After Covid kept us all away from this exhibition, BSA and Martha finally got a chance to see her retrospective in person, rather than through virtual 3-D tours or videos and photos. Here she is at a vitrine this morning for our first official tour together in person.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. How Art Saved Swoon’s Life 2. The Masters: Futura 2000
BSA Special Feature: How Art Saved Swoon’s Life / The C Files with Maria Brito
In 2011 we had a show in Los Angeles called “Street Art Saved My Life”. It sounded like some humorous hyperbole but in reality, it was a sentiment we had heard many times in graffiti as well – including from tough-guy and tough-girl types who have told us with tears in their eyes that graffiti saved their lives. So the transformative power of art is not merely anecdotal at this juncture, and we patiently await the fields of science embracing it as well.
Witnessing the evolution of Street Artist/fine artist Swoon has been moving, and she’s generously opened the trip to you over the last decade. Because of this bravery, her painful growth and their accompanying revelations have enabled others to examine their own path. Certainly, you can relate to her when she says she realized, “There was damage. It was psychological and emotional… and it could be healed.”
“The thing about art-making for me is that it’s kind of like
this pole that is in the center of your world and that the wind is blowing and
your feet are off the ground and you feel like you are getting sucked away, but
there is one thing that you can hold on to.”
Dude, whatever it takes for any of us to be healed, let it
The Masters: Futura 2000
Essentially a tour through Futura’s creative and personal life, here you can see the fluid linearity of the creative spirit as it’s channeled through art, music, fashion, branding, the street and merchandising. We’re just thankful he shares the ride and gives us insights and observations along the way with his disarming humor and canny pronouncements.
Gastman’s Massive Graffiti and Street Art Show Arrives at Epicenter.
“I’m really excited to bring this show to New York,” says curator, graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman, “because the city plays such a pivotal role in the origin and evolution of the culture. The iconic images of covered subway cars made graffiti famous worldwide.”
He’s talking of course about “Beyond The Streets” the hybrid exhibition that he mounted in LA last year featuring the work of 150 who have proved to be pivotal to the evolution of a fifty year global people’s art movement that includes graffiti, street art, and urban contemporary art. Filling over 100,000 square feet of new space in Brooklyn, this two-floor cross-section survey will feature artworks by many of the same vandals, graffiti writers, Street Artists, and art activists who hit NYC streets, created dialogue with passersby, and were sometimes chased by the authorities. To see them showcased here is to recognize that there is not just one route to take – in fact there are many.
“We have an incredible roster of artists for New York,” Gastman tells us, “and a brand new space in Williamsburg that has a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline as our backdrop.” Notably the lineup includes artists whose work BSA has documented on the streets in this very same neighborhood over the past two decades, including Shepard Fairey, Faile, Swoon, Bast, Invader, Aiko, and others. Ironically the appearance of free-range Street Art in the neighborhood has been seriously diminished since that time.
The exhibition is one more verification that a significant portion of the scene is being widely recognized for its cultural contribution and value in the contemporary art canon – a significantly fluid scene fueled by discontent and a desire to short-circuit the established routes to audience appreciation. Like large survey shows elsewhere, the takeaway is the significant impact street culture and its tangential subcultures continues to have on the culture at large.
Gastman says the New York version of “Beyond The Streets” will take an
additional interest at the role of music and art activism on the street, along
with immersive installations, a tattoo parlor, a special Beastie Boys
installation with artifacts and ephemera, a new 30th Anniversary
Shepard Fairey project “Facing The Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent,” and large
scale works by Gorilla Girls, Futura, Cleon Peterson, and Takashi
More news coming on programming and events, but the important opening date to know right now is June 21st.
“All in all, it will make for a really special show this Summer,” says Gastman.
BEYOND THE STREETS TEAM
Curator: Roger Gastman
Co-Curators: Sacha Jenkins SHR, Evan Pricco, David CHINO Villorente
A-ONE, AIKO, Al Diaz, Alexis Ross, Alicia McCarthy, André Saraiva, Barry McGee, BAST, Beastie Boys, Bert Krak, Bill Barminski, Bill Daniel, BLADE, Broken Fingaz, Buddy Esquire, buZ blurr, Carlos Mare, Carl Weston, Cey Adams, C.R. Stecyk III, Charlie Ahearn, Chaz Bojórquez, Claudia Gold, Cleon Peterson, COCO 144, Conor Harrington, Corita Kent, Craig Costello, CRASH, DABSMYLA, Dan Witz, Dash Snow, DAZE, DEFER, Dennis Hopper, Dondi White, Doze Green, EARSNOT, Estevan Oriol, Fab 5 Freddy, FAILE, Faith XLVII, Felipe Pantone, FREEDOM, FUTURA 2000, Gajin Fujita, Glen E. Friedman, Gordon Matta-Clark, Guerrilla Girls, HAZE, Henry Chalfant, Herb Migdoll, Husk Mit Navn, INVADER, Jane Dickson, Jason REVOK, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jenny Holzer, Jim Prigoff, John Ahearn, John Fekner, John Tsombikos, Joe Conzo, José Parlá, KATS, KC Ortiz, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Kilroy Was Here, LADY PINK, LAZAR, LEE Quiñones, Lisa Kahane, MADSAKI, Maripol, Mark Gonzales, Mark Mothersbaugh, Martha Cooper, Matt Weber, Maya Hayuk, Michael Lawrence, MIKE 171, MISS 17, Mister CARTOON, Nina Chanel Abney, NOC 167, Pat Riot, Patrick Martinez, Paul Insect, POSE, PRAY, Rammellzee, Randall Harrington, RETNA, Richard Colman, Richard Hambleton, RIME, RISK, Ron English, Ruby Neri, SABER, Sam Friedman, SANESMITH, Sayre Gomez, Shepard Fairey, SJK 171, SLICK, SNAKE 1, SNIPE1, STAY HIGH 149, Stephen Powers, SWOON, Takashi Murakami, TAKI 183, TATS CRU, TENGAone, Tim Conlon, Timothy Curtis, Todd James, Trash Records, UGA, VHILS, and ZESER
The show is developed in partnership with Adidas and Perrier. Additional support provided by Modernica, Montana Colors, NPR, NTWRK, Twenty Five Kent and WNYC.
One benefit of being ahead of your time is that you can paint your own rules, discover your own voice, set a standard. A drawback is that you may have to push forward on your own before you gain support for what you are pursuing. The key is to keep moving.
As Futura pulls fully into the frame of contemporary artist, its important for upcoming artists to remember that he had a long route – including being a bike messenger on Manhattan’s untamed streets to provide for his family – while he was waiting until the rest of the street and art world caught up with him. Now that Street Art has confirmed that his abstract explorations on subway trains were an early sign of what was coming, brands and gallerists and collectors often call. “Full Frame” helps appreciate the body of work he developed during that time.
Self named Futura 2000 when that sounded futuristic, Lenny Gurr
has done more painting on canvas than he realized since the early 80s and his
style has continued to evolve and clarify.
“Just for people to finally get a look at my work – I feel like a lot of what is being revealed hasn’t really been seen,” he tells us as he describes the nearly 300 page yellow tome “Full Frame,” published by Drago and organized by Magda Danysz. Among the richly illustrated pages, Danysz presents important benchmarks in Futura’s steadily growing career and personal life that bring the evolution closer to the reader.
In terms of the visual language in these sketches, diagrams and canvasses, there are a wealth of orbs and symbols and sprays and washes and stellar interstellar journeys that you have never seen before. Evolution appears to be natural for Futura, his pores and nerve endings collecting signals, firing synapses, pushing deep into imaginary worlds.
Influences run from expressionists, abstractionists, modernists, punks, the race to the moon and the moonage daydreams of city hippies everywhere. His recurring circle motifs are as much about his internal mind and world as they are about the cosmos.
A sense of balance in the chaos is always present, the palette choices impeccably on point, sharply sweet and frequently daring. Is this fantasy or diary? If Futura hasn’t flown to most of these places, it’s not because he hasn’t tried. But we’re treating these pages and frames of eye-popping other-worlds as evidence that he has.
“I think for the most part people appreciate survivors,” he is quoted in the book. Few survivors could be so freely percolating with ideas and graceful in their delivery.
A non-stop full-voiced welcome fills the air of this factory loft space with stories and smoke and sports talk radio as you ascend steps from the truck-traffic cacophony of cold and rain on this Bushwick thoroughfare. For the next hour and a half, you are warmly surrounded by clothes racks and boxes and spray cans and multi-faceted anecdotes and impressions and fragments of memories that get shaken and sprayed and circled back to.
Here is a fond remembrance of something his mom or dad said from his childhood, an adroitly drawn quip about a curious gallerist, an excited discovery of new Super 8 footage of a mission with famed NYC graffiti writer Dondi in Japan to promote Wild Style. Elsewhere he recounts a meeting with Joe Strummer in a New York studio to share and record his own penned rap lyrics with The Clash, a trip to Berlin in ’85 with Keith Haring, a recent conversation with MODE2 who lives there now, a description of his personal misgivings about wearing his US military uniform into town while stationed at Yakuska Naval Base as a 20 year old.
An omnivore of ideas and initiatives and world cities, his march as a creative force of nature only gathers speed as he nears 40 years since first emerging from graffiti writing as a studio artist.
“1980 was the breakout year for us because we were all beginning to surface,” he says of the number of events that occurred that year and brought graffiti and street culture to a larger, more mainstream audience, and hopefully, a collector base. That was the year of the “Times Square Show” by Colab that introduced art and performance from the “Downtown” and “Uptown” scenes. It was also the year that Stefan Eins’ Fashion Moda gallery in the South Bronx had its first exhibition of graffiti art – Graffiti Art Success for America (GAS) – curated by artist John Matos (aka Crash), the show included work by graffiti culture artists such as Futura, Lady Pink, John Fekner, Disco 107, Fab Five Freddie, Futura, Kel 139th, Lee, Mitch 77, Nac 143, Noc 167, Stan 153, Tom McCutcheon, and Zephyr.
“We were all willing to come above ground and investigate what was happening,” he says. “That was also the year I did the ‘Break Car’,” he says of the uniquely abstract whole graffiti car he painted that set him apart stylistically from the NYC graffiti writing pack and was captured famously by photographer Martha Cooper. That car and that style would proved to be the Cold War inspired rocketship that launched Futura 2000 into a forty year exploration of the Cosmos.
Fast forward to April 2018 in Lille, France, and Futura toils and emerges with a new body of work incorporating his long-held love for the interconnectedness of the galaxy, the stars, and the planet.
“I’ve been a child of the planet since I was a kid,” he says as he recalls the impact of the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens and how it tapped into his innate desire for exploration. “Every nation had a pavilion,” he says, and suddenly you see his collection of miniature architectural wonders from around the world, all grouped together for an idealized cityscape.
“I’ve got Berlin, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers, Roma, Peru (Easter Island), the Blue Mosque in Turkey, Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi,” he says. “I don’t have Taj Mahal, but I’ve been to it. I need that.”
“The 5 Elements” is the exhibition that opens this week at Urban Spree in Berlin and of course refers as well to the so-called “Five Elements of Hip-Hop”, of which graffiti is one. But he reserves this reference to a greater sweep, expressed in about an expansive show. “There’s a whole series on water, air, on fire,” he says, “It’s all at some point color coated for each element.” He also creates a series of circular canvasses hung in relation to each other to evoke the planetary system.
“I think they’re like 70 pieces, in terms of that I don’t think I’ve ever done anything this extensive,” he says.
But “The 5 Elements” is not a retrospective show, says Urban Spree founder and curator Pascal Feucher, who has been preparing the show with co-host Art Together. “On the contrary,” he writes, “Futura worked specifically on a large museum-style conceptual exhibition, tackling the ambitious theme of the Creation of the Universe, confronting himself to the cosmos, the planets, the infinitely small, the Big Bang and the fundamental elements, producing a corpus of works that becomes a path to the exploration of the universe as well as providing a backdoor into Futura’s internal galaxy.”
Coinciding with the show will be the release of a 128-page companion book titled “Futura, les 5 éléments” – certain to be sought after.
For the ever expansive graphic designer, clothing designer, wordsmith, musician, sneaker head, graffiti writer, abstract painter, photographer, the dots are all connected – and it always also connects to his roots.
“I like it when it’s a degree removed, yet connected – when you realize that the whole school – at least the whole New York City school, is vast,” he says. “It has touched a lot of people.”
Below are images of the 4 screen prints that will be released at the opening of “The 5 Elements”, based on the painting series “Pure”. Each 8-color screen print is hand-pulled by Dolly Demoratti (Mother Drucker/Urban Spree Studio), signed and numbered by Futura. The 50 x 50 cm prints are only sold as a limited edition of 100 sets.
Futura. Pure Earth. (photo courtesy of Urban Spree Gallery)
Futura. Pure Air. (photo courtesy of Urban Spree Gallery)
Futura. Pure Water. (photo courtesy of Urban Spree Gallery)
Futura. Pure Fire. (photo courtesy of Urban Spree Gallery)
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. DEOW1 in British Columbia : Maple Syrup 2. “From Street To Art” Exhibition in New York 3. Monkeybird and Said Dokins ‘Devenir animal’ (Becoming Animal) 4. Painted Oceans: Trailer
BSA Special Feature: DEOW1 : Maple Syrup
This is an energetic vacation video with DEOW travelling in British Colombia, hitting freights and underpasses and the occasional deep woods spot surrounded by complete natural beauty, dreaming of a girl in a headdress and weaving fat caps to the beats. The sound track by Canada’s Tribe Called Red adds a popping exhilarating native vibe via the dancefloor. DEOW definitely traveled a long way north, considering he likes to call himself the southernmost graffiti artist in the world, hailing from Invercargill in the South Island of New Zealand. The trip goes fast even though the video clocks in at over 6 minutes.
“From Street To Art” Exhibition in New York
In August of 2014 Simone Pallotta brought 10 Italian Street Artists to New York to have an exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York. Along with Chiara Mariani, who helped produce the show, Pallotta helped us to examine these artists on their own merits apart from the fact that they each work on the street. In the words of one of the participants, Hitnes, as he takes a break from a mural on a Bushwick roof, the variety of artists who are working on the street is not homogeneous at all. In fact, he says, “you would need a different word for every artist.”
Monkeybird and Said Dokins ‘Devenir animal’ (Becoming Animal)
From San Miguel De Allende, Mexico, this fresh new mural by the french Monkeybird and Mexican Said Dokins. It’s a strong collaboration in complimentary styles of ornate stenciling, tape masking, and caligraffitic brushwork – creating echoing waves around this trio of mandelas. The gold leaf sets it off!
An interesting project involving Shepard Fairey, Futura 2000, How & Nosm, The London Police, and Tristan Eaton out at sea, they’re raising money for it through Kickstarter for the next 30 days. Check out the big plan below.
Last night the graffiti and early Street Art history from New York’s 1970s and 80s was celebrated by the City of New York – at least in its museum. Criminals and outlaws then, art stars and legends today, many of the aerosol actors and their documentarians were on display and discussed over white wine under warm, forgiving, indirect lighting.
“City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti From the Martin Wong Collection” is an exhibition as well as a book released last fall written by Carlo McCormick and Sean Corcoran, with contributions by Lee Quinones, Sacha Jenkins and Christopher Daze Ellis, and all the aforementioned were in attendance. Also spotted were artists, photographers, curators, writers (both kinds), art dealers, historians, family, friends, peers and loyal fans – naturally most fell into a few of these categories at the same time.
“City as Canvas” is possible thanks to the foresight, eye, and wallet of collector Martin Wong, an openly gay Chinese-American artist transplanted to New York from San Francisco, which is remarkable not only because of the rampant homophobia and near hysterical AIDS phobia at the time he was collecting but because the graffiti / Street Art scene even today throws the term “fag” around pretty easily. A trained ceramacist and painter whose professional work has gained in recognition since his death of AIDS related complications in 1999, Wong is said to have met and befriended a great number of New York graffiti artists like Lady Pink, LEE, DAZE and Futura 2000, who were picking up art supplies where he worked at the Pearl Paint store – a four story holy place on Canal Street that thrived at that time.
The show contains black books full of tags and drawings as well as canvasses and mixed media Wong purchased, commissioned, and painted, including a portrait of graffiti artist Sharp wearing a respirator and standing before a canvas he’s working on entitled Sharp Paints a Picture (1997-98).
The mood at the museum was celebratory as guests looked at the 140+ works from Wong’s collection; a cross between an art opening and a graffiti trade show, with enthusiastic peers and fans waiting patiently to speak with, pose for pictures with, and gain autographs or tags in their black books from artists in attendance. The only officers that could be seen were holding back the line of guests to make sure there was no overcrowding of the exhibit.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: “Spray Masters” and “Tunnel Stories” Sunday in Brooklyn, Simon Silaidis Calligraphy-Graffiti “Skyfall”, Cern is becoming a Balloonatic, and Jim Vision and The Blue Walls of Buenos Aires.
BSA Special Feature:
“Spray Masters” and “Tunnel Stories”
Above is a still from the “Spray Masters” trailer, which features New York can wielders from the subway train era, Futura 2000, Lee, Lady Pink and Zephyr. Union Docs will be screening the documentary SprayMasters and the short film Tunnel Stories. It is a great opportunity to hang with some storytelling film people and the filmmakers Geoff Duncanson and Manfred Kirchheimer will be in attendance along with the series curator Reid Bingham (Cinebeasts) will be in attendance.
“Spray Masters” will be screening this Sunday at Union Docs. Click here for more information:
Simon Silaidis Calligraphy-Graffiti “Skyfall”
A stunning featurette that focuses on the gestural full-bodied application of the calligraphic graffiti work by Simon Silaidis to a large rooftop. There are a number of people today who have brought this sense of formal refinement to the hand of the graff oeuvre and it remains to be seen who takes the mantel since it keeps expanding. For sure, when you choose your winner, there will be someone to ink the award certificate.
Shot and directed by Alex Loannou, shout out for editing to Sectiongraphix.
Graffiti artist Cern ran with the YMI crew in the nineties and has evolved into a fantasy surrealist in recent years with large murals, signature birds, and idealized figures. Couple of years ago (or less) he told us that he was playing around with balloons as an experiment to augment his installations on walls. Uh-oh, looks like he’s fallen into a big balloon vortex and the fascination with balloons has, well, ballooned. In this new video we see how far he can take it, or rather how far balloons have take over Cern.
Props to Jeremy Rocklin for the camera and editing work.
We end this weeks selections with dubby meditations on Street Art by Jim Vision in Buenos Aires. Because sometimes a wall just needs a splash of blue. Or many splashes of blue. Also, barbecues, sunshine, families, babies, buses, horses, angels, and devils.
Maquis-art prépare sa 9ème vente aux enchères d’Art Urbain Contemporain
avec l’étude Cornette de Saint Cyr à Bruxelles le 27 mai 2013Fiers de leurs succès précédents, Maquis Art et Cornette de St Cyr s’associent à nouveau en 2013 et s’étendent à la Belgique. La vente aura lieu à Bruxelles le lundi 27 Mai 2013. La Belgique séduit de plus en plus de collectionneurs, et son régime favorable aux exilés fiscaux entraîne les marchands et les maisons de vente de l’Hexagone vers la capitale artistique qu’est Bruxelles. C’est le pari fou de les suivre qu’ont prit Maquis Art et Cornette de St Cyr.
Dondi, Rammellzee, Futura 2000, Zephyr, Lady Pink, Taki 183, Bill Blast, Blek le rat, DFace, Nick Walker, Bando, Speedy Graphito, Invader, Inti, Ronnie Cutrone, Fenx, L’atlas, Mist, Pro 176, Miss Tic.
As we start a new year, we say thank you for the last one.
And Thank You to the artists who shared their 11 Wishes for 2011 with Brooklyn Street Art; Conor Harrington, Eli Cook, Indigo, Gilf, Todd Mazer, Vasco Mucci, Kimberly Brooks, Rusty Rehl, Tip Toe, Samson, and Ludo. You each contributed a very cool gift to the BSA family, and we’re grateful.
We looked over the last year to take in all the great projects we were in and fascinating people we had the pleasure to work with. It was a helluva year, and please take a look at the highlights to get an idea what a rich cultural explosion we are all a part of at this moment.
The new year already has some amazing new opportunities to celebrate Street Art and artists. We are looking forward to meeting you and playing with you and working with you in 2011.
The Twins were hoisted into the air again today at PS11, where they are painting a huge kid mural as a gift to the neighborhood – and there were plenty of huge kids around today looking up at their work. While Futura’s son, a photographer and video guy himself, hung out below, his dad continued the collaboration in the bucket above. We got to talk with Gustavo on a break for a couple of minutes with one his heroes, Martha Cooper, in the school yard out back.
BSA:When did you arrive in New York? Gustavo: Here in New York, a week ago.
BSA:You are always traveling – When do you have time to go to Brazil and relax? Gustavo: We were in Brazil one month ago and we started traveling again and we have been traveling for about a month.
BSA:You came straight from San Diego and the “Viva La Revolucion” show? Gustavo: No, we went from San Diego to San Francisco, then here.
BSA: What is the thing you like the most about painting outside? Gustavo: The relationship between the art and the public. We like to do free paintings for the public.
BSA: What motivates you personally when you are painting and you see people are admiring …when you go home and go to sleep how do you feel about your work? Gustavo: We don’t know how to talk about this because we are very “inside” of our paintings. It is difficult for us to go outside and see what is happening. We don’t know, we are really really very inside of what we are painting. But we know that a lot of people are happy with the work we do. They like it. We know the people are feeling happy, like the neighbors here, they really love it.
They say, “Hey you guys have to paint the whole neighborhood, and make more pieces.” People like this. People are missing this. You know, New York back in the days was more colorful. Now everything is grey.
BSA:So is that why you paint so colorfully? Or is it because you are from Brazil? Gustavo: The cities have to be all colors. The whole city has to be in color. Everything, the streets, everything.
BSA:Do you feel very welcome in New York City? Gustavo: Oh yes, very welcome. There are some cities that are very special and New York is very special for us.
BSA:Do you consider yourselves cultural ambassadors from Brazil or do you see yourself more as “World” painters? Gustavo: We are just two guys, Brazilian brothers, artists that like to paint. People can say what they want. I don’t care. We always try to not just put our name, but Brazil’s name out there wherever we go to do something. Down there (Brazil) we also have some nice artists, not only us; People who are really good. And we also show respect because respect is the base of everything.
BSA:Can you talk about this piece with Futura? What is the relationship between all the flags and the kid?
Gustavo: It’s difficult to say because we are still in process, you know. We are still working. Maybe later we can explain it better.
BSA: So you are continuing to improvise on the piece even now? You do not have a set plan? Gustavo: The drawing yes, but the way we paint is all improvised.
BSA to Martha Cooper:How are you enjoying this experience? Martha Cooper: Oh I love it. I love to see them work you know. It’s my favorite thing. And they are so cute. They are the most adorable twins.
BSA:When did you meet them first?
Martha: You know I met them in Germany about 2004 at some Street Art event when Hip-Hop Filescame out. They were actually quite a bit younger then. See this shirt I’m wearing? Gustavo was wearing it in Miami last fall, I admired it and he gave it to me. This shirt is covered with their pieces and it was designed by one of their friends.