All posts tagged: El Mac

BSA Film Friday 08.17.18

BSA Film Friday 08.17.18

 

bsa-film-friday-JAN-2015

Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening :
1. El Mac goes to US/Mexico border to paint “Abuelita of Presidio”
2. “Extrapolate” by Johan Rijpma
3. Francesco Pinzon and Sofia Castellanos in Mexico City

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BSA Special Feature: El Mac goes to US/Mexico border to paint “Abuelita of Presidio”

This spring Street Artist El Mac painted an image of Linda Luján, 62, a cleaning lady in Presidio, Texas, on the side of a 10 story tower that faces Mexico. The image has gotten her a lot of attention from people in town and reportedly others have mistaken the image as being their own grandmother, or at least a strong, sweet grandmother they have known. He calls it “Abuelita of Presidio” (grandmother of Presidio)

“El Mac isn’t surprised that the mural has a familial feel to locals,” says reporter Bayla Metzger of Marfa Public Radio, who spent some time speaking to the artist and people in town. “El Mac said that when its done, the painting won’t really be of Linda Luján in Presidio, but a composite of abuelas that he’s met all around the world. When he leaves Presidio, he’ll take the faces of the people he’s met here with him.”

 

Extrapolate by Johan Rijpma

An exercise for your mind through art and mathematics, this animation thrills. A line is extrapolated through a grid, surpassing its boundaries and stretching limits. A project created with support from the animation program in the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan.

 

Francesco Pinzon and Sofia Castellanosin Mexico City

Here is the process video of the mural that Francesco Pinzon and Sofia Castellanos made for CENTRAL DE MUROS in Mexico City.

 

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Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Mexico City: Aerosol Artists, Aztecs and Magic on the Street

Every city has its own particular energy; it’s own articulated rhythm, its own unique chaos.

Mexico City’s is full of flourish and aspiration and fascination for the international new, while firmly rooted in respect for the past. When it comes to Street Art, murals, graffiti and discordant sub-cultural art movements that can disrupt the norm, this city shows the capacity to absorb and adapt and to continue moving forward, providing meaningful insights into the true nature of its people.

Curiot. Detail. For Lienzo Capital Project with Street Art MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This magic city of more than 20 million is often referred to as a gateway to Latin America: economically, socially, and politically. With high tech industry, banks, multi-national companies, a university system that serves 300,000 students, 150 museums, three UNESCO World Heritage sites… you can see why. With heavy traffic despite a subway system and many forms of public transportation, it can take hours for you to cross Mexico City (Distrito Federal (D.F)) and you can be assured that you’ll probably never see all 16 boroughs.

El Mac. Detail. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As Street Art and its associated movements move through Central and South America, invariably D.F. appears as an important tierra cultural to traverse. From an active graffiti scene and occasional mural festivals to a growing gallery representation and increasing museum interest, urban artists are capturing the attention of the Americas, making heads spin in public space. With Mexico City capturing nearly all the aspects at once, today we take a look at the city and give you only a few examples of the art in the streets here.

El Mac. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The September 19th earthquake of 2017 shook Mexico City exactly 32 years after 10,000 lost their lives in a larger one, the largest. With broken sidewalks and taped off buildings still as physical evidence, you can hear in the voices the trauma that rocked tall buildings back and forth like huge ships on the sea. In addition to these more physical shocks, the city has been rocked in recent years by a rising evidence of frightening power shifts relating to drug traffickers, accusations of institutional corruption, and a sharply rising economic inequality that is transforming developing/developed societies across the globe.

Built upon the ruins of the Aztec city called Tenochtitlán, which was one of the worlds largest in the 15th century, Mexico City appears persistently ebullient when banding together against adversity. Determined to excel beyond the horrors of conquest by the Spanish that decimated an entire indigenous culture, still the ruins rise above the ground and this multi-hued global city rumbles forward with determination.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sleek high rises and brightly patterned folkloric art and aerosol sprayed graffiti tags next to massive murals all blend and swirl like the jarabe Tapatío hat dance from block to block – a decisive commixture of the “brand new” with a heritage of indigenous/invader cultures that ruled here hundreds of years before. Today it’s a hybrid of purposeful optimism and wizened survival instincts that pushes the city forward, despite the shocks endured.

SEGO. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The magic and realism so famously combined by authors like Garcia Márquez and Esquivel along with the brutal honesty of Mexican filmmakers like Inarritu, del Toro and Cuaron is fused onto the bricks of colonial mansions and cinderblock industrial neighborhoods like Roma-Condesa and Centro Histórico. These colonias and others like Xochimilco and Coyoacán are historic, commercial, somehow always in transition.

Buster (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you walk and weave over the chunks of disrupted sidewalks, the local mechanic’s car-repair taking place on the curb is complimented by the smell of stacks of fresh tortillas from the tiny tortilleria. The booming tented markets of witty pop-culture t-shirts, knock-off sneakers, and decorative phone cases are sharing your memory space with the eye-popping magenta, sea foam green, and lemon sherbert yellow hues of huge layered toile netting as quinceañera skirts plumped full of Dior and displayed regally behind full glass windows, shop after shop.

The narrow street in old Centro Historico surges with the sound of a live heavy metal band demonstrating the equipment at a music store at lunch time, and three Argentinian Street Artists (Ever, Elian, and Jaz) are creating plumes of aerosol paint from the opened second floor veranda doors across the street while home-made Judas Priest reverberates over and around the slowly moving bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Arty & Chikle. “Only Love”. Street Art MUJAM in collaboration with the Mexico City National Youth Institute for Young Adults. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of Mexico, “it’s always high noon and what glows is fuchsia and what’s dead is dead,” said author Henry Miller in his book Black Spring, and some spirit of that rings true here where so many objects and situations you encounter can be amazing and revelatory and yet locals simply roll them in a tortilla and toss it on a hot oiled comal for dinner.

The music options alone can be illustrative of the variety here: Las Madrigalistas are performing holiday classics in the Palacio Bellas Artes, Ricky Martin just played free for 100,000 in the Zocalo, there is an active punk scene that rivals many, a hiphop scene that draws fans from nearby cities, and a reverence for 1980s artists like Depeche Mode and The Misfits, and an almost religious devotion to Morrisey.

D*Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The scale of the murals can be as vast as the city, equally eclectically handmade and warm. Thanks to a rich heritage of mural-making and artists like Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros in the last century, the new generation of Mexicanos are interpolating the currents that ripple and wave through a society wedded to fierce independence and tradition. Today it is again rocked by our instant access to information and a global sense of modernity.

JET (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This means that an international Street Art scene in D.F. features not only Mexican alchemists like Saner, Curiot, Farid Rueda, Lesuperdemon, Dhear and Sego (among others) but also invites the English D*Face, Italians Ericailcane and BLU, Belgian ROA, Los Angelianos Retna and El Mac, Polish M-City, Argentian JAZ and German duo Herakut to influence the voice of the street. With a visual wealth of inspiration and disruptive or unusual imagery in play on the street, this still  jittery city smiles and confronts you as the year turns, a response that is in flux and fiesta, sorrow and memory, outrage and magic.

ROA. All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

While traveling through the city with Roberto Shimizu, a central figure in the modern Street Art/mural scene here, and by visiting Street Artists and critical curators and organizers in studios and alternative spaces inside and outside the city, we garnered a greater appreciation for the complexity of the story here. It is distinctly different from the model we’ve seen elsewhere and explains the less showy trajectory that this still organic ecosystem has taken.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As in most cities today you’ll find the organic and autonomous quality of works is best represented by one-off, handmade individual pieces of art and stickers throughout neighborhoods, many anonymous. These are not the large scale legal murals that unfamiliar observers sometimes refer to as Street Art. These are still the lifeblood of any real Street Art scene and are often indicators of its truer eclectic nature.

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Maybe because there isn’t a large collector base for this work, or because some brands/marketers have already cheapened its image a bit, but Street Art hasn’t blossomed in the gallery world here to a great extent. Instead, true cultural curators like Shimizu have consistently led it directly to his festival programs or his family’s Mexico City’s Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM), and professors at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) are teaching about it to students .

Milamores and El Flaco. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We usually find the true nature of Street Art here is still in the streets – and in the artists community. In the Chulula area of nearby Puebla outside Mexico City, the mysterious renaissance seer named Milamores has quietly curated walls of many local and international artists over the last half decade, offering his compound and dogs for rest and companionship in a supportive artists space. Together with video animation artist Flaco he is presenting Street Art via Virtual Reality experiences that are in tandem with his organically grown mural program. Built on the site of a collapsed building from the 1985 earthquake, the artist/activist collective and community garden Huerto Roma Verde provides classes and workshops on art, sustainable architecture, gardening, and theater and has helped many artists to with mural opportunities as well.

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Diana Bama . Martin Ferreira. Huerto Roma Verde. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As an emblem of the conflicting and harmonious forces at play, we cite the relatively recent mural painted by the Spanish Street Artist Escif on the wall of the Chihuahua housing complex on the Plaza of Three Cultures just north of the city center. Illustrating the privately funded public projects that Street Artists are doing now throughout cities, this one plumbs the unhealed wounds and still unanswered questions of a shocking event of political repression almost 50 years ago here in the plaza designed by Mario Pani.

Not only does the plaza physically join together a Spanish colonial church and the remains of a pre-Columbian Aztec temple with the 13 story housing complex, the square is most known today for the October 1968 suppression of a student movement where troops ran directly over the ruins and fired on a peaceful rally and secret police captured and tortured student leaders who were speaking from the balcony. Protest art and public installations about the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping of 43 disappeared students recall the stories from 1968 today, and many make connections between the events.

Unidentified Artist. Installation in El Centro Historico for the 43 Desaparecidos. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Some academics have said the crushing of the student movement was part of a secret “dirty war” by the government to quiet dissent and present a unified Mexico image to the world ahead of the upcoming Olympics, but Shimizu tells us that visiting politicians to Escif’s new wall are pleased with the mural and made a tour by bus with guests to admire it. A monument to the Tlatelolco massacre stands in the plaza memorializing the events, and Escif made a few statements about his interpretation of his mural.

“As in my previous works, there is not a limited meaning in the ‘Chihuahua Mural’, but as many meanings as people try to approach it with,” said Escif to us recently about the two suited figures. He discusses his research into the events that took place, but ultimately he leaves the painting more open to interpretation. “Those two guys painted on the wall can be secretive executives, military officers, corporate people or anybody. That will depend on who sees the wall and his previous experiences.”

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For visitors to Mexico City looking for the local Street Art or graffiti scene it is helpful to recognize that this moment for a near-global fascination for art in the streets is here also intertwined with a national and local history, cultural pride, and the treasured heritage of indigenous peoples.

While so-called “western” countries may see a rebellious disaffected rage or critique as an overarching narrative for the graffiti and Street Art scene in New York, London, or Berlin, it may be that Mexico City, and Latin America by extension, is also very cognizant of its roots, in love with them even, always infusing new work with a certain respect for their progenitors. For an art practice that is characterized in part for its ephemerality the context of this particular urban environment reminds you of its often remarkable resilience.

Dueke . Miss1 Guette for MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

RETNA. The Beauty Project, 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detial. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

SINKO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interezni Kazki. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Kill Joy . Mazatl. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Fusca .  Blast. La Linea Street Art. Cholula, Puebla. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erica Ilcane. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


This is the first of two articles with BSA in Mexico City in collaboration with UN Berlin, it was originally published on the Urban Nation website, and the project is funded in part with the support of Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art (UN) in Berlin.

Read Part II here:

A Street View From Inside the Doors of Mexico City ; Galleries, Studios, Museums, and the Metro


Additional coverage by BSA in Mexico City:

An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

Saner, Mexican Muralist and Painter, Studio Visit. BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 2

Panteón and Watchavato “No Esto No Es Lo Que Fue” Opens In Mexico City

Exploring New Techniques and Processes with Elian, Jaz and Ever in Mexico City

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special


This article is also published on the Urban Nation museum website:

 

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BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special

BSA Images Of The Week: 11.26.17 Mexico City Special

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This week BSA is in Mexico City in collaboration with Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art (UN) to see what is steering the scene on the street, meet artists, visit artist compounds, museums, galleries, and studios – and of course to capture the wild and dynamic Street Art and graffiti scene here. Where Mexico City goes in art and culture makes big waves elsewhere in Latin America, and its Street Art scene has been quickly evolving in the last decade. Join us as we investigate the character and players in this modern/traditional city of more than 21 million people.


Mexico City this week was full of graffiti tags, large murals oozing with character, astral techno hippie dudes, strong women, slick talkers, traffic jams, street protests, stories about the 43, couples kissing on park benches, rooftop tours, men in suits, professional ladies in really high heels, smoothly running buses, sustainable community gardens, pick-pockets, indigenous people selling crafts, police with high pitched whistles, wannabe hipsters, live rock bands, tacos, craft beer, poinsettias, quesadillas, chille rellenos, pulled pork, nopales, avocados, tortas, Frida Kahlo, babies, Bohemia, marijuana smoke, and ultimately, Ricky Martin singing for hundreds of thousands of people free in the Zócalo.

We’ll catch you up on on the details soon.

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Arty & Chickle, Blu, Curiot, DFace, El Mac, Erica Ilcane, Escif, Herakut, Interesni Kazki, Maria Guardado, Retna, ROA, Saner, and Sego.

Our top image : Erica Ilcane. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erica Ilcane. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Erica Ilcane. Deatail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Blu. Detail. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Blu. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot. Detail. For Lienzo Capital Project with Street Art MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curated by Roberto Shimizu with the collaboration of the Mexico City Goverment on the Metro and the official building of The Nation Youth Institute

Curiot. Detail. For Lienzo Capital Project with Street Art MUJAM. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Curiot in Roma neighborhood for Capital Mural. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

D*Face (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Escif. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Retna. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interesni Kazki. Detail. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interesni Kazki. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Interesni Kazki. Detail. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Saner. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sego. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Herakut. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

El Mac. Detail. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Portrait of Maria Guardado, a social activist and poet from Guatemala. Ms. Guardado was tortured and killed by the Guatemalan army during the bloody civil war in 1980.

El Mac. For All City Canvas 2012. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Arty & Chikle. “Only Love”. Street Art MUJAM in collaboration with the Mexico City National Youth Institute for Young Adults. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Untitled. Torre Latino Americana. Mexico City. November 2017 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

An Unlikely Museum for Street Art? MUJAM is in the MX MIX : BSA X UN X Mexico City: Day 1

This week BSA is in Mexico City in collaboration with Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art (UN) to see what is steering the scene on the street, meet artists, visit artist compounds, museums, galleries, and studios – and of course to capture the wild and dynamic Street Art and graffiti scene here. Where Mexico City goes in art and culture makes big waves elsewhere in Latin America, and its Street Art scene has been quickly evolving in the last decade. Join us as we investigate the character and players in this modern/traditional city of more than 21 million people.


Not much happens in Mexico City’s modern Street Art scene that Roberto Shimizu Jr. doesn’t know about.

El Mac is in good company. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With his namesake father at the helm of the Mexican Antique Toy Museum (MUJAM) since it opened in 2006, the younger Shimizu has organized 30 or so Street Art events, founded the All City Canvas program, worked with city and federal public art programs. He has also been a personal clearing house for some of the most recognized talents and new practitioners on the scene, inviting them to paint inside and outside this eclectic and curiously expansive, overwhelming museum of toys that span a century or so.

ROA. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We spent hours with Roberto walking the floors of this imagination-provoking museum today – oggling an ocean of hand-made and mass produced items here that his father has collected for almost 60 years in every state of Mexico, only 5% of an estimated 5 million individual pieces in their collection. As the son of a voracious lifelong collector with a razor sharp eye and appreciation for positive energy Roberto Jr. has an omnivore’s appetite for Street Art, public art, graffiti.

So naturally since the museum first opened he’s been bringing in an eclectic array of aerosol/brush painters, wheatpasters, stencils, sticker slappers to hit up walls in the courtyard outside, on the roof, inside the museum, and on walls around the industrialized/residential neighborhood of Colonia Doctores.

Curiot. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We’ll be telling you more about this ingenious genius and his heartfelt amor for toys and Street Art later, but we thought we’d just show you some excerpts of a large rolled canvas signed by the important artists, curators, sincere fans and occasional rock stars that he’s been amassing for the last few years.

Here you’ll find a number of the big names from today’s Street Art scene from before anyone really knew them – people to whom he personally gave opportunities and encouragement and materials and who later have landed in the collections of museums and collectors thanks to him giving them an opportunity, or two, or three. Also it was good for us to see names of the new kids on the block and a number of Latin American talents we all will be getting to know in the future.

Herakut. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JAZ. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Neuzz. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Liqen. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

M – City. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Luca Dalto. MUJAM, Mexico City. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

For more information about MUJAM click HERE

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BSA “Images of the Year” for 2015 : New Video

BSA “Images of the Year” for 2015 : New Video

Was 2015 the “Year of the Mural”?

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.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-2015-Images-Of-The-Year-Eric-Simmons_copyright-Jaime_Rojo-740

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

 

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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 article is also published on The Huffington Post

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Images-of-Year-2015-Huffpost-740-Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 11.23.53 AM

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“Monument Art” Murals Sing of El Barrio in 2015

“Monument Art” Murals Sing of El Barrio in 2015

Some of these new murals are definitely monumental. As are some of the social ills addressed by themes such as immigration and the world refugee crisis. With a dozen international artists painting over the last two weeks, the debut show of the Monument Art Project in the New York neighborhoods of El Barrio, East Harlem and the South Bronx, some logistics have been equally immense, but finally the job is complete and people are talking about the new works they watched being painted.

brooklyn-street-art-ever-monument-art-jaime-rojo-El-Barrio-10-15-web-3

Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Not quite street art and not quite your local community mural, these finished opus works are more poetic than activist, more visionary than purely aesthetic; occupying a modern mid-way between those archetypes of public art we call the “New Muralism”.

Following on the success of the Los Muros Hablan festival staged a couple of years ago in San Juan, Puerto Rico and New York, organizers Jose Morales and Celso González expand their international reach and bring it back home with the stalwart and vehement support of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Argentina, Belgium, Los Angeles, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa – an admirable list of participants for a festival this size. What this dispersed program has that many recent commercial “Street Art” festivals have been lacking is a cognition of community, a connection– however refracted – to the people who are going to live with it. MonumentArt is aiming to engage the community with images and themes that resonate with many of the members – perhaps sparking conversations among chance encounters.

Here El Mac channels his influences of Caravaggio and Chicano culture to collaborate with Cero on a portrait evocative of haloed church icons. This serious and thoughtful figure rising high above everyone’s head is the well known Nuyorican writer Nicholasa Mohr, who has told many stories of Puerto Rican women, their travails and ascendency in the Bronx and El Barrio.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Notably Viajero’s boy in a handmade boat of newspaper pages addresses the dangerous figurative and literal waters that refugees are facing today, including children. With his back turned to us and his distrustful glance over the shoulder he may be questioning our commitment to saving those poor and needy in country that congratulates itself for its religious roots.

While quite different stylistically the mural reminds us of a 3-D installation done by Lituanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic in Norway’s Nuart Festival just last month.

brooklyn-street-art-ever-monument-art-jaime-rojo-El-Barrio-10-15-web-5

Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The topic of immigration is hammered home by Mexican muralist Sego as well as he strips away the skin of the Statue of Liberty, as if in an attempt to see what lies beneath that oxidized copper exterior in New York harbor symbolizing “welcome”.  Look again and see the points of her famous crown are transmuted into a feathered headdress, similar to those of the continents’ original citizens. In a nation of immigrants, New York’s multitude of populations typify the immigrant life and their plight is intrinsically tied to our history.

The quality of work is here, as is the articulation of ideas and themes. Curated thoughtfully and selected carefully, the MonumentArt collection gives back to the community it is nested within.

Argentinian artist Ever appropriated local kids as inspiration along with photos taken by Martha Cooper of immigrants in the 1990s and themes related to Puerto Rican independence and the US occupation of the island of Vieques. His signature kaleidoscope visions and voices pile and wind around the head like folkloric waves of energy.

brooklyn-street-art-ever-monument-art-jaime-rojo-El-Barrio-10-15-web-8

Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

But even working directly with the community, Ever tells us that things don’t go as smoothly as you might expect. He also discusses how intrinsic the topic of immigration is to his piece and to the story of New York.

Brooklyn Street Art: The top figure on your mural is of boy. Can you tell us who he is?
EVER: This is funny. I was here doing some research and these kids were playing basketball on the courts and I saw one of them and he caught my attention and I decided to approach him. It was kind of hard for me since I’m not from here and I didn’t think I’d have the right words to talk to him so I was a bit nervous.

I told him my pitch and his first reaction was “No I don’t want you to take my picture”. So it was hard for me because he was the one I wanted to paint on the wall. And he told me he didn’t want to be a part of it. So I said cool. But when his friends, one by one came forward and told me that they would like to do it and got excited he then at that moment he changed his mind and told me he wanted to do it.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

I was very happy but when I told him he had to pose of a photo first he said, “OK but take only three pictures”. I said to myself, ‘Come on you are like Madonna.” Finally he posed and I got my photo.

Then for the other kids I went to Martha Cooper’s studio to do some more research on East Harlem and to find more photos related to the neighborhood. The other two figures are from photos Martha Cooper took in the 80’s and 90’s in El Barrio. One was taken during a Latin-American parade more than 20 years ago.

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Faith 47. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

When I was on the plane coming here I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I wanted to talk about the issue of immigration in my piece. For me is insane that in the 21st Century we are still having problems with immigration. I’m a product of immigration. My parents came to Argentina from Spain. Most cities in most nations are created by immigrants. So it is crazy that there are still some people who see immigrants like the enemy. They are talking about people who live next to them, people who are their neighbors. So we must accept immigration as a reality of all nations and New York is a huge example of different cultures living together without big problems. In New York one can breath freedom. And that’s the subject I wanted to approach.

We all move to different places all the time. As humans it is in our nature to be nomads. When we look up at the sky we see the birds flying around without papers, without limits. And we humans we have to be limited to a piece of paper that determines if we are allowed in or not.

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Faith 47. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

These three figures on this mural represent the future of this country: The next generation. It is absurd to hear politicians when they talk about immigration and they make the immigrants their enemies. This is a beautiful country and for the most part people who come here are trying to find a better future. Furthermore I think that most people dream of someday being able to go back to their countries of origin.

I was recently in Tijuana and I noticed two individuals having a conversation but they were separated by this fence, this wall. You could see the two families on two different sides of the fence and it was something that made a big impression on me.

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Luis R. Vidal. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Viajero. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Viajero. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac and Cero. Detail. Collaboration on this Mosaic and paint portrait of poet Nicholasa Mohr. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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CERO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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CERO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac and Cero. Collaboration on this portrait of poet Nicholasa Mohr. The mosaic portion was done by Cero and the portrait by El Mac. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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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 article is also published in The Huffington Post.

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El Mac Brings Electricity to Creativity at Northeastern University

El Mac Brings Electricity to Creativity at Northeastern University

El Mac, the LA based aerosol Caravaggio has just illuminated a university wall in Boston with a portrait of his wife as alchemist, a glowing vision completed on the side of Northeastern’s Meserve Hall this month in time for Spring graduation.

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

“The meeting of art and sciences is key to this campus,” says Todd Mazer, who lives in the city and who spent a lot of time with the artist while he painted, shooting incredible photos of the process. The image based on a photo of Kim presents a perfect marriage of symbols for the university, but also may refer directly to the artists’ personal lineage, he confides.

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

“Mac’s father went to Northeastern and studied Engineering where he met Mac’s mother, who was an artist going to MassArt at the time,” he explains, “so the lightning, which is science, and the brush, which is art, just may represent his parents. In his distinctive style that includes scientifically chilling paint cans in a cooler with ice, El Mac renders an heroic, comely, and gentle figure even on this rough surface using a circular patterning that appears alternately mechanically digitized or smooth as a Vermeer, depending on your angle and distance from the work.

Even the starry sky may be a reference to his father, we learn, because of his father’s history with things astronomical. “Also the stars above could be of significance too because although Mac was born in LA he moved to Phoenix because his father was pursuing a career in the space program.”

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

On breaks from plowing through 150 or so cans of paint, El Mac also took time to see art at his dad’s Alma Matter, poking inside the Museum of Fine Arts, Todd tells us. “He mostly painted but since he was just across the street from the MFA it was on his mind and when he got some small windows of time he would head over there,” says Mazer.

“It was nice to see him get off the lift and put down the iced out cans and catch some inspiration from a different surface. I remember him with a pencil and a sketchbook in front of a sculpture and just like earlier in the day at the wall I got a sense he was somewhere he belongs.”

Our sincere thanks to Todd for sharing these images with BSA readers.

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

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Northeastern University (photo © Todd Mazer)

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

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El Mac (photo © Todd Mazer)

 

 

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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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“Coachella Walls”: Date Farmers Raise Profile of “Anonymous Worker”

“Coachella Walls”: Date Farmers Raise Profile of “Anonymous Worker”

Seriously, like Coachella is NOT even like in Coachella. It’s like in Indio. True story.

The annual concert festival that brings legions of middle class to somewhat affluent feathered fringed bikini babes and awesome face-painted dudes dropping acid while texting and buying merch? – and which apparently features big-name indie music at some point over two weekends in April? That’s not here. That town is called Indio.

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Coachella Walls Poster at a local farm. (photo © Medvin Sobio)

Here in Coachella, the “City of Eternal Sunshine,” no one shoots YouTube videos about “How to Survive Coachella” with hints about SPF 55 sunscreen sticks and personal sized hand sanitizer. Here you will find a mostly rural, agricultural, family oriented community which struggles with poverty regularly. They also pick a lot of your food.

That’s why Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez, artistically joined as The Date Farmers, began an “arts-driven community revitalization project” on March 31st, recognized in California as Cesar Chavez Day.

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Armando Lerma of The Date Farmers keeps and eye on the rambunctious fans. (photo © Medvin Sobio)

Inviting solidly remarkable street art and mural-painting talents to show some camaraderie with the working men and women in this community, the first annual Coachella Walls has now made its mark in the Historic Pueblo Viejo District of downtown. Here also is the recently opened Date Farmers Art Studios, which they hope will serve as the city’s first art gallery and artist residency.

Thematically joined to honor Chavez and the Anonymous Farm Worker, the festival invited a group of muralists and contemporary artists with Latin American cultural influences in their work, including artists like El Mac (Arizona), Nunca (Brazil), Saner (Mexico), Andrew Hem (Cambodia), Liqen (Spain), Albert Reyes (Los Angeles), Vyal Reyes (Los Angeles), Sego (Mexico), The Phantom (Los Angeles), Jim Darling (Texas), and more.

According to the organizers, “Despite supplying the region with close to half a million dollars a year in vegetable crops, many of the farm workers in the Eastern Coachella Valley continue to live in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.” With murals, luck and a whole burlap sack of talent like this, Coachella Walls aims to bring awareness to these issues and others related to the life of the worker here.

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The Date Farmers (photo © Medvin Sobio)

Medvin Sobio was contacted by the Date Farmers to help produce and curate the public art project, and he shows us some of the images that came out of this very first annual event. Coachella Walls is funded by the city of Coachella’s public arts fund and is curated by Sobio, the director of The Academy of Street Art  in Los Angeles. Our thanks to Medvin and the Date Farmers for sharing these images with us.

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The Date Farmers at work on “Casa de Trabajador”(photo © Medvin Sobio)

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The Date Farmers (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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The Date Farmers (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Armando and Carlos assessing the progress. The Date Farmers (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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The Date Farmers (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Albert Reyes (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Albert Reyes (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Andrew Hem (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Andrew Hem with Carlos Ramirez of The Date Farmers (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Andrew Hem (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Andrew Hem (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Andrew Hem (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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El Mac (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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El Mac (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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El Mac chats with Andrew Hem. (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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El Mac. Carlos Ramirez of The Date Farmers snaps a shot. (photo © Medvin Sobio)

Says El Mac about this painting on his blog, “It’s not intended to represent any one specific person, but rather many people, especially the “anonymous farm worker”. Farm workers in this country have been marginalized despite producing the very food we all need for survival. The Coachella valley is an important region for farming, and has been the setting for many of the struggles by the UFW to to improve workers’ rights since the 60s..and you can feel this history there.”

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El Mac (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Nunca (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Nunca “The Band” (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Nunca “The Band” (photo © Medvin Sobio)

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Nunca “The Band” (photo © Medvin Sobio)

 

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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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New High-Water Mark for Street Art at Fairs for Armory Week

New High-Water Mark for Street Art at Fairs for Armory Week

This year represents a high-water mark for current Street Artists being represented at the New York fairs if what we have just seen over the last couple of days is any indication. For those who have been following the trajectory of the new kids we’ve been talking about for the last decade, the room is rather getting a lot more crowded. Only a handful of years ago names that produced blank stares at your forehead and a little sniff of dismissal are garnering an extra lingering moment near the canvas and snap of the cellphone pic, complimentary champagne flute in hand.

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Hellbent at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With the gusts of wind provided by a couple of recent auctions, optimism about an up-turning economy, and even the Banksy one-month residency, it is not hard to imagine that we have some “overnight” stars in the midst of this constellation, but it is really anyone’s guess.

While we are certainly aware of it, we don’t dedicate too much ink to the commercial aspect of the Street Art scene, preferring to learn the lingua franca of these artists who have developed their narrative and visual style before our eyes, to celebrate experimentation, the creative spirit, and to give a pedestrian view of the street without being pedestrian.

But just as neighborhoods like Bushwick in Brooklyn, El Raval in Barcelona, LA’s downtown Arts District, and parts of London, Berlin, and Paris have been transforming by gentrification, we would be remiss if we didn’t note the more frequent raising of commercial eyebrows all around us when the topic turns to Street Art. It’s not a fever pitch, but can it be far off? There is already a solid first tier that everyone can name – and the stratification is taking shape below it.

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Herb Smith (previously Veng RWK) at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Buffeted by blossoming sales of works by early 2000s Street Artists and the burgeoning of lifestyle companies now appropriating this cultural wealth and transforming it into “content” that helpfully couriers all manner of merch from spirits to soda, sneakers, and electronic smoking devices, we are looking for our seat belts as there a major shift in popular acceptance and critical embracing of 21st century Street Artists up ahead.

As for the streets, the flood is going to continue. Street Art is Dead? Yes, we’ve been hearing this since 2002…

Here’s a brief non-specific and uneven survey of only some work showing this weekend by current or former Street Artists and graffiti writers – perhaps a third of what you can see in the New York fairs and satellite galleries.

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Rubin at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fumero at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Gilf! and Icy & Sot at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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EKG and Lamour Supreme at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Alice Mizrachi and Jon Burgerman at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Chris Stain and Rubin at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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See One and Chuck Berrett/Nicole Salgar of Cargo Collective at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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JMR and Cake at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Vicki DaSilva at Fountain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pose at Volta (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Vinz at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amanda Marie at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tip Toe at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Know Hope at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Cope at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Aakash Nihalini at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Banksy and friends at Scope (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Kabul to Brooklyn, Street Art and Graffiti as Common Ground

Kabul to Brooklyn, Street Art and Graffiti as Common Ground

Afghanistan is not the first place you think of when someone says Street Art scene and Kabul would certainly be sort of low on your list of urban art festivals to check out, but surprisingly it has both. These are a couple of the revelations we had earlier this month when BSA welcomed three 20-something artists to tour the streets of Brooklyn – and meet one of our own homegrown Street Art duos in their studio.

Abul Qasem Foushanji, Ommolbanin Samshia Hassani, and Sayed Mohebullah Ramin Naqshbandi were all good sports despite the brutishly cold February day – in fact Sayed had a fairly light jacket on because he said it gets as cold or colder back home in Mazar-i Sharif where he is a painter and student who has tried his hand at stencil work.

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From left to right Qasem, Shamsia and Sayed in front of an Icy & Sot mural in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Qasem and Samshia both grew up in Iran, so it made sense that they were excited when we began the tour by checking out the large mural done by Iranian émigrés and brothers Icy & Sot, who now live in Brooklyn. While Arthur, our astutely amiable co-host from the State Department, helped keep the mini-van warm and free of parking tickets, their escort/interpreter Mr. Aziz walked up and over the snowbanks with us while we checked out works by a number of graffiti and Street Artists all around the North Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

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Shamsia, Qasem and Sayed in front of ROA’s squirrel mural in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Central Asian country of Afghanistan has historically eschewed modern art as being unacceptable and much art was destroyed by the Taliban in the last few decades for being un-Islamic.

With such a restrictive atmosphere it was good to learn that Qasem plays bass in a thrash metal band, does sound installations and has experimented with abstract expressionism – something that would have been unheard of in the 90s. “In the early 2000s when the Taliban left the country, there was nothing,” he says as he observes a gradual building of hope in the creative community.

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Shamsia in front of Galo’s mural in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As the sun went down we were welcomed into the vast office and studio of Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeal, who together comprise the Brooklyn based Street Art collective better known as Faile. Having just walked the same streets where the Patricks began many of their experiments at the turn of the century, it was a great opportunity for the guests to see what a world-class art making studio looks like, to ask questions, and to share some stories about how the scenes on streets of Brooklyn and Kabul differ.

brooklyn-street-art-740-Mr-Aziz-C215-Feb-2014-webMr. Aziz takes a cell phone snap of a rusted C215 piece while Sayed looks on. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

Speaking about their early days of illicit art posting, McNeal explains “You’d go out and you get to the wall and it’s quick,” he says with a snap of the fingers. “You’re not taking the time, necessarily, to think. And then you finish it up and get away from it and you came back to see it the next day. There was something loose in it, where now everything gets very tight and refined,” he says as he gestures to the large artworks in progress across the tables and the floor of the studio.

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Qasem takes Shamsia’s portrait in front of Nelson Mandela’s portrait by Jason Coatney in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Yeah, it’s changed a lot over time,” says Miller about the street art scene, especially in the area of Williamsburg that has become a high-rent playground for professionals and well-heeled college kids. “Real estate, gentrification, a lot of those things have played into it in a lot of places like here and Barcelona where you used to see a lot more things on the street, it doesn’t really exist.”

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Sayed, Qasem and Shamsia in front of a Faile wheatpaste in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

One thing we learned is that Shamsia doesn’t even usually feel that she can go on the street in Kabul to create her work because she fears berating words, insults and possibly worse from people who don’t think a woman should be doing such a thing.  And would never go out after dark. “It’s for the boys to go out at night. I wish to do so also but I am a girl. It is dangerous,” she says with regret, but is determined to use her art to advocate for the rights of girls and women in whatever way that she can.

One project she calls “Graffiti Dreams” is comprised entirely in her imagination and on her computer – where she creates virtual street art scenes on buildings she has photographed as a way to at least paint walls in her mind. “That’s nothing, but for me it is everything because I can do graffiti somehow.” She took out her iPad to show McNeal some of her renderings.

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Shamsia poses in front of the same Faile piece she just saw in the street, but this time it’s at Faile’s studio. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

After British graffiti artist Chu held a one-week graffiti workshop for nine artists in Kabul in 2010 where the concept of graffiti and street art was introduced from a Western perspective, Shamsia and other young artists took the art form to heart.

She has traveled internationally in the last few years meeting other artists and sometimes collaborating with them like Tika from Zürich, Berlin’s Klub 7, and the well known Los Angelelino Street Artist El Mac, with whom she did two collaborations now on display in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and in Brisbane, Australia.

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The Afghani artists pose with Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil of Faile at their studio. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

McNeal asked Samshia, “How did you get exposed to graffiti?,” and Samshia talked about the workshop with Chu and how it affected her.

“I thought if I did graffiti then I could introduce art to the people,” she says, “Because no one goes to exhibitions and galleries – only some very important people are invited to exhibits. And I thought that I could put art in the street for all people and maybe they have never seen that there is this art.”

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Qasem and Patrick Miller. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“How do you get spray paint there?” he followed up.

“There are very bad quality spray paint there,” she replies with a smile. “These are just for color to put somewhere. It’s not really for painting. The color drops a lot, and I’m not changing the size of the caps. Sometimes I do the small details with small brushes because the spray can is not able to do very thin lines.”

“That’s cool though,” McNeal encouraged, “ because that will inform your style and the way that you work.”

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Shamsia and Patrick McNeil. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As one of the first graffiti artists in Kabul, Shamsia is also unusual because most practicing artists of any discipline are men – and women face resistance to their participation in many roles, including as an artist on the street. Now an associate professor at Kabul University where she leads workshops to teach students how to use aerosol spray to create art, Ms. Hassani created a festival this December to highlight graffiti and Street Art as an art practice.

Her own work features stylized women in blue burqas, fish, and calligraphy that references poetry.  As often happens, the definition of graffiti and street art are slightly different in Afghanistan than they would be in western cities like London and New York, often closer to what might be called murals or community walls.

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Qasem and Patrick look through some Faile gems. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

For now she is planning a new program when she returns to Kabul University in the spring.

“Another graffiti workshop is coming too for some children who have no parents. They are often very small girls and they have no parents and I want to help them and have a workshop for them,” she explains about her desire to provide restorative healing through art in a city torn by war. “I will start to teach a new subject, making characters, because there is nothing like that right now. I would like to add characters, because everyone likes characters. I would like to teach some technical steps, some secrets of how to make them.”

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Artists talk (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The night ends with tea, cookies, and conversation in a warm living room and the artists talk about some of their projects, internet service, social media, and other ways that society is evolving and what they hope for art in Afghanistan. As he describes his work future projects Sayed says would like to create politically themed messages for the street. Qasem talks about a culture-jamming project creating a false college course advertisement that may also be humorous. Then in a flash, the visit is over, numbers and emails are exchanged and they get ready to go back out in the cold.

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In 2012 Shamsia collaborated with Los Angeles based Street Artist El Mac on two murals in Sai Gon, Vietnam. The first mural was painted in September of 2012 in front of Sàn Art, an artist non-profit contemporary art organization in Sai Gon. The second mural, also painted in Sai Gon was unveiled in Brisbane, Australia at the Asia Pacific Triennial in December 2012.

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An El Mac and Shamsia collaboration in front of Sàn Art. Sai Gon,Vietnam. September, 2012. (photo © courtesy of Sàn Art)

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El Mac and Shamsia “Birds of a Nation” collaboration. Brisbane, Australia. December 2012. (photo © courtesy of Viet Nam The World Tour)

The figure in the center is a portrait of Shamsia by El Mac from photographs that he took of her. The writing that surrounds the portrait is a poem by Ms. Hassani which she integrated with her own designs. The poem reads:

پرنده های بی وطن ،همه اسیرن مثل من ،صدای خواندن ندارن

Birds of no nation
Are all captive
Like me
With no voice for singing

Ommolbanin Shamsia Hassan: Afghanistan Graffiti

 

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Eye on London Street Art : Spencer Elzey in Europe

Eye on London Street Art : Spencer Elzey in Europe

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For the first week-long “residency” on BSA, Spencer Elzey has been sharing his experiences and Street Art photos from his recent trip to Europe. Today we finish with London, a polished and presentable collection of some of the current scene from the streets.

The city has long played host to a rolling panoply of urban art and artists and is a prime example of the professionalization of the practice featuring a greater absorption into the culture and economy at large with galleries, museums, shops, and paid tour guides all joining in. The upshot is you will see some of the best examples of talent and it may at times seem all quite combed over and generally safe for a general audience.  Not that there isn’t dynamism and risk taking, and you will still find unsanctioned work to be seen inside and outside of the tourist hotspots.

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Sweet Toof and Roa (photo © Spencer Elzey)

Hosting the Olympics last year brought a self cleansing of much of the organically grown graffiti and Street Art, and the chilling effect of living in an electronically surveilled society with cameras nearly everywhere will undoubtedly be sited to when historians look at the nature of art on the streets from this era.

“London had a lot of Street Art but it felt more corporate and organized for the masses,” says Elzey of his time walking through Shoreditch, Brick Lane, Hackney, Bethnal Green, and Camden. “In the week that I was there I walked by around five Street Art tours.”

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Sweet Toof (photo © Spencer Elzey)

“Most of London’s street art is confined to these places – The other areas that I explored around London all seemed pretty clean. This may have been due to the fact that there are security cameras everywhere,” he says. An international first world city, London usually is a destination for the international “circuit” of Street Artists whose names tend to reappear on lists of the various street/graffiti/urban art festivals that now pop up in global cities from Lima to Łódź and Living Walls to Nuart to Upfest and the recently ended FAME.

As with any art form that begins as transgressive and underground and evolves to be adopted by the dominant culture, at times the whole scene begins to resemble the commercial and institutional interests it once mocked or attempted to subvert. “London is great but felt more catered to the bigger players and had the most street art in commissioned form (by the various Street Art organizations), which is good to see some amazing work but cheapens the art a little,” he says.

In the images he shares with BSA readers today you can see the really strong work that is throughout those neighborhoods as many of the artists consider strongly what they will do – and it results in some quite striking pieces. As always, you want to keep an eye on London. Surely it will keep an eye on you.

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Miss Van and B. Schu (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Otto Schade (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Shok 1 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Gnasher (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Alexis Diaz (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Ben Eine (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Cranio (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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For The Love Of Dog (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Banksy (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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A sculptural installation by D*Face (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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ROA (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Swoon (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Guy Denning (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Urban Solid (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Sokaruno (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Vinie and Reaone (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Anthony Lister (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Finabarr DAC (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Phlegm (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Faith 47 (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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El Mac (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Conor Harrington (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Conor Harrington (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Klone (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Dal East (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Dscreete (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Insa (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Martin Ron (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Jana & JS (photo © Spencer Elzey)

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Christian Nagel (photo © Spencer Elzey)

 

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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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BSA Film Friday: 05.10.13

Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.

Now screening: Narcélio Grud Food Painting, Beerens Snail Work, El Mac’s promo for “Sangre Nueva”, and Doug Aldrich and Sam Octigan create a canvas.

BSA Special Feature:
“Tropical Hungry” food painting with Narcélio Grud

You are what you eat, son, so stay away from cow tongue!  “Tropical Hungry” follows Street Artist Narcélio Grud into the market in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil and watches him pick up the discarded fruits and vegetables. What he does with them is delicious and takes art as “Food for Thought”.   Also, it opens the conversation about what we do with the food that is not eaten, and reminds us not to waste.

A Snail Goes To Work: Michael Beerens

Set to a soundtrack of slow-jam reverie, the pacing of this video from the French Street Artist tells you that someone is in love with painting and is willing to take his time to get it right. Chill, Mr. Snail.

El Mac “Sangre Nueva”

For his new show that opened Wednesday in Denmark, this promo for El Mac presents evocative vignettes of motels, windshield wipers and pulp fiction. The mini movie rolls like the credits for a story that glides slowly through the desperation of the street in search of romance, escapism, and a little soul.

Four stars to Medvin Sobio.

Doug Aldrich and Sam Octigan: “Crossing Lines”

Here’s a recap of the recently exhibited show “Crossing Lines” featuring the collaboration of an Aussie and a New Yorky. Not specific to Street Art, although it’s possible there is some familiarity with the scene here, this video is a snapshot of how Bushwick continues to change and evolve into an arts district with the huge influx of new people over the last 5 years.

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