All posts tagged: Alan Ket

In Memoriam: Jim Prigoff 1927 – 2021

In Memoriam: Jim Prigoff 1927 – 2021

James Prigoff signed all of his emails with one word in Spanish: “Paz.” (peace)

It was deliberate, intentional, and with that one word, he created a tag for himself that spoke to his commitment to peace on the street and across the world. Looking over his decades of dedication to exploring and documenting, one sees a sincere commitment to understanding and identifying with other cultures and embracing others as brothers and sisters.

James Prigoff in front of a portrait by Brett Cook Dizney, and images from Blade, How & Nosm, and Ron English (© James Prigoff)
Jim with graffiti King Blade at LA MoCA “Art in the Streets” exhibition 2009 (photo © James Prigoff)

Known foremost in the graffiti world for being the co-author of Spray Can Art with Henry Chalfant in 1987, he captured 100,000 photographs worldwide over five decades. His professional sense of curiosity and self-education drove him to persevere in his documentation of the graffiti scenes of the Western US but eventually spread worldwide.

Today we recognize the personal sacrifice and pride that went into that publication or his subsequent publications and honor the dedication. With his efforts and others like him, the graffiti/street art/mural art cultures received much greater recognition and validation. Serious discussion of the contributions of these practices can be directly attributed to the massive platform his work provided the scene.  

Along with Subway Art by Chalfant and Martha Cooper, Spraycan Art is annually sighted as a powerful inspiration to thousands of artists worldwide who needed that encouragement to express themselves as artists. That alone is a reason to celebrate his life and be thankful for his work and deep dedication to the culture.

Spraycan Art by Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff and published by Thames & Hudson on September 1, 1987.
Jim Prigoff and Henry Chalfant at Chalfant’s retrospective Henry Chalfant: Art Vs. Transit, 1977-1987 at the Bronx Museum, 2019

It was in the early 1970s “I became fascinated with the political nature of the art in the streets,” Jim wrote in perhaps his last personally written essay and publication here on BSA Writer’s Desk just last month. The inaugural opinion/editorial of the monthly series provided him the opportunity to talk about his life, formal and street education, his observations of artists and movements in culture and politics during the last 7 of his 9-plus decades. A civil libertarian and champion of the rights for the equality of people across the spectrum, he was happy to make “good trouble” even suing the federal government over an unconstitutional surveillance program in the mid-twenty-teens.

An avid observer and analyst, we prized Jim as a friend and confidante because he knew how to connect the dots between larger socio-political movements and to put the art and artists within context. Astutely diplomatic and wise, he advised us on navigation and perspective in this vast creative world of graffiti, street art, and mural – lessons we will not forget. He also shared his theory about photographers being led by “the Graffiti Gods” with a smile and a glint in his eye.

Jaime Rojo, James Prigoff, Steven P. Harrington, 2015, NYC

His empathy was never far from any topic, despite his strident views and opinions. Even during this last year of Covid he wrote to check on us;

“Not an easy time to be shut down in NYC. Hope you are doing OK.”

Only two weeks ago Jim wrote to us with his concern that Gen Z was not getting vaccinated at the rate of the rest of the population and he wondered aloud if street artists were helping to reach out to them on the street.

Less able to travel as freely in recent years, he attended big exhibition openings near his home of Sacramento and Miami and New York – usually with one of his gentle and patient children pushing his wheelchair. Each time he was enthusiastic and opinionated and, well, joyful. Last summer, during Black Lives Matter protests across the country, he was thoroughly following events and their effects on art on the street. He was also eager to share what he found with the world.

In some 50 years of documenting public art, I have never seen such an outpouring of political images as I have personally witnessed in the streets of San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, ” he said in this piece we published last June.

He shot photos from the open window of a car driving through Oakland, eager to share what he found – which we published. Jim often commented on our daily postings to us in emails – and we are proud that he shared his writing and photos on several occasions with BSA readers. Always more interested in people than profit, Jim understood our platform and mission better than many.

Our hearts are sorrowful to bid goodbye to Jim Prigoff now, but we are comforted to believe that he is joining his dear Arline, with whom he spent 72 years as husband and wife. An absolute pillar in graffiti, street art, and mural history, documentation, and archiving – Jim was a scholar, an ardent peace activist, an author, lecturer, community activist, a fervent supporter of so many, and a kind person. Our deep condolences to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, his graffiti/street art family, and his colleagues. We are grateful to have called him a friend.



Jim’s last published essay was on Brooklyn Street Art as the inaugural essay for BSA Writer’s Bench in March, 2021:

Portrait by Brett Cook aka Dizney, 2010.

“Graffiti Documenting and Divinity” by Jim Prigoff


Selected quotes from hundreds of social media commenters across Facebook and Instagram



“Jim’s good work is done, may he rest in peace.” Henry Chalfant


“Jim was so good to us. He allowed us access to hundreds of rare East Bay photos and couldn’t have been any more generous. Jim loved the East Bay and knew most of the writers by name. His only hope was that his photos would be seen and we intend to make that happen. Rest in peace to a great human being and true graffiti devotee. You will be missed. Much love, Will & Jake” from East Bay Archive


“The coverage Henry and Jim gave to Goldie in Spraycan Art provided a massive worldwide boost to his career and encouraged him to think globally.” Martin Jones


 “Pictures that meant so much to so many. Those pictures was part of so many people’s phase of growing up and becoming those who they are today. People such like myself. Thank you Jim.” Tatu Moisio


 “Spraycan Art was, is and will remain alongside Subway Art as the Bibles for anyone interested in graffiti. I’m from North-East Scotland, and it certainly had a huge influence in my life.

Not to mention being one of the most stolen books OF ALL TIME!😂

RIP Jim, and thank you.” Eddie Grady


 “A worldwide generation were introduced to a new breed of heroes who became a catalyst to our lives, and for those whose work was featured by Henry, Jim and Martha, their lives were forever changed. Take a moment to imagine a world where your work never existed… … that truly provides an awe-inspiring perspective. A life lived with huge contribution. Rest In Peace Jim!” Gordon Barrett



“We went on a 6 hour tour around Chicago together. Fascinating conversation about art and life, thru the years. Very enriching conversation for a youth of 17. A Gentleman and a Scholar truly. Risen In Perfection.” Tyr Dem


 “It’s so Strange. I was just going through Spraycan Art this morning.” Lars Skouboe


“I am saddened by the news of the passing of a champion of graffiti culture.” Gonzo 247


Spraycan Art introduced us to other graffiti legends in across the country and internationally.” Carlos Tiangco


“This guy gave us kids access to a culture that shaped us, our futures and our world. Thanks James / Jim Prigoff. 1927-2021.” Sunk One


The graffiti community lost an advocate and documentarian yesterday. Thanks for all your years of dedication to documenting us all Jim. He was one of a kind. I’m glad to have known him. Rest well.” Alan Ket


“Rest in Peace James Prigoff — Spraycan Art was the first book I ever looked thru as a teen to learn about graffiti. It is where I saw Lady Pink for the very first time!” Toofly


“This was our culture. What we offered the world. The birth of a culture. A culture that became a world wide phenomenon. Last night one of our documentarian passed. RIP James Prigoff. A great guy who shared with the world through his photos this culture we created. Yo James..

“AND WE DONT STOP!” TKid


“My Heart is still breaking from the passing of our friend and historian, author and photographer Jim Prigoff whom I was in constant communication with until 3 days ago.” Portia Gail McHenry-Ogburn



“This book changed the course of my life forever… as well as tens of thousands of youths across the world throughout the 80’s – 90’s. Thank you #JimPrigoff for your passion and dedication. #JimPrigoffForever.” Revok


“Saddened to hear of Jim’s passing, my condolences to his family and friends.” John “Crash” Matos


 “Wow. This is sad… he would stay at my dads house and do you Friday night slideshow sessions with popcorn when he would come to town.

Jim will would always remind me how lucky we are and to never throw food away. This has stuck with me to this day.” Carlos Rolon


“So sad to hear about the passing of one of the greatest – graffiti and street art photographer, author and peace activist Jim Prigoff.

I met him in Los Angeles where he took me on a tour to photograph graffiti. We shared a panel in the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). He supported me so much with my books, contributed an amazing photo of female graffiti artist Reminisce to my Graffiti Woman book and even wrote a foreword for my last book Street Messages.

Through him I ate the American version of coleslaw for the very first time.

He was an amazing and inspirational person. He influenced the whole world with his book Spraycan Art (together with Henry Chalfant), that sparked a main flame for the widespread graffiti fire.

Thanks so much for all the time you shared with me, my thoughts are with your family and friends. May you rest peacefully.

Paz.”

Nicolas Ganz


“I have so many photos and emails from Jim from over the years. This man was a force and driver in the culture. If he was a kid when writing started he would have been a writer for sure. It’s nice to read all the stories about the him. This photo of me holding his book is from the beginning of 2020 when he had a showing in San Francisco. I told him i couldn’t believe after all these years i didn’t have a signed copy from him. He hooked it up in classic Jim style. I salute you to a full impactful life and thank you for helping a lot of writers careers one way or another. Rest in power” Apexer


“Yea man heavy hearts right now. That book man was the west coast bible!” Aaron De La Cruz

“Our dearest Jim.

When we last saw you two weeks ago you said the single most amazing technological advancement (in your opinion) was the ability for photographs to be shared via email. You said that you imagined that it was even more impressive to you than the automobile had been to your parents. Despite your awe of the invention of digital photography and email, you took on this miracle as you did all things you were passionate about, with gusto.

How lucky are we that you lived you in the era of the modern day camera. You took an art form that was inherently temporary (graffiti) and made it permanent. You took an art form that was the voice of an entire generation, who could not find a platform to be heard, and shared their voice with the world. You knew that “Art is power” and you never failed to use your privilege in this world to ensure that that power could be amplified for change.

You are a legend, who left the world a better place not only through your photographs but also simply through your presence on this planet.

To us however, you will always be our Grandpa Jim and our very small world will forever be just a bit sadder everyday now that you are no longer an email away.

We love you.” Trisha F.



Jim’s family invites you to write and post photos, videos, and audio on their webpage, your comments, and remembrances. https://www.forevermissed.com/james-prigoff/about



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BSA HOT LIST : Books For Your Gift List from 2016

BSA HOT LIST : Books For Your Gift List from 2016

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Nothing can replace the experience of reading a printed and bound collection of images and texts – and the number of Street Art and graffiti related books that come out every year continues to grow in quantity and quality. We don’t receive all of them, and we don’t get the chance to thoroughly review them sometimes, but many of them do pass our desk and we take time to highlight ones that strike a chord throughout the year.

Here is a BSA Hot List selection from 2016 – a cross section really – that impressed us for one reason or another. Full disclosure: we were fundamental to the design and structure of the Icy & Sot book and wrote the Afterword and worked closely with the artists for months, and Ella & Pitr drew us into one of their illustrations, so there is a little more than usual bias in those choices. But otherwise, we’re confident that you’re well served by choosing from these titles for Christmas presents or Hanukkah gifts or Solstice offerings …


 

“Tracing Morocco”, Hendrik Beikirch

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From BSA:

Dignity in “Tracing Morrocco” gives pause, requests your consideration.

Last year we wrote about Hendrik Beikirch’s journey to Morocco, The Trades. With the support of the Foundation Montresso he embarked  on a project to paint the portraits of people whose trades might be in danger of becoming obsolete and/or disappearing due to the complexities of the modern world. Tracing Morocco, the book about the project is now out…

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Hendrik Beikirch’s Tracing Morocco published by and in collaboration with Montresso Art Foundation. November 2016.

Click HERE for more about this book.


 

Alan KET Brings You “Urban Art Legends”

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From BSA:

“This book is about the artists who have pioneered, promoted and transformed this ‘other’ art world,” says the author, himself a graffiti writer, artist, curator, activist, advisor and entrepreneur. What is fresh about his approach is the egalitarian respect that is given to artists regardless of their genre or associated scene, something we have always tried to balance as well amid a sometimes turbulent volley of antagonism that can sometimes distinguish graffiti/street art discourse.

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KET: “Urban Art Legends” Lom Art. London 2015

Click HERE for more about his book.


 

Ella & Pitr Draw You Their Diary of World Travels in “Baiser D’Encre”

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From BSA:

Who knew that babies could use so many diapers! What to do when you are in a foreign city and both of you are sick as dogs? Also, we may need a crane to help us finish the world’s largest roof mural.

These considerations are things you draw into your travelogue diary when you are Ella & Pitr, the painters of enormous kings, pilots, and couples cuddled in bed on fields, rooftops, and beaches around the world.

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Ella & Pitr. Les Editions Papiers Peintres. France. November 2015.

Click HERE for more about this book.


MIKE MAKATRON : In 10 Cities and Multiple Worlds

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From BSA:

Wanderer Mike Makatron has been spending his young manhood traveling the globe and painting walls and experimenting with styles of art ranging from fantasy illustration to loose and leafy botanicals, with symbols of indigenous spirits, psychedelic mushrooms and plenty of the time honored ying/yang.

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Mike Makatron – In Ten Cities published by Trojan Press. Melbourne, Australia 2015.

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


“Daze World”, the Artist and Book from City to Canvas and Back

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From BSA:

“This is not an autobiography in the practical sense. I didn’t cover the day-to-day minutia of my childhood or formative teenage years all the way to the present. Rather, I have chosen to take the reader on a journey that covers some of the seminal moments in my life. Those moments shaped my art and allowed me to continue to evolve as an artist,” says graffiti/street/studio artist DAZE of the brand new collection of images and essays that make up “Daze World,” the new hardcover from Schiffer.

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DAZE WORLD: The Artwork Of Chris DAZE Ellis available through Schiffer Publishing.

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


“The Art Of The Mural: Volume 01″ Captures a Moment

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From BSA:

Murals hold their own place onstage in public space today for a variety of reasons that we discuss regularly on BSA. From grassroots and public, to private and corporate, we have watched the genre professionalize as Street Art festivals and other initiatives are often coupling artists with brands and are selling canvasses through the organizers’ galleries. Today we have the first of a promised four-part book series by Art Whino gallerist and organizer of the Richmond Mural Project in Virginia, Shane Pomajambo, that features many artists he has worked with in the brand new “The Art of the Mural”.

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The Art of The Mural: Contemporary International Urban Art. Volume 01 by Shaen Pomajambo. Schiffer Publishing

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


Rubin: “Scandinavia / New York” Studio Works and Murals

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From BSA:

An immigrant’s tale, Rubin’s, and a New York story as well. For his first artists monograph the Fin by way of Sweden brazenly tells you his story in a most deliberate and considered way. It’s brazen because it’s a truth that has taken him a long time to be ready to tell, ready to be vulnerable. It’s carefully considered because – that’s his style.

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Rubin. Scandinavia / New York. Studio Works and Murals. Published by Dokument Press 2016. Sweden.

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


“Street Art / Today” features 50 of the Most Influential Street Artists

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From BSA:

It’s nearly impossible to arrange the work of Street Artists into lists of “top” or “most popular” or “most influential”, but it happens all the time now particularly as the street art world morphs into a commercial and professional scene for some. But it’s a dodgy business when one tries to rank art and artists – and most people will disagree with your list no matter what.

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Street art / today: The 50 most influential street artists today by Bjørn Van Poucke & Elise Luong published by Lannoo. Belgium.

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


Graffiti Murals: Exploring The Impacts Of Street Art

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From BSA:

New Book by Patrick Verel Attempts to Untangle the Graffiti Mural Discussion

In Graffiti Murals: Exploring The Impacts Of Street Art, a methodical study of graffiti and murals in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, Jersey City, Philadelphia, and Trenton (New Jersey), author Patrick Verel talks to all of the stakeholders he can find, revealing much in the telling of his findings. The author says he created this book from a paper he was researching for while completing his masters degree in urban studies, and you can tell his intention was to turn over as many stones as possible to study the impact this grassroots art movement is having on the communities that murals appear in.

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Graffiti Murals: Exploring the Impact of Street Art. Patrick Verel. Schiffer Publishing. 2016

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


Stik : His First Collected Volume of Work

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From BSA:

An unusual little tall man, this Stik man.

Deceptively simple, he expresses profound truths that are anything but. Since the turn of this century in his hometown of Hackney, the formerly homeless Stik has been bringing his unassuming line drawn character out to the streets of northeast London, often Shoreditch. With few details and is as uncluttered as a logo, Stik towers above on the side of a housing behemoth, or a water tower, or a doorway.

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STIK. Published by Penguin Books – Random House. New York City. 2016

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


Shepard Fairey: Earth Crisis

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From BSA:

Artist and activist Shepard Fairey this week releases a 2 volume “Earth Crisis” set that commemorates a recent public environmental project and doubles as a collection of plates to jumpstart your collection which you could easily frame and hang. With it comes powerful socio-political messages common to his wheelhouse delivered with the artists often iconic sense of design.

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Shepard Fairey / OBEY. Earth Crisis. Albin Michel Publishers . Galerie Itenerrance. Paris. July 2016

Click HERE for more about this book.

 


Icy & Sot “Let Her Be Free”

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From BSA:

“We first met Icy and Sot the summer they arrived in New York. Their name was already preceding them on the Internet because even while still in Iran, they had developed a network of friends and collectors who had helped them to show their art in Europe. Images of their work had already caught our eye. We were lucky to be the first to interview them here.” – Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo, Co-founders, Brooklyn Street Art

BSA is proud to tell you of this new book, the first monograph of Iranian Street Art brothers ICY & SOT, which we dedicated many hours of design, editing, interviewing, and writing to, in addition to contributing photographs by Jaime Rojo. Along with the brothers and book designer Cassandra Brinen, we spent many hours in New York meetings in each others apartments and Brooklyn cafes sorting through images and stories to find the narrative and the flow of the pages and chapters (even laying all the pages across a living room floor), all the time wondering if we could finish it in time and to the quality level and taste level everyone was looking for.

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Icy & Sot “Let Her Be Free” Lebowski Publishers. Amsterdam 2016

Click HERE for more about this book.


Luna Park’s “(Un)Sanctioned” Book

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From BSA:

The memory of the joy and the excitement of discovery of graffiti and Street Art is something we never take for granted, and we have always given voice to as many artists and photographers as possible on BSA for that reason. Luna, whose real name is Katherine Lorimer, this month introduces her first book-bound collection of many of her most electrifying moments of capture and documentation.

Heavy on New York artists, particularly her favorites and dear friends, the collection captures a splendid offering of the spine tingling pieces of ephemera one could stumble upon here in the last 11 years – if they did the hard work. Expertly collected and selected, this above all is a reflection of one personal journey.

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Katherine ‘Luna Park’ Lorimer’s book (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets from Carpet Bombing Culture

Click HERE for more about this book.

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