With 700 languages spoken in these five boroughs, New York is a nerve center with a vast network of connections to the rest of the world. So, if you are feeling it, we’re probably feeling it too. This week, the Middle East conflict, more radioactive than ever, it would seem, is sending people into the streets in Manhattan and Brooklyn – with heightened emotions stoked by a media machine that loves to see us fight. Now, as we see continued bombings by Isreal outside of their country, as surrounding countries begin banging their war drums, and as the US sits in the sea nearby, more than one commentator on the news and in your local deli, laundromat, bookstore or bar are wondering aloud if a hot war can spread across the region, or further.
Closer to home, we see that street art has not reflected the events directly, but somehow, the anxiety that has been raised will be invariably internalized and aerosolized. We’ll keep an eye out for the messages and sentiments, which are far from unanimous.
Here is our weekly interview with the street: this week featuring Shepard Fairey, Mike Makatron, A Lucky Rabbit, Phetus88, Muebon, Ideal, Jurse, Skitl, Thobekk, Go4art, Polar Bear, Mr. ENT, ICU463, and Where’s the Water.
Here, for a few stolen moments, you can look at these items, most previously unseen, which floated through the lives of that nice Jewish boy band named Beastie back when Reagan was trickling down and the Dead Kennedy’s held forth. It’s called simply “Exhibit”; lending a bit of institutional weight to a curious and eclectic collection of personal items, artifacts, and ephemera— the kind of stuff you scan and absorb, inferring its weight, volume, and texture. You may imagine what the moment was like – and imagine what it was like to be a Beastie Boy.
Artists Cey Adams and Eric Haze figure strongly into the street-inspired visual aesthetic that packaged the unruly New York punk-hip-hop-abstract jazz trio during their rise in the 1980s and 90s. Just gazing across the collection, it strikes you again how our modern era gets much of its character from the legion of designers and artists who have presented it – in addition to the talent projected by the names on the marquee.
Now 40 years in and one very loved man down, the brash, uncouth manners and frankly nasty lyrics are tempered by our collective maturity, admitted to almost apologetically, and the ephemera and the work is what remains. The enthusiastic zestful energy that first busted a new identity in a chaotic sound field is here for you; in these displays, these videos, these vibes, and their intergalactic funk.
The first show of its kind about the Beastie Boys opens Saturday, December 10, at CONTROL Gallery on the US coast opposite New York – possibly more sun-drenched and skate culture inflected – but certainly bringing the “sonic irreverence of hardcore and punk, blended with the bawdy and rebellious sounds of emergent hip-hop,” they became known for.
“The story of punk rock, hip-hop, skateboarding, and graffiti wouldn’t be complete without a chapter on Beastie Boys and the inedible mark they made on a movement that harmoniously merged the worlds of music and youth culture into a soundscape and experience all of its own,” says curator and co-founder Roger Gastman in a press release.
Beastie Boys fans will see a full sweep of ephemera and priceless idiosyncratic memorabilia they collected while making and promoting their albums – from Licensed To Ill, to Paul’s Boutique, to Check Your Head & Ill Communication, Hello Nasty, The Mix-Up, and Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
“We’re happy that someone besides us appreciates all the weird shit we’ve collected,” says Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz.
EXHIBIT is produced by CONTROL Gallery, BEYOND THE STREETS, and Goldenvoice.
For further details and information on Beastie Boys Exhibit click HERE
They used to run from the Vandal Squad in this
neighborhood. Now people pay to see their art here.
Through the expansive glass wall on the 6th floor you can look down Kent Avenue to see the spot where a monster pickup truck with a heavy chain tied around a FAILE prayer wheel almost jackknifed on the sidewalk, gave up and sped away. Not that many Brooklynites saw that event in the 2000s – nobody walked here and few people drove through Williamsburg then except truckers looking for street walking ladies wearing high heels and spandex. Oh, and a serial killer.
Now visitors buy tickets to see a circular colonnade of FAILE prayer wheels here at 25 Kent – including the real estate developers and Wall Street professionals who displaced the community of artists whose work made the neighborhood attractive and “edgy”.
Along with Street Artists in this exhibition like Shepard Fairey, Bast, Swoon, Invader, Aiko, Dan Witz, Katsu, 1UP, and Lister, the FAILE duo put completely illegal artworks on walls under cover of night and threat of arrest in this same neighborhood then – transforming it with many others who are not in this show into an open gallery of the streets, placing Williamsburg on the map as New Yorks’ epicenter of the newly emerging Street Art scene.
The Nature of Graffiti and Street Art
As graffiti and Street Art are migratory and necessarily elusive by nature, this story is only one chapter in a volume of history that serious academics are now reconstructing and analyzing. With each passing year and published white paper, the practices of 20th century public mark-making are being examined in greater detail for archiving and for posterity. Not surprisingly, institutions, patrons, collectors, and brands are increasingly interested in this story as well.
When it comes to the anarchic subculture of illegal
street art practice and its influence on society, there are non-stop ironies
sprayed en route from verboten to Vuitton, and street culture has supercharged
the imagination of the mainstream and high culture throughout history – that’s
where the best ideas come from sometimes. Many seminal artworks from “the
scene”, as it were, represent much more than what you are seeing at first
glance. As art and cultural critic Carlo McCormick has described the iconic
Shepard Fairey ‘Hope’ image in Art in
America, many graffiti and Street Art works saved are “not a
fleeting pop-culture sensation but simply the latest crossover hit in a long
line of underground classics.”
The wide-ranging survey that is Beyond the Streets makes sure that you know where the roots are, and who many of the pioneers were. It is impossible to tell a complete story that includes scenes as diverse as west coast Chicano muralism, hobo graffiti, hip-hop commercial design, NY downtown artivism, Japanese low/hi contemporary, skateboard, tattoo, early train writing and a current romance with muralism, but BTS at least gives a serious consideration to each and offers you the opportunity to look further into them.
With the help of photography documentation from people like Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Jim Prigoff, Lisa Kahane, Joe Conzo, John Fekner, Bill Daniel, Maripol, and Dash Snow, the crucial importance of this work provides needed interstitial and contextual information that enables myriad stories to be elucidated.
Exhaustive, no. Exhausting, possibly. Pace yourself.
spent my life surrounded by graffiti and Street Art,” says the shows’ director
Roger Gastman “and you could say that I have been obsessed with understanding
the culture, its origins, and its evolution. It’s incredible to me how far it
With 150 artists whose practices span five decades
and various (mainly) American subcultures displayed in a maze of new walls in
this 100,000 sf, two-floor exhibition, the Beyond the Streets senior curatorial
team includes Gastman, filmmaker/ graffiti historian Sacha Jenkins SHR, Juxtapoz
Editor in Chief Evan Pricco, and author/ graffiti historian / graffiti writer David
CHINO Villorente. Each curator brings core competencies and knowledge of the
graffiti scene (Gastman, Jenkins, Villorente) as it has evolved to include the
Street Art practice and an eventual move toward contemporary art (Pricco).
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Villorente, who says his history as
a graffiti writer compounds the impact for him. “I was glad that the show was
coming to New York because I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I couldn’t have
imagined it – especially when I think back on when I was writing on the trains
and doing illegal graffiti. To have of show of this magnitude is really
“We started writing in ’68 and here we are, fifty-one years later,” says Mike 171 as he gestures toward himself and crew writer SJK 171 when talking about how they began and continued writing their tags on the street in New York City. “This is the history right here,” he says, and you know you are about to be schooled about the plain realities of early graffiti writing. At the opening, you witness each guy tagging in a large dusty window here and realize the love for writing never actually stops.
“We were expressing something that was inside of us,” says SJK 171. “The streets were like ours,” he tells you against a backdrop of their work, Cornbread’s work, and of images full of one color, single line monikers that set the stage for the more colorful, character-driven pieces and burners a decade later, transforming trains into a rolling aesthetic symphony by the mid 1970s.
One of the actual “whole car” writers of that period, Lee “LEE” Quinones, here recreates a “Soul Train” car side on a canvas that looks like it could easily wrap an actual MTA #2-line car that he used to slaughter with cans in the middle of the night at the train yard. When describing the new work he said he was intentionally keeping it simple – perhaps owing the style to his earlier practice.
“I think this is one of Lee’s most amazing pieces,” says Charlie Ahearn, the director of the seminal 1982 “Wild Style” film that Quinones stars in. Ahearn self-produced that film which became an important distillation of the merging of graffiti with hip-hop culture during a pivotal moment in the history of both. Now also a professor of Hip-Hop, art, design, and documentary film making at Pace University, Ahearn is familiar with many of the artists work here, many relationships reaching back decades. “I told Lee that I liked that it was a one-off, that he painted all the color straight off without the embellishment, texturing, and all that stuff.”
Charlie’s twin brother John Ahearn is represented here popping out from walls as well, his sculptures serving as authentic portraits of people you may easily have seen on New York streets over the last four decades. Casted directly on top of the people themselves in a technique he has perfected, the placement of the sculptures gives life to the space.
Star Writers, Immersive Environments, Foundations
The individual clusters of work and canvasses by 1970s-80s train painters like Futura, Crash, Lady Pink, Freedom, Carlos Mare, Blade, Haze, and Daze and next gen graphic painters like Doze Green and Rime are complemented by a number of so-called “immersive” spaces here like the Mission Schools’ Barry McGee storefront with smashed window, and the Australian Pop duo Dabs & Myla’s eye candy floral walls with thousands of artificial fauna created in collaboration with Amelia Posada.
The high-profile graphic activist Shepard Fairey’s 30 year career overview takes a large area and encompasses all elements of his street and studio practice, and Bill Barminski’s cardboard home is open for you to explore with a wry smile, remembering the security room installation he did at Banksy’s Dismaland a couple years earlier.
also treated to a full rolling wall of Craig Stecyk posters that brings you the
sun and surf of California skate culture, sculptures by Mr. Cartoon and Risk, a
kid-friendly illustrated room with crafting supplies for young fans on tables
from HuskMitNavn, and an astute freight train culture educational display by
writer/painter/sculptor Tim Conlon (complete with a mid-sized Southern Pacific freight
on train tracks he and friends built), prints/photos by historian Bill Daniel, and
original drawings by the man some call the King of Hobo Art, buZ blurr.
are a self portrait as predicated on a first Bozo Texino person and I kind of
changed the image around,” says Mr. blurr, a legendary figure in denim
overalls, as he patiently describes his classic tag image of a railway cowboy.
is a writer motif – the pipe smoke is going up and then it is trailing back to
signify movement as the train goes down the track,” he says. “I worked in the
train yards and my job was as a brakeman. I had a little free time so I started
making drawings. I made my first one on November 11, 1971,” he says as he
recalls the state of mind that he was in at the time as he began to tag
freights with the image and text that came to him clearly – and may have
perplexed other travellers.
came from a confused state. I was questioning everything. I was putting kind of
cryptic messages under my drawings. It was anybody’s guess as to its literal
interpretation. I addressed some of them up to specific people but whether they
saw them or responded to them, I wouldn’t have any idea.”
it’s shipped in the crate its 550 pounds,” says Conlon as he stands by the 3-foot
high freight car re-creation on tracks and ties that is
hit with a couple of wild and colorful graffiti burners. “Here I’m going to
show you something,” he says as he pulls back the roof to reveal the narrow
coffin interior in rusted red. “So I’m going to hide some beer in here during
the opening party. This is like the fifth one of these I’ve made,” and he proudly
confides that one lives in the house of Robert Downey Jr.
Digging Deep to Take Risks
to rest on laurels and previous formulas of success, the show keeps a freshness
by presenting known entities pushing themselves further and taking creative risks;
a reflection of that spirit of experimentation we have always prized on the
writer Earsnot from Irak crew, now known professionally as Kunle Martin, said
he had been making work for the gallery containing elements of graffiti, but
felt they were too “safe”.
“Then my friend Dan said ‘you should go back to doing drawings,’” he says as he stands before figurative canvasses in black and white on cardboard. “I said ‘I can’t! It’s too hard! But eventually I began working in my studio five days a week, and I made enough for a show.”
Reflective of the attitude of Gastman toward artists in the community, he told Martin that if he made enough of them, he could place them in this show. “I think he was happy to hear that I was in my studio working. He’s been very supportive of it.”
color-drenched graphic/photographic collage style is featured with plenty of
space in large frames from Chicago’s Pose, who says he is letting photography
and geometry lead him away from his previous pop collage style that may have reminded
many of Lichtenstein. His inspiration here comes from his research into early
photos of graffiti writers running from police “I was
obsessed with John Naars photos and I have usually Norman Mailer as in
inspiration. Some of these photo references are from the Philadelphia Inquirer,” he says.
New York’s Eric Haze also dares himself to take a new direction with three canvasses featuring a refracted piecing-together of imagery and memories of this city in monochrome. Based on black and white scenes of the city by photographer and NYC taxi driver Matt Weber, the scenes capture aspects that are culled from imagination and impression. The centerpiece canvas captures an iconic piece of the Williamsburg waterfront that has been removed in the last few years by developers; the signage of the old Domino Sugar factory by the Williamsburg Bridge.
Mr. Haze said he meant it as a gift and tribute to
his wife, actress and longtime resident of the neighborhood, Rosie Perez who
used to see it along Kent Avenue as a kid. “He’s not afraid to take risks. He’s not afraid to go in the
studio and express what’s inside of him. When he brought me to the studio, he
says, ‘I have a surprise for you’,” she remembers. “I saw the beginnings of the
Domino painting and I was stunned into silence and I got teary-eyed.”
An expanded version of the show that first mounted
in Los Angeles last year, the collection is focused a great deal on the
American history of graffiti with a balance of East/West coast graffiti history
– in a way that may remind you of 2011’s “Art in the Streets” at LA MoCA. That
makes sense, considering Gastman co-curated that show as well.
“It’s both a historical and current look at where
the culture went and where it started and how widespread it is,” says
co-curator Evan Pricco, who perhaps provides a lynchpin view toward the big
name Street Artists who continued to push expectations in the 2000’s on streets
and in commercial galleries around the world. “With the space spread over two
floors it has a way better curatorial sense. I also think it does compete with
museums because it shows that this kind of work is on the same level. You kind
of have to present it in a way that feels very institutional and archival.”
So is Beyond the Streets
a graffiti show or a Street Art show or a contemporary art show? For artist
Kenny Scharf, who first gained attention during the heyday of Downtown
Manhattan’s art scene that benefitted from an interlude where rents were dirt
cheap and Wall Street was on a cocaine high, there is no need to categorize
what kind of art this is.
“You know I never liked labels or titles anyway so
even back in the early 80s I was pegged like ‘oh you’re a graffiti artist,’” he
says. “People feel the need to title and label so I’ll
let them to continue to do that but I don’t fit into any of them and I don’t
want to. I want to fit into all of them and none of them.”
Streets opened June 21 and continues through the summer.
Martha Cooper’s work as exhibited at Beyond The Streets New York
Beyond The Streets NYC is now open in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the general public and will run until August 2019. Click HERE for schedules, tickets and details.
Gastman’s Massive Graffiti and Street Art Show Arrives at Epicenter.
“I’m really excited to bring this show to New York,” says curator, graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman, “because the city plays such a pivotal role in the origin and evolution of the culture. The iconic images of covered subway cars made graffiti famous worldwide.”
He’s talking of course about “Beyond The Streets” the hybrid exhibition that he mounted in LA last year featuring the work of 150 who have proved to be pivotal to the evolution of a fifty year global people’s art movement that includes graffiti, street art, and urban contemporary art. Filling over 100,000 square feet of new space in Brooklyn, this two-floor cross-section survey will feature artworks by many of the same vandals, graffiti writers, Street Artists, and art activists who hit NYC streets, created dialogue with passersby, and were sometimes chased by the authorities. To see them showcased here is to recognize that there is not just one route to take – in fact there are many.
“We have an incredible roster of artists for New York,” Gastman tells us, “and a brand new space in Williamsburg that has a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline as our backdrop.” Notably the lineup includes artists whose work BSA has documented on the streets in this very same neighborhood over the past two decades, including Shepard Fairey, Faile, Swoon, Bast, Invader, Aiko, and others. Ironically the appearance of free-range Street Art in the neighborhood has been seriously diminished since that time.
The exhibition is one more verification that a significant portion of the scene is being widely recognized for its cultural contribution and value in the contemporary art canon – a significantly fluid scene fueled by discontent and a desire to short-circuit the established routes to audience appreciation. Like large survey shows elsewhere, the takeaway is the significant impact street culture and its tangential subcultures continues to have on the culture at large.
Gastman says the New York version of “Beyond The Streets” will take an
additional interest at the role of music and art activism on the street, along
with immersive installations, a tattoo parlor, a special Beastie Boys
installation with artifacts and ephemera, a new 30th Anniversary
Shepard Fairey project “Facing The Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent,” and large
scale works by Gorilla Girls, Futura, Cleon Peterson, and Takashi
More news coming on programming and events, but the important opening date to know right now is June 21st.
“All in all, it will make for a really special show this Summer,” says Gastman.
BEYOND THE STREETS TEAM
Curator: Roger Gastman
Co-Curators: Sacha Jenkins SHR, Evan Pricco, David CHINO Villorente
A-ONE, AIKO, Al Diaz, Alexis Ross, Alicia McCarthy, André Saraiva, Barry McGee, BAST, Beastie Boys, Bert Krak, Bill Barminski, Bill Daniel, BLADE, Broken Fingaz, Buddy Esquire, buZ blurr, Carlos Mare, Carl Weston, Cey Adams, C.R. Stecyk III, Charlie Ahearn, Chaz Bojórquez, Claudia Gold, Cleon Peterson, COCO 144, Conor Harrington, Corita Kent, Craig Costello, CRASH, DABSMYLA, Dan Witz, Dash Snow, DAZE, DEFER, Dennis Hopper, Dondi White, Doze Green, EARSNOT, Estevan Oriol, Fab 5 Freddy, FAILE, Faith XLVII, Felipe Pantone, FREEDOM, FUTURA 2000, Gajin Fujita, Glen E. Friedman, Gordon Matta-Clark, Guerrilla Girls, HAZE, Henry Chalfant, Herb Migdoll, Husk Mit Navn, INVADER, Jane Dickson, Jason REVOK, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, Jim Prigoff, John Ahearn, John Fekner, John Tsombikos, Joe Conzo, José Parlá, KATS, KC Ortiz, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Kilroy Was Here, LADY PINK, LAZAR, LEE Quiñones, Lisa Kahane, MADSAKI, Maripol, Mark Gonzales, Mark Mothersbaugh, Martha Cooper, Matt Weber, Maya Hayuk, Michael Lawrence, MIKE 171, MISS 17, Mister CARTOON, Nina Chanel Abney, NOC 167, Pat Riot, Patrick Martinez, Paul Insect, POSE, PRAY, Rammellzee, Randall Harrington, RETNA, Richard Colman, Richard Hambleton, RIME, RISK, Ron English, Ruby Neri, SABER, Sam Friedman, SANESMITH, Sayre Gomez, Shepard Fairey, SJK 171, SLICK, SNAKE 1, SNIPE1, STAY HIGH 149, Stephen Powers, SWOON, Takashi Murakami, TAKI 183, TATS CRU, TENGAone, Tim Conlon, Timothy Curtis, Todd James, Trash Records, UGA, VHILS, and ZESER
The show is developed in partnership with Adidas and Perrier. Additional support provided by Modernica, Montana Colors, NPR, NTWRK, Twenty Five Kent and WNYC.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Adam Young, Adelaide, Am3ba, Bask, Buff Monster, David Flores, Hero, Nils Westegard, Olek, Pop Mortem, Rep 1, Skount, Street Hart and Wakuda.
A new tribute to musician and activist MCA of the Beastie Boys by David Flores starts begins a series of historical sites that Delta Bravo Urban Exploration will be doing. The mural is located by what was once home to the Beastie Boys G-Son Studios in Atwater Village, California.
David would like to send special thanks to Farmer Piper, Olivia Noelle Bevilacqua, and the whole DBUET crew. MCA RIP
Street Artist LUDO shows his active imagination is in full force with these new billboard takeovers in Paris that blend unusual themes with his ongoing fascination for insects and technology.
First are the insect playboys, appearing to merge a porno sensibility and animation 3-D rendering with the natural world. Since Summer is the season for insect love in the park perhaps the gentlemen bugs mind turns to centerfolds and multi-legged playmating?
The second installation, by way of tribute to the passing of rapper Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch is his nod to the 1986 Beastie Boys Album cover for “Licensed to Ill”. In LUDO’s version, the crashed plane is morphed into an insect chassis and rechristened “Beestie”.
1. Male Massage Poster from Manny Castro
2. Reed Projects Now Open with “The Re-Jects” (Norway)
3. “Vues sur murs” in Brussels
4. “Vari-Okey” with Everman (Atlanta)
5. A Classic from The Beastie Boys Gets a Tribute Remix – SABOTAGE! (VIDEO)
6. Yue Minjun, Mark Jenkins and Aakash Nihalani (LA)
7. Augustine Kofie’s Angle in LA
8. (Re)-Print at Hendershot Gallery in The Bowery
9. “Keep Wild Life In The Wild” At ThinkSpace
10. “At Home I’m A Tourist” – Selim Varol at Me Collectors Room
11. Cyrcle Daydreaming with James Lavelle (VIDEO)
12. CELEBRATE BOB Moog : Moog Factory Mural Time Lapse (VIDEO)
Dear BSA Reader: Finding yourself at the end of another long hard week? Why don’t we all just go get a massage and release all that pent up anxiety and pressure? Thanks to Manny Castro for taking the photo of this ad and reminding us about the power of therapeutic touch.
Reed Projects Now Open with “The Re-Jects” (Norway)
If you happen to call the port of Stavanger, Norway this weekend we recommend that as soon as you get off of your cruise head straight to Reed Projects where one of Street Art’s greatest rejects has mounted an art show to inaugurate his brand new gallery. The show “The Re-Jects” is now open to the public and the artists include: Dolk, Evol, Roa, Brad Downey, Escif, Dan Witz & Vhils.
Living Walls The City Speaks Atlanta 2012 continues to bring world talented artists for all ya’ll. This Saturday Living Walls Concepts invites the public to be an active participant in the the festival with artist Everman. If you are interested in participating you must first stop by AM1690’s “Vari-Okey” event this Saturday, May 26 at the Goat Farm and sign up for Evereman’s workshop through ARTWORKS, the new digital platform that will transform your involvement in the Atlanta arts scene. Promise.
Everman (photo courtesy of Living Walls 2012)
For further information regarding this event click here.
A Classic from The Beastie Boys Gets a Tribute Remix – SABOTAGE! (VIDEO)
Yue Minjun, Mark Jenkins and Aakash Nihalani (LA)
The Carmichael Gallery in Culver City, CA has invited artists Yue Minjun, Mark Jenkins and Aakash Nihalani for the new show opening tomorrow.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Augustine Kofie’s Angle in LA
“I’m truly honored to have the chance to share a lot of these more dense collage works with my LA peoples,” says Augustine Kofie about his new show “Working an Angle” which opens Saturday at the Known Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Also Happening this Weekend:
(Re)-Print at Hendershot Gallery in The Bowery in NYC. A mostly prints show showcasing some of your most beloved Street Artist. Click here for more details regarding this show.
“Keep Wild Life In The Wild” At ThinkSpace Gallery in Culver City, CA. This is an art exhibition with some of the proceeds form the sale benefiting Born Free with the participation of more than 100 artists from all over the world. It should be fun. Click here for more details regarding this show.
“At Home I’m A Tourist” An Exhibition showcasing works of art and toys from the vast collection of Selim Varol at Me Collectors Room in Berlin Germany. Click here for more details regarding this show.
Cyrcle Daydreaming with James Lavelle (VIDEO)
CELEBRATE BOB: Moog Factory Mural Time Lapse (VIDEO)
Dude, Wednesday was Bob Moogs’ 78th birthday. Cool right? Awesome. Here’s a brand new portrait on the side of the Moog factory in Asheville, North Caroline by artist local artist Dustin Spagnola.