All posts tagged: Arizona

Destroying Desert Water Bottles; Chip Thomas’ New Work in AJO, Arizona

Destroying Desert Water Bottles; Chip Thomas’ New Work in AJO, Arizona

“To raise the call of our faith traditions as an act of resistance against the cruelty and violence that dominate US policy and actions,” says Street Artist and social activist Chip Thomas (aka Jetsonorama) about this new project of wheat-pasting his photographs that feature jugs of water in the Arizona desert.

Sorry. What?

Yes, jugs of water.

Chip Thomas. AJO, Arizona. July. 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)

Yes, it has come to this, in a nation that often proudly brays sanctimoniously about its Christian traditions and of being full of good God-fearing people. Somehow we think that its perfectly acceptable to go around destroying jugs of water in the desert because people who are thirsty might drink it.

So this is what Jesus would do, right? The Lord and Savior, who in the Bible actually multiplied fish and loaves of bread to feed people – would approve of us stomping among the cacti and tumbleweeds under the punishing hot sun in the desert and dumping on the sand jugs of water that were left for poor desperate Christians (~80 percent of Mexicans are Catholic), some of whom are possibly even named Jesus?

Chip Thomas. AJO, Arizona. July. 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)

No More Deaths is a bluntly stark name for a humanitarian group, but there’s little room for romantic or cleverly turned phrases when you are talking about a grassroots organization that is helping people to stay alive.

“This last year has been rough for humanitarian aid workers in Ajo with No More Deaths volunteers charged with misdemeanors and fined for leaving water for migrants out on the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge,” writes volunteer Maria Singleton in a letter to Chip that helped inspire this new public work. “In order to get a permit to go on the wildlife refuge they are requiring people to sign a form that says they will not leave water, socks or first aid items out.”

Chip Thomas. AJO, Arizona. July. 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)

According to the Bible in the book of Matthew 15:32, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way,” which leads you to believe that Jesus would have condemned the actions and the people who destroy water and food supplies here if he were to, say, pass judgment on them.

The new art installation is directly across from the entrance to Cabeza Prieta which is the national wildlife refuge near the border of the US and Mexico and in a region that has the highest migrant death rate due to the brutality of the desert crossing. “Some 32 sets of human remains were found there last year, according to the Pima County office of the medical examiner, making it one of the region’s deadliest crossing routes,” says an article in The Guardian earlier this year.

Chip Thomas. AJO, Arizona. July. 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)

The Street Artist, who has used his own photographs to wheatpaste for on walls for a decade or so, says that a member of the humanitarian/religious group called Ajo Samaritans offered to him and his small team to create his new artwork on the walls of the ironically named “ice house” in the town of Ajo.

Ajo Samaritans describe themselves and their mission on their website like this; “Samaritans are people of faith and conscience who are responding directly, practically, and passionately to the crisis at the US/ Mexico border. We are a diverse group of volunteers around Ajo that are united in our desire to relieve suffering among our brothers and sisters and to honor  human dignity. Prompted by the mounting deaths among border crossers, we came together to provide food and water, and emergency medical assistance to people crossing the Sonoran Desert.”

“We were welcomed warmly by the Ajo activist community to whom I’d like to recognize for their expression of shared humanity and for their bravery,” says Chip. “Shout out to my crew as well – Justin Clifton, Drew Ludwig, Stash Wislocki and Jerrel Singer.”

Chip Thomas. AJO, Arizona. July. 2018. (photo © Chip Thomas)

 

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A Jaguar in Phoenix: Louis Masai and “The Art Of Beeing”

A Jaguar in Phoenix: Louis Masai and “The Art Of Beeing”

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“By the time I get to Phoenix, she’ll be rising…”

Not that Louis Masai is on the run from his girl, but he is still making tracks fast on this US circuit like a sailor shipping from port to port. As it turns out he was only in Phoenix long enough to paint a jaguar.

“It’s always hard to formulate too much of an understanding of a city when you are only there for a very short time…and I guess a lot of this trip has been that way, but even more so in Phoenix, with only two nights and one day.”

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

Publicizing animals who are the endangered species list, Masai chose the big cat because they are “near endangered” and because they are the largest felines native the Americas. Elsewhere in the world they are third in line after the tiger and lion. Unfortunately, the number of jaguars is decreasing.

Louis says he was happy to hang out with Breeze, “an indigenous and humble spirit, who explained the dam issues that have affected the land.” He says their talks centered around the serious lack of respect for the environment from our present civilization.

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

And of course they discussed how Phoenix is “yet another city is victim of gentrification,”he says.

We say “of course” because in Europe and America it seems that every conversation between visitor and host includes a discussion of a) the disappearing middle class, and b) gentrification of neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Mr. Masai’s “Art of Beeing” tour is heading eastward across the US now.

Next stop? See the map below.

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

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Louis Masai: The Art of Beeing USA Tour. Jaguar. Only 15K remain in the wild. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016. (photo © Emil Walker)

 

Click http://louismasai.com/projects/the-art-of-beeing/ to learn more about the project.

 

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Chip Thomas’ New Mural, Indigenous People, and #NoDAPL

Chip Thomas’ New Mural, Indigenous People, and #NoDAPL

Street Artist and activist Jetsonorama (Chip Thomas) saw his work pull together a number of people in Durango, Colorado on October 10th as the city and the college celebrated their first ever “Indigenous People’s Day”. His photograph of an indigenous youth named JC Morningstar swinging and kissing her dog was chosen by a group of students from Fort Lewis College, where 24% of the population is indigenous.

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Chip Thomas. Indigenous People’s Day at Fort Lewis College. Durango, CO. (photo © Chip Thomas)

The unveiling ceremony for the mural began with a traditional pow wow prayer by a drum circle and Chip says “the highlight of the day for me was having JC, her dog and her family travel 4 hours to Durango to attend the unveiling before going to the Tribe Called Red show that evening.”

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Chip Thomas. The original photograph of JC Morningstar holding her dog on a swing. Indigenous People’s Day at Fort Lewis College. Durango, CO. (photo © Chip Thomas)

Included in the days’ events were speeches, poetry readings and a demonstration addressing social and indigenous issues including police brutality and solidarity with #NoDAPL in Standing Rock, North Dakota. In fact so many small and large communities and demonstrations have been showing their support with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its battle against the $3.78 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, that on a recent September day a map showed 100 demonstrations in 35 states and 5 countries.

Clearly Indigenous communities are eager to have their voices heard and their issues addressed. Jetsonorama says he hopes his mural helps.

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A real pow wow, and a prayer. Chip Thomas. Indigenous People’s Day at Fort Lewis College. Durango, CO. (photo © Chip Thomas)

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Chip Thomas’ mural of JC and her dog on the wall with JC’s family on the stage to take a bow. Indigenous People’s Day at Fort Lewis College. Durango, CO. (photo © Chip Thomas)

 

 

 

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Raising Yellowcake in Grand Canyon: Icy & Sot, Jetsonorama in Arizona

Raising Yellowcake in Grand Canyon: Icy & Sot, Jetsonorama in Arizona

Yellow Cake: A simple sweet dessert confection that gets its signature color from 8 egg yolks and a cup of butter, and is great with either vanilla or chocolate icing.

Yellowcake: A type of uranium concentrate powder obtained from leach solutions, in an intermediate step in the processing of uranium ores. Also, its radioactive. Also, Colin Powell showed off a vial of it at the United Nations to sell the Iraq invasion in 2003 to that body and the world.

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Icy & Sot. “Nuclear Plant” Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Being more knowledgeable about the dessert variety of yellow cake than the desert variety of uranium contamination, we turn to Street Artists Jetsonorama and Icy & Sot to educate us about the active uranium mines that are at the North Rim of The Grand Canyon. The three worked jointly in June to create new public works addressing the topic and we have each of them here for you to see.

“The issue of uranium contamination and nuclear waste is timely as there is an active uranium mine at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon presently and a proposal to start mining at the South Rim,” explains Jetsonorama (Chip Thomas), who is a local artist, a practicing doctor, and a social activist advocating for the people who live on the reservation and the natural environment in general.

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Icy & Sot on a roadside billboard. “Radioactive Pollution Kills. It’s Time To Clean Up The Mines”. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

For the last few summers Thomas has been hosting “The Painted Desert Project”, a selection of national and international Street Artists to create works in this region that respond to the communities, history, and geography of this part of Arizona and the Navajo Nation,

It would appear that the introduction of such contamination into communities, national monuments like the Grand Canyon, or local water supplies – whether by design or negligence – would be considered a provocative act by any rational person. So too is this series of art interventions by Icy & Sot meant to be provocative. The brothers, for example, attached the “Radioactive” symbol onto the branches of a tree overlooking the canyon to dramatize the integral effect that such poisoning is having on natural elements.

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Icy & Sot.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

In two video performances recorded onsite in the desert the visuals are much stronger, including a typical consumer floor fan you could pick up at the local Best Buy store that is blowing radioactivity freely in the same way that desert winds are carrying radioactive dusts from many sites across the land. The second performance sees a jump-suited figure unceremoniously dumping a Yellow Cake, presumably made of yellowcake, upside down onto an American flag that is draped across a card table in the open desert – leaving a messy affair that is not easily cleaned up – and then walking away.

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Icy & Sot.  A still from the making of “No More Yellowcake”. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

“There are over 500 abandoned uranium mines on The Navajo Reservation and more than 80% of the mine sites have not been cleaned up,” says Sot when describing the issues they are addressing with their new works. “There are currently no federal laws that require clean up of these hazardous sites and they continue to pose significant danger to the Navajo people.”

“In a region with an unemployment rate around 50% investment by private industry is hampered by not being able to build around these contaminated lands,” says Jetsonorama, “While Icy & Sot chose largely ephemeral installations to dramatize the situation of uranium contamination, I chose installations focusing on the subtle, insidious effect of living, working, playing on contaminated land.”

A statement accompanying the video:

“No More Yellowcake” 

“Yellowcake is a product of uranium mining. Many Navajo people worked at the mines, often living and raising families in close proximity; they were unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and chemicals. Uranium mining and yellowcake processing continues today and threatens the environment and the health of communities across the U.S.” Icy & Sot

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Icy & Sot.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

“The Killing Wind” 

“Toxic radioactive particles left over from abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land take the form of dust which travels with the wind for hundreds of miles. It can be inhaled or blow into streams or onto nearby ground spreading radioactive contamination.” Icy & Sot


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Icy & Sot. “Contaminated Land” references the drinking water supplies of the western U.S., much of which is fed through the Colorado River. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Using a more subtle approach to the topics at hand, you’ll see Jetsonorama’s photographic image of “radioactive” green sheep, an image of girl on a home-made swing, and a local guy named Jamison feeding his dog on contaminated land that he says is “near AUM.” The artist explains that AUM stands for Abandoned Uranium Mines and then shows us a link to a map that contains record of 521 such sites scattered across the land in this region.

We noted previously in an article about Jetsonorama’s work that the New York Times did a story about this area in 2012 entitled “Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous,” but very little appears to have changed as a result of it. Says Jetsonorama, “There are still over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the reservation spewing alpha, beta and gamma radiation contaminating land, water, animals and humans.”

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Jetsonorama. Gamma Goat.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

In describing their various stencil works and installations in the area, Icy & Sot told us they were struck by the lack of knowledge of the local community who in danger of being exposed to these deadly and sickening man-made disasters.

“The Navajo people did not have a word for radioactivity and did not know about the dangers of radiation in the 1940s when mining companies began surveying their land,” they said in a statement. “Today the mines are closed but their toxic legacy persist in contaminated soil and drinking water with elevated levels of radiation.”

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Jetsonorama. Cow Springs.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

The government has created an education program aimed at kid wandering or playing near such radiation sites, including a new cartoon character named “Gamma Goat”. It may capture the imagination of a youth and deter them from inadvertently exposing themselves to this multitude of sites, many poorly marked and not guarded or sufficiently protected.

“There is an insightful documentary on uranium contamination on the Navajo nation by a young Navajo woman called ‘Yellow Fever’ which refers to the illness uranium workers would get that is characterized by flu-like symptoms,” Jetsonorama tells us. “In the film the filmmaker talks of recent efforts by the EPA to educate children living on the reservation to the dangers of uranium exposure.  To this end the EPA developed a comic book/coloring book the protagonist of which is called “Gamma Goat” who warns kids to stay away from abandoned mine sites.”

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Jetsonorama. JC at Cow Springs.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jetsonorama. Jamison on the White House.  Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Artist Unknown. A water well that someone has warn neighbors they should not draw from. Navajo Nation. Arizona. June 2016. (photo © Jetsonorama)

 

Thank you to Chip Thomas AKA Jetsonorama and Icy & Sot for sharing with us their photos and videos and for helping us describe the project for BSA readers.

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Everyday Magic In The Navajo Nation with Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl, and Killjoy Press.

Everyday Magic In The Navajo Nation with Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl, and Killjoy Press.

Who is your muse? Most artists have one, or a few. The portraits that Street Artists leave on walls usually have a story behind them, a personal connection to the figure depicted. The Bogata based Stinkfish began doing graffiti and Street Art in 2003 and has focused his portraits on anonymous people he sees in streets or public spaces – usually without them knowing he has captured their expression while they are in the midst of daily life.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

Creating these images usually only once, they impart their own personal story and create a new narrative when placed into an entirely original location – often in a city far from where they live. Using techniques of stencil, graphic design, and more traditional freestyling aersol graffiti, Stinkfish elaborates on an initial idea and allows it to take on a life of its own. By translating a daily life from one location to another context entirely, Stinkfish highlights our common ground, our shared humanity.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

In September Stinkfish and two other artists worked collaboratively on three walls on or near the Navajo Nation courtesy of their host Chip Thomas (Jetsonorama). Stinkfish, Grafica Mazatl and Killjoy Press all intermingled their respective styles and visual vocabulary on structures in the desert – always collaborating with the vast sky all around them.

The sites include an abandoned trailer in Gray Mountain, Arizona which is about a mile away from the southwestern border of the Navajo nation. The remaining sites are on the Navajo nation and include the 89/160 junction near Tuba City and the Crossroads. Together the three created new works that are inspired by their immediate surroundings while bringing their own muses and travels with them.

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Phnom Penh, Cambodia in March 2015 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Mazatl at work. Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Killjoy Press. Crossroads. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jess X Chen)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Malmo, Sweden in August 2014 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. Gray Mountain, AZ. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Original photo from Gulf of Gabes, Tunisia during his time there for the Djerbahood project in August 2014 by Stinkfish (©Stinkfish)

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Stinkfish. Grafica Mazatl. 89/160 Junction. Navajo Nation. (photo © Stinkfish)

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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LOLA, Atomic Sheep Dog Drinking from the Uranium Mine Per Jetsonorama

LOLA, Atomic Sheep Dog Drinking from the Uranium Mine Per Jetsonorama

A shepherd needs a good sheep dog on the reservation in Arizona, that much is clear. One that’s been drinking radioactive water at a uranium mine? That is less clear.

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Jetsonorama. Lola The Atomic Sheep Dog. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

But so far Lola has exceeded her charge and performed beyond other sheep dogs here in Cow Springs, says artist Jetsonorama – so much so that she’s become a bit of an artistic muse for him lately. “She is revered here,” says the photographer and street artist, who prefers to spell her name with an exclamation point at the end (Lola!). “Coyotes don’t bother trying to steal any sheep from her flock,” he says, “whereas most flocks of sheep have 3 or 4 sheep dogs per flock, Lola herds several hundred sheep solo.”

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Jetsonorama. Lola The Atomic Sheep Dog. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Radioactive dust and contaminated water is scattered across a large expanse of the Navajo nation, say locals, with many of the 500 or more of these sites estimated to be open and unprotected – or rather protected from people and animals breathing in the air and drinking the water there.

In 2012 the journalist Leslie MacMillan reported in the New York Times about many of these open sites emitting dangerous levels of radiation and folks like Jetsonorama and neighbor ranchers were given a little hope that something would come of it.

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Jetsonorama. Lola’s herd.  The Atomic Sheep Dog. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

For now, Lola is Jetsonorama’s emissary of spreading this radioactive message – and she is going strong and rather purple-ish in this desert wall campaign. He’s calling her an atomic sheep dog.

“I first pasted Lola in January of 2014 at cow springs.  I used a wall where I paste regularly and local members of Bloods and Crips go over my work – and then I go back over them. When I paste Lola I tint the background with a graffiti-patterned magenta, then I cut her out of the photo.”

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Jetsonorama. Lola The Atomic Sheep Dog. She does have some canine friends. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

It’s unclear whether the presumed radioactive water that Lola laps up has contributed to her performance on the range, or if Jetsonorama has found an effective PR spokes-dog for his campaign to raise awareness of these unprotected uranium mines, but Lola seems like she is owning it.

Right now she’s running solo, although Jetsonorama says she does some occasional socializing. “However, since becoming atomic,” he says, “Lola is THE super sheep dog!”

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Jetsonorama. Lucy’s trailer. Early morning light. Cow Springs, Arizona. July 2015. (photo © Jetsonorama)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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BSA’s Piece on “Submerged Motherlands” Acclaimed for Year

BSA’s Piece on “Submerged Motherlands” Acclaimed for Year

BSA with Swoon at Brooklyn Museum Sited by Huff Post Editors as Proud Moment of 2014

We’re very pleased and thankful to be included in this short list chosen by the editors of Huffington Post Arts & Culture as a story they are most proud of publishing last year.

In her introduction to the list, editor Katherine Brooks writes:

“It turns out, 365 days is hard to summarize in anything but a laundry list of seemingly disparate phenomena, filled with the good — woman-centric street art, rising Detroit art scenes, spotlights on unseen American art– and the bad less than good — holiday butt plugs, punching bags by Monet, Koonsmania. But, as a New Year dawns, we found ourselves just wanting to focus on the things that made us beam with pride in 2014. So we made a list of those things, a list of the pieces we’re proud of.”

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Describing why we thought this was an important story for us we wrote:

“We loved a lot of stories this year, but this hometown Brooklyn one about a street artist with humanity mounting her first solo major museum exhibition was a special turning point — and an astounding success. For us street art is a conversation, a continuum of expression, and Swoon is always a part of it. From following her street career to her transition to international fame to witnessing this exhibition coming to fruition in person in the months leading up to the Brooklyn Museum show, it is easy to understand why Swoon still remains a crucial part of the amazing street art scene and continues to set a standard.”

-Jaime Rojo & Steven Harrington, HuffPost Arts&Culture bloggers and co-founders of Brooklyn Street Art

In fact, we wrote 48 articles that were published on the Huffington Post in 2014, and as a collection we hope they further elucidate the vast and meaningful impact that the Street Art / graffiti / urban art movement continues to have on our culture, our public space, and our arts institutions.

Together that collection of articles published by BSA on Huffpost in ’14 spanned the globe including stories from Malaysia, Poland, Spain, France, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, New York, Arizona, The Navajo Nation, Philadelphia, Sweden, Istanbul, New Jersey, Lisbon, The Gambia, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Rome, India, Italy, Delhi (India), Montreal, San Francisco, London, Coachella, Chicago, Kabul (Afghanistan), and Kiev (Ukraine).

Here on BSA we published another 320 postings (more or less).

We thank you for allowing us to share these inspirational and educational stories with you and we are honored to be able to continue the conversation with artists, art fans, collectors, curators, academics, gallerists, museums, and arts institutions. Our passion for Street Art and related movements is only superceded by our love for the creative spirit, and we are happy whenever we encounter it.

Our published articles on HuffPost in 2014, beginning with the most recent:

 

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Painting the Desert : Urban Artists in the Navajo Nation

Painting the Desert : Urban Artists in the Navajo Nation

It’s an unusual pairing: Street Artists who are accustomed to the grit and grime of deteriorating neighborhoods in the city translating their skills to the desert where the environment is outstandingly more natural than built.

In the third year of his experiment inviting artists to paint and wheat-paste in the Navajo Nation, organizer Chip Thomas, whose own street persona is Jetsonorama, appears to have hit a community service vein.  “The relationship with the community became deeper,” he says as he relates the integration of some of the artists work relating directly to the history and the stories people tell in this sunbaked part of Arizona. More residency than festival, “The Painted Desert Project” began as a retreat offered to artists Thomas had met through his own association with Street Art festivals like Open Walls in Baltimore.

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Troy Love Gates AKA OTHER. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Invited to come for an extended stay, compared to the 4 or 5 days of a typical Street Art festival, these artists are encouraged to study their new environment and to fully immerse themselves before conjuring a new work. Not only does the technique avoid the often levelled charge of cultural imperialism that is associated with the big festivals around the globe, it produces work that has impact and relevance to the community who will be looking at it year round.

Even though there can be a disconnect between the art and the community occasionally, as in the case of one work by the artist Troy Lovegates that was interpreted as being out of sync with some tastes, the majority of works are so closely related to people and the life here that a sense of ownership takes hold quickly. Any cultural worker associated with larger mural projects and programs in cities will tell you corollary stories about how the public responds to the voice of the artist, and one measure of success is the level of engagement by the community. “The project has always focused on creating art that is culturally sensitive,” says Thomas of his approach to the artists and the community, and he says that this year, “I feel like the project moved to the next level.”

Here are fresh images from the third installment of “The Painted Desert Project” that took place this spring and summer, along with some details about the works and their relationship to the people and places that hosted the artists.

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Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Street Artists Troy Lovegates and Labrona stayed for a few weeks in the Navajo nation and focused most of their work on a water tank in Rocky Ridge. While Lovegates initial mural was buffed when it “was found to be offensive by members of the community,” says Thomas, their new pieces on the tank were greatly embraced. “We were hosted in Rocky Ridge by the family of Louise Shepherd where we spent the night in a traditional hogan and ate food fresh from Louise’s garden.”

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Labrona and Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER  Detail. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER  and Labrona. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Troy Lovegates AKA OTHER. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Labrona. Detail. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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“In Beauty it is finished” by HYURO. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Street Artist Hyuro was created only her second mural in the US here this summer; significant because her first one in Atlanta for Living Walls last year featured nudity that set fire to the passions of religious sensitivities in the neighborhood that were further fanned by showboaters.

For “Painted Desert” the native of Valencia, Spain looked closely at the customs of the community when conceiving her depiction of a prayer ritual, which when viewed in this simple animation, reflects the connection native people have to their agricultural customs and history. “Moved by the simplicity and beauty of the traditional Navajo morning prayer Hyuro positioned her female figure facing the rising sun,” says Thomas, “and she illustrated the movements of this prayer that is performed with white corn pollen.”

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HYURO. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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HYURO. Local resident Sharston Woody is a storm rider on this vehicle people call a “4 track”. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jaz and Mata Ruda. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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JAZ. The Painted Desert Project 2014.  Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

New to the project this year were Street Artists Jaz, LNY, and Mata Ruda, each known for their large scale murals that are interpretive of history and in the case of the latter two, advocacy of social and political causes. This building “was part of the old Bureau of Indian Affairs school system from the 1950s to the 70s, after which it fell into disuse.” Shortly after the revival of the walls, says Thomas, the community began talking about making new plans to convert it into a youth center.

“Local food during the time Jaz, LNY, and Mata Ruda were here was catered by Mrs. Woody and her family,” says Thomas.

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Mata Ruda. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jaz . Mata Ruda. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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JAZ. The Painted Desert Project 2014.  Kayenta, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Near Monument Valley in Kayenta, Arizona, the Argentinian Street Artist Jaz painted a mural inspired by the plight of wild horses that are starving due to overgrazed pastures, says Thomas. In the image the horses are running to escape capture, he says.

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LNY. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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LNY at work. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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LNY. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Kaibeto, Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

This vast view of Machu Picchu at the top is a cultural gift from the artist LNY to the community. “He wanted to bridge indigenous cultures of his home in Equador with that of the Navajo nation,” says Chip Thomas, the organizer of “The Painted Desert Project”.

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Doodles . Avant Gardener. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

In this mural the artists Doodles and Avant Gardener including important animals that are symbolic to the Navajo like the eagle and hawk, among traditional rug pattern designs, a mountain range, and a rainbow. LNY incorporated a small circle painting in black and white of a woman holding a lamb.

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Monica Canilao prepping an installation. The Painted Desert Project 2014. Arizona. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Artists Doodles and Monica Canilao “turned my backyard into a fabrication shop, running chop saws and table saws late into the night,” says Thomas of their work to rebuild a roadside food stand that had burned to the ground. Having made friends with the proprietor, Mrs. Woody, during a previous edition of “Painted Desert,” the two constructed the sides of the food stand and painted them behind his home.  As evidence of the bond created between residents and program participants, the artists spent 10 days doing this work, according to Thomas. The family of Mrs Woody came to the house often during the construction and painting to assist and to bring home made food to the artists. Since the artists departed at the end of the summer they have kept in contact with the Woodys via Facebook and Instagram.

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Jetsonorama extends his most heartfelt gratitude to all the people who came together and help with donations of all kind to make this project possible, including to all the donors at http://www.gofundme.com/painted-desert-project

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Mae Jean & Mary Reese Grace The Arizona Desert with Jetsonorama

Mae Jean & Mary Reese Grace The Arizona Desert with Jetsonorama

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Mata Ruda and LNY are on their way out to The Painted Desert Project with Chip Thomas (Jetsonorama) and will be painting the back of the old gymnasium in Kaibeto this week. Argentina’s Jaz is already in town and talking with Ms. Hall about what he’ll be painting on the wall she is donating. Yesterday he and Chip took the day to tour the region and get a good look at the land and the life here.

“There was much driving between Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon,” says Chip. And we hear that Hyuro from Spain is coming soon. All the artists will be continuing this most unconventional mural project that is now in its third full iteration.

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

While waiting for the Jaz and the Jersey Boys to pull in Jetsonorama himself just completed this large scale tribute to a two local women of two generations on the exterior of a storage barn at milepost 358 on Arizona’s Highway 160.

“The woman on the left having trouble with her flip phone is Mae Jean Begay,” says the photographer who has been placing large images of local folks on buildings on the reservation for a number of years. The woman waiting patiently for Mae Jean is her mother, Mary Reese, who you may typically find herding sheep on any given day. Ladies and gentlemen we re present Mae Jean and her mom, Mary.

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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Jetsonorama. Mae Jean & Mary Reese. The Painted Desert Project. Navajo Nation. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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ROA In THE BONEYARD

Here are some new shots of the planes in the boneyard in Arizona and of ROA’s contribution to the project, exclusively for BSA readers. In the Tucson desert over the summer when the temperatures are at their highest, it’s really almost impossible to get work done during the daytime. Maybe that’s why ROA painting at night is what gives the video at the end of the post by Jason Wawro such an eerie clandestine quality, and makes the very act of painting seem illicit.

Also, calling it a boneyard helps.

ROA is the latest in this ever growing project by Eric Firestone and he follows some other names you will recognize like Retna, How & Nosm, and Faile. Stay tuned for more!

ROA. The Boneyard Project. Tuczon, AZ. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. The Boneyard Project. Tuczon, AZ. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. The Boneyard Project. Tuczon, AZ. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. The Boneyard Project. Tuczon, AZ. 2012 (photo © ROA)

ROA. The Boneyard Project. Tuczon, AZ. 2012 (photo © ROA)

Video made by Jason Wawro from the Boneyard Project.

Special thanks to Eric Firestone.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Fun Friday 10.12.12

Looks like the Yankees could have used Joe Biden last night. “Who is this grandpa man?”, said my homey Ikbar behind the counter at the news stand, irritated that the Vice President has to hog half the cover of the New York Post from Derek Jeter. Guess the Scranton Slugger was knocking them out of the wrong park for some New Yorkers last night.

Also, anybody know why there are 10 TV vans with their saucers rotating on top and kleig lights at the end of their extended electronic probes blinding innocent semi-sleeping commuters walking by the Marcy projects in Brooklyn this morning? Saw Blondy McBlonderwig with perfect teeth and fishbowl eyes shrieking in a trench coat in front of the camera on the way to the M train, safely behind all the “crime scene” tape.  Think the news has decided to do a story on the class war?

And now LIVE, here are the important up-to-the-minute stories we’re following for you this hour on WBSA.

1. Bedlam in London
2. Jaye Moon Breaks the Code (NYC)
3. Moniker 2012 (London)
4. John Breiner at Mighty Tanaka (Brooklyn)
5. “Good Guys” in Chicago
6. "Street Art Live" in Da Bronx All Day Sunday
7. SANER "Catharsis" From The Cinema (VIDEO)
8. I Love Paris Volume 5 by kouettv (VIDEO)

Bedlam in London

If you are in London this weekend and are feeling spooky and wild, nevermind that tame Madame Tussard – turn your GPS to “BEDLAM”, Lazarides new group exhibition underground in the Old Vic Tunnels. With artists including Antony Micallef, Artists Anonymous, ATMA, Conor Harrington, Dan Witz, Doug Foster, Ian Francis, Karim Zeriahen, Kelsey Brookes, Klaus Weiskopf, Lucy McLauchlan, Michael Najjar, Nachev, Tessa Farmer, Tina Tsang, Tobias Klein, War Boutique and 3D all of them working on the theme of pandemonium. Inspired by the infamous mental hospital, we were expecting to see Boris Karloff popping around the corner while appreciating scary art that experiments on your brain. Welcome.

Dan Witz on the streets of Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Jaye Moon Breaks the Code (NYC)

She’s been constructing on the streets for a year or two, but her main tricks have been in the gallery for about a decade. Street and Fine Artist Jaye Moon has a new solo show titled “Breaking the Code” at the Newman Popiashvili Gallery in Manhattan so you can see where some of this Lego madness came from. Study the numbers and the text and break the code. And don’t forget to hit up Red Hook Brooklyn because Jaye Moon is also an artist in GEOMETRICKS currently on view at Gallery Brooklyn.

Jaye Moon on the streets of Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

For further information regarding GEOMETRICKS click here.

Moniker 2012 (London)

MONIKER ART FAIR is in full swing and open for business until this Sunday. Take a trip to The Village Underground in Shoreditch if you are interested on seeing original works of art by some Street Artists who are moving the conversation on the streets right now. Remi Rough, Penny, Niels ‘Shoe’ Meulman, Ludo, Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, Hush, C215, Ben Slow are all represented with installations and new works of art.

HUSH on the streets of Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further details and a full list of artists and schedules click here.

John Breiner at Mighty Tanaka (Brooklyn)

Not a Street Artist but seemingly always in the street mix – maybe he has a lot of Street Art friends or something because Jon Breiner has been at a lot of events over the last couple of years and we’ve had the opportunity to see his studio work evolve so here’s a shout out. Breiner might be one of those definitely underrated fine artists that you don’t pay much attention to and then BAM!, where the hell did this kid come from? A curator of shows and DJ, Breiner goes deep below still waters; Fastidious in his craft Mr. Breiner’s work gets close and personal, meticulously drawn and painted, portaits with weight intricately real and occasional surreal little stories with plots that are off center. His new show titled “Sooner or Later We All Make the Little Flowers Grow” opens tonight at the Mighty Tanaka Gallery in DUMBO.

John Breiner. Detail. (image courtesy of the gallery)

For further information regarding this show click here.

“Good Guys” in Chicago

Wanna know who “The Good Guys” are? Head over to 2381 Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago where The HOTBOX MOBILE GALLERY new group show will open tomorrow showcasing local talent of Chicago born and raised Street Artists including, Left Handed Wave, Brooks Golden, Clam Nation, Don’t Fret, Espir, Nudnik, Lucx and Nice-one.

Nice One on the streets of Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

“Street Art Live” in Da Bronx All Day Sunday

This Sunday the Sermon is at The Bronx and the Minister is SinXero.

Showing brotherly love New York style, a group of Street Artists including Army of One/JC2, Fumero, ADAM DARE, TONE TANK, Elle Deadsex, ENX, Choice Royce, Royce Bannon, See One & Danielle Mastrion, VEXTA, Mike Die, KID Lew, & ZIMAD, as well as, SinXero (SX) & colleague Bayoan will gather at Graffiti Universe for “Street Art Live”. An event to honor Iranian brothers and Street Srtists Icy & Sot.

It’s a Sunrise Service so just stay up Saturday night >> The event begins at 5:00 am until the whole block at Graffiti Universe is completely painted.

Icy & Sot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this event click here.

Also happening this weekend:

The Kosmopolite Art Tour in Amsterdam, brought to you by Aerosol Bridge Club began on Wednesday and will continue until this Sunday at the MC Theater in Amsterdam. Big mural live painting with appearances from local and international artists with tons of side events. Click here for more details regarding this event.

Monsieur A the French artist is in Mexico City for his solo show “André Saraiva” at the Anonymous Gallery. This show is now open to the general public. Click here for more details about this show.

Low Brow Artique Gallery goes soft brow with Dickchicken’s solo show “The Penis Mightier Than the Sword” opening tonight in Brooklyn. Click here for more details about this show.

Mad One and Neely II are hosting “Sticker Phiends” in Tempe, Arizona opening tomorrow. This annual sticker feast attracts a huge following of national and international sticker artists and fans. Click here for more details about this event.

SANER “Catharsis” From The Cinema (VIDEO)

I Love Paris Volume 5 by kouettv (VIDEO)

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Navajo on the Road: Jetsonorama from Moenkopi Wash to Bitter Springs

There is a stretch of highway from Bitter Springs to Moenkopi Wash where you might slow down or stop all together to take a look into the eyes of a Navajo. They are there looking at you. Artist and photographer Jetsonorama is telling more stories out here about the Navajo people and their neighbors in black and white poster-sized wheatpastes.

Jetsonorama. Owen. (photo © Jetsonorama)

The portraits, snapshots of life, and representational scenes are telling you their stories, even if you didn’t ask a question. The sun-baked creases on their faces are maps of roads you may have traveled but probably not. Serene, apprehensive, jovial, content, resigned, pensive, beautiful – that’s how these individuals are captured and blown up; a way of life on display for the world to see.

Jetsonorama. Ben. “Water is Life” (photo © Jetsonorama)

Jetsonorama. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Jetsonorama. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Jetsonorama. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Jetsonorama. (photo © Jetsonorama)

Jetsonorama. (photo © Jetsonorama)

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