All posts tagged: Dondi

Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987 Opens at Bronx Museum

Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987 Opens at Bronx Museum


It wasn’t a fait accompli that Henry Chalfant was going to capture an entire graffiti train in late 1970s New York. He needed to devise a technique and plan his attack.

In much the same way that train writers like Blade, Dondi, SEEN, Mare and Skeme had to strategize, scope, and execute their hand-rendered work upon the rails under challenging circumstances and sometimes dangerous conditions, the photographic documentarian Chalfant had to likewise show up with his tools and skillz to document the work. He shot multiples in rapid succession by positioning himself, timing the trains, preparing his materials, and overlaying those images together end-to-end in a time-consuming methodology that he alone devised.

By presenting an ingenious visual anthropology, Henry captured for a greater audience the aesthetics and a more permanent record of the final product – at a time when most authorities and public sentiment saw little if any value in the work. This premeditated outlaw vandalism was also artistry, born with pure adrenaline by teenagers who were eager to make their mark in a rapidly declining US city in the midst of economic crises. When tags evolved to whole cars, whole cars became set pieces, and whole trains became a visual opus that swept into, through, and out of your view in minutes. By capturing and preserving them completely Chalfant ensured that future generations could appreciate them as well.

From the press release:
“He co-authored the definitive account of New York graffiti art, Subway Art (Holt Rinehart Winston, N.Y. 1984) and a sequel on the art form’s world-wide diffusion, Spray Can Art (Thames and Hudson Inc. London, 1987). Chalfant co-produced the PBS documentary, Style Wars, the definitive documentary about Graffiti and Hip Hop culture and directed Flyin’ Cut Sleeves, a documentary on South Bronx gangs, in 1993. He produced and directed Visit Palestine: Ten Days on the West Bank in 2002. His film From Mambo to Hip Hop was featured in the Latino Public Broadcasting series, Voces in 2006-2007, and won an Alma Award for Best Documentary.

Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987 is generously supported by KAWS, Michael D. & Kristin Elkins, David Forbes and Velda Turan, Janet Goldman, Hal & Jodi Hess, Supreme, Powerhouse Arts, Philip & Cheryl Milstein, Eric Firestone Gallery, Sacha Jenkins & MassAppeal, Rob Cristofaro & Alife, Shepard Fairy, Anne Brown, and Josh Rechnitz.”


The exhibition is also supported by the 190 backers on Kickstarter who donated to his outreach. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/568527850/henry-chalfants-first-us-museum-retrospective


Banner image:

Henry Chalfant
Dondi, 1980, 2013, 2013
Kodak Professional Endura Metallic Paper
17h x 65h in.


Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987

For more information about HENRY CHALFANT: ART VS. TRANSIT, 1977-1987 and the museum’s hours of operation and tickets click HERE

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Magda Danysz Brings “Art From The Streets” to Singapore Art Science Museum

Magda Danysz Brings “Art From The Streets” to Singapore Art Science Museum

“Art From the Streets”, an exhibition at the Art Science Museum in Singapore opened this weekend to coordinate with Singapore Art Week that runs from tomorrow until the end of the month with fairs, festivals and art exhibitions. Commercial art dealer and writer Magda Danysz curated the show with names she represents and whom you will be familiar with – Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Faile, and Futura, for example.

Two versions of the catalogue, one by Felipe Pantone, the other by Futura, are available on the Magda Danysz website .

But she also brings an eclectic mix of others on her roster and possibly lent from some private collections. Collectively they span many of the high profile, the saleable and known over the past 5 decades from various disciplines and philosophical practices; In the case of Jacques Villeglé, whose practice of lacerating posters in the 1960s predates Failes’ by 4 decades, a lineage can be drawn. Other connections are not as easy.

Ultimately the collection gives a sense of the vast number of personalities and techniques that have characterized the street practice in Europe and North America primarily without focusing on any one specialty too greatly. Here are the revered names along with mid-career folks and current darlings who are sure to leave a mark. There is also a small inclusion of more regional favorites like Eko Nugroho from Indonesia, and Singapore’s Speak Cryptic, who each were on hand this weekend with many of the artists for the opening.

Giving tours with microphone in hand during the opening days, the energetic Ms. Danysz educates new fans and potential buyers about an organic artists scene that grew from the streets and is now more frequently being offered for sale in places such as her three gallery locations in London, Paris, and Shanghai. Today it is slowly appearing more often in museums as well.

“Conscious that promotion of the emerging scene is necessary, Magda Danysz took part in many fairs,” says a press release, “such as for example Art Brussels, Arte Fiera in Bologna, Artissima in Torino, Fiac in Paris or Pulse in New York, and is one of the four galleries at the origin of the Show Off Paris art fair.”

This weekend’s activities included short presentations panel discussions and a screen of Wild Style.

Art from the Streets tickets are $17.00 on the Marina Bay Sands website.


A complete list of artists varies online with artists listed on the museum website including:

Banksy, Tarek Benaoum, Stéphane Bisseuil, Blade, Crash, Speak Cryptic, D*face, Fab 5 Freddy, FAILE, Shepard Fairey (aka Obey), Futura, Invader, JR, L’Atlas, Ludo, M-City, Nasty, Eko Nugroho, Nunca, Felipe Pantone, Quik, Lee Quinones, Blek le Rat, Rero, Remi Rough, André Saraiva, Seen, Seth, Sten Lex, Tanc, Hua Tunan, Yok & Sheryo, YZ, Zevs “and many more“.

Elsewhere online the roster is said to include 2Koa, Jef Aérosol, Ash, André, A-One, Aplickone, Banksy, Benjamin Duquenne, Tarek Benaoum, Stephane Bisseuil, Blek Le Rat, Boulaone, C215, Crash, Dface, Dondi, Dran, Eror729, Shepard Fairey, Faile, Futura, Keith Haring, Isham, Jayone, Jonone, Jr, Katre, Kaws, L’atlas, Lem, Ludo, Barry Mc Gee, Mikostic, Miss.Tic, Mode 2, Steve More, Nasty, Nord, Yoshi Omori, Os Gemeos, Psyckoze, Quik, Rammellzee, Recidivism, Rero, Remi Rough, Seen, Seth, Skki, Sore, Space Invader, Spazm, Spécio, Swoon, Tanc, Toxick, Vhils, Jacques Villeglé, Nick Walker, West, Yz, Zevs, Zhang Dali, Zlotykamien and Zuba.

 

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NYC Subway Cars: From Rolling Canvasses to Rolling Billboards

NYC Subway Cars: From Rolling Canvasses to Rolling Billboards

“If I had my way, I wouldn’t put in dogs, but wolves,” New York mayor Ed Koch suggested famously as a facetious proposal for loosing ferocious animals on graffiti writers in the train yards in the early 1980s.  For Koch and his two predecessors the graffiti on trains was a searingly hot focal point, a visual affront to citizens, an aesthetic plague upon the populous. It created a discomforting atmosphere described by the New York Times editorial board as evidence of “criminality and contempt for the public”.[note]Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City, Jonathan M. Soffer.[/note] The fight against this particular blight began in earnest and by decade’s end all 5,000 or so subway cars had become clean and the famed era of graffiti on trains was terminated.

Twenty-five years later, whole-car graffiti trains are back in New York. Visually bombed with color and stylized typography top to bottom, inside and outside, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is pocketing some handsome fees for it. It is not aerosol anymore, rather the eye popping subway skin is made from enormous adhesive printed sheets that are laser cut to perfectly fit every single surface of a train car. Naturally, you won’t have to pay the newly hiked subway fare to see these whole-car creations – you can see them on elevated tracks all over the city.

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 Photo © Jaime Rojo

The irony doesn’t stop there; Right now the MTA is running a full-car advertisement for a “Street Art” series that appears on cable, featuring images of fleet-footed youth with art supplies in hand running down a Brooklyn sidewalk as if escaping from the police. “Run. Paint.”

“Of course I chuckle every time I see those ad-covered cars,” says Martha Cooper, the ethnographer and photographer perhaps best known for shooting images of artists like Lee Quinones and Dondi as they painted huge pieces in the train yards in the 1970s and 80s.  Together with Henry Chalfant, Cooper published what became a photographic holy book for generations of graff writers and Street Artists worldwide, a compendium of full-car aerosol painted pieces from New York’s graffiti train era entitled Subway Art.  When it comes to using trains for advertising, Cooper doesn’t appear offended, but rather gives credit for the idea to the youth who pioneered the technique of using trains as a self-promotional method, and she’s only puzzled about why this didn’t happen earlier.

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Art vs. Transit (the “vs.” already scrubbed off the window), by Duro, Shy and Kos 207. 1982. © Martha Cooper

“Graffiti writers instinctively understood how advertising could reach the most people in NYC,” she says, “It’s taken 45 years for the MTA and ad agencies to realize what a good idea top-to-bottom rolling ads are, on trucks as well as on the subway. They are finally catching on and catching up but they would probably be the last to admit it. The rest of us can just stand back and shake our heads in amusement.”

But some others are less ready to accept the irony of a Street Art program being promoted on train cars, including guys who were those same vilified/celebrated teens painting trains at a time when penalties were harsh and the dogs were real.

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 Photo © Jaime Rojo

“What a complete bite and contradiction on the MTA’s part,” says artist Lee Quiñones, perhaps best known for having painted as many as 125 entire cars by hand in the 1970s, as well as a more formal art career that followed. His fully painted cars as canvases included characters, scenes, and narratives addressing topical subjects like the crime rate, the cold war, poverty, and environmentalism – as well as more existential teen poetry about love and family. For Quiñones, who once called the #5 subway line the “Rolling MoMA” and who today is a fine artist with a successful studio practice, the paradox is obvious. “It exposes how certain things under the guidance of capital can be blatantly suggested and ingested within the same context.”

Jayson Edlin, author of Graffiti 365, is considered by many as a go-to source of New York graffiti and its history, and was himself a train writer under the names J.Son and Terror 161. “The advertising versus art argument regarding graffiti and street art speaks to money, power and control. Societal hypocrisy is nothing new. As a former subway painter, I am not surprised by seeing an ad for a Street Art TV show plastered across a NYC subway car,” he says. Then he pitches us a vision that would undoubtedly make many people’s brain hurt. “I’m certain that the MTA would sanction an ad for Subway Art with the Marty Cooper photo of Dondi painting a train for the right sum.” Imagine what that might look like.

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Not so fast, the MTA would not wish you to think they are endorsing illegal graffiti or street art, according to an MTA spokesperson recently interviewed by Bucky Turco for the website Animal. The MTA walked a thin line when determining whether they should accept advertising for a show celebrating Street Art, however contrived, and decided that it was okay to take the money this time. “On the one hand,” says the spokesman, “our ad standards prohibit anything that could be construed as actual graffiti, and we also prohibit promoting illegal activity. On the other hand, the typeface of the ad itself was not graffiti-style, and our research concluded that everything the show depicts is done legally with permission.” So we’ll take the MTA at it’s word, the show doesn’t explicitly violate standards for advertising, so the campaign was approved.

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 Photo © Jaime Rojo

It’s true, not all Street Art is illegal per se, but by definition most people would say that real graffiti must be. However it may take a lawyer to explain how this rationalization of advertising a show like this works, or at least to help sort the legalities from the ethics and perceptions. So, to recap, decades ago it was a crime to write graffiti on the subways. Today if you have enough money and the right hand-style with your lettering you can use your creativity to mark up as many cars as you like.  If not, your art-making efforts will be swiftly eradicated. This past year photographer Jaime Rojo just happened to catch some non-commercial art on trains that pulled into stations and he said it was just as surprising to see the real stuff as it is the commercial facsimile of it. Of course the D.I.Y. never made it out of the train yards again.

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Actual graffiti on a New York train from DVONE, circa 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Alison Young, Professor of Criminology at the University of Melbourne in Australia and author of Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination has studied the interaction of art, advertising, and the law specifically as it pertains to Street Art around the world. She points to a radical difference in how these two forms of visual communication are regarded and approached. “The full-car advertisement for the television program is certainly the most obvious demonstration of how companies (such as the MTA) respond differently to advertising than to street art/graffiti.

“In some ways,” Young continues, “the MTA may not even have noticed the irony of covering a train car with an advert for an activity related to graffiti, given the time and money spent on eradicating images from train cars. Or, if I was being really cynical, it’s also possible to speculate that the MTA sees that irony all too clearly and is using this as an opportunity to tell graffiti writers that unsanctioned art is never acceptable, but sanctioned art (in the form of an advert or in the form of the art featured on the show) is all that we are permitted to see. Is that too unlikely? I don’t know.”

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DVONE. Graffiti circa 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A number of folks whom we talked to mentioned that this is not the first time a graffiti artist has completely covered subway cars with advertisements, as the artist KAWS was treated to a full campaign when he partnered with Macy’s a couple of years ago. While he has had a successful commercial career with fine art, toys and a variety of products, his roots are as a graffiti writer, has done some freight painting of his own, and his style still reflects it. Not every impressionable disaffected youth would necessarily make that association nor interpret it as an encouragement to hit up a train with your own aerosol bubble tag. Still, those KAWS cars looked a lot like graffiti trains, with logos as tags, as in seen in this video from Fresh Paint NYC.

We leave the last observations to the witty and insightful Dr. Rafael Schacter, anthropologist, curator, and author of The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti, who says the obvious story is, well, obvious, but don’t miss the elephant in the subway car.

“The irony and incongruity of it though? Of course. It is ridiculous. It is absurd. A graffiti-banning MTA promoting a graffiti TV show and allowing a second-rate aping of the original whole-trains of the ‘70s,” he says derisively. But then he turns frank and even wistful in his final summary.

“But, in actual fact, I LOVE these moments. I love them as they so perfectly illustrate the public secret of our public sphere: That consumption wins. That the highest bidder is the true King. It’s nothing new. It’s nothing surprising but it is the revelation of the public secret that can actually come to raise awareness of that secret itself – That the public sphere has come to be a space not for conversation but for commerce. That the public sphere has become a place not for interpersonal communication but for capital and consumption,” says Schacter.

“These moments can, I hope, make us sit up and realize this revelation because it is thrown so directly in our faces. Then, hopefully, this can make us make a change. Perhaps a tiny bit of a rose-tinted position to take, but I really do hope so.”

Rose-tinted views will probably overruled by the green-tinted ones in this case, but we understand the sentiment. But many New York subway riders will not likely soon get over the irony.

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Marvel graffiti circa 2014. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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“The City As Canvas” Opens with the Collection of Martin Wong

“The City As Canvas” Opens with the Collection of Martin Wong

Last night the graffiti and early Street Art history from New York’s 1970s and 80s was celebrated by the City of New York – at least in its museum. Criminals and outlaws then, art stars and legends today, many of the aerosol actors and their documentarians were on display and discussed over white wine under warm, forgiving, indirect lighting.

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DAZE in the background sliced by a wall of cans at the opening of “The City As Canvas” (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

“City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti From the Martin Wong Collection” is an exhibition as well as a book released last fall written by Carlo McCormick and Sean Corcoran, with contributions by Lee Quinones, Sacha Jenkins and Christopher Daze Ellis, and all the aforementioned were in attendance. Also spotted were artists, photographers, curators, writers (both kinds), art dealers, historians, family, friends, peers and loyal fans – naturally most fell into a few of these categories at the same time.

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“The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York welcome text with pieces by Futura 2000 and Zephyr to the right. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

“City as Canvas” is possible thanks to the foresight, eye, and wallet of collector Martin Wong, an openly gay Chinese-American artist transplanted to New York from San Francisco, which is remarkable not only because of the rampant homophobia and near hysterical AIDS phobia at the time he was collecting but because the graffiti / Street Art scene even today throws the term “fag” around pretty easily. A trained ceramacist and painter whose professional work has gained in recognition since his death of AIDS related complications in 1999, Wong is said to have met and befriended a great number of New York graffiti artists like Lady Pink, LEE, DAZE and Futura 2000, who were picking up art supplies where he worked at the Pearl Paint store – a four story holy place on Canal Street that thrived at that time.

 Brooklyn-Street-Art-Sharp-Paints-a-Picture-copyright-Martin_WongThe show contains black books full of tags and drawings as well as canvasses and mixed media Wong purchased, commissioned, and painted, including a portrait of graffiti artist Sharp wearing a respirator and standing before a canvas he’s working on entitled Sharp Paints a Picture (1997-98).

The mood at the museum was celebratory as guests looked at the 140+ works from Wong’s collection; a cross between an art opening and a graffiti trade show, with enthusiastic peers and fans waiting patiently to speak with, pose for pictures with, and gain autographs or tags in their black books from artists in attendance. The only officers that could be seen were holding back the line of guests to make sure there was no overcrowding of the exhibit.

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The famous Martha Cooper photograph of Dondi in action in the train yards. “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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A Keith Haring and LA2 collaboration at “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

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Artist LA2 with Ramona “The City As Canvas” (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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Keith Haring (Smiling Face) from 1982 at “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

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Lee Quiñones speaking with a never ending stream of fans before his canvas Howard the Duck, 1988, at “The City As Canvas” (photo via iPhone © Jaime Rojo)

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Digital prints of images shot by photographer Henry Chalfant brought the trains alive. On top is an image of a train with Sharp/Delta 2 from 1981 and below is “Stop the Bomb” by LEE (Quiñones), 1979 at “The City As Canvas” exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. (photo via iPhone © Steven P. Harrington)

 

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, 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!
 
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Hot Tea Brings Back Dondi on the Trains, If Only For a Minute (VIDEO)

Hot Tea Brings Back Dondi on the Trains, If Only For a Minute (VIDEO)

Conceptual Piece Lifts a Toast to “The Style Master General”

“Every time a subway passes through the station, it is as if Dondi’s work is back on the trains,” Hot Tea says as he describes his new work of yarn. The renowned New York graffiti artist was immortalized straddling between two trains in a photo by Martha Cooper while painting outside the law and inside the train yards during the late 1970s and early 80s. Today Dondi White is still looked to as a pacesetter and open-minded innovator for new generations even 15 years after his passing.

“Dondi was lovingly referred to as ‘The Style Master General,’ as it was commonly accepted that he was the artist who set the standards for graffiti art in his time,” said noted graffiti artist ZEPHYR in his eulogy of his close friend in 1998.  “He crafted letters that were both acrobatic and aerodynamic in nature and committed them to metal with remarkable precision.”

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Hot Tea Pays Tribute to Dondi (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Today style masters in Street Art endeavor to set standards as well, and one of them is the Minneapolis born Hot Tea, a former graffiti artist who stopped hitting walls and is now an installation artist who defines dimensions and planes and calls attention to use of space with yarn. Closer to Fred Sandback than Dondi perhaps, Hot Tea departs from the formers’ minimalism but embraces the kaleidoscopic color choices of the latter.  One of the Street Artists you need to watch, Hot Tea has impressed many quietly with his ingenious ability to redraw planes in our everyday existence using a simple medium in a non-destructive way – it is a sophisticated definition of working in context that creates a new context in the process.  Handmade, personal, and often letter based, this is typography that typifies today’s D.I.Y. while nodding to the writers of New York’s storied streetstyle – it’s a narrative thread that travels decades backward and brings it to the present.

His new project isn’t even mounted on the street, but in his mind Hot Tea is bringing back one of his heroes by evoking his name and splashing his letters, and paying tribute here on the digital street.  On a recent fall afternoon he used yarn, aerosol paint, and the side of a 1950s baby crib to put Dondi back on MTA trains at least for a minute. If you were there shooting you may have gotten a glimpse of what Henry Chalfant saw when catching one of his famous train photographs.

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Hot Tea Pays Tribute to Dondi (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With two of today’s ardent graffiti/Street Art photographers, Luna Park and Jaime Rojo, in tow, the circle seemed complete as Hot Tea hoisted Dondi into the air and laid his tag onto trains passing overhead against a bright blue sky. As the conceptual piece travelled the afternoon from one Brooklyn elevated station to another, Hot Tea helped us imagine Dondi alive again on the J line into Bed Stuy. Now in that zone and seeing the hulking steel trains rumbling by, hearing their ear piercing screams as they roll the rusted curves of the tracks, the wonder of being in the yards may flash through your imagination. Hot Tea is there with you, seeing past the obvious to try and see much more.

Brooklyn Street Art: You were a graffiti writer for over a decade – can you tell people why Dondi White became such an important figure in the imagination of this generation?

Hot Tea: I think it has a lot to do with all of the iconic images of Dondi painting “Children of the Grave”.  For those who weren’t part of the subway movement, those images gave it a kind of glamour.  It seems a lot of graffiti writers imagined themselves in his shoes. I know I did. Painting whole cars on the NYC transit system was such a mystery until those photos came out and the light it shed was exciting and contagious.  After subway trains became nearly impossible to paint all we could do was paint the streets.  When that happened, it’s as if those photos and moments in the subway yard became even more special.

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Hot Tea Pays Tribute to Dondi (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: When we speak with train writers from the 70s and 80s and the people who followed them, there is a nostalgia for that time because they lived it. When we talk to writers and Street Artists today, many of whom were born after those halcyon aerosol days, there is a nostalgia for what they imagine it must have been like to try to go ‘all-city’, to hit up train yards, to practice and develop in a city with a burgeoning hip-hop and punk scene. How would you describe your nostalgia for those times, if you have any.

Hot Tea: Being that I no longer practice writing graffiti, I do have a nostalgia of painting.  When I first started out, I admired writers from all over.  It was 1996 and the Internet was slowly coming to form so my main outlet for graffiti was magazines, books, and videos.  My vision of NYC graffiti through viewing those sources was magical.  I imagined the subway trains as I saw them in Subway Art, with graffiti on the outside and in.  After realizing the NYC subway trains were now clean, it made me want to re-create that same energy and color on what was accessible to me – which were freight trains.

My main influences from the freight train movement were NACE, CRISPO, SIEN5, SLEJ, REFA & ASIA, DRONE, and lots of other west coast freight writers.  Seeing all of those 90s freights rolling by allowed me to experience art like I have never before.  The concept of rolling graffiti art and having it travel all nation was exciting. I can still remember painting our layup on a warm summer Sunday afternoon. My friends and I painting and enjoying each others company; I truly miss it.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe this sense of camaraderie that artists on the street today have sometimes for the graffiti writers and early Street Artists who came before them?

Hot Tea: It’s interesting because there is an unwritten rule of ethics, mostly between graffiti writers about respecting the writers who have put in work before them.  I think a lot of this stems from the nostalgia that was mentioned earlier.  Many of us weren’t able to experience what it was like to paint in NYC during the 1970s and 80s.  If there are any remaining artworks from that era that is all we have to remember, along with any documentation.  Many of us try to preserve that history by going around it or not painting that wall or spot all together.  As for street art… the thing is, graffiti started before the Internet. All we had were a few sources to go by on what was taking place on the subways and in the street.

Street Art started when the Internet was becoming a growing source, which means that it formed on a global scale.  People from all over the world started doing street art influenced by many different things and not just hip hop and break dancing.  In my opinion, I think this lead to a much different atmosphere in which street artists exist in.  Since there were so many people doing it globally and for different reasons the camaraderie that we see with graffiti artists and writers that came before them doesn’t always exist in the street art world. Not to say that it doesn’t exist at all within street art, I just don’t think it’s as relevant as in the graffiti culture.

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Hot Tea Pays Tribute to Dondi (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: This new project is really unusual – we’ve never seen something like it before – that a graffiti artist is lionized by a street artist using yarn, and in a conceptual way that is perhaps more performance than paint. Did the idea appear you while you were staring at trains, or maybe in a dream?

Hot Tea: I like to build upon what I have already done and this just felt like the natural step I had to take.  I have worked with empty spaces and the architecture that exists within a given area before.  Now I wanted to work with what was moving within a space.  My initial thought for this concept was the New York City subway system.  Being that I wasn’t able to experience graffiti on the subways, I wanted to re-create that with the medium I am using now, which is yarn.  It was very exciting to finally have come up with a way to create that experience people had in the 80s of seeing whole DONDI cars roll into the station.  Sometimes it does feel like a dream, but one that came true.

Brooklyn Street Art: Having documented and followed the birth and evolution of the current Street Art movement since the turn of the 2000s, we’ve always seen the intersection between the D.I.Y. practices of young artist neighborhoods and those on the street. In a way, yarn is a perfect tool for expression on the street today because it reflects the hand-made arts and ethos of back-to-basics in the arts – and the act of reaching back to a non-digital life. Do you think you were influenced by this D.I.Y. approach?

Hot Tea: Totally. I love what artists prior to me have accomplished all just by a few simple gestures with everyday materials.  If you have a good idea and a lot of determination anything is possible.

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Hot Tea and Luna Park during the project’s execution. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Does your work get grouped together with the work of Olek and Knitta Please and other who have used yarn on the street? Is it a fair or relevant comparison? Does it matter to you?

Hot Tea: It does.  I am glad you asked this.  What I am doing is NOT “yarn bombing”.  The term yarn bombing is derived from the term graffiti bombing, meaning quick acts of painting or painting the streets illegally.  “Yarn Bombers” do not face the same consequences graffiti writers face and I don’t think it is fair for people using yarn to share the term with people who are facing hard jail time.  As far as being grouped with other artists who use yarn – that is something I would like to leave open for discussion. I just don’t agree with the term “yarn bombing”.

Brooklyn Street Art: You carry a photo of your grandmother with you wherever you go. Lee Quinones is known for tributes to his mom and has spoken about her influence when he painted New York trains in the 70s. What role does this family connection play in inspiring your work on the street?

Hot Tea: The reason I use yarn is because I didn’t want to end up in jail again.  My family has seen me in there twice and both times were extremely painful.  They have directly impacted my decision to switch from using spray paint to yarn and practicing non-destructive street art. I carry my grandmothers photo whereever I go because whenever we would visit her she would love to hear my stories about traveling.  Now that she has passed away, she is with me where ever I travel experiencing it with me as I do.

Brooklyn Street Art: Did your grandmother make you hot tea on cold winter days?

Hot Tea: No she did not, but she did make me tamales on cold winter days.  She was always so worried about me eating.  Every time I would visit, the first thing she did was go to the kitchen and start cooking.  She didn’t even ask, she just approached me with a large plate of mole, tamales and rice.  I didn’t have much of a choice but to eat.  I miss her.

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Hot Tea: “Children Of The Grave”,  Shot and Edited by Patrick Sullivan

 

“As an ex-graffiti writer of 12+ years there is no denying the influence of 80’s NYC subway graffiti had on me. I still remember the first time watching Style Wars and how much of an impact it had on me and my work. Dondi’s work stood out to me amongst them all. The way he spoke about his work, the colors and the style in which he wrote his letters were very inspiring. I no longer practice writing graffiti and have taken on yarn as my new medium of choice. I wanted to create a piece about one of my biggest influences non-destructively. The result was a performance piece with Dondi’s “Children of the Grave” series split up into small rectangles. Each rectangle was built up using individual strands of yarn in a grey color scheme to mimic the color of the subway. I then took Dondi’s iconic subway whole cars and created stencils of them. I broke up the stencil into sections and created what you see. Every time a subway passes through the station, it is as if Dondi’s work is back on the trains, just like they were back in the 80’s. Rest peacefully Donald. You are missed by so many. April 7, 1961 — October 2, 1998″ Hot Tea

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, 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!
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REVOK AND POSE and the Transformation of The Houston Wall

It took 80 hours and 7 humid sticky days and nights to complete, longer than it took God to make Heaven and Earth, according to scriptures. But the powerful transformation of the famed Houston Street Wall that took place last week had as profound an effect on many New York fans of Street Art and Graffiti as the melting of the North and South poles. And that was probably intentional.

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The resulting flash flooding of emotions and summer storms washed over LA’s Revok and Chicago’s Pose as they joined each other with other MSK brothers to create a feast of popping color, styles, texture, tribute, and pure character – each climbing and gripping tightly to one another on a 90 degree diagonal grid that pushed it all together in one riotous composition.

Ultimately, the visually cacophonic mural, born amidst endless honking, screeching, sirens and a parade of curious passersby who pummeled the painters with a fusillade of questions and requests, is a joyous compilation for many, a perplexing mix of influences for others. With layers of tributes to fallen graffiti writers, shout-outs to friends and family, and heartfelt thanks to the host city that sparked a global graffiti scene decades earlier (including this very spot), the visiting thirty something graffiti brothers couldn’t quite quantify the depth of feeling they were experiencing as they slowly smashed a big wall in the heart of Manhattan.

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

For New York fans of a wall made famous by a long list of Street Artists including Haring, Scharf, Fairey, Faile, and others, most on the street hadn’t heard the names of these new guys but, like true New Yorkers, welcomed them nonetheless, usually emphatically. If there were worries about a strict adherence to rules of graffiti culture or whether the work borrows some conventions from pop, advertising, graphic design, or even Street Art, not many appeared to care about those distinctions. If anything, this wall is the apt expression of today’s’ blurred lines, where a throwie, a Lichtenstein, a sharply abstract pattern, and a hungry gorilla salivating over a police cruiser can all coexist harmoniously.

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

In fact it appears that Revok and Pose are metaphorically and technically casting aside once and for all the artificial divisions on the streets when it comes to styles and methods. Whether its the joint gallery shows, collaborative outdoor art festivals, or institutional venues like the sweeping “Art in the Streets” exhibit at MoCA  a couple of years ago, it looks like graffiti and Street Art have been put into a room and encouraged to work out their differences. Now of course they’re copying off each others exam paper in the back row of class, but at least they’re not fighting so much. Okay, true,  that announcement is still premature, but you can see the horizon ahead. Naturally in a city like New York that often typifies global diversity and routinely gives wide latitude for freedom of expression, the creative spirit as expressed with such technical skill and this kind of whole-hearted passion is invariably afforded a welcome. At least for a minute.

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

But that didn’t mean that Pose wasn’t feeling the pressure of doing this wall well, a pressure level that he estimated at ten times more than he would feel on a typical wall, even though both guys have been graff writers for more than two decades. “We’ve all painted a million walls. This is something that is sort of a landmark and for our culture it means a lot,” he said of the involvement of contemporary graffiti artists right here, right now. “The history is very daunting because you want to honor it, you want to pay tribute, but you also want to push the boundaries by really doing your best. It’s a really insane kind of platform.”

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

For Revok, the LA based writer who also is spending a lot of time in Detroit these days, the opportunity brings him back to a holy place he revered growing up, and he’s not going to miss it or take it for granted. Speaking about the profound impact that New York’s’ subway artists of the 1970s and 1980s had on the imaginations of countless youth in cities around the world, Revok envisions a booming audio tower emanating concentric circles in waves traveling to all who would hear.

“I imagine it as this kind of ring that just exploded and a ripple was sent out everywhere as far as it could go – and I’m one of those receivers, I’m one of those people who felt that,” he says as he describes weaving references into the mural by including names like Dondi and Iz The Wiz and even the letter “T” from the Beat Street movie poster. “You know all of those names in there – not all of them, but a lot of them – they were New Yorkers, they were a part of that movement at that time, they were people that created this world, this idea, this language that I’ve connected to and that is so dear and important and powerful to me. And now they’re not here, they are gone.”

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

“But what they created and what they gave to the world will live on forever. And coming here to New York, it’s a culmination – this wall right here, there is a tremendous amount of history right here, everybody that’s done it is important in their own right. For us to be fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to do this as outsiders I feel there is a responsibility to acknowledge the people and the culture that created me and my friends and now as it is coming back home, I’m paying tribute to New York graffiti, I’m paying tribute just to the general movement as a whole,” says Revok.

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of the many references are three call outs to their recently and painfully departed MSK brother Nekst, who a handful of crew members had joined together to eulogize on smaller walls in Brooklyn the previous weekend. Among the other names included are Ayer, Vizie, Cheech Wizard, Omenz, Sace, Case 2, Semz, Tie One, Rammellzee, and “All You See is Crime in the City” – a phrase associated with a famous  train car work by Skeme from the 1980s documentary “Style Wars”. The guys even did shout outs to their kids.

Aside from the art category labels and the odes to community, both Revok and Pose are doubled up on this wall because of their common regard for sampling – that is, the combining of a variety of disparate elements and re-contextualizing them. As a basis for their fine art show that just opened at Jonathan Levine Gallery while they were in the city, the two have found that they both have a fairly active studio practice that they can collaborate on also.

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Both say they sample from their environment, but how they go about it is unique to each. “I sample from all the years of being on the street and climbing around. After a while you start really having an appreciation for the environment,” Revok says as he describes his affinity for textures, details, and the underlying history of the built environment.

For Pose, it may be more of an atmospheric and emotional sampling where he takes “everything from everywhere. There are no rules. It’s like “Oh that sign is gold with a white outline and that is really impressive, like that is fucking beautiful – so I should do my name that way because I’ll catch as much attention as that sign does. It’s really those rudimentary kinds of things that I feel validated by and that are where I go with my art, it’s just that basic. That’s what was powerful for me – just taking from things around you and using them to express yourself, to create a dialogue, to create a narrative.”

Revok and Pose invited Rime as a guest artists, shown here at work. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

A closer examination of how some of the more commercial elements in the mural were achieved by Pose shows how he used a cut and paste process in the re-purposing of old signage. Drawing from a stash of “pounce patterns” that were given to him by a buddy while he was a professional sign painter in Chicago for a decade, Pose says his method of choice is pretty randomized, and he is sometimes as surprised as anyone about what he’ll pull out. “I’ve got all these old pieces of signage rolls from this guy – these are already a slice of history. My wife hates it; my whole garage is filled with his old pounce and all this stuff. And we started bringing them to walls – almost like rolling the dice and finding this kind of completely unforeseen elements to the wall.”

With all these plans and all these cans, the guys made sure that this transformation was a collaborative effort and they had some solid support help from other MSK members, the occasional volunteer, and the well known RIME, who Revok reflexively calls, “The best graffiti writer in the world.”

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

As each guy reflects on the team, the same topic of the importance of collaboration arises – a sort of progressive vision where crew members alternately work as assistants on each others projects. “We’re all really close and we play a significant role in one another’s lives and what we paint – it’s really natural for us to collaborate. I think that one of our strengths is how we feed off one another and how we motivate, influence and learn from one another. In the actual act of painting often times we work together with one kind of common goal,” explains Revok.

“We will all work together and it is all kind of a community effort to make things happen. It’s much more fun that way. I’ve been painting graffiti for 23 years now. After a certain point, just like going and painting your name all the time – it gets redundant, it gets boring. You know, you want to have fun, you want to experiment, you want to do different things. My friends and I over the last 10 years or so have really had a lot of fun experimenting and painting on a collaborative level, which is probably not that common for traditional graffiti guys. It’s a lot of fun.”

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Pose agrees that collaboration was crucial in creating the new piece on the Houston Street Wall, and for him the goals were pretty clear from the beginning. “All I care about is reaching people,” he says earnestly at 4 a.m. on the fourth consecutive overnight session while sanitation trucks gather garbage from the curb. “I believe in the power of art, especially artwork that is on the street,” says the more philosophical of the duo.

“What I care about is the therapy, the unexplainable, and the powerful, and everybody in my crew, and everybody on this wall will say – ‘Graffiti saved my life’. It’s so cliché but it’s profound and it’s true. Because it is something that is really universal and it crosses so many socio-economic divides and racial divides.”

Pose pauses a beat, “Guess what, the rest of the world would be a lot better fucking place if people caught on that we are all connected.”

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. BSA is in the house. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The talented crew. From left to right Pose with his assistant Mike,  Revok with his assistant Travis. Props to Travis and Mike for unflinchingly supporting the artists. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Revok and Pose. Houston/Bowery Wall. June 2013, NYC. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

You can check out the Revok and Pose transformation for free all summer in NYC at the corner of Houston and Bowery.

Special thanks to Travis and Mike, Meghan Coleman, Martha Cooper, Jonathan Levine, Alix Frey, Maléna Seldin, Roger Gastman, and all the great New Yorkers we met on the streets last week.

Check out the REVOK and POSE exhibition “Uphill Both Ways” at the Jonathan Levine Gallery.

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, 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!

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This posting also appears on The Huffington Post

 

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Maquis Art et Cornette de St Cyr. “Art Urbain Contemporain” (Bruxelles, Belgique)

Maquis-art prépare sa 9ème vente aux enchères d’Art Urbain Contemporain
avec l’étude Cornette de Saint Cyr à Bruxelles le 27 mai 2013Fiers de leurs succès précédents, Maquis Art et Cornette de St Cyr s’associent à nouveau en 2013 et s’étendent à la Belgique. La vente aura lieu à Bruxelles le lundi 27 Mai 2013. La Belgique séduit de plus en plus de collectionneurs, et son régime favorable aux exilés fiscaux entraîne les marchands et les maisons de vente de l’Hexagone vers la capitale artistique qu’est Bruxelles. C’est le pari fou de les suivre qu’ont prit Maquis Art et Cornette de St Cyr.
Dondi, Rammellzee, Futura 2000, Zephyr, Lady Pink, Taki 183, Bill Blast, Blek le rat, DFace, Nick Walker, Bando, Speedy Graphito, Invader, Inti, Ronnie Cutrone, Fenx, L’atlas, Mist, Pro 176, Miss Tic.

Vente “Art Urbain Contemporain” Cornette de St Cyr / Maquis Art @ Bruxelles

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BSA Supports “STYLE WARS … the Outtakes” – You Can Too

A New Project to Preserve the Additional Footage – Please Support the Kickstarter Fundraiser

Directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, STYLE WARS is an indispensable documentary that captured NYC Street culture in the beginning of the 1980s. Anyone who values the contribution of this examination of a moment near the birth of hip hop and graffiti culture will be familiar with the players that Chalfant and Silver profiled and the electricity that fueled a cultural movement that eventually went global.

 

“There is a lot of amazing and historically significant material there which never made it into the finished film”, says Chalfant today as he describes his new project to recover and restore the hours of remaining recordings and to create an outtakes reel from that 1981-82 project.

New footage of Case (above right) and Seen is expected to be preserved and presented in STYLE WARS Outtakes.

Spread the word! BSA would like to encourage you to donate to this Kickstarter campaign to make this project happen and to post this on Facebook and Tweet it. Write to your friends to ask them to throw a buck at this project that promises to deliver  many new shots of trains not seen since ’81 and some surprising masterpieces rescued from oblivion.

New trainyard images and adventures like this still for STYLE WARS Outtakes.

They have cool stuff for various pledges – we’re hoping to score the “Art is Not a Crime” poster designed by Mare139.

But even if your stocks of green are low right now, you can forward this to one of your buddies. Style Wars is for everybody, and this history is yours.

Rock Steady Crew and friends at Shafrazi Gallery in Soho – a still from the new footage to be restored.

STYLE WARS … the Outtakes

HERE’s the KICKSTARTER for you to contribute to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1254583771/style-wars-the-outtakes

 

 

 

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Red Hot and Street: “Art in the Streets” Brings Fire to MOCA

brooklyn-street-art-banksy-jaime-rojo-moca-art-in-the-streets-huffpost-04-11-web-15Banksy’s Reliquary (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Yes, Banksy is here. The giant “Art in the Streets” show opening this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles gives a patch of real estate to the international man of mystery who has contributed greatly to the worldwide profile of this soon to be, maybe already, mainstream phenomenon known as street art. A smattering of his pranksterism is an absolute must for any show staking claim to the mantle of comprehensive survey and an excellent way to garner attention. But “Streets” gets it’s momentum by presenting a multi-torch colorful and explosive people’s history that began way before Banksy was born and likely will continue for a while after.

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Os Gemeos Untitled. Detail  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

To continue reading about this exhibition go to The Huffington Post ARTS by clicking on the link after the image below.

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Direct link to article on HuffPost Arts

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Martha Cooper, Photographer of Art on the Streets for Six Decades

Martha Cooper landed in LA yesterday and will spend the next week installing her photos and their remixed new versions beside them, even flanking hers like stereo speakers. Since the press release has gone out we thought we’d share with you the bio written by Steven P. Harrington and the promo photo by Jaime Rojo which will appear in a special issue of The Art Street Journal dedicated entirely to her to come out this week.

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Martha and Pablo at home, with a portrait of her sitting on a train car with camera in hand painted by Os Gemeos overlooking the scene. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper, Photographer of Art on the Streets for Six Decades

Written by Steven P. Harrington, this article is featured in The Art Street Journal vol ii – issue v.

The daughter of a Baltimore camera store owner, Martha Cooper’s romance with photography began in the 1940s when bobby-soxers and penny loafers were the sign of edgy youth culture. Her dad, an amateur photographer himself, gave his small girl a camera and together they hit the streets in search of adventure. “Yeah, my father used to take me out and we would take pictures. That’s what I thought photography was…we were just looking for pictures,” she recalls. Six decades later, Cooper is still looking for pictures; meanwhile, many works from her archive are cited as pivotal recordings of the birth of hip-hop culture and its plastic art form, graffiti.

During the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, Cooper earned a Bachelors of Art degree in Iowa, taught English for the Peace Corps in Thailand and rode a motorcycle from Bangkok to obtain a graduate degree at Oxford. As a freelancer and staff photographer in Japan, Maryland and Rhode Island in the early 1970s she moved to the media and art center of New York City to catch bigger fish. Landing a job on the staff of The New York Post in 1977, she discovered that the resistant and competitive boys club of photographers there were reluctant to countenance this scrappy young woman shooting hard news stories and Studio 54 celebrities.

Hungry for discovery, Cooper would spend her time to and from assignments in bombed-out neighborhoods, where she took pictures of kids entertaining themselves with games they devised on the street, often with the humblest of materials. It was during one of those trips that she stumbled on graffiti and the members of its community. She met a young boy who suggested she photograph the work she was seeing, then showed her a stylized drawing of his name, or piece, in his notebook.

Then he asked her if she wanted to meet “The King”.

Following this lead to Brooklyn, Cooper met Dondi, the citywide-famous graffiti writer who kept a published photo of hers in his black book because its background contained one of his graffiti throw-ups. Cooper quickly realized that she had stumbled into a lively street culture and became an avid student of the teen writers she befriended. By the time she took her last news picture for the New York Post in 1980, her primary desire was to capture as many pieces, tags, and trains as she possibly could find. Today, she remarks on her near-obsessive devotion to documenting New York’s graffiti: waking before dawn to hit the street, waiting five hours for a freshly painted #2 train to pass with the sun at her back and countless secret adventures with vandals in train yards, evading transit police in order to pursue a shot.

Joining efforts with fellow graffiti photographer, Henry Chalfant, Cooper proposed putting together a book of their documentation. The pair endured multiple rejections from publishers while lugging around a big “dummy” book with their pictures glued to the pages. Eventually, however, they landed a deal and Subway Art was published in 1984. Although not an immediate success, it came to sell half a million copies and established itself as a holy book for fans, aspiring artists and art historians worldwide.

By the time the 25th anniversary edition was published in 2009, generations of graffiti and street artists had been influenced by it and the hip-hop culture Cooper and Chalfant had captured had gone global.

In the intervening years, Martha Cooper never stopped shooting. Her love of serendipity on the street and the exploration of cultures led her to publish thousands of photos in books such as R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art, Hip Hop Files 1979-1984, We B*Girlz, Street Play, New York State of Mind, Tag Town, Going Postal, and Name Tagging. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, Natural History, and Vibe. While she is still shooting graffiti, street art and the occasional break dance competition today, Cooper’s current project involves documenting people and events in Sowebo, a drug-riddled neighborhood in her birthplace of Baltimore.

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Steven P. Harrington is editor-in-chief of BrooklynStreetArt.com and co-author (with Jaime Rojo) of Brooklyn Street Art and Street Art New York, both by Prestel Publishing. He and Jaime Rojo are also contributing writers on street art for The Huffington Post.

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Photographs by Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper ; Remix

with

Original remixes of these photographs in a range of media by Aeon, John Ahearn, Aiko, Bio, Nicer & B-Gee, Blade, Blanco, Mark Bode, Burning Candy, Victor Castillo, Cey, Cekis, Claw, Cosbe, Crash, Dabs & Myla, Anton van Dalen, Daze, Dearraindrop, Jane Dickson, Dr. Revolt, Shepard Fairey, Faust, Flying Fortress, Freedom, Fumakaka, Futura, Gaia, Grotesk, Logan Hicks, How & Nosm, LA II, Lady Pink, Anthony Lister, The London Police, Mare 139, Barry McGee, Nazza Stencil, Nunca, José Parlá, Quik, Lee Quinones, Kenny Scharf, Sharp, Skewville, Chris Stain, Subway Art History, Swoon, T-Kid, Terror161 and more.

Carmichael Gallery is pleased to announce Martha Cooper: Remix, an expansive group show featuring highlights from Martha Cooper’s photographic archive and works by over 50 artists who have created their own unique interpretations of her iconic, historically significant imagery. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Saturday, April 9 from 6 to 8pm with Martha Cooper and several of the participating artists in attendance. The exhibition will run through May 7, 2011.

Click on the link below to read BSA interview with Martha Cooper:

http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/?p=19366

Carmichael Gallery

5795 Washington Blvd

Culver City, CA 90232

April 9 – May 7, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 9, 6-8pm



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Martha Cooper’s Influence: Inspiration, Imitation, and Flattery

Martha Cooper’s Influence: Inspiration, Imitation, and Flattery

For the silly folks who consider themselves ordained to be critics, the prodigious street art scene in New York just bubbles with possibilities.

One of the favorite criticisms of a street artists’ piece today is its’ lack of originality, whether because it closely resembles the style of anothers’ work already on the street, or because it seems like an outright appropriation.  Imitation is not always interpreted as flattery.

It’s a fine line to tread for any creative person – dancer, singer, fashion designer, or stencil artist – when they decide to “pay homage” to the work of another, or merely to love it so much that is serves as an “influence”.   One recent discovery on the street by New York street art photographer Jaime Rojo included this wheat-paste of a pretty famous image from the New York photographer, Diane Arbus, smacked onto a bed of tropical flowers by Shin Shin:

Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York City (1962), by Diane Arbus. On the right

Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, New York City (1962), by Diane Arbus. On the right street artist JC2 colors the grenade red. (photo Jaime Rojo)

A quick search of the Arbus image reveals that it has served as inspiration for other street artists here,  and here, and here, and here, and even in Spokane!  Diane Arbus passed away in 1971 and this is one of her images that has passed through the years into the popular conscience.  A case could be made that the image somehow belongs to the people to do with it as they wish, invoking new meanings or recall old ones.  Maybe.  Ask Che Guevara.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-WEB-copyright-jazirock-Martha-Cooper

Ready for Anything! Martha Cooper as shot by Jazi Rock

Martha Cooper has been taking pictures for more than fifty years. Yes, you read it right. With a continuously curious mind and sharp eye, Martha Cooper takes photos wherever she goes (including  Japan, Afghanistan, Guatemala and Surinam, to name a few), and it is a rare day you will see her without her camera draped around her neck.

Well known in the New York City graffiti and Street Art scene, she’s seen her images in National Geographic, Smithsonian and Natural History Magazines as well as several dozen books and journals.  Her photographs of New York’s streets and people are also burned into the minds of thousands; particularly the minds of young artists worldwide who examined their own creative skills after laying their eyes on “Subway Art”, the book she and Henry Chalfant published a quarter century ago.  Many have since used Martha’s work as inspiration for their own.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Dondi-by-Martha-Cooper-and-Grotesk

Cooper’s now iconic image of graffiti writer Dondi was the inspiration for the work by Grotesk on the right.

Ms. Cooper is no diva, but she is direct. Well traveled and warm, she smiles and laughs easily when talking with most people, and when the subject is photography, she easily shares her knowledge and opinion with you. In the past few years, a number of artists have been inspired by her work, and while humble, she is proud of the ongoing influence it has had.

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Easy173 did a mural (left) based on her photo of Dondi (right) (photos Martha Cooper)

Brooklyn Street Art: How do you feel when your work is appropriated and re-purposed by another artist?

Martha Cooper: I’m flattered the artists are actually looking at my work and liking it well enough to create something new based on it.

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This image from “Street Play” by Martha was reinterpreted by Nazza on an LP vinyl. (photo Martha Cooper)

 

Street artist Chris Stain credits the photography of Ms. Cooper for shaping his own view of art and culture, and her impact can not be overestimated in his view.  He has poured over the pages of her books for years and internalized the imagery as well as the messages they convey about urban culture, the hip hop movement, and people.

“Martha’s influence on my work began back in 1984 when I first stole a copy of ‘Subway Art’. Graffiti hadn’t been documented so intimately (except by writers) in my opinion up until this point. I sat for hours day after day studying the photos, turning the book sideways and upside down trying to come up with my own styles.

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“Urban Harmony” (upper right) by Chris Stain incorporates 3 of Martha Coopers images into one of his pieces (2 shown here)


 

 

Had it not been for her initial documentation I don’t think graffiti or hip hop would be the world wide phenomenon it is today. With the release of ‘Hip Hop Files’ a few years ago I got more of an insight into her photo journalistic work; Once again she was capturing the essence of the birth of a movement.

When I look at those photos today at 37 I feel like I’m 11 years old again.  I am met with the same excitement as when I first witnessed them. But more importantly I have the same hope that people can build their dreams out of seemingly nothing.

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Chris Stain and Armsrock pose for Martha Cooper in front of some of Chris’s work that was influenced by Martha’s photographs. (photo © Martha Cooper)

 

 

 

I came across ‘Street Play’ and immediately connected with the photographs of kids playing in their neighborhoods. This time I contacted Martha and asked permission to work from some of the pictures. She kindly obliged. Since then I have worked from a number of her photographs.

Her work speaks to me directly not only because she is from Baltimore but because she goes to the “heart” of the matter.  Whether its Dondi hanging on and painting in-between subway cars, Ken Swift floor rockin’ at Common Ground, or a child holding his pigeon to the sky on a rooftop, Martha’s work is undeniably not only the most prolific but some of the most important documentation of organic cultures and city life to have grown out of New York and America as a whole.” – Chris Stain

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“Among the artists who have ‘re-interpreted’ my photos include the Burning Candy Crew in London.  Henry Chalfant and I were recently there for the London release of ‘Subway Art’ at Black Rat Gallery and Burning Candy painted a lot of canvases from Subway Art.”

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Whistling while they work, these goulish Sweet Toof train writers influenced by photos by Martha Cooper in “Subway Art”

Brooklyn Street Art: Did you think that eventually your work would be influential to a generation of artists and photographers?

Martha Cooper: Not at all. I would say that my work is pretty much unknown to artists and photographers of my own generation so it’s especially gratifying to connect with younger artists and photogs.

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An image by Martha Cooper on the left was interpreted in a large mural street artist Armsrock did with Chris Stain in Brooklyn at the end of July. Says Martha, “I took that photo on the Lower East Side (of Manhattan) in 1978. Don’t know who the boy is or anything more about his drawing. The photo is part of a series published in my book ‘Street Play’.” (photo on right by Jaime Rojo)

 

see a video of the mural above being created here

Brooklyn Street Art: What’s your impression of the current state of street art in New York?
Martha Cooper: Well I’m definitely not an expert or any kind of art historian so I can’t give you a definitive evaluation. However  I love walking around and being surprised by all the fresh stuff going up all over the place. If it weren’t for street art, NYC would be turning into a bland and boring city.

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“Shepard Fairey has also worked with two of the images from ‘Street Play’, says Martha. Fairey selected five of the troops from this group of toughs when creating this poster called “Defiant Youth” this year. (photo Martha Cooper, poster Shepard Fairey)

 

Brooklyn Street Art: Why aren’t there more female street artists?
Martha Cooper: I have no idea. I wish there were more. I’m working on another little sticker book, this one about the smaller name badges. I couldn’t find even one active “Hello My Name Is” female stickerer. Do you know any?

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Shepard Fairey only slightly changed this image of kids jumping off a fire escape onto a pile of mattresses when he converted it into a stencil. This spring and summer a version of the image was made by Obey’s clothing line into skateboards, caps, t-shirts, and bags along with others of Martha’s “Street Play” photos.  (photo on left Martha Cooper)

Brooklyn Street Art: When you hit the street, camera in hand, do you consider yourself more of a photo-journalist, or an artist?
Martha Cooper: Neither–an ethnographer.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you have a word of advice to a street art photographer starting today in New York?
Martha Cooper: Back-up!

– Good advice from a person who has catalogued perhaps hundreds of thousands of images of graffiti and street art over the last 30 years. We continued our dialogue about the use of Martha’s images over the years, and she added this clarification, I’m pretty much a purist when it comes to my own photography. I absolutely hate when designers want to mess with my photos. I want my photos to be used as I took them. However, when an artist wants to take one of my photos and turn it into a completely different piece of art, I don’t mind at all.

To paraphrase Martha and the critics, the guidance one would offer to a street artist (and any artist) is “Be original”.

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Special thanks to Jazi Rock, who at 12 years old “was infected by the graffiti bug when he saw Martha Cooper’s infamous book circulate around his neighborhood” of Baltimore.  See more at his website.

Photo of Martha above by JaziRock – his website JaziRock.com is HERE

 

See Martha Cooper this weekend with her newest book "Going Postal"

See Martha Cooper this weekend with her newest book “Going Postal”

 

Martha Cooper will be at the MBP Urban Arts Festival this Saturday October 3rd in Bushwick Brooklyn. A multitude of street artists, musical acts, skaters, vendors, and live painting events will be there. You can learn more about the festival HERE.

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The day before that on October 2nd, Martha Cooper will be at The New York Art Book Fair.  Stop by the SCB booth (Z-01).

Friday, Oct 2nd
2pm – 4pm: Daze, Ghost and Papermonster (with dirtypilot.com online gallery)
4pm-6pm: Martha Cooper (photojournalist/NY graffiti scene documentarian), author of Tag Town, Hip Hop Files, and Street Play

Saturday, Oct 3rd
11am – 1pm: Alain “KET” Maridueña (hip hop artist/activist)
2pm – 4pm: Ron English (contemporary pop artist)

You can learn more about the Book Fair HERE.

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Read Martha Cooper’s Blog on Juxtapoz

Read Martha Cooper on 120z.Prophet

“Subway Art” 25th Anniversary Edition

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