Brooklyn’s Derby was a Tie!
“BROKEN HORSE” happened faster than you can say “Mint Julip” – in fact this show was too brief perhaps for such concentrated talent and such a strong collection of work.
Two street stencil artists, Logan Hicks and Broken Crow, inhabited an abandoned bank hall in Cobble Hill this weekend only, and even though their approach to their craft was different, they played off of each other happily while grounding each other in their mutual adoration of cutting stencils.
Friday night, despite a May Day deluge earlier and a misty fog-like darkness that crept through the Brooklyn streets, a fair number of fans of Logan Hicks and Broken Crow – known names on the street art stencil front – hurried past the tall wrought iron gates into a warmly lit temporary gallery with chandeliers and ceiling fans.
Logan Hicks is a meticulous multi-layering documentarian of imposing man-made structural engineering, architecture, the common byways worn by use and neglect, and the small matter of large groups of humanity. Veins, cracks, surface textures all create a heavy web of detail in a photorealistic way. Even when there are no human forms in the frame and you are looking at the worn geometry of a back alley, the evidence and activity of the throbbing mass is felt as it pounds through it’s ritual of living.
In one near-epic foreboding scene set on Broadway in Soho, the stark pairing of glistening industrial hues with hot acid red skies feels apocalyptic, yet the multi-headed horde plods on unimpressed and unaware of encroaching doom. Hicks has chewed his way through the tunnels and streets of cities around the world and is frequently drawn to weighty matter, whether marble, concrete, steel, or humans – and sees it without sentimentality.
Injecting a bit of levity, the Minnesotan duo Broken Crow (John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons) are primarily concerned with the animal kingdom/queendom, and their less layered style of stencil work promotes the creatures of the natural world back into our unnatural one with a big dollop of irreverence. Normally outside on ladders making large-scale murals, Broken Crow presented gallery-show sized portraits of animals snapped out of their context. Their open expressions talk directly to the viewer, joking or mocking what a fabulous job we’re doing.
There’s a grizzly on his hind legs in front of rubble in the street, here’s a porcupine looking you in the eye as he’s poised to stick a metal fork in an outlet, and now a monkey couple laughs together like they are watching “All in the Family” on the boob tube.
The out of context surrealism of some pieces will make you question a comparatively normal scene of birds flying past telephone poles. Broken Crows’ poppy colors, wide lines, and op-art backdrops keep it light, but the subtext may not be.
“Broken Horse” is a jolt of energy by observant and studied street artists refining their craft and leaving a mark. Hope you caught it, but if you didn’t you can see more work by the artists here:
And now for something completely different: Have you heard that song about Taco Bell and Pizza Hut?*