All posts tagged: Bäst

BAST: “New Works” Are Vital, Animated at Allouche Gallery

BAST: “New Works” Are Vital, Animated at Allouche Gallery

Bast. Untitled Paper and Stuff 1, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The first full show of studio work by Brooklyn Street Artist Bäst in a gallery in about four years declares that the artist is currently running loose with an intoxicating freedom of gesture and brush strokes and character that reaches back to a creamy pastel abstractionist block party from mid-century, catching the eye of a neon neo-folk parade en route.

Bast. Untitled Paper and Stuff 2, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Insiders tell us that the brainy Coney chanticleer who blends many voices into one was not looking for a new exhibition, per se, but that he’s been prodigious in traversing new artistic neighborhoods and is glad to get the stuff out for people to see. You’ll be glad too.

In much the way that early-mid 2000s Street Art watchers became acquainted with his collaged pop-contorted figures and grocery store banner ad mocks, you’ll appreciate the opening up of space for new dialogue in his large canvasses, nearly balanced and reliably off kilter.

Bast. Nike-a-Tron, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With new sculptural inventions, misplaced punctuations, rhapsodic vibrations and materials that hit the jackpot with plain joy and tactility, there is always a feeling that nothing is off limits; it’s just a matter of scrappily side-eye capturing an unwinding story or furry element as it flies by and attaching it with purpose. This is the street, a happy chaos full of character and wit.

Bast. Farragut Fresh, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As if breathing air into the tight smaller pieces that are always densely rewarding, these newer larger roomy compositions allow him to stretch, and you think he’s going somewhere new, taking chances to discover. Of note for us is his technique of masking out the elements he decides are not necessary, a milky veiling that recalls “the buff” that wipes out graffiti and Street Art on city walls. In this case, it defines the composition and focuses the scene and feels like the artist is speaking directly to you.

While elements still peak through the partial opacity, these deliberate strokes are blotting out and re-defining with the resulting compositions as much a product of subtraction as addition and recombination – clarifying of what is vital and necessary.

Bast. Untitled 4, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast. Bubbledub, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast. Bubble La Rue, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast. Signora Alla Stazione Ferroviara, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast. Untitled 1, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast. Babooshka. Detail. Untitled 1, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bast. Ceneri Tropico. Detail, 2016. Allouche Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Bast New Works Solo Exhibition is currently on view at the Allouche Gallery

 

 

 

 

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Holy Faile ! “Savage/Sacred Young Minds” at Brooklyn Museum

Holy Faile ! “Savage/Sacred Young Minds” at Brooklyn Museum

FAILE may be a religious experience this summer at the Brooklyn Museum, but only one of the hallowed installations is called Temple. The seedier, more dimly lit venue will surely have the larger number of congregants by far, bless their sacred hearts.

Celebrating the duality and appropriation of words, slogans, and images has been the baliwick of the duo since they first began hitting Brooklyn streets at the turn of the century with their stencils and wheat-pastes on illegal spots and neglected spaces. In FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds, their new attention commanding/refracting exhibit organized by Sharon Matt Atkins at the Brooklyn Museum, these guys pour it on, compelling you into a complex panoply of possible re-imaginings of meaning that reference pop, pulp, myth, art history, 50s sci-fi, 60s advertising, comics, punk zines, consumer culture and their own pure artistic and branded fiction.

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FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For fans of this collaboration between artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, Savage/Sacred is a joyride swerving through the visual vocabulary and terminology they’ve been emblazoning across walls, doorways, canvasses, stickers, sculptures, prayer wheels, wood blocks, paintings, prints, toys, and a museum façade in their steady ascendance from anonymous art school students and Street Artists to a highly collected top tier name in contemporary art.

Offering you a full immersion and opportunity for titillating interaction, this show provides an unambiguous sense of the industry that is backing the Faile fantasy. Throughout their work and your imagination and assumed role, you may be villain, distressed damsel, wolfman, fairey, vandal, wrestler, hot-rodder, madonna, whore, supplicant, avenger, surfing horse or simply an arcade hero who is whiling away windowless hours punching buttons, popping flippers and pumping Faile tokens into tantalizing art machines.

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FAILE. FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Central to the formative Faile story is an image of the teenage Patricks piecing together clues about the world in these dark dens of possibility and teenage angst, awash in fantasy, aggression, testosterone and communal alienation.

Miller talks about the arcade atmosphere with a certain reverence, “All through Middle School, especially on the weekends, you’d just get dropped off at the mall and be there all day. There is something about the idea of this being a somewhat sacred space as a teenager in arcades. They are sort of a “Candyland” – a magical space mixed with a little seediness. You had kind of a large age range in there. You could get in trouble if you wanted but through the video games you could live out these crazy fantasy experiences. Historically arcades have been like that – very much with the Times Square notion. They’ve always had that connection to an underbelly of things.”

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FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Do you think New York is still seedy?
Patrick Miller: It seems like it is getting harder to find, in a way.
BSA: So really you might say that this is a public service, this installation.
Patrick Miller: There are so many young people who have never had this experience today. Not only are we trying to share what that was like, it is something that shaped the way we are inspired as artists and the way we make imagery, the way we make icons. The roots of video-game culture are there and now that has sort of bled out today – but also we’re interested in the shared experience because so much of the video game experience is now mobile or is just had on your couch, I think people have forgotten that there used to be these places were you congregated to do this.

For the 5th public offering of FAILE BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade and the first in a museum setting, Faile extends the scope and adds a handful of new NYC-centric scenarios to the mix and again partners with fellow Brooklyn street artist and spin-cycle collage mutator-in-chief BÄST, whose stylistic counterplay alerts undercurrents of tension with a punk-naïve primal hand painting and humoristic Dada collaging.

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FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Can you describe the working dynamic with Faile and BÄST?
Patrick Miller: We’ve always been really inspired by BÄSTs work because we start from a similar place but we end up totally differently.
BSA: Yeah the end result is very different
Patrick Miller: Ours are probably more structured and narrative.
Patrick McNeil: I think over time we have tried not to step on each others’ toes. He generally controls the half-tone territory and we control the line-drawing territory.
BSA: So his are more photography-based and yours tend more toward the illustration.
Patrick McNeil: Yep
Patrick Miller: I think the work comes from the same place but his is just turned up to “11”.
Patrick McNeil: Yeah his is more put into a blender.
Patrick Miller: But that has always been what makes us work well together, the styles mix and marry really well and they kind of bring the best out of both.
BSA: And he has become even more abstract recently – more lo-fi outsider artish…., although you guys have delved into children’s coloring books for inspiration as well
McNeil: I think BÄST would like to call it more “outsider art”.
BSA: Why has it been important to keep Deluxx Fluxx a Faile-BÄST collaboration over the last five years thoughout its various iterations?
McNeil: We started this project as a collaboration and we’ve been collaborating with BÄST for fifteen years. We’ve always enjoyed working with him because we just love the friendship and we love the product of our collaborations. I think having the opportunity to be at the Brooklyn Museum and to do it together with him is really special.

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FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Twenty-two in all, the custom designed variations on arcade video and pinball games from the 1970s and 80s alert competitive urges and quests for domination alongside more mundane tasks like alternate side of the street parking and completing atypical digital art-making sessions where “winning” is defined entirely differently.

Social, sexual, comical, criminal, and environmental concerns all pop and parry while you nearly mindlessly and repetitively punch buttons and fire guns at herky-jerky 2-D motion graphics that transport you to the hi-charged arcade experience rumbling in malls and sketchier parts of town before the Internet. Get a taste for those darkened caves where you racked up points while quarters were sucked from your pockets; you are the favored hero at home in this seductive lair, surrounded by an ear pounding audio-musical triumphalist barrage of hypnotic hormonal victory and id-shattering explosions.

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FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The adjoining cavernous black-light illuminated fluorescent foosball room is papered with mind-popping illustrations derived and sutured from comics, pulp and smarmy back-pages advertising that once stirred secret desires. Walking in on this teen temple you may feel like looking for dirty magazines sandwiched between mattresses; surely a hyped up juvenile would choose these alternating graphic “floor tiles” in radiation yellow, sugar coated pink and neon orange, giving your footsteps a spongey depth perception test on your way to a round of table football.

The floor-to-ceiling hand painted posters took four people six months to complete, both Patricks tell us, and they all compete for your attention, each a narrative re-configured and augmenting secret storylines, myths, and plenty of white lies.

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FAILE’s Patrick Miller demonstrates an art experience where you rip posters off the wall to reveal yet more Faile posters underneath, which you can rip further. FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Somehow it is here in the day-glo madness that we see the closest approximation to the original Street Art experience passersby had in the early 2000s with Faile’s work when they were still a trio that included artist AIKO and in those years just after her departure. These are the bold, familiar graphic punches thrown in a direction you weren’t expecting and can make you laugh.

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FAILE’s Patrick McNeil demonstrates how to tag subway walls before the “Bast Ghosts” come after you. FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In a media- and advertising-saturated society our tools of discernment and reason are compromised, deliberately so. Faile is recognizing some symptoms of this compromise and is examining the stories and the narratives that are told, crafting their own dramatic nomenclature from the pile. You might say that their stories are melding with an idealized simplification of North American white dude history, a heroic paranoid absolutism that lays bare the prejudices behind it.

A simple survey of words illustrates the perspective: prayer, bitch, horse, rainbow, sinful, Jesus, warriors, forbidden, Indian, hero, poison, brave, strong, boy, guilty, pleasure, bedtime, cowboys, hotrods, savage, gun, trust, stiletto, tender, hotel, confessions, fight, wolf, saved, girls, lies, vanity, inexperience, restless virgin, innocent, willing, heartbreak, torment, stories.

These are Faile stories, reconfigured with a slicing knife down the middle of the belly, an idiosyncratic collaged pop/pulp style that owes as much to the Dadaist Hannah Höch and pop collage originator Richard Hamilton as it does to Lichtenstein’s sense of storybook romance and Warhol’s repetitive emotional distance.

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FAILE. The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In the book accompanying the exhibit, Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director for Exhibitions and Collections Management, who organized the exhibition, says the presentation of the arcade in a museum setting “highlights how the present work relates to the art of the past and expands our expectations of the use of public spaces dedicated to art.” Here, she says, “Deluxx Fluxx’s arcade machines, which are simultaneously sculptures and functioning games, may call to mind Surrealism, Dada, and Fluxus, as well as the enigmatic boxed assemblages of Joseph Cornell.”

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Similarly, the signature Temple project has not been presented in its entirety in museum settings previously, and it feels like it is a bit of inspired genius when you are standing in its shadow beneath the soaring sky light at the Brooklyn Museum. The full scale church in ruins was presented out of doors in Praça dos Restauradores Square in Lisbon in conjunction with Portugal Arte in 2010. Echoing its surroundings in Lisbon, the Temple here is also a willful remix of the epic and the rather lesser so.

Culture-jamming at its height, it’s a punk subversion in ceramic, marble and iron that simultaneously genuflects and gives the finger to antiquity and to our soulless consumer culture. By casting reliefs of stylized font-work, romance novelette themes, and ads for call girls in puzzling non-sequitors, the Temple ridicules vapidity while honoring connections to age-old themes, sort of humbling all involved. Here again Faile is questioning the received wisdom of art history, religious customs, and tales of great societies we’ve learned to be reverent of, or maybe just questioning our true knowledge of history altogether.

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

During the last months while it was being unpacked and assembled we heard the Temple also called a tomb, a mausoleum, a chapel – the differences shared by their ties to the architecture and sculpture and tiled mosaics and ceramic under one roof. The roof in this case is destroyed – possibly because it caved in or because it was ripped off by an angry god who said, “You have missed my point entirely!”

In any case it is a formidable structure allowing meditation, reflection, confusion. In an act of ultimate bait and switch, Faile has deliberately played with what you are supposed to be paying attention to, substituting the associated original intended and inferred meanings of a religious institution and its power. You approach with reverence, looking perhaps for an allegorical means to access the transcendental, but expected symbols have been supplanted by the shallow relics of a culture you may have intended to escape.

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ultimately Faile is not unlike a lot of the world’s great religions; Comforting, reassuring, challenging, mysterious, inpenetrable. Sometimes you have the feeling that there are other people who understand it much better than you. Oh, ye of little Faile. Lean not upon your own understanding. Failes ways are not necessarily our ways. Whether these words and narratives are written by man or handed down from a higher power, why sweat it? It’s a holy good show.

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds the Brooklyn museum is once again meaningfully invested in the present and jumped ahead in the examination of what clearly is the first global grassroots art movement, giving the stage to the current century’s voices of the street – perhaps because it has engaged with the city’s artists and communities.

With an enormous new Kaws sculpture in the lobby, Basquiat’s notebooks and Kehinde Wiley’s exhibition in the same year, Faile adds an important voice to the local/global narrative and to the dialogue about the appropriate role of art in the public sphere and major institutions in the cultural life of the community they a part of.

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Fantasy Island.  “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Wolf Within. Detail. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Ripped canvases. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FAILE. Ripped canvases. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” at the Brooklyn Museum will open Friday, July 10th. Click HERE for further information.

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Me Collectors Room Berlin Presents: “At Home I’m A Tourist” The Collection of Selim Varol (Berlin, Germany)

Selim Varol

“my collection, that’s me –
my childhood, my friends, my heroes, my role models, what i enjoy, what moves me. pictures from my journey: ‘at home i’m a tourist’” (Selim Varol)

From 26 May to 16 September 2012, me Collectors Room Berlin will be presenting the collection of Selim Varol. The exhibition will thus mark a return to an essential leitmotif of the foundation: the theme of collecting and the passion of the collector. The 39-year-old collector from Düsseldorf with Turkish roots has been collecting toys since his childhood and owns one of the largest collections of figurines in Europe, numbering some 15,000 pieces. A further focus of his collection lies in works by artists who trace their origins back to street art and ‘Pop Surrealism’. One characteristic shared by all the works in this collection is the close link between art and the everyday, as well as their often playful and humorous or subversive character.

The world of toys, most of which are produced in Asia, is a world full of plastic and vinyl. The figurines are detailed miniature sculptures that have variously emerged from the imaginations of contemporary urban artists and designers, or from politics and current events (Andy Warhol, Fidel Castro, Hitler), the dream factory of the film industry (Batman, Superman, Rambo and many others) or comics and manga. Many works in this collection are well-known due to their presence in public spaces. Shepard Fairey helped create a groundswell for Barack Obama with his iconic ‘HOPE’ poster during the United States presidential race in 2008. And JR, the current TED Prize winner, attracted international attention in 2008 with his film ‘28 millimètres: Women Are Heroes’ in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, where he mounted giant images of female residents on the façades of houses in order to raise awareness about their life stories and give these women a voice. The New York artist KAWS (Brian Donnelly) is another artist who has exerted a major influence on Selim Varol’s collection, with Varol’s first acquisition of his work in 1999. KAWS first made a name for himself in 1998 with his alienated images on bus stops, phone boxes and billboards (for instance the ‘Christy Turlington Calvin Klein Ad Disruption’). He is represented in this

exhibition with more than 160 works. The exhibition includes a total of 3,000 works by more than 200 artists & designers from over 20 countries.

Plans are under way to enable artists involved in the exhibition to paint or paste designated facades in the area around the venue.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive catalogue of the collection that will include a text by Jeffrey Deitch.

Events:

Saturdays, 3 p.m.: Public guided tour

01.06.2012, 6.30 p.m.: Expert talk with Selim Varol

September: Reading with Autonama & Participation in “Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin”

Children’s Programme: For schools and kindergartens (upon agreement); scavenger hunt (anytime)

Pop-Up Shop: In collaboration with Toykio, a selection of designer toys and exclusive editions will also be on offer in our shop.

Prior registration is required for all events. Programme details are available on our website: www.me-berlin.com

List of artists:

123Klan, Rita Ackermann, Adam5100, Chiho Aoshima, Giorgio Armani, Suki Bamboo, Banksy, Garry Baseman, Bäst, Beast Brothers, Beejoir, Andrew Bell, Biff, Bigfoot one, Tim Biskup, Blek le Rat, Blu, Bob Dob, Bountyhunter, Randy Bowen, Brin Berliner, Bshit, Buffmonster, Milton Burkhart, Thomas Campbell, Case, James Cauty, Mori Chack, Henry Chalfant, Chip Kidd, David Choe, Luke Chueh, Coarse, Martha Cooper, Harmony Corine, Matias Corral, Robert Crumb, Dalek, Date Farmers, Dehara, Delta, Devilrobots, Dface, DJ Shadow, Dolce & Gabbana, Dolk, Doma Dr.Romanelli, Dran, Dust, Tristan Eaton, Eelus, Ben Eine, El Mac, Ron English, F.C .Ware, Fafi, Faile, Shepard Fairey, Ferg, Jeremy Fish, Florian Flatau, Sam Flores, Flying Fortress, Pete Fowler, Glen E. Friedman, Friends with you, Phil Frost, Daniel & Geo Fuchs, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Futura, Rene Gagnon, John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Huck Gee, Os Gemeos, Doze Green, Sadi Güran, Eric Haze, Evan Hecox, Herakut, Jean-Louis Dumas Hermes, Jamie Hewlett, Damien Hirst, David Horvath, David Horvath & Sun-Min Kim, Marc Jacobs, Todd James, Jamungo, James Jarvis, Oliver Jeffers, JR, Nathan Jurevicius, Alex Katz, Rei Kawakubo, Audrey Kawasaki, KAWS, Peter Kennard, Josh Keyes, K-Guy, Margaret Kilgallen, Dave Kinsey, Jeff Koons, Frank Kozik, Charles Kraft, Curtis Kulig, Kurt Vonneggut & Joe Petro III, Christian Lacroix, Lady Aiko, Karl Lagerfeld, Helmut Lang, Michael Lau, Joe Ledbetter, Karin Lehmann, Matt Leines, Michael Leon, Paul Leung, Anthony Lister, Livingroom Johnston, London Police, Robert Longo, Lunartik, MAD*L, Herman Makkink, Mantis, Martin Margiela, Marok, Mars 1, Ben Mathis, Barry Mcgee, Lucy McLauchlan, Bill Mcmullen, Dennis Mcnett, Tara McPherson, Alexander McQueen, Eugenio Merino, Mexxer, Anthony Micallef, Donny Miller, Miss Bugs, Miss Van, Mist, Brendan Monroe, Polly Morgan, Mr. Clement, Takashi Murakami, Scott Musgrowe, Muttpop, Yositomo Nara, Caleb Neelon, Nigo, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Steve Olsen, Katsushiro Otomo, Tony Oursler, Jose Parla, Paul Insect, Marion Peck, Perks & Mini, Stefano Pilati, Ricky Powell, Miuccia Prada, Rob Pruit, Pure Evil, Pushead, Oliver Räke, Jamie Reid, Retna, Terry Richardson, Rocketworld, Jermaine Rogers, Rolitoboy, Ryca, Mark Ryden, Saber, Erick Scarecrow, Todd Schorr, Semper Fi, Since, Jason Siu, Sket-one, Skewville, Skullphone, Hedi Slimane, PaulSmith, Hajime Sorayama, Jeff Soto, Space Invader, Spanky, SPQR, SSUR, Jeff Staple, Stash, Static, Tyler Stout, Stefan Strumbel, Suckadelic, Superdeux, Judith Supine, Swoon, Tado, Gary Taxali, Osamu Tezuka, Tilt, Tokidoki, Touma, Tim Tsui, Nasan Tur, Unkl, Urban Medium, Usugrow, Valentino, Gee Vaucher, Mark Dean Veca, Donatella Versace, Viktor & Rolf, Amanda Visell, Nick Walker, Vivienne Westwood, Dondi White, Kehinde Wiley, WK interact, Jim Woodring, Word to Mother, Bubi Au Yeung, Zevs

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Images of the Week 06.12.11

Images of the Week 06.12.11

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Our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring 130, BAST, Dark Clouds, David Flores, Enzo & Nio, Mare 139, Skewville, Twenty, and Veng.

brooklyn-street-art-skewville-bast-jaime-rojo-06-11-web-10Skewville and Bast did this new Brooklyn boom box for Bushwick Open Studios last week (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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And this week Skewville was picked as a clue for the “Great Urban Race” a marathon-cum-treasure-hunt dress up in a costume and jog through New York event. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Last-Exit-to-Brooklyn-BSA-Presents-Graphic-smallerSpeaking of Skewville, if you are in Brooklyn next weekend for Northside Open Studios and the Crest Fest 2011 and the Northside Music Festival be sure to see the brand new giant 100 foot Skewville wall unveiling in Williamsburg and come to the afterparty thrown by NOS, Crest and BSA in Greepoint. We’ll be sending out a big announcement about all the street artists involved this year (including some surprises) – so get on our newsletter and we’ll be sure to send you an invite. Great Street Art in Brooklyn!

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Skewville and Bast from a slightly different angle. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Looks like Bast tried his hand with the fire extinguisher (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Well known graffiti artist Mare 139 created this sculpture for El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files 2011 at El Museo del Barrio. This window installation is right across the street from MOMA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mare 139 entry for El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files 2011 at El Museo del Barrio. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dark Clouds (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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David Flores work in progress in Los Angeles. (photo © Carlos Gonzalez)

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David Flores in LA just completed this piece paying homage to a rebel. With good cause. (photo © Carlos Gonzalez)

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130 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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AM (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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This sticker reminds us of Kara Walker work. We are not sure if the MEMO tag was an original part of the work (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Enzo & Nio continue with their series of Girls and Guns (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pardon me, I seem to have something stuck in my eye. Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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An unknown artist tried to fend the mini heat wave this week by process of  sublimation (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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An angry Mr. Potato head type. Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A teaming mass of people during the one-day sale at Macy’s? Constituents at Representative Anthony Weiner’s office getting ready to give him a piece of their minds about his Sexting? The crowd getting off the roller coaster at Coney Island? This unknown street artist hand draws dozens of faces on steno pads and then wheat paste them together on walls.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Street Artist 2wenty in Los Angeles at night thanks to Carlos Gonzales. (photo © Carlos Gonzalez)

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Hey, why the long face? Veng of RWK continues to work on the Vandevoort Place wall in Bushwick. More photos of the work still in progress below (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Veng RWK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Veng RWK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Veng and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Veng RWK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. Photo © Jaime Rojo

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Images of the Week 05.01.11 – May Day

Images of the Week 05.01.11 – May Day

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Our weekly interview with the street hits some bright notes including new arrivals from El Sol 25, Specter, and Faile along with some shots Futura did of HAHA in Melbourne and even a taste of Kentucky Street Art.

The roll call this week; Bast, Billi Kid, Clown Soldier, El Sol 25, Faile, L.E.T., QRST, Rae, Romi, S, and Specter.

brooklyn-street-art-specter-rae-jaime-rojo-05-11-webSpecter’s tall portrait alongside Rae welcomes everybody to Brooklyn.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Julian Assange gets a little tarted up to go out on the streets of Melbourne in these photos by Futura of stencilist HAHA. (photo © Futura)

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Looking askance in this Warholian repetition, Julian Assange in Melbourne by HAHA, shot by Futura (photo © Futura)

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Popping up among the tulips, Faile’s new Prayer Wheel (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The new Faile Prayer Wheel (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Another rotation – Faile’s new Prayer Wheel (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Would you take a look at these Manhattan Gams! May is rose month for Billi Kid.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Aging like a fine wine, this Bast splash rests below what looks like an advertising campaign by comedian Stephen Colbert. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A portion of a Clown Soldier (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A mylar stencil sticker shyly attempts to keep the company of this Faile lady who appeared late in the winter. Doesn’t look like she’s warming up to the idea. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Somebody call for a Plumber? (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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L.E.T. plays with the I Love New York logo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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L.E.T. plays with the I Love New York logo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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QRST is adding an aquamarine contingent. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Romi makes an environmental statement in what may be our first ever  example of Kentucky street art (photo © Romi)

brooklyn-street-art-S-jaime-rojo-05-11-webA cherub is finding this can of paint to be a little heavier than expected. S (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Sol 25  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stay tuned on BSA this week as we’ll bring to you an interview and studio visit with enigmatic El Sol 25. This self described hippie artist has bounded onto the scene in the last three years with his colorful, witty and well executed hand painted collages.

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El Sol 25  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Sol 25  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Faile Studio Visit: Readying for Rubenstein

Faile Studio Visit: Readying for Rubenstein

A visit with Street Art collective Faile in their Brooklyn studio finds the industrious duo at the center of a small cluster of assistants working on many projects simultaneously.

Faile Studio. Print Shop. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The print shop at the Faile studio. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The air of collaboration is evident in this maze of activity – as well as an appreciation for process.  The multi-level ex-industrial building has been reconfigured internally over the last decade to contain and accommodate the adventurous appetites of the childhood buddies who took their Street Art from Brooklyn to the Tate, with many stops along the way.

This doesn’t happen for everybody, so in this first visit of two before their upcoming debut solo show at Perry Rubenstein Gallery on November 4, we looked for clues about the creative and working DNA of Faile. In the ten quick long rotten beautiful years of this century they’ve plowed through many experiments methodically from simple one color small stencils on light posts to now museum quality raft-sized wooden block collages that take months to screenprint, saw, sand, and assemble.

Faile First Street Work 1999 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

One of Faile’s first street pieces from the late 90’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

In a pretty remarkable run through the neighborhood and the globe the two Patricks have used aerosoled stencils, screen prints, wheat pastes, roller tags, animated video games, carved wood, vinyl sculptures, spinning prayer poles, even alabaster and tile reliefs in their ever growing collection of work. Cumulatively, the forays have given depth and resilience to their nearly iconic pop imagery.

Details of Multiple Art In Progress At The Studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Details of multiple pieces in progress at the studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Since returning from their Lisbon temple installation mid summer, where their piece (two years in the making) became a focal point for that city’s first biennial, the Faile dudes are now making a multitude of these “wood paintings” here in their Brooklyn studio.  Among the many silkscreens stacked against walls, rolled canvasses in tubes, and pieces by Banksy and Shepard Fairey adorning the walls, there are open wooden boxes, maybe 20 or 30, full of small wooden printed blocks laying open on tables and shelves.

Brooklyn Street Art: When the blocks get that small they are almost just a texture.
Patrick McNeil:
Exactly, or just color palette.  It’s so modular you don’t get stuck with anything, you get to explore a lot and if it doesn’t work you just put it back the way that it was or pull it apart.

Brooklyn Street Art: That’s right, you can reverse yourself pretty easily

Patrick McNeil: Yeah you just kind of build a piece and then realize it works better in something bigger – so they are very loose in a sense. It seems very precision-y and thought out but it’s much more looser than it looks.

Jesus Faile Projected on the Manhattan Bridge for DUMBO Arts Fest 2008 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile’s Jesus appears on the side of the Manhattan Bridge during Brooklyn Street Art’s “Projekt Projektor” show in Brooklyn during the DUMBO Arts Festival  in 2008 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The selective sampling of images that create the Lingua Faile has steadily grown into a library of totems, symbols, pulp art snippets, typefaces and signifiers set free from their context and recombined with a lucid dexterity, a splash of irony, and an inner voice that says, ‘go for it’.  It’s an old-skool visual sampling that doesn’t need autotune for anything, just a hyped sense for combining clips and dropping it on the beat. Talking to them, one sees that it’s a loose intuitive sense that is guiding the process.

Patrick McNeil: And I like what is happening in this one, it’s still coming along. That one, the bottom needs to be worked out. It’s really top heavy. And we’ll kind of pull some colors down. That one is just kind of getting started. This one’s kind of in the middle right now; Just slowly working on blacks and switching things up.

Brooklyn Street Art: So you’ve used a lot of powdered pastels…

Patrick McNeil: Yeah…

Brooklyn Street Art: let’s see, blasting fluorescents…

Patrick McNeil: Well a little bit, yeah. There are not too many fluorescents, well, that pink is probably the only fluorescent.  Well, there’s yellow on that one. But none of these have any fluorescent.

Brooklyn Street Art: I’m thinking of the DeLuxx Flux thing you did with Bast.

Patrick McNeil: Yeah Perry made the rule, “no fluorescents”.

Brooklyn Street Art: Oh okay. Well it’s good to have that guidance.

Patrick McNeil: Yeah, we might sneak one in there.

Patrick McNeil: Then we were looking more at abstractions, breaking color groups up, pushing it really far.

Brooklyn Street Art: Yes that’s an unusual combination of the violet and the grey. It looks fresh.

Patrick McNeil: Yeah, it’s kinda switchin’ it up.  We kind of like tweak things and leave them up for a while and then switch it out. It’s kind of interesting.

Wood Blocks At The Studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Wood blocks at the studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Even though the new book, their first, is coming out to mark the first 10 years that took them from Brooklyn streets to group shows, street art exhibitions, galleries, and museums around the globe, the creative partners are focusing right now on the work at hand.  A decade of work, play, and planning together has created a shorthand of cues and patterns and symbols that makes their work move quickly without much strife or discussion. In the studio it’s equal parts industry and creativity – where real world dedication to process and structure adds a loose tension to the spirit of play.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you both the leader? Or do you take turns being the leader? Is there one who just says “THIS is where we have to go!”

Patrick McNeil: It goes back and forth really.

Patrick Miller: It’s pretty rare when it is “This is the way it has to be and there is no room for discussion”

Brooklyn Street Art: So you don’t come to loggerheads?

Patrick McNeil: No, we’ve known each other since we were 14 so we’ve got a pretty good friendship.

Faile Book Cover: "Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009" (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile Book Cover: “Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009” (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The new block collages, or “wood paintings” started about a year ago and the artists introduced them at Cour Carrée du Louvre for the FIAC in Paris. With a loyal fanbase that hangs on their every print release and microsite revelation, the new pieces were an instant hit and complete success. The scale of pieces at that time seemed manageable and something you might carry as part of your luggage; however some of these new wood paintings for the Rubenstein show might well be snagged by Swoon for walls in one of her Konbit shelters.

Brooklyn Street Art: How do you achieve a sense of balance? You have the professional, personal,… family is growing.. How do you guys achieve a sense of balance regularly?

Patrick Miller: For one, we treat this like a pretty regular thing in the sense of working Monday through Friday, pretty much 9:30 to 6:00.

Brooklyn Street Art: So you have a schedule and a structure.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, so we have structure in that sense.  It’s a business after all on some level, and it has to be thought of in that way too.  I mean it’s tough some times when we have big shows going on and we’re traveling and trying to not be away from the kids for too long.  But you know, I guess I never stopped to think about it. It was nice last year because Patrick and his wife had their second child and we had our first within a few weeks of each other, and so that worked out really well, in the sense of timing-wise. We were able to slow down a bit.

Brooklyn Street Art: You know I was just thinking about the blocks and interactivity. I wonder if you could make a piece where some of the blocks were free and the person who buys it could play with the blocks.

Patrick Miller: Hey, you’re really onto something!

Patrick McNeil: Let’s go upstairs.

Brooklyn Street Art: You’ve already thought of this!

Faile Early Work On The Street. Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Early work on the street. Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

We shuffle eagerly behind our hosts like hypnotized penguins out to the darkened hallway and up some stairs to a high security print room that is pristine and plum full of stuff that might make you cry – things they’ve collected, been gifted, or just like to entertain visitors with. They could drop names but the brothers Faile are more interested to show one of their newest inventions, a wooden tray of blocks that form a puzzle – well, six actually. The lo-tech games perfectly marry our current digital longing for interactivity and the latent one to become a Luddite.

Patrick Miller: (The puzzle boxes) kind of came up in Paris, so we just developed these pieces on the side totally on their own. Then we started thinking there are some situations and combinations that we really liked. Each one is printed on all six sides and you can manipulate it and play with it.

Brooklyn Street Art: Hours of endless pleasure! How do you prevent them from getting damaged?

Patrick McNeil: That’s just part of it.

Patrick Miller: I don’t think they’re going to get too damaged. They are already sanded and their meant to be touched. We’re actually making a site, because it’s really hard to show them.

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you thought of customization on the site so people can select options and order it?

Patrick: Yes we’ve thought of that but effectively you’d have tons of combinations.

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@ Jaime Rojo)” width=”740″ height=”416″ /> Faile wood blocks at the studio (Photo @ Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you thought of doing an app for these so people can play with them?

Patrick: Yeah and that is something that may come out of it. The people that we work with… That would be a fun thing, as a little game. And it’s actually pretty simple because the navigation is just like ‘click’ and it turns it. It should be a fun little site. It’s been fun to do these little micro sites.

Brooklyn Street Art: Right, with a phone’s motion sensor you could roll the blocks around. Wow, you guys are on top of it.

Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009. A Peak Inside The Book (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009. A peak inside the book (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

This visit draws to an end with a promise to rejoin shortly before the show to see the progression. But before we go, the new book is placed with slight aplomb on the counter. The one and only copy they’ve received from the printer, we stare at it like cats at an aquarium.  The splashy pink raging dog cover says the thing about Faile you might not notice on a casual tour; these guys are ferocious in their desire to succeed and have built a body of work to prove it.

Tentatively peeling back the pages of the book, we see that the first image is the simple stencil of a figure carrying a canvas with his back to you and the words “A Life”, their first name, across the top. Anyone stumbling home drunk through industrial Williamsburg in the late 90’s would remember what curiosity was sparked with this humblest of images scattered everywhere.  Later they anagrammed it to form their current name.

Brooklyn Street Art: So “A Life” got converted to Faile, which is just the opposite of what you’ve done!

Patrick Miller: Yeah it was always kind of about growing from it and making the most of all your failures.

Brooklyn Street Art: Did you both design the book?

Patrick Miller: We worked on it with a friend of ours.  It was such an undertaking.  But it’s good. It’s definitely a pretty personal book in the way that it’s written, very friendly, an enjoyable read.  It’s nice just to have the works on print.

Patrick McNeil: It’s nice to see the earlier work, and it’s nice to see how the process goes because it’s chronological as well.

Brooklyn Street Art: Who is going to have seen all of this stuff besides you two? Nobody.

Patrick Miller: It’s a nice way to put it together for yourself too, after 10 years of working on Faile it’s nice to have this.

Faile. Enter To The Gift Shop. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile studio. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


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Specter Spot-Jocks Shepard Fairey in New York City

Specter Spot-Jocks Shepard Fairey in New York City

Ice-T is still stylin’ like an American Che Guevara, but he’s officially joined the force 19 years after “Cop Killer”.

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photos © Jaime Rojo

As part of a string of strikingly personalized spot-jocking intended to send shivers through the New York Street Art scene, artist Specter is brazenly re-crafting other artists pieces, including high profile names like Swoon, Faile, Skewville, and Shepard Fairey.

This discovery side-busted our heads when we saw the radically altered Shepard Fairey piece – a myriad of nested ironies that takes “homage” to a new level. Or is that a “diss”?

The Fairy piece he’s messing with is a 2010 version of his Nubian Signs that appeared on walls during the run-up to his May Day gallery show this spring at the now closed Deitch Projects in Soho. Since that time, the wheat-pasted piece has weathered and faded. As part of Specters reworking of the piece, the portrait of Ice-T, itself criticized for incorporating the iconic image of Che, is now backed up by his fictional TV partner Detective John Munch from Law and Order: SVU. Ice-T has a new posse. Aside from that quizzical pairing that has left Street Art watchers dumbfounded, it’s even more confusing that Fairey’s original was restored before Specter smacked his own piece on top.

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photo © Jaime Rojo

“It was totally defaced, you could not make out what was going on anymore,” said Specter this week when reached for comment.

Dissing doesn’t usually include restoration.

Explaining the choice of adding Ice-T’s fictional police partner to the existing Fairey piece, Specter talks about the duality of a celebrity’s image that can produce a cognitive asymmetry.

“Ice-T plays a detective on a very popular crime show that everyone likes so much. (My piece) is kind of poking at these popular figures – who maybe were seen as a visionary. This was a rebellious figure, who is now on prime time television playing a police detective, who he previously was talking about shooting.” According to the show’s website, the rapper-turned-actor “formed the thrash metal band Body Count”, whose “1991 self-titled debut contained the controversial single ‘Cop Killer.’”

In an additional homage to Fairey, Specter appears to have used a copyrighted promotional photo off the internet to interpret Detective Munch – calling to mind the current lawsuit Fairey is defending himself against that accuses him of incorporating copyrighted material to create his famed Obama poster of two years ago.

In this piece by Street Artist Swoon that has been up for perhaps two years and has sufferred wear, tear, and sprayed out faces, Specter meticulously repairs the visages and adds a bit of fabric. (photos © Jaime Rojo)

In this piece by Brooklyn Street Artist Swoon that has been up for perhaps two years and has sufferred wear, tear, and sprayed out faces, Specter meticulously repairs the visages and adds a bit of fabric. (photo left © Specter, right © Jaime Rojo)

In each of the cases where Specter is hitting the street art of somebody else, the style and technique closely mimics that of the original artist, creating a counterfeit that so closely resembles their own body of work that it could be confused theirs. This alone opens up a discussion about high-jacking a message, misleading a passerby, or even damaging a reputation.

A new piece by Swoon! Wait, maybe not. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A new piece by Swoon! Wait, maybe not. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This new crop of “side-busts” may get him in hot water, but Specter is giddily unapologetic to the other street artists whose work he’s jocking. In an extensive interview he talked about the nature of impermanence implicit in the Street Art scene, his own weariness with attempts at codification of rules that some have endeavored to create for the street, and the fact that many of these pieces already have run for a long time – so they’re fair game according to his rules. For Specter, it is evident that this project is a social experiment as much as an expression of creativity and an attempt to shake open a can of conversation.

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For a series of posters by Brooklyn Street Artists Skewville, who have done their own block-letter wisecracking spot-jocking in the past with street pieces by Fairey, Elbow Toe, and Gaia, Specter shoots close to the bone. (photos of Skewville and Specter above © Jaime Rojo)

Poking the Monkey

Is Specter sort of poking the monkey to see what will happen? Surely he knows that someone is going to see it as a sign of disrespect.

The cheerful Specter replies, “Yes, of course. I also thought it was also kind of good to push the button. It might piss them off, or they might love it or they might hate it. The point is I can do it regardless because of the nature of the work.”

Specter adds a waving American flag to the partially destroyed collage image by BAST. (photos © Jaime Rojo)

Specter adds a waving American flag to the partially destroyed collage image by BAST. (photos © Jaime Rojo)

In the Street Art world, as in the graffiti world before it, the unwritten “rule book” (existing mainly in the heads of the participants) pretty clearly marks ones territory. Putting up your piece too close to someone else’s, let alone over part or all of it, can occasion vendettas, retaliation, or at least some trash talk. Never mind that this claim to real estate sometimes refers to a building actually owned by somebody else entirely – a bothersome contradiction that falls to the wayside when street rules are in effect.

That's no mare! Specter re-genders the scuba diving horse of Street Art duo Faile (photos © Jaime Rojo)

That’s no mare! Specter re-genders the scuba diving horse of Street Art duo Faile (photo left © Specter, right © Jaime Rojo)

“I was talking to another Street Artist who was saying that people were angry with him for spot-jocking and I said that’s what these pieces are about: the ridiculousness of these kinds of ideas. It all harkens back to these ‘rules’ of this anarchistic form of art. Street Art can be this unauthorized kind of art form and people are like, ‘Oh you shouldn’t come within 12 feet of me’. This project talks about that too and it’s supposed to bring up this dialogue. I really think that these issues need to be discussed because people take it very seriously”

Perhaps a reference to recent street art stencils dealing with LGBT issues, Specter uses pulp-fiction styled lettering and a pretty bow to give this Faile piece a sex change. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Perhaps a reference to their recent stencils dealing with LGBT issues, Specter uses pulp-fiction styled lettering and a pretty bow to give this Faile piece a sex change. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Brooklyn’s New “99%” Will Serve Street Art Fans and Many More

Brooklyn’s New “99%” Will Serve Street Art Fans and Many More

99% Perspiration, 1% Inspiration

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Anyone in New York will tell you that the adage holds true if you are trying to get your dream to happen in this city– a band, a restaurant, a store, a website, a clothing line.  It could be a genius idea, but you’re going to have to work for it. Gallerist/curator Andrew Michael Ford and artist Mikal Hameed, both in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg since 1999, have put in plenty of perspiration getting separate projects off the ground over the last decade in NYC.  This spring as their shared dream of an art center and gallery in Billyburg gathered momentum, they redoubled their efforts and called every artist and source they knew.  Tomorrow, their dream, called “99%”, will open with a community fundraiser auction of prints by those artists. Ford and Hameed are going to do the necessary perspiring to make it happen.

Common Dreams, Rooted In Respect

Together, the two partners (along with a silent 3rd ) have discussed this gallery and community art space for a year and a half.  Studio talks about formal goals, bar-stool wisdom about esoteric ones, and serious footwork finally secured this location in a Brooklyn neighborhood considered a Street Art destination for artists and fans since the late 90’s.  Formerly an artist enclave, the neighborhood is rapidly changing as rezoning from 2005 allowed gentrification to rapidly bland the bohemian vibe, even as the change was slowed by the speed-bump of a huge recession.  Ironically, as the street art in the neighborhood is gradually disappearing, 99%, a gallery that celebrates it, opens it doors.

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Mikal (known professionally as M11X), an innovative ingenious creator of art merging furniture and stereos, came from a graff background on the west coast writing as SMUGE with the WCA crew as a youth.

“So I was a writer, then I was an MC, a break dancer, whatever – all 5 elements. I started to gradually change and become well connected with people who are part of the street art scene,” says Mikal as he recounts his path to this place. He recalls how he ran a gallery called Headquarters in San Francisco and Oakland before coming to New York and running MJH’s gallery in Williamsburg.

“This is just part of my whole evolution. It’s been building up inside of me for so long. “

As he speaks about his goals for 99% he talks about the life of an artist. You can tell that he sincerely wants to bring a greater command of the craft to the newer graff and street artists out today – people he refers to often as “The Kids” .

Ford, a gallerist best known for his work as gallery director at both the pivotal Street Art gallery Ad Hoc Gallery in Bushwick and for the Dark Pop and Pop Surrealists at Last Rites Gallery in Chelsea, hopes to merge his affinities for any number of current art movements, most considered “outside” or lo-brow by the established gallery scene.

“Yeah, I think it’s more about ‘the work’, the skill levels, and the imagination.  The artist may also put up work in the street or do comic books for a profession or they are a professional illustrator but they have such a desire to do personal work.  A lot of galleries will look at them as simply an illustrator and not an artist, and I think those kinds of distinctions are ridiculous. An artist is an artist and they want to express themselves creatively and they want to have a place where they can do that. ”

Me and my shadow. Andrew Michael Ford stands by a much loved wall in the studio and a view of his portrait by Street Artist Ellis G. on the door

Me and my shadow. Andrew Michael Ford stands by a much loved wall in the studio and a view of his portrait by Street Artist Ellis G. on the door

Street Art, comic books, illustration, pin-up, animation, new media, graffiti, tattoos, folk art, – these terms pepper-spray through the conversation as Andrew, an enthusiastic conveyor of ideas about the current state of art and the gallery scene, barely keeps up with his own ideas. Clearly he hopes to create a gallery where unsung and marginalized art forms are given the respect he thinks they’ve missed. Street Art may be hot at the moment, but labels are not going to be the determining factor for whether 99% Gallery works with an artist or not.

BSA: Are we going to retire the term “Street Art” at any time in the near future?

Andrew: That obviously is a public debate, and obviously that is something that everyone should be involved with as far as what’s going to happen with these other terms like “low brow”, “pop surrealism”, “street art” and similar terms.

Mikal: They asked the same question about graffiti in the late 80s and I don’t think we were ever able to retire it.

BSA: So is there such a thing as “Street Art: Phase 2”?

Mikal: I think we are at Phase 3 or Phase 4 at this point.

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An Educational Component

But it’s not just going to be a gallery. The guys want to create an art space that serves and educates, along with showing cutting edge art.

Sketching out their plans for the near future, Andrew explains, “We’re not talking about traditional education here – we’re talking about re-examining how the work is presented to people. I would say first phase is about lectures and talks, and we can work our way into workshops and classes down the road.”  The ideas for educational topics run the gamut, but they often touch on the basics that both partners feel have been missed by many of today’s artists.

“Yeah, kids need to learn how to do their own framing, make their own stretchers”, says Mikal, “I wish somebody taught me how to do that.”

Sounding like he is creating a new class on-the-fly, Andrew jumps in, “I do have a traditional art education background, — it was so much conceptual stuff, so much theory. There wasn’t a whole lot of practical stuff.  It was amazing that I could have this degree and yet it was after school that I had to learn a lot of stuff on my own.  It seems like a simple thing but I have this conversation with people all the time; What is the difference between a Giclée print, a hand silkscreened print, and what is a serigraph?”

A grassroots, populist philosophy enters the conversation again and again, and it becomes evident that the focus will be on the person, their approach, and the talent –rather than the formal educational background or pedigree of an artist.

“Yeah we want to create an equal playing field for a lot of artists,” stresses Mikal.

What playing field are they trying to equal out? Mikal responds, “Sometimes it just comes down to skills and imagination. You may not have the proper education but you have your passion and your motivation about this whole movement – you should be recognized as well.  Your sh*t should be up right next to the other stuff because your education could have come from somewhere else beside school.”

How often do you see this? Doze Green and Martha Cooper catching a tag on the wall of the new gallery.

How often do you see this? Doze Green and Martha Cooper catching a tag on the wall of the new gallery.

So the men have a lot in store, and they have what can only be described as a healthy dose of mutual respect.

Andrew praises Mikal’s talents and explains what he brings to the partnership, “One of the most important things is that Mikal is a very vibrant active artist who is doing shows regularly and has a different relationship with people than me because he is a working artist. It is really important to me to have Mikal because we are really good sounding boards for each other. I might be thinking a little more about the business side of things and how we are going to present it and he is thinking more about the specific piece of art and where the artist is coming from. He could say to me, ‘You may want to consider this because this is how the artist is going to feel’. I think it is a really really good match”

For his part, Mikal sounds solid in his dedication, “The people that work with Andrew just have straight up respect for him and they know that he’s the main guy in this business right now but he just needed his own platform to show everybody what’s up.”

Is this place big enough for all their dreams?

“No, but it’s a start. There is no place like that,” says Mikal.

Andrew agrees, “I’m really grateful for the fact that it is a tremendous starting point and an incredible location. I think it is going to benefit everybody that we work with”.

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images of Andrew Michael Ford and Mikaal Hameed © Steven P. Harrington

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99% Gallery and Art Center

99 North 10th (between Berry and Wythe), Brooklyn, NY 11211

OPENING RECEPTION: JUNE 11TH, 7-11PM

FUNDRAISER PRINT GROUP SHOW SILENT AUCTION to benefit 99% and the artists.

$5 COVER

Participating artists for the print show  include:
Bast,Chris Mendoza,Cycle,Dennis McNett,Doze Green,Ellis G,Eric White,Esao Andrews,EZO,Gaia,Ian Kuali’I,Imminent Disaster,Jeremiah Ketner,Jose Parla,Kenji Hirata,Lady Pink,Martha Cooper,Martin Wittfooth,Maya Hayuk,Mel Kadel,Morning Breath,Nathan Lee Pickett,Orlando Reyes,Rage Johnson,Ricky Powell,Rostarr,Ryan Humphrey,Skewville,Swoon,Tara McPherson,Tono Radvany,Voodo Fe,Xiaoqing Ding,Yuri Shimojo

For more information about the auction

CONTACT:info@ninetyninegallery.com
WEBSITE: www.ninetyninegallery.com

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Street Art Behind Glass: Artist Ryan Seslow

Street Art Behind Glass: Artist Ryan Seslow

The neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn is better known for beautiful Brownstones, impossible parking, towering maples, social liberals and baby strollers than graffiti or street art. There is one commercial strip down the upper middle of this town-y enclave, with delis and bagel shops and The New York Times on Sunday – and aside from the occasional mural or stickered paper-box, not a whole lot of Street Art action.

On a recent sunny Saturday on 5th ave and Union Street, you may have seen a window display that made you think of street art.  In fact, you can see it from the street, and local artist Ryan Seslow is a huge fan of the New York Street Art scene.

Window installation by artist Ryan Seslow

Park Slope window installation by artist Ryan Seslow as a satelite to “Programmed”

Brooklyn Street Art: Tell us about yourself.

Ryan Seslow: My name is Ryan Seslow. I’m a multidisciplinary artist living and working in New York. I am also a professor of fine arts teaching studio courses between 4 colleges here in NY and I’m always involved in several different projects at once, it seems, either as an artist, curator, or both.

I feel like I’m 3 or 4 different kinds of artists all trapped into one body. I have more energy than I usually know what to do with, so I love to exercise that on artistic potential and experimentation. Making art from a very young age, my real love for art came from the inspiration I found in 1980’s graffiti, public art, and cartoons. Martha Cooper’s “Subway Art” was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite books.

I was a teenager when the b-boy movement got a hold of me. My entire family is from various parts of Brooklyn, so weekends and summers were spent combing the streets looking for inspiration, while trying to mimic the works I saw.

 

The original "Subway Art" book by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant

The original “Subway Art” book by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about “Programmed” and what it’s about?

Ryan Seslow: I was recruited to do a satellite installation for “Programmed“, a show about rethinking the relationship with these electronic objects in our lives that we no longer use. The concept of the show was to synthesize the use of obsolete electronics into your work.  It touches areas of recycling and the ephemeral existence of many things in today’s world.

I had already been doing this in another commercial window space for a few years, so the fit was nice and exciting. The owner also had this great public window space that he wanted to use to showcase my installation-based works, rather than just filling the space with redundant advertising so we collaborated ideas on the use of the space.

In both projects I wanted to inspire and reach the general public of Park Slope with colorful installations that would show a variety of traditional art techniques as well as more non-traditional works. The context of the commercial window space was perfect to contradict what is essentially public work.

 

Artist Ryan McIntosh's piece from the main "Programmed" exhibit, made from hard drives, is called "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall" (image courtesy www.cultofmac.com)

Artist Ryan McIntosh’s piece from the “Programmed” exhibit, made from hard drives, is called “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall” (image courtesy www.cultofmac.com)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about some of the materials you used and their significance.

Ryan Seslow: The materials are intuitive manifestations and representations of what can be used to make ART. I’m all about the allowance of communication and self-expression. The curators did ask me to emphasize the use of obsolete electronics. The Mac Support Store (the installation site) is also a hub for the recycling of used computer parts.

The store had this enormous mountain of stuff to choose from and I was drawn to the keyboards right away because keyboards are objects of serious potential; amazing tools and an intermediary means of infinite communication. Each keyboard has the potential of writing the next great literary novel or the next great resolution to help the world. The keyboards connect both the familiar and unfamiliar imagery in the installation, maybe helping the viewers create narratives between the pop icons and the technology.

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“I love making art. I’m pretty much obsessed with the process of generating things. I love learning new skills, not so much to isolate the skill itself, but more to integrate it into what I am already doing. I like to test the potentials of things,” Ryan Seslow.

Brooklyn Street Art: How long did it take you to prepare for this, and do the installation?

Ryan Seslow: This installation was built in less than two hours – It is an art practice in itself.

My installations are all intuitive and immediate. I have been working pretty large for about 10 years now so the energy that goes with setting up an installation is always thrilling and I like the challenge of working with the space. Each piece is created individually, so they must hold up that way first, but the installations are 100% modular. Every piece must ultimately fit and work together as a whole by means of form, color and content.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you think of this as street art?

Ryan Seslow: I do think of this installation as street art. I have been a lover and a participant in the medium of street art for a long time. I may be a lot more careful about when and where I put my work up than I was 10 years ago; that knowledge comes from past experiences. Art forms should be embraced as ongoing expanding things, by seeing the potential of why and how they can fit the foundation of where they began. This exercise itself forms ideas and allows for expansion.

The work is right on the street, the viewers are those walking by on the side walk, or driving by in their cars. It has been framed in glass and protected to a degree. I find this interesting as well. I anticipate more museums and galleries doing this in the future as the context of public art develops and artists continue to push its limits.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you have any favorite Street Artists whose work you follow?

Ryan Seslow: I love and follow several street artists on a daily basis. I’m a big fan of the BSA site as well as the Wooster Collective. Some of my favorite artists are John Fekner, Michael DeFeo, Gaia , Jeff Soto, Abe Lincoln Jr., Miss Van, Faile, Bast, Robert Williams, Lady Pink , Fafi, Gary Baseman, Tim Biscup, Barry McGee, Swoon, and so many more, too many to name!

Jackie detail by Ryan Seslow

Ryan used computer pieces, paper, film, and this image of Jackie Kennedy on the screen of a monitor for the installation.

Brooklyn Street Art: How does Jackie Kennedy figure into the piece?

Ryan Seslow: Funny, Jackie O and JFK have always left this long-lasting impression on me. When the John F. Kennedy assassination was brought up to me in the 5th or 6th grade, in a history class, it never left me.  I recall being really freaked out by the way I was interpreting the whole event. As time went on, by the time we got into high school, we were shown the actual assassination film itself (you know the one).  At least once a year, I seek to find old and grainy images of the couple. I think they represent some form of the ephemeral with in me. They remind me that our stay here on this planet is not forever, it activates this crazy gratitude to and for all things.

60 second silent collage of the Kennedys.



Brooklyn Street Art: Do you ever hang out and spy on people who have stopped to look at your installation?

Ryan Seslow: Nah, not too much spying, but I do get people who approach me and ask some interesting questions from time to time. Kids seem to be big fans on a regular basis! I have gotten several independent commissions this way, just by creating live art that invites the public to participate by simply talking to me. I am always left with a memory of the experience.

Brooklyn Street Art: You’ve done drawing, painting, stenciling, collage, even sculpture – is there something you haven’t tried but would like to?

Ryan Seslow: That is a great question. I love making art. I’m pretty much obsessed with the process of generating things. I love learning new skills, not so much to isolate the skill itself, but more to integrate it into what I am already doing. I like to test the potentials of things. I would love to do more with the synthesis of street art, public sculpture, experimental film and collaborations.

Actually, this is what I mean; I want to collaborate more with other artists. There is so much to learn when you work with other people, which is one of the main reasons I became an art professor.

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Detail from the installation by Ryan Seslow

Brooklyn Street Art: What’s the next project you’ll be working on?

Ryan Seslow: Got several things going on right now. I’m teaching 8 courses this semester, so teaching is a bit more demanding than usual. I’m also curating a special video art/experimental documentary program for The Streaming Festival in the Netherlands , working on an installation series for public art in Jericho Plaza in Long Island, a group video art stills project in Denmark, participating in MagMart in Naples, and I’m part of a top secret underground stencil project.

>>>>   <<  > > <>>> <<<< >>>>  <<  > > <>>> <<<<

See a year-long window project Ryan did HERE

Ryan Seslow’s blog HERE
His art on Flickr HERE

Follow him on Twitter@ryanseslow

All images of Ryan Seslow’s work courtesy the artist.

“Programmed”: a group installation art exhibition, is curated by Michele Jaslow & Spring Hofeldt. Park Slope, Brooklyn. The show is open until March 13, 2010.

Learn more about the “Programmed” show.
Cult of Mac’s Review HERE

The Mac Support Store is located at 168 7th Street in Brooklyn. The store is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store is closed on Sundays.

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Interview: Inside the “The Thousands” and Swoon’s lock box with Michael “RJ” Rushmore

Interview: Inside the “The Thousands” and Swoon’s lock box with Michael “RJ” Rushmore

After spending most of 2009 in preparation, Michael “RJ” Rushmore is one week from the opening of “The Thousands”, a retrospective survey covering artists of the last few decades that led to what we’re calling “Street Art” today.

Nick Walker for The Thousands (courtesy Michael "RJ" Rushmore)

Nick Walker for The Thousands (courtesy Michael “RJ” Rushmore)

As editor and author of the popular blog Vandalog, RJ has been taking readers on a tour of the Street Art scene from his unique perspective.  Encouraged by his father, an avid and prodigious collector of street art, the recent high school graduate has labored for much of the last 5 months to pull together this show – reaching out to artists, collectors, authors, publishers, you name it.

When RJ first told us about his idea for a “pop-up” show in London, we thought it would be a small affair with perhaps one or three of the larger names and examples of work in an inflatable shop on cobblestone streets. But like so many young people energized by the excitement garnered in an exploding new movement, RJ has worked feverishly to grow this show into what he hopes will set a standard.

Swoon Box Contents

More inside looks at this Swoon Box below (courtesy Michael “RJ” Rushmore)

A tribute to his dedication and sincere regard for the work and the artists, “The Thousands” will feature many of the antecedent contributors (or pioneers) to the scene (Jenny Holzer, Blek le Rat, Futura 2000) as well as the better known artists that have come to symbolize the current explosion that began in the first half of this decade (Swoon, Banksy, Shepard Fairey) and many others of equal interest.

As if throwing a show of this scope was not enough RJ also created a book to accompany the show, published by Drago, one of the few small presses that have seriously and knowledgeably  documented the growth of the graffiti-to-street art scene.  With dedication, focus, and maturity, RJ navigates the back alleys and side-streets to bring this show in the heart of London to fruition.

Skewville from "The Thousands" (courtesy Drago press)

Skewville from “The Thousands” (courtesy Drago press)

Brooklyn Street Art: What sparked your interest in curating this show of Street Art? How did the whole process start?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: I think it was an idea that I’d had brewing in the back of my mind for a while, but I wasn’t taking it seriously until last January when I met with another street art blogger who proposed a similar idea about a having a street art retrospective. Eventually, we went our separate ways and I continued to develop the exhibition further. This is the show that a major museum should put on, but so far nobody has, and I hope that The Thousands helps to change that.

Brooklyn Street Art: “The Thousands” – is this a reference to the rise in this new wave of street art since 2000?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: While probably 95% of the show is work from the last ten years, that isn’t where I got the name. It’s probably a more succinct explanation though.

The show’s title comes from a short story by Daniel Alarcón called “The Thousands”. The story is about this community that is built by society’s outcasts and dreamers and they build their city out of the discarded and disused materials of the city they used to live in. So that reminded me of street art and the street art community.

 

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Veng from Robots Will Kill featured in “The Thousands” from his piece at the Mark Batty Urban Arts Fest in Brooklyn last month (courtesy Drago)

Brooklyn Street Art: Are most of the pieces in the show privately owned?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: Yes. More than 2/3rds of the artwork comes from private collections. I wanted this to be as much like a museum show as possible, almost a pop-up museum, and the way to do that is fill the show with amazing pieces from private collections.

The process of finding work has at some times been a challenge because I don’t know every street art collector in England, but it’s also been a unique opportunity to view some truly spectacular collections.

 

Chris Stain (photo Jaime Rojo)

Chris Stain will be represented in “The Thousands” (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: What piece surprised the hell out of you?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: I’m saving pictures of this particular piece until after opening night, because I want people to come into the gallery not knowing exactly what to expect, but Roa’s piece is very cool and different. When Roa was in London recently, we spoke about his piece for The Thousands. He told me to wait and to trust him, that it was something special, so I did. Then he sent me the jpegs and I was definitely surprised. All I will say for now is that the piece is on venetian blinds.

 

Brooklyn street artists Faile will be in "The Thousands" (courtesy Drago)

Brooklyn street artists Faile will be in “The Thousands” (courtesy Drago)

Brooklyn Street Art: The show also has a handsome book to accompany it. What was the experience of putting it together?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: Everybody at Drago, my publisher, has been extremely supportive of the show and the book. I would even say that Paulo, Drago’s founder and head guy, was the first person to actually believe that The Thousands was going to happen and not be a complete train wreck. So working with them has been good fun. But the process of putting together a book in such a short amount of time was very stressful and even led to a few days of working 12 hours straight on the layout and design.

The best part about the reading book was also my favorite thing about putting it together. The book is split into sections, and most sections cover one artist. Since everything was already organized by artist, I was able to get a number of other artists and art world personalities to write about their friends and favorite artists. For example, Know Hope has written about Chris Stain and Elbow-toe has written a piece on Veng.

 

Swoon Box

A hand-made box by Brooklyn street artist Swoon that will be in “The Thousands” (courtesy Michael “RJ” Rushmore)

Brooklyn Street Art: The Swoon Box for “The Thousands”; Did she construct the box herself or was it a found box that she then later decorated?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: I’ve never asked Swoon, but I would guess that she constructed the chest. It looks like the wood is salvaged from a bunch of different sources, and the hinges are so mismatched that the lid can’t sit parallel to the walls of the box.

 

Swoon lock box (top detail)

Swoon lock box (top detail)

Brooklyn Street Art: It could be a time capsule, or a lock box of mementos and inspiring objects. What do you think?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: Right now, I think of it more like a lock box, but 15, 20, 30 years from now… the meaning will probably change with time as street art and Swoon become more or less important. Maybe one day Swoon will be written about in art history books and the box will be seen in an entirely different light. But at its core, and for my family, it will always see it box as a lock box.

There is this old deerskin chest in my house that my family calls The Treasure Box. It’s been in my dad’s family for generations and dates back to some time in the 1800’s. It’s full of old letters and locks of hair and things like that going all back though more than 100 years of Rushmore family history. My family and I see The Swoon Box as very similar to our Treasure Box, so we will always see The Swoon Box as full of mementos and not just a piece of art history.

 

Inside the Swoon lock box. (courtesy Michael "RJ" Reynolds)

Inside the Swoon lock box. (courtesy Michael “RJ” Rushmore)

Brooklyn Street Art: What’s your favorite object in the box and can you describe it for us?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: I usually like to get a behind the scenes view of things, so my favorite pieces in the box are the sketches for pieces that eventually became familiar Swoon images. In particular, I think the drawing for Zahra is a favorite. The sketch is beautiful, the end result is one of my all time favorite images by Swoon and I happened to meet Zahra earlier this year as well as her child.

 

Swoon's "Zahara" (courtesy of Black Rat Press)

Swoon’s “Zahara” (courtesy of Black Rat Press)

The Zahra sketch is pretty abstract, you can tell that there is a woman, but it’s really rough and seems to be more about the colors than any details about Zahra’s features. Without the image of a rising sun that is in both the sketch and the end result, you wouldn’t even connect the two pieces.

Swoon Box Contents

Swoon box has an original sketch for “Bethlehem Boys” (courtesy Michael “RJ” Rushmore)

Swoon's Bethlehem Boys as seen on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Swoon’s “Bethlehem Boys” as seen on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: If you have a show in ten years called “The Teens”, what do you think we might see in it?

Michael “RJ” Rushmore: What really interests me right now and what I’ve been noticing lately is the continuing fusion of graffiti and street art. In most cities that have graffiti and street art, somebody is trying to merge the two cultures. In London some of those artists are Part2ism, Sickboy, the Burning Candy crew, Kid Acne, ATG crew, Elate and Word To Mother. Maybe that’s just my particular interest, but I’ve heard Pure Evil say that he is seeing something similar.

So if my taste is anything to go by, a decade from now I would like to see a show with classically trained painters showing off their lettering style and hard-core train bombing kings painting with a brush and telling everybody why Lee Quinones is their hero, except we won’t even notice the supposed role reversal I’ve just described.

And of course, since I’ll be nearing 30 years old, I’d want to include some artwork by actual teenagers to help support the next generation of street art/graffiti/whatever we’ll be calling this in ten years time.

Swoon box's contents

What are you looking at? (Swoon courtesy Michael “RJ” Rushmore)

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“The Thousands” features artists Adam Neate,  Aiko,  Anthony Lister,  Armsrock, Banksy, Barry McGee, Bast, Blek le Rat, Burning Candy, Chris Stain, David Ellis, Elbow-toe, Faile, Futura 2000, Gaia, Herakut, Jenny Holzer, José Parlá, Judith Supine, Kaws, Know Hope, Nick Walker, Os Gêmeos, Roa, Sam3, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, Swoon, WK Interact

November 18 "The Thousands" opens

November 18 “The Thousands” opens

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Royce and ELC Workin’ in a Combine

Royce and ELC Workin’ in a Combine

112 Greene Street Revived by Street Artists

Like Obama says, we’ve got work to do, people.

Royce Bannon and a diverse team of talented street artist/graff writers are taking the challenge seriously: Revive the artists’ space in Soho that boasts a proud history and restore it to the constructive, collaborative, democratic roots of a real artists’ community; one that will have a mission of giving back, as well as re-establishing a laboratory for discovery.

These are times for bold actions of hope, and all hands are on deck for a show opening this month called “Work to Do” at 112 Greene Street in Soho, a place that first flourished in the years before the Reagan Revolution.

A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)

A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)

Long before Soho became a jewel encrusted haven for high-end couture, over-priced “foodie” groceries, hi-jacking delis, and exclusive password private clubs, the wild-eyed artists were the only people interested in the abandoned buildings south of Houston, and north of Canal. In the decade of the 1970’s, during a financial crisis when a Republican president told our bankrupt city to “drop dead”, that he would veto any bailout for a cash-strapped NYC economy, Soho was a largely abandoned carcass of warehouses and lifeless factories. As is so often the case, it was the perfect playground for the innovative talents of artists and art students needing cheap raw space to create and coalesce and eventually re-start the engine of cultural growth. Like the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick neighborhoods in Brooklyn today, Soho in Manhattan was a pounding heart in a hurting city that was drained by an energy crisis, sapped by a costly possibly illegal war on foreign soil, and duped by the ponzi-schemes of corporate titan opportunists at home.

112 Greene Street in Soho was the original home of 112 Workshop, a raw space open between 1970 and 1980, offering exhibition space for installation and performance for the new generation of conceptual artists who emerged from the radicalized minds and cultural upheavals of the previous decade.

With artists having complete control to curate their shows, the space put on challenging and inspirational work of hundreds of people. During the life of this laboratory it produced a list of influential performers and artists that helped shape the cultural cityscape over next 30 years, including names like Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Louis Bourgois, Chuck Close, Spalding Gray, Phillip Glass, Fran Lebowitz, Jeffrey Lew (co-founder), Gordon Matta Clarke (co-founder), Richard Mock, Richard Serra, William Wegman.

A spirit of collaboration and lively exploration returns to this space on March 26 when street artists well known in North Brooklyn today clear out the moribund basement space at 112 Greene and electrify the walls with a new era of youthful big ideas – and with thanks to those who came before in this hallowed space.

Royce Bannon, core member of the collective ELC (Endless Love Crew), is curating an audacious and boundless graphic cavalcade of street art styles to christen the historic space that honors the creative spirit. While ELC has a rotating roster that sometimes totals as many as 9 artists with a variety of styles, the currently active members of the ELC for this project will be Abe Lincoln Jr., Anera, El Celso, infinity, and Royce Bannon. With everyone working collaboratively, the “Work to Do” show pays homage to the new president and embraces a new reality that artists and creatives in the city are feeling right now.

The 112 Greene Street space is christened The Combine with this inaugural show. Steve Loeb and John Robie are creating The Combine to provide a new environment for the exhibition of art; an alternative to the traditional gallery opening and exhibition, transforming static work into multi-media, performance oriented events.

Detail from Kosbe at "Work to Do" (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Detail from Kosbe at “Work to Do” (photo Steven P. Harrington)

On a recent sunny Saturday, with Soho sidewalks anxiously trampled with tourists dragging shopping bags out of Prada, Dean & Deluca, and the Apple store, Royce and Chris from Robots Will Kill are laboring below street level on work for the new show. Descending the stairway you hear the blasting remixed hip-hop jams, see the spray-painted names along the walls claiming space for pieces; Ad Deville of Skewville and U.L.M. have staked their real estate, as has Cake and the Smart Crew. Others have already created pieces on their wall allotment; a 7 foot tall Mochni from Veng on the landing, a chaotic collage from Kosbe as you hit the floor, a manic back wall collaboration with Deekers, infinity, and Celso.

A complete history of 112 Workshop

A complete history of 112 Workshop

Royce sits at his makeshift table of plywood and saw-horses, pouring over a large book about 112 Workshop, marking its’ pages with post-its, and eyeballing every available inch of the entire basement space, thinking about how to fill it, and with whom. His phone keeps ringing, but he’s concentrating on the long rectangular room. He’s loving this moment, and proud of the work his friends have put into the space. Chris from RWK climbs a ladder to lay-in the first wash of color that will build the backing of… perhaps a robot?

Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and Avoid Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and AVOID Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

The mottled concrete floor is marked with blue tape where a stage will be built for Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force on opening night, and the backdrop wall is already claimed by an undulating AVOID Pi tentacle, some Dain wheatpasted portraits that well up with fluorescent tears, and some smart-aleck monsters from Mr. Bannon himself, and a space remains for Abe Lincoln Jr.. Walk past a stack of plywood into a makeshift rectangular “gallery” room where many 3’ x 8’ foamcore canvasses lean – soon to showcase Deekers, infinity, Celso, and Royce pieces and hung in the windows of a music store further north of here.

Brooklyn Street Art: So who decided to put on this show?
Royce Bannon: Steven Loeb (composer, arranger, producer) and John Robie (composer, musician and record producer). They both have really extensive resumes in the music industry that go back to the 70’s – have worked with so many great musicians and artists that have impacted most of us – Kurtis Blow, Public Enemy, James Brown, LL Cool J… and a lot more. This is their space, and they’ve given me full control to make this show rock.

This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you get involved?
Royce Bannon: They hit me up on MySpace about a year ago, I guess. They knew about ELC and liked our work. About November or December they asked me if we could throw an ELC show and I was like “Sure!” We got together and had lunch and they showed me the space. It was a mess when I saw it. It was full of a bunch of wood, tables, broken furniture, junk… it was basically used for storage, hadn’t been used for anything I guess for years.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are they planning to use the space after the show?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, they are turning it into an event center, mainly for charitable events. They want to make money, but they want to give back as well. This will be the first kind of event that is following that approach.

Brooklyn Street Art: So they first contacted you to do an ELC show, but you actually know a lot more people who can do work in a space like this.
Royce Bannon: Yeah exactly, they were like “we like ELC” and I said, “This is a lot of room to fill for just ELC, so why not invite people who I admire, and some of their friends and we can just crush this whole place up?”

Cake waits for friends from her Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Waiting for the Smart Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you had to tell people “no” since this roster started filling up?
Royce Bannon: Yes, (laughs) I’ve been telling people “no” a lot, and that’s really hard. What I’ve been telling them is to hold on, and once everybody paints, there will be other smaller or tight spots where they can do “fill-ins’, cause some people like those smaller spots too.

Brooklyn Street Art: Looking at this giant space, you are giving people a lot of real estate; these spaces look like 8’ by 8’ chunks of wall. That’s pretty generous.
Royce Bannon: Yeah definitely, why not? The spaces are claimed, and we’ve got lots more space to do, and about a third of it is done already.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are people excited to be in the show?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, very excited, I think it’s gonna be like a madhouse in here. It’s about 4,000 square feet floorspace.

This place is Smokin'! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

This place is Smokin’ ! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: You have been working long hours to accommodate all these artists?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, since mid-January I’ve been here like 12 hour days, sometimes late at night. First we had to clean up the space, figure out what materials we wanted to keep. We’re using everything they had left here and re-purposing it, cause “why not”. Better than throwing it away. Like my monsters are cut out of some bookshelves (laughs). They’ve been supplying us with whatever tools we need, gave us a bunch of paint. So with extras, like ladders and tools, I just go to them and we can get to work. They are really supportive of us, plus they’re collectors.

Brooklyn Street Art: So some of the artwork is going to be on sale?
Royce Bannon: Yes, I think some of the people are going to actually put their artwork on top of their pieces. We’re going to make a little gallery (gesturing to a 10’x 14’ room) – I think some people are going to put their stuff in there. We’re going to cover the floor, I think, in fake grass… brighten the space up a little bit. But we still got a lot of work to do.

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In planning for the new show, Royce and all of the artists have been inspired by the words of the 44th president:

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up.

For more info on ELC and its members:
ELC
Royce Bannon
infinity
El Celso
Abe Lincoln Jr.
AnerA

So far the lineup for the show includes: Endless Love Crew, Moody AA, Cabahzm, Cake, 2Easae, Avone, Chris RWK, Veng RWK, Brando * Nev1 * Sinatra Smart Crew, AVOID pi, infinity, Deeker, Keeley, El Celso, Dain, Pufferella, Skewville, Royce Bannon, AnerA, Abe Lincoln Jr., Ellis Gallagher AKA Ellis G., Matt Siren, Overconsumer, Kosbe, Aiko, Abby Goodman, Alone art, Bast, Ben Jackson, Bobby Hill, Buildmore, C. Damage, Chris Brennan, Christopher Gordon, Dark Clouds, Deeker, Destroy and Rebuild, Erica Faulke, Keely, Pufferella, OHM, Smells, Stikman, U.L.M.

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Power and Currency: Factory Fresh

Power and Currency: Factory Fresh

“Power and Currency” a new show curated in Bushwick’s Factory Fresh Gallery by Natalie Kates, strikes at the nexus of two words that shake out in the events of most days in New York.  On Brooklyn’s Flushing Avenue, just past Bushwick Ave, the road is rumbling with trucks and potholes, vibrating with the expectations and hopes of a lot of new people these days – artists seeking studio space and escaping high rents, small businesses strong-armed by condo-building piglords, musicians looking for a practice studio, artisans, woodworkers, furniture makers, ……it’s a growing list. You don’t have to look far to see the mounting pressures on the aspiring creative class, and one’s thoughts turn to power and currency more than ever.

Factory Fresh, celebrating three months on Flushing Avenue, is the lovechild of Ali Ha and Adam DeVille, who once fostered a vibrant, audacious, tiny and welcoming gallery of mostly street artists called Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early ‘00s. Over five short years and 20 shows, it was a wellspring of new street art that crunched genres and gave foot to a number of underground street artists, and opportunity to many more.

Flyer for the Closing of Orchard Street Gallery

Flyer for the Closing of Orchard Street Gallery

But powerful “Luxury Condo Fever” had been coursing through the valley of lower Manhattan, and when the slimy, blinding affliction caught their landlord, Ali and Ad fought in court to save Orchard Street Gallery, their community and their dream. The fight lasted for 8 months, before they rallied in April “06 and gave their “Grand Closing” show to say goodbye to the soon destroyed building, featuring work by artists they had heralded, some for their first solo shows, including Jet and Rubble, Abe Lincoln Jr, Solar, Rep1, GoreB, as well as shows by Magmo and MCA, Skewville, Pufferella, Overspray Magazine and Azstar.

With more guts and gusto, they eventually set up shop in a former bodega storefront in industrial Brooklyn, where a nascent street art scene was quickly ramping up. “The surrounding Bushwick galleries have been wonderfully supportive, there is a great neighborhood vibe and I really like and respect them,” says Ali.  A quick hike in almost any any direction from the gallery finds current street art installations from Swoon, Frank Duval, Judith Supine, Gaia, and Chris Stain.

Smart alecs and artists Welcomed

Smart alecs and artists Welcomed

The Factory Fresh coronation featured Orchard alumni Skewville during the Bushwick Open Studios weekend in June – an instant success that was swamped with fans old and new; It quickly sprayed a large stenciled red star on the Bushwick map, alongside other newcomers like English Kills, which is a sneaker-throws’ distance down Flushing. But don’t expect the haughty chilled white box here; Factory Fresh is just as committed to the community of artists as ever;  over the summer they hosted a show that paid tribute to the hardworking artists and interns who helped make the gallery launch successful with a showcase of their work.

With Fall roaring in, “Power and Currency” opens with 22 artists in tow.  A huge fan of Orchard Street, “style curator” Natalie Kates was asked to put together her inaugural show. “She came to our 8th show at Orchard Street which was Elik in January 2005… I always appreciated the way she handled herself”

“We are trying to expand our horizons, she knows things I have no clue about but blends them with things I know and love. Natalie surprises me every minute, it’s exciting,” says Ali.

For her part, Ms. Kates, a street art collector, was thrilled to get a chance to create a show, “Ali and Adam were the first art gallery in Manhattan to show Street art at the Orchard Street Gallery space.  My first purchases were three ELIK panel’s that I still to this day adore. When Factory Fresh approached me to curate a show I jumped on the opportunity.”

On the horizon, the auburn Ms. Ha exhibits her customary patience with the process, “We are taking it one day at a time, mostly. I have a few tricks up my sleeve but I also don’t like to plan things too much, you never know what the next day might bring. I like surprising myself, I like surprising my patrons.”

“I think working with lots of people is what will keep Factory Fresh current.  It takes a village, right?”

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INTERVIEW with style curator Natalie Kates about “Power and Currency”

Brooklyn Street Art: What first drew your interest to street art (or urban art)?

Natalie Kates:
I have always had a heightened visual sense and have been aware of urban art since the 80’s style old skool bubble letter tags and throw ups.  Some of my favorites were Lee, Seen, Martine, Futura 2000 and of course Keith Haring and Basquiat.  Having deep roots in the fashion industry I first started to notice a visual shift in the urban landscape with Kaws hijacking Fashion Ad Campaigns in the late ‘90’s.

Almost over night there seem to be a change of guard.  The new wave of urban artist had a new voice in the medium of stencils, wheat pasted cut-outs, stickers and glass tiles.  I wanted to know everything about this movement.

Funny Money by DFace (photo Natalie Kates)

Funny Money by DFace (photo Natalie Kates)

Brooklyn Street Art: It is not unusual to hear of an individual curating a show at a gallery, museum, or even nightclub.  What is a “style curator” in the context of a gallery?

Natalie Kates:”Style Curator” is a title/term/concept I came up with to best describe myself and what I am trying to manifest in the world. To me a style curator is a person who is able to think and curate on multiple levels. For example not only am I responsible for curating the artist but also responsible for curating music, guest lists, invites and the overall stylistic look and feel of event. A “Style Curator” is a person who curates style. Style can come in many forms such as fashion, art, music and esthetics.  It is a way of thinking and life.

Nicoz (photo Natalie Kates)

Nicoz (photo Natalie Kates)

Brooklyn Street Art: When street art enters the gallery, how does its’ energy change?
Natalie Kates: I am not sure if the energy changes, but I think the perception changes when in the context of a gallery.  A gallery can give street art it’s credibility the genre deserves.

Brooklyn Street Art: One artist collective, Peripheral Media Projects, recently has been creating large canvasses of storm-trooper looking police in Warholian “Silver Elvis” arrangements.  Do you think this show is influenced by fears of state power?_
Natalie Kates: PMP or Peripheral Media Projects is in the “Power & Currency” show.  They have come up with an amazing installation of “Riot Cops” on Plexiglas.  I don’t know if the images are influenced by fears of state power._
What I take from the images and the installation is a fear to conform, to be apart of a hive like mindset, the fear to not celebrate our differences and flaunt out human imperfections.

Peripheral Media Projects "Riot Cop" (detail)

Peripheral Media Projects “Riot Cop”   (photo Natalie Kates)

Brooklyn Street Art: Aiko and Bast have been introducing more graphic elements of sexualized or sexual imagery into their work.  How does sex enter the power equation?  Currency?_
Natalie Kates: Sex is power and does hold a currency.  Look back in history, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Evita Peron, all these women had this power and wielded its’ currency.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are there any examples in the show of the intersection of both power and currency?_
Natalie Kates: There are many amazing works of art in this show.  If I had to single out one piece it would be from artist Tom Fruin.  His piece is entitled “Bud Klan Church”.

Bud Klan Church by Tom Fruin (photo Natalie Kates)

Bud Klan Church by Tom Fruin (photo Natalie Kates)

Made from cut out Budweiser cans with (Klu Klux) Klan’s men illustrations in the silhouette of a southern church on fire. This is a solid piece that speaks of power and currency on many levels such as religion, fear, entitlement and alienation to name a few.

Brooklyn Street Art: From a curator’s point of view, what does the whole show look like when it all comes together in one location?
Natalie Kates: This show is a marriage of two art schools.  My attempt is a symbiotic relationship between the contemporary and street artist.  I feel the street artists can give a cool factor to the contemporary art while the contemporary artists can in a sense legitimize the street artist and give them their much needed nod in the global art world.

<<Brooklyn Street Art>>

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Factory Fresh

is located at 1053 Flushing Avenue between Morgan and Knickerbocker, off the L train Morgan Stop

“Power and Currency”

Opening Reception September 5, 2008 from 6-10pm
Show runs September 5 – October 3, 2008
Curated by: Natalie Kates

NatalieKates.com

Factory Fresh Website

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