Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. “Realm: Shanghai” Vhils directed by Jose Pando Lucas 2. ARTRIUM, Moscow. (part 1) 3. Faith XVLII x Philadelphia, ‘The Silent Watcher’.
BSA Special Feature: “Realm: Shanghai” Vhils directed by Jose Pando Lucas
Like other fashion and luxury brands, certain contemporary art galleries are commissioning higher-end film quality videos to put muscle behind the marketing. Naturally, some artwork is camera-ready, infused with the potential for storytelling that creates the “rich content” that social media thrives on, and aids sales teams in the gallery space and at art fairs. Portuguese Street Artist Vhils has director Jose Pando Lucas along as sophisticated seer; The artist once again bringing a storyline into savvy focus, capturing your imagination with his.
“I remember the story I was told,” intones the mystical
modern while staring into the camera. “That in time I would know my place in
The tone is perhaps meant to reassure an unsteady heart in a chaotic modern world, to center oneself in a dislocating environment. Viewed as an appealing sales tool, it also skillfully fortifies a self-image of the entitled powerful class who are pre-ordained or chosen to dominate and to lead. Anonymous and existential mournful stares through city windows and at bus stops, the artworks under construction are born of destruction; mottled, rough-hewn, defiant in the city’s margins.
Tradition struggles for its place amidst amazing new technology and rapidly growing infrastructure. The artist posits himself as working man pounding on walls, without airs of class. With this art in your home you are keeping in touch with the common, the everyday insecurities, for you are citizen. You can afford it because, after all, you are also a ruler.
“Nobody really got the answers they longed for.”
“Do we live as we dream?”
“Who else can hear me right now?”
Youthful, fashionable, under constraint, free of constraint,
traditional and unconventional power players laying plans quietly, focusing a pent-up
hunger for more. This is the ocean of wealth and capacity that will define
epochs, not decades.
It ends sweetly, a bon mot that suggests a sense of human camaraderie among competitors of this race. But it is an uncertain connection, born more of wistful desire for a pleasant resolution than actual brotherhood or sisterhood.
“Yesterday is gone. This moment has ended.”
VHILS – REALM (Shanghai, 2019) A film by Jose Pando Lucas
ARTRIUM, Moscow. (part 1)
An educational insight into the people and the place.
Unusual in the Russian Federation, if not the commercialized western cultures which have willfully merged graffiti and Street Art culture to the point of quotidian, The Artrium combines a shopping mall with murals by Street Artists. What is remarkable is the list of names who regale this city skin with new pieces inside and outside, bringing to life an otherwise normal grey and beige block.
Astounding to discover in the center of Moscow, the outdoor gallery boasts artists such as Shepard Fairey, Felipe Pantone, Tristan Eaton, Ben Eine, PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, Pokras Lampas, Faith47, WK Interact, Faust, and Haculla. Average visitors may not grasp the remarkable collection of talents, but if you are shopping in this capital city, you wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity that captures a stunning moment in the rotation of the Street Art universe.
Faith XVLII x Philadelphia, ‘The Silent Watcher’. By Chop ’em Down Films
In the words of Faith XLVII;
‘I come from a country that is seething with the frustration of
uncontrollable violence and woman abuse, xenophobia , class and racial
And have moved to a country where there seems to be a fundamental crisis in the very soul of the nation.
We know this ache of our lands.
And we all know personal ache.
Everybody has their struggle to bear.
And with the weight of the world on our shoulders,
we must still be able to live with empathy
We must somehow keep our hearts open.
The words on this wall are a reference to the City Seal of Philadelphia with calls out for brotherly love.
This is no small commitment.
It also references a quote ‘Optimism is a strategy for a Better Future.’
Paying tribute to Noam Chomsky who was born in Philadelphia and is 91 years old this year. .
The harsh experiences of life can easily make us fall into a negative world view,
or inner psychological depression.
But we each have the ability to transform this base metal of knowing suffering,
into the gold of higher aspiration.
The name of this mural is ‘The Silent Watcher’
We can be the silent watcher, who knows, who loves and who endures.’
They used to run from the Vandal Squad in this
neighborhood. Now people pay to see their art here.
Through the expansive glass wall on the 6th floor you can look down Kent Avenue to see the spot where a monster pickup truck with a heavy chain tied around a FAILE prayer wheel almost jackknifed on the sidewalk, gave up and sped away. Not that many Brooklynites saw that event in the 2000s – nobody walked here and few people drove through Williamsburg then except truckers looking for street walking ladies wearing high heels and spandex. Oh, and a serial killer.
Now visitors buy tickets to see a circular colonnade of FAILE prayer wheels here at 25 Kent – including the real estate developers and Wall Street professionals who displaced the community of artists whose work made the neighborhood attractive and “edgy”.
Along with Street Artists in this exhibition like Shepard Fairey, Bast, Swoon, Invader, Aiko, Dan Witz, Katsu, 1UP, and Lister, the FAILE duo put completely illegal artworks on walls under cover of night and threat of arrest in this same neighborhood then – transforming it with many others who are not in this show into an open gallery of the streets, placing Williamsburg on the map as New Yorks’ epicenter of the newly emerging Street Art scene.
The Nature of Graffiti and Street Art
As graffiti and Street Art are migratory and necessarily elusive by nature, this story is only one chapter in a volume of history that serious academics are now reconstructing and analyzing. With each passing year and published white paper, the practices of 20th century public mark-making are being examined in greater detail for archiving and for posterity. Not surprisingly, institutions, patrons, collectors, and brands are increasingly interested in this story as well.
When it comes to the anarchic subculture of illegal
street art practice and its influence on society, there are non-stop ironies
sprayed en route from verboten to Vuitton, and street culture has supercharged
the imagination of the mainstream and high culture throughout history – that’s
where the best ideas come from sometimes. Many seminal artworks from “the
scene”, as it were, represent much more than what you are seeing at first
glance. As art and cultural critic Carlo McCormick has described the iconic
Shepard Fairey ‘Hope’ image in Art in
America, many graffiti and Street Art works saved are “not a
fleeting pop-culture sensation but simply the latest crossover hit in a long
line of underground classics.”
The wide-ranging survey that is Beyond the Streets makes sure that you know where the roots are, and who many of the pioneers were. It is impossible to tell a complete story that includes scenes as diverse as west coast Chicano muralism, hobo graffiti, hip-hop commercial design, NY downtown artivism, Japanese low/hi contemporary, skateboard, tattoo, early train writing and a current romance with muralism, but BTS at least gives a serious consideration to each and offers you the opportunity to look further into them.
With the help of photography documentation from people like Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Jim Prigoff, Lisa Kahane, Joe Conzo, John Fekner, Bill Daniel, Maripol, and Dash Snow, the crucial importance of this work provides needed interstitial and contextual information that enables myriad stories to be elucidated.
Exhaustive, no. Exhausting, possibly. Pace yourself.
spent my life surrounded by graffiti and Street Art,” says the shows’ director
Roger Gastman “and you could say that I have been obsessed with understanding
the culture, its origins, and its evolution. It’s incredible to me how far it
With 150 artists whose practices span five decades
and various (mainly) American subcultures displayed in a maze of new walls in
this 100,000 sf, two-floor exhibition, the Beyond the Streets senior curatorial
team includes Gastman, filmmaker/ graffiti historian Sacha Jenkins SHR, Juxtapoz
Editor in Chief Evan Pricco, and author/ graffiti historian / graffiti writer David
CHINO Villorente. Each curator brings core competencies and knowledge of the
graffiti scene (Gastman, Jenkins, Villorente) as it has evolved to include the
Street Art practice and an eventual move toward contemporary art (Pricco).
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Villorente, who says his history as
a graffiti writer compounds the impact for him. “I was glad that the show was
coming to New York because I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I couldn’t have
imagined it – especially when I think back on when I was writing on the trains
and doing illegal graffiti. To have of show of this magnitude is really
“We started writing in ’68 and here we are, fifty-one years later,” says Mike 171 as he gestures toward himself and crew writer SJK 171 when talking about how they began and continued writing their tags on the street in New York City. “This is the history right here,” he says, and you know you are about to be schooled about the plain realities of early graffiti writing. At the opening, you witness each guy tagging in a large dusty window here and realize the love for writing never actually stops.
“We were expressing something that was inside of us,” says SJK 171. “The streets were like ours,” he tells you against a backdrop of their work, Cornbread’s work, and of images full of one color, single line monikers that set the stage for the more colorful, character-driven pieces and burners a decade later, transforming trains into a rolling aesthetic symphony by the mid 1970s.
One of the actual “whole car” writers of that period, Lee “LEE” Quinones, here recreates a “Soul Train” car side on a canvas that looks like it could easily wrap an actual MTA #2-line car that he used to slaughter with cans in the middle of the night at the train yard. When describing the new work he said he was intentionally keeping it simple – perhaps owing the style to his earlier practice.
“I think this is one of Lee’s most amazing pieces,” says Charlie Ahearn, the director of the seminal 1982 “Wild Style” film that Quinones stars in. Ahearn self-produced that film which became an important distillation of the merging of graffiti with hip-hop culture during a pivotal moment in the history of both. Now also a professor of Hip-Hop, art, design, and documentary film making at Pace University, Ahearn is familiar with many of the artists work here, many relationships reaching back decades. “I told Lee that I liked that it was a one-off, that he painted all the color straight off without the embellishment, texturing, and all that stuff.”
Charlie’s twin brother John Ahearn is represented here popping out from walls as well, his sculptures serving as authentic portraits of people you may easily have seen on New York streets over the last four decades. Casted directly on top of the people themselves in a technique he has perfected, the placement of the sculptures gives life to the space.
Star Writers, Immersive Environments, Foundations
The individual clusters of work and canvasses by 1970s-80s train painters like Futura, Crash, Lady Pink, Freedom, Carlos Mare, Blade, Haze, and Daze and next gen graphic painters like Doze Green and Rime are complemented by a number of so-called “immersive” spaces here like the Mission Schools’ Barry McGee storefront with smashed window, and the Australian Pop duo Dabs & Myla’s eye candy floral walls with thousands of artificial fauna created in collaboration with Amelia Posada.
The high-profile graphic activist Shepard Fairey’s 30 year career overview takes a large area and encompasses all elements of his street and studio practice, and Bill Barminski’s cardboard home is open for you to explore with a wry smile, remembering the security room installation he did at Banksy’s Dismaland a couple years earlier.
also treated to a full rolling wall of Craig Stecyk posters that brings you the
sun and surf of California skate culture, sculptures by Mr. Cartoon and Risk, a
kid-friendly illustrated room with crafting supplies for young fans on tables
from HuskMitNavn, and an astute freight train culture educational display by
writer/painter/sculptor Tim Conlon (complete with a mid-sized Southern Pacific freight
on train tracks he and friends built), prints/photos by historian Bill Daniel, and
original drawings by the man some call the King of Hobo Art, buZ blurr.
are a self portrait as predicated on a first Bozo Texino person and I kind of
changed the image around,” says Mr. blurr, a legendary figure in denim
overalls, as he patiently describes his classic tag image of a railway cowboy.
is a writer motif – the pipe smoke is going up and then it is trailing back to
signify movement as the train goes down the track,” he says. “I worked in the
train yards and my job was as a brakeman. I had a little free time so I started
making drawings. I made my first one on November 11, 1971,” he says as he
recalls the state of mind that he was in at the time as he began to tag
freights with the image and text that came to him clearly – and may have
perplexed other travellers.
came from a confused state. I was questioning everything. I was putting kind of
cryptic messages under my drawings. It was anybody’s guess as to its literal
interpretation. I addressed some of them up to specific people but whether they
saw them or responded to them, I wouldn’t have any idea.”
it’s shipped in the crate its 550 pounds,” says Conlon as he stands by the 3-foot
high freight car re-creation on tracks and ties that is
hit with a couple of wild and colorful graffiti burners. “Here I’m going to
show you something,” he says as he pulls back the roof to reveal the narrow
coffin interior in rusted red. “So I’m going to hide some beer in here during
the opening party. This is like the fifth one of these I’ve made,” and he proudly
confides that one lives in the house of Robert Downey Jr.
Digging Deep to Take Risks
to rest on laurels and previous formulas of success, the show keeps a freshness
by presenting known entities pushing themselves further and taking creative risks;
a reflection of that spirit of experimentation we have always prized on the
writer Earsnot from Irak crew, now known professionally as Kunle Martin, said
he had been making work for the gallery containing elements of graffiti, but
felt they were too “safe”.
“Then my friend Dan said ‘you should go back to doing drawings,’” he says as he stands before figurative canvasses in black and white on cardboard. “I said ‘I can’t! It’s too hard! But eventually I began working in my studio five days a week, and I made enough for a show.”
Reflective of the attitude of Gastman toward artists in the community, he told Martin that if he made enough of them, he could place them in this show. “I think he was happy to hear that I was in my studio working. He’s been very supportive of it.”
color-drenched graphic/photographic collage style is featured with plenty of
space in large frames from Chicago’s Pose, who says he is letting photography
and geometry lead him away from his previous pop collage style that may have reminded
many of Lichtenstein. His inspiration here comes from his research into early
photos of graffiti writers running from police “I was
obsessed with John Naars photos and I have usually Norman Mailer as in
inspiration. Some of these photo references are from the Philadelphia Inquirer,” he says.
New York’s Eric Haze also dares himself to take a new direction with three canvasses featuring a refracted piecing-together of imagery and memories of this city in monochrome. Based on black and white scenes of the city by photographer and NYC taxi driver Matt Weber, the scenes capture aspects that are culled from imagination and impression. The centerpiece canvas captures an iconic piece of the Williamsburg waterfront that has been removed in the last few years by developers; the signage of the old Domino Sugar factory by the Williamsburg Bridge.
Mr. Haze said he meant it as a gift and tribute to
his wife, actress and longtime resident of the neighborhood, Rosie Perez who
used to see it along Kent Avenue as a kid. “He’s not afraid to take risks. He’s not afraid to go in the
studio and express what’s inside of him. When he brought me to the studio, he
says, ‘I have a surprise for you’,” she remembers. “I saw the beginnings of the
Domino painting and I was stunned into silence and I got teary-eyed.”
An expanded version of the show that first mounted
in Los Angeles last year, the collection is focused a great deal on the
American history of graffiti with a balance of East/West coast graffiti history
– in a way that may remind you of 2011’s “Art in the Streets” at LA MoCA. That
makes sense, considering Gastman co-curated that show as well.
“It’s both a historical and current look at where
the culture went and where it started and how widespread it is,” says
co-curator Evan Pricco, who perhaps provides a lynchpin view toward the big
name Street Artists who continued to push expectations in the 2000’s on streets
and in commercial galleries around the world. “With the space spread over two
floors it has a way better curatorial sense. I also think it does compete with
museums because it shows that this kind of work is on the same level. You kind
of have to present it in a way that feels very institutional and archival.”
So is Beyond the Streets
a graffiti show or a Street Art show or a contemporary art show? For artist
Kenny Scharf, who first gained attention during the heyday of Downtown
Manhattan’s art scene that benefitted from an interlude where rents were dirt
cheap and Wall Street was on a cocaine high, there is no need to categorize
what kind of art this is.
“You know I never liked labels or titles anyway so
even back in the early 80s I was pegged like ‘oh you’re a graffiti artist,’” he
says. “People feel the need to title and label so I’ll
let them to continue to do that but I don’t fit into any of them and I don’t
want to. I want to fit into all of them and none of them.”
Streets opened June 21 and continues through the summer.
Martha Cooper’s work as exhibited at Beyond The Streets New York
Beyond The Streets NYC is now open in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the general public and will run until August 2019. Click HERE for schedules, tickets and details.
Prayers of supplication and longing, racing teams of stallions and master felines of fury, the exhausted figure of a dream barely still illuminated, a wistful stage in the plundered urban landscape, or a plundered life.
This is what she does to you. As Faith IXVII leaves her stolen stanza, her massive mural in washed hues, her tributes to a moment lost in a city that would leave you to die if it had its way, she makes you make poetry.
“Artists are driven to leave a mark, something that will tell their story, or the story of their time,” writes Jacqueline Flint when speaking of the South African artists installation work. Whether stories she has found, constructed, or caught in the ether as they drift by, Faith has left many tales for you to unpack in cities from Wuhan, China to Chinatown in New York City to Goa, India and Portland, Washington.
In EX ANIMO you can see where she’s been waving to you from, even as you passed by, or beneath.
Published by Drago and edited by Roger Gastman, the handsome volume captures the opus works and gallery installations and hidden gems on temporary construction walls and pillars holding the highway, all part of the modern vocabulary of Street Artists who weave themselves into the fabric of the megapolis. But there is much more if you care to see it.
“Anyone can make art in the streets but a rare few create socially impactful content, and there is no denying that Faith’s work has transformed perspectives among her global audience,” writes Kristin Farr in her essay, and it is true that the width of a mind and heart can be pushed a little further with these hard won truths.
“A language of empathy borne in a scream of rage, hurled like a Molotov cocktail but given the wings of metaphor and the grace of allegory,” writes Carlo McCormick in the introduction,”Faith’s work on the streets commands all the monumentality of public art yet whispers its deepest secrets in the hushed tones of prisoners and stowaways, travelers whose journeys demark the limits and possibilities of no where else to go.”
Whether it is the rhythm of the lunar cycle or the steady, now racing, beating of blood through hearts and lungs, its a meditative measure of Faith that appears on our streets pointing to our folly and our burning fire within. Often it is a poem that rises inside.
Faith XLVII. “EX ANIMO’ THE WORK OF FAITH FORTY SEVEN/ 2010-2018. Drago Publishing. Rome, Italy, 2018
Hiding right out in the open is the spiritual journey that is FAITH XLVII playing an opus interlude in sepia across the Artrium in Moscow, Russia this month – just after completing her installation of overlapping electronic ideas with Lyall Strong for Artmossphere 2018.
This ‘Sacred Feminine’ mural pulled the spirit to the surface in stellar fashion surrounded by the rotation of the moon. It was completed over the course of “an exhausting, unforgettable week”, she says, and thanks the team who made it happen, including @esha_ega, @tylerbmurphy @the_spirit_boy.
As an artist you can sometimes address, even resolve, emotional and intellectual conflicts with your creative practice, at least that it how it appears in this new “Unbound” campaign begun by Faith XLVII in San Francisco. A lifelong observer and analyst of socio-politico events and their greater implications, the South African graffiti/Street Artist tells us that today the state of many things cause her feelings of frustration.
Faith XLVII . Unbound. San Francisco, CA. July 2018. (photo courtesy of 2:32 AM Projects)
“Watching the disharmony, the dismantling of human rights and the continuous struggle for equality is exhausting,” she says.
“The only way I can keep going is if I can transform some of this into my work.”
Each flag here at the corner of Golden Gate Ave and Hyde Street in downtown San Francisco speaks to the root of many societal ills, a coded reference to a poem/manifest by Dion Fortune named “The Cosmic Doctrine.”
Faith XLVII . Unbound. San Francisco, CA. July 2018. (photo courtesy of 2:32 AM Projects)
Here in the heart of the Tenderloin district where the fallout of emotional and physical pain and abuse is played out on the streets openly by those seeking to dull the torment with drugs, the winsome and lithe artist talks about the power of the manifesto for her.
“It is not that I believe in an idealistic future, on the contrary I am at times overwhelmed with cynicism. But despite this, I do think that we have to push for the betterment of the future, for the sheer love of the planet and for each other.”
Faith XLVII . Unbound. San Francisco, CA. July 2018. (photo courtesy of 2:32 AM Projects)
And the flowing golden umber fabric at the tips of these poles? I spent time researching the symbolism of the white flag as well as the history of the Peace Manifesto,” she says, and talks about them taking many forms, “with voices spanning from the scientist who is protesting the use of the atom bomb, to Greenpeace and worker parties to Woman’s Rights associations.”
“The words speak of an existential search, for essentially, this is the root of our suffering and confusion.”
Avalon of the Heart
The Building of The Atom
The Beginnings of Consciousness
The Beginnings of Mind
The Creation of a Universe
Evolution Upon the Cosmic Planes
Influences Upon Humanity
The Natural Laws
The Law of Polarity
Influences Acting on Human Evolution
The Law of Action and Reaction
The Evolution of Form and Mind
The Evolution of Consciousness
The Evolution of a Solar System
Developing the Power to Communicate Thoughts
The Manifested Universe
Faith XLVII . Unbound. San Francisco, CA. July 2018. (photo courtesy of 2:32 AM Projects)
Faith XLVII . Unbound. San Francisco, CA. July 2018. (photo courtesy of 2:32 AM Projects)
Faith XLVII . Unbound. San Francisco, CA. July 2018. (photo courtesy of 2:32 AM Projects)
The “Unbound” Mural Project is for UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, California.
In advance of Moniker in Brooklyn this May, we are interviewing some of the artists who are influenced both by street practice and fine art as the contemporary urban art category continues to evolve. Today, BSA is talking to FaithLXVII.
A wistful interconnectedness is a common thread through the work of South African graffiti/Street Artist/muralist/fine artist Faith47, her calm monochromatic palette in service to eloquent expressions of internal, emotional and spiritual matters.
Painting and traveling around the world for two decades, her confident virtuosity is able to communicate with quiet strength, a subtlety not often found in the urban environment.
“Through her work, Faith47 attempts to disarm the strategies of global realpolitik, in order to advance the expression of personal truth,” says her current bio, and we spoke with her for a minute about her participation in Moniker.
BSA:How would you describe your work to someone who is seeing it for the first time? FaithXLVII: How can one explain in words a language that is not verbal?
BSA:What’s most important to you? FaithXLVII: These days what is most important to me is keeping a calm and centered state of mind.
BSA:Are graffiti and Street Art allowed to change, or should there be a strict definitions they adhere to?
FaithXLVII: One can’t stop the clouds from moving. Nothing is permanent. We all know that the essence/ethos of how things started is now watered down. Nevertheless there are things that have grown out of what was. That is what interests me, the progression and evolution of certain artists who expand and refine their practice over the years.
BSA: Name one artist whose work you admire today. FaithXLVII: Blu
Blek Le Rat arrived at the Urban Nation office today with his wife Sybille after a long car ride from Paris, ready for a coffee and possibly to take a look at the wall he’ll be painting here to celebrate “UNSTOPPABLE”, the inaugural exhibition of the UN museum this weekend. The wind taunted BustArt as he attempted to lay his irreverent stencil of Mother Mary coddling Pluto Jr. and the sliced cutout cardboard bent and bowed beyond an average person’s patience while his buddy Stephan helped hold it down for spraying.
Under the elevated train a legion of police and traffic cops removed 80 or so cars so the team could begin building stages, cages, platforms, lighting, electricity – for a slew of fresh outdoor pieces which will be installed Thursday and Friday for the weekend outside component.
Who is going to be on display as part of the Art Mile? Try Pixel Pancho, Franco JAZ Fasoli, Bordalo II, Mimi S., HowNosm, Zezao, Isaac Cordal, Olek, Seth Globepainter, Blek Le Rat, Hottea, Dot Dot Dot, Borondo, Herakut, Deih XLF, Faith 47, David De La Mano, Nespoon, Tank Patrol, Lister, Cranio, Sandra Chevrier, Aaron Woes M, Yok & Sheryo, Haroshi, Don John, Ben Frost, Various & Gould, Icy & Sot, Mademoiselle Maurice, the Juxtapoz newsstand, Mark Bode, Shepard Fairey, 1 Up, James Bullough, and 2501. It’s a real cross section of styles, influences, and voice that will be engaging guests this weekend.
The Berlin police actually use a truss and truck that picks up the offending car, puts it on a flatbed. Then, believe or not, they look for an empty parking spot in the neighborhood an place the car into the new place – also signs are posted to let you know where your car was re-located to.
In New York City if you are unfortunate enough to park your car in the wrong place it is simply towed away to a massive car yard somewhere, banging into things occasionally on the way and flying through potholes – and then held for a King’s ransom. Then you have to simply guess if it was towed or stolen. No word on what the London Police do in regards to cars parked illegally.
Up on a lift for painting today also were Mademoiselle Maurice, David De La Mano, and James Bullough, and the company plastering the corner façade of the museum with pink letters. When the winds got to strong everybody was forced to bring the lifts down for an hour. Intrepid and lucky photographers like Jaime Rojo and Nika Kramer still managed to go up in the buckets to get some good shots in.
Hot Tea is spraying a big installation space with a rainbow of colors – on the walls and floors completely. People who are peeking through the plastic sheeting that protects the windows are wondering what this world of color is going to be.
Meanwhile the onslaught of arrivals continues, including hopefully we’ll see Martha Cooper and Carlo McCormick. Martha of course will be here to celebrate the beginning of the Martha Cooper Library within the museum and Carlo will be here to see the didactics and texts he wrote for the exhibition and catalogue –as well as speaking at the Unlock Book Fair. This publishing fair for graffiti, street art and related practices is a must see for those who relish the independent thinking minds who publish on paper in this scene. Other great speakers featured will be Pedro Soares, Jens Besser, Susan Phillips, Thomas Chambers, and Javier Abarca.
Okay that’s your update for today. See you on the streets tomorrow.
Here is the first public look at the new print by Faith XLVII which she made especially to aid the programs in Haiti and Braddock, Pennsylvania for Heliotrope Prints. The limited run print will be released this week, April 6th at a pop up show opening in Manhattan and we hope you can come.
Faith XLVII 315 – 317 BC (image courtesy of the artist)
Street Artist Swoon asked BSA to curate this special Spring 2017 edition of prints and we chose Faith XLVII as one of six world renowned Street Artists whose work we admire greatly and whom we think you will appreciate as well.
A visual poet, painter and urban explorer, the South African now Los Angelino Faith XLVII has created classically inspired works on the walls of inspiring ruins for the last few years and her print is exactly one of those hallowed interventions from her time in Detroit last fall. With some similarities in social consciousness to Swoon and her practice, Faith often expresses through her work a deep connection to people, stories, and political/social issues that affect communities and cultures. Perhaps its why Faith didn’t hesitate for a second when we asked her if she would participate in this benefit for Heliotrope Foundation.
BSA:Can you tell us about the image you have chosen for this new release? FAITH XLVII: The painting is entitled “315 BC – 307 BC,” and it forms a part of the 7.83Hz series that is still ongoing. I’m interested in exploring the inner workings of my own psyche and the abandoned spaces, like this cathedral in Detroit, form perfect chambers for me to quietly explore notions of human connection, alienation, bare skin, the comfort of human touch in a brutal world.
BSA:Do you have a special connection with the people of Haiti or Swoon? FAITH XLVII: We were in Haiti during the hurricane last year, for a project with Artists for Peace and Justice.
The history of Haiti is shocking. It is a country that highlights the true brutal force of imperialism and the consequences thereof.
It is truly heartbreaking that we as a human race have not been able to create a new system that would allow for us all to peacefully and sustainably share in the abundant resources that this planet has to offer. We have the technology but not the wisdom to make this happen.
The fact that there are people living in sub-conditions on this planet while others live in excess, is shameful.
A great culture and strength of spirit prevails in the people of Haiti, i am sure. But i can’t express enough the frustration i felt when i learnt the history, echoing too loudly that of other countries who have been systematically pillaged and raped by foreign powers.
I admire that Swoon is doing her project there, these kind of interventions, when done in conjunction with local teams on the ground, can be very effective on a personal and collective basis.
BSA:How do you see the role of an artist in relation to addressing socio-political/humanitarian issues in the world? FAITH XLVII: In order for us to heal and to make better decisions, we need to open up more.
Creative thought can assist in this, so I guess all artists, musicians, writers, philosophers, dancers and filmmakers are naturally a part of this larger process. Whether their work is directly addressing socio-political issues or not, it is creating space for us to expand emotionally and intellectually.
We are honored that Faith XLVII agreed to participate in this show with us and pleased that she is part of this great effort.
Hello and happy Saturday to you! Hope you are finding time to relax and to do some laundry and maybe bake some cookies or go out and paint or see some art today. We’re starting the day with an egg and cheese on a roll and a large coffee from the local deli – and thinking about how lucky we are to be curating a small print show for Street Artist Swoon next week. We hope you will be able to come by and support her and her team, our team, your team – next week in NYC.
And what a strong show it is! We’re honored to present six world-renowned Street Artists who each have established clarion voices of their own in the last decade or so – on the street and in more formal settings, with inspiring, sometimes breathtaking work. Additionally we know that each one of these artists hasn’t forgotten why they started doing work on the street and each have a deep connection to helping others – which is the real way of keeping it real.
Starting Monday, one by one, we’ll reveal each of the the new prints from works by Case Maclaim, Li-Hill, Faith XLVII, Miss Van, Icy & Sot and Tavar Zawacki (aka Above) for this brand new edition of Heliotrope Prints. You will have the first look! In addition to the prints Caledonia Curry AKA Swoon will present a new series of her hand drawings from Haiti – a selection you will totally dig.
Have a good Saturday! Sending love from Brooklyn.
WHAT: Swoon x Heliotrope x BSA Pop-Up Opening Reception WHEN: Thursday, April 6 at 6 PM – 9 PM
WHERE: 88 1/2 7th Avenue, between 15th & 16th St., New York, NY
Heliotrope Prints Fundraiser Curated by Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo, Brooklyn StreetArt
Join us for the opening for our pop-up exhibit, featuring newly released sketches by Swoon Studio and limited edition prints by six world-renowned street artists:
Every Friday we invite you to stop by and take a look at new videos that have been submitted or recommended or we just tripped over in the alleyway.
We call it BSA Film Friday and it doesn’t exist only online these days – we take the show to lectures in classrooms and museums and festivals to show people what kind of dope, strange, illuminating, elevating, soaring, and pedestrian films are being made about artists working in the public sphere.
Today we’re giving you the BSA Top 15 Videos from 2016 – the ones that garnered the most traffic and conversation online. We are never quite sure what you will find interesting, so to see this collection of videos all together gives us a good idea that we have some of the smartest and savviest readers !
Included with each one is an excerpt of what we said for the original posting.
“Selina Miles has just directed an epic excursion through the pleasant looking Collingwood and Fitroy areas of Melbourne and the graffiti culture there. The prolific and talented writer Sofles rides and runs center screen on this guided tour of his aerosol stomping ground and this (nearly) one continuous shot drone film is a revelation. Again Miles pushes the documentation category forward, going beyond merely recording toward capturing, creating a sense of drama, certainly poetry.
Omar Musa grabs you with his words before you even know where you are and holds your heart tethered to a string and pulling you along these streets and alleys and back lots. Many times this piece is soaring in its singularity and its sense of collaboration.”
No. 14 Chump for Trump. Ron English x The Sutcliffes
“Seeing the new Ron English mural of Donald Trump in Bushwick, Brooklyn last week we were reminded of the video he released in April with a soundtrack by The Sutcliffes, a Beatles tribute band. It uses footage from Trump rallies and commercials interspersed with illustration and animation in an approachable folky way. Once you go down the rabbit hole of Trump satire and parody videos that have been made in the last year, you’ll find enough to begin a film festival.”
“Risk talks about his evolution from a kid in New Orleans sketching in his notebook at school to getting up with a crew in LA, painting all over public space and property to gain a higher profile and retain the thrill of hit-and-run, and some highlights of his professional career. In route from illegal to legal he developed a reverence for color, form, and technical experimentation and aspirations for museum quality work and large scale public sculpture. Just don’t tag his stuff please.”
“Some simple stencil activism well placed can be very effective. Vulgar, absurd, playful. Call it what you want, but Mathieu Roquigny is the first one we have seen do it. Do not view during your morning donut and coffee.”
“A gorgeously ambient tribute to New York through the eyes of a visitor who takes some alternate routes through the city along with the more obvious ones to capture vignettes of mundanity and of wonder. Rowan Pybus shoots this city poetry as a series of visual stanzas stacked unevenly, accompanied by the occasional Faith47 mural (she has accumulated a few in NYC now) as well as the wistful sound recordings of lemurs by Alexia Webster that melt into the gentle audio cacophony of the street as designed by Jonathan Arnold.
The combined passages allow you to slow down and contemplate the whirring city and a handful of its moments as sweet parenthesis in this run-on sentence called New York. Okay, that’s enough, move along now, no standing.”
“It is funny to see this video stamped with the name “Street Art, Utsira ” because Utsira is an island with about 200 inhabitants off the coast of Norway, and there not many streets. Also, this piece is not on a street.
Regardless, french roof painting couple Ella & Pitr made a trip there recently and squeezed in one of there cuddly characters, who looks like he is on the lamb from the huge childrens story book that he escaped from. Stay tuned for some exclusive shots and reportage on the making of this piece and their upcoming show at the local pub!”
“HERA + AKUT=HERAKUT – a back-to-basics introduction to Herakut today, since new fans are joining the fold and need to become acquainted with a duo that has been on the street around the world for years and has been moving into galleries for a while also.
Here at the white box Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles for their “Masters of Wrong” show it is a different view entirely from the street surely, including paintings evenly spaced across white walls as well as an area for a more immersive environment.
Outside, “The wolf that wins is the one you feed” is the Cherokee wisdom they paint on the side of the local high school, and in the commercialization of the Street Art world, we see this enmeshed dichotomy more daily.
Let the softly kinetic paddling of the marimba escort you through their political and social commentary, now more overt and obvious and satirical than ever, as they show you their new show and their new works for exhibition and for sale.”
“Directed by Julia Cave and originally shown on the BBC documentary series OMNIBUS in December of 1976, this was actually the second half of a program that followed a tour through the art gallery scene of Soho.
A hidden gem that surveys the variety of opinions held by citizens, historians, police and front stoop sociologists about the graffiti scene on trains and the streets, the story is measured and inquisitive. It’s without glamour, although there may be guile.”
“Graffiti writers and assorted urban artists have a romantic fixation with the steel monsters that snake through our cities and across the backyards and fields of entire countries. For the urban art culture subways and freights have distinct but overlapping associations with freedom, wanderlust, a daredevil mentality, … and Brazilian brothers Os Gemeos have just created their latest ode to the subway train in Milan – almost as big as any writer’s dream.”
Artist David Choe writes “This trip to Cambodia was not a news trip, we were there strictly to spread the message of love, light, beauty, joy, free expression and creativity. I didn’t realize how many millions of musicians, artists, writers and creative people had been murdered in the Cambodian genocide, so I wanted to bring the best artists in the world to Cambodia, a country that has virtually no murals or street art. Our goal, working through the #IglooHong Foundation, was simple: to spread some light, joy and beauty to a country with such a dark past.”
The Restoration of Blu for “Street Art Banksy & Co”
“Part II of a behind the scenes look by Good Guy Boris at the controversial show in Bologna that features art works by BLU and others that were originally not intended to appear in a museum, like most things in museums.
Here we learn about less sexy topics like copyright law and one lawyers interpretation of the realistic expectations of artists when painting illegally and legally as it applies to copyright in Italy and France. We also receive a quick education about traditional and modern techniques for the restoration of works for archival purposes, which is why people will be looking at these things long after you and we are gone.”
“On the occasion of his show last fall at New Image Art in Los Angeles, artist/street artist Anthony Lister had an emotional meltdown. Told with the help of top name graffiti writer RISK, gallery owner Marsea Goldberg, and the artist himself we learn about a tumultuous personal backstory that informs his experience while creating new works on the street and for the show. Especially rewarding in this new short directed by Mark Simpson is an unobtrusive examination of the artists gestural technique, a revelation in itself.
Additionally, the performance artist Ariel Brickman on stage at the show opening is the personification of Lister’s fantasic/heroic/treacherous figures; a spot-on example of his work come to life.”
Pixel Pancho: “Teseo e il Minotauro” in Rome
“In a city steeped in art history where every camera shot looks like a classic movie scene you have to be cognizant of the critical analysis that will be directed at your new mural from every Giovanni, Adriana, and Luca who are walking by or hanging out of the window.
These are the countrymen and women of Pixel Pancho so he takes it all into consideration and presents a classic of his own, merged with a steam-punked futurism of robots who are rather romantic in their own way.”
“Narcelio Grud has a track record of transforming public space in an unassuming manner that actually engages people directly. Here is his latest urban intervention – a music box for pedestrians to listen to while waiting for the light to change.”
“Murals have an entirely different function in the urban environment than Street Art and graffiti, although some folks use the terms interchangeably. One of the time-honored functions of a public mural in many cities has been the “memorial mural,” the one that recalls a person or people or a significant event that has impacted a neighborhood, even a nation. Because it is artwork mounted publicly, it can be used as a meeting point for people in a community to gather and talk about it, trading stories and impressions and gaining understanding. At its’ worst, a memorial mural can be superficial or overwrought, moralizing, even stunningly unartful.
Sometimes however, it can provide to a community a sense of pride or history, and it can be empowering. Other times there is a mental, emotional catharsis that takes place with the artwork providing a forum, a safe space to discuss the undiscussible in a public forum or simply to share in a common sense of loss, or experience some sense of healing.
‘It’s not mere decoration, but deals with ethics,’ says Giulio Vesprini as he paints this mural remembering Camp No.70 Monte Urano, a WWII prison camp a mile or two from the sea and Porto San Georgio, in Italy. ‘So it has been very important to me that I could give my contribution.’ “
We dedicate this compilation to the filmmakers who bring so much joy, knowledge and awareness with their artistry and technical wizardry every day and especially every Friday from BSA Film Friday to all of us here at BSA and to our readers. Cheers for a wonderful 2017…
An embarrassment of riches in so many ways, the Wynwood Street Art and mural scene is outrageously sexy, flashy, ugly, posey, pretty, proliferate and quizzically content-free. The annual outdoor urban art visual carnival that accompanies Art Basel in Miami is full of hi/low expectation and spectacle, and it confidently delivers on both.
Long-limbed and shimmery sleek women are often working the sidewalks like runways, the men are carefully posing/not posing/posing with open shirts and genial braggadocio, and there are thousands, more likely millions of selfies taken in front of painted walls.
International art fans are mixing with skater kids and hip hop heads and egg-headed social scientists and teenage marching bands and they are all gawking and interacting with loquacious mamacitas and bearded lumbersexuals; this is not your average clambake.
Sometimes it is just weird; flourescence mixed with plaid, shot-callers and violins, strollers and stillettos, an undertone of aggression and sexual tension, salt-of-the-earth with self-admiring clubbers, perfect skin and aerosol painted hands, a whiff of weed and a sense of wonder waiting to be discovered.
While there was a parade of 40 or so citizens and activists carrying signs and handing out flyers down the street to protest the oil pipelines taking sacred lands from native tribes and polluting natural water supplies, the thousands of art fans flooding the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami would have been hard pressed to find any Street Art talking about those topics.
Ironically the political shockwaves this year in Miami seemed to emanate from behind doors at the fair with Sam Durant’s “End White Supremacy” piece that many interpreted as a direct response to the election of a president whose followers include radical organizations that champion white supremacy. Alas, the piece was made in 2008, and although its hand-style emulates the hit and run scrawl of some graffiti on the street, it was a thoughtfully executed piece constructed as an illuminated sign.
With one very notable exception, the enormous and frightful mural featuring Donald Trump as Heath Ledger’s Joker wielding a knife at the neck of the Statue of Liberty with the screaming headline “Come On… What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?” by 12 artists for The Bushwick Collective/Mana Urban Arts Project, the professionalization of Street Artists and their murals may be steering the paintings in Wynwood away from in-your-face activism.
Granted, no one is thinking that commercially branded ventures that actually pay artists to paint will encourage the outright expression of social or political opinions – that may challenge or frighten potential customers and investors. Hotel lobbies need murals, sport cars need decorative painting, beer cans need labels. A number of liquor and lifestyle companies have invited artists here over the last few years and paid them to make their special events and products visually appealing, but little else.
The newly refurbished Hard Rock stadium a few miles north of Miami features huge mural installations by international Street Artists that are curated by Goldman Global Arts, a division of Goldman Properties, the same real estate organization that has brought artists from around the world to the Wynwood Walls compound and featured their fine art canvasses in gallery expositions since the late 2000s. The pieces are opus works in an unusual setting and now sports fans are going to be up close and personal with some of the bigger names in Street Art right now.
It would be hypocritical for anyone to expect that these artists should accept commercial work and yet disrespect guidelines about the content. Similarly, expecting artists not to seek commercial opportunities for fear of “selling out” is arrogant and unrealistic and often the convenient provenance of privileged youth who dabble in “slumming” as a rebellious lifestyle. Later they are bankers.
Even so, where’s the anger right now? Why didn’t you see a lot of furious diatribes, challenges to power, and mockery of small-minded thinking on the street in Wynwood – and what would it take for Street Art to embrace its power to affect social and political change?
Just posing the question here now, again – as the topics of impending fascism, the increasing acts of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, corruption, oligarchy, state-corporatism, and a systematic eroding of respect for our institutions – all came up in conversations at bars, art openings, panel discussions, and roof parties.
The murals you see here are often technically superb and their themes, while muted, may address some of the larger themes affecting society, but one wonders if there is an internalized censorship that we have accepted.
These images are admittedly of a modest percentage of the hundreds of legal murals and illegally dashed-off pieces we saw this week, but that’s only because we have edited for our individual aesthetics, not because of content. Also admittedly, as people in the arts, we are exhausted from the recent election and all it portends, and we were happy for some glorious eye candy to salve the psychic wounds – so maybe we were selectively seeing what we wanted to.
Probably not too much though.
For an art practice with some serious and proud roots in activism, the walls in Miami are curiously quiet. But they definitely look amazing.
Street Artists are participating in singular and group gallery shows, mural shows, special events, DJ parties, installations, dinners, openings, and the occasional garbage can fire with a plastic bag full of beers.
The crowds are going to start hitting these sidewalks and clogging the streets in the next day or two but until then, aaaaaahhh summer!