be the self-conscious disarming of critics by an out-of-town bomber but don’t let it cloud the reality of a certain underlying sophistication and pathos. When realized, the social critiques meet with a harsher edge and still retain the humor we need to swallow it: Witness the silhouette of ET in the front bicycle basket as a sombrero- and-poncho-wearing alien.

It’s just frank enough commentary to engage with and contemplate without droning on and on about immigration policy. Did we say droning? That’s a different painting.

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PRIEST “Graffiti has always been a grey area of the LAW” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Taunting everyone from the NSA to Big Oil to consumerism, the police and the shallowness of art fans, Priest experiments with stencils, the paint brush, and losing control of his spray across the wall. With “ALTARed Ego,” Priest tells us to calm the f**k down about all the ginned up hype and consider the mess we’re actually in. It’s one of the new faces of activism that we are seeing more of these day, and just one tip of the iceberg.

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PRIEST. The stencil in the middle is of the Gray Ghost. The infamous graffiti buffer in New Orleans. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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PRIEST (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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

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PRIEST (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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

 

 

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