This time of year, it is hard to find people in Manhattan on the weekends – they’re “weekending” in the Hamptons, darling.
Not exactly the original setting you might associate with graffiti, street art, hip-hop, punk rock, zines, and underground art culture but where else can curators Evan Pricco and Kim Stephens sell these works on paper while sipping cool drinks poolside?
“Beyond the Streets” carries the mobile party to Southampton Arts Center this Saturday with a wide swath of styles – 500 works from over 100 artists in an art fair-sized venue. It may remind you of the Urban Air Fair tried in Manhattan in summer 2017, but this one has something that one didn’t: Roger Gastman.
If it’s here, it’s because it is quality work and has a connection to the roots of these subcultural scenes usually as well. Expanding now to the more nebulous category of Contemporary, you may be surprised to see more accessible interpretive variations on the themes. Let’s see that paper, people.
Artists include: Action Bronson, Addam Yekutieli, agnès b, AIKO, André Saraiva, Andrew Schoultz, Andrew Thiele, Andy Rementer, Aryz, Bert Krak, Brandon Breaux, Broken Fingaz, Bryant Giles, Camille Walala, CES, Cey Adams, Charlie Ahearn, Chloe Early, Chris FREEDOM Pape, Clark Fox, Cody Hudson, Conor Harrington, Craig Costello, CRASH, DABSMYLA, Daniel Rich, David “Mr StarCity” White, DAZE, DEFER, Emily Manwaring, Eric Haze, Ermsy, Escif, FAILE, Faith XLVII, Fucci, Greg SPONE Lamarche, Gustavo Zermeno, Hilda Palafox, House 33, HuskMitNavn, Ian Reid, Icy & Sot, Jaime Muñoz, Jamilla Okuba, Jane Dickson, JEC*, Jeremy Shockley, Jillian Evelyn, JK5, John Konstantine, Julian Pace, KATSU, KC Ortiz, Kelsey Brookes, Khari Turner, Kime Buzzelli, LeRoy Neiman, Linas Garsys, Liz Flores, Lucy McLauchlan, Lujan Perez, Maripol, Mark Mothersbaugh, Martha Cooper, Marshall LaCount, Matt McCormick, Maya Hayuk, Michael Vasquez, MIKE 171, Mister CARTOON, Neena Ellora, Nehemiah Cisneros, Nettie Wakefield, NUNCA, Otto183, Paije Fuller, Paul Insect, POSE, Rebecca Morgan, Reko Rennie, Rello, Richard Colman, RISK, Ron English, Ryan McGinness, Sage Vaughn, Saladeen Johnson, Scott Campbell, Sean from Texas, Senon Williams, Shantell Martin, Shepard Fairey, SJK 171, Sofía Enriquez, SNOEMAN, Spacebrat, STASH, Steve ESPO Powers, SWOON, TAKI 183, The Perez Bros., Timothy Curtis, Todd James, Troy Lamarr Chew II, Umar Rashid, Victor Reyes, Wasted Rita, Wulffvnky, Yarrow Slaps, Yusuke Hanai, ZESER, ZOER and 45RPM.
BEYOND THE STREETS on PAPER July 17—August 28, 2021 Southampton Arts Center, Southampton, New York, 11968
This Saturday marks the opening of an outstanding exhibition in Bristol, England documenting the pivotal role the city has played in the formation of street art from the 1980s to today. Entitled Vanguard Bristol Street Art: The Evolution and mounted at the Global Movement Bristol Museum’s M Shed, the show presents the view of this worldwide movement as seen through the birth and growth of Bristol’s scene from the perspective of artists singular voices rising together in a crescendo that shook the arena of public self-expression with maverick ideas and activist ideals.
Vanguard positions itself as an examination of artists creative response to Bristol’s “pioneering underground scene throughout the UK’s turbulent social and political history” with a focus on driving social change – one that influenced subsequent street artists everywhere.
Among the Bristolian and UK artists featured will be new works by Adam Neate, Andy Council, Antony Micallef, Bill Posters, China Mike, Conor Harrington, Dale VMN Collins (Dale Marshall), Dicy, Eko, Feek, Filthy Luker, Inkie, Lucas Price, Lucy McLauchlan, Matt Small, Mau Mau, Mr Jago, Paris, Rowdy, Sickboy, Swoon, Will Barras, and Xenz.
A trove of documentation presents times that provide context and insight into the wild, wooley, and ingenious artist works that shaped what was to come – including a five minute edit of the seminal film Wild Style by filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, and a new seven-minute film by Scottish filmmaker Doug Gillen. Additionally presented are unseen and classic images specific to the Bristol graffiti and street art scene by Henry Chalfant, Matthew Smith, Carrie Hitchcock, Yan Saunders, and Beezer, along with projections by Kineta Hill and Karen Dew.
Running through October 31st this year, the original works and memorabilia are key to understanding the events and socio/political arnarchistic framework that sparked and fueled what became known as the Bristol scene, replete with an accompanying book featuring worldwide academics, film directors, writers, artists, creatives and specialists and an exclusive album of tracks forming the roots of the Bristol Sound.
We’re pleased to offer a sneak peek of the show here today and we encourage you to make the trip to see what will undoubtedly be sited as an important exhibition – as we all continue our education about the pathways of the global evolution of street art.
Vanguard | Bristol Street Art: The Evolution of a Global Movement is kindly supported by Vans. Vanguard | Bristol Street Art: The Evolution of a Global Movement M Shed, Bristol, BS1 4RN Saturday 26 June 2021 – Sunday 31 October 2021 Admission £8 adult* / £7 concession* (*Tickets include £1 voluntary donation to Bristol Museums Development Trust)
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Calligrafreaks Project – A New Era of Writing 2. Who Is My Brother? 3. Graffiti Hunting In NYC – Beyond The Streets 2019 Via Migz Tatz 4. Gray Mountain, Green Room 5. CARDI B Interviews Bernie Sanders
BSA Special Feature: Calligrafreaks Project – A New Era of Writing
In a collaborative gallery space or at a barbecue on Devil’s Mountain, Berlin’s calligraffiti writers and artists are showing off the attitude and exactitude of the city as well as the evolution of this artform.
Hosted by Theosone at the “Scriptorium Berlin” and
curated by Makearte, a small selection
of scientists artists are convened at the Letters Temple where artists create
an exhibition with lucid and ornate letter skillz. Later on Devil’s Mountain
(Tefelsberg) they paint together for the first time.
The sound and editing are sharply done by Abstract Monollog with a certain finesse as well.
Who Is My Brother? A Film about artist Ben Farleigh by his brother Jacob Perlmutter
Those kooky middle class artists, making crafty art and movies about each other. Simply loveable aren’t they?
Graffiti Hunting In NYC – Beyond The Streets 2019 Via Migz Tatz
Migz Tatz takes people on graffiti hunting escapades on the regular. Here is his hand-made trip to the Beyond the Streets exhibit in Williamsburg, Brooklyn currently on display – and now extended into late September. Not everyone can get to New York so this is one guys personal experience walking through the exhibit.
Gray Mountain, Green Room
Another homemade video tour without complete attribution to the artists, Jared Amiljo-Wardie wanders along U.S. HWY89 in Arizona. He happens upon a collection of illegal artworks from Gray Mountain that BSA published years ago. It is good to see that an arid climate preserves many of these works – even if he doesn’t know who they are by – because he thinks of them as part of his film making expression. He also describes his adventure with a poetic cadence.
“The earth has begun to reclaim most of the parking lots in Gray Mountain and with time the buildings too but for now it remains in the early stages of decay. As I sweat through perfecting a gimble shot a group of people stop to inspect the apocalyptic scene; an abandoned hotel and gas station. While I do my fourth take I hear windows begin to break. “
They used to run from the Vandal Squad in this
neighborhood. Now people pay to see their art here.
Through the expansive glass wall on the 6th floor you can look down Kent Avenue to see the spot where a monster pickup truck with a heavy chain tied around a FAILE prayer wheel almost jackknifed on the sidewalk, gave up and sped away. Not that many Brooklynites saw that event in the 2000s – nobody walked here and few people drove through Williamsburg then except truckers looking for street walking ladies wearing high heels and spandex. Oh, and a serial killer.
Now visitors buy tickets to see a circular colonnade of FAILE prayer wheels here at 25 Kent – including the real estate developers and Wall Street professionals who displaced the community of artists whose work made the neighborhood attractive and “edgy”.
Along with Street Artists in this exhibition like Shepard Fairey, Bast, Swoon, Invader, Aiko, Dan Witz, Katsu, 1UP, and Lister, the FAILE duo put completely illegal artworks on walls under cover of night and threat of arrest in this same neighborhood then – transforming it with many others who are not in this show into an open gallery of the streets, placing Williamsburg on the map as New Yorks’ epicenter of the newly emerging Street Art scene.
The Nature of Graffiti and Street Art
As graffiti and Street Art are migratory and necessarily elusive by nature, this story is only one chapter in a volume of history that serious academics are now reconstructing and analyzing. With each passing year and published white paper, the practices of 20th century public mark-making are being examined in greater detail for archiving and for posterity. Not surprisingly, institutions, patrons, collectors, and brands are increasingly interested in this story as well.
When it comes to the anarchic subculture of illegal
street art practice and its influence on society, there are non-stop ironies
sprayed en route from verboten to Vuitton, and street culture has supercharged
the imagination of the mainstream and high culture throughout history – that’s
where the best ideas come from sometimes. Many seminal artworks from “the
scene”, as it were, represent much more than what you are seeing at first
glance. As art and cultural critic Carlo McCormick has described the iconic
Shepard Fairey ‘Hope’ image in Art in
America, many graffiti and Street Art works saved are “not a
fleeting pop-culture sensation but simply the latest crossover hit in a long
line of underground classics.”
The wide-ranging survey that is Beyond the Streets makes sure that you know where the roots are, and who many of the pioneers were. It is impossible to tell a complete story that includes scenes as diverse as west coast Chicano muralism, hobo graffiti, hip-hop commercial design, NY downtown artivism, Japanese low/hi contemporary, skateboard, tattoo, early train writing and a current romance with muralism, but BTS at least gives a serious consideration to each and offers you the opportunity to look further into them.
With the help of photography documentation from people like Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Jim Prigoff, Lisa Kahane, Joe Conzo, John Fekner, Bill Daniel, Maripol, and Dash Snow, the crucial importance of this work provides needed interstitial and contextual information that enables myriad stories to be elucidated.
Exhaustive, no. Exhausting, possibly. Pace yourself.
spent my life surrounded by graffiti and Street Art,” says the shows’ director
Roger Gastman “and you could say that I have been obsessed with understanding
the culture, its origins, and its evolution. It’s incredible to me how far it
With 150 artists whose practices span five decades
and various (mainly) American subcultures displayed in a maze of new walls in
this 100,000 sf, two-floor exhibition, the Beyond the Streets senior curatorial
team includes Gastman, filmmaker/ graffiti historian Sacha Jenkins SHR, Juxtapoz
Editor in Chief Evan Pricco, and author/ graffiti historian / graffiti writer David
CHINO Villorente. Each curator brings core competencies and knowledge of the
graffiti scene (Gastman, Jenkins, Villorente) as it has evolved to include the
Street Art practice and an eventual move toward contemporary art (Pricco).
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Villorente, who says his history as
a graffiti writer compounds the impact for him. “I was glad that the show was
coming to New York because I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I couldn’t have
imagined it – especially when I think back on when I was writing on the trains
and doing illegal graffiti. To have of show of this magnitude is really
“We started writing in ’68 and here we are, fifty-one years later,” says Mike 171 as he gestures toward himself and crew writer SJK 171 when talking about how they began and continued writing their tags on the street in New York City. “This is the history right here,” he says, and you know you are about to be schooled about the plain realities of early graffiti writing. At the opening, you witness each guy tagging in a large dusty window here and realize the love for writing never actually stops.
“We were expressing something that was inside of us,” says SJK 171. “The streets were like ours,” he tells you against a backdrop of their work, Cornbread’s work, and of images full of one color, single line monikers that set the stage for the more colorful, character-driven pieces and burners a decade later, transforming trains into a rolling aesthetic symphony by the mid 1970s.
One of the actual “whole car” writers of that period, Lee “LEE” Quinones, here recreates a “Soul Train” car side on a canvas that looks like it could easily wrap an actual MTA #2-line car that he used to slaughter with cans in the middle of the night at the train yard. When describing the new work he said he was intentionally keeping it simple – perhaps owing the style to his earlier practice.
“I think this is one of Lee’s most amazing pieces,” says Charlie Ahearn, the director of the seminal 1982 “Wild Style” film that Quinones stars in. Ahearn self-produced that film which became an important distillation of the merging of graffiti with hip-hop culture during a pivotal moment in the history of both. Now also a professor of Hip-Hop, art, design, and documentary film making at Pace University, Ahearn is familiar with many of the artists work here, many relationships reaching back decades. “I told Lee that I liked that it was a one-off, that he painted all the color straight off without the embellishment, texturing, and all that stuff.”
Charlie’s twin brother John Ahearn is represented here popping out from walls as well, his sculptures serving as authentic portraits of people you may easily have seen on New York streets over the last four decades. Casted directly on top of the people themselves in a technique he has perfected, the placement of the sculptures gives life to the space.
Star Writers, Immersive Environments, Foundations
The individual clusters of work and canvasses by 1970s-80s train painters like Futura, Crash, Lady Pink, Freedom, Carlos Mare, Blade, Haze, and Daze and next gen graphic painters like Doze Green and Rime are complemented by a number of so-called “immersive” spaces here like the Mission Schools’ Barry McGee storefront with smashed window, and the Australian Pop duo Dabs & Myla’s eye candy floral walls with thousands of artificial fauna created in collaboration with Amelia Posada.
The high-profile graphic activist Shepard Fairey’s 30 year career overview takes a large area and encompasses all elements of his street and studio practice, and Bill Barminski’s cardboard home is open for you to explore with a wry smile, remembering the security room installation he did at Banksy’s Dismaland a couple years earlier.
also treated to a full rolling wall of Craig Stecyk posters that brings you the
sun and surf of California skate culture, sculptures by Mr. Cartoon and Risk, a
kid-friendly illustrated room with crafting supplies for young fans on tables
from HuskMitNavn, and an astute freight train culture educational display by
writer/painter/sculptor Tim Conlon (complete with a mid-sized Southern Pacific freight
on train tracks he and friends built), prints/photos by historian Bill Daniel, and
original drawings by the man some call the King of Hobo Art, buZ blurr.
are a self portrait as predicated on a first Bozo Texino person and I kind of
changed the image around,” says Mr. blurr, a legendary figure in denim
overalls, as he patiently describes his classic tag image of a railway cowboy.
is a writer motif – the pipe smoke is going up and then it is trailing back to
signify movement as the train goes down the track,” he says. “I worked in the
train yards and my job was as a brakeman. I had a little free time so I started
making drawings. I made my first one on November 11, 1971,” he says as he
recalls the state of mind that he was in at the time as he began to tag
freights with the image and text that came to him clearly – and may have
perplexed other travellers.
came from a confused state. I was questioning everything. I was putting kind of
cryptic messages under my drawings. It was anybody’s guess as to its literal
interpretation. I addressed some of them up to specific people but whether they
saw them or responded to them, I wouldn’t have any idea.”
it’s shipped in the crate its 550 pounds,” says Conlon as he stands by the 3-foot
high freight car re-creation on tracks and ties that is
hit with a couple of wild and colorful graffiti burners. “Here I’m going to
show you something,” he says as he pulls back the roof to reveal the narrow
coffin interior in rusted red. “So I’m going to hide some beer in here during
the opening party. This is like the fifth one of these I’ve made,” and he proudly
confides that one lives in the house of Robert Downey Jr.
Digging Deep to Take Risks
to rest on laurels and previous formulas of success, the show keeps a freshness
by presenting known entities pushing themselves further and taking creative risks;
a reflection of that spirit of experimentation we have always prized on the
writer Earsnot from Irak crew, now known professionally as Kunle Martin, said
he had been making work for the gallery containing elements of graffiti, but
felt they were too “safe”.
“Then my friend Dan said ‘you should go back to doing drawings,’” he says as he stands before figurative canvasses in black and white on cardboard. “I said ‘I can’t! It’s too hard! But eventually I began working in my studio five days a week, and I made enough for a show.”
Reflective of the attitude of Gastman toward artists in the community, he told Martin that if he made enough of them, he could place them in this show. “I think he was happy to hear that I was in my studio working. He’s been very supportive of it.”
color-drenched graphic/photographic collage style is featured with plenty of
space in large frames from Chicago’s Pose, who says he is letting photography
and geometry lead him away from his previous pop collage style that may have reminded
many of Lichtenstein. His inspiration here comes from his research into early
photos of graffiti writers running from police “I was
obsessed with John Naars photos and I have usually Norman Mailer as in
inspiration. Some of these photo references are from the Philadelphia Inquirer,” he says.
New York’s Eric Haze also dares himself to take a new direction with three canvasses featuring a refracted piecing-together of imagery and memories of this city in monochrome. Based on black and white scenes of the city by photographer and NYC taxi driver Matt Weber, the scenes capture aspects that are culled from imagination and impression. The centerpiece canvas captures an iconic piece of the Williamsburg waterfront that has been removed in the last few years by developers; the signage of the old Domino Sugar factory by the Williamsburg Bridge.
Mr. Haze said he meant it as a gift and tribute to
his wife, actress and longtime resident of the neighborhood, Rosie Perez who
used to see it along Kent Avenue as a kid. “He’s not afraid to take risks. He’s not afraid to go in the
studio and express what’s inside of him. When he brought me to the studio, he
says, ‘I have a surprise for you’,” she remembers. “I saw the beginnings of the
Domino painting and I was stunned into silence and I got teary-eyed.”
An expanded version of the show that first mounted
in Los Angeles last year, the collection is focused a great deal on the
American history of graffiti with a balance of East/West coast graffiti history
– in a way that may remind you of 2011’s “Art in the Streets” at LA MoCA. That
makes sense, considering Gastman co-curated that show as well.
“It’s both a historical and current look at where
the culture went and where it started and how widespread it is,” says
co-curator Evan Pricco, who perhaps provides a lynchpin view toward the big
name Street Artists who continued to push expectations in the 2000’s on streets
and in commercial galleries around the world. “With the space spread over two
floors it has a way better curatorial sense. I also think it does compete with
museums because it shows that this kind of work is on the same level. You kind
of have to present it in a way that feels very institutional and archival.”
So is Beyond the Streets
a graffiti show or a Street Art show or a contemporary art show? For artist
Kenny Scharf, who first gained attention during the heyday of Downtown
Manhattan’s art scene that benefitted from an interlude where rents were dirt
cheap and Wall Street was on a cocaine high, there is no need to categorize
what kind of art this is.
“You know I never liked labels or titles anyway so
even back in the early 80s I was pegged like ‘oh you’re a graffiti artist,’” he
says. “People feel the need to title and label so I’ll
let them to continue to do that but I don’t fit into any of them and I don’t
want to. I want to fit into all of them and none of them.”
Streets opened June 21 and continues through the summer.
Martha Cooper’s work as exhibited at Beyond The Streets New York
Beyond The Streets NYC is now open in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the general public and will run until August 2019. Click HERE for schedules, tickets and details.
Gastman’s Massive Graffiti and Street Art Show Arrives at Epicenter.
“I’m really excited to bring this show to New York,” says curator, graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman, “because the city plays such a pivotal role in the origin and evolution of the culture. The iconic images of covered subway cars made graffiti famous worldwide.”
He’s talking of course about “Beyond The Streets” the hybrid exhibition that he mounted in LA last year featuring the work of 150 who have proved to be pivotal to the evolution of a fifty year global people’s art movement that includes graffiti, street art, and urban contemporary art. Filling over 100,000 square feet of new space in Brooklyn, this two-floor cross-section survey will feature artworks by many of the same vandals, graffiti writers, Street Artists, and art activists who hit NYC streets, created dialogue with passersby, and were sometimes chased by the authorities. To see them showcased here is to recognize that there is not just one route to take – in fact there are many.
“We have an incredible roster of artists for New York,” Gastman tells us, “and a brand new space in Williamsburg that has a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline as our backdrop.” Notably the lineup includes artists whose work BSA has documented on the streets in this very same neighborhood over the past two decades, including Shepard Fairey, Faile, Swoon, Bast, Invader, Aiko, and others. Ironically the appearance of free-range Street Art in the neighborhood has been seriously diminished since that time.
The exhibition is one more verification that a significant portion of the scene is being widely recognized for its cultural contribution and value in the contemporary art canon – a significantly fluid scene fueled by discontent and a desire to short-circuit the established routes to audience appreciation. Like large survey shows elsewhere, the takeaway is the significant impact street culture and its tangential subcultures continues to have on the culture at large.
Gastman says the New York version of “Beyond The Streets” will take an
additional interest at the role of music and art activism on the street, along
with immersive installations, a tattoo parlor, a special Beastie Boys
installation with artifacts and ephemera, a new 30th Anniversary
Shepard Fairey project “Facing The Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent,” and large
scale works by Gorilla Girls, Futura, Cleon Peterson, and Takashi
More news coming on programming and events, but the important opening date to know right now is June 21st.
“All in all, it will make for a really special show this Summer,” says Gastman.
BEYOND THE STREETS TEAM
Curator: Roger Gastman
Co-Curators: Sacha Jenkins SHR, Evan Pricco, David CHINO Villorente
A-ONE, AIKO, Al Diaz, Alexis Ross, Alicia McCarthy, André Saraiva, Barry McGee, BAST, Beastie Boys, Bert Krak, Bill Barminski, Bill Daniel, BLADE, Broken Fingaz, Buddy Esquire, buZ blurr, Carlos Mare, Carl Weston, Cey Adams, C.R. Stecyk III, Charlie Ahearn, Chaz Bojórquez, Claudia Gold, Cleon Peterson, COCO 144, Conor Harrington, Corita Kent, Craig Costello, CRASH, DABSMYLA, Dan Witz, Dash Snow, DAZE, DEFER, Dennis Hopper, Dondi White, Doze Green, EARSNOT, Estevan Oriol, Fab 5 Freddy, FAILE, Faith XLVII, Felipe Pantone, FREEDOM, FUTURA 2000, Gajin Fujita, Glen E. Friedman, Gordon Matta-Clark, Guerrilla Girls, HAZE, Henry Chalfant, Herb Migdoll, Husk Mit Navn, INVADER, Jane Dickson, Jason REVOK, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, Jim Prigoff, John Ahearn, John Fekner, John Tsombikos, Joe Conzo, José Parlá, KATS, KC Ortiz, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Kilroy Was Here, LADY PINK, LAZAR, LEE Quiñones, Lisa Kahane, MADSAKI, Maripol, Mark Gonzales, Mark Mothersbaugh, Martha Cooper, Matt Weber, Maya Hayuk, Michael Lawrence, MIKE 171, MISS 17, Mister CARTOON, Nina Chanel Abney, NOC 167, Pat Riot, Patrick Martinez, Paul Insect, POSE, PRAY, Rammellzee, Randall Harrington, RETNA, Richard Colman, Richard Hambleton, RIME, RISK, Ron English, Ruby Neri, SABER, Sam Friedman, SANESMITH, Sayre Gomez, Shepard Fairey, SJK 171, SLICK, SNAKE 1, SNIPE1, STAY HIGH 149, Stephen Powers, SWOON, Takashi Murakami, TAKI 183, TATS CRU, TENGAone, Tim Conlon, Timothy Curtis, Todd James, Trash Records, UGA, VHILS, and ZESER
The show is developed in partnership with Adidas and Perrier. Additional support provided by Modernica, Montana Colors, NPR, NTWRK, Twenty Five Kent and WNYC.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inside a historic museum which houses one of the most significant collections of American Art a wide range of patrons gather. Some are still learning how to tie their shoes while others have likely built a lifetime of things with out the aid of an internet tutorial look on at works that seem to speak universally. What they are gazing upon is Street Talk: Chris “Daze” Ellis’s exhibition featuring his recent work in a dialogue with the Addison Gallery of American Arts expansive collection.
One observer is Maria Muller, Deputy Director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. “I feel like the practical need to work quickly on the trains in his early career seems to be reflected in the dynamic style and sense of motion and speed in his images.”
As Daze gets mobbed up for photo ops in front of his piece entitled “View to the Other Side”, he reflects upon his identity and the initial spark that has led up to this moment. “People don’t realize when I was painting trains that it wasn’t a cool thing to do and it wasn’t socially acceptable,” he says.
“I began painting in 1976 after meeting a bunch of writers at The High School of Art and Design in New York. I was learning things in school but this was something outside of art school that was completely unconventional that I found incredibly creative and exciting. It is something that still fascinates me to this day. There is something very addictive about it.”
This graffiti addiction seems to be spreading to museums as well. Since 2011’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Los Angeles, which was billed as “the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art”, more museums have begun to embrace this movement. Current exhibitions like “City as Canvas: The Martin Wong Graffiti Collection” at the Museum of the City of New York and the Addison’s “Loisaida: New York’s Lower East Side in the 80’s” also both prominently feature the work of Daze, for example.
Allison Kemmerer, The Addison’s Curator of Photography and Art after 1950, explains what is bringing these two worlds together. “One of the strengths of the Addison’s collection is its wealth of urban imagery from all periods and in all media.”
“Daze’s drawing from the vocabulary of both the contemporary world of graffiti and street art and the tradition of urban realism, this is exactly what attracts the Addison to him. We are always mindful of the continuum that exists between historic and contemporary art and the way objects speak back and forth to each other across media and time.”
Daze’s journey to lead up to this point has clearly been an evolving process. “Almost all my paintings now are a mixture of mediums, each medium has it own characteristics and its own kind of history attached to it and you have to be patient to be able to deal with and find a way for them to all coexist in one picture frame. I had to work with them for a long time separately before I felt like I could combine them and come up with something that looked new.
As Daze has matured as an artist, he has also discovered there is more to being a successful artist than just painting a ruggedly pretty picture. “The art world was and still is a really hard place to navigate through and some people are able to do a better job at grasping it then others,” he explains.
“I think in a lot of cases collectors have a lot more power with museums than even artists and play a very important role in all of this, somebody like John Axelrod who is very passionate about this art form, has the ability to start dialogs with these museums and I’m grateful he’s chosen to amplify voices like mine.”
As the crowd begins to thin out, Daze expresses the magnitude of this personal milestone “Even at a young age, I was always going to the library or museums so now it’s kind of mind boggling having my work in them because I still remember what it felt like to be that kid walking through the Brooklyn Museum.”
In the infancy of hip-hop, Brooklyn-born photographer Jamel Shabazz documented the pioneers of music and style who would launch an enduring worldwide phenomenon. Charlie Ahearn, the director of the seminal grafitti movie Wild Style, pays tribute to both Shabazz and those who defined hip-hop before it had definition. More than just vintage shots of kids rocking Puma Suedes, Kangols, and pin-striped Jordaches in Times Square and Fort Greene Park, Shabazz’s photographs have hundreds of (oftentimes tragic) stories behind them, and Ahearn’s Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer gives voice to these images with dozens of interviews with Shabazz himself, graffiti pioneer and hip-hop historian Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite, legendary rapper KRS-One, and more. This vibrant portrait of the early years of hip-hop had its world premiere at BAMcinemaFest 2011
It’s the BSA Reader Video Request edition of Fun Friday for all us peeps who are not shopping today. We asked our Facebook friends and fans for their favorite street art related video flicks and give them to you here- in no particular order. Peace out and have a great Black Friday everybody.
1. Vhils in Germany
2. Wild Style Part 1
3. Open Air
4. In Bed with Invader
5. En Masse in Miami
6. Berlin Street Art as Lyrics (Emus Primus)
7. Shai Dahan new Ted Talk “Beyond Borders”
8. TEJN LOCK ON STREET ART – Street Art Sculpture by Tejn
9. Burn – Episode 3
10. Graffiti Verite Part 1
11. Japanese Stencil
12. BLU – BIG BANG BIG BOOM
14. Hanoi Lantern Bearers – Vietnam with The Yok
15. Bomb It
Vhils in Germany
The Portuguese Street Artist at work, produced by Euromaxx, recommended by Crist Graphicart (German language)
“At the end of November (2011), the En Masse Art Initiative flew down to Miami to take part of the Miami Art Basel events. With the help of Sodec Quebec and Galerie Pangée, EM teamed up with Scope Art Fair, Fountain Art Fair, Safewalls, Primary Flight and the Found store to create multiple work of art. During 10 days, the team grew exponentially, adding members from all around the globe; Tel-Aviv, Montreal, Brooklyn, Woodstock, Staten Island, San Fransico, San Diego, Miami etc.” – recommended by Beth Tully
Berlin Street Art as Lyrics (Emus Primus)
Emus Primus and photography of Berlin Street art, set to music. As recommended by Da Andal
Shai Dahan new Ted Talk “Beyond Borders”
The keynote is about my travel into Palestine. Considering what is going on there – Being that everyone is talking about the violence, this video can reflect a bit of light on how there are some ways to find peace. It may not find the sort of wide peace we hope to all gain there, but through the message in the keynote, I hope people can see that Israel and Palestine can share a common beauty: Street-art.” Shai Dahan
TEJN LOCK ON STREET ART – Street Art Sculpture by Tejn
The full documentary – “Through interviews and guerilla footage of graffiti writers in action on 5 continents, BOMB IT tells the story of graffiti from its origins in prehistoric cave paintings thru its notorious explosion in New York City during the 70’s and 80’s, then follows the flames as they paint the globe.” Recommended by Orson Horchler
“Public, Urban, Street, Unauthorized, Permissioned, Private, Graffiti, Vandalism, Fine Art, Installation, Throwie, Portraiture, Poetry, Sticker, Sculpture, Aerosol, Line Drawing, Wheat paste, Yes. All of it applies and all of it is part of a large conversation that has been happening in New York for about 50 years, probably before that. The intersection of art and the street is by nature open to the interaction of every person. At its core is an expression that is human, and the reactions to it are likewise. ” – Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo in PANTHEON: A history of art from the streets of NYC
When the erudite artist and alchemist Daniel Feral first talked enthusiastically in the summer of ’10 about his plans to mount a tribute to NYC graffiti and Street Art across the street from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in ’11, we surveyed the large display windows of the former Donnell Library with their grand sweep on 53rd Street in Manhattan, and thought, “Why the Hell not?” As months rolled by and we continued to communicate with Feral and co-curator Joyce Manalo, the once medium sized exhibition grew larger in depth and scope – each time.
Truly a grassroots effort that was free of institutional or corporate restrictions, the PANTHEON show was funded by a modest Kickstarter campaign and administered under a non-profit. Each role and skillset was donated, as was all the labor – freely given by people involved in the scene. When the windows were unveiled in April of 2011 to the thousands of daily passersby, their Pantheon dream had grown into a full fledged installation of historic and current NYC graffiti and Street Artists, a 426 page tome of academic quality and behind the scenes insights, and the new iconic “Feral Diagram” that was quickly snapped up for display and sale at the historic “Art in the Streets” show in Los Angeles.
PANTHEON, the book, was one of three published works that BSA was honored to write for and provide images for in 2011. In the process of building PANTHEON, the exhibit, many new ideas and relationships were born, and like it’s muse – graffiti and all it’s cousins, it continues to organically grow in influence in New York and around the world. As 2012 begins, Daniel and Joyce are beginning a publishing and curatorial company, Pantheon Projects. Together in 2011 the artists, writers, historians, academics, curators, and photographers in PANTHEON told a story about an organic movement over time, helping us to understand this moment.
For our part, BSA furnished a chapter in the book about the first explosive decade of Street Art in the 2000s in neighborhoods where it was most impressive and untamed, especially Brooklyn. “PANTHEON: A history of art from the streets of NYC” allowed us to put in context the importance of the public sphere and how people create in it, whether commissioned, approved, or otherwise.
“Brooklyn Street Art (BSA) has been watching, recording, curating, interviewing, and interacting with this scene and its many players and passing on what we’ve learned to readers on our blog, which now number into the thousands daily. As experts in a field of many experts and opinion makers and fans, we like to assess and synthesize the messages and movements among the madness that is the “Street Art Scene”. As artists and creative professionals in New York for 25 years, the primary draw for us is the creative spirit that is alive and well on the streets and its fascinating ability to continuously recreate itself without the dictate of any one overriding legislative body. This organic growth of art on the street is like seeing Spring eternally. It didn’t ask anyone for permission, and it defines itself. Un-bought and un-bossed, this is a truly free movement born of the people. Not that we are overly romantic about it, mind you.”
PANTHEON was the group exhibition on Graffiti and Street Art that took place on April 2 – May 1, 2011 at the former Donnell Library across The Museum of Modern Art. Daniel Feral and Joyce Manalo Co-Curated this show with 33 participating which included Abe Lincoln Jr., John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres, Adam VOID, Cake, Cassius Fouler, Darkclouds, Droid, El Celso, Faro, John Fekner and Don Leicht, Freedom, Ellis Gallagher, Gen2, Goya, Groser, Richard Hambleton, infinity, KET, LSD-Om, Matt Siren, NohJColey, OverUnder, Oze 108, QuelBeast, Royce Bannon, Sadue, Jordan Seiler, Stikman, Toofly, UFO and Vudu.
The 426-page catalog is a hybrid of scholarly journal, popular magazine, and graff zine. 33 artists from the 1970s through today tell their own histories, in their own words and pictures, while local writers and photographers give an overview of the cultural milieu. The catalog includes a dedication to Rammellzee by Charlie Ahearn, essay on the Feral Diagram by Daniel Feral, Street Art in the 2000s by Steven P. Harrington with photographs by Jaime Rojo, in addition to 20 essays, 20 interviews and over 400 images from the efforts of over 30 individuals.
Dear BSA Readers: We’ve invited seven artists to participate in this year’s “Twelve Wishes for 2012”. That leaves 5 empty spots. Now we would like to invite five BSA family like you to be a part of it — and win extravagant prizes for your efforts:
All you need to do is send ONE wish and ONE picture or image file to 12for12@BrooklynStreetArt.com no later than midnight EST December 9 and we’ll pick the 5 winners. Read the rules at the bottom of this posting.
THE DEEEELUXE PLATINUM BUCKET: This prize will go to the first submission we pick. In addition to being featured on BSA “Twelve Wishes for 2012” this lucky reader will also get:
RULES: You must write a wish for 2012 that you wish for yourself or others; extra points for personal and respectful. Image can be anything BUT you must hold the copyrights to publish the image. Image must be at least 740 wide, and can be in .jpg, .tif, .png, or similar format. Submissions must be received no later than December 9, 2011. Please include your postal address to receive the prizes, and the name you would like us to be published as. Final selections are made by the editors and buckets are not included. We can’t wait to hear from you!!!
Yes, Banksy is here. The giant “Art in the Streets” show opening this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles gives a patch of real estate to the international man of mystery who has contributed greatly to the worldwide profile of this soon to be, maybe already, mainstream phenomenon known as street art. A smattering of his pranksterism is an absolute must for any show staking claim to the mantle of comprehensive survey and an excellent way to garner attention. But “Streets” gets it’s momentum by presenting a multi-torch colorful and explosive people’s history that began way before Banksy was born and likely will continue for a while after.