IDEAS CITY explores the future of cities around the globe with the belief that arts and culture are essential to the vitality of urban centers, making them better places to live, work, and play. Founded by the New Museum in 2011, IDEAS CITY is a major collaborative initiative between hundreds of arts, education, and civic organizations. This year’s theme is Untapped Capital, with participants focused on resources that are under recognized or underutilized in our cities.
IDEAS CITY is a four-day Festival of conferences, workshops, an innovative StreetFest around the Bowery, and more than one hundred independent projects and public events that are forums for exchanging ideas, proposing solutions, and accelerating creativity.
Visit ideas-city.org to plan your visit, and connect on Twitter @IDEASCITY.
BROOKLYN-BASED ARTISTS OPEN THEIR STUDIOS TO THE COMMUNITY SEPT 8-9
FOR “GO See Art In Brooklyn,” sponsored by Brooklyn Museum
Vote for Your Favorite Artist & Two or More Artists will be included in BROOKLYN MUSEUM Exhibition
Put on your walking shoes and come visit the studios of Brooklyn’s vast array of artists over the weekend of September 8-9, 2012 from 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM. Come meet the artists and watch them work in their medium, from sculpting and painting to photography, textile arts, print making and illustration, among others.
“GO See Art IN Brooklyn” is sponsored by the Brooklyn Museum. During the open studio weekend, voters will visit artists’ studios and check in using text messaging, the GO mobile app, or the GO mobile website. After votes have checked in, they will be eligible to nominate three artists from their visits for inclusion in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.
The ten artists with the most nominations will receive studio visits from Brooklyn Museum curators. Two or more nominated artists will be chosen by the curators to have their work displayed as part of a Brooklyn Museum group exhibition opening at TARGET FIRST SATURDAY on December 1, 2012.
Brooklyn Museum Invites Brooklyn Artists to Open Their Studios for Community Members and Curators to Collaborate on an Exhibition
The Brooklyn Museum is launching a borough-wide initiative in which Brooklyn- based artists will be invited to open their studios, allowing community members to visit and nominate artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to be held at the Museum. Brooklyn Museum curators will visit the studios of top nominated artists to select works for the exhibition. The open studio weekend for GO: a community- curated open studio project will be held September 8 and 9. The exhibition will open during Target First Saturday on December 1, 2012, and will be on view through February 24, 2013.
Web and mobile technology will be a central component bringing artists and community together to share information and perspectives on art. All participants (artists, voters, and volunteers) will be able to create a personal online profile at the project’s website, www.gobrooklynart.org. Artist profiles will include photos of each artist and their studio, along with images and descriptions of their work. Volunteers will be connected with their respective neighborhoods online, and voters will have profiles that track their activity during the open studio weekend and provide a platform on which to share their perspectives.
The project organizers are Sharon Matt Atkins, Managing Curator of Exhibitions, and Shelley Bernstein, Chief of Technology. GO: a community-curated open studio project is inspired by two predecessors: ArtPrize, an annual publicly juried art competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the long tradition of open studio events that take place each year throughout Brooklyn.
GO is sponsored by Deutsche Bank.
The L Magazine is media sponsor.
“GO is a wide-ranging and unique project that will transform how Brooklyn communities engage in the arts by providing everyone with the chance to discover artistic talent and to be involved in the exhibition process on a grassroots level. Through the use of innovative technology, GO provides every Brooklyn resident with an extraordinary opportunity to participate in the visual arts in an unprecedented way,” says Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman.
“Barry McGee” Opens at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
After witnessing Mr. McGee working on his vast installation of the “Street Market” last year for the LA MoCA “Arts in the Streets” exhibit, we can imagine him working steadily and quietly, half meander and half engineer, on this retrospective of his prolific career so far.
He likes a certain colorful eye-popping clutter, in an ordered way that makes sense and envelops even as it unfolds. Words, signage, objects, color, patterns, characters, odes to freight riding and garbage sifting, finding gold in a dumpster – part of the DIY ethos and graphic designer’s hand that took hold among the many Street Artists who followed his 1990s San Francisco forays from graffiti.
“Throughout his career,” writes Alex Baker in the exhibition catalog, “Barry McGee has continued to surprise and contradict expectations.” Time passes, his tags and monikers cycled through, and this is now called “mid-career”, an exhibition of the timeline up until this splattered dot. Bringing the street and the studio and the exhibitions under one large roof, the generous McGee gives us a huge attic of curiosities, a treasure-filled, salon-style, tag-burnished buffet.
We are happy to know that this exhibition will travel to ICA in Boston next spring. We will be there.
We want thank photographer Gareth Gooch for sending these exclusive images for BSA readers from his time spent with Barry as the artist worked throughout the museum galleries to install the show.
‘The huge dripping “SNITCH” tag on the exterior of the brutalist concrete Berkeley Art Museum exterior was my first sign that this was going to be a truly great exhibit. Among all the visual sensory stimulation, at our first introduction I was impressed with Barry’s attention to his guest. In the crunch of finalizing the installation to open in a few hours, Barry was calm and generous with his time allowing me to shoot without restrictions.
The beautiful concrete and glass galleries were filled with paintings, installations and collections of multiple works in such proliferation, I had to wonder if he ever slept! The scale of work from small ephemera collections to his signature large scale installations with life sized “taggers” and upended FONG TV delivery van and store fronts was awesome! His work is so unique and eclectic, I honestly felt I was in the presence of a modern master!” – Gareth Gooch
The twins have left Boston, but not before they opened their first solo museum show in the U.S. and left behind a handful of public installations that have garnered major attention as people once again grapple with the concept of art in the streets. Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo have done large installations in large cities before, but few as visible and central to a city as their 70 x 70 foot mural on the side of a “Big Dig” ventilation building rising above the greenway with the shape of the character’s formed by the semi-circular façade.
Photographer and BSA contributor Geoff Hargadon says that the project received permission from a number of civic and private organizations before it could go up over ten days in July in this storied city that usually favors conservative historical themes in it’s public works. “Given the short amount of time organizers had to put the pieces together and get all the approvals,” says Hargadon while ticking off names of entities who green-lighted the project, “it was a small miracle it was able to get off the ground.”
The internationally known Brazillian Street Artists had time to create a few pieces around town that reference their more graffiti-influenced roots, including one each on the side of a hotel, a pizza place, and a van. Not surprisingly it was the seven storey portrait of a seated barefoot boy rendered in signature Os Gêmeos yellow and wearing shrouded headgear that got the most attention on the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square. Its bright colors and patterned pajama-like garb have a cheerful childlike appeal to some picnickers, while other townies and Internet commenters see something less attractive, even sinister, depicted here where much of the Occupy Boston protests took place in the last year.
By the time “The Giant of Boston” had been discovered by equally yellow media types, the barefoot boy had been transformed into a danger in this birthplace of democracy and a small media-generated dust bowl was kicked up. “Looks like one of the Simpsons dressed like a terrorist,” said a clever commenter on a local TV affiliate’s Facebook page, one of over 200 who offered their considered opinions on the mural’s appearance.
As with most knee-jerk assessments, this one could be tempered with a few minutes of Googling the work of the artists, which would reveal that this figure fits quite neatly into the dreamscape tableaux of oddly costumed and funnily proportioned figures whom the Twins have been painting for a few decades. But who knows, each of those little kooky figures could have been bombers and no one realized it until now. Without adding credibility to that line of unthinking, Hargadon remarks about these aerosol bomber brothers, “Maybe Os Gêmeos have inadvertently done us all a favor by helping us understand how some people have come to see the world during the past ten years. In any case, like all noteworthy art, it is not meant to please everybody.” If that’s the case, “The Giant of Boston” is noteworthy.
Of more important note is the solo show by Os Gêmeos that has opened concurrently at The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. Organized by Pedro Alonzo, who also curated the Swoon, Shepard Fairey, and Dr. Lakra shows for the ICA, it’s a somewhat intimate overview of their professional and personal journey as artists, peppered with a few surprises from inside the imagination of these in-the-moment creators who “depict their visions in surreal paintings, sculpture, and installations,” according to the shows official description. Reporting on the makeup of the pieces exhibited, Hargadon says, “Some of them are from the recent show at Prism LA, while others are older works. The VIP opening on Tuesday was packed, and was followed by a Brazilian themed party Friday night – which was sold out.”
If you get to Boston to see this show and this large mural, make time in your trip to see the brothers other works in less obvious locations to get a greater appreciation for their history growing up as teens in the mid 80s while pouring over books like “Subway Art” and seeing the hip-hop and graffiti scene from New York spreading around the globe. You’ll find a mural at the Revere Hotel on Stuart Street and a piece they did along with a handful of friends in Union Square in Somerville at Mama Gina’s Pizza. Among the other contributors to that piece were RIZE, Coyo, and Caleb Neelon.
August 1–November 25, 2012 The ICA presents the first solo U.S. exhibition of Brazilian artists Os Gemeos. The ICA exhibition will include a selection of the artists’ paintings and sculptures, as well as a public mural outside the museum
Organized by Pedro Alonzo, ICA Adjunct Curator
This August the ICA will present the first solo exhibition in the United States of works by the Brazilian brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. Best known as Os Gêmeos, the twins are a major force in graffiti and urban art. The twins have a deep bond; they are tireless collaborators and say that they often experience the same dreams. In an effort to share their dreams with the world, they depict their visions in surreal paintings, sculpture, and installations: human figures with removable faces, exploding bursts of color, and room-size heads installed with shanty interiors.
Os Gêmeos draw not only from dreams, but also from their surroundings, incorporating these elements to forge a unique visual style. Their narrative work is a visual synthesis of their everyday lives: the color and chaos of Brazil—particularly in their neighborhood in São Paulo, Cambuci—or yellow-skinned youth in red hoodies breaking into train yards and painting in subway tunnels. A common motif depicts several graffiti taggers garbed in brightly patterned clothes stacked atop one another to reach an impossibly high spot. In contrast to the more contemporary urban themes, rural Brazil has an equally significant presence in their work. Carnivals, music, and folk art fascinate the twins and inspire fantastical portraits of musicians and paintings of processions and festivals—all of which are based on their own photographs.
Os Gêmeos date their artistic beginnings to 1987 when hip-hop invaded Brazil. The music and images of youth dancing and painting graffiti, transmitted via photo books and films, left an indelible mark on the twins. But in the late 1980s, the lack of information about art and art-making materials—Brazilian spray paint was expensive and inferior in quality—forced the artists to improvise and create their own visual style. They began painting New York graffiti–style murals with house paint, brushes, and rollers instead of spray paint. In 1993 while in Brazil, Os Gêmeos met then emerging artist Barry McGee. He provided magazines, materials, and information and began to paint with the twins. McGee was making a living as an artist, a fact that inspired the twins to quit their banking jobs and focus entirely on working as artists. Today they are two of the most prominent figures in public art, having succeeded in creating large-scale murals and painting public transportation throughout Brazil.
To Os Gêmeos labels—as well as reality—are not important. They do not consider themselves street artists, they “just want to paint.” Their art in public spaces, which they refer to simply as graffiti, is a means to share their work with a broad audience. This exhibition will highlight the multiple influences and recurring visual themes found in the artists’ paintings and sculptures, and allow audiences an opportunity to experience their richly fantastical work. As part of the exhibition, the artists will visit Boston in August 2012 to paint a large-scale, site-specific mural.
The Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02210 General Information 617-478-3100 email@example.com
OLEK‘s entire studio apartment installation will be included in 40 under 40: Craft Futures, a group exhibition curated by Nicholas Bell at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC.
40 under 40: Craft Futures features forty artists born since 1972, the year the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s contemporary craft and decorative arts program was established at its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery. The exhibition investigates evolving notions of craft within traditional media such as ceramics and metalwork, as well as in fields as varied as sculpture, industrial design, installation art, fashion design, sustainable manufacturing, and mathematics. The range of disciplines represented illustrates new avenues for the handmade in contemporary culture.
All of the artworks selected for display in the exhibition were created since Sept. 11, 2001. This new work reflects the changed world that exists today, which poses new challenges and considerations for artists. These 40 artists are united by philosophies for living differently in modern society with an emphasis on sustainability, a return to valuing the hand-made and what it means to live in a state of persistent conflict and unease.
Nicholas R. Bell, The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art at the Renwick Gallery, organized the exhibition. The museum hopes to acquire works by every artist featured in the exhibition to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Renwick Gallery. Click here to learn how you can help in this effort.
Select works from 40 under 40:Craft Futures provided inspiration to the designers of Washington Design Center’s 2012 DreamHome. Visit dcdesigncenter.com for more information.
1st floor, Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W.)
July 20, 2012 – February 3, 2013
Berkeley, CA, May 14, 2012 — The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) proudly presents Barry McGee, the first ever midcareer survey of the San Francisco–based artist. This exceptionally comprehensive exhibition explores his work from the late 1980s to the present, and gives the artist an opportunity to produce new work. Including rarely seen early etchings, re-creations of large-scale installations, vibrant abstract paintings, animatronics, photographs, painted surfboards, and an intervention on the building exterior, Barry McGee provides a much-anticipated opportunity to experience and assess the broad scope of the artist’s multifaceted career and practice in a single exhibition.
“Barry has influenced a generation of international artists, with the Bay Area as the welcoming and appreciative center for his dynamic, engaged, and progressive approach to art-making,” says BAM/PFA Director and Barry McGee co-curator Lawrence Rinder. “So it is with a sense of privilege and special responsibility that we present this first midcareer survey of his work.”
McGee, who trained professionally in painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, began sharing his work in the 1980s, not in a museum or gallery setting but on the streets of San Francisco, where he developed his skills as a graffiti artist, often using the tag name “Twist.” Using a visual vocabulary that borrows elements from comics, hobo art, sign painting, and other sources, McGee’s work addresses a range of issues, from individual survival and social malaise to alternative forms of community. His extraordinary skill as a draughtsman is balanced by a passion for pushing the boundaries of art: his work can be shockingly informal in the gallery and surprisingly elegant on the street.
McGee commands a staggering array of media to bring his art into being, including empty liquor bottles, spray-paint cans, tagged signs, televisions, wrenches, scrap wood, and metal. His installations don’t so much occupy space as they engulf it. Dizzying color patterns pour into corners and seep into adjacent rooms; walls packed with clusters of framed illustrations and images bubble out as if to touch viewers; and the interiors of overturned vans become viewing spaces of their own.
McGee will be in residence for the installation of the exhibition from mid-June through late August. Barry McGee is organized by Rinder, with Curatorial Assistant Dena Beard, and is accompanied by a major catalog featuring texts by Alex Baker, Natasha Boas, and Germano Celant as well as nearly three hundred images, many of which have never before been published. The exhibition will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in April 2013.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
5:00 VIP Opening
6:00 Member Opening
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
12:00 Curators’ Gallery Tour
Lawrence Rinder and Dena Beard
Join the exhibition curators, Director Lawrence Rinder and Curatorial Assistant Dena Beard, as they share their insights into the work of Barry McGee, touching on key themes from the late 1980s to the present.
Barry McGee will be inspiration for a series of fall 2012 L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA events, including performances by Devendra Banhart, T.I.T.S, and Clare Rojas. Other programs include a conversation with Rinder and Jeffrey Deitch, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; an illustrated lecture about the history of graffiti by photographer Jim Prigoff; a stencil-making workshop with David Anthony King; and a zine-making workshop with V. Vale. As full details for these events are still forming, a comprehensive Barry McGee public programs press release will follow later this summer.
Guided tours of the exhibition with UC Berkeley graduate student tour guides will be offered on selected Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. and selected Sundays at 2 p.m. See the museum’s online calendar for the schedule: www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/events/education
Barry McGee Edited by Lawrence Rinder and Dena Beard with contributions by Alex Baker, Natasha Boas, and Germano Celant.
Published by the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in association with D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
Hardcover, 450 pages
BAM/PFA ISBN 978-0-9719397-0-7
Publication date: August 2012
DAP ISBN 978-1-935202-85-1
Publication date: September 2012
Tour UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
August 24–December 9, 2012
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
April 5–September 2, 2013
Barry McGee is made possible by lead support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and presenting sponsor Citizens of Humanity. Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Ratio 3, Cheim and Read, the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, Prism, and Stuart Shave/Modern Art. Additional support is provided by Rena Bransten, Gallery Paule Anglim, Jeffrey Fraenkel and Frish Brandt, Suzanne Geiss, Nion McEvoy, and the BAM/PFA Trustees.
Special thanks to Citizens of Humanity for their additional support of BAM/PFA’s grade-school art experience programs.
Stylized Leaders of the Computerized Electronic Revolution at MoMA
First as D.I.Y. experimenters and visionaries, then leaders in a nearly empty field, then as inspiring catalysts for man-machine marriage, Kraftwerk paved the way for millions of musicians, programmers, DJs, rappers, and fans to integrate a mechanized electronic precision into the modern musical oeuvre. At a time when the youth movement was peacing out and getting high with arena rock and disco, Kraftwerk was turning itself into robots and its vinyl platters were getting play in New York house parties as an ideal futuristic soundtrack to integrate with lyrics, riffs and samples. With New Wave, House, and Techno music all spawned with those same programmed beats, voices, and influences, now in the 2010s we acknowledge that a wide spectrum of musical categories, recordings, and performances contain a significant part of Kraftwerk’s digital DNA.
A teenager in the early 80s listening to Man Machine and Computer World would have thought that Kraftwerk were geekily impressing each other with their sweeping vision of a future daily existence where people and robots interact via smart electronic devices and programs. Not only did each year afterward bring us many steps further into their outlandish computerized vision, it may be that they partially ushered it in with their undulating funky precision and robotic wit. And so it is in New York now that “Kraftwerk Week” is blowing away a roomful of people who are holding up their personal glowing rectangles toward the stage at the Museum of Modern Art. Over the course of 8 consecutive nights they appear as slightly human robots to perform one of their albums in it’s entirety, followed by a very satisfying collection of favorites.
The retrospective Kraftwerk 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 brings a vision of the current band members poised before their master controls while 3-D visuals crisply fly into your face with elements of aerospace, rail travel, and the pumping machinations of human propelled progress. Swelling pulsating vistas are punctuated by text and funnily low-tech robotic movements – all infused with a sense of classical European styling. As pure and total fans we were extremely lucky to have attended one of the performances and we felt like witnesses to an historic event that testified to the influence of 4 decades of experimentation but also displayed a delightfully stellar quality of skill and performance.
Naturally, these photos were shot on our personal hand-held computers.
Keith Haring: 1978–1982 is the first large-scale exhibition to explore the early career of one of the best-known American artists of the twentieth century. Tracing the development of Haring’s extraordinary visual vocabulary, the exhibition includes 155 works on paper, numerous experimental videos, and over 150 archival objects, including rarely seen sketchbooks, journals, exhibition flyers, posters, subway drawings, and documentary photographs.
The exhibition chronicles the period in Haring’s career from his arrival in New York City through the years when he started his studio practice and began making public and political art on the city streets. Immersing himself in New York’s downtown culture, he quickly became a fixture on the artistic scene, befriending other artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf, as well as many of the most innovative cultural figures of the period. The critical role that these relationships played in Haring’s development as a public artist and facilitator of group exhibitions and performances is also explored. Pieces on view include a number of very early works never before seen in public; seven video pieces, including Painting Myself into a Corner (his first video piece) and Tribute to Gloria Vanderbilt; and collages created from cut-up fragments of his own writing, history textbooks, and newspapers.
Keith Haring: 1978–1982 is curated by Raphaela Platow. The exhibition is co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, and the Kunsthalle Wien. The Brooklyn presentation is organized by Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Project Curator, and Patrick Amsellem, former Associate Curator of Photography, Brooklyn Museum.
This exhibition is made possible by Lisa and Dick Cashin with additional support provided by the Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia Contemporary Art Exhibition Fund.
1978 and 2012 seem closer to one another than ever right now when we look at the blossomed Street Art scene in cities around the world. More than 30 years after Keith Haring moved to New York as an art school kid at the School of Visual Arts, a new generation of art school kids consider it almost a birthright to take their work directly to the street. Right now feels like an excellent time for Brooklyn to spotlight this study of his first four years in the city that blew his mind and inspired him to alter the whole system of how an artist reaches the public.
Keith Haring: 1978-1982, a traveling exhibition first shown in Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna and The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, introduces a period of his work not often examined, taking you up to the edge of the seemingly sudden international fame he experienced as artist, activist and public figure through the rest of the 1980s.
“Raphaela Platow, who was the original curator of this show, went into the archives and pulled out things that had basically just been sitting there, ” explained Tricia Laughlin Bloom, the project curator for the current show as she gave a tour this week before its opening at the Brooklyn Museum Friday.
At a time when the small-town boy was developing his visual vocabulary as an artist, Haring was also discovering himself as a man in the world and in a city that he found endlessly fascinating and worthy of exploration. Capturing his spirit of hands-on experimentation, the show is almost entirely comprised of works on paper with one collaborative piece on plywood with his contemporary Jean Michel Basquiat, paper collage, video, and documentary photos.
In these years Disco was on a full force collision course with Punk, New Wave, and Rap, and Haring was embracing the nightlife of a college student sampling the downtown scene, exploring his sexuality, and commandeering entire rooms at SVA to mount shows on paper. Some of those “body involvement” painting sessions are documented well here in video; a sort of full immersion painting baptism. While jamming out to music he covers every white surface with thick black symbols and gestural marking, sometimes painting with both hands in a rhythmic automatic study of both the physicality of the process and his own interaction with space and materials.
Not to be missed in person is the 30 piece collection in the final room of actual subway black papers that Haring adorned with his white line drawings, energetically created symbols and characters throughout stations in New York’s train system. The frames and glass protect them for us to appreciate them today in their disarming simplicity, their collection ironically alleged by some to be why the artist discontinued the subway practice. Equally compelling is the projected large slide show of Haring in photos by Tseng Kwong Chi, whom the artist called to shoot almost every time he did an illegal piece in the subway.
With almost half of the pieces here never displayed publicly like this before, the show is a welcome revelation for fans hoping to peel back a little of the hype-like gloss that time and opportunism may have shined his legacy with. Whether it’s his hand-collaged flyers for the indie group shows he curated, his home movies of Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias performing in the living room, or the complete re-installation of a wall from his 1980 show at PS 122, you get the idea that this was an audacious observant art student gulping at the faucet of life in a pulsating dirty city that welcomed him.
“He’s such a thoughtful and complicated figure – at the same time with that really pure impulse of not wanting to alienate people but to bring them in,” says Laughlin Bloom as she describes the young artist she discovered en route. “He’s this combination of fun-loving, and life-loving, and intellectual, accessible – a total populist but not in an insincere way.”
After 1982, Haring’s entire visual language of characters and symbols would become iconic, international; his work in dialogue with modern art history and everyday people eventually outlasted him to inspire a diverse generation of artists working on the street from Shepard Fairey and Swoon to Stikman and Specter, among many others.
“Haring saw the subway as the ideal platform for showing work – one of the few places to catch New Yorkers off-guard,” says Poster Boy, a Street Artist/collective who is credited/blamed for re-engineering and culture jamming subway posters with a razor in very recent years. Speaking of Haring’s chiding of corporate commercialism in the culture, Poster Boy observes, “For advertisers it’s the perfect opportunity for a commercial break. Haring saw it as a break from commercials.”
Respected for his early interest in busting down barriers in social activism, street art, and illegal art, it’s likely that many on the Street Art scene today will be checking out the pre-buzz Haring on display at this show. At the moment, it feels like one of New York’s adopted hometown heroes is back in Brooklyn.
“Art is for everybody. To think that they-the public- do not appreciate art because they don’t understand it, and to continue to make art that they don’t understand and therefore become alienated from, may mean that the artist is the one who doesn’t understand or appreciate art and is thriving in this “self-proclaimed knowledge of art” that is actually bullshit.” 1978
“F*ck Art”, an undulating and adventurous group show by New York Street Artists opens its arms and legs to you at the Museum of Sex (MoSex) tomorrow and whether it’s the human powered penetrating bicycle or the glass bead encrusted dildo, it endeavors to satisfy.
Co-curated by Emilie Baltz (Creative Director) and Mark Snyder (Director of Exhibitions), the show selects 20 current Street Artists who have pushed notions of propriety into provocation on the street and it invites them to let it loose behind closed doors. Not that Miss Van needs anyone’s permission; her sensual role-playing painted ladies have been playfully preening on graff-piled walls and blue-boarded construction sites for much of the 2000s. Similarly the powerfully stenciled sirens by Street Artist AIKO have been bending over in high heels on walls all over the world with just a hint of the geishas from her native Japan for over a decade.
The “Fuck Bike #001”, a pedal operated plunging machine by William Thomas Porter and Andrew H. Shirley, has at its conceptual base an ode to the lengths a guy will go to reach his natural objective. The two artist met at a Black Label Bike Club event called “Ridin’ Dirty” in 2010 and later schemed together to make an entry for a bike-themed group show in Bushwick, Brooklyn that featured many Street Artists like DarkClouds, Ellis G., UFO, Noah Sparkes and Mikey 907. “I approached Tom with the idea of creating a kinetic bike sculpture which you could f*ck someone with,” remembers Mr. Shirley, “Tom is a very gifted artist and bike engineer, it took a few days for him to build our design.”
Visitors to the show are invited to mount the bike and take it for a spin. “This bike is more sculpture oriented, but still functions sexually. It’s also totally interactive,” explains Mr. Shirley, who has displayed the bike in cities in Europe and America, most recently at Art Basel in Miami in December. So the bike has gotten around and Shirley happily recounts stories of intimate encounters it has had with both genders. (See the very Not-Safe-For-Work film of the bike in action below.)
The street has certainly seen an increase of fairly graphic sex related Street Art in the last decade or so as people have become more comfortable with such themes and much of this show can often be seen throughout the city without the price of admission. Gay couple Bryan Raughton and Nathan Vincent have been putting large and small scaled paste-ups of sexually themed imagery as a Street Art duo called RTTP for about two years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Short for “Reply To This Post”, the line-drawn torsos and spread eagles are all part of their collaborative Street Art project that explores the desires of men seeking men on Craigslist.
Describing the work, Vincent says it’s a process of lifting the mystery off of a just-below-the-radar Internet dating game – and pasting it on a lightpole. “Users post an ad with an image, title, and a short description of what they are looking for tonight. The photograph they post of themselves is drawn and titled with the ad’s title.” By putting these erotically based desires on the streets, Vincent thinks “they magnify those desires that often seem to live at the edges.” Says Raughton of the project, “We see it as an interesting way to take people private desires to the public street.”
In discussing the origins and underpinnings of a show like this, the co-curators reveal a more academic and sociological grounding than the prurient and salacious sauciness one might infer by a display of so much “F*ck Art”. We asked Baltz to give us a sense of the context for a Street Art driven sex show.
Brooklyn Street Art:What is your favorite part of curating a show like this? Emilie Baltz: Seeing the different interpretations and energy that each artist brings to their work is always the most interesting part of curating – with this topic, especially, it’s the fact that they are all pushing the limits of their medium by creating such provocative statements.
Brooklyn Street Art:While these pieces are behind closed doors available to a certain audience, Street Artists typically put their work out in the public. Do you think the work should change depending on the audience? Emilie Baltz: We don’t think it’s about changing the work, it’s about how the work changes the environment it lives in. Street art has a long history of revealing different perspectives on its surrounding environment and by placing this work in a museum it creates a certain energy and visual provocation that changes the relationship we traditionally have to the museum-going experience.
Brooklyn Street Art:Do you think there has been an increase in sex-related street art in recent years, and if so, why? Emilie Baltz: There definitely is an increase in sex-related conversations in recent years. It’s not that there is more content suddenly, it’s just that culture is actually ready to start talking about it now, rather than ignore it.
Brooklyn Street Art:We have noticed that themes of sex and sexuality are often quickly destroyed on the street, while other pieces remain for months. Is this a form of selective censorship by the public? Emilie Baltz: Street art is a dialogue. Its creation is about expression and commentary, and therefore can become a barometer of cultural consciousness (or unconsciousness). The intimate and emotional nature of sexual content can obviously elicit strong feelings in viewers, and, given that street art is an environmental medium, either you have to live with it or get rid of it. Sex walks a fine line between acceptance and rejection. Public response to this kind of art is potentially a mirror into how our society relates to the topic.
Brooklyn Street Art:What surprised you the most about putting this show together? Emilie Baltz: The enthusiasm from the public. People are genuinely excited to talk about sex in public space and it’s an incredible honor to be able to help facilitate that discussion.
A Street Art Occupation at the Museum of Sex in New York City, opens February 8 and will run through June 10, 2012.
Emilie Baltz, Co-Curator, Creative Director, F*CK ART
Mark Snyder, Co-Curator F*CK ART, Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Sex
Meghan Coleman and Alex Emmart of Might Tanaka Gallery in Brooklyn served as Chief Advisors.