All posts tagged: Cambridge

A Roof With a View : Looking at Art Up Above

Climbing up on a roof during the sultry city summer can be liberating, and it turns out to be a prime place for painting too.  Away from the cacophony of the sweaty streets, the breeze up here is a little cooler and stronger and aside from the occasional potted tomato plant or sun-tanning waitress, you are on your own. You may not own any personal real estate, but right now this is all yours, this sweeping urban vista of grand, glassy, grimy, gawdy, and gutted.

For years graffiti writers and Street Artists have sought these undiscovered spots as a kind of refuge, an urban backyard for hanging out and going big, often collaboratively. You could say that rooftop spots even have a certain lore, a place to tell stories about and revel in. In a hard-knock nasty city that sometimes seems to swallow people whole, on this rooftop with a view you can do a huge piece and feel like you are holding it all down. Not to mention the bragging rights you can claim for hitting a high profile location that grabs eyeballs and raises the stakes. As for the city dweller, the work, as ever, is subjectively reviled, ignored, or celebrated. No one can truthfully deny its affect on the character of the cityscape.

Here are some choice roof shots by photographer Jaime Rojo across New York, LA, Chicago, and Boston to give you a birds eye view of some art from on high.

Rime, Dceve, and Toper in Chinatown, Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Rime, Dceve, and Toper in Chinatown, Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA on the water tower and Chris Stain and Billy Mode on the wall. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

News in DUMBO, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JR in Hunts Point, The Bronx as part of Inside Out – A Global Art Project. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JR in Hunts Point, The Bronx as part of Inside Out – A Global Art Project. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bare, Hert, Gable, Deth Kult, TVEE in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Rodeo, ILS, Bare, Hert, Gable, Deth Kult, TVEE in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon. The Central Street Roof in Cambridge, MA. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Anarkia Boladona in Hunts Point, The Bronx. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sweet Toof in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Deeker, Armer, Lister and Judith Supine in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Various & Gould in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Shepard Fairey in Los Angeles, Arts Disctric for LA Freewalls Project. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jaz and Cern in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Ludo in Chicago with Pawn Works Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

At Large, Nekst, Rusk in Williamsburg, Brookklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Take No Action, Hellbent, Sweet Toof in Willimsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swampy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tats Cru in Hunts Point, The Bronx. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Staino in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jeff Aerosol in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Gaia in Chicago with Pawn Works Gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Love Me, Screw Sacer in China Town, Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Veng, Royce Bannon, Werds in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Staino, Sefu and RTF at the High Line Park in Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

I Spy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

WK Interact in The Lower East Side, Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)



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Boston Street Art, and Swoon’s “Anthropocene” at ICA

Her name is unpronounceable, so people just call her Mrs. Bennett. One of the last aboriginal people in Australia, she sits atop a rolling line of four-eyed Tibetan demons with human faces who are sucking species into their mouths on this wall installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA). Traditionally these demons would be protective, but “Swoon really sees these as a representation of humanity’s need to devour, and in excess, to destroy“ explains Pedro Alonzo, curator of the show, as he gives guests a tour of “Anthropocene”, the two part installation by the Brooklyn Street Artist. The shows’ name refers to the current era, and according to Wikipedia, “The Anthropocene is a recent and informal geologic chronological term that serves to mark the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.”

brooklyn-street-art-swoon-ICA-boston-jaime-rojo-09-11-web-8Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Part two of the installation at this modern museum overlooking the Boston waterfront is the mini temple suspended from the ceiling in the entry hall to the galleries, best viewed from the glass central elevator that carries you from floor to floor. With joints hand-tied in a manner Swoon learned from Chinese scaffolding architecture, the 400 pound structure is made of bamboo, copper, and multiples of hand cut paper animals, species endangered or soon to be in this era of human destruction on Earth. “She built the structure in four parts, we assembled it and installed it (over 6 days), and she draped it with these materials, ” said Alonzo.


Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

During the installation the main hall was reserved for work tables and a temporary print shop, where many assistants spent hours hand cutting the animals and shapes that adorn the works and the parade that swings from the ceiling connecting the two areas. Seahorses, frogs, beetles, and butterfies all create the chain of life in this intuitive biologic story of connective species and collective endangerment. Disappearing before they can become fossils, the animal world is memorialized in this most ephemeral of materials, an exhibition that will similarly be destroyed when the wall is sanded and painted. In this impermanent way, it best mimics the installations Swoon does on the street.


Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Then out to the streets of Boston we went, hitting a number of spots with the guidance of photographer, artist, and Street Art expert Geoff Hargadon, who began one of the city’s only organic walls for Street Art and graffiti art in 2007. A natural magnet for painters and wheat-pasters, the ever-changing dialogue of “The Wall” on display is periodically wiped clean for a new group installation. The outdoor gallery has provided an outlet for hundreds of local and visiting artists as well as a providing a backdrop to photo shoots, video, and television programs. On the day we were there, a dancer was set to perform her moves under bright lights in the alleyway. Below are images from that days tour.


Swoon on the streets of Boston (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Swoon on the streets of Boston (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Swoon on The Wall at Central Square in Cambridge (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Alphonse (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Darkcloud, Mise. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Obey (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Syms (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Brian Butler. The Upperhandart on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Darkcloud on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Mancini and friends on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Mark Carvalho on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Mer One on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With special thanks to Swoon, Pedro Alonzo, the ICA, and sincere gratitude to Geoff Hargadon.

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