Mexico

Ready for His Closeup: Sweet Toof Sparkles at Factory Fresh

Sweet Toof Brings the Bling to Brooklyn

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A detail from Sweet Toof’s new show at Factory Fresh, opening tomorrow. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The London Street Artist Sweet Toof’s new show, “Dark Horse” at Factory Fresh opens wide to a mouthful of gleaming new pieces as the artist debuts his first New York show solo, having previously been a part of the Burning Candy Crew with Cyclops and Tek33.  A little frisky in the Brooklyn streets, we find that Sweet Toof is exploring more than the usual territory and challenging himself artistically, always with a healthy glob of humor.  Yes, the pink gums and pearly whites continue to have prominence in each piece, but their permutations progress at a dizzying pace.

brooklyn-street-art-sweet-toof-jaime-rojo-factory-fresh-gallery-04-11-web-1All along the gumline. Sweet Toof pimps the alley wall with some help from some friends from the hood. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sweet Toof has developed a recurring motif that perambulates through periods and platforms – aerosol mural, oil painting, or theatrical prop –  with a certain frank guile and handmade disarming charm. Some of the new tableaus of madly grinning top-hatted drivers atop skeletal stallions are pure Dickensian wonder with animated allusions to extreme social conditions and the play of comically repulsive characters. Others touch on graffiti vocabulary and pop/advertising culture with cheerfully mocking glee, the winking enthusiasm and poppy color trumping your worries that it isn’t making any sense. All tolled, it’s a bit of a romp and a promise of tasty treats to come – and if you arrive early you’ll receive your own set of gold sweet teef atop a popsickle stick.

On the day we visited the gallery the place was a divine chaos of paint and construction materials, with works-in-progress laying on the floor waiting to be completed or hung. The partially lit space proved a helpful foil for the spooky pimped-out characters on the canvasses – the sort you wouldn’t trust with a bottle of milk.

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Sweet Toof . Come in. We are open. It is sweet inside. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Factory Fresh shopkeeper Mr. DeVille, looking very trim and sunny, murmured something about the current artist-in-residence being on a roof somewhere and after further inquiry, Mr. Toof appeared promptly with a warm and genial demeanor. After a brief tour we took to the street to watch him work. He told us a bit about his work and the upcoming show, after starting with the topic of weather of course.

Brooklyn Street Art: How has your experience been so far in Brooklyn?
Sweet Toof: I have really enjoyed it. The rain some days and then sun. But I can’t complain. I have just been eyeing out all these spots but yeah it has been really good. The weather has been very unpredictable but today is a beautiful day and I love Brooklyn.

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Sweet Toof . Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is there a difference between working in Brooklyn and working in London?
Sweet Toof: There is a little difference. I mean it’s quiet interesting. This is Bushwick and in London, in East London there is an area called Hackney Wick. That’s an area where a lot of people have been painting but they are cleaning it up now because of the Olympic buff – It is almost like a sister of Bushwick because of all the lofts spaces in warehouses and factories where people now live. So it is a similar type of vibe but I like the character here and the architecture.

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Sweet Toof . Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: And the people?
Sweet Toof: Yeah I forgot the people…my experience with the people so far is that everyone is really friendly and it is almost like everyone seems to be willing to help and in London none really says hello but here people would say hello…you’re engaged. Brooklyn is more engaging even when you go to the shop and you have been there for a couple of times people recognize you and they start talking and so it feels quite like a community.

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Sweet Toof . Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Tell us about the use of gold dust in your work. Have you always used it?
Sweet Toof: Yeah I have used it before on paintings. I’ve used gold pigment, I’ve been using quite a bit of glitter and gold dust just to give it a little bit of extra “bling”. I like that whole sparkly thing, the way the light hits it and it gives it just like another layer in a way. But I just like to mix things up. Even pearlescent paint and I like all sort of paint; oil paint, bucket paint, spray paint – I love it all. But the pearlescent glitter is just like another element within that. You know I think teeth are like jewelry anyway but just with that extra bling, you know when you see people’s teeth and are like pearls.

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Sweet Toof . Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you been to the south of Mexico and seen the Day of the Dead festival?
Sweet Toof: No but I’m intending to go to Mexico quite soon. I’m fascinated with the Day of the Dead and all of that stuff. It is almost like it has been with me since art school. Since I came across the old woodcuts and the imagery of Guadalupe Posada. The thing I like in Mexico, unlike in England, is that they celebrate death and in early age you are given these candy sweets and they eat it. It’s almost like you enjoy your days and you sleep when you are dead in a way. But death is not just doom and gloom.

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Sweet Toof (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sweet Toof. Work in progress (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Tell us about your sense of color. Where do you get your inspiration for bright colors?
Sweet Toof: England is very gray. I mean you do see color but I just sort of respond to the environment that I’m in but I love color anyway. When painting out on the streets I used to like the spontaneous part of it about not seeing your colors when you are painting in the dark. You’ve got a rough idea about what the colors are or you have written the colors on the can or you can see the tones in the dark, but then when you are in the studio and you are mixing your colors it’s almost like you have that whole understanding of color – and it’s the same in print making. You might look at the sky and you think “how I’m going to get that intensity?”  It is about looking at the contrast with all the different hues and understanding color, which I think, comes from oil painting a lot but also from mixing colors for the stuff on the streets as well so you understand how the colors work.

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Sweet Toof. Work in progress (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Would you like to talk a bit about you not being part of Burning Candy or is that a sore subject?
Sweet Toof: No, not really. I left last September on my own decision but I really wouldn’t want to go into the politics of it. I just got to the time where I had to get on with my own stuff. I wish them all the best and I wouldn’t want to bitch. I want to keep it simple and getting my head down.

Brooklyn Street Art: What would you like to happen on Friday at the gallery for your show?
Sweet Toof: I’d like for everyone to have a good time and enjoy. Bring people together and just let people mind their own minds about it. It’s one of those things where you never know how people would react to stuff but I want people to enjoy.

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Sweet Toof in Brooklyn with a roof top reflecting pool (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sweet Toof transforms FF backyard with minty fresh breath (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dude is so tall you need a ladder to floss. Sweet Toof at Factory Fresh. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sweet Toof. Action shot! (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sweet Toof  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Sweet Toof’s party favor for the early birds at Factory Fresh (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sweet Toof
“Dark Horse”

Opening April 29th, 7-10pm at Factory Fresh
On view till May 22nd, Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday from 1-7pm

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Liqen Converts a Crashed Plane into a Fish Tail on Oaxacan Beach

Lou: It’s the American Dream in a goddamn gym bag!
Hank: You work for the American Dream. You don’t steal it.
Lou : Then this is even better. “

In the book “A Simple Plan”, by Scott Smith, a trio of friends discovers a small crashed plane with $4.4 million stuffed in a gym bag in this moral tale of greed and opportunity. Without knowing how the plane dropped from the sky, the people on the ground are left to their own devices.

Street Artist Liqen discovered this aviatory carcass on Ventanilla Beach in Oaxaca Mexico and wondered what treasure it once carried and why it stood alone on the otherwise pristine white sands of the riviera. As an artists’ imagination will do, he made a story and converted the carcass of the plane with his paint brush into a fish tail.

brooklyn-street-art-liqen-ventanilla-oaxaca-mexico-3-webLiqen. Ventanilla, Oaxaca  (photo © Liqen)

I did this “fish tail” in the ecstasy of the transformation, a comprehensive intervention of the stupid and amazing reality that happens at the hands of art, nature or magic. At the end of my story this fish-plane was eventually caught and died in ‘Ventanilla’, ” says Liqen.

The tail of of the fish plane now has the figure of what could be a indigenous fisherman with spear in hand, ready to haul the oversized catch. But the story does not end there.

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Liqen. Ventanilla, Oaxaca  (photo © Liqen)

According to website Vagabond Journey, the plane once carried a cargo of marijuana and was shot down six years ago.  According to local reports, narcos came with a truck to retrieve the payload immediately after it hit the sands and some locals filled their backpacks with whatever was left, which was a lot. “Whoever got over there got enough to smoke for two years,” a hotel owner is quoted as saying.

In the case of our friend Liqen there wasn’t a rich bounty that we know of. What we know however is that he couldn’t resist the urge to give the remnants of the plane a lil’ pimpin’ and he shares the following images with you here.

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Liqen. Ventanilla, Oaxaca  (photo © Liqen)

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The left wing remains, while the engine appears to have been removed. Liqen. Ventanilla, Oaxaca  (photo © Liqen)

In this video on Youtube, a commenter offers an alternate story on the circumstances of the plane’s crash. “It was a Colombian drug shipment that was intercepted by the Mexican army. the drugs were pushed out over the Pacific, they ditched in the ocean and crashed on the beach and got away before the Mexican army, navy or air force could get there. The only part above the sand as of April 2009 is the left engine and wing – the fuselage is completely buried.”

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Broken Crow: A Mexican Travelog Part II

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Brooklyn-Street-Art-Broken-Crow-WEB-Mexico-copyright-Broken-Crow-lion-animationHere’s an update for the trip to Mexico City by Street Art duo Broken Crow, who have been hitting up some walls in this gigante city of 30 million.

Guests of El Museo del Juguete Antiguo México (The Antique Toy Museum) in collaboration with MAMUTT Arte, John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons are taking in the local color and creating some of their own.

Says John about the lion and lion cub piece they worked on all day Tuesday, “Today we’re painting the perfect spot for the perfect stencil.”

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Broken Crow process shot (photo © Broken Crow)

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The brand new finished piece by Broken Crow. (photo © Broken Crow)

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A cell phone shot of the owl that will be watching over cars in the basement parking lot. Broken Crow (photo © Broken Crow)

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Broken Crow. When you are in Mexico City you really can’t pass up an opportunity to see a live Luchadores match. (photo © Broken Crow)

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We’re really looking forward to seeing this finished piece after the scaffolding comes down today. (photo © Broken Crow)

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A couple of friends who are waiting for their place on stage. (photo © Broken Crow)

With special thanks to Roberto Shimizu of MUJAM and Gonzalo Alvarez of Mamutt Arte

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All images copyright of and courtesy of Broken Crow

www.toymuseummexico.com

www.koralie.net
http://www.supakitch.com/
http://www.brokencrow.com/

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Broken Crow : A Mexican Travelog

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Minneapolis Street Art duo Broken Crow are in Mexico City for the first time to install a number of new pieces with Street Artists SupaKitch and Koralie.  Guests of El Museo del Juguete Antiguo México (The Antique Toy Museum) in collaboration with MAMUTT Arte, John and Mike invite the BSA family to tag along with these impromptu snaps as they discover inspiration on the streets of D.F.  So far they are pretty blown away by the stuff they’ve seen in the museum and in the streets.  It will be exciting to see how it affects their output on walls.

With special thanks to Roberto Shimizu of MUJAM and Gonzalo Alvarez of Mamutt Arte

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John calls this “Your Morning Inspiration”Brooklyn-Street-Art-Broken-Crow-Mar2011-Our-new-friends

A look inside a closet at the Antique Toy Museum

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“El Enmascarado de Plata” (The Silver Masked Luchador)

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Roberto and Mike mugging for the camera. What’s the Spanish translation for mind on the money and money on the mind”?

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A little blurry but it’s a cool detail from a larger piece Mike found in the museum.

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Here’s the view down from the scaffolding as Broken Crow was scoping out the new gigante piece they started today.  We’ll show you the progress on the next Mexican Travelog!

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All images copyright of and courtesy of Broken Crow

www.toymuseummexico.com

www.koralie.net
http://www.supakitch.com/
http://www.brokencrow.com/


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Huichol Art: Transforming A Vintage Beetle in Mexico

Pimping Your Ride Via Indigenous Traditions

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Applying beads to the “Vochol” (Vocho + Huichol) Image from the Facebook page of Museo de Arte Popular.

Mexico’s Indigenous people have been making art from millenia. When the Spanish invaded and conquered what’s now modern Mexico in 1492 they found complex metropolis, their buildings decorated with intricately carved sculptures and brightly colored painting. The painful conquest didn’t annihilate their passion for art making and in modern times their new works of elaborate pieces of art are often displayed in museums’ collections.

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For the opening, some of the artists appeared in traditional garb of The Huichol, an indigenous ethnic group of western central Mexico

For this piece eight members of two Huichol families took the task to create a piece of art, seven months in the making, by using more than two million glass beads and a vintage Volkswagen as a canvas. Inspired by the designs of Francisco Bautista, a patriarch of one of the families, they incorporated their traditional indigenous theologies and cultural symbols with modern vernacular.

The serpents on the the front design represent “rain”, while the the roof is decorated with the sun and four eagles. Birds were thought to be the intermediaries between gods and mortals. The rear part and sides are tributes or “ofrendas” of fruits of the earth to their gods.

The piece will be shown at Museo de Arte Popular for a period of time and then the four wheeled piece will be go on tour in Europe and the in the rest of the Americas. Finally the piece will be sold at auction with the proceeds of the sale to benefit the programs of the museum.

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Ernesto Yerena: Art Without Borders

Ernesto Yerena knows about borders. The Mexican-American has been crossing them since he was born on the national border in tiny El Centro, CA. Now the 24 year old is crossing the border from Obey Giant studio assistant to featured artist in his first solo show at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco this Saturday.

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Photo © Todd Mazer

For the past few months Ernesto has been at work in his garage/studio in Los Angeles preparing. With help of the talented photographer Todd Mazer, we get to see these exclusive images of Ernesto finishing his final piece for the show, “Ganas 20/20”.

For someone with an acute eye and the sensitivity of an artist, growing up in a border town 15 minutes from Mexicali, daily life in such a culturally rich and tumultuous environment can also be a wellspring of inspiration. The mundane, daily crossing over the border after school as a boy to visit with his grandmother and family in Mexicali, gave him insight into the complex lives of families who just happen to be geographically sprouted along an invisible political dotted line. Today that dotted line has razor wire that cuts everyone it touches.

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Photo © Todd Mazer

Ernesto began some cutting of his own when he received a stencil cutting set for his tenth birthday from his grandfather. During time away from his business painting cars and doing auto-body repair, his father encouraged the boys’ painting projects and showed him how to cut stencils. As a youth Ernesto felt motivated and supported by his family to go to art school and sharpen his artistic skills.

As he got older, the geopolitical realities of the harsh cultural and social landscape where he was growing awakened his intellectual curiosity and desire to better understand his social surroundings.

A teen listening to his own bi-national music collection including Public Enemy and Mexican rockers Mana, he got a better handle on the underlying racism and social inequities that plague the American landscape. When his artistic chops got him an opportunity at age 19 to work alongside Shepard Fairey, the street artist known for frequently incorporating social justice and political themes into his work, Ernesto found a stronger voice.

Ernesto’s world of two countries, difficult border life, socially conscious music, a deep interest in history and human rights have prepared him to face, as an artist, the recent fierce issue of immigration in this country and in Arizona in particular. In collaboration with Shepard he produced, at his imprint “Hecho Con Ganas” or HCG,  one of the posters that protesters in Arizona have used as a tool to denounce the racist and demonizing rhetoric coloring the immigration debate as well as SB1070, a bill that codifies racial profiling into law.

This Saturday night Ernesto crosses another invisible border as the White Walls Gallery provides a space for his new work in his first solo show.

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Photo © Todd Mazer

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Photo © Todd Mazer

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Photo © Todd Mazer

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Photo © Todd Mazer

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Photo © Todd Mazer

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Photo © Todd Mazer

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Photo © Todd Mazer

Click on the link below to visit Ernesto’s “imprint” HCG (Hecho Con Ganas)

Hecho Con Ganas

Ernesto’s solo show “Ganas 20/20” Opens this Saturday, November 13 at the White Walls Gallery in San Francisco. The gallery is located at 835 Larking Street. San Francisco, CA. 94109

Thanks again to photographer and videographer Todd Mazer for these images he shot exclusively for Brooklyn Street Art.

To see more of Todd Mazer work click here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/legenddairy/

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Street Art And The Day Of The Dead

“Dia de los Muertos”

Skulls are everywhere on the street today, and here is a collection to mark The Day of the Dead. The commemoration of people who have passed is observed nation-wide in Mexico every year at this time. Although it is not a national holiday, the strictly religious and cultural observance is revered and, depending on the region, it varies in the ways in which the holiday is marked.

The cultural aspect of this holiday has inspired many artists, filmmakers and poets. Here we have selected images of Street Art culled from our library to mark the Dia de Los Muertos, focusing on the most prominent symbol used to represent this holiday: “Las Calaveras” or skulls.

PeruanaAnaperu (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

PeruanaAnaperu (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Imminent Disaster. Detail (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Imminent Disaster. Detail (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mexico’s  “Dia de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead” takes place every year on November 2 to coincide with the catholic holiday of “El Dia de los Santos” or “All Saints Day”. The Day of the Dead is not the Mexican equivalent of Halloween. The Day of the Dead in Mexico is a celebration of Death and it does not carry any of the connotations of fear, fantasy and gore that Halloween does.

El Sol 25 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

El Sol 25 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

This religious and cultural holiday can be traced as long ago as 3000 years. Before the conquest of what’s now modern Mexico in the pre-Hispanic era the indigenous cultures celebrated death, rebirth and their ancestors by displaying human skulls as memento mori.

Gaia Channels Mexican Artist Jose Guadalupe Posada (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gaia Channels Mexican Artist Jose Guadalupe Posada (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Booker (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Booker (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

When the Spanish missionaries arrived more than 500 years ago they tried without success to eradicate such pagan and sacrilegious celebrations that seem to mock death while converting the indigenous people to Christianity. To the Spaniards death was the end of life but to the Aztecs it was a continuation of a journey not yet completed. The Aztecs embraced death and they celebrated it for the entire month of August, the ninth month of the Aztec Calendar, and the festivities were presided by the goddess Mictecacihuatl or “Lady of the Dead” presumed to have died at birth.

Spazmat/Skullphone (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Spazmat/Skullphone (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Spaniards were met with fierce resistance in their attempts to vanish the rituals so in frustration they sought and found a common ground with the natives by moving the pagan rituals to coincide with the Catholic holiday of “El Dia de los Santos” or “All Saints Day” on November 2.

Hellbent (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hellbent (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Modern Mexicans remember their friends and family members that have departed from life by honoring them with extravagant festivities that, depending in the region might include lavish offerings or “ofrendas” in private altars in the cemeteries at the tombs of their loved ones and/or at home. It is a day of celebration and many people elect to stay overnight at the cemetery for prayer, and remembrance but partying, eating and drinking is encouraged and expected always following the norms of respect and decorum for the defunct.

Look at that Bunny! (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Look at that Bunny! (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ludo (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ludo (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

These “ofrendas” or gifts include the most favored dishes, foods and beverages that their loved ones enjoyed while alive. They also include photos and other personal mementos of the deceased ones. The “ofrendas” are meant to be eaten and shared by the relatives and friends of the departed and sometimes they are very elaborate five course dinners. Other times the relatives might choose to have a daytime picnic at the cemetery and return to their homes at dusk. The “ofrendas” are believed to nurture and help the souls of the dead while in their journey to heaven.

Some people use this day to just take their customary once a year trip to the cemetery to clean and maintain the tomb of their loved ones.

Y The Fuiste (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Y Te Fuistes  (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Regardless of the singular cultural distinction of each region two symbols are common throughout the country: “La Calavera” or The Sugar Skull and “La Catrina” or The Skeleton Lady. The Skulls can be made of sugar and chocolate and often are inscribed with the recipient’s names and are gifts to both the living and the dead. There is also “El Pan de Muertos” or “Bread of the Dead” which Mexicans give as gifts to the visiting relatives for their journey back home.

It is said that Mexicans not only celebrate death they also eat it.

Sweet Toof (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sweet Toof (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dr. Hoffman (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dr. Hoffman (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Smilee (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Smilee (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

PMP (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

PMP (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Matt Siren (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Matt Siren (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Viki (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Viki (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Main Banner image credit: Jose Guadalupe Posada “Gran Calavera Eléctrica” Courtesy Library of Congress.

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Joerael on the Streets of Juarez, Mexico

Joerael working with panels of his new piece. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico
Joerael working with panels of his new piece. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico

In the quiet everyday moments of this sister city to El Paso, Juárez can seem small and provincial, where neighbors share stories about sports teams or new babies or an upcoming Quinceañer while walking up the sidewalk or standing around in the corner Farmacia. Other days in the last couple of years find residents afraid and hidden as this dusty border city has become marred by the crossfire of a violent drug war that no one has found a solution to yet.

Street Artist Joerael spent some time in Juárez recently working with local friends to put up a few new pieces of Street Art just outside the industrial sector of town where international companies operate factories for goods exportable to the U.S.  In these images you can get a feeling for the small town within the city, nestled between las colonias (the neighborhoods) named Ignacio Ramos and Colinas Del Norte, street art is a family affair.  Joereal put up a complicated paper stencil of symbolic icons combining Mexican tradition, native history, cubist shapes, and storytelling to address the corrosive effect on the psyche here.  Whether specific commentary on the local situation or a more general observation of human’s incredible capacity for denying uncomfortable truths, Joereal is laboring to be heard.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico.

Joerael. (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico

Joerael. “The World Is On Fire Yet We Don’t See The Flames”   (© Dayvid Lemmon) Juarez, Mexico

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Oaxacan Street Art Collective Lapiztola : New Print With Curbs & Stoops

Lapiztola

Lapiztola "Grito" Image Courtesy of Curbs and Stoops
Lapiztola “Grito” Image Courtesy of Curbs and Stoops

Qaxacan Street Artists created their name Lapiztola by forging a fabulous play on words – the Spanish word for Pistol (pistola) and the Spanish word for pencil (lapiz). Combined, the name Lapiztola is a hot spicy name well suited for shooting graphic elements rat-a-tat-tat into the Street Art scene in a Mexican city that is beginning to feel under siege.

“Our style emerged from the need to express and demonstrate against what has been happening in our city.”

To see the press release and to purchase this print click on the link below:

Curbs and Stoops

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Interview With Pedro Alonzo, Street Art and Gen Net go to the Museum

Interview With Pedro Alonzo, Street Art and Gen Net go to the Museum

As art institutions gear themselves continually to remain (or become) relevant to Gen Net patrons, all manner of incarnations will likely continue to parade before you. Yes, Picasso still draws a crowd but in the last decade, as Boomers began retiring and their media-drenched progeny grew more distracted by one million apps of eye candy, even blue chip and gray ladies of the art world started hosting DJ’s, indie bands, and endless jazz cocktails to get the booties in the house and the eyeballs off the little blue screens, if only for a second.

The size and span of the opening night crowd at Viva La Revolucion at MOCASD was a clear indicator of a much wider interest in Street Art as contemporary art than has been seen in US. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

The size of the opening night crowd as well as it’s relative youth at Viva La Revolución at MCASD was a clear indicator of a much wider interest in Street Art as contemporary art than has been seen before in the US. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

One way to make sure you are grabbing the attention of Millenials is to embrace that which they have already identified as culturally important and begin to make sense of it as it evolves.  Pedro Alonzo, guest curator of Viva La Revolución at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (running until January 2) understands that a wide embrace of an evolving movement is important right now until the field winnows itself. More importantly, he recognizes that “high-minded” culturally no longer requires the confines of a museum and, along with associate curator Lucía Sanromán, he leaves the door ajar to acknowledge the continuum between street and museum in this largest exhibition of the modern global Street Art movement yet in the US.

Curator Pedro Alonzo show's Jeffrey Dietch the indoor exhibition of the newly opened show. (© Geoff Hargadon)

Curator Pedro Alonzo shows Jeffrey Deitch the indoor exhibition of the newly opened show. (© Geoff Hargadon)

The truth is that buck-wild artists have been making the streets a gallery in earnest for a little while now, preferring to take the more direct route to admirers and detractors alike. Billed as “a Dialogue With the Urban Landscape”, Viva goes beyond the initial infatuation with graffiti and so-called “Urban” art that institutional interests expressed in 1980s and 1990s. For some reason that new-found love eventually turned tepid and measured in the embrace.  Maybe that’s why nervous nellies in academia shuddered when the New York impresario, art dealer and gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, a champion of selected Street Artists among other vocations, was named director of Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art this year. Indeed a revolution of some sort is afoot.

Art collective Date Farmers followed the newly typical route to the gallery and museum by collectively showing and hosting their own shows until someone recognized the work. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Mexican-American artists Date Farmers combine pop, folk, and political in this charged raw screed. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Admittedly museums must be followers as well as leaders (Guggenheim/YouTube anyone?) and the grassroots nature of this new surge of Street Artists circumvents the structures and curatorial practices of the established gallery and museum world. It also cuts across race, class and socioeconomic lines and maybe that’s part of the slow uptake. But like so many aspects of our current era, the foundations are melting before our eyes.  When you consider the democratizing force of internet/social networking communications and the fact that many of these artists come with a built-in fanbase as a result, it is a no-brainer that major and minor institutions are taking a fresh look at the new Street Art scene.

French Street Artist JR and his assistan Youssef doing a bit of Skyping before the show (© Geoff Hargadon)

French Street Artist JR and his assistant Youssef doing a bit of Skyping before the show (© Geoff Hargadon)

That said, Viva La Revolución is a bold undertaking that presents some of the biggest names on the scene right now and a variety of them. Under Mr. Alonzo’s guidance and audacity, it also thoroughly involves the street in the exhibition, making the city of San Diego quite literally part of the show. To pull this off and keep the respect of the artists intact is an accomplishment itself. By all accounts, he has. Having curated shows successfully including iconic street artists like Faile and last year’s Supply and Demand show by Shepard Fairey at ICA in Boston, Alonzo has easily established a rapport with a scene that is rapidly evolving.

Brooklyn Street Art: How has the response since the show opened?
Pedro Alonzo:
The response has been great. The museum has had tons of calls about the exhibit and many visitors. The age of the average visitor also appears to have dropped. We are getting a younger crowd.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-WEB-Dudes-copyright-Geoff-Hargadon-D3S_9631

Spencer Elden, (with Shepard Fairey’s crew and famous for a nude photo in your CD collection) and Ben Logan, a volunteer who flew out from Boston to help set up the show. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

BSA: You have a number of installations all around the city.  Was it easier to work with private owners rather than the city to secure building walls?
Pedro Alonzo:
Although there have been people who work for the city who have been very supportive and instrumental in securing walls, all of the walls we used are privately owned. It was way too complicated and bureaucratic to secure city or state owned walls.

Brazillian twins Os Gemeos in front of two of their pieces (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Brazillian Street Artists Os Gemeos in front of two of their pieces (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

BSA: Can you talk about the name “Viva la Revolución” and it’s significance to you historically?
Pedro Alonzo: The title of the exhibition is significant on many levels, from the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Mexico’s revolution to the street in Tijuana, “Avenida Revolucion” where many under age southern Californians, like myself back in high school, spent the weekends drinking and dancing. The title also refers to street art’s defiant posture towards the arts establishment in being an art that is populist, intended to be understood by most people, not just the art world elites, as well as being a form of expression that references popular and/or urban culture. This show is about an artistic revolution, art that appeals to a wider audience.

Dzine (© Geoff Hargadon)

Calma on the ladder doing last minute touch ups. (© Geoff Hargadon)

BSA: Experts, particularly the jaded ones, have been forecasting the death of Street Art periodically for years, yet we feel like New York has an ongoing explosion of it. Do you feel like street art is experiencing a revolution?
Pedro Alonzo:
There are those who have stated that painting is dead and they were wrong. From my perspective, street art is finally being looked at by the art world. If anything the hoards of people who want to see street art are a clear indication of the vibrancy of the genre.Shepard Fairey entertaining the guests at the opening (© Geoff Hargadon)

Shepard Fairey entertaining the guests at the opening (© Geoff Hargadon)

BSA: Can you talk about the street artist you have from Mexico?  Is there a Street Art movement south of the border?
Pedro Alonzo:
There is definitely street art in Mexico. Stenciling and graffiti are visible in many cities. The most vibrant examples I have seen are in Oaxaca, where the art often responds to social and political issues.

Mexican tattoo and street artist Dr. Lakra is a blur (© Geoff Hargadon)

Mexican tattoo and street artist Dr. Lakra is a blur (© Geoff Hargadon)

BSA: What has been the most surprising part of this experience for you?
Pedro Alonzo: More than surprised, I am amazed at how quickly these artists work and adapt to the environment. Both inside the museum and on the street, the artists created amazing works for the exhibition in a very short period of time. Some of them even had time to go to the beach. We had a lot of fun. I am very proud and grateful to all of the artists for their hard work and stunning achievements. The city is responding accordingly.

In fact, the biggest surprise about the show was the response from many San Diegans of sincere gratitude at having this type of exhibition in their city. Some loved the fact that they did not have to drive to LA or fly to NYC to see it. Others felt that their interest in art was finally being acknowledged. It is a wonderful experience to have this kind of feedback in my home town.

Pedro Alonzo and Lucía Sanromán at the opening (© Geoff Hargadon)

Lucía Sanromán and Pedro Alonzo at the opening of Viva (© Geoff Hargadon)

Learn more about the exhibition HERE.

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Invader Uses GPS to Map Attack of San Diego

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Actually it’s just a street art tour, complete with map

French Street Artist Monsieur Invader, a favorite of New Yorkers and Jonathan LeVine Gallery, has created a 21 stop Invader Tour in the streets of San Diego for visitors to the new show “Viva la Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape” opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCASD).

The show features 21 artists from 8 countries including Akay (Sweden), Banksy (U.K.), Blu (Italy), Mark Bradford (U.S.), William Cordova (U.S.), Date Farmers (U.S.), Stephan Doitschinoff [CALMA] (Brazil), Dr. Lakra (Mexico), Dzine (U.S.), David Ellis (U.S.), FAILE (U.S.), Shepard Fairey (U.S.), Invader (France), JR (France), Barry McGee (U.S.), Ryan McGinness (U.S.), Moris (Mexico), Os Gemeos (Brazil), Swoon (U.S.), and Vhils (Portugal).

Invader in New York (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Invader in New York (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Heavenly Invasion Space Invader
Heavenly Invasion, Space Invader (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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