All posts tagged: Chelsea

How & Nosm Studio Confessions

How & Nosm Studio Confessions

It is an age of self-discovery, and the twins continue to be surprised by what they find as they attack huge walls with zeal and precision in New York, LA, Miami, Stavanger, Prague, Las Vegas, Rochester, Philadelphia, Rio – all in the last 12 months. Now while they prepare for their new pop-up show, “Late Confessions”, to open in Manhattan in a couple of weeks, the combined subconscious of How & Nosm is at work, and on display are the personal storylines they will reveal if you are paying close attention.

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It’s a crisp sunny Saturday in Queens and we’re in the studio of a secured elevator building with cameras and clean floors and air thick with aerosol. Davide (or is it Raoul?) is on his knees with a tub of pink plastering goo, applying and smoothing and sanding this large oddly-shaped structure. When it is painted it will debut in the newly renovated Chelsea space whose walls were destroyed during the flooding of falls’ super storm “Sandy”. The gallery space of Jonathan Levine wasn’t large enough for the scale the brothers have grown accustomed to working with, so this more cavernous temporary location will take on a feeling of being part exhibition, part theme park.

How & Nosm. At work on a sculpture. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The impermanent sculpture of pressed cardboard is rocking between his knees as he straddles the beast and chides his dog Niko for jumping up on it. Rather than a sculpture, you may think it’s a prop for a high school play at this phase, but soon it will become a shiny black beacon of psychological/historical symbolism culled from the collection of objects they gather in travel. Born from the imagination of the brothers and affixed with bird decoys, clock faces, large plastic blossoms, and a rotary dial telephone, these rolling clean lines and saw-toothed edges of these sculptures will glisten under a heavy coating of midnight lacquer soon.

How & Nosm. Detail from a sculpture. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Like so much of the work HowNosm choose for their sweeping street murals, these new pieces may be read as undercover confessions of artists on display, but you’ll need to figure that out on your own.

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you walk through the high-ceilinged studio, the excited twins talk continuously in their deep baritones at the same time at you around you and in German to each other. The barrage of stories are spilling out and trampling and crashing like cars off rails; An energetic parlay of authoritative statements and direct questions about work, walls, gallerists, graffers, cops, trains, toys, techniques. All topics are welcomed and examined, sometimes intensely. Sincere spikes of laughter and sharp swoops of fury act in concert: clarifying, praising, and dissing as they swirl in a rolling volley of goodness, pleasantly spliced with a caustic grit.

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Looking at the precise lines and vibrant patterns at play in their work today, there is a certain cheerfulness and high regard for design in the compositions and sense of balance. Both of them site influences as wide as early graffiti, later wild style, cubism, and the abstractionists in their work. Fans are attracted to the confident and attractive illustrative depictions of scenes and characters, appreciating the ever strengthening free-hand command of the aerosol can and stencil techniques that HowNosm have demonstrated in their machine-like march through the streets of world over the last decade plus.

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Though they estimate they have visited over 70 countries, they still love New York and both call Brooklyn their home right now.  And while the work they do hits a pleasure center for many viewers, time with both reveals that the stories within can be anything but cheerful. Raoul characterizes their work as dark and negative, born from their shared past, the adversity of their childhood.

“Negative sounds… I don’t know if that’s the right word for it,” says Davide, “but it’s not the bright side of life.”

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

And so goes the duality you’ll find everywhere – a study of opposites intertwined. One paints a skull in the half circle, the other paints it’s reflection alive with flesh. You’ll see this split throughout, unified.

“We came from one sperm. We split in half,” says Raoul. “Life, death, good, bad. We’re one, you know. We used to do pieces by ourselves with graff – you know I would do “How” and he would do “Nosm” – then with the background we would connect.  Now we would just do pieces with our name “HowNosm” together as one word. I never do a How anymore, really.”

Their early roots in graffiti are always there, even as they became labeled as Street Artists, and more recently, contemporary artists. But it’s a continuum and the line may undulate but it never leaves the surface.  Davide describes their auto-reflexive manner of moving from one icon or scenario to another seamlessly across a wall and he likens it to a graffiti technique of painting one continuous stream of aerosol to form a letter or word.

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“It’s like a ‘one-liner’,” he says, referring to the graffiti writer parlance for completing a piece with one long line of spray. “That’s kind of far from what we are doing right now but it is all kind of one piece. The line stops but it kind of continues somewhere. We are refining and refining, and it takes time to develop.”

Blurring your eyes and following the visual stories, it may appear that a spiral motion reoccurs throughout the red, black, and white paintings of HowNosm. Frequently the pattern draws the viewers eye into the center and then swirls it back out to connect to another small tightening of action. While we talk about it Raoul traces in the air with his index finger a series of interconnected spiral systems, little tornadoes of interrelated activity.

How & Nosm. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This technique of creating inter-connected storylines is a way of intentional communication and storytelling, and how they describe events and relationships. It is an approach that feels sort of automatic to the brothers. “Our pieces make you think. You look and look and you find more images and you try to understand the whole concept,” says Davide. “I think you can spend quite some time just looking at one piece. You start somewhere and you can develop a story around it but you go somewhere else in the piece and you may do the opposite.”

Would you care to make a comparison to those other well known Street Art twins, Os Gemeos? They are used to it, but aside from being brothers of roughly the same age who began in graffiti and work on the streets with cans, they don’t find many similarities.

“Our stuff is more depressing,” says Raoul, “and way more critical. We talk about the negative aspects and experiences in life.” How much is autobiographical? As it turns out, it is so autobiographical that both brothers refer to their painting historically as a therapy, a cathartic savior that kept them out of jail and even away from drugs growing up.

“We kind of had a very disturbed childhood,” explains Raoul, “Welfare too, so…. I smile a lot and shit but in my paintings I think it is more important to express myself with what most people want to suppress and not show, you know? There’s a lot of love stuff, too. Like heartbroken stuff, financial situations – about myself or other people.”

How & Nosm. The sun goes through a hand cut stencil. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Davide agrees and expands the critical thinking they display in these open diaries to include larger themes they address; deceptively rotten people, corporate capitalism, familial dissension, hypocrisy in society, corruption in government.  It’s all related, and it is all right here in black and white. And red.

“Ours are continuing lines,” Davide says as he traces the canvas with his fingers, “Like this knife here is going to turn into a diamond.”

Niko provides security and inspiration at the studio. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

How & Nosm. Detail of a completed sculpture. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

How & Nosm. Detail of a completed sculpture. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

How & Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)

How & Nosm’s pop-up exhibition “Late Confessions” with the Jonathan Levine Gallery opens on February 1st.  at 557 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011. Click here for more details.


Please note: All content including images and text are ©, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!


Read more

Night Walk : The High Line Park in New York City

Every day you are rushing to jobs or gigs or interviews for jobs or gigs, negotiating the path through the rough loud place you love, New York. It’s tempting to stay inside your apartment or a bar at night – especially when the sun goes down so early, but you can actually have a great time for free if you take a walk along one of Manhattans newest thoroughfares. The High Line Park has been open since 2009 and after many visits we’ve decided that this vast path of urban infrastructure is one of the most successful of the city’s public works. It is a work of art, if you can excuse a bit of gushing. And it’s work of art you can sit inside – or stroll, or jog, or dance, or steal a kiss. Not hog-kissing, don’t get carried away you kids!

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Viewed from the High Line at night, the city is close enough to touch but still out of reach, the winding path of the former shipping rail guides you through canyons of warehouses that loom to both sides and allow you a look inside. Distant buildings form mountain peaks in fluorescent reds and greens and blues jutting behind the buildings in your foreground, holding up the sky with triumphal color and illuminating a diorama of the city before you while the Hudson River glistens alongside. You have a front seat to see architectural design of many schools and gaze down upon the creeks and streams of lights below without worrying about dodging traffic or crossing a street – or paying the high rent this island demands now.

In summer months the landscaping is tamed-wild lushness, with a wide variety of plants, tree, flowers, and tall waving grasses.  Even in the off-season, the burnished hues and rusty textures bouncing in the cold breeze make sure the natural element takes a central role in a city which celebrates the man-made. The welcoming handsome furniture is integrated along the walkway to accompany, support, and even to facilitate lounging. What is amazing is how you can be firmly in the middle of an urban footprint and yet experience a sense of being in a serene environment.

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

On a recent evening there were few people walking and sitting in the hidden niches while we strolled up the High Line. People talk, gaze, and of course, take photos. In a semi enclosed underside of a warehouse a lone cello player filled the air with an achingly rich timber that reverberated directly through us like waves of amber.  Just one guy playing his instrument. Where are we, on top of the world? Yes, it’s New York again.

John Baldessari “The First $100,000 I Ever Made”. (photo © Jaime Rojo).

From the High Line Web Site : “High Line Art, presented by Friends of the High Line, today unveiled The First $100,000 I Ever Made, a new work created by legendary artist John Baldessari for the 25-by-75 foot billboard next to the High Line on 10th Avenue at West 18th Street. This is the first of three works to be presented as part of a new series called HIGH LINE BILLBOARD, thanks to the generous support of Edison Properties, the owner of the property on which the billboard stands. The First $100,000 I Ever Made will remain on view until Friday, December 30, 2011.”

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

No Sleep AKA Werds. The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The High Line Park (photo © Jaime Rojo)

To read BSA feature on the High Line Park at day time click here

To learn more about the High Line Park and how to help click here

Read more

Images Of The Week 11.07.10


Our Weekly Interview with the street, this week featuring Chelsea Girl, ECB, Faile, Frog, Radical!, REVS, Think Fly, and Tono

Revs (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revs continues to get up. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile. Detail of Totem sculpture currently at Perry Rubenstein Gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile in the gallery (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

And the same Faile stencil on the street (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile.  (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Rich textured wall in Chelsea. Girl with a camera (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

This richly textured wall is in continuous transition. Here’s a Chelsea Girl with a camera (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Urban Fossil "Frog" (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
Urban Fossil “Frog Upside down” (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile  “Brighton Beach Ave” (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Glass Reflection (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Glass reflection (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Radical (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Radical! does a tribute to The Situation. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

ECB (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

ECB (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Think Fly (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Think Fly (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Tono's homage to Richard Pryor (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

I’m just a booty star”; Tono’s homage to Richard Pryor (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Read more
Quel Beast: Street Art, Hip Hop, and Cross-Undressing

Quel Beast: Street Art, Hip Hop, and Cross-Undressing

Quel Beast. Chicky in Chelsea (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Feeling cocky in Chelsea. Quel Beast (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


BSA guest writer Robin Grearson talks about herself, the Street Artist Quel Beast, and the unknowable beast within.

I headed to Bushwick’s Wreck Room last week to talk to Quel Beast about art and see how he’s doing.  He’s pasting up some work indoors this week, at Kings County, and a new street piece was almost ready for Chelsea.  The Wreck Room is an unpretentious spot where secrets flow easily, and so, over beer and fried pickles, Quel Beast confided to me his frustrations, some obsessions, and what he would do if he couldn’t make art. But he remained quiet about the street piece, which made me nervous.


Quel Beast. Detail (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Quel Beast. Detail (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


Until today, I hadn’t seen it. It’s a woman; full length, but cocky. She taunts passers-by to check her out once, maybe twice.  She’s not wearing much. That much I remembered. She’s like his Chelsea kiss, or, postcard: Dear Art Crawlers. With love from Brooklyn, Quel Beast.

He shows me on his iPhone some of the portraits for the show, called “Back That A$$ Up,” after the Juvenile/L’il Wayne song and video. It’s hours, many beers, two more locations and some wine later, before I ask about the Chelsea girl. Quel Beast answers offhandedly that she’s…weird. I’m sure he knows a better word because he says it like it’s a question. He’s into the piece, and says it exemplifies the direction he sees his style heading. But his question mark says, maybe I’ll hate it, a possibility I hadn’t considered.

I posed for the photo he’s working from to create her. So she’s me, and she’s not. I start wondering if, while painting testosterone-soaked me, her sneer has maybe gotten to him. But then, art is supposed make you feel something, which is the conversation we’ve been having. And I wonder what I will feel when I see her.

Quel Beast (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Quel Beast (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


Quel Beast compares art to music, harshly. Placed side by side, art gets its ass kicked. “Art isn’t good enough,” he says, with reverence for music’s power to evoke feeling, stir memory and stir senses. People quickly filter out tags and stickers as visual noise, he points out, adding, “You don’t have a personal experience with someone’s name, the way you can with music.”

“I hate art. Art sucks,” Quel Beast declares, and we laugh. He’s describing his exasperation with the impossibility of art to realize his ideal of it.

But even as he’s describing most art as dismissible in contrast to music, he is a little distracted, scanning stickers and tags on the tables and walls, naming the artists. “Why can’t art do what music can do?,” Quel Beast wonders, and lays down a gauntlet.  “An artist has a responsibility to reach out and grab someone the same way a ridiculously awesome song does.”

So it’s natural that Quel Beast’s portraits would have music in their souls; for him, “Back That A$$ Up” is the track that conjures the flow and energy of shared experience that he aspires to render in his paintings. But the series is no fan letter: Quel Beast is looking through the video’s lens at his own agenda. He’s retrofitted his painted subjects as though they were plucked from frames of the video, undressed them, and reversed the gender roles.

Quel Beast (© Jaime Rojo_

Quel Beast (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


He designed the portrait series as his inquiry into the source of our judgments. Where do conclusions come from, for instance, about a two-dimensional woman who may be posturing instead of pouting but in other ways remains unknowable? “Why is it that just because you put your body into certain positions, people will assume anything about you, your identity or your sexuality?,” Quel Beast asks, without knowing the answer.

Juvenile and L’il Wayne provide Quel Beast with audio inspiration for his paintings, but their lyrics tow the misogyny-and-hetero line. Quel Beast reveals only a cool nonchalance about this apparent collision of cultures. By co-opting the rappers’ revelers in an effort to unlock an insight or two on identity politics, won’t Quel Beast ostensibly alienate those fans who would be drawn to a show inspired by hip hop? The more secrets he tells me, the more a picture emerges of someone who doesn’t mind making people uncomfortable.

Early this morning, Quel Beast showed me the Chelsea girl. She has my straight, boyish hips, and a casual, male confidence that is impervious to judgment. Within that masculinity, though, something remains defiantly feminine. He looked at me and said with a shrug,  “If there’s one thing I learned from rap, it’s how to deal with haters.” —Robin Grearson



Quel Beast, “Back That A$$ Up”, October 16, 10 PM, Kings County, 286 Siegel Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206.

Robin Grearson is an independent writer and essayist living in New York. She has written for The New York Times.

Robin Grearson:

Quel Beast:,

Read more
Faile Studio Visit: Readying for Rubenstein

Faile Studio Visit: Readying for Rubenstein

A visit with Street Art collective Faile in their Brooklyn studio finds the industrious duo at the center of a small cluster of assistants working on many projects simultaneously.

Faile Studio. Print Shop. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The print shop at the Faile studio. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The air of collaboration is evident in this maze of activity – as well as an appreciation for process.  The multi-level ex-industrial building has been reconfigured internally over the last decade to contain and accommodate the adventurous appetites of the childhood buddies who took their Street Art from Brooklyn to the Tate, with many stops along the way.

This doesn’t happen for everybody, so in this first visit of two before their upcoming debut solo show at Perry Rubenstein Gallery on November 4, we looked for clues about the creative and working DNA of Faile. In the ten quick long rotten beautiful years of this century they’ve plowed through many experiments methodically from simple one color small stencils on light posts to now museum quality raft-sized wooden block collages that take months to screenprint, saw, sand, and assemble.

Faile First Street Work 1999 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

One of Faile’s first street pieces from the late 90’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

In a pretty remarkable run through the neighborhood and the globe the two Patricks have used aerosoled stencils, screen prints, wheat pastes, roller tags, animated video games, carved wood, vinyl sculptures, spinning prayer poles, even alabaster and tile reliefs in their ever growing collection of work. Cumulatively, the forays have given depth and resilience to their nearly iconic pop imagery.

Details of Multiple Art In Progress At The Studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Details of multiple pieces in progress at the studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Since returning from their Lisbon temple installation mid summer, where their piece (two years in the making) became a focal point for that city’s first biennial, the Faile dudes are now making a multitude of these “wood paintings” here in their Brooklyn studio.  Among the many silkscreens stacked against walls, rolled canvasses in tubes, and pieces by Banksy and Shepard Fairey adorning the walls, there are open wooden boxes, maybe 20 or 30, full of small wooden printed blocks laying open on tables and shelves.

Brooklyn Street Art: When the blocks get that small they are almost just a texture.
Patrick McNeil:
Exactly, or just color palette.  It’s so modular you don’t get stuck with anything, you get to explore a lot and if it doesn’t work you just put it back the way that it was or pull it apart.

Brooklyn Street Art: That’s right, you can reverse yourself pretty easily

Patrick McNeil: Yeah you just kind of build a piece and then realize it works better in something bigger – so they are very loose in a sense. It seems very precision-y and thought out but it’s much more looser than it looks.

Jesus Faile Projected on the Manhattan Bridge for DUMBO Arts Fest 2008 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile’s Jesus appears on the side of the Manhattan Bridge during Brooklyn Street Art’s “Projekt Projektor” show in Brooklyn during the DUMBO Arts Festival  in 2008 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The selective sampling of images that create the Lingua Faile has steadily grown into a library of totems, symbols, pulp art snippets, typefaces and signifiers set free from their context and recombined with a lucid dexterity, a splash of irony, and an inner voice that says, ‘go for it’.  It’s an old-skool visual sampling that doesn’t need autotune for anything, just a hyped sense for combining clips and dropping it on the beat. Talking to them, one sees that it’s a loose intuitive sense that is guiding the process.

Patrick McNeil: And I like what is happening in this one, it’s still coming along. That one, the bottom needs to be worked out. It’s really top heavy. And we’ll kind of pull some colors down. That one is just kind of getting started. This one’s kind of in the middle right now; Just slowly working on blacks and switching things up.

Brooklyn Street Art: So you’ve used a lot of powdered pastels…

Patrick McNeil: Yeah…

Brooklyn Street Art: let’s see, blasting fluorescents…

Patrick McNeil: Well a little bit, yeah. There are not too many fluorescents, well, that pink is probably the only fluorescent.  Well, there’s yellow on that one. But none of these have any fluorescent.

Brooklyn Street Art: I’m thinking of the DeLuxx Flux thing you did with Bast.

Patrick McNeil: Yeah Perry made the rule, “no fluorescents”.

Brooklyn Street Art: Oh okay. Well it’s good to have that guidance.

Patrick McNeil: Yeah, we might sneak one in there.

Patrick McNeil: Then we were looking more at abstractions, breaking color groups up, pushing it really far.

Brooklyn Street Art: Yes that’s an unusual combination of the violet and the grey. It looks fresh.

Patrick McNeil: Yeah, it’s kinda switchin’ it up.  We kind of like tweak things and leave them up for a while and then switch it out. It’s kind of interesting.

Wood Blocks At The Studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Wood blocks at the studio (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Even though the new book, their first, is coming out to mark the first 10 years that took them from Brooklyn streets to group shows, street art exhibitions, galleries, and museums around the globe, the creative partners are focusing right now on the work at hand.  A decade of work, play, and planning together has created a shorthand of cues and patterns and symbols that makes their work move quickly without much strife or discussion. In the studio it’s equal parts industry and creativity – where real world dedication to process and structure adds a loose tension to the spirit of play.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you both the leader? Or do you take turns being the leader? Is there one who just says “THIS is where we have to go!”

Patrick McNeil: It goes back and forth really.

Patrick Miller: It’s pretty rare when it is “This is the way it has to be and there is no room for discussion”

Brooklyn Street Art: So you don’t come to loggerheads?

Patrick McNeil: No, we’ve known each other since we were 14 so we’ve got a pretty good friendship.

Faile Book Cover: "Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009" (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile Book Cover: “Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009” (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The new block collages, or “wood paintings” started about a year ago and the artists introduced them at Cour Carrée du Louvre for the FIAC in Paris. With a loyal fanbase that hangs on their every print release and microsite revelation, the new pieces were an instant hit and complete success. The scale of pieces at that time seemed manageable and something you might carry as part of your luggage; however some of these new wood paintings for the Rubenstein show might well be snagged by Swoon for walls in one of her Konbit shelters.

Brooklyn Street Art: How do you achieve a sense of balance? You have the professional, personal,… family is growing.. How do you guys achieve a sense of balance regularly?

Patrick Miller: For one, we treat this like a pretty regular thing in the sense of working Monday through Friday, pretty much 9:30 to 6:00.

Brooklyn Street Art: So you have a schedule and a structure.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, so we have structure in that sense.  It’s a business after all on some level, and it has to be thought of in that way too.  I mean it’s tough some times when we have big shows going on and we’re traveling and trying to not be away from the kids for too long.  But you know, I guess I never stopped to think about it. It was nice last year because Patrick and his wife had their second child and we had our first within a few weeks of each other, and so that worked out really well, in the sense of timing-wise. We were able to slow down a bit.

Brooklyn Street Art: You know I was just thinking about the blocks and interactivity. I wonder if you could make a piece where some of the blocks were free and the person who buys it could play with the blocks.

Patrick Miller: Hey, you’re really onto something!

Patrick McNeil: Let’s go upstairs.

Brooklyn Street Art: You’ve already thought of this!

Faile Early Work On The Street. Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Early work on the street. Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

We shuffle eagerly behind our hosts like hypnotized penguins out to the darkened hallway and up some stairs to a high security print room that is pristine and plum full of stuff that might make you cry – things they’ve collected, been gifted, or just like to entertain visitors with. They could drop names but the brothers Faile are more interested to show one of their newest inventions, a wooden tray of blocks that form a puzzle – well, six actually. The lo-tech games perfectly marry our current digital longing for interactivity and the latent one to become a Luddite.

Patrick Miller: (The puzzle boxes) kind of came up in Paris, so we just developed these pieces on the side totally on their own. Then we started thinking there are some situations and combinations that we really liked. Each one is printed on all six sides and you can manipulate it and play with it.

Brooklyn Street Art: Hours of endless pleasure! How do you prevent them from getting damaged?

Patrick McNeil: That’s just part of it.

Patrick Miller: I don’t think they’re going to get too damaged. They are already sanded and their meant to be touched. We’re actually making a site, because it’s really hard to show them.

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you thought of customization on the site so people can select options and order it?

Patrick: Yes we’ve thought of that but effectively you’d have tons of combinations.

Faile Wood Blocks At The Studio (Photo @ Jaime Rojo)

Faile wood blocks at the studio (Photo @ Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you thought of doing an app for these so people can play with them?

Patrick: Yeah and that is something that may come out of it. The people that we work with… That would be a fun thing, as a little game. And it’s actually pretty simple because the navigation is just like ‘click’ and it turns it. It should be a fun little site. It’s been fun to do these little micro sites.

Brooklyn Street Art: Right, with a phone’s motion sensor you could roll the blocks around. Wow, you guys are on top of it.

Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009. A Peak Inside The Book (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile Prints And Originals 1999-2009. A peak inside the book (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

This visit draws to an end with a promise to rejoin shortly before the show to see the progression. But before we go, the new book is placed with slight aplomb on the counter. The one and only copy they’ve received from the printer, we stare at it like cats at an aquarium.  The splashy pink raging dog cover says the thing about Faile you might not notice on a casual tour; these guys are ferocious in their desire to succeed and have built a body of work to prove it.

Tentatively peeling back the pages of the book, we see that the first image is the simple stencil of a figure carrying a canvas with his back to you and the words “A Life”, their first name, across the top. Anyone stumbling home drunk through industrial Williamsburg in the late 90’s would remember what curiosity was sparked with this humblest of images scattered everywhere.  Later they anagrammed it to form their current name.

Brooklyn Street Art: So “A Life” got converted to Faile, which is just the opposite of what you’ve done!

Patrick Miller: Yeah it was always kind of about growing from it and making the most of all your failures.

Brooklyn Street Art: Did you both design the book?

Patrick Miller: We worked on it with a friend of ours.  It was such an undertaking.  But it’s good. It’s definitely a pretty personal book in the way that it’s written, very friendly, an enjoyable read.  It’s nice just to have the works on print.

Patrick McNeil: It’s nice to see the earlier work, and it’s nice to see how the process goes because it’s chronological as well.

Brooklyn Street Art: Who is going to have seen all of this stuff besides you two? Nobody.

Patrick Miller: It’s a nice way to put it together for yourself too, after 10 years of working on Faile it’s nice to have this.

Faile. Enter To The Gift Shop. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile studio. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Read more
Futura Talks: Completion of the “Kid” at PS11 with Os Gemeos

Futura Talks: Completion of the “Kid” at PS11 with Os Gemeos

Os Gemeos and Futura (© Jaime rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura’ finished “Kid” at PS11 (© Jaime Rojo)

A great big painted kid with one shoe was given this week to New York by a hometown hero and some imported world class talent. Public space artfully used is a true gift and all week neighbors, teachers, students, and fans have stopped by to watch, snap pictures, and talk with Futura and Os Gemeos. The mural’s completion was cause for celebration on a sunny Friday afternoon in the school yard.

The Brazillian twins began their infatuation with graffiti and street art as boys in the mid 80s, pouring over and imitating art in books from New York like “Subway Art” by Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper.  By that time the homegrown Futura had already parlayed his graffiti on NYC trains into becoming an international art star and a touring painter, writer/rapper with The Clash. The genial and wizened Futura took this colorful Os Gemeos gig with pleasure, gratitude and some trepidation, possibly due to the logistics of painting an 80 ft. mural above the raucous schoolyard games below.

In a generous interview with Brooklyn Street Art, Futura talks about his four decade career, the birth of graffiti in NYC, his uncomfortable transition to fine art, working and playing with The Clash, and his greatest reward in life – his two grown kids.

Brooklyn Street Art: You began your career in NYC in the 70’s.
1970, exactly 1970, forty years ago.

BSA: You’ve created work on the subways, streets, gallery, and even on stage. Can you talk about your personal journey and the transitions from graffiti to street art in New York?
Yeah well I mean at that time there was really no point of reference because everything was sort of being developed at that time. There was very little what we would actually call street art in the sense of what we know today. No stenciling, none of what we know today, no grand murals, no Os Gemeos, nothing. So it was very limited and the art form,if you will, itself was very primitive

I grew up in Manhattan, I’m a New Yorker, a native. I’ve been here my entire life so I grew up in the 60’s with graffiti around me. Most people they don’t really want to talk about it but the social conditions in New York at that time, more specifically what was happening with the city of New York, the money, the finances, the mayor. We were broke, okay? We were in a bad war that nobody was happy about. King was killed, the man on the moon, all these kinds of crazy things were happening and there was also a need for change at this time- A radical need. We were spurred on by the anti-war demonstrations in the early 70’s and people were going to the streets to make messages.

Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Futura-subways-giftSome of the above-ground things that were graffiti; Graffito in the classic sense of the word; cave drawings, scribbling – were anti-war messages, religious promises. It was a moment of people trying to make a message and maybe some possible enlightenment, where there was something positive coming from it.

As the subway movement grew, we saw the subway as an incredible vehicle to transport your name around the city. You write your name on a train in the Bronx and then it goes through Manhattan and then it goes through Brooklyn. It’s was a great medium. And so the galleries for us were the subway. With the City it was a question of financing. How was graffiti able to go for four or five years? They were not cleaning, they had no control, and the kids were running crazy. Finally they got the money together to start to stop this act. They built fences for the train yards, had machines to clean the trains, and by 1980 I think it was the official beginning of the end and thus the transition to the next form: Gallery.

Keith (Haring), Jean Michel (Basquiat), Kenny Scharf, Dondi, Zephyr, all of the names of the young artists from the 80s in New York, were my contemporaries. Keith went to school, Jean Michel was very clever and I’m sure he went to libraries and read about fine art. They had an education about art. But not all of us. When we made the transition to do the galleries it was very difficult because we didn’t have any education. We didn’t have any references. We didn’t know. When I started being reviewed, they said “oh you are a Kandisky, a Klee, a Malevich.” People were naming artists I’d never heard of. “You are influenced by this, you’ve stolen from that.” At 25 I was still a kid in my mind about art but clever as a man. I’d been in the military already and I was experienced. However I was also ignorant. This is nothing you can fake. You know you can’t pretend to know about art when you never heard of painters from this movement, that movement. So yeah it was very difficult.


At that time I became a follower of other young artists who did know, who did go to school, who told me, “Oh yeah Malevich is a Russian constructivist”, and so then I began my own education, somewhat to try to do research. In the process I developed what people defined as an abstract style and in 1980, which was like a kind of a “mega period”, I did a very beautiful train. Very abstract, it was kind of a color field and it was very popular. Even if it was misunderstood people liked it. It wasn’t typical and that was fine with me because I was trying to find my own area. You know the competition in New York is very difficult and everyone defines something, a certain style, a technical ability. There’s a look to people’s work and unfortunately many works look similar.


Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

The styles developed in New York in the 70s and in the 80s are the architectural foundation of what kids all around the planet are doing right now because the books have been made and the books are the modern Bibles for this culture so they know Dondi, they know Futura they know ……..they know T-Kid, they know Zepher….. they know all of the New York guys and from those names they grab some elements of this guys’ technique.


I was represented by a gallery in SOHO – Tony Shafrazi. – Selling paintings for like 20,000 dollars. I got half and then after the half I was getting less than a half because of the expenses and then at the end I’m like, “Really? We sold twenty and I got two?” But I’m happy with my two! Okay? I’m f*cking very happy with my two.

Though then I’m like, “Okay… Wait wait.  Am I being exploited?” And that’s when you know –“Okay, basta. Stop. F*ck the 80’s, f*ck the art world – I have a baby, Timothy.” He was born in 1984.

So for me the priority was to support my wife and my child and the art world and the fickle nature of this movement were not dependable, so I became a bike messenger. I used to make like $150 a day. We were like independent contractors. So you know me, I hustle. It’s always going to be legal. You know I’m never going to sell drugs. I will not do something illegal because I respect my freedom, I appreciate my freedom and I don’t want to be involved with the authorities. I was never arrested during all of my years. Not that I’m clever – but I’m careful. You know I’m not going to do something obviously to jeopardize a situation. I try to do it cool. So the messenger thing was amazing for me. I was making a pretty good living working around the streets of New York with a beeper and a walkie-talkie.

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Can we go back to ’81? You did live painting with The Clash – while you were painting on the stage were you collaborating with them? Were you being influenced by the music or were your paintings influencing the music – or were you autonomous?
Futura: We were just doing our own thing. When I met The Clash here at that time they kind of fell in love with New York again. I mean when they came here in ’81 the Hip Hop thing really began to happen here in New York with different groups from uptown…of course Grand Master Flash but also Cold Crush Brothers, Double Trouble – many rap acts were beginning to emerge. When The Clash did their shows on Broadway they opened with hip hop performers for their show. I’d been asked to paint a banner that said “The Clash” and when they arrived and they saw it they asked, “Who did the banner? That’s amazing. We wanna meet those guys.” That’s when they invited me to go Europe with them and asked me if I wanted to paint on the stage while they were playing.  I mean when I first met them I wasn’t into punk music.

BSA: What music were you listening at the time?
Futura: I was listening to Hip Hop and…I mean I’m traditionally more like R&B, Motown, you know I’m an old-school guy for that, so The Clash sound was new and I was learning about the music and I liked the music. But it wasn’t like “Paint for the music”. They were like, “Yo, just do what you do and we are going to play”, and that that’s how it kind of was. Then I did some graphics for them for the record and I actually went on the stage with them in Los Angeles when they released their next album, “Combat Rock”.…..I sing on the record with them….”Overpowered by Funk” then there is a part where I rap.

This is a message from Futura

Don’t prophesize the future
I liven up the culture
Because I’m deadly as a vulture
I paint on civilization
It’s environmentally wack
So presenting my attack
I’ll brighten up your shack
I’m down by law and that’s a fact

Just give me a wall. Any building dull or tall
I spray clandestine night subway
I cover red purple on top of grey Hey,
no slashing cuz it ain’t the way
The T.A. blew 40 mil they say
We threw down by night
They scrubbed it off by day

OK tourists.

Picture frame, tickets here
For the graffiti train
People at home show you care
Don’t try and fry me in your shockin chair
Funk Power, Over and Out

From “Overpowered by Funk”, by The Clash and performed by Futura

In the concert in Los Angeles I was painting and they started playing the song and Joe was like “Futura, Futura” and I came on stage…So I actually painted for The Clash and sang on the stage with The Clash and that all happened that year in 1981. That experience blew my mind of course because of all I got exposed to – they took me to Europe, to Vienna, Paris, London, Scotland. It was supposed to be two weeks and it became two months. So I had a great opportunity with them that year. And when I came back my popularity as an artist grew as a result because even if I didn’t know who The Clash there were a lot of people who knew who The Clash were. So it was a great opportunity for my career at that time even though by ’85 I felt the gallery experience wasn’t a good deal.

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

Os Gemeos and Futura. Detail (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: It has been very often the case where American artists would have to go to Europe to get popular and in the 80s graffiti here was considered more like a crime and you were vandals and criminals while in Europe graffiti was being accepted as an art form. Has that changed? Do you see things differently now?
Futura: Yeah, you know your sh*t, dude, that is exactly the story. Yeah things are different now – let’s just say for example, 1980. We’re 30 years after that now, okay? So if I’m talking to a 30 year-old man, woman, at this moment they know. They know already. Back then – people didn’t know and they were threatened by it. The actions were “in their face” at the time and people were taking the trains and it was always aggressive. We were vandalists to them but I think enough time has passed and they understand and they appreciate it, perhaps more than they did. Although what we were doing all was illegal, mildly criminal, we were never hurting anybody okay? And our messages were always positive and we were trying to embellish and to beautify and to present something visually attractive.

BSA: Can you talk about this project with Os Gemeos and how it has been for you:
Futura: I want to say that the beauty of this project for me is the sense of collaboration that normally doesn’t totally exist among artists. I won’t say it’s the first time I’ve done collaboration, but it’s the most amazing collaboration I’ve done. I mean in the past I’ve worked with other artists on walls but not with the same respect as I have with the twins.  I mean artists around the world look at their work. And you say “I’d love to work with them, it is like a dream.”

I’ve known the guys for more than ten years and I’ve seen them around the world. I love their work. We always have a great relationship and in Miami at Art Basel last year they were talking about, “Hey we should do something together you know”. They had this idea and of course I’m open and I’m also, “Wow, really?”  You know, for me, they come to my city and asked me to work with them out of a kind of a respect for the historical reference and you know I’m still relevant – I’m not like a dinosaur, like a fossil.  So for me it’s almost indescribable really how it makes me feel as an artist, as a person – actually not even as an artist but as a person, as a human being. You know the humanity of it right? So this is what’s genius and priceless and it is not about money, not about sales. Who cares? You know what I mean. It’s about a real artistic collabo – you know a gift to the neighborhood, a gift to the school, a gift to the city, and possibly some project like this can open some doors.

The Twins and Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

The Twins and Futura (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: How about the experience of going up in a hydraulic lift to paint?
I’m very happy with the results because technically they are able to make it work and I trust them because I know they are “the masters” you know. First of all just getting up on these walls on those machines, normally I’d have been like, “No, it’s okay.”  I mean when I was in the military I was jumping out of airplanes so it’s not a height thing – also I was 18 at that time kind of stupid in the head. Today I’m thinking more like, really? Are you sure? And it’s quite a sensation painting up there like that. If it wasn’t them I would have not done this project. I would’ve not done it. The second night I almost couldn’t sleep thinking about it. It really bothered me, physically. The first day I was like “let me just touch the sky and let me get the feeling”. But this is uncomfortable what can I say? But you know what? This is these guys so for them I’d say “f*ck it, I’d do it”.  But when yesterday was done and they were like “we are done” I was very very happy.


BSA: Your web site is amazing and you’ve maintain a pretty current internet presence….
My son designed my website. You can archive it back for three years. I’ve been on line since 1996. Flickr is the new application that I like. Every artist seems to be promoting themself and what I learned as a graffiti writer is we are in the business of self promotion, that’s what we do. I have been doing it for so long that it is boring to me now to do that. I am not interested in that. I mean I love it, I love this experience, it’s indescribable but I mean I’m not there to promote me.  My life does not revolve around me and who I am – I’m getting more joy among other things. Now I’m traveling. I’m trying to see the world on my terms and not be like a puppet. But the web site my son designed. I have a daily photo and basically everyday there’s a new image. There is a kind of a curation there. Some of the pictures kind of go together – there’s a lot of personal things there with me and my girl. I like to play with the public also.

Closer Look. (© Jaime Rojo)

Futura between Os Gemeos. (© Jaime Rojo)

BSA: What do you wish for your children to have in this modern age?
Futura: I love my children Timothy and Tabitha. They already have what I want for them. What I want for them I have put into motion; the ability to think for yourself, to take care of things. They are independent and great. My wife is French – I met her in Paris in 1982. Now we are separated, but we are wonderful together and I love her enormously for the gift she gave me of the children and we appreciate that they are grown up and who they are becoming and we love them for who they are. We are like, “Hey, good job!” to each other because we respect the labor that we both did.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Futura Quote Parent

But everything is going well because they have a good foundation which I didn’t really have and I was an only child and have no brothers and sisters, so this whole opportunity for me to be a parent has been more rewarding for me than me being an artist for sure. And I’m so grateful that I have that because my art is more rich because of that and vice-versa. If it was only one or the other, something would be  missing. If I had a regular job I wouldn’t be a good father.  I try to keep myself stress free.  I know what I’m good at and I don’t do what I’m not good at. I try not to waste my time if possible.


Read our previous posting on this event:

Interview: Os Gemeos, Futura & Martha Cooper At PS 11 In NYC: Day 3


This project is made possible with the vision and elbow grease of AKANYC and 12ozProphet and the engaged involvement of PS11 and the community.

Read more

A Wellspring: New York City Walls That Overflow

For the Street Art aficionados and for those that observe the arts in general New York City offers a year-round wellspring of inspiration. In particular, there are a number of well-known walls that get plastered and sprayed and tagged upon continuously, ever changing and ever interesting.

When you think of individual creativity we think of the old saying “we all drink from the same well”. With the explosion of real estate construction all over the city in the past decade we are very fortunate indeed to have many such wells/walls for complex Street Art “collaborations”.  At any time there is new art on walls in diverse neighborhoods throughout the city like Soho, Chelsea, The Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Red Hook, Long Island City and the Bronx to mention a few.

Below are images from just one such wall; An ever-changing gallery in the neighborhood of Chelsea in Manhattan.

XCIA (© Jaime Rojo)

XCIA (© Jaime Rojo)

$Hota (© Jaime Rojo)
$Howta (© Jaime Rojo)

Fumero (© Jaime Rojo)
Fumero (© Jaime Rojo)

JC2 Army of One, ASVP, Dint Wooer (© Jaime Rojo)
JC2 Army of One, ASVP, Dint Wooer (© Jaime Rojo)

Toy City (© Jaime Rojo)
Toy City (© Jaime Rojo)

Fumero, Jc2 Army Of One, Toy City, Dint Wooer, ASVP, XCIA, Shin Shin, SGU (© Jaime Rojo)
Fumero, Jc2 Army Of One, Toy City, Dint Wooer, ASVP, XCIA, Shin Shin, SGU (© Jaime Rojo)

Read more
“Shred” At Perry Rubenstein Gallery

“Shred” At Perry Rubenstein Gallery

A Tight and Irreverent Collage Show Curated by Carlo McCormick

Judith Supine "Patrice " 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

In this piece for “Shred”, Street Artist Judith Supine clearly enunciates the radical psycho-sexual non-sequiturs that make Supine’s collage a powerful voice in New York Street Art at the moment. In addition to the signature acid bright template are the cigarette, the nudity, and the reference to childhood that occur often in pieces by the artist. The paper collage is scattered with raised green metallic pieces that look like broken fingernails forming smooth lumps under the resin. The artist confirmed in fact that the “finger nails” are glass jewel beetles. Judith Supine “Patrice ” 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


To curate any show well requires a finely balanced hand that can go unappreciated. If the gentle and deliberate directing of artists and their contributions is not thoughtful and focused, a show may feel off-kilter, unkempt, even ruinous. Although he denies it with humility in equal proportion to his expertise, curator Carlo McCormick displays his adept hand at collage (or assemblage) in “Shred”, the new collage show he curates for the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district.

In talking about the genesis of “Shred”, McCormick describes a downtown East Village scene and the concurrent Graffiti scene of the 70s and 80s that imploded messily at the end of a hyper-excited zenith. An author, editor, and speaker who is considered expert on the topic of NYC’s downtown scene at the time, McCormick knows well what the signs of our fickle obsessions can look like, “And yes everyone gets kind of famous for a bit and a bunch of money flows through it and it is over”.

Drawing a few connections, he explained he’d like to avoid the “the kind of phenomenology of that moment” that Street Art could find itself precariously hanging on the edge of.  So it is with purpose that he extends the span of this collection to broaden the dialogue about the practice of collage.

“The main thing I thought was about street art – involving the wheat pasting and it’s stenciling and it’s silk screening – is that it has inherently a lot of collage effects”. In addition to today’s adventurous street artists who are represented here by Faile, Swoon, Elbow Toe, Shepard Fairey, and Judith Supine, McCormick also includes some of their predecessors and peers, like Jess, Erik Foss, and Gee Vaucher. For final balance, he called upon three film makers who are “really ripping shit apart”.

Recognizing that “collage was not exactly invented yesterday”, McCormick stipulates that he was crafting his own message by selecting these artists. The great common denominator? “Well obviously surrealism had a great part in it. I’m looking for the more outré elements of it. I’d say it’s an attitude; there is a certain irreverence in it, and caring about the materials working with it”. Talking with a few of the artists and guests Thursday night at the opening, those elements are present in this show and were very well received.

Mark Flood "Twilight Feelings" (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

An elongated mutant pop pretty boy by Mark Flood, “Twilight Feelings” 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jack Walls (Detail of an Installation of 5. Photo © Jaime Rojo )

Using photographs taken of himself by his lover Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack Walls creates optical vibrations in these recent collage pieces that span and unite both the Downtown and the Street Art explosions.  (Three of Installation of Five). 2008  Photo © Jaime Rojo )

Faile Detail "Never Enough" (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Street Art Duo Faile reprise imagery from one of their recent street art stencils in this large acrylic and silkscreened piece that welcomes guests at “Shred”.  “Never Enough” 2010. Detail (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jess Untitled (Konrad Lorenz) Detail, (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

An early example of collage at “Shred”. Jess “Untitled” (Konrad Lorenz) 1955. Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brian Douglas (Elbow-Toe) "Bears" Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brian Douglas (Elbow-Toe) “Bears” 2010. Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)



In attendance at the opening was the Street Artist known as Elbow Toe, who created one of the more mystifying images, both in it’s content and it’s thousands of hand-cut pieces that are applied in such a painterly fashion that standing a few feet away from the piece can lead a viewer to believe it was done with oil and brush.Speaking about a new series of collages based on psychological and possibly autobiographical themes that he’s exploring, Elbow Toe said, “It was the first one I’ve done….all the collage stuff is heading in a more narrative direction. And this is the first of many that are all getting much more weird, I guess.”

Leo Fitzpatrick. Untitled. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

A grouping of collages by Leo Fitzpatrick. Untitled. 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erik Foss "Look Out" 2010 Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

A seriously dog-eared commercial landscape (signed MORAN) from a 1966 suburban living room, long since faded and liberated from its frame and stained by water drops, artist Erik Foss turns it into a surreal other planetary world with clusters of owls, floating moons, and robed faceless wizards and witches dressed by the House of Stevie Nicks.  Erik Foss “Look Out” 2010 Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)


“Shred” July 1 – August 27, 2010

Perry Rubenstein Gallery

527 West 23rd Street

New York, NY 10001

Read more