Street Art Book Review

“Stencilists / Pochoiristes” Cuts Across the Street Scene Gallantly, with Serge Louis

“Stencilists / Pochoiristes” Cuts Across the Street Scene Gallantly, with Serge Louis

Enthusiastic authors like Serge Louis can make Street Art sing, even in print. His new “Stencilists/Pochoiristes” is a finely illustrated hardcover of iconic images from the street. The carefully selected plates are placed within interviews in French and English.

The 17 stencillists whom he has selected are from a populated field of possibilities but he captures a fair range from his travels in Europe – with a few from the US to compliment them.

Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp

In the intro from Samantha Longhi, who wrote a weekly stencil column here at BSA years ago – in addition to being a gallerist and former editor of Graffiti Art magazine – you get the sweetest memory of a Miss Tic stencil being buffed in her neighborhood, and a sense for how it rocked her world.

“I had truly lost it that day. I felt that this ‘Birth of Venus’ that was re-interpreted by the Parisian stencil artist literally belonged to me,” she says. “It was the stencil I looked at every day, morning and evening, and I had made it mine. It was the beginning of everything for me.”

Ben Spizz. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp

You can tell that this is the same level of appreciation that Mr. Louis invests in his book, with ample space given to the artists to express their specific approach to the lunacy of art on the streets.

“The first trigger was living with two graffiti artists when I was a student,” recalls stencillest Jaune talking about his introduction coming from graffiti. “They would go out tagging at night, putting up small works in the streets… This is how I discovered the graffiti movement. I was very interested in the fact that artists could, just like that, write something completely unauthorized on walls! But I didn’t want to do it myself because visually it wasn’t me. The second trigger was the stencillist Banksy.

Billi Kid. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp

Speaking of the famous Bristol-born stencil artist, there are a couple of topics that recur throughout these interviews; most of these 2nd/3rd generation practitioners point to their pioneers like Blek Le Rat, Banksy, Mis Tic, Jef Aerosol, Ernest Pignon-Ernest, and C215 for setting the standard. The second topic that comes up frequently is that cutting stencils is a time-consuming practice and it is far more involved than most people appreciate.

The photorealist Niz talks about her work in a way that many artists can appreciate. “If you were working with a regular job, if you work an eight hour day, you come home and all your creative energy has been used for something else. Because actually, you need to have time and energy to think about your stencil. You need to execute it. You need to look for materials and do all that stuff. So, unless you are rich and wealthy and you can afford a lot of free time that is disposable, it is challenging doing stencils!”

Dipo. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp

” …you have to carry this wet and sticky template around with you, which adds some serious complications to bombing. Secondly you have to have some type of tight spray can control to pull it off. Thirdly there is a lot of thought to put into stencil design prior to painting. I think anyone that has ever tried stencil art and is actually pulling it off, would agree with me.”

Jaune. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp

From painterly and multi-layered, to the simplicity of symbols, in the vernacular of advertising, or with a knowledge of art history, the collection represents a good cross section despite the limited size of the list. In his essay, the author is an idealist, and a philosopher – revealing his engagement to be as civic as it is poetic.

“Stencillists are first and foremost profoundly human. And radically humanistic,” he writes.

“They release citizens to express themselves… their criticism of the world is essential and vital for us. They take risks. They raise awareness. Stencil artists radically change how we look at things, as a passerby or as a resident, making us more attentive and more alert to the urban condition..”

Jinks Kunst. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp
Logan Hicks. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp
Raf Urban. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp
Spencer. Stencilists / Pochoiristes by Serge Louis. Editions Maedia. Collection Brigadier Plipp

Maedia Publishing will host a book signing on June 1st at 212 Arts Gallery in Manhattan. Click HERE for all the details.

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“Street Art Las Vegas” Takes a Tour Beyond the Strip

“Street Art Las Vegas” Takes a Tour Beyond the Strip

Before there was a scene in Las Vegas, there was a scene in Las Vegas.

Not in just the shimmering, drink slamming, dice rolling, pink-fur bikini with a rhinestone choker kind of way – that’s the real Las Vegas scene that you may think of – but in the urban art scene as well.

Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.

In this context the Las Vegas graffiti/Street Art scene that existed in the 1990s and 2000s that led up to a massive “Meeting of Styles” in 2012 was lively and varied and leaned more toward lettering, handstyle, and characters. Later, beginning in 2013 with a music/art festival called “Life is Beautiful”, a select group of international Street Artists were paid by public and private interests to help the city tap into a growing interest in urban decoration with eye-popping murals.

You can see both families of aesthetics at play here on the pages of the new hardcover “Street Art Las Vegas” (Smallworks Press) by William Shea and Patrick Lai, local photographers who have studied the city’s scene closely. Presenting documentation primarily from the 2010s, it is a pretty complete overview of the art-on-the-streets divided into geographical sectors of the city.

Suchart. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.

In very personal texts and essays that reference local developments and flavors, the authors give a sense of the changing political and social dynamics in the city. Notably in such a short period of a decade you learn that popular tastes, behaviors, shifts in demographics, and legal regulations evolve relatively quickly regarding art in the streets – in a city where presentation and image are often paramount.

No surprise, Vegas can take on the air of spectacle.

Aware. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.

“With the increased growth of East Fremont Street, the Arts District became a regular destination for landscape and portrait photographers. Many visitors began to utilize the painted walls as backdrops for graduation and group photos and were willing to pay the extra cost just to use the property,” write the authors to describe the near frantic adoration that surrounded the new murals in one part of town at a certain point.

Despite what appears to be a commercial element that bends the aesthetic landscape away from local talent, the choices of work here are additive, good quality, contextual and well framed.

Skul. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.

As long-time urban explorers and artists, we’re attracted to the tales of stuff off the beaten path, which they preserve in a chapter called “Outer Limits”:

“From the back-city streets to the deepest corner of the desert, the vast landscape surrounding the city creates and environment that continues to amaze even the most experience art seekers. Hidden from public view, large-scale projects can be discovered for those willing to venture out, explore and get dirty. In most cases, day trips to these areas yield the greatest finds for those looking for something beyond your average wall.”

We’re ready!

Aware. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.
Lords, ALB, Zeke. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.
ROA. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.
Alexis Diaz. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.
Fintan Magee. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.
Indecline. Street Art Las Vegas by William Shea and Patrick Lai. Smallworks Press. Las Vegas, NV. April 2019.
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Michael De Feo “FLOWERS”

Michael De Feo “FLOWERS”

Amid the detritus of the urban cityscape in decline, it is a welcome contrast to see a dandelion or wild daisy sprouting up from a crack in the sidewalk. Not only is it a reminder of the original inhabitants of the land you are standing on it is an ever-present truth that the plants and the trees and the animals will inherit the earth again, no matter what grand ideas you have for it.

Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019

The simplest symbol of nature in the layered debris of urban margins, and a decorative one, is the flower that Micheal De Feo has been “planting” on walls since the early 1990s. The practice has sustained him through many cities and travels abroad, introducing him to artists and fans and collectors, eventually pushing him into explorations of contemporary art.

Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019

“Conceptually, I had stumbled upon something that made sense to me on so many levels,” he says in his new hardcover book,”Flowers”, published this spring by Abrams, New York.  “Using whimsy and beauty, I was inspiring smiles and also making connections to ideas about the cycle of life and the ephemeral nature of all things.”

The collection of early images of this simple flower popping up in many streets and scenes remind you of your connection to nature and to his art, almost taking it for granted.

Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019

“You learn from watching your artwork set roots in a city,” say the Street Art duo Faile in their intro to the book, “causing people to pause in an alley or on a side street, to stop and look: You see the city in broader terms.”

Now expanding in studio to abstractions and a gestural piling-up of brushstrokes around and upon commercial figurative photography and more recently over top images of classical painting, De Feo is refining and redefining his practice. The newer works are well suited for magazine covers and living room walls as he transitions to a decorative contemporary oeuvre. But the simplicity is still there, happy to be in your world.

“Oh so you’re the flower guy!”.

Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019
Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019
Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019
Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019
Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019
Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019
Michael De Feo FLOWERS Abrams Books. New York, NY. 2019

If you are in NYC this Thursday, April 25th Michael De Feo will be hosting a Pop-Up party, exhibition, book signing and the release of a new special print in celebration of his book FLOWERS. The Pop-UP will be held at 198 Allen Street from 6:30 – 9:00 pm on April 25th and on Friday, April 26th from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

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Jay Shells: The “Rap Quotes” Book

Jay Shells: The “Rap Quotes” Book

Context and placement are key to the success of Street Art. Jay Shells’s project, “The Rap Quotes” more than meets those standards. Indeed his project might be one of the most relevant examples of street art responding to a specific time and place in history that you’ll ever see.


Jay Shells: The Rap Quotes Coast To Coast. Dokument Press. Sweden, 2019.

We’ve been repping Jay Shells (Jason Shelowitz) for years since we first found his text-based signage on Brooklyn streets in the oddest of locations. Within a short time they began to make sense, and then brilliant sense – since they acted as a GPS for some of your favorite rap lyrics. 

“What if somehow these lyrics existed visually, in the exact location mentioned?” he says to illustrate his original idea.

Since that time the artist has taken his Rap Quotes across the country (Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles), faithfully hunting down streets and neighborhoods and corners and businesses referenced by a host of recordings from classic rap era and a few of the new kids on the block as well.

“I’ve always had a serious passion for lyricism, partly because I’ve always been envious of people who are gifted with words,” he says in his new hardcover book that documents the 5 year campaign. It is gratifying to see him out scaling the telephone poles and climbing ladders with drill in hand to post these signs. They are a semi-permanent claim to public space and people’s history at the same time; a recognition of an art form of writing that rarely gets such laudatory treatment.

See the video at the end documenting the process – which Shelowitz credits as being the force that encouraged him the most. “My friend Bucky (Turco) ran a magazine and website called Animal New York, and when I told him about the project, he wanted to be involved. He introduced me to his newly hired photographer and videographer, Aymann Ismail at a party on a Friday night in early March 2013. We hit the streets early the next morning to get the 30 signs up, with Aymann document the process. About a week later, they posted the video and photos with a short write-up, and the rest is history.”

Check out some photos of the book in the mean time.


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SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo by “I Will Not”

SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo by “I Will Not”

Anyone born after 1960, and that includes most sticker artists on the street today, has a positive association with the humble sticker. From “smiley” and “gold star” rewards stuck to the top of your grade-school class papers to scratch-n-sniff or puffy stickers to MAD magazine product parodies for Quacker Oats and Minute Lice, a lot of kids grew up with good feelings about slaps.

Over the past two decades a serious community of sticker designers, traders, artists, exhibitors and collectors has emerged – virtually assuring that public bathrooms in heavy metal/ punk / hip hop/ alternative music clubs will be covered top to bottom or ‘smashed’ with stickers. Adhesive equivalents of a business card or portfolio sample for many artists, musicians, philosophers, anarchists, and wise guys/gals, stickers are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to the world.

The sticker artist and curator named “I Will Not” has rallied together thousands, even hundreds of thousands of stickers by artists from all over the world during the last few years to mount sticker shows inside of the gallery space – taking the concept of a group show into near infinity. A solo practice intended for public campaigns, the global interconnectedness of this scene is irrefutable, enabling entire galleries to showcase a massive amount of work at once, including these from the DC Street Sticker Expo.

Like most subcultures, this one has a semi-tight set of rules and conventions and customs. For example, it is common to share your stickers in packs with other artists, but you are expected to put theirs up in your city. As in graffiti and Street Art, it is also verboten to obscure another artists sticker with yours on the street and any violation of this rule may result in “beef”, or a street grudge and public rivalry.

A book like “Smashed” can only come about with the complete passion of an author like IWillNot, who shares his infectious enthusiasm for the sticker game in this softcover volume. Here are some images from the book, as well as a link to learn more about it.

iwillnot. SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo. DC Street Sticker EXPO. 2018
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Hendrik Beikirch Traces Lives and Memories in “Siberia”

Hendrik Beikirch Traces Lives and Memories in “Siberia”

A corollary to 2015’s “Tracing Morocco” by German street artist Hendrik Beirkirch (aka ECB), a new book travels to meet the rugged inhabitants of Siberia’s countryside in the Russian Federation. The results are starkly genuine, impressively authentic.

Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018

Again indulging us in the deep crevasses of many a weathered façade, Siberia invites you to meet the people whom he has met in his travel and presumably befriended, given their ease as subjects. A part of the Jardin Rouge stable over the past few years, Beirkirch has followed the lead of founder Jean Louis Haguenauer, the Frenchman who moved to Russia in the early 1980s and found his own odyssey outside the city to be formative to his character, leading him to write the introduction to the handsome tome.

Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018

“The work produced is a testimony, a memoir,” says Haguenauer, “These modern faces that hark back to the past, these women and men immortalized on canvas, ambassadors of their trades and their regions on walls around the world, convey another image of the largest region on the planet and of a sadly little-known country, of which we wish to provide a new vision. It is the everyday women and men, passionately living their trades, who are the heroes of this new project.”

Indeed there are few signs of artifice or romanticism in the sure-footed subjects here, and you are offered a glimpse of their context with some of these new portraits. Seeing them translated to grand scale as murals spanning towers is remarkable, and one can only imagine what impact they have on the people who live in or pass through these neighborhoods.  Scattered through a number of cities, there is a familiar feeling in each of these strangers, perhaps feeling like family to some.

Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Nina. Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018

“Untainted by any attempt at idealization, the faces of  those portrayed tell the story of real life,” says Arne Zyprian in an opening essay. “Paradoxically, these anonymous guises pictured on a vast scale on the sides of buildings offer a break from the overall anonymity of the cities and give them a face.”

Interspersed with canvasses and murals are observations that attempt to examine why we find the singular visages so compelling. There is a temptation to look at a new people in cultures different from our own as the exotic “other”, to simplify their existence by what we can observe on the outside, or to project our own inner dynamics on to the faces that we see.

Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Nina. Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018

One thing is for certain, Beirkirch has found through technique and experience a way for each of these people to become somehow relatable.

“Hendrik pours all of his love for humanity into his portraits,” says Jean Louis. “There is never any aggression or bitterness in these people.” Perhaps that is how most of us would like to be seen as well.

Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Vlasov. Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018
Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Vera. Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018
Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018
Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Aleksandr Pavlovich. Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018
Hendrik Beikirch. “SIBERIA” Tatyana. Editons mare & martin. Paris. 2018
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“Few Moments Ago I Was Here” says Klone

“Few Moments Ago I Was Here” says Klone

Stateless.

Klone is prowling between states, transitory and without volume, beams of light and color washes and flickers of memory, or false memory. The Ukrainian born, Israel bound Street Artist is as good with the unforgiving street as the undefined gallery, muting features from common characters and tracing shadows, summoning foxes, crows, cats as guardians and confidants.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.

A mark-maker on the streets of Tel-Aviv since the 90s, his practice is by necessity within a hidden realm, and if you stay there long enough, it becomes yours; carefully and boldly speaking, summoning folklore and mythology, mastering the art of masked meaning and inference.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.

Tagging and graffiti gave way to other urban traditions he has been eager to author, organic in his methods for discovery. His expanding practice of multiple disciplines has led him to the street and into the gallery and back to the street in Europe, the Middle East, the US, back to Kiev. This collection of excursions appears natural, rendered and even intimately warm even when mimicking, forgetful, fragmented.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.

Even his “Movement” chapter, a section of selected works laid out in stop motion frames, stays safely within an imaginary place, fables of connection, disconnection, alienation. Perhaps most powerful are his ‘digital interventions’ imaginary hybrids of photography, illustration, aspiration. Hulking eyesores of uninspired architecture or remote land masses are embraced, supported, frolicked within, rested upon.

Here I am, even though you do not see me.

Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
Klone “Few Moments Ago I Was Here”. Hell No. Publication and Distribution. Tel-Aviv 2018.
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