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Wastedland 2. Andrew H. Shirley Corrals Counter-Culture in Detroit

Wastedland 2. Andrew H. Shirley Corrals Counter-Culture in Detroit

“The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.” Abbie Hoffman


 

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

PREAMBLE

At any given moment a counter-culture is developing before your eyes. Authoritarian governments know this. So do, as it turns out, lifestyle brands, sociologists, and PR firms.

Born of a genuine disaffection with the dominant culture as it steamrolls blithely forward, counter-culture has the ability to draw sharp contrasts into focus, expose secrets, challenge hypocrisies, redress inequality. It can also crack open a moribund mindset and give oxygen and sunlight and water to new ideas, new ways of being, alternate paradigms.

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UFO 907 & William Thomas Porter. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Counter-culture is essential to growth of culture, and while it can be shocking, disruptive, even painful at times, the wise know that the marginalized often lead the body politic toward a stronger equilibrium, a more perfect union.

Graffiti may not have begun as a subculture or a counter-culture, but virtually all of our recognized institutions steadfastly resisted it. Over time, they have become more open to suggestion, if with reservations and conditions. Eventually, everything is transformed by it in degrees.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

DETROIT CHARTS THE MOVEMENT

May we suggest that when it comes to the counter-cultural aspects of graffiti and Street Art, Detroit is a fine example of being in multiple stages of acceptance and denial, with examples of the counter-culture all along the continuum from rejection to absorption.

During a recent visit we saw old-school Detroit graffiti heads with their elaborate pieces next to newcomer kids from other cities bringing a raw-graff anti-style. You could also find corporate lifestyle brands polishing their art-cool bonafides while gently intermingling with grassroots community-minded mural organizing.

Further up the financial ladder you’ll witness blue-chip collector/investors getting down in a gallery culture that supports marquee art names, and major institutions courting younger “edgy” artists who started their “careers” far outside the mainstream, often outside the law.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Andrew H. Shirley steps carefully in many ways as he leads us up a cracked staircase of oil-caked concrete, piss-poor lighting and the occasional puddle of murk. Our ears are still ringing from the sounds of a busted muffler in his car and we’re mulling over the sight of his dashboard vitrine that seemed to contain bones, feathers, amulets and pop culture debris reflecting in a ochre filmed windshield.

On the way here to Lincoln Art Park, we have passed graffitied car carcasses, crumbling ex factories, and fire torched exoskeletons of houses – all which lead to this loading dock entrance of a building once owned by Ford, now run as a recycling plant and, as it turns out, an art exhibition gallery.

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Our ride to Wastedland 2. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“So there was 40 years of garbage and the whole floor was filled with it,” Andrew says, “I came in here and I had to unload all of that sh*t by myself”.

A native of the big D, the slim-framed Mr. Shirley has spent half of his 40 years outside of it; writing graffiti, pitching and creating art projects, promoting scenes, studying film making and custom bike-making… generally pushing the margins of cultural acceptability in a way that looks sketchy on a resume – but would make smart brands salivate, if they had the guts.

“This is the 20th anniversary of me leaving this town and I have been back several times with several different shows,” he says about the group exhibitions and events that feature what he calls ‘underground aesthetics’.

“This is the first big public project where I brought a lot of my friends from New York and included the artists and makers here in Detroit who I have come to know over the years – all under one roof and showcasing all of their talents.”

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Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

THE FILM

Also, a film screening.

It’s the debut of “Wastedland2” in the middle of this 7,000 square foot dark cavern with a small grouping of stolen church pews facing the screen. The original Wastedland was a smaller tale – a petri dish of ideas that expanded and took root in a showier piece of exploration and mystery with higher production values.

The seating area is orbited by mini-dioramas of characters and scenes featured in the half hour graffiti mockumentary. Here is a handmade shack by Adam Void that perhaps epitomizes a metaphorical outsider clubhouse mentality common to the graffiti game.

To stage left is a stuffed 6-foot tall Cranky Cat standing erect amid piles of spent paint cans, a fire extinguisher, and exhaust tubes leading nowhere. In the movie Cranky is a feral and grouchy/whining character who propels the drunken aerosol action forward with escapades of ex-urban painting and existential fireside conversation with Wolftits and Amoeba Man in their “Wizard of Oz”-like  pilgrimage in search of truths. There is no Dorothy and no Toto in the film, but the animal head masks are trippy and comical even in the darkest moments. Each graffiti artist, according to EKG, was asked to make a costume that mimicked their spirit-animal. Amoeba Man’s plastic-wrapped head mask is a tour-de-force.

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Standing silently in the center of the floor behind the seating area in the exhibit is the massive tentacled steam-punked multi-eyed orb made of wood and steel that gives physical presence to the elusive anonymous graffiti crew called UFO 907. He also is the films’ diety and the holder of the aforementioned elusive truths.

Behind him on the wall is another slatted and animated version of UFO – perhaps more similar to the wiggly UFO 907 character sprayed across hundreds of walls in NYC. This animated sculpture version has a reservoir of black ink that drips on the floor.

Wastedland 2 is a road trip without road, a therapeutic buddy film without saccharine, staged in a post apocalyptic terrain that is revealed as graffiti oasis. The hapless beer- and weed-fueled journey is pure youthful angst suspended in chemicals and many in the audience laughed in recognition at the head-banging frustration voiced about fundamental life questions by these furry characters.

Despite the obvious obstacles posed by frozen facial expressions, there is a warmth in the interactions. Of note particularly is the party scene of mixed genders and the stumbling awkwardness of Wolftits with a potential lady friend; this will be the first time you’ve seen the mating game portrayed quite like this.

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“Cranky Cat’s Hovel” with Cranky Cat. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“This piece played the character of God in the film,” Andrew says, pointing to the all-seeing sculpture. “You may have seen that it was actually in a field in upstate New York.”

Yes, we made the trip to the rolling hills of cow-country to see it twice in a field of gently waving weeds. Previously we saw it in the lobby of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Previous to that we saw it being carved, soldiered, and under construction in UFO’s studio in Brooklyn. Truthfully, it does seem rather god-like.

Andrew says he transported the hulking orb by truck from rural New York to post-industrial Detroit, which must have taken 9 or 10 hours if he crossed into Canada and squeezed between the Great Lakes of Ontario and Erie.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This old factory has definitely not been refurbished into a “white box” gallery space, and there are no guards. There may be a guard dog. The floors are occasionally flooded by a leak from a source that is hard to pinpoint, the lighting is so irregular as to appear incidental, and visitors should be careful not to bang their head on the soot-covered sculptures of clouds by artist DarkClouds that are affixed slightly above with stalactite-like ebony drips that could be solid or liquid.

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Dark Clouds. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you parse the floors and avoid the paint-peeling columns Mr. Shirley is narrating just ahead of you with an earnest voice that weaves in and out of range, dashing off to find an extension chord perhaps, or a ladder, or to find someone to come explain the muscular graffiti pieces on display in the adjoining passage.

 

GANGSTERS AND WHITE KIDS

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BRZM ISH/ SYW. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Presently a twenty-something guy named Zak Warman appears and walks us past 10 or so freshly wild and layered graffiti pieces each displayed in their own bay, each representing important players from the last couple of decades in the Detroit graffiti scene. Zak tells us says that the Motor City scene is characterized by two distinct styles and constituencies at the moment, and this show combines both.

“I guess like the ‘gangster graffiti’ and the ‘white kid graffiti’ would be the best way to put it,” he explains while surveying the lineup and glancing at the rest of the show. “You know, the people who were like born in the gutter here and the people who came here in their teen years who moved here and such.”

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YOGURT / DFW. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“There’s people here who would never have painted together but maybe it was just the way that I showed them or my proposal. I was like ‘let’s just set everything aside that’s happened over the years – this is about us it is not about you. This is about everybody not just about our own f**king personal graff beef.’ ”

“It’s like the first time that everyone has come together into one big family.”

Mr. Shirley jumps in to further describe the nature of the work and the creators. “It is very important in Detroit to be able to ‘piece’, ” he says of the verb ‘piece’ that describes the noun ‘piece’ – a large, complex, and labor-intensive graffiti painting.

“In some places having a good tag is that first staple and then you move up from that tag,” he explains. “But here, because of the amount of time and space that you have to develop your craft all of these dudes really regard piecing above everything else.”

He walks down to the end of the line to point at a painted work. “These guys at the end – PERU and ARMY – they were doing 10-color pieces on the streets, as was SEKT – before anyone else. These guys represent a span of time from the early and mid 90s into the 2000s.”  In most cities you don’t have that luxury of time to develop an illegal piece, but Detroit has a number of stories like this.

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PERU ARMY. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A common story around Detroit is that, due to de-industrialization, the collapsing economy and the shrinking municipal budgets in the 1990s and 00s, the police were only arresting people for felonies. Since graffiti was not a felony, the police would simply drive by while aerosol was being sprayed.

“It’s not a myth,” says Andrew. “I painted a water tower one time – it’s still here today.” He recounts a story where one cop sat vigil on a rooftop for hours watching him paint on the water tower, only to be replaced by another until finally the painting was done. “I think he was just making sure that I didn’t get hurt and that I was okay,” he says with a sense of wonder.

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SEKT EBC / DFW. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

PARTING FOG

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EKG Labs . Drake. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It’s time to depart the Wastedland 2 exhibition and go to the streets in this run-down part of Detroit, where the art on the walls is roughly the same as the stuff we’ve just come to see.

It is unclear if this underground is simply about aesthetics, or if there is a deeper message. Maybe this is not a counter-culture after all, but a subculture.

As we stand by the elevated installation by artist EKG, dry-ice smoke billows out of a fully formed madman’s laboratory behind black curtains. Amid the visual field of blinkering orange light tubes and smoke that harken back to 1950s Sci-Fi movies, you see another character from the movie; the film’s box-headed admin assistant who robotically types out reams of black scrolls full of orange symbols to decode at a pivotal moment. This is an apt skillset to possess in an underground scene that is heavily coded and rife with implied and layered messages. A simple man of few words, EKG dubbed his character The Cyber Spirit Stenographer in The Court of The Overlord.

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We consider the amorphous steam from the Cyber Spirit and wonder how porous the veil is between the mainstream and the outsider artists who fuel this scene. When does counter-culture become culture? We can’t say for sure.

“Detroit is a pretty good example of counter-culture becoming culture, actually,” replies Andrew H. Shirley to our inquiry. “There is this corporatization that happens and there are culture vultures on the corners and in the nooks and crannies in underground scenes of America and they are exploiting it for monetary gain.”  True. But there is also word-of-mouth that spreads the news and the willing, thrilling adoption of techniques and languages by the naturally inquisitive types whose brain synapses are electrified by discovery.  With shows like this does Mr. Shirley feel like he is aiding and abetting the mainstreaming of a subculture like graffiti and its D.I.Y tributaries?

“I’d like to pull back the curtains and give a little peek of it but I’m not trying to shine too many flashlights or provide too much of a narrative into the ‘hows’ and ‘whats’ and ‘whys’. I think it’s important for the common man to see that there is an alternative perspective because too often they are just inundated by the media that is controlled by the corporations – who are telling them what to wear, how to think, how to act, what to pray to, what to feel and how to live their life.”

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EKG Labs. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

SOME LAST WORDS ON FESTIVALS

He does have a little beef with mural festivals though.

He thinks his Wastedland 2 show deals a fairer hand to local artist communities. “This is kind of in contrast to what seems to be an international phenomenon of bringing muralists, many of them the same muralists, from city to city – developing a ‘look’ that is kind of becoming a blanketed look,” he says.

“Detroit has so many f**king artists and part of the problem for me is that there are a lot of these mural festivals that are two thirds or 75% or 90% international artists and 10% or 20% local artists. It doesn’t allow for the city to see what is really happening here. I wanted to have a show where the background and the forefront of the show was about what was happening here.”

“While I do think the mural festival is very important in bringing in outside influence and outside interest into the city, for me it is just as important, or more important, to really praise and understand the origins of these movements in Detroit. That’s why I have reached out and had the help of friends to get these artists into the show.”

That said, we’ll say that the Wastedland 2 event was heavily promoted by the folks at the recent Murals In The Market Festival and many of the international artists who participated in the mural festival were also in attendance at the Shirley curated show, the bonfires, and music events at the sculpture park – as well as the screening of the movie.

Of course we also saw Gen Y and even Gen Z there with backpacks full of paint, dangling their legs off the retaining wall that overlooked the huge bonfire — who seemed to disappear when the freight train that ran along the lots’ perimeter came to a halt. There was also a guy from the Detroit Institute of Arts and a local plumber who talked to us about building a tree house in his front yard. Maybe it is harder to define culture than we thought.

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Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amy Smalls . George Vidas. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amy Smalls . George Vidas . GEN2. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo . UFO907 . Ryan C. Doyle. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amanda Wong . Andrew H. Shirley. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dark Clouds. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Wolftits popcorn making machine. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Adam Void. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Greg Henderson. Wastedland 2. Detroit, September 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Participating artists at Detroit Wastedland2, curated by Andrew H. Shirley include ARMY, BRZM, DRAKE, DONT, DYKE, ELMER, FOUR EYES, LIGER, MINCE, PERU, PORAB, REVEREND, SECT, SKWAT, TOUCH, TURDL, YOGRT and others from Detroit and also artists Adam Void, Amanda Wong,  Amy Smalls and George Vidas , Ben Wolf,  DARKCLOUDS,  EKG,  Greg Henderson,  Hugo Domecq,  RAMBO,  Ryan C. Doyle,  UFO 907,  William Thomas Porter,  WOLFTITS, among others.

Performers included The Unstoppable Death Machines, DJ Ihatejail.com (Crazy Jim from Wolf Eyes), Ishtar, Lt. Dan, and Dj’s Abacus, Prismviews, Black Noi$e, Abby and 100% Halal Meat


This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Next stop on the film’s multi-city launch: Richmond,Virginia on November 4.

Wastedland 2” and the accompanying show will feature new artwork from:  Adam Void, Amanda Wong, Amy Smalls and George Vidas, Andrew H. Shirley, Conrad Carlson, DARKCLOUDS, EKG, Greg Henderson, NOXER, RAMBO, Russell Murphy, Ryan C. Doyle, UFO 907, William Thomas Porter, WOLFTITS, and live performances from The Unstoppable Death Machines and Richmond’s DUMB WAITER and TOWARD SPACE. There will also be graffiti installations from local Richmond vandals and the 907 crew.

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UR New York hits Woodward Project; New Video Debut at BSA

UR New York hits Woodward Project; New Video Debut at BSA

“Eye of the Beholder”, 2esae and Ski Challenge Themselves to a New Freestyle

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UR New York’s 2esae in their studio is projecting and painting by hand, a new process that made both he and Ski a little nervous, to tell the truth. (Photo courtesy of the artists © UR New York)

This week UR New York is rocking the four-panel spot across the street from Woodward Gallery in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The born-and-raised New York duo, who have both done graffiti in the past, have been working hard year-round on the streets of Soho selling their art for about 3 years . With their folding tables displaying original screened and sprayed urban image collage, they’ve built a serious fan base. With themselves as their own best reps, they’ve also landed their work in shows and private collections and even corporate lobbies. Always hustling and always challenging themselves to take it to the next level, they’re pretty stoked to fill this spot that has hosted a number of New York’s hometown favorite Street Artists over the last few years.

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The new four panel piece by UR New York (photo © Jaime Rojo)

To mark the new installation, 2easae and Ski wanted to do something new and creative so they painted everything by hand instead of using screens and stencils. The results are somehow more personal and inviting. Stretching beyond their comfort level, they also took on something more abstract. When an artist does something courageous like going outside what is safe for them, you gotta applaud. According to the guys, the end result was a feeling that they were more connected to this piece than others they’ve worked on. They also scored a greater appreciation for artists who work by hand.

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Two panels chillin on the street by UR New York (Photo courtesy of the artists © URNewYork)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk a little about the actual shapes and symbols you used and what pushed you toward them?
UR New York:
We decided to use different symbols, and arrows in particular, to represent the different directions we may take in life. When you look at our work traditionally it’s detailed and defined with elements of graffiti. We started this project taking a completely different route. We figured we’d use simple imagery to convey an abstract feeling.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can each panel stand as a piece by itself or is it meant to be as a single piece only?
UR New York:
The initial thought was for the four panels to create a narrative. Artistically each panel was structured to stand alone but when they come together you grasp the full vision of the piece.

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UR New York, detail of “Eye of the Beholder” (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Talk a little bit about how you feel about changing it up stylistically.
UR New York: Changing our style of work is refreshing. As much as we love urban landscapes and graffiti, we decided to try something different and slightly out of our element. We get a thrill out of trying new techniques and styles. Our audience and supporters are always expecting something fresh and new. It’s exciting to deliver and get positive and creative feedback.

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UR New York, detail of “Eye of the Beholder”(Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you always bring graffiti to the game?
UR New York: Our style is as unique as a fingerprint but an element of graffiti will always play a role in our artwork. It’s part of our background and we pay homage to the roots and culture of where this all started for us.

Video Debut of “Eye of the Beholder”, starring UR New York in studio.

Visit URNewYork online here:

Now on view at Woodward Gallery Project Space:
UR New York, “Eye of the Beholder”

Previous Installations by:

Cycle, Forest Spirit
Kenji Nakayama, Brooklyn
FARO, Mood Swingz
El Celso, Sardana
Stikman, Double Vision
Michael De Feo, New Territories
Royce Bannon, Conversation with Monsters
Lady Pink, Pink Brick Woman Reclining
Sonne Hernandez, The Revolution Will Be Televised
LAII, Stop the War
Terence Netter
JM Rizzi, Chinese New Year
Matt Siren & Darkcloud

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(Photo courtesy of the artists © URNewYork)

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“Bizarre! Weird Bikes! Weird Art!” silent auction benefit at Brooklyn Fireproof

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“Bizarre! Weird Bikes! Weird Art!” silent auction benefit

Hosted by Brooklyn Fire Proof East, 119 Ingraham Street, Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 8pm-Midnight

From the D.I.Y. scene in Brooklyn comes a show of epic proportion featuring art and design themed around the greatest celebrity of the modern era, the BIKE!!!

This exhibition draws together talented artists from NY to California around the launch of PORTER CYCLES, an independent bike builder established in 2010 in Brooklyn. All types of media will be represented: film, prints, photography, sculpture, installation, sound art, performance, and more.  Also, a variety of weird bikes, performance track bikes, and cargo trailers will be displayed.  Everything will be auctioned between 8pm and midnight.  All proceeds go to the artists unless donated to Porter Cycles by artist.

DJ’s, live-silk-screening, and bike performances will run throughout the night.

Artists:

Amy Smalls, Amigo Unit, Andrew H. Shirley, AVOID ∏, Chloe Swantner, Conrad Carlson, DARKCLOUDS, DeeDock-Hobby Horse-5003, Hillel, Ellis Gallagher,Fumie Ishii, Greg Henderson, Ian Helwig, Ian Vanek, Jennifer Shear, Julian C. Duron, Ian Colon, Julie Glassberg, Keith Pavia, Lindsay Ellesar, MIKEY 907, Nick Chatfield-Taylor, Noah Sparkes, Ryan Doyle,  Tod Seelie
Tony Bones, Travis Moonschien, UFO 907, Weiwei Lin, William T. Porter,

Curators: Andrew H. Shirley  and W.T.Porter  (wthomasporter@gmail.com)

Event Space Coordinator: Leslie Padoll  (leslie@brooklynfireproof.com)

Porter Cycles exists to serve the bicycle, cyclists, and bicycle culture.

Porter Cycles designs and builds human powered vehicles of all types, including practical use vehicles, utility vehicles, and carriage trailers for the commercial market.

Porter Cycles’ future goal is to replace the semi-truck+trailer with a human-powered equivalent capable of long distance travel under heavy cargo through all conditions.

Porter Cycles is an active participant of the sustainable-living movement.

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New Gallery: Pandemic opens Saturday in Brooklyn

New Gallery: Pandemic opens Saturday in Brooklyn

Some work in progress on the gallery floor from Keely (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Some work in progress on the gallery floor from Keely (photo Steven P. Harrington)

NYC’s unemployment rate is nearing 10% (higher than the national average by a point), the heat index in the City this week was as high as the crowd at Glasslands, we’re losing Arts programs in the schools left and right, Ad Hoc is shutting down their main gallery space, and Jennifer Anniston was thrown into the trunk of a car.

Who would believe in this topsy-turvey New York that a GALLERY celebrating Street Art is actually OPENING?  You read it right. It’s called Pandemic (explanation below) and its on the South Side of Williamsburg Brooklyn in a space that used be the DollHaus, a Gothic-themed and deliberately disturbing gallery with Kewpies on skewers and mutilated cyborg dolls with Lydia-Lunch eyes. Even though it’s a little off of the main Williamsburg drag, it’s just a block from the first artist/hipster outpost “Diner”, and two blocks from the favorite place for Wall Street big-bellies to take guests for a daring trip across the river for steak on their corporate card , “Peter Lugers

A bright "Welcome!" from 3 of Celso's ladies (photo Steven P. Harrington)

A bright “Welcome!” from 3 of Celso’s ladies (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Now the newly painted space has a fresh air of possibility that washes over you when greeted by the sunny owner of Pandemic, Keely Brandon, an artist and friend of the street art scene for some time.  This week we stopped by during the installation and the gleaming walls, new lighting, and shiny floors bespoke a world full of possibilities.  Saturday night the small gallery will host a group show of work by no less than 14 street artists, an impressive show of strength for the Grand Opening.

Brooklyn Street Art: A new gallery!  How did you hook this up?
Keely: It kinda just fell into my lap, I was apartment hunting and was offered a storefront instead. At the time it was a jewelry store. I started thinking about how awesome it would actually be to have a gallery space that I could run my own way. Free to display the art and merchandise of myself and other artists I respect. So I just went for it.

Always willing to lend a paw around the gallery! (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Always willing to lend a paw around the gallery! (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is “Pandemic” referring to something in particular, or just a general feeling of dread?
Keely:
It’s the concept of a creating a worldwide epidemic, but in a positive way! expanding the global consciousness of our breed of art.

Stikman is mapping out the inner route (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Stikman is mapping out the inner route (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you ever had a gallery before?
Keely: Nope

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you chose the artists that are involved with this show?
Keely:
I chose a group of prolific street artists who’s artwork and dedication I really admire. Many have worked together before on projects, and create an awesome looking show.

I've got an eye on the underwater world (Keely) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Fresh from the East River! (Keely) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: This place used to be a gallery for baby dolls dressed in gothic garb – babies with black lipstick and white eyes, etc.  You find any heads rolling around in the closet?
Keely:
Ha.. yea actually when i first moved in there i could have sworn the basement was haunted! No heads, but a lot of fuschia to paint over!

A box fer all yer stuff (Deekers) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

A box fer all yer stuff (R. Deeker) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you following a particular theme for this show, or is it mainly a group show?

Keely: No real theme… The name of the show is pandemic 37 – which is basically the gallery address. The show is just a grand intoduction to the place..

That IS Cheap! (photo Steven P. Harrington)

That IS Cheap! (artist Gay Sex) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Outside of the artists in the new show, what art excites you the most?
Keely: hmmm.. I like alot of different things.. strange 70’s artwork. Peter Max, Marushka, and other obscure wall hangings. I love old illustrations in wildlife books, deep sea creature photographs and dinosaur everything. Anything with gnarly teeth!

Brooklyn Street Art: You ever have dinner at Diner? Muffins at Marlowes? Porterhouse at Peter Lugers?
Keely: Dinner at Diner once, muffins at Marlowe… never. As for Peter Luger… I’m a vegetarian and I’m not rich!

You KNOW what time it is! (Royce Bannon) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

You KNOW what time it is! (Royce Bannon) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

One of the more entertaining pieces in the show is the working clock on the face of one of two monsters by Royce Bannon.  Royce explains the new development”

BSA: What made you make a clock?
Royce: I made a clock because I like functional art.  It looks cool and tells the time too.

BSA: What new skill did you use to install it?

Royce: No new skills were used in the making of the clock just the same old skills

BSA: What room of an apartment would it be more appropriate for?
Royce: Probably the kitchen.


BSA:
Is it Monster Time?
Royce:
It’s always monster time

From here to INFINITY (photo Steven P. Harrington)

From here to INFINITY (photo Steven P. Harrington)

In addition to celebrating the opening of the new gallery, everyone will be celebrating the new Street Art Blog by celebrated photographers Rebecca Fuller and Luna Park.

Their exciting new endeavor, The Street Spot, will feature many of the images of the street that fans have faithfully followed for the last few years.  Besides being avid documentarians of the ever-evolving street art and graff scene in NY, Park and Fuller have a deep reservoir of knowledge and stories to draw upon.

TheStreetSpot.com will surely add to the richness of this vibrant scene for all the fans of the wacky world of street art.  The AfterParty is where we’ll raise a glass to these fine individuals and their dream.

So that’s TWO great openings in one night!  Things are LOOKING UP!

Familiar names in a new location

Familiar names in a new gallery, Bixby, Buildmore, Celso, DarkClouds, infinity, Judith Supine, Keely, Kngee, Matt Siren, R. Deeker, Royce Bannon, Stikman, Skewville, Wrona

Pandemic Gallery

37 Broadway Between Kent and Wythe

Brooklyn (South Williamsburg)

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“Cheap Shots” Endless Love Crew at a bar in Bushwick

“Cheap Shots” Endless Love Crew at a bar in Bushwick

Who you calling Cheap?

No, that’s the name of the show, silly.

Bushwick Open Studios is this weekend, and of course that means that in between scattered studio visits and avant garde performances you will have to go to bars in the ‘hood to soak up that local D.I.Y. flavor.  Conveniently, there will be art there too.

Not to be confused with the Kings County Bar Association, the name of the bar is Kings County (so is the county by the way) and the ever morphing roster for this round of ELC mayhem is: RoyceBannon, Anera, infinity, Celso, Abe Lincoln Jr., Ad Deville, Matt Siren, and Dark Clouds.

Brooklyn Street Art: What themes have you been working with?
Royce Bannon:
The theme is ELC on a smaller scale, collabos, transmissions, hot chicks, and monsters

Brooklyn Street Art: Who has more fun? Monsters or voluptuous babes?
Royce Bannon:
I think that when you combine monsters and voluptuous babes the only outcome is fun… its been proven.

Brooklyn Street Art: Will you be serving cheap shots?
Royce Bannon:
Shots are cheap.

New piece by Matt Siren and Royce Bannon (photo courtesy ELC)

New piece by Matt Siren and Royce Bannon (photo courtesy ELC)

More about Cheap Shots on our Calendar here.

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Royce and ELC Workin’ in a Combine

Royce and ELC Workin’ in a Combine

112 Greene Street Revived by Street Artists

Like Obama says, we’ve got work to do, people.

Royce Bannon and a diverse team of talented street artist/graff writers are taking the challenge seriously: Revive the artists’ space in Soho that boasts a proud history and restore it to the constructive, collaborative, democratic roots of a real artists’ community; one that will have a mission of giving back, as well as re-establishing a laboratory for discovery.

These are times for bold actions of hope, and all hands are on deck for a show opening this month called “Work to Do” at 112 Greene Street in Soho, a place that first flourished in the years before the Reagan Revolution.

A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)

A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)

Long before Soho became a jewel encrusted haven for high-end couture, over-priced “foodie” groceries, hi-jacking delis, and exclusive password private clubs, the wild-eyed artists were the only people interested in the abandoned buildings south of Houston, and north of Canal. In the decade of the 1970’s, during a financial crisis when a Republican president told our bankrupt city to “drop dead”, that he would veto any bailout for a cash-strapped NYC economy, Soho was a largely abandoned carcass of warehouses and lifeless factories. As is so often the case, it was the perfect playground for the innovative talents of artists and art students needing cheap raw space to create and coalesce and eventually re-start the engine of cultural growth. Like the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick neighborhoods in Brooklyn today, Soho in Manhattan was a pounding heart in a hurting city that was drained by an energy crisis, sapped by a costly possibly illegal war on foreign soil, and duped by the ponzi-schemes of corporate titan opportunists at home.

112 Greene Street in Soho was the original home of 112 Workshop, a raw space open between 1970 and 1980, offering exhibition space for installation and performance for the new generation of conceptual artists who emerged from the radicalized minds and cultural upheavals of the previous decade.

With artists having complete control to curate their shows, the space put on challenging and inspirational work of hundreds of people. During the life of this laboratory it produced a list of influential performers and artists that helped shape the cultural cityscape over next 30 years, including names like Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Louis Bourgois, Chuck Close, Spalding Gray, Phillip Glass, Fran Lebowitz, Jeffrey Lew (co-founder), Gordon Matta Clarke (co-founder), Richard Mock, Richard Serra, William Wegman.

A spirit of collaboration and lively exploration returns to this space on March 26 when street artists well known in North Brooklyn today clear out the moribund basement space at 112 Greene and electrify the walls with a new era of youthful big ideas – and with thanks to those who came before in this hallowed space.

Royce Bannon, core member of the collective ELC (Endless Love Crew), is curating an audacious and boundless graphic cavalcade of street art styles to christen the historic space that honors the creative spirit. While ELC has a rotating roster that sometimes totals as many as 9 artists with a variety of styles, the currently active members of the ELC for this project will be Abe Lincoln Jr., Anera, El Celso, infinity, and Royce Bannon. With everyone working collaboratively, the “Work to Do” show pays homage to the new president and embraces a new reality that artists and creatives in the city are feeling right now.

The 112 Greene Street space is christened The Combine with this inaugural show. Steve Loeb and John Robie are creating The Combine to provide a new environment for the exhibition of art; an alternative to the traditional gallery opening and exhibition, transforming static work into multi-media, performance oriented events.

Detail from Kosbe at "Work to Do" (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Detail from Kosbe at “Work to Do” (photo Steven P. Harrington)

On a recent sunny Saturday, with Soho sidewalks anxiously trampled with tourists dragging shopping bags out of Prada, Dean & Deluca, and the Apple store, Royce and Chris from Robots Will Kill are laboring below street level on work for the new show. Descending the stairway you hear the blasting remixed hip-hop jams, see the spray-painted names along the walls claiming space for pieces; Ad Deville of Skewville and U.L.M. have staked their real estate, as has Cake and the Smart Crew. Others have already created pieces on their wall allotment; a 7 foot tall Mochni from Veng on the landing, a chaotic collage from Kosbe as you hit the floor, a manic back wall collaboration with Deekers, infinity, and Celso.

A complete history of 112 Workshop

A complete history of 112 Workshop

Royce sits at his makeshift table of plywood and saw-horses, pouring over a large book about 112 Workshop, marking its’ pages with post-its, and eyeballing every available inch of the entire basement space, thinking about how to fill it, and with whom. His phone keeps ringing, but he’s concentrating on the long rectangular room. He’s loving this moment, and proud of the work his friends have put into the space. Chris from RWK climbs a ladder to lay-in the first wash of color that will build the backing of… perhaps a robot?

Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and Avoid Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and AVOID Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

The mottled concrete floor is marked with blue tape where a stage will be built for Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force on opening night, and the backdrop wall is already claimed by an undulating AVOID Pi tentacle, some Dain wheatpasted portraits that well up with fluorescent tears, and some smart-aleck monsters from Mr. Bannon himself, and a space remains for Abe Lincoln Jr.. Walk past a stack of plywood into a makeshift rectangular “gallery” room where many 3’ x 8’ foamcore canvasses lean – soon to showcase Deekers, infinity, Celso, and Royce pieces and hung in the windows of a music store further north of here.

Brooklyn Street Art: So who decided to put on this show?
Royce Bannon: Steven Loeb (composer, arranger, producer) and John Robie (composer, musician and record producer). They both have really extensive resumes in the music industry that go back to the 70’s – have worked with so many great musicians and artists that have impacted most of us – Kurtis Blow, Public Enemy, James Brown, LL Cool J… and a lot more. This is their space, and they’ve given me full control to make this show rock.

This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you get involved?
Royce Bannon: They hit me up on MySpace about a year ago, I guess. They knew about ELC and liked our work. About November or December they asked me if we could throw an ELC show and I was like “Sure!” We got together and had lunch and they showed me the space. It was a mess when I saw it. It was full of a bunch of wood, tables, broken furniture, junk… it was basically used for storage, hadn’t been used for anything I guess for years.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are they planning to use the space after the show?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, they are turning it into an event center, mainly for charitable events. They want to make money, but they want to give back as well. This will be the first kind of event that is following that approach.

Brooklyn Street Art: So they first contacted you to do an ELC show, but you actually know a lot more people who can do work in a space like this.
Royce Bannon: Yeah exactly, they were like “we like ELC” and I said, “This is a lot of room to fill for just ELC, so why not invite people who I admire, and some of their friends and we can just crush this whole place up?”

Cake waits for friends from her Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Waiting for the Smart Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you had to tell people “no” since this roster started filling up?
Royce Bannon: Yes, (laughs) I’ve been telling people “no” a lot, and that’s really hard. What I’ve been telling them is to hold on, and once everybody paints, there will be other smaller or tight spots where they can do “fill-ins’, cause some people like those smaller spots too.

Brooklyn Street Art: Looking at this giant space, you are giving people a lot of real estate; these spaces look like 8’ by 8’ chunks of wall. That’s pretty generous.
Royce Bannon: Yeah definitely, why not? The spaces are claimed, and we’ve got lots more space to do, and about a third of it is done already.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are people excited to be in the show?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, very excited, I think it’s gonna be like a madhouse in here. It’s about 4,000 square feet floorspace.

This place is Smokin'! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

This place is Smokin’ ! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: You have been working long hours to accommodate all these artists?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, since mid-January I’ve been here like 12 hour days, sometimes late at night. First we had to clean up the space, figure out what materials we wanted to keep. We’re using everything they had left here and re-purposing it, cause “why not”. Better than throwing it away. Like my monsters are cut out of some bookshelves (laughs). They’ve been supplying us with whatever tools we need, gave us a bunch of paint. So with extras, like ladders and tools, I just go to them and we can get to work. They are really supportive of us, plus they’re collectors.

Brooklyn Street Art: So some of the artwork is going to be on sale?
Royce Bannon: Yes, I think some of the people are going to actually put their artwork on top of their pieces. We’re going to make a little gallery (gesturing to a 10’x 14’ room) – I think some people are going to put their stuff in there. We’re going to cover the floor, I think, in fake grass… brighten the space up a little bit. But we still got a lot of work to do.

***********************

In planning for the new show, Royce and all of the artists have been inspired by the words of the 44th president:

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up.

For more info on ELC and its members:
ELC
Royce Bannon
infinity
El Celso
Abe Lincoln Jr.
AnerA

So far the lineup for the show includes: Endless Love Crew, Moody AA, Cabahzm, Cake, 2Easae, Avone, Chris RWK, Veng RWK, Brando * Nev1 * Sinatra Smart Crew, AVOID pi, infinity, Deeker, Keeley, El Celso, Dain, Pufferella, Skewville, Royce Bannon, AnerA, Abe Lincoln Jr., Ellis Gallagher AKA Ellis G., Matt Siren, Overconsumer, Kosbe, Aiko, Abby Goodman, Alone art, Bast, Ben Jackson, Bobby Hill, Buildmore, C. Damage, Chris Brennan, Christopher Gordon, Dark Clouds, Deeker, Destroy and Rebuild, Erica Faulke, Keely, Pufferella, OHM, Smells, Stikman, U.L.M.

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