All posts tagged: Brooklyn Sreet Art

Date Farmer Carlos Ramirez Never Gives Up

Date Farmer Carlos Ramirez Never Gives Up

“There are a lot of royalty here with all these crowns,” we observe scanning over the fresh works taped and stuck to the walls in the front room of this Brooklyn brownstone at the Bedstuy Art Residency.

“Yes I’m always championing the underdog,” says Carlos Ramirez. “I’m kind of rooting for them.”

Half of the artist duo The Date Farmers with Armando Lerma and formerly an actual date farmer in the Coachella Valley in Indio, California, he knows what it is like to be an underdog.

The symbols of power are around the room on these medium sized canvasses and small objects newly painted and collaged with hand-rendered figures and re-purposed logos. The 2-D crown sits jauntily atop the head of a man at a kitchen table that is scattered sparsely with a baloney sandwich, a can of Campbell’s soup, a box of Minute Rice. Probably not a king, Carlos wants this guy to feel empowered.

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This is called ‘Cold Ass Soup’, he explains. “That has to do with latchkey kids who sit at home because you see them everywhere and my attention has always been drawn to that. Because what do these kids do, you know?” His familiarity with the term latchkey, which means a child who is often left at home with little parental supervision, relates strongly into his own experiences as a youth.

A Mexican-American, or Chicano, kid in the 1970s and 80s, the artist says he remembers what he did when he was left alone while his mom worked as a migrant agricultural employee picking produce in the fields. He entertained himself with daydreams and games, sometimes played with other kids, and he drew. Discovering this innate attraction and possible talent, drawing would become an increased focus for him over time, eventually opening doors – even though friends and family didn’t necessarily think much of it then, or even now.

Carlos Ramirez. Work in progress. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“I think it was a combination of two things. When I used to go to the fields with my mom and I had to wait in the car like eight hours there were these old books like drawing books with an Indian chief on the cover or something and sometimes she was gone and I would be drawing for hours,” he says.

“She would come and check on me and she would say “oh that looks good” and she would encourage it. I think she was encouraging it so that I would sit my ass there — and then she realized that I guess I had talent or something and I just never stopped.”

Neither did the hard times. Remembrances and stories include drug and alcohol abuse, violence in the home and community, serious health issues and suffering, and long periods of time with very little money, sometimes very little food. With and without specifics, Carlos describes a lot of the situations that he and his family went through as “crazy shit,” possibly because it was confusing and hard to understand for a child, or because it is too painful to recollect the details today.

Carlos Ramirez. Detail. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo) Refugees adrift, at the foot of the cross. “Life” is now “Lie”.

But the image of Jesus was always there on the walls, or at least the cross was – which is why that influence of Christianity is frequently mixing with Mexican pop culture, Low Rider aesthetics, street culture, Disney, clowns, devils, and the language of commercial advertising in his visual metaphors. Throughout are signifiers of power, influence, and the randomness of modern life that leaves many of us feeling uprooted and listing.

Would he say that he is into religion? “Yeah I believe it. I’m not too into it but I know that there is a greater power,” he says. Later on the topic of the image of Jesus at home and in the church, he says, “I’m not really religious but he kind of represents hope. I would see people kneel, you know. I didn’t know what hope was. Like troubled minds and troubled hearts and all that stuff – it wasn’t till I got older”.

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The concepts of good and evil and an interest in spiritual or mystic topics all appear periodically in the conversation, like the cell phone videos of UFOs in the sky over his home in recent years, or his necklace orbs that represent the distance of the earth from the sun, and a recent mind-body-spirit experience he had in Brooklyn with his mate Jeannette at a “sound bath” with Sound Practitioner Franck Raharinosy who guided visitors using music and hand-rendered auditory journeys performed while they lay quietly on mats.

“He started playing all these different instruments but when your eyes are closed you start to see all these patterns. I don’t even know what he used but it’s different frequencies, and I swear to you I started seeing patterns and I thought ‘Is that normal?’ I have never seen these – we saw colors, patterns …” he recalls.

Carlos Ramirez. Detail. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Talk turns to how the Date Farmers began as an official art duo when gallery owner and alt-art visionary Marsea Goldberg gave them the name. The two had had a little luck in their hometown selling work but tripped two hours to Los Angeles to basically walk their artworks around to galleries in their hands. He says that they’ve been working closely with Marsea since the mid 2000s but their personal and professional relationship dates back to those first days in the late 90s when she encouraged them to challenge themselves and to continue making more art.

“I named them, gave them their first show, wrote texts and books about them and I love them,” she tells us at a Brendan Fagen gallery opening this week in New York. Both the Farmers and Fagan (the artist formerly known as Judith Supine) are two of Goldberg’s genius picks whom she shepherded with her New Image Art gallery in LA while they were early in their careers along with other near-iconic or now-iconic names in Street Art/graffiti/Urban Contemporary art like Bäst, Ed Templeton, Barry McGee, Shepard Fairey, Chris Johanson, Anthony Lister, Neck Face, Cleon Peterson, and Retna.

“This is a weird-ass black cat,” Carlos says of the midnight colored feline looking at you from his current canvas-in-process.

What is the black cat doing? “He is selling fireworks,” he says, referring to the logo he lifted from the oldest maker of fire crackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets in the US. “I kind of just took the words out,” he says, “It’s not done.”

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: So you like to strip away the words?

Carlos: Yeah it’s kind of like composing with images. It’s a weird process, like random – like a scan.

“Where do these images come from – like this guy with the horns?” we ask him. “Do Mexican wrestlers and demonic influences influence you?”

“They’re kind of bad kids you know,” he says gesturing to an old beer can with a densely drawn face glued onto it. “When kids drink they start doing evil shit and so this is kind of more symbolic to kind of say ‘oh here’s a fucked up kid’ – so I put like little horns on him. Obviously he’s wearing Mickey Mouse ears and smoking – stupid kid.”

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

And the kid next to the fireworks black cat? Is he bad too? “Yeah you know fireworks … this is like – well, it’s a bad person and he needs to repent.”

The figures are dark, heavy, labored, square shouldered and square jawed. Backgrounds are Mexican candy-colored pinks, yellows. The color contrast is emblematic of the lives of people he’s known in Mexico and those who have moved to the US; an insistence on optimism and humor in the face of institutionalized racism, social inequality, police abuse, and economic injustice. Again and again he describes the ebullient sense of humor seen across the culture as a pragmatic tool for psychological and spiritual survival.

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Clearly, he is a survivor himself, one whose mother worked for/with the American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez in the late 1960s and 1970s, fighting for the rights of grape harvesters, among others. Even during some of the darkest days, including those when Chavez stayed in their home as part of an elaborate house-hopping scheme to escape being killed, Carlos recognized that his mother and his culture knew how to find ways to persevere and to be optimistic in a way that stems from Mexican roots and history.

“When I went out to places like Chiapas I noticed all these colors and it kind of represents their humor and how they can laugh at so much. And it’s not that they’re being cold – it’s just survival. They have seen so much that they are like ‘let’s use bright colors’ so they can keep their sense of humor – it’s some weird shit but I love it, man.”

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We ask why the figures are always dark, dense, strong, and inflexible-looking. His answer makes you realize how hard one has to become to survive sometimes.

“When I grew up if you were kind of like bummed out or sad they would look at you and say ‘Cut that shit out,” like “Knock that shit off.”

“And if I went to my mom and said my leg hurt she would fucking hit you with a belt on the other leg,” he says only half-joking, “to make it hurt more – then you could realize that your other leg didn’t really hurt”

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo) “I just take it from life and the shit I hear. Like the first day I got here there was this guy out of the street on the phone and he was saying ‘shit don’t cry don’t cry shit man.’ They’re kind of like human artifacts.”

Looking at the eye-popping bright colors that wash across his canvasses, he observes, “A lot of us go through this thing where we have learned not to be sensitive to things around with us, just do what you gotta do. It’s survival and suffering and the colors are just to get past it – to laugh at it.”

“I grew up with my mother where we would eat beans for like a month and we got through it and we still had happy times. And I’m not kidding, a lot of my family, when they got here, they would eat the armadillos in the street! They’d actually eat that shit and they were laughing – and who knows what else.”

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Are the difficult memories something that a person can move on from? “I don’t know maybe I’m still kind of healing from that shit because we went through some hard times and maybe that’s why these (figures) are kind of dark. I mean they are always dark but I see what you see. But I don’t know – it’s like something still needs to be said.

An activist at heart perhaps as a result of having people like his mom as a role model, Carlos looks at current political and social events and searches for ways to help the community. We talk about the DACA immigration program in the US that allows children brought to the country by parents who were not citizens to stay, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Since Trump took office, the DACA program has been under attack.

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Yeah I find it so hard to ignore that shit because I feel that sense of urgency because you’ve got to say something. Like I don’t know if I say it enough.”

His advice to DACA kids sounds like the champion of the underdog that he says he is, giving advice that in some way applies to himself as well; from a perspective of a lifelong and wizened fighter.

“I think I would want to say to them that there wouldn’t be a DACA movement if they hadn’t done what they have done. So never give up, you know? You know everything, unfortunately, is gradual sometimes and its in small battles – but it’s a big war. It’s kind of like racism – like I think there are some other people we need to deal with their attitudes and find out why they need that shit.”

“But I think, ‘Never give up. Ever, ever, ever, ever.’ “

Carlos Ramirez. Bedstuy Art Residency. Februray 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


 

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Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Every city has its own particular energy; it’s own articulated rhythm, its own unique chaos.

Mexico City’s is full of flourish and aspiration and fascination for the international new, while firmly rooted in respect for the past. When it comes to Street Art, murals, graffiti and discordant sub-cultural art movements that can disrupt the norm, this city shows the capacity to absorb and adapt and to continue moving forward, providing meaningful insights into the true nature of its people.

Curiot. Detail. For Lienzo Capital Project with Street Art MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This magic city of more than 20 million is often referred to as a gateway to Latin America: economically, socially, and politically. With high tech industry, banks, multi-national companies, a university system that serves 300,000 students, 150 museums, three UNESCO World Heritage sites… you can see why. With heavy traffic despite a subway system and many forms of public transportation, it can take hours for you to cross Mexico City (Distrito Federal (D.F)) and you can be assured that you’ll probably never see all 16 boroughs.

El Mac. Detail. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As Street Art and its associated movements move through Central and South America, invariably D.F. appears as an important tierra cultural to traverse. From an active graffiti scene and occasional mural festivals to a growing gallery representation and increasing museum interest, urban artists are capturing the attention of the Americas, making heads spin in public space. With Mexico City capturing nearly all the aspects at once, today we take a look at the city and give you only a few examples of the art in the streets here.

El Mac. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The September 19th earthquake of 2017 shook Mexico City exactly 32 years after 10,000 lost their lives in a larger one, the largest. With broken sidewalks and taped off buildings still as physical evidence, you can hear in the voices the trauma that rocked tall buildings back and forth like huge ships on the sea. In addition to these more physical shocks, the city has been rocked in recent years by a rising evidence of frightening power shifts relating to drug traffickers, accusations of institutional corruption, and a sharply rising economic inequality that is transforming developing/developed societies across the globe.

Built upon the ruins of the Aztec city called Tenochtitlán, which was one of the worlds largest in the 15th century, Mexico City appears persistently ebullient when banding together against adversity. Determined to excel beyond the horrors of conquest by the Spanish that decimated an entire indigenous culture, still the ruins rise above the ground and this multi-hued global city rumbles forward with determination.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sleek high rises and brightly patterned folkloric art and aerosol sprayed graffiti tags next to massive murals all blend and swirl like the jarabe Tapatío hat dance from block to block – a decisive commixture of the “brand new” with a heritage of indigenous/invader cultures that ruled here hundreds of years before. Today it’s a hybrid of purposeful optimism and wizened survival instincts that pushes the city forward, despite the shocks endured.

SEGO. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The magic and realism so famously combined by authors like Garcia Márquez and Esquivel along with the brutal honesty of Mexican filmmakers like Inarritu, del Toro and Cuaron is fused onto the bricks of colonial mansions and cinderblock industrial neighborhoods like Roma-Condesa and Centro Histórico. These colonias and others like Xochimilco and Coyoacán are historic, commercial, somehow always in transition.

Buster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you walk and weave over the chunks of disrupted sidewalks, the local mechanic’s car-repair taking place on the curb is complimented by the smell of stacks of fresh tortillas from the tiny tortilleria. The booming tented markets of witty pop-culture t-shirts, knock-off sneakers, and decorative phone cases are sharing your memory space with the eye-popping magenta, sea foam green, and lemon sherbert yellow hues of huge layered toile netting as quinceañera skirts plumped full of Dior and displayed regally behind full glass windows, shop after shop.

The narrow street in old Centro Historico surges with the sound of a live heavy metal band demonstrating the equipment at a music store at lunch time, and three Argentinian Street Artists (Ever, Elian, and Jaz) are creating plumes of aerosol paint from the opened second floor veranda doors across the street while home-made Judas Priest reverberates over and around the slowly moving bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Arty & Chikle. “Only Love”. Street Art MUJAM in collaboration with the Mexico City National Youth Institute for Young Adults. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of Mexico, “it’s always high noon and what glows is fuchsia and what’s dead is dead,” said author Henry Miller in his book Black Spring, and some spirit of that rings true here where so many objects and situations you encounter can be amazing and revelatory and yet locals simply roll them in a tortilla and toss it on a hot oiled comal for dinner.

The music options alone can be illustrative of the variety here: Las Madrigalistas are performing holiday classics in the Palacio Bellas Artes, Ricky Martin just played free for 100,000 in the Zocalo, there is an active punk scene that rivals many, a hiphop scene that draws fans from nearby cities, and a reverence for 1980s artists like Depeche Mode and The Misfits, and an almost religious devotion to Morrisey.

D*Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The scale of the murals can be as vast as the city, equally eclectically handmade and warm. Thanks to a rich heritage of mural-making and artists like Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros in the last century, the new generation of Mexicanos are interpolating the currents that ripple and wave through a society wedded to fierce independence and tradition. Today it is again rocked by our instant access to information and a global sense of modernity.

JET (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This means that an international Street Art scene in D.F. features not only Mexican alchemists like Saner, Curiot, Farid Rueda, Lesuperdemon, Dhear and Sego (among others) but also invites the English D*Face, Italians Ericailcane and BLU, Belgian ROA, Los Angelianos Retna and El Mac, Polish M-City, Argentian JAZ and German duo Herakut to influence the voice of the street. With a visual wealth of inspiration and disruptive or unusual imagery in play on the street, this still  jittery city smiles and confronts you as the year turns, a response that is in flux and fiesta, sorrow and memory, outrage and magic.

ROA. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While traveling through the city with Roberto Shimizu, a central figure in the modern Street Art/mural scene here, and by visiting Street Artists and critical curators and organizers in studios and alternative spaces inside and outside the city, we garnered a greater appreciation for the complexity of the story here. It is distinctly different from the model we’ve seen elsewhere and explains the less showy trajectory that this still organic ecosystem has taken.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As in most cities today you’ll find the organic and autonomous quality of works is best represented by one-off, handmade individual pieces of art and stickers throughout neighborhoods, many anonymous. These are not the large scale legal murals that unfamiliar observers sometimes refer to as Street Art. These are still the lifeblood of any real Street Art scene and are often indicators of its truer eclectic nature.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Maybe because there isn’t a large collector base for this work, or because some brands/marketers have already cheapened its image a bit, but Street Art hasn’t blossomed in the gallery world here to a great extent. Instead, true cultural curators like Shimizu have consistently led it directly to his festival programs or his family’s Mexico City’s Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM), and professors at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) are teaching about it to students .

Milamores and El Flaco. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We usually find the true nature of Street Art here is still in the streets – and in the artists community. In the Chulula area of nearby Puebla outside Mexico City, the mysterious renaissance seer named Milamores has quietly curated walls of many local and international artists over the last half decade, offering his compound and dogs for rest and companionship in a supportive artists space. Together with video animation artist Flaco he is presenting Street Art via Virtual Reality experiences that are in tandem with his organically grown mural program. Built on the site of a collapsed building from the 1985 earthquake, the artist/activist collective and community garden Huerto Roma Verde provides classes and workshops on art, sustainable architecture, gardening, and theater and has helped many artists to with mural opportunities as well.

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As an emblem of the conflicting and harmonious forces at play, we cite the relatively recent mural painted by the Spanish Street Artist Escif on the wall of the Chihuahua housing complex on the Plaza of Three Cultures just north of the city center. Illustrating the privately funded public projects that Street Artists are doing now throughout cities, this one plumbs the unhealed wounds and still unanswered questions of a shocking event of political repression almost 50 years ago here in the plaza designed by Mario Pani.

Not only does the plaza physically join together a Spanish colonial church and the remains of a pre-Columbian Aztec temple with the 13 story housing complex, the square is most known today for the October 1968 suppression of a student movement where troops ran directly over the ruins and fired on a peaceful rally and secret police captured and tortured student leaders who were speaking from the balcony. Protest art and public installations about the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping of 43 disappeared students recall the stories from 1968 today, and many make connections between the events.

Unidentified Artist. Installation in El Centro Historico for the 43 Desaparecidos. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Some academics have said the crushing of the student movement was part of a secret “dirty war” by the government to quiet dissent and present a unified Mexico image to the world ahead of the upcoming Olympics, but Shimizu tells us that visiting politicians to Escif’s new wall are pleased with the mural and made a tour by bus with guests to admire it. A monument to the Tlatelolco massacre stands in the plaza memorializing the events, and Escif made a few statements about his interpretation of his mural.

“As in my previous works, there is not a limited meaning in the ‘Chihuahua Mural’, but as many meanings as people try to approach it with,” said Escif to us recently about the two suited figures. He discusses his research into the events that took place, but ultimately he leaves the painting more open to interpretation. “Those two guys painted on the wall can be secretive executives, military officers, corporate people or anybody. That will depend on who sees the wall and his previous experiences.”

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For visitors to Mexico City looking for the local Street Art or graffiti scene it is helpful to recognize that this moment for a near-global fascination for art in the streets is here also intertwined with a national and local history, cultural pride, and the treasured heritage of indigenous peoples.

While so-called “western” countries may see a rebellious disaffected rage or critique as an overarching narrative for the graffiti and Street Art scene in New York, London, or Berlin, it may be that Mexico City, and Latin America by extension, is also very cognizant of its roots, in love with them even, always infusing new work with a certain respect for their progenitors. For an art practice that is characterized in part for its ephemerality the context of this particular urban environment reminds you of its often remarkable resilience.

Dueke . Miss1 Guette for MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

RETNA. The Beauty Project, 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detial. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SINKO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Kill Joy . Mazatl. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fusca .  Blast. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erica Ilcane. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


This is the first of two articles with BSA in Mexico City in collaboration with UN Berlin, it was originally published on the Urban Nation website, and the project is funded in part with the support of Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) in Berlin.

Read Part II here:

A Street View From Inside the Doors of Mexico City ; Galleries, Studios, Museums, and the Metro


Additional coverage by BSA in Mexico City:

An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

Saner, Mexican Muralist and Painter, Studio Visit. BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 2

Panteón and Watchavato “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Opens In Mexico City

Exploring New Techniques and Processes with Elian, Jaz and Ever in Mexico City

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special


This article is also published on the Urban Nation museum website:

 

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DOT DOT DOT: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

DOT DOT DOT: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

   

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.

*******

The Norwegian visual, public and conceptual artist DOT DOT DOT continues to define and explore his voice in his stencil works, whether solo or in collaboration. This year his detailed illustrations of vintage spray cans drew attention to his bonifides as an aerosol culture preservationist and his indoor/outdoor installations with the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) exposed him and his work to new audiences. For a 90s graff writer growing up outside Oslo, the move to an international stage continues, as does his taste for discovery. Today, at the beginning of the New Year, DOT DOT DOT says he is inspired by the work of another Street Artist/fine artist, Borondo, and his animated multi-layered glass installation on the art mile at Urban Nation this September- encouraging each of us to move forward.


DOT DOT DOT

We all have ended up in a certain safe path, and when something works it’s difficult to step back and break out.

“Hierarchie” by Gonzalo Borondo at the opening of the new Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) in Berlin, is a proof that we evolve.

“I wish the best to everyone out there to never stop growing, never be the same, make room for the possible and to believe in creating infinity… Happy New Year!

 

Artist: Gonzalo Borondo

September 16th, 2017

Location: Berlin, Germany

(Photo/Video: Gerdi Petanaj)

 

DOT DOT DOT

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The Yok & Sheryo: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

The Yok & Sheryo: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.

*******

The on-the-road nature of this graffiti-illustration-Street Art couple is becoming legend, with the Australian Yok and Singaporean Sheryo professionally spray-cationing across the world regularly, monthly, annually with their own particular hybrid of skater-tattoo-cartoon-rebel-traditional-culture reinventing itself in the moment, in the space. Officially Brooklyn citizens, the two wield aerosol cans as much to entertain themselves as to confound you, with their two aesthetic styles now seamlessly becoming one. Not content to present a pretty world, Yok and Sheryo investigate and analyze darker human impulses and psychological eccentricities with their characters and the trouble they can get into with monsters and pizza. Today Y&S tell us about an improvised piece they did this year in Bombay just for good luck.


THE YOK & SHERYO

We chose this photo because it is a glimpse of us on the road, this was an extra piece we painted while at a festival. A wall opportunity fell through so we made this piece instead.

These spontaneous paintings are what we enjoy most about traveling and we wish for more of these adventures in 2018.

The text translates to “Good Luck Cobra”

We like to leave little good luck charms in places we visit.

The Yok & Sheryo. Bombay, India. November 24, 2017. (photo © The Yok & Sheryo)

The Yok & Sheryo

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M-City: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

M-City: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.

*******

Gdańsk-based art professor and Street Artist M-City has been stenciling the inner workings of a real and imagined industrial world onto walls, sea vessels, and an aviation control tower among other surfaces for a decade or so. He uses his work as metaphor for larger messages, if you care to interpret them, and a thinking man like M-City rarely leaves a stone unturned in his observations of human foibles and geopolitics today or in history. Today he tells us about typical scene in cities around the globe where Street Artists and other Creatives bring a moribund place to life, only to have it snatched up by developers and culture vultures when the area matures into something profitable.


M-City

A few buildings look like nowhere else.

This one is located in the center of Gdańsk betweeen a shipyard and the old town. The Building has a long story and was built before the second war, becoming known as the biggest “Pumpernickel” bakery.

90% of the city was destroyed during World War II and that’s why in this photo the area is still a bit empty around it. Over 30 artist have spent the last few years creating here; painters, photographers, sculptors, theater people and many more. We did many shows in a gallery here and and in other parts of the building.

These cultural events and the environment we built – everything happened here without any public money, just a bit of private support. My studio is also inside and outside I did a lot of quick murals to comment on public and political life.

Now someone has bought our building and wants to destroy/develop it as soon as possible and to build part of a new town. This place will be gone by the end of the year. It was one of the last independent art places in our region and I don’t think that we will find this  kind of place in the future because the City is eating art spots fast and faster every year.

M-city. Gdańsk, Poland. (photo M-city)

 

M-city

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SANER: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

SANER: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.

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The Mexican SANER has taken many by surprise with his masterful handling of traditional symbols and language of his cultural heritage as well as his deft re-employment of them to tell his own stories. Influenced by those magic surrealists of mural-making from last century, SANER boldly uses the masks, daggers, and the rich palette of folklorico to talk about modern scourges of terror and hypocrisy – as well as poetically addressing fears, fantasy, and deep amorous emotion. Today we hear from him about a hope he has for the future and a beautiful image from a very important day for him and his lady this year.


SANER

This photo reflects our search for re-discovery through years of labor and life: “love”, and I don’t just talk about love with your companion, but self-love. Love for dreaming. Love for fear. Love for solitude. Love of re-discovery. Love for ones roots. Love to our human fellows. Love to the unknown brother. Love for the past and hope for the present.

2017 has left us with wonderful memories. A sea of emotions of all kinds but above all a myriad of reflections.

We leave 2017 behind with friends who are no longer walking along with us but rather will wait for us in a parallel universe. With those close to us left homeless by the earthquake. We move forward with sentiments of support which have united us as a community. We welcome 2018 filled with happiness for the opportunity to be able to write one more year in our history, but most of all for having the good fortune to keep discovering our mission in life.

I wish you all an enlightened 2018. A year of rejoicing in life. Let’s all build bridges with our deeds and dismantle divisive walls.

Welcome 2018.

Saner. Cuernavaca, Mexico. April 18th, 2017. (photo © Leo Vazquez)

 


Photo location: Cuernavaca, México
Date: April 08 2017
Photo by: Leo Vazquez
Art paper: Mojigangas de Felipe y Mika

 

SANER

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Icy & Sot, Land Art on Utsira Island, Norway.

Icy & Sot, Land Art on Utsira Island, Norway.

An essential element of creating works on the street or in the public sphere is having the latitude to discover and experiment. Here on Utsira Island in Norway the Street Art brothers Icy & Sot have been discovering ways to work with the garbage that the sea brings to the shores.

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

It’s an interesting way to spend your time when there is not really a street culture of any sort on this island where the total population is less than can fit into a subway car. Nonetheless the garbage that the artists were able to collect among these rolling hills of waving green grasses reminded them of the cities they’ve traveled to and made artwork for.

Somewhere along the way the guys Street Art practice has morphed into Land art, a movement quite separate from graffiti and Street Art, yet another one that was at least in part started by New York artists who were getting out of the city in the 1960s and 70s. Rather then manipulating the Earth directly, however, I&S are using as a canvas.

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Here at the water’s edge and far from the urban scene, Icy & Sot experiment with these found objects to further their examination of environmental matters, a theme they have often spoken to in their Street Art work.

“Norway is one of the most environmentally friendly nations on earth,” says Icy, “Especially Utsira which is a super clean and magical Island with 211 people living on it. It is frustrating to see all this plastic waste on the shores. This could have been dumped in the ocean in any part of the world, and if we collected it from the entire island it would create a huge mountain of plastic.”

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

One man’s garbage is another man’s art materials, so the artists show us here sculptural works and installations that they created while there.

“We did some interventions, installations about the environment and the plastic pollution,” says Sot. “We made all the works by using garbage that we collected with the islanders from a very small section of a shore in the island. In an hour we were able to collect so much plastic, there was everything you can think of that is made out of plastic; gasoline cans, soda/water bottles, shampoo, slippers …”

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot

“Warming Warning”, by Icy & Sot

 

Icy & Sot. Utsira Island, Norway. July 2017. (photo © Icy & Sot)

“Human Reflection On The Ocean”, by Icy & Sot

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OS GEMEOS Dreams Paintings, Sculpture, Music at Lehmann Maupin

OS GEMEOS Dreams Paintings, Sculpture, Music at Lehmann Maupin

Os Gemeos has taken one step closer toward bringing you into their dreams with them.

Is that music you hear?

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

An ongoing lucid travelogue of sorts, the Brazilian twins Otavio and Gustavo have been recording their dual citizenship of this world and a surreal one for their fans for at least a couple of decades. In these site-specific rooms you find multiple characters intersecting with graffiti culture, hip-hop culture, pattern, illustration, fantasy, the sky.

With imaginations captured as boys by the tales and adventures of 1970s and 80s streetwise graffiti kids the brothers’ Brazilian folk homages are stirred in sweetly with escapist fantasies of evading the law, creating your own community, making a famous name for yourself.

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Silence of the Music”, just opened at Lehmann Maupin gallery in New York last Thursday and attended by a thousand or fans, gives you five rooms of eye candy colored in autumn hues and sea foam washes, and periodic carnival-steampunk mechanical movement that surprises and triggers memory.

Everywhere are humorously attenuated yellow figures caught mid-mischief or mid-thought, posing with a stylish guile, completely aware of their surroundings. There are some painted collaborations with Doze Green and atop Martha Cooper photos and shout outs to Ken Swift and whole train writers like LEE and Futura. Beatboxes and bboys and spraycans are here, as are lighthouses and ocean storms and rowboats and animals and a sliver of moon for you to sit upon.

Also a sharper depiction of geometric forms.

For Os Gemeos in life and in art, there is little separation between external and internal worlds. For a few weeks this fall you can traverse both with them in New York.

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Detail. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos in collaboration with Martha Cooper (the artists used Ms. Cooper’s photo of the train lot printed on canvas). Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gemeos. Silence of the Music. Lehmann Maupin gallery. New York City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Silence Of Music” is on view through October 22nd at Lehmann Maupin gallery on 536 West 22nd Street, New York.

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Stik : His First Collected Volume of Work

Stik : His First Collected Volume of Work

An unusual little tall man, this Stik man.

Deceptively simple, he expresses profound truths that are anything but. Since the turn of this century in his hometown of Hackney, the formerly homeless Stik has been bringing his unassuming line drawn character out to the streets of northeast London, often Shoreditch. With few details and is as uncluttered as a logo, Stik towers above on the side of a housing behemoth, or a water tower, or a doorway.

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Now comes a handsome tome in red canvas that tells more about this artist who has been staying mum for so long. Like the unflashy Stik man, Stik is not malicious but thoughtfully quietly present, giving modest and monumental witness to the street – as well as social issues common to the street. While he does many authorized projects for human rights, social equality, and issues addressing immigration, homelessness, and family, Stik is largely and quietly advocating for an equitable view where each one is treated fairly.

Simple enough, right?

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STIK. Published by Penguin Books – Random House. New York City. 2016

 

Photos of the book plates by © Jaime Rojo

 

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David Bowie 1947 – 2016

David Bowie 1947 – 2016

A few shots of David Bowie as art in the streets. A New Yorker as much as a Brixtoner, Bowie and his wife could be seen on the sidewalks, in shops and restaurants here over the last few decades – and of course his image showed up periodically as art on the streets as well.

Without fumbling too much for words at the news of his death we’ll just say that we at BSA and artists everywhere owe a large debt of gratitude to this man for making new paths for us to walk and encouraging us all to make our own. Our world will never be the same without him.

Celebrate life today because, “These are the Golden Years.”

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Gazlay did this tribute to David Bowie on the streets of Brooklyn back in 2009. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Erik Denbreejen did this tribute to David Bowie back in 2013 using the lyrics to two of his songs, “Heroes”, and “Fashion” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rice (courtesy and ©BCN Street Art)

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James Cochran, aka Jimmy C, did this mural in Bowie’s hometown in Brixton, South London – and yesterday it became a memorial wall. (Photo © AFP)

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From the artists Facebook page late Monday evening in Brixton (© James Cochran)

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MBW tribute to David Bowie back in 2008 on the streets of Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

SONNI STARDUST

 Street Artist Sonni created this animation merging Ziggy Stardust into one of Sonni’s his own unique characters.

Gladys Hulot, AKA Hyrtis Animates David Bowie “Life in Mars”

A thrilling animation created by Hyrtis, who brings Bowie to life on the streets and performs his singing parts with a musical saw.

 Golden Years, David Bowie

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Nina Pandolfo in New York on a Wall for “Little Things”

Nina Pandolfo in New York on a Wall for “Little Things”

In town for her solo show at Coburn Projects on the Lower East Side, Brazilian graffiti/Street Artist/fine artist Nina Pandolfo is determined to retain a childlike innocence on this wall outside of her show. Three wide eyed figures are preserved in an age of wonder, small creatures popping from ones mouth and pastel patterns softly couching them like winter sweaters or quilt pieces decoratively filling the background.

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Her debut solo gallery exhibition here, this new mural features Pandolfo’s deftly understated use of freehand aerosol spray, stenciled geometrics, and brushwork.  Part of a graffiti scene growing out of São Paulo during the last two decades, Pandolfo continues to establish her individual voice as a muralist on the street with a distinctly soft and feminine view of lifes’ details rendered with dreamy sensitivity.

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nina Pandolfo for Coburn Projects. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Nina Pandolfo exhibition “Little Things For life” at Coburn Projects in NYC is currently open to the public. Click HERE for details.

 

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BSA Images Of The Week: 11.01.15

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.01.15

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A stunning panoply of events all at once this Halloween weekend in New York – The Mets are in the “World Series” playing here and everybody is a fan, the New York City Marathon is today (oldest participant is nearly 95), and everybody’s clocks get set back an hour. More than your average number of freaks and weirdos have been on the subway and street and in bars and in your hallway, some asking for candy, and a lot of people decorated their haunted castles. Check out our Halloween Street Art posting from yesterday, Boo!

Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Bifido, Binho, Cdre, City Kitty, Crash, Crummy Gummy, Curve, Hunt, London Kaye, Oldy, Rae, Ron English, Solus, Specter, Tony DePew, and Zafuto.

Top image above >>> Crummy Gummy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Oldy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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London Kaye (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Twunny Twunny Twunny four hours a day…Crash and Solus’ tribute to Joey Ramone – across the street from the ghost of CBGBs. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Observe . Listen . Reveal. Pillars of the fourth estate. Ron English re-interprets the three wise monkeys for #NotACrimeCampaign (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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City Kitty (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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An all too familiar scene- not sure what to think of this one. Check out the cat in the lower corner. Bifido in Athens, Greece. (photo © Bifido)

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Tony Depew (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The tags on the cab are a great balance to the CURVE (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Binho (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Zafuto. Not sure if the tag was added later. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Cdre takes on Chuck Berry. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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RAE sitting on a wall like Humpty Dumpty (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A Specter billboard take over nearly levitates futuristically. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Could this be Tuco Wallach? This piece is very similar to his Manimal series. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Hunt (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. Brooklyn, NYC. October 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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