All posts tagged: ICA

Barry McGee Mid-Career at ICA in Boston

The mid-career survey of artist Barry McGee opened last week at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and the whole is in fact greater than the sum of its parts.

Looking at his productive timeline from the 80s as anti-establishment graffiti writer/tagger to art school student on residency to San Francisco “Mission School” originator to celebrated New York gallery star complete with large scale installations of dumpsters, vans and animatronic vandals, McGee has had quite a varied trajectory that will be difficult to summarize.

But as you simply look at the magnitude and variety of imperfect and quirky characters he presents throughout his career, it doesn’t surprise you when he ends this show with a community center. This is loner who continues to create community.

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You will want to see this show in its entirety if you are to glimpse just how wide McGee reaches for inclusiveness. Whether its the camaraderie of the love of the letterform, the 130 screen totem of graffiti culture video, the bulging and clustering of framed photos and hand drawings, or the bundle of clear glass bottles with portraits of street guys painted on them, each chapter can be seen as cobbling separate elements into a more clannish arrangement.

Like a living folk scrapbook, this non-digital one gathers the disparate relationships and experiences and emotions of a life into groupings, blending them with stories remembered, forgotten, imagined, fictional, funny, violent, and vocal – a rollicking life omni-bus that rolls onto its roof, laying still on the pavement, while you walk around and peer into the windows.

A look inside his jacket, with pockets for cans. Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

During his talk before the official opening of the show Friday night, McGee gave his own take on the view of this sequentially laid out show path, telling the audience that he enters the gallery and looks down at the floor as he walks through most of the rooms, as if to say the that some of the trip is too difficult or painful to encounter.  All the more interesting when he says the last room is his favorite. This is the one modeled on the concept of a community center and all its imperfect variety; a deliberately inclusive space with three vitrines reserved for local Boston artists to curate with ephemera about their lives intersecting with street culture. In fact, this is the room that feels more alive, less museum.

If you take your time through this survey, McGee introduces you to people along the road, along the rails, in boxcars, in gas stations, behind warehouses, under bridges, in delis, in ditches. In many ways, this is a story told by the street, captured by a pair of observing eyes. Look out for humor and humanity, augmented by rage and tomfoolery while peering into these stories . While the materials are multitudinous, it’s more than just miscellany and it’s made greater by way of the gathering.

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

An animatronic tagger mechanically vandalizing the gallery. Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This interior room contains works by Margaret Kilgallen at the Barry McGee mid-career survey at ICA, Boston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee AKA Amaze and crew with a tribute to Oker behind Fenway Park in conjunction with his mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view until September 2. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Os Gêmeos and “The Giant of Boston”

The twins have left Boston, but not before they opened their first solo museum show in the U.S. and left behind a handful of public installations that have garnered major attention as people once again grapple with the concept of art in the streets. Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo have done large installations in large cities before, but few as visible and central to a city as their 70 x 70 foot mural on the side of a “Big Dig” ventilation building rising above the greenway with the shape of the character’s formed by the semi-circular façade.

Os Gemeos “The Giant of Boston” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, Boston. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Photographer and BSA contributor Geoff Hargadon says that the project received permission from a number of civic and private organizations before it could go up over ten days in July in this storied city that usually favors conservative historical themes in it’s public works. “Given the short amount of time organizers had to put the pieces together and get all the approvals,” says Hargadon while ticking off names of entities who green-lighted the project, “it was a small miracle it was able to get off the ground.”

Os Gemeos “The Giant of Boston” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, Boston. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

The internationally known Brazillian Street Artists had time to create a few pieces around town that reference their more graffiti-influenced roots, including one each on the side of a hotel, a pizza place, and a van. Not surprisingly it was the seven storey portrait of a seated barefoot boy rendered in signature Os Gêmeos yellow and wearing shrouded headgear that got the most attention on the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square. Its bright colors and patterned pajama-like garb have a cheerful childlike appeal to some picnickers, while other townies and Internet commenters see something less attractive, even sinister, depicted here where much of the Occupy Boston protests took place in the last year.

By the time “The Giant of Boston” had been discovered by equally yellow media types, the barefoot boy had been transformed into a danger in this birthplace of democracy and a small media-generated dust bowl was kicked up. “Looks like one of the Simpsons dressed like a terrorist,” said a clever commenter on a local TV affiliate’s Facebook page, one of over 200 who offered their considered opinions on the mural’s appearance.

Os Gemeos never miss an opportunity to collaborate on a van or truck when in the USA. This side of the van was with Graffiti Artist Lead. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

As with most knee-jerk assessments, this one could be tempered with a few minutes of Googling the work of the artists, which would reveal that this figure fits quite neatly into the dreamscape tableaux of oddly costumed and funnily proportioned figures whom the Twins have been painting for a few decades. But who knows, each of those little kooky figures could have been bombers and no one realized it until now. Without adding credibility to that line of unthinking, Hargadon remarks about these aerosol bomber brothers, “Maybe Os Gêmeos have inadvertently done us all a favor by helping us understand how some people have come to see the world during the past ten years. In any case, like all noteworthy art, it is not meant to please everybody.” If that’s the case, “The Giant of Boston” is noteworthy.

Of more important note is the solo show by Os Gêmeos that has opened concurrently at The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. Organized by Pedro Alonzo, who also curated the Swoon, Shepard Fairey, and Dr. Lakra shows for the ICA, it’s a somewhat intimate overview of their professional and personal journey as artists, peppered with a few surprises from inside the imagination of these in-the-moment creators who “depict their visions in surreal paintings, sculpture, and installations,” according to the shows official description. Reporting on the makeup of the pieces exhibited, Hargadon says, “Some of them are from the recent show at Prism LA, while others are older works. The VIP opening on Tuesday was packed, and was followed by a Brazilian themed party Friday night – which was sold out.”

Os Gemeos “The Giant of Boston” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, Boston. This side of the van was with Graffiti Artist Rize. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

If you get to Boston to see this show and this large mural, make time in your trip to see the brothers other works in less obvious locations to get a greater appreciation for their history growing up as teens in the mid 80s while pouring over books like “Subway Art” and seeing the hip-hop and graffiti scene from New York spreading around the globe. You’ll find a mural at the Revere Hotel on Stuart Street and a piece they did along with a handful of friends in Union Square in Somerville at Mama Gina’s Pizza. Among the other contributors to that piece were RIZE, Coyo, and Caleb Neelon.

Os Gemeos “The Giant of Boston” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, Boston. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos “The Giant of Boston” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, Boston. One of The Twins signing a memento for a fan. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos “The Giant of Boston” at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square, Boston. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos at the Revere Hotel on Stuart Street, Boston. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos with Rize, Coyo and Caleb Neelon at Mama Gina’s Pizza in Union Square, Somerville. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos with Rize, Coyo and Caleb Neelon at Mama Gina’s Pizza in Union Square, Somerville. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos Installation at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos Installation at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos Installation at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art. Detail. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Os Gemeos. General view of the Exhibition at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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The exhibit at the ICA will be up through Thanksgiving, 2012.  Click here for further information regarding this exhibition.

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“The Giant of Boston” mural at the Rose Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square  will be up for 18 months.

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Our special thanks to BSA contributor and photographer Geoff Hargadon for capturing these amazing images of the walls going up and for the coverage of the installations inside the museum.

See our interview in August 2010: Futura Talks: Completion of the “Kid” at PS11 with Os Gemeos

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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Fun Friday 08.03.12

Yo what’s up Neeeewwwww Yawwwwk! You mean aside from brand new work on the streets this week in NYC from Faith 47, DAL, ROA, and JR? Oh, nothing really, just a normal boring summer. Street fairs, skateboarding, popsicles, public drunkeness, and I think the Olympics are still running but apparently only Michael Phelps is in them this year according to the TV. Also, something about VISA I think. Anyway, here are some fun activities for your weekend!

1. OS Gemeos Solo at ICA Boston
2. Fairey / Hecox / Houser at Black Book (Denver, CO)
3. “Public Works” at LALA Gallery (LA)
4. Faring Purth at Anno Domini (San Jose, CA)
5. Brett Amory and Adam Caldwell “Dirty Laundry” at ThinkSpace (LA)
6. “Cause and Effect” Group Show (BK)
7. “Eye in the Sky” Group Show @ Stolen Space (London)
8. Summer Exhibition at Joshua Liner Gallery (Manhattan)
9. Snyder’s ART HUNT in Carlsbad, CA
10. “Dead Meat” Conor Harrington By The Baron (VIDEO)
11. Does Anyone Care About the Olympics (VIDEO)

OS Gemeos Solo at ICA Boston

The first USA solo exhibition of Os Gemeos enjoys it’s first opening weekend at ICA Boston and you can see the first piece before you even enter the museum because they have just completed a large outdoor piece on a ventilation building over the Big Dig. The Brazilian Twins began their artistic career since 1987 doing graffiti and and have been painting all manner of imaginative pieces and murals non-stop on the streets of the world ever since. Along the way they have garnered the respect of their peers and thousands of art fans across all continents.

Os Gemeos mural in progress in the Green Way in Boston (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

For further information regarding this exhibition click here.

Fairey / Hecox / Houser at Black Book (Denver, CO)

The Black Book Gallery in Denver, Colorado new Group Show includes Shepard Fairey, Even Hecox and Jim Houser and it opens today. The gallery is also organizing mural installations at the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Shepard Fairey in Miami (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

“Public Works” at LALA Gallery (LA)

“Public Works” is the title of the second show that is opening today at the still smelling-like-new LALA Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. Contributing artists include How & Nosm, Insa, Push, Revok, Risk, Ron English, Seen, Shepard Fairey, Trustocorp, WCA Crew, Uglar, and Zes.

How & Nosm in Miami (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Faring Purth at Anno Domini (San Jose, CA)

Portraitist Faring Purth spent a year or so traveling from city to city last year finding abandoned places to mount giant faces, full of character. “I will be sharing a body of work I’ve been preparing since my return from that insane journey last year and I will be taking over their entire space with pieces scaling from 10′ x 12′ to 3 “x 5”.

“This Snow Rising” opens at the Anno Domini Gallery San Jose today.

Faring Purth in Brooklyn (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Brett Amory and Adam Caldwell “Dirty Laundry” at ThinkSpace (LA)

“Amory and Caldwell each mobilize their unique representational strategies to invoke the modern day disconnect between time and space, self and other, and present and past,” which is exactly what I was gonna say.

“Dirty Laundry” features very cool work by Artists Brett Amory and Adam Caldwell’s opening Saturday at the ThinkSpace Gallery in Culver City, CA. Feel free to show up and air some of your own.

Brett Amory at the Studio (Photo courtesy of ThinkSpace © Shaun Roberts)

For further information regarding this show click here.

Also happening this weekend:

“Cause and Effect”, a group show curated by URNew York and Tone MST at a Greenpoint Pop Up in Brooklyn is now open to the general public. Click here for more details on this show.

In London at the Stolen Space Gallery the ATG Collective project “Eye in the Sky” is now open to the general public. Click here for more details on this show.

In Manhattan the Summer Exhibition at the Joshua Liner Gallery is now open to the general public. Click here for more details on this show.

Snyder has a solo show and a fun ART HUNT in Carlsbad, CA opening on Saturday. This event is all day or until supplies last. Click here for more details on this event.

“Dead Meat” Conor Harrington By The Baron (VIDEO)

 Does Anyone Care About the Olympics? (VIDEO)

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Os Gemeos Teaser Pic from Boston

In town for their opening at ICA Boston next week, Os Gemeos got this sweet gig in the center of town on the exterior of a ventilation building above the famed “Big Dig”. Up until the end of the show at the end of November or a little longer, the city has an uncommon opportunity to see the work of the twins and have a picnic. Photographer Geoff Hargadon has been there since the beginning and will be sharing his exclusive documentation of the installation with you on BSA next week. For now, here’s a teaser and if you are in Boston stop by to see the progress!

Os Gemeos in Boston (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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ICA Boston Presents: Os Gemeos First Solo US Exhibition (Boston, MA)

Os Gemeos

Os Gemeos in Miami, 2005. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

OS GEMEOS

August 1–November 25, 2012 
The ICA presents the first solo U.S. exhibition of Brazilian  artists Os Gemeos. The ICA exhibition will include a selection of the artists’ paintings and sculptures, as well as a public mural outside the museum

Organized by Pedro Alonzo, ICA Adjunct Curator

This August the ICA will present the first solo exhibition in the United States of works by the Brazilian brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. Best known as Os Gêmeos, the twins are a major force in graffiti and urban art. The twins have a deep bond; they are tireless collaborators and say that they often experience the same dreams. In an effort to share their dreams with the world, they depict their visions in surreal paintings, sculpture, and installations: human figures with removable faces, exploding bursts of color, and room-size heads installed with shanty interiors.

Os Gêmeos draw not only from dreams, but also from their surroundings, incorporating these elements to forge a unique visual style. Their narrative work is a visual synthesis of their everyday lives: the color and chaos of Brazil—particularly in their neighborhood in São Paulo, Cambuci—or yellow-skinned youth in red hoodies breaking into train yards and painting in subway tunnels. A common motif depicts several graffiti taggers garbed in brightly patterned clothes stacked atop one another to reach an impossibly high spot. In contrast to the more contemporary urban themes, rural Brazil has an equally significant presence in their work. Carnivals, music, and folk art fascinate the twins and inspire fantastical portraits of musicians and paintings of processions and festivals—all of which are based on their own photographs.

Os Gêmeos date their artistic beginnings to 1987 when hip-hop invaded Brazil. The music and images of youth dancing and painting graffiti, transmitted via photo books and films, left an indelible mark on the twins. But in the late 1980s, the lack of information about art and art-making materials—Brazilian spray paint was expensive and inferior in quality—forced the artists to improvise and create their own visual style. They began painting New York graffiti–style murals with house paint, brushes, and rollers instead of spray paint. In 1993 while in Brazil, Os Gêmeos met then emerging artist Barry McGee. He provided magazines, materials, and information and began to paint with the twins. McGee was making a living as an artist, a fact that inspired the twins to quit their banking jobs and focus entirely on working as artists. Today they are two of the most prominent figures in public art, having succeeded in creating large-scale murals and painting public transportation throughout Brazil.

To Os Gêmeos labels—as well as reality—are not important. They do not consider themselves street artists, they “just want to paint.” Their art in public spaces, which they refer to simply as graffiti, is a means to share their work with a broad audience. This exhibition will highlight the multiple influences and recurring visual themes found in the artists’ paintings and sculptures, and allow audiences an opportunity to experience their richly fantastical work. As part of the exhibition, the artists will visit Boston in August 2012 to paint a large-scale, site-specific mural.

The Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02210 General Information
617-478-3100
info@icaboston.org

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Boston Street Art, and Swoon’s “Anthropocene” at ICA

Her name is unpronounceable, so people just call her Mrs. Bennett. One of the last aboriginal people in Australia, she sits atop a rolling line of four-eyed Tibetan demons with human faces who are sucking species into their mouths on this wall installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA). Traditionally these demons would be protective, but “Swoon really sees these as a representation of humanity’s need to devour, and in excess, to destroy“ explains Pedro Alonzo, curator of the show, as he gives guests a tour of “Anthropocene”, the two part installation by the Brooklyn Street Artist. The shows’ name refers to the current era, and according to Wikipedia, “The Anthropocene is a recent and informal geologic chronological term that serves to mark the evidence and extent of human activities that have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.”

brooklyn-street-art-swoon-ICA-boston-jaime-rojo-09-11-web-8Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Part two of the installation at this modern museum overlooking the Boston waterfront is the mini temple suspended from the ceiling in the entry hall to the galleries, best viewed from the glass central elevator that carries you from floor to floor. With joints hand-tied in a manner Swoon learned from Chinese scaffolding architecture, the 400 pound structure is made of bamboo, copper, and multiples of hand cut paper animals, species endangered or soon to be in this era of human destruction on Earth. “She built the structure in four parts, we assembled it and installed it (over 6 days), and she draped it with these materials, ” said Alonzo.

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Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

During the installation the main hall was reserved for work tables and a temporary print shop, where many assistants spent hours hand cutting the animals and shapes that adorn the works and the parade that swings from the ceiling connecting the two areas. Seahorses, frogs, beetles, and butterfies all create the chain of life in this intuitive biologic story of connective species and collective endangerment. Disappearing before they can become fossils, the animal world is memorialized in this most ephemeral of materials, an exhibition that will similarly be destroyed when the wall is sanded and painted. In this impermanent way, it best mimics the installations Swoon does on the street.

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Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Then out to the streets of Boston we went, hitting a number of spots with the guidance of photographer, artist, and Street Art expert Geoff Hargadon, who began one of the city’s only organic walls for Street Art and graffiti art in 2007. A natural magnet for painters and wheat-pasters, the ever-changing dialogue of “The Wall” on display is periodically wiped clean for a new group installation. The outdoor gallery has provided an outlet for hundreds of local and visiting artists as well as a providing a backdrop to photo shoots, video, and television programs. On the day we were there, a dancer was set to perform her moves under bright lights in the alleyway. Below are images from that days tour.

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Swoon on the streets of Boston (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon on the streets of Boston (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Swoon on The Wall at Central Square in Cambridge (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Alphonse (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Darkcloud, Mise. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Obey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Stikman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Syms (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Brian Butler. The Upperhandart on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Darkcloud on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mancini and friends on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mark Carvalho on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mer One on The Wall at Central Square (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With special thanks to Swoon, Pedro Alonzo, the ICA, and sincere gratitude to Geoff Hargadon.

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The Institute Of Contemporary Art, Boston Presents: Swoon “Anthropocene Extinction” (Boston, Mass)

Swoon
Brooklyn-Street-Art-ICA-Website-Banner-Swoon-Sept-2011

brooklyn-street-art-swoon-geoff-hargadon-ica-boston-2-webSwoon at work installing  “Anthropocene Extinction”  (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

There’s a good chance you’ve encountered Swoon’s work before: her intricately cut, life-sized portraits have covered abandoned buildings and warehouses in cities around the world. Often found in beautiful states of decay, her wheat-pasted installations are populated by realistically rendered people going about everyday activities in a cityscape of her own invention.

In both her art and her own life, Swoon is deeply engaged with social and humanitarian projects. During the 2009 Venice Biennale, she and a crew of 30 other artists and friends sailed SWOON boats made of reclaimed materials through the canals of Venice—creating new purpose out of what was cast aside. Her latest endeavor, the Konbit Shelter Project, is a sustainable building project assisting Haitians who lost their homes in the devastating 2010 earthquake. Working alone or in collaboration, Swoon’s work is often about forming a community in order to practice what she refers to as a “real world” engagement.

For the ICA’s fifth installation of the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall, Swoon’s installation will extend from the elevator atrium to the lobby, soaring 40 feet up to the ceiling—the largest installation to occupy the Fineberg Art Wall. The work, titled Anthropocene Extinction, is composed of streams of intricately cut paper which connect key sculptural elements within the installation, including a 400-pound, suspended bamboo sculpture. The exhibition is accompanied by an ICA-produced video featuring installation footage and an interview with the artist.

To find out more about this exhibit, location, time, dates and directions visit ICA site at:

http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/upcoming-exhibitions/swoon/

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Peek at Swoon’s “Anthropocene Extinction” Opening at Boston’s ICA

brooklyn-street-art-swoon-geoff-hargadon-ica-boston-2-webSwoon (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Opening tonight at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, is an exhibition of new work by Brooklyn Street Artist SWOON, called Anthropocene Extinction.

“The title addresses humanity’s impact on the environment,” says Pedro Alonzo, the Adjunct Curator of the show and the guy who brought the very successful Street Art exhibition “Viva La Revolucion” to San Diego last year.

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Swoon (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Kind hearted and focused powerhouse SWOON continues her efforts to engage viewers at ICA with her hand cut wheat pasted installations of real people and mythical ones, symbolically telling a tale that brings responsibility for the environment directly to our feet. Wholistic in many respects, we find familiar recurring themes in the subject matter, the construction techniques, even the manner of fruition of the installations; The localized environment in which Swoon’s work evolves mirrors the collaborative vision and processes that will be necessary to address the very real issue of sustainability and disaster more populations are facing.

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Swoon (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

For the politically charged time we’re in, a show like this could open itself to charges of smug liberal self satisfaction if the artists’ body of work and projects to create shelter from the storm were not so consistent and authentic. A person entirely engaged in every process, Swoon facilitates others’ stories and incorporates them along with more material considerations, like the 400-pound bamboo temple structure hanging from the ceiling here that uses traditional Chinese construction methods the artist has been studying (It’s excellent when viewed while riding the elevator). Balancing the durability of reinforced joints with the fragility of cut paper species floating through air, the exhibit calls to mind the range of responses we will need to employ if the march toward planetary destruction is to reverse, and if SWOON’s characters are going to survive.

Our thanks to photographer and BSA contributor Geoff Hargadon, who has been documenting Swoon’s installation for the show and who shares images with you here.

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Swoon and assistant Alyssa Dennis work on a linocut print (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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An assistant helps Swoon with final touches on this wall. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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Swoon (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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Swoon (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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An assistant helps Swoon with this portion of the installation. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

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An assistant helps Swoon with final touches on this wall. (photo © Geoff Hargadon)

Support for the Swoon installation is provided by Fotene Demoulas and Tom Coté, Geoff Hargadon and Patricia La Valley, Tim Phillips, and Connie Coburn and James Houghton.

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Learn more about the exhibition Anthropocene Extinction at the ICA website HERE:

Read BSA’s interview with Pedro Alonzo here about his curatorial experiences on Viva La Revolución at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego last year.

Listen to an interview with Swoon and Pedro Alonzo on Boston’s WBUR.

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Following the Shepard to Boston

E Pluribus Amtrakem

Obey the Giant Fairey

Wait, that doesn’t sound right. He isn’t exactly giant, like the 7’4″ 520lb Andre the Giant, but Shepard Fairey cuts a pretty impressive figure at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) on the gorgeous Boston waterfront.  Open till the end of the summer, the show takes almost the entire 4th floor of the museum with signature graphics and politics by the most popular name in street art at the moment (at least on this side of the Atlantic).  After this show, you’ll know why.

This used to be on the side of a wall in an abandoned lot in the neighborhood.  It wasn't framed though.
This image used to be on the side of a wall in an abandoned lot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It wasn’t in a frame however.

If you are still reading this, you are like me and don’t get invited to the opening of a paper bag and you probably already have read all about this show elsewhere since it opened in February anyway but, hey, it’s a mind-trip to leave the street art in Brooklyn to see the same art ensconced in a museum 5 hours away.  And Boston is really pretty and clean, and the waterfront and geese and tall ships were picturesque, so it’s not like you are suffering or anything.

Had to take a picture of this thug in front of the sticker covered paper boxes in the lobby - the only place I was allowed to shoot pics.

Had to take a picture of this thug in front of the sticker covered paper boxes in the lobby. Hope those hand signs don’t trigger an East Coast West Coast thug war or something.

After THIS show, if you don’t know what Shepard Fairey, the man and the artist are all about, you should continue the meds and stay away from operating heavy machinery because you get posters, prints, stencils, paintings, the actual cut-out stencils, stickers, videos, muddy sneakers, and a letter from a presidential candidate. You get to see all of his styles since ’89 throughout hundreds of pieces – the Russian propaganda style, the ornate Middle Eastern filigreed style, the layered collage style, the flat monochromatic music poster style.

And don’t forget the people; the rock icons like Joey Ramone, Debbie Harry, and David Bowie, and the depictions of Black Panthers, Chairman Mao, Stalin, Malcolm X and god knows who else. Oh that’s right, Obama.  The ever-debated part about this list of historical figures that Fairey has depicted in his art is that he doesn’t tell you how to think about them; they are seperated from context and judgement, and that p*sses a lot of people off.  Makes them nervous.  Since he’s a master of graphic design, I didn’t really care – the stuff looks cool and he keeps challenging himself as an artist and as a person.

When we got out of there I scoured the streets for some more home-grown street art, and found that it’s pretty squeaky clean in Boston, at least the area we were in. Of course there was the hullabaloo about Fairey himself putting up a bunch of pieces when he was there, but you might need a car and a map to the abandoned, run down, drug and sex-worker part of town to find it.  But here are a couple of pieces on the way back to the train.

TV Head!  Nice boats in the background.

TV Head! Nice boats in the background.

This N.R.A. girl has a ferverent prayer, but I can tell you right now what Yoko is going to say once she sees that gun.

This N.R.A. girl has a ferverent prayer, but I can tell you right now what Yoko is going to say once she sees that gun.

So, this show is curated by Pedro Alonzo and Emily Brouille and totally recommended and if you have a camera be super sly about it because the ever attentive and cute gallery guards will smack you in the head if they catch you taking pictures.  If it’s on the street, that’s a whole other bowl of spaghetti.

There are great pictures and observations at Fecal Face from Manuel Bello about the show too, so you can see more of the art.

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