All posts tagged: Gawker Artists

Punk Populism, Collectivism, and a “Murder Lounge” at Fountain

Fountain New York 2010 Art Fair at Pier 66

These are not heady times, but neither are they maudlin. We’re just getting really focused on some things that are a bit more consequential.

logo_logo_round_normalIf the Whitney Biennial 2010 is taking hits for being restrained due to budgetary cuts and the Armory is criticized for being overblown, you could say the Fountain show is optimized for impact.  Now in it’s 4th year, there wasn’t any fatty hype that needed to be trimmed. With some of the machine-fog of a bubbled art market clearing, it’s not surprising that there are some strong voices here.

Fountain for me is a kind of raw, dense, and measured survey of the moment, and curator David Kesting steers this 10,000 sf. ship of serious mis-content with an uncanny skill for cutting out the flim-flam.  Herding cats can be easier than directing artists, and a fair number of these felines may border on feral, but the bow is pointed in a surprisingly assured direction. Because of it’s outsider billing you could expect anarchy here but in many ways this collection of 20 or so galleries, collectives, and projects can be rather unified.

And it couldn’t possibly be more thoughtful – Whether it is a Swoon benefit rep speaking earnestly about sustainable communities, La Familia’s co-founder Jennifer Garcia explaining their nearly 50-member collective’s contemplation of the definition of family, Gregg Haberny’s  hyper-wrought stabs at oil oligarchy and hypocrisy in general, street artist Zeus’ dripping corporate logos, or Dave Tree’s shovel-blunt criticisms of agribusiness’s seedless produce, you get the idea that somebody is actually studying the underbelly.  All this frankness is refreshingly hopeful and many pieces are downright fun.  But if these are the artists in the margins that portend our future, we may be heading for a cultural awakening and radical realignment of society.

Greg Haberny (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

The Guns & Roses album by this name came out the same year as the eco-disaster Exxon Valdez, according to artist Greg Haberny, who is showing for at least his second year here and is a favorite at Leo Kesting Gallery. (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Greg Haberny (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

An artist working in a schizophrenic style, Greg Haberny says, “If I’m off the hook emotionally and not at rest I let my body just go into it and I continue to work in that mode.” Does it feel dangerous? “Yeah, but I love it” (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

So THAT's how he gets so much energy! Greg Haberny's reworking of a logo reminds me of rollerskating at The Roxy! (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

So THAT’s how he gets so much energy! Greg Haberny’s reworking of a logo may remind SOME people of of rollerskating at The Roxy in the 1990’s.  (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Greg Haberny (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

” A lot of people come in and say, ‘Oh, it’s street art’ and I’m like ‘no, it isn’t.’ It basically camouflages itself as that. In actuality it is everything you’re not supposed to say.”  (A reworked and shotgunned Mobil sign by Greg Haberny) (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Swoon (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

New York street artist Swoon has a number of pieces in the booth that is raising money for Idea For the Here and Now, a group exhibition of limited edition prints to benefit Transformazium, an emerging collaborative arts center in Braddock, Pennsylvania. (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Swoon (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Swoon (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

We Are Familia (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Jennifer Garcia, co-founder of the project “We Are Familia”, “It is a collective of about 50 creative individuals from all disciplines. Our main project is this keepsake box project. Each box is made from recycled surplus materials and each is a collaboration of all of the members of the collective. Every keepsake box has completely unique contents and every form is completely unique and all are built a different way.” (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

(photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Jennifer thumbs through the contents of one of the Keepsakes, “The outside of this box was done by Fabian, Bedolla, and myself and then inside the box is 30-40 pieces of work.  It pretty amazing actually.  All the work is based on the concept of family.  Every person was allowed to interpret family however they wished, so there is just an enormous range of stuff in here; video, photography, print, zines, paintings, drawings, photographs.” (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Part of La Familia, street art duo Thundercut exhibits this 3-D woodcut shadowbox (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Part of la familia, the street art duo Thundercut is exhibiting this 3-D woodcut shadowbox (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Clowning by Miguel Paredes (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Clowning by Miguel Paredes, a Miami artist who is showcasing his “Los Niños” series, a collection in which he uses his children as the subjects in an array of startling yet beautiful paintings. The series depicts an unknown world of the 21st century shown through Paredes’ unique multi-media slant on the art world.  (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Miguel Paredes collab with 2ESAE and SKI from Destroy & Rebuild (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Miguel Paredes collaborated on a few pieces with New York based graffiti artists SKI & 2ESAE of Destroy & Rebuild (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Doug Groupp clowning around at the Open Ground booth (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Doug Groupp clowning around at the Open Ground booth  (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Emily Bicht uses cutouts and imagery of domesticity on this wall in the Open Ground collective's booth (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Emily Bicht uses cutouts and imagery of domesticity and luchadors on this wall in the Open Ground collective’s booth (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Subtexture (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Subtexture is the moniker of this artist in the “Murder Lounge” in the hull of the boat. “They were throwing away all these “sidewalk closed” old signs.  A few of them were really knarly, really chewed up. And I liked them. So I was developing this illustration style of projecting my photos and tracing them off, creating line drawings and bringing them into Illustrator and colorizing – I did a whole series like that.” (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Subtexture (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Sorry for the blurriness of this pic – “Xerox transfers – a whole series where I’ve been shooting shadows cast by street-signs. After the transfer I’ve been using steel wool and water just to distress them,” Subtexture (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Matthew Craven from the Nudashank Gallery booth (Baltimore) (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Matthew Craven from the Nudashank Gallery booth (Baltimore) (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Dave Tree (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Dave Tree did a number of pieces on shovels (and one wheelbarrow) called “The New American Dustbowl” series. “They are peasants from all around the world and the shovel is an international tool you’ll find everywhere. It’s not just about America, it’s about tampering with the whole process, genetic engineering, cross pollination, and seedless crops. I think that if we are going to survive we have to go back to a personal relationship with the land,” says the artist. (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Dave Tree (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

“Everybody should be growing food somehow.  When I grew up my mother always had a garden.  My grandmother was part Mi’kmaq Indian so I got an appreciation of that. When I was confirmed, she gave me a tree,” Dave Tree. (by the way, Dave Tree is his “rock name”, according to the artist.) (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)


Gawker Artists are showing this “Stripping Pen” painting by Steve Ellis, a portrait of downtown nightlife personality Amanda Lepore. (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

ZEVS (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Well known Parisian street artist ZEUS has two canvasses in his typical style of dripping. Habib Diab, of Galerie Zeitgeist explains that the process is called “Liquidating.” (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

ZEVs (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

Travelling around the world to malign corporate logos and messages, ZEUs refers to his work as “Visual Attacking”, and sometimes includes “Visual Kidnapping” (photo ©Steven P. Harrington)

The projects in Fountain New York 2010 include NYC based collective The Art Bazaar, Christina Ray – Swoon Benefit for the Braddock PA Studios, Leo Kesting Gallery from New York, Galerie Zeitgeist from Paris, the Brooklyn based project Open Ground, Baltimore based Nudashank Gallery, We-Are-Familia artists collective which will be displaying their keep-sake boxes with work from Whitney Biennale 2010 artist Rashaad Newsome, LA based website ArtSlant, Shelter Island Projects Boltax Gallery and Sara Nightingale Gallery, CREON gallery, UK based Holster Projects and artists installations by: Alison Berkoy, Miguel Parades, Seth Mathurin, Temporary States and Gawker Artists.

Fountain NY 2010
Pier 66 at 26th St in Hudson River Park NY, NY 10011

Telephone: 917.650.3760
Dates: March 4-7; 11am–7pm


Amanda Lepore “Cotton Candy”

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James, Karla and Billi Kid talk about Mom & Popism: Open to Public Saturday

James, Karla and Billi Kid talk about Mom & Popism: Open to Public Saturday

Manhattan is turning into a Mall. There I’ve said it.

In the 80’s when I first got to NYC my best friend guided me through the canyons of Manhattan lamenting the pace of change, the cultural cornerstones gone, the new soul-lessness that was going up in new buildings and neighborhoods. I said, “Get over it, are you kidding? This place is amazing!”

Making a call while Billi Kid looks on (photo Jaime Rojo)

Hi De Hi, Hi Di Ho! Making a call while Billi Kid looks on (photo Jaime Rojo)


Now the pace of “progress” that has turned every small and mid-sized city in America into an interchangeable power strip of Olive Gardens, Radio Shacks, and OfficeMaxes has gradually infiltrated the culturally vibrant and wacky island. But it isn’t only Manhattan, it’s true in almost every neighborhood in the city – In fact, the chains are shackling most of our culture to a homogenized dullness that preys on low-paid workers elsewhere and creates low-paid workers here.  How many Mom-and-Pop stores have been wiped out by the undercutting prices and special tax considerations that Big Box stores have?

Ask James and Karla Murray.

They started taking pictures of New York’s Mom-and-Pop stores a decade ago when they were out shooting graffiti. By definition, a Mom-and-Pop is a family-owned and usually family-run business with roots in it’s community, providing needed goods or services and jobs and wealth to it’s small ecosystem. The Murrays noticed that they were disappearing, rapidly.  It alarmed them and they published a book featuring those businesses call “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York”, featuring 250 images of these Mom and Pops.

Buildmore, Morgan Thomas, and Blanco (photo Jaime Rojo)

Buildmore, Morgan Thomas, and Blanco love pasta! (photo Jaime Rojo)


A new show, open to the public this Saturday, features images from that book blown up almost to their original size in a “streetscape” and installed on a gorgeous rooftop. The twist with this show of storefronts is it also includes the work of 28 artists all over it, thanks to the curating skills of Billi Kid, street artist and entrepreneur.  We went to the opening of the event (read here) and then we had the pleasure of interviewing the authors and the curator of the show to get more of the backstory:

Brooklyn Street Art: How did the opening party go?

Karla Murray: The opening party was a huge success. We have to thank Liz and Genevieve at Gawker Artists for helping launch such a great event as well as Billi Kid for planning and curating the event. We have never seen our Store Front photos so big before, let alone be decorated by many talented graffiti and street artists. Lots of media and artists were there to celebrate the unveiling of the exhibit. We also want to thank Bear Flag wines who donated the wine.

Ticky/Underwater Pirates, and Celso with guests (photo Jaime Rojo)

Ticky/Underwater Pirates, and Celso with guests (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you come up with this unusual idea and then convince Jim and Karla to help make it happen?

Billi Kid: Jim and Karla’s book had been sitting on my coffee table for quite a while and of course, triggered the original idea. MOM & POPism was my fourth collaboration with J&K, our second in which other artists work over their images, so it came down to a matter of trust and love for the concept. To be honest, they jumped right in. No arm twisting on my part. If anything, we three held our breath while waiting for Gawker Artists, who presented the exhibition, to decide whether they wanted to commit their time and resources to the event. Liz Dimmit, our champion and curator of Gawker Artists, fought our battle hard and flipped the POWERS THAT BE over to the dark side.

Royce Bannon monster takes a bite (photo Jaime Rojo)

Royce Bannon monster takes a bite (photo Jaime Rojo)

Birds on a ledge by Cern (photo Jaime Rojo)

Birds on a ledge by Cern (photo Jaime Rojo)

David Cooper and Ralph's (photo Jaime Rojo)

David Cooper and Ralph’s (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe the process and materials you used to print these large scale repicas of storefronts?

James Murray: The process began by Billi Kid selecting the photos from our “STORE FRONT” book that he thought would have enough “negative” space for artists to paint directly on top of the photo but still maintain the integrity of the store. After Billi Kid told us his initial selection of images, we worked with him making the final selection. We based this decision on the actual image size because we wanted to use photos that we knew would be able to be blown up to that large size and remain clear. We then gave all the image files to Billi Kid so that he could do the math on every one of them and figure out how large the image would print. He also figured out what spaces the artist would paint on and assigned every artist a particular area to paint on. Billi Kid then printed out our photos in segments of 4 feet wide by 9 feet high on matte photo paper rolls using his wide-format printer. If it wasn’t for Billi Kid owning such a large printer, this project would never have gotten off the ground because it would have been too expensive to print at a local lab.


Ideal Dinettes, in business from 1953-2008 Brooklyn, 2004, by James and Karla Murray from “STORE FRONT- The Disappearing Face of New York”


Brooklyn Street Art: Were you ever afraid it wasn’t going to work out?

Billi Kid: Only in so far as the weather was concerned. When we kicked off the planning phase of MOM & POPism, the last thing we figured was a rainy July/August season. Who knew? We had considered the tremendous amount of work involved in getting this to look just right. I mean, Liz Dimmit actually committed to building 9 walls on the roof of Gawker Media HQ so that we could cover them with James and Karla’s beautiful photography. On top of that, we had to figure out the blown-up dimensions of each image and how to layer them up as wallpaper slices. It was definitely touch and go for most of the process, but the stars finally aligned in our favor.

Lady Pink (photo Jaime Rojo)

Lady Pink (photo Jaime Rojo)


Brooklyn Street Art: Isn’t Billi Kid rude and difficult to work with?

Karla Murray: Billi Kid is one of the nicest and most generous guys as well as a talented artist. This is the 3rd time we have collaborated with him on an exhibition. The first was a graffiti/street art/photography hotel room installation at the Carlton Arms Hotel in Manhattan and the second was an exhibition called Underground/Overground at the Artbreak Gallery in Williamsburg. We also selected him to be part of an exhibition we are curating during Art Basel Miami called GRAFFITI GONE GLOBAL presented by SushiSamba Restaurants. His work, including the panel he painted as part of MOM and POPism, will be shipped down to Miami and included in the show that takes place from Dec 3-6, 2009.

Brooklyn Street Art: How important is community in a project like this?

Billi Kid: As curator, my first concern for MOM & POPism was to bridge the gap between graffiti/street art and how it is exhibited in a gallery environment. I wanted the public to experience it in it’s pure form, exactly how I see it when I walk the city streets. Secondly, I wanted to continue James and Karla’s “Store Front” conversation along with the sadness felt by all as we watch the disappearing face of New York along with the economic and artistic implications involved. And last, it was all about community. Bringing all of these talented artists to this roof was a dream come true. When working together, the community can go a lot further in spreading the love as far as I’m concerned.

Shiro and her buddy by her piece (photo Jaime Rojo)

Shiro and her buddy by her piece (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: What conversation do you hope to spark about the significance of these businesses, and their disappearance?

James Murray: We hope to open people’s eyes to the disappearance of these mom-and-pop businesses and encourage people to shop in them and support them. Since we began the project of documenting these stores over 10 years ago, over half of the images which appear in the book have now closed. With the economy doing poorly even more businesses are threatened. These mom-and-pop stores are what makes each neighborhood in the 5 boroughs unique. They are the backbone of the community and when they close a little piece of history is lost.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you think people are beginning to make the connection between corporate power, globalism, big box stores, and the killing off of Mom-and-Pop’s?

Karla Murray: We hope that people do make the connection between corporate power and big box retailers and the killing off of Mom-and-Pops. People often have the misconception that shopping at a big box is cheaper then going to a local store but it’s not true! Many store owners have told us that their prices are actually lower and the quality of their goods are better. These mom and pop store owners take pride in what they sell and stand behind their product whether its food or clothing or whatever. Many of these businesses have been handed down from generation to generation and the owners are proud to have their name attached to their store.

Brooklyn Street Art: Sometimes when you stretch your mind to combine art and artists in a new way, you can reach a new audience. Maybe you are letting more people know about these artists…
Billi Kid:
Whenever I have a willing ear, I’m always talking about preaching beyond the choir. The work deserves and demands a wider audience. It’s beautiful to see and read how people outside of the graffiti and street art world reacted to MOM & POPism. Hallelujah!

Zoltron took the signs to a new street (photo Jaime Rojo)

Zoltron took the signs to a new street (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Now that the family owned stores are gone, do you see any hopeful signs in the development of the cityscape?
James Murray:
Many family-owned businesses are still in existence so we remain hopeful that the cityscape will not change too drastically.

Infinity says he liked the garbage bags piled there

Infinity says he liked the garbage bags piled there because it looks more realistic (photo Jaime Rojo)


Brooklyn Street Art: What was the biggest surprise of the whole installation?
Karla Murray: The biggest surprise was all the rain we got while doing the installation. We knew going into this that the weather was not something we could control but we really were subjected to extremes. The boards were even blown over by a heavy wind/rain storm and had to be secured more tightly. When the artists were painting on the photos we had to erect “tents” out of tarps to keep them covered from the heavy rain storms. We even had to change the date of the opening party under threat of rain. Despite all this, everything worked out well and the photos and artwork held up remarkably well to the elements.

David Cooper signing a copy of Jim and Karla's book (photo Jaime Rojo) 

David Cooper signing a copy of Jim and Karla’s book (photo Jaime Rojo)


Brooklyn Street Art: Work and logistics aside, it looks like you had fun putting this one together!
Billi Kid:
OK, scratch everything I said so far! Hell yeah!!! It was all about having fun! Seeing how much pleasure each artist had working and looking over each other’s shoulder was my finest moment in bringing MOM & POPism to life. At the end of the day, we ALL have to enjoy what we do, because it shows.

Here’s a piece by videographer Greg DeLiso:

MOM & POPism include Blanco,  Buildmore, Cake,  Celso, Cern, Chris  (RWK), Crome, Cycle, David Cooper, Destroy & Rebuild, Enamel Kingdom, Goldenstash, Infinity, Kngee, Lady Pink, Matt Siren, Morgan Thomas, Peru Ana Ana Peru, Plasma Slugs, Royce  Bannon, Shai R. Dahan, Shiro, The Dude Company, Tikcy, Under Water Pirates, Veng (RWK), Zoltron and Billi Kid.

MOM & POPism will be open to public on Saturday, August 15th from noon to 4 p.m. Additional exhibition viewings are available by appointment throughout August.

MOM & POPism Public Viewing Invite.jpg

Previous projects that combined the talents of James and Karla and Billi:

An article James and Karla wrote about Billi in Peel Magazine

The room Billi did at Artbreak Hotel with James and Karla

Underground Overground with Billi, James and Karla and Cern

Great Photos at the opening of Mom&Popism from talented photographer Joe Russo at our friends Arrested Motion

See an exhibition of photos from the book at the Clic Gallery now through September 27, 2009

Billi Kid

James and Karla Murray

Gawker Artists

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