“O god, there are noises I am going to be hungry for” – Carl Sandburg
“The art world has always felt like a lottery to me,” Dont Fret says as he
paints one of his distinctively odd and fabulously mediocre characters across
the shiny gold scratch card from the corner bodega.
Starting 2020 off with an eponymous new book “Life Thus Far” and a
month-long stay at Bed Stuy Artist Residency, you may think the Chicago street
humorist has won the Powerball.
“As a part of my New York residency I’m doing my annual DF lottery,” he says
about the new collection of customized lotto cards he’ll be showing at the
reception for you that he’s hosting in this brownstone. Dont Fret says he’s
hoping you’ll strike it lucky too.
“Artists are looking for their big break, collectors are looking for an
“investment opportunity” –as much as something for the living room, and taping
a banana to a wall just gets you a lot of attention and a decent source of
potassium,” he says.
Save the date to come about this special event on the 30th, where
the artist will be happy to meet you and show you these stickers and some other
projects. He’ll also be signing copies of his new book along with BSA’s Steven
P. Harrington, who wrote the introduction for it.
“Each ticket is signed and numbered,” says Dont Fret. “On January 30 a
lottery will occur of distributed tickets and 2 winners will be chosen. Runner
up will win a signed copy of my book “Life Thus Far” and a GRAND prize winner
will win an original painting from my show in New York City ‘O God, There’s
Noises I’m Going To Be Hungry For New Work’”.
The ephemeral qualities of art in
the streets are effectively contradicted by this site, and we have captured
much in the time we’ve been documenting the scene. Even, so, it is primarily
digital, our work, our gift to you. If you want something of more lasting
value, buy a book.
This year we had the pleasure of
reviewing a number of books, and even appeared in a few ourselves with text and
photos. If you’re looking for a lovely gift for the graffiti/Street Art/ Urban
Art/ Contemporary Urban Art fan in your life, have a look at this list – our Hot
List of 2019.
Futura 2000 “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz
Futura Goes “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz
One benefit of being ahead of your time is that you can paint your own rules, discover your own voice, set a standard. A drawback is that you may have to push forward on your own before you gain support for what you are pursuing. The key is to keep moving.
As Futura pulls fully into the frame of contemporary artist, its important for upcoming artists to remember that he had a long route – including being a bike messenger on Manhattan’s untamed streets to provide for his family – while he was waiting until the rest of the street and art world caught up with him. Now that Street Art has confirmed that his abstract explorations on subway trains were an early sign of what was coming, brands and gallerists and collectors often call. “Full Frame” helps appreciate the body of work he developed during that time.
Hendrik Beirkich: “Siberia”
Hendrik Beikirch Traces Lives and Memories in “Siberia”
A corollary to 2015’s “Tracing Morocco” by German street artist Hendrik Beirkirch (aka ECB), a new book travels to meet the rugged inhabitants of Siberia’s countryside in the Russian Federation. The results are starkly genuine, impressively authentic.
Again indulging us in the deep crevasses of many a weathered façade, Siberia invites you to meet the people whom he has met in his travel and presumably befriended, given their ease as subjects. A part of the Jardin Rouge stable over the past few years, Beirkirch has followed the lead of founder Jean Louis Haguenauer, the Frenchman who moved to Russia in the early 1980s and found his own odyssey outside the city to be formative to his character, leading him to write the introduction to the handsome tome.
“Graffiti In New York Hardcore” by Freddy Alva
Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore
A welcome and necessary addition to any graffiti academic’s library comes Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, carefully documented by Freddy Alva. A thorough recounting of the birth and growth of graffiti through the lense of punk and hardcore scenes after 1980, Alva presents a parallel evolution of a scene as it was interpreted by a largely white constituency of rockers, anarchists, and rebels who grew up in and around New York at that time.
Alva is careful to give due to the graffiti scene that is more often identified as the roots of this practice of urban mark making; the hip-hop culture of primarily black and latino youth during the 1960s and 1970s. As the neoliberal corporate capitalists took over Wall Street and the Reagan White House, a different sort of graffiti writer was often showing up on the street – and often on stage as part of a hardcore band.
“Smashed: The Art Of The Sticker Combo” by I Will Not
SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo by “I Will Not”
Anyone born after 1960, and that includes most sticker artists on the street today, has a positive association with the humble sticker. From “smiley” and “gold star” rewards stuck to the top of your grade-school class papers to scratch-n-sniff or puffy stickers to MAD magazine product parodies for Quacker Oats and Minute Lice, a lot of kids grew up with good feelings about slaps.
Over the past two decades a serious community of sticker designers, traders, artists, exhibitors and collectors has emerged – virtually assuring that public bathrooms in heavy metal/ punk / hip hop/ alternative music clubs will be covered top to bottom or ‘smashed’ with stickers. Adhesive equivalents of a business card or portfolio sample for many artists, musicians, philosophers, anarchists, and wise guys/gals, stickers are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to the world.
“The Rap Quotes Coast To Coast” by Jay Shells
Jay Shells: The “Rap Quotes” Book
Context and placement are key to the success of Street Art. Jay Shells’s project, “The Rap Quotes” more than meets those standards. Indeed his project might be one of the most relevant examples of street art responding to a specific time and place in history that you’ll ever see.
We’ve been repping Jay Shells (Jason Shelowitz) for years since we
first found his text-based signage on Brooklyn streets in the oddest of
locations. Within a short time they began to make sense, and then brilliant sense – since they acted as a GPS for some of your favorite rap lyrics.
“What if somehow these lyrics existed visually, in the exact location mentioned?” he says to illustrate his original idea.
“Flowers” by Michael De Feo
Michael De Feo “FLOWERS”
Amid the detritus of the urban cityscape in decline, it is a welcome contrast to see a dandelion or wild daisy sprouting up from a crack in the sidewalk. Not only is it a reminder of the original inhabitants of the land you are standing on it is an ever-present truth that the plants and the trees and the animals will inherit the earth again, no matter what grand ideas you have for it.
The simplest symbol of nature in the layered debris of urban margins, and a decorative one, is the flower that Micheal De Feo has been “planting” on walls since the early 1990s. The practice has sustained him through many cities and travels abroad, introducing him to artists and fans and collectors, eventually pushing him into explorations of contemporary art.
“Street Art Las Vegas” by William Shea and Patrick Lai
“Street Art Las Vegas” Takes a Tour Beyond the Strip
Before there was a scene in Las Vegas, there was a scene in
Not in just the shimmering, drink slamming, dice rolling, pink-fur bikini with a rhinestone choker kind of way – that’s the real Las Vegas scene that you may think of – but in the urban art scene as well.
In this context, the Las Vegas graffiti/Street Art scene that existed in the 1990s and 2000s that led up to a massive “Meeting of Styles” in 2012 was lively and varied and leaned more toward lettering, handstyle, and characters. Later, beginning in 2013 with a music/art festival called “Life is Beautiful”, a select group of international Street Artists was paid by public and private interests to help the city tap into a growing interest in urban decoration with eye-popping murals.
“Stencillists / Pochoiristes” by Serge Louis
“Stencilists / Pochoiristes” Cuts Across the Street Scene Gallantly, with Serge Louis
Enthusiastic authors like Serge Louis can make Street Art sing, even in print. His new “Stencilists/Pochoiristes” is a finely illustrated hardcover of iconic images from the street. The carefully selected plates are placed within interviews in French and English.
The 17 stencillists whom he has selected are from a populated field of possibilities but he captures a fair range from his travels in Europe – with a few from the US to compliment them.
“Utility Writers” by MRKA
MRKA Gives High Marks to “Utility Writers” in Unique Street Tome
When academics and post-modern esoteric poets plunge into descriptions of graffiti sometimes they proffer colorful didactics and clever terminology like “mark-making” and “gestural” to describe the tagging practice. Conceptualist, graffiti writer, and multimedia artist MRKA takes a step toward the mundane and discovers a new kind of poetry with his “Utility Writers”.
“Stickers Vol 2: More Stuck Up Crap” by DB Burkeman
Stickers Vol. 2: More Stuck-Up Crap from DB Burkeman
In the Street Art continuum that presents itself to the passerby on city streets, the early practice of hand-drawn tags on stolen postal stickers eventually morphed into mass-produced slick runs of personal branding and large scale one-off hand rendered/cut paper pieces wheat-pasted with a brush. This story, ever-evolving, is more inclusive than some may think of when you talk generically about “slaps” on a door or on the base of a streetlamp in the city’s visual dialogue. For the book Stickers Vol 2, author DB Burkeman takes a wider survey of the practice, however, and in his second compendium, he goes where BSA has always followed the creative spirit; wherever it leads.
Dont Fret “Life Thus Far”
Dont Fret: “Life Thus Far”
Nothing to lose your head about, but you’ll be thrilled to hear about the long-anticipated release of the new monograph by the ingenious troublemaker and largely incognito Chicago Street Artist DONT FRET.
Emerging on the streets for a decade or so with painted wit and misshapen characters wheat-pasted where you least expect them, he’s the sharp observer and human humorist whose work is as brilliant as your cousin Marlene, as funny as Johnny at the funeral home, as handsome as the guys behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats.
maybe not that handsome.
Various & Gould “Permanently Improvised”
Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future: “Permanently Improvised”
“Our early conceptions
about a future robot world were made from what we knew about automation and
mechanics. Thankfully the surrealists and Dadaists were there to help us with
flying ships made of tea pots and mystic, amiable metal helpers soldered and
screwed together with spare train pistons and kitchen implements. Our helpers
were all carefully oiled and pumping, marching in a mathematical concert
through dry-ice fog, propelling herky-jerky humanoids up the path to the
thoroughly modern world.
Do Rabotniki exist?
They are already here. It just took Various & Gould to remind us.”
~ Steven P. Harrington in his essay “A Mixed and Matched
Future-Past: Robotiniki” for “Permanently Improvised: 15 years of Urban
Print Collage” by Various & Gould
BSA contributes introductory essay and photos to the first giant compendium to represent the Street Art career of the ingenious Chicago humorist DONT FRET.
Sociologists and anthropologists and art school fellows like to say that the artist is having a dialogue with the street, with his peers, and with society. In ways that are more fundamental and resounding than most, the Chicago Street Artist named Dont Fret is certainly offering an entreaty to you to engage with him and his characters in a thoughtful analytic dialogue. He is also hoping for a laugh.
After two and a half years of preparation, DONT FRET debuts his first full-length book on Schiffer Books in time for the holidays, and it was worth the wait.
Brooklyn Street Art’s Jaime Rojo contributed photography to the new book, and BSA’s Editor in Chief had the honor of writing the introduction. We excerpt part of that essay hopefully to provide illustration to the DONT FRET experience:
“An American working-class street art satirist educated on Polish Broadway, Don’t Fret is a preeminent Chicago Street Art humorist, graffiti writer, documentarian and acute observer of everyday people and their distinct cultures now melting into one another. Thanks to a newly muscular gentrification even these are getting stamped out altogether by better-heeled settlers. This is where Nelson Algren, the “bard of the down-and-outer” documented the seamy and wild side of Chicago in the 1940s and 50s in books like “Neon Wilderness” and “The Man With the Golden Arm”. Like the author, Don’t Fret is incorporating the character of the street into his work. Unlike Algren, and more appropriate to this time, his work is also Meta – the actual characters on the street are represented here in his art on the street.
doesn’t recreate the city, he captures it. When it comes to the neighborhoods
of Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Ukrainian Village in Chicago, Don’t Fret is reviving
his memories as a kid growing up there. His is a pronounced psychological and
emotional attachment to these places, even if the weather is freezing six
months a year and he thinks all of the local sports teams suck, including, yes,
‘My parents said I was always funny as a kid and always a bit of a troublemaker,’ he says of his inquisitive mind and sarcastic tongue even back in 3rd grade when his parents took him out of public school and put him into a charter school. ‘This was the mid-90s and charter schools were still a new thing in Chicago. The thing about this school was that the school’s chief benefactor was a Saudi oil company, and the majority of the school’s teachers were ex-military. So even though it wasn’t military school, it definitely felt that way,’ he says. ‘I was constantly in trouble and talking back to teachers,’ which is no surprise.
‘I think I once famously asked a history teacher who was obsessed with China if he was a communist – smart-aleck type stuff. It taught me really early on to always question the authority and your surroundings. I think I’ve found humor and satire as a way to deal with the dark times.’ Dark Times, a simple accurate description for this age, writ large with a roller by Don’t Fret on a canal facing building in Hackney Wick, London, and also the name of his art collective. Similar to his work at home, he studies the common usage and phrases of other cultures that he visits to coin clever word twists and to impart his own sense of irony.
He’ll concede that memories of the city in his youth are sometimes blurry and malleable in the face of time and a sea of gentrification that has transformed his neighborhood, but he doesn’t feel pressure to be absolutely factual, just accurate and true in his impression. Once clearly defined ethnic enclaves of Northern European, Polish and Ukrainian descent, the imposition of a class-dividing freeway and a flood of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in the 1960s and 70s created a swirling pool of marginalized communities who were trying to make a life at the time he arrived. “
This is Dont Frets’ city and romanticism would ruin it probably. Stiff looking normal people of various postures and problematic fashions plod up and down the grey sidewalks together and individually. Streetlife is shared in the unpredictable rhythm of daily occurrences; buses and cars with puffs of pollution coming out of their tailpipes, a stern traffic cop writing a ticket while standing by a car, a man on a red brick stoop tipping a bottle of beer into his plump cartoon lips. Our foibles and ridiculous qualities are highlighted along with the hilarity of our unremarkableness through various status signifiers and cultural details, each superseded by our oddities.
Work is never far from food and food is never far from beer and beer is never far from Da Bears and The Buff. Yes, the Chicago Buff; that brown paint that pops up and plagues Chicago graffiti writers and Street Artists and that is famous in other cities. You’ll always have an hour of stories about “the Buff” at any graffiti barbecue in Chicago.
‘Someone once said there are only two constants in life: death and taxes,’ he warms up. ‘They clearly also forgot about the buff. I don’t have the statistics on this, but if I was a gambling man I’d be willing to bet the city of Chicago spends more money on the buff then they do on public arts, so what does that say? There have been countless times I’ve put up a piece at 2 AM and come back to photograph it at 9 AM and its already been painted shit brown. It’s interesting that that’s the color they chose as well, right? Like who got that contract, to create surely thousands of gallons of shit colored paint to spray across the city?’ ”
Two excerpts from the essay, “You Are Here. Dont Fret.” by Steven P. Harrington
Nothing to lose your head about, but you’ll be thrilled
to hear about the long-anticipated release of the new monograph by the
ingenious troublemaker and largely incognito Chicago Street Artist DONT FRET.
Emerging on the streets for a decade or so with painted wit and misshapen characters wheatpasted where you least expect them, he’s the sharp observer and human humorist whose work is as brilliant as your cousin Marlene, as funny as Johnny at the funeral home, as handsome as the guys behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats.
maybe not that handsome.
“This is place-based Street Art, a running commentary on life in this neighborhood that captures the off-the-wall imperfect nature of humans in a pock-marked and still proud American city after capital leaves it, slowly imploding, coasting on fumes, hopefully rallying, quickly stratifying into luxury lofts and the rest of us,” writes Steven P. Harrington in the foreword to this hefty chunk of comedic meat. Peering through these pages, the feeling is inescapable; Somehow you sense like you know DONT FRET’S people – probably because many of them came directly from these streets.
“I think you have to live life like you are invincible,” says the artist on the back cover of Life Thus Far, “but I also think you have to live life understanding that that sort of thinking is a result of a serious psychological disorder.”
We’ll talk to
you more about this in a few weeks, and with the artist, and we’ll find out
about his circuitous route to the streets of working class Chicago, how a fish
rots from the head, the significance of the original Billy Goat on lower
Wacker, and why Studs Terkel is more relevant today than ever.
DONT FRET “LIFE THUS FAR” Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA. 2019
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. We’re Street (Somos Rua) – Rollerblading as Urban Art and Performance
2. PEZA – Yoseba MP
3. Don’t Fret Does Commercial Gig for Sports Team
4. “Complex Meshes” Miguel Chevalier, Fabian Forban, Krista Kim, REO
BSA Special Feature: We’re Street (Somos Rua) – Rollerblading as Urban Art and Performance
We marvel at, seriously dig, these Rio-based daredevils on rollerblades, adapting the equipment and pushing their physical limits to produce an urban art, a street sport, an adventurous full body poetry of the city.
When you see a sequence of repeated tries to master a stunt here, you can also appreciate the perseverance.
“We care about the satisfaction of a successful stunt, a photo or a video that carries the identity of each member, for we all are different, but, in the end, We’re STREET (RUA).” #SOMOSRUA
Patinadores / Riders: Tony Gonçalves, Nei Neves, Van Souza, Danyel Araujo, Fernando Areas, and Fabio Carneiro
PEZA – Yoseba MP
Dude, it’s your grandma with a basket of produce on her head, surveying the scene with her binoculars. What is not to like as you watch Joseba Muruzábal, aka Yoseba MP, from Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain’s Galicia region, turn this senior into a superhero with superhuman powers.
It’s all part of enPEZAS Proxecto de Arte Pública y Partcipación Cidadá – a project of public art and citizen participation
Don’t Fret Does Commercial Gig for Sports Team
Humungus tax breaks for sports stadiums and tickets so expensive that everyday families can’t see a game – All that aside, it still tickles the ardent Don’t Fret fan to see the wheels turning in his head while the creative director spouts forth about this “activation” he does on a Chicago wall.
“Complex Meshes” Miguel Chevalier, Fabian Forban, Krista Kim, REO
A large scale inside projection in Jacksonville, Florida that exposes a universe of networks with a mesh of three-dimensional vertices, edges, polygons expanding and peeling off and de-constructing as the viewer physically interrupts and sets off reactions – genuine first person disruptors.
“Within this vital flow, everything floats about, branches out, always turning into something else through the interweaving of multiple lines of colored light, layered networks, and varied pathways. Elements are attracted and repelled by one another, creating a breathing-like rhythm of dilation and contraction.”
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Fra Biancoshock: “Digital Vandalism vs Vandalism on Digital”
2. CANEMORTO: TOYS
3. Dont Fret and Edwin – London/Chicago Wall Texts
4. Know Hope: “Parallels”
Fra Biancoshock: “Digital Vandalism vs Vandalism on Digital”
Real, Digital, Virtual. These three ways of experiencing the world remain distinct, for now.
With his small experiment captured here on video, Street Artist Fra Biancoshock is examining the ‘looking glass’ – that thin gossamer veil that separates our experience of the world and is trying to puncture it.
“Digital tools allow you to change reality; today an act of protest, vandalism or art can be done sitting comfortably in front of your PC,” he tells BSA.
It’s a conundrum – how much of what you see digitally is real. And if you are pre-disposed to expect never to witness the graffiti or Street Art in person, does it even matter whether it actually existed to begin with?
Fra. is not going to give you that answer directly. “The value of an action (be it a protest, an artwork or a provocation) is in the act, whether it is actually done, and how it is introduced to a virtual audience.”
Canemorto are back with tales of their exploits as hard running graffiti kings with blunt instruments, namely their heads. With the wink-wink of a comedy troupe, the three are airing their disgust with the various hypocrisies and poseurs that surround them in the street and in the wider Street Art world that would seek to commodify and capitalize on an organic grass-roots culture. And then there are the conservators…
Aside from the entertainment and the dope rhymes, somehow the brutalist long-pole roller characters that Canemorto create supercede the storyline, rising above and frankly mocking the world with a dead-dog stare. Imposters are many – and very possibly there is a scenario where we’re all a bunch of TOYS.
Dont Fret and Edwin – London/Chicago Wall Texts
Graffiti pen pals Don’t Fret and Edwin have been telecommunicating their thoughts and passages and humorous non-sequitors to one another from Chicago and London via TEXTING. Text-based graffiti writing seems like a natural analogue to this digital transmission and this video bears witness to the experience of sharing – with your buddy as a live aerosol printer of your ideas on a wall thousands of miles away.
“It has been an interesting sort of “graffiti pen pals” project,” Dont Fret tells us, “and with the Brexit vote and our Presidential election madness, our project kind of transformed into 2 artists trying to relate and understand what is happening across each others Atlantic.”
Know Hope: “Parallels”
There are certain parallels between geopolitical situations in different regions, and the Israeli Street Artist/fine artist KNOW HOPE likes to lead you up to that dividing line and leave you there.
“This is an abbreviated version of video diptychs from the installation ‘Parallels’ presented as part of ‘Wall Drawings – Icônes Urbaines’ commissioned by and currently showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon.
For this installation, a series of outdoor interventions were created during the artists stay in Lyon.
The documentation of these interventions in-situ were later juxtaposed with other representations of borders or the meeting point of two separate realities, allowing a correspondence and reflection on the notions of territory, identity and our emotional structures.”
A lot of people thought so, and the rise of commercial festivals and commissioned public/private mural programs probably brought more artists to more walls than in recent history. Judging from the In Box, 2016 is going to break more records. Enormous, polished, fully realized and presented, murals can hold a special role in a community and transform a neighborhood, even a city.
But they are not the “organic” Street Art that draws us into the dark in-between places in a city, or at its margins.
We keep our eyes open for the small, one-off, idiosyncratic, uncommissioned, weirdo work as well, as it can carry clues about the culture and reveal a sage or silly solo voice. It also just reinforces the feeling that the street is still home to an autonomous free-for-all of ideas and opinions and wandering passions. For us it is still fascinating to seek out and discover the one-of-a-kind small wheatpastes, stencils, sculptures, ad takeovers, collages, and aerosol sprayed pieces alongside the enormous and detailed paintings that take days to complete.
The main image above is from a vinyl subway advertisement that was high-jacked and we published it in February of this year on our Images of the Week posting. It’s small, personal, and very effective as you can see someone suspiciously similar to Batman is jumping out of the mouth of someone looking awfully similar to Hedwig of “Angry Inch” fame.
Of the 10,000 or so images photographer Jaime Rojo took in 2015, here are a selection 140+ of the best images from his travels through streets looking for unpermissioned and sanctioned art.
Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo
Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo includes the following artists;
365xlos43, Amanda Marie, Andreas Englund, Augustine Kofie, Bisser, Boijeot, Renauld, Bordaloli, Brittany, BunnyM, Case Maclaim, Casg, Cash4, CDRE, Clet, Cost, Curve, Dain, Dal East, Dan Budnik, Dan Witz, David Walker, DeeDee, Dennis McNett, Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel, Mata Ruda, Don’t Fret, Dot Dot Dot, ECB, El Mac, El Sol25, Ella & Pitr, Eric Simmons, Enest Zacharevic, Martha Cooper, Martin Whatson, Ever, Faile, Faith47, Findac, Futura, Gaia, Gilf!, Hanksy, Hellbent, Hot Tea, How & Nosm, Icy and Sot, Inti, Invader, Isaac Cordal, James Bullough, Janet Dickson, Jef Aerosol, Jilly Ballistic, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Le Diamantaire, Li Hill, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Low Brow, Marina Capdevilla, Miss Van, Mr. Prvrt, Mr. Toll, Myth, Nafir, Nemos, Never Crew, Nick Walker, Nina Pandolofo, Old Broads, Oldy, Ollio, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Paper Skaters, Pet Bird, Kashink, Smells, Cash4, PichiAvo, Pixel Pancho, QRST, ROA, Ron English, Rubin415, Saner, Sean 9 Lugo, Shai Dahan, Shepard Fairey, Sheryo & The Yok, Sinned, Sipros, Skewville, Slikor, Smells, Sweet Toof, Snowden, Edward Snowden, Andrew Tider, Jeff Greenspan, Specter, Stray Ones, Sweet Toof, Swil, Willow, Swoon, The Outings Project, Toney De Pew, Tristan Eaton, Various & Gould, Vermibus, Wane, Wk Interact
When you hear the name of Street Artist Don’t Fret you can be assured that he means exactly the opposite. Exposing random and selected people’s faults, foibles, and fraternizing habits is just a way to quickly capture the free-wheeling imaginings and inner conversations that Don’t Fret has running through his head almost continuously. On his big 2015 European Tour through Berlin, London, Warsaw, and Viavai, the Chicago-based Street Artist brings his customary wit and observation skills and attacks it all with gusto.
“In Warsaw I was invited by V9 Gallery to come work as artist in residence,” he says of the gradual climb into the gallery world that he is taking. The weather was cold and wet and not great for wheat-pasting so he painted a lot of stuff to stockpile for later. “I created a body of work of busts of influential Polish American artists and writers, including Chicago’s own Ed Paschke,” he says.
In Italy Don’t Fret participated in the Viavai Projeect and did a piece on one of the last textile companies that has not been purchased by a Chinese company.
“I painted a mural of the employees and created two screen prints, one dealing with the issue of Italy’s future as they sell more and more of their infrastructure to China.” The fragments of a classical sculpture are scattered across a wall for the mural, perhaps reflecting the feelings of a once unified, proud and powerful textile industry.
The remainder of his European tour was spent painting a mural in London, followed by hitting the streets there and a brief stop in Berlin. The variety of images attests to the artists habit of observing and reacting to his environment. Depicting everyday people and signposts of history and modern life, you may see yourself and your silliness in them; but you don’t mind the gentle mockery because there is a certain respect or pathos present as well.
If you were worried that you are not cool, Don’t Fret assures you that really, no one is. Yes, the most closely held rules of your societal relevance are subjected to his theories of relativity and sharp pointed social dissections, and don’t be surprised if his plaintive text and protruding faces call out some heavy truth – but they’ll leave you smiling as well. Like most good comedians, he keeps the sharpest barbs for himself and only infers utter hypocrisy in the lives and behaviors of others while giving them a tribute for hanging in there; humoring the passersby, as it were.
New York is bittersweet as we are welcoming summer this weekend and remembering those who served and who were lost in war as well (Memorial Day); amidst a changing political atmosphere where the country is tentatively beginning to seriously debate whether the US should have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan.
So it’s also Fleet Week in New York, which means a lot of sailors and marines and Coast Guard personnel are carousing the tourist spots and bars – sort of a military spring break and a chance for the local girls and boys to yell out “Hey Sailor!” – and flash some flirty eyes. It’s also big weekend for movies, barbecues, beers, burping, suntans, rummage sales, bike rides, and of course spray painting empty trailers in cluttered lots. That’s why we start this weeks pack with a new stallion just sprayed on a trailer in Williamsburg by Cern. He’s running wild with a great view of the cityscape behind him.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Cern, Christos Voutichtis, David De La Mano, Din din, Dont Fret, DourOne, Iraq Veterens Against the War, Kuma, Mata Ruda, Miishab, Musketon, Pablog H Harymbat, Rebel, Smells, Sweet Toof, Temo & Miel, and Urma.
In case you thought that your uncle Ernie was the only one full of hot air, public artist creates this installation that attempts to capture the breath of the city. He tells us that in the end he decided his experiment was a good mix of architecture, Art, and postmodern French literature.
“I applied simple means to build parametric and temporary installations;
It is an open system, varying with steadily modifying environmental processes, but without completely changing its own structure.”
Poking at the banality of everyday life and smacking you about the face with it till you laugh – that’s what keeps this Czech sausage fresh and savory. Not only did he design signage, packaging and related wheat-pasted illustrations for his collaboration with Publican Quality Meats (“Dont Fret Quality Meats”) he also managed a trip back east to hit the streets with some new humorous characters who look familiar to you.
Most notable of the new works is the large recreation of a typical NYC Sports Ball magazine/mint candy/hot chips/pork rinds street salesman at the ready to make a sale or chew the fat. “For all your commuting needs there is a friendly DF magazine kiosk near you,” he says on his Instagram. Many of the pieces were found in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and the evolving-gentrifying-contested artist neighborhood of Bushwick – “where the prices are high and the standards are low,” he riffs.
Oddly, even though he was launching his sausage back in Chicago many of his works on NY streets reference veganism, so it’s sort of confusing but maybe he goes both ways. Whatever the case, most likely he has made you crack a smile recently.
Here’s to you and your family and a great tumultuous spectacular 2015 that is in store for all of us on the street, in boardrooms, behind cash registers, on walls, in galleries, museums – wherever you are. We’re celebrating the creative spirit wherever we find it and when it comes to Street Art and graffiti and public art you can be sure there will be plenty of new things to see.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring $howta, Clint Mario, Crummy Gummy, Dame Edna, Damien Mitchell, Don’t Fret, Eurotrash040, Fred63, Gordo Pelota, Jerkface, Jon Burgerman, Kashink, Korn, Myth, Smartcrew, Specter, Sweet Toof, and Yenta