All posts tagged: Bill Barminski

“Beyond The Streets” Opens in New York : Beyond Labels, With Roots

“Beyond The Streets” Opens in New York : Beyond Labels, With Roots

Look Who’s Back in the Neighborhood

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.

Faile. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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. 

Swoon. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Martha Cooper with BGirl Rockafelka. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Joe Conzo. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Scale, The History

Exhaustive, no. Exhausting, possibly. Pace yourself.

 “I 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 has come.”

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 special.”

Mike 171. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

“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.

Cornbread. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo). Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Lee Quinones. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“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.”

John and Charlie Ahearn. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

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

Dabsmyla. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Myla. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Shepard Fairey. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Bill Barminski. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You’re 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.

John Fekner. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“These 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.

“It 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.

buZ blurr. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“They 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.”  

Tim Conlon. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When 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

Not content 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 street.

Graffiti 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”.

Kunle Martin AKA Earsnot. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“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.”

Kunle Martin. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A fluorescent 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.

Pose. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pose. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

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.

Haze. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.”

Rosie Perez. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Beyond Labels

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.

Kenny Scharf. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“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.”

Beyond the Streets opened June 21 and continues through the summer.

MADSAKI. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Blade and Doze Green. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Katsu. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Gajin Fujita. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Faith XLVII. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
John Ahearn. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jane Dickson. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dan Witz. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew…it’s always a good thing to have your friends near by when you need them the most… Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)ork. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Cleon Peterson. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Conor Harrington. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Felipe Pantone. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Beastie Boys. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Nekst . Risk. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Bast . Paul Insect. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Invader. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ron English. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Patrick Martinez. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dust tagger. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Martha Cooper with Freedom. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
What’s left and soon to be gone of the old Williamsburg’s waterfront right across from Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

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Sneak Peek of “Beyond The Streets” Now Mounting in Brooklyn

Sneak Peek of “Beyond The Streets” Now Mounting in Brooklyn

Hammering the display walls, sanding off the plaster bumps, the whirring and popping of construction drills: Two assistants are helping 1970s NYC subway writer Lee Quinones lay out a #2 train-car-length canvas on the floor while you are distracted by the Empire State building puncturing the Manhattan cityscape across the East River, a sweeping vista through the glass walls of this new high-rise in Williamsburg.

“Hello?” Martha Cooper takes a phone call at Bill Barminski’s fantasy installation in progress where each object has been crafted from paper and cardboard. Beyond The Streets, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Nearby Cornbread’s notebook hangs next to his signature, a potent visual reverberation across five decades from graffiti’s Philly roots.

Elsewhere there are the sounds of woodsaws and metal clanging accompany the one-line drawings of freight-writer buZ blurr as historian Bill Daniel is completing his comprehensive mini-exhibition within this massive exhibition. With trains and photos and modern relics of American rail lore on display, this crucial antecedent of modern-day aerosol “writing” emerges and blows its chimes as well. This is a particular slice of the graffiti story that Mr. Daniel may describe, as he does in The Secret History of Hobo Graffiti, as “the dogged pursuit of the impossibly convoluted story of the heretofore untold history of the century-old folkloric practice of hobo and railworker graffiti.”

Vintage anti-graffiti posters from a private collection. Beyond The Streets Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It’s an apt descriptor for Beyond The Streets as well. This multi-artist graffiti/Street Art-influenced exhibition directed by the discerning shepherd and seer Roger Gastman that is now mounting over two floors and 100,000 square feet in North Brooklyn tackles an endlessly convoluted evolutionary path. He says the size and composition of the exhibition has slightly changed since its first mounting last year in Los Angeles, and he is acutely aware that its location is in the city that claims a huge part of the graffiti genesis story, carrying perhaps a steep level of expectations.

Not that he has reason to worry: there are more hits here than a blowout at Yankee Stadium.

Lady Pink. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Like the blast of colors and pieces at a sunny Saturday afternoon Meeting of Styles jam, this show of many writers, photographers, documenters, collectors, painters, vandals, and attitudes won’t disappoint. You can see and construct your own version of a celebratory story that illustrates and reveals surprising ways that the street subculture has left its mark indelibly on the mainstream, yet often stayed separate.

From the Beastie Boys wigs worn in the “Sabotage” music video to the camera Joe Conzo used to shoot the Cold Crush Brothers, to the MDF and cardboard pay phone by pop sculptor Bill Barminski, and Dash Snow’s hi-low societal slumming photographs depicting sex, drugs, rhyming and stealing, visitors easily will have a flood of images and histories to author their own convoluted version of the graffiti and Street Art tale.

John Ahearn with a detail of Swoon’s wallpaper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Swoon. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Al Diaz (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dabs of DabsMyla at work on their installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Martha Cooper discussing the options to hang her photos with a production assistant. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lady Aiko. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Mr. Cartoon installation in progress. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Beastie Boys…there’s more here…much more… (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Detail of Shepard Fairey’s 30th Anniversary retrospective installation. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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“Beyond The Streets” Comes To Brooklyn in June

“Beyond The Streets” Comes To Brooklyn in June

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.”

Style Wars Car by NOC 167 with Door Open, Man Reading Newspaper, 96th Street Station, New York, NY, 1981. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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.

Guerrilla Girls at Abrons Art Center, New York, 2015. (photo © Andrew Hindrake)

“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.

Lil’ Crazy Legs during shoot for Wild Style, Riverside Park, NY, 1983. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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 Murakami. 

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

Producer: Ian Mazie & Pressure Point Creative


Tickets and hours of operation can be found at: BEYONDTHESTREETS.COM


FEATURED ARTISTS INCLUDE:

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.

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“Beyond The Streets” Exhibition : Gastman’s Train Pulls In to LA

“Beyond The Streets” Exhibition : Gastman’s Train Pulls In to LA

A steel-wheeled graffiti train with Roger Gastman at the controls roars into LA’s Chinatown for a two-month stay at this station, a 40,000 square foot warehouse that houses “Beyond the Streets.” Originating at the streets and train yards of the 1960s and 70s, this express survey carries with it 100 or so artists and writers from across the last five decades as practitioners of graffiti, Street Art, and mural painting. Somehow, everyone gets represented.

Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Opening night featured many of the names associated with its earliest beginnings of the New York /Philadelphia graffiti scene like Cornbread, Taki183, Futura, Lady Pink, filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, among many others, including photographer Martha Cooper, who in addition to being an artist in the show, shares these photos with BSA readers. She also extensively shares her photos for the accompanying show catalog,  providing documentation from the scene that exist nowhere else.

Retna. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

A diverse and almost overwhelming series of displays present the works in a way that can only hint at the thousands of artists who built this story, necessarily viewed through a wide lens: sculpture, photography, installations, and multi-media all join the canvasses and ephemera and Gastman’s collection of vintage paint cans. Smartly planned for the selfie generation, large pieces are presented almost as backdrop ready to be Instagrammed; a direction coming from the “Photos Encouraged” sign that is next to the wall covered with Retna’s original alphabet near the entrance.

Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Somewhat of a rejoinder to Art in the Streets, the eponymous graffiti and Street Art exhibition in 2011 at LA MoCA, Beyond the Streets takes a focused look at the multitudinous peoples’ art movement from the perspective of one of that first shows’ original curators, Roger Gastman. When arranging the two month exhibition that closes July 6th, Gastman says that his focus was to celebrate those with street cred, in terms of individual practice, and to combine that requirement with a respectable semblance of a studio practice.

Ultimately he looked for artists who have used their particular approach to expand the definition of art in the streets in some way. That definition by now has become quite wide and it’s also a tall order for any curator to find the common themes here and present them in a cohesive manner.

Beyond The Streets, compiled by Roger Gastman.

Both the accompanying catalog and exhibition take a welcome stance toward educating the audience in many ways, helping the viewer to decode this freewheeling graffiti and mark-making history with basic vocabulary terms, historical events, pop culture inflexion points and examination of tools of the trade all adding context. Catalog essays and interviews are incisive and enlightening, including wit, sarcasm and even the occasional admonishment – notably in the essay by author, filmmaker, and curator Sacha Jenkins, who has been documenting the graffiti scene for a least a couple of decades.

Studying the move of some artists from street practice to commercial gallery that began in earnest with early NYC train writers transitioning to canvasses in the early 1980s, Jenkins upbraids a disgruntled faction among old-school graffiti writers who he characterizes as perhaps intransigent in their stylistic evolution and unwilling to adapt with the game. Later in his essay he lambasts the overtly pleasant and narcissistic cultural newcomers who he sees as milk-toasting the scene with their adoration of pretty murals and shallow sentiments, obtusely ushering in gentrification and “leading up to hearing about how my mother’s building is going to get bulldozed for a hip residential building that has a hot tub in every apartment.” He also may be the only writer here so openly addressing race and class distinctions present during the evolution of the scene and now.

Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

The selection of artists and writers in the book and exhibition, many of them friends and colleagues with whom Gastman has worked with in the past, offers a rewarding and accessible panoply of styles and views. With some study the visitor understands connections in a widely dispersed multi-player subculture that coalesced and continuously changed its shape and character. But even if they don’t, they still get an amazing amount of eye candy.

The catalog offers extensive sections like those devoted to The History of Spraypaint and Graffiti in Galleries, and offers petite exegesis on influencing factors and benchmarks that shaped the art form’s route like Mobile DJs, The ’77 NYC Blackout, the European graffiti scene and graffiti’s role in gang culture, hip-hop and hardcore music. The compilation aids and supports the fullness of a story that frankly requires many voices to tell it. Gastman even gives forum and exhibition space to activist and defiant guerilla gardener Ron Finley and the holistic urban horticultural oases that he creates in South Central LA, calling it his form of graffiti in empty lots of the city.

Martha Cooper with Taki 183. Beyond The Streets. (photo courtesy of Martha Cooper)

With insightful interviews of artists in the exhibition from talented writers like Caleb Neelon, Caroline Ryder, John Lewis, Alec Banks, Evan Pricco, John Albert, Shelly Leopold, and Gastman himself, there are enough colorful anecdotes and decisive signposts en route to help tell the stories of the artists and their individual approaches to the street.

“The artists do not share a singular style, since they are primarily united by a common element of their personal biographies – the fact that they once made their art in the streets,” says self-described novice to the Street Art / graffiti world, Adam Lerner, the Director and Chief Animator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. “There are, however some threads that run through the works.”

Beyond the Streets will help visitors find some of those threads for themselves and undoubtedly they will forge their own interpretation of art in the streets.

Faile. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Invader. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Slick. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Takashi Murakami with Madsaki, Snipel, Tenga One and Onesker. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Lady Pink. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Charlie Ahearn . Futura . Lady Pink. Crash. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Mr. Cartoon. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Futura. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Futura takes a photo of Haze’s art work. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Niels Shoe Meulman. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Ron Finley’s Gansta Gardener installation. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Corn Bread. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Corn Bread. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

Crash . Daze. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Katsu. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Bill Barminski. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Faith XLVII. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Shepard Fairey. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Jenny Holzer, Flashlight (In Collaboration With A-One). Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Blade. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Aiko. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Al Diaz. Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)

Barry Magee. Beyond The Streets. (photo and video below © Martha Cooper)

 

Beyond The Streets. (photo © Martha Cooper)


For more information please visit https://www.beyondthestreets.com/

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