All posts tagged: Jim Prigoff

“Beyond The Streets” Opens in New York : Beyond Labels, With Roots

“Beyond The Streets” Opens in New York : Beyond Labels, With Roots

Look Who’s Back in the Neighborhood

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.

Faile. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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. 

Swoon. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Martha Cooper with BGirl Rockafelka. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Joe Conzo. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Scale, The History

Exhaustive, no. Exhausting, possibly. Pace yourself.

 “I 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 has come.”

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 special.”

Mike 171. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

“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.

Cornbread. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo). Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Lee Quinones. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“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.”

John and Charlie Ahearn. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

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

Dabsmyla. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Myla. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Shepard Fairey. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

Bill Barminski. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You’re 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.

John Fekner. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“These 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.

“It 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.

buZ blurr. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“They 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.”  

Tim Conlon. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When 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

Not content 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 street.

Graffiti 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”.

Kunle Martin AKA Earsnot. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“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.”

Kunle Martin. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A fluorescent 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.

Pose. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pose. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

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.

Haze. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.”

Rosie Perez. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Beyond Labels

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.

Kenny Scharf. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“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.”

Beyond the Streets opened June 21 and continues through the summer.

MADSAKI. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Blade and Doze Green. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Katsu. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Gajin Fujita. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Faith XLVII. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
John Ahearn. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jane Dickson. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dan Witz. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew…it’s always a good thing to have your friends near by when you need them the most… Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)ork. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Cleon Peterson. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Conor Harrington. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Felipe Pantone. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Beastie Boys. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Nekst . Risk. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Bast . Paul Insect. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Invader. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ron English. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Patrick Martinez. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Dust tagger. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Martha Cooper with Freedom. Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
What’s left and soon to be gone of the old Williamsburg’s waterfront right across from Beyond The Streets New York. June 2019. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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.

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“Beyond The Streets” Comes To Brooklyn in June

“Beyond The Streets” Comes To Brooklyn in June

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.”

Style Wars Car by NOC 167 with Door Open, Man Reading Newspaper, 96th Street Station, New York, NY, 1981. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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.

Guerrilla Girls at Abrons Art Center, New York, 2015. (photo © Andrew Hindrake)

“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.

Lil’ Crazy Legs during shoot for Wild Style, Riverside Park, NY, 1983. (photo © Martha Cooper)

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 Murakami. 

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

Producer: Ian Mazie & Pressure Point Creative


Tickets and hours of operation can be found at: BEYONDTHESTREETS.COM


FEATURED ARTISTS INCLUDE:

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.

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One Street Portrait a Day: Artist Mel Waters Celebrates Black History in San Francisco

One Street Portrait a Day: Artist Mel Waters Celebrates Black History in San Francisco

“There are some beautiful people out there that have left the world better off.  I’m glad I could share some of them over Black History Month, one portrait at a time,” says Mel Waters when talking about his piece-a-day project in San Francisco’s Mission District in February. Funded from his own pocket, the 34 year old artist devised the project for himself and executed it on city walls (and one delivery truck) to pay tribute to famous African Americans during Black History Month.

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Rosa Parks by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

“It struck me as a very interesting concept, particularly in an art culture that mostly lacks social content,” says graffiti and Street Art expert, photographer and famed historian Jim Prigoff, who first shared the story with us after he began spotting black and white aerosol portraits of folks like Rosa Parks, Amiri Baraka, and Gil Scott Heron popping up around town.

“Piquing my curiosity I found they were part of a series of 29 portraits painted one a day throughout the month, principally in the Mission District, but running from Chinatown on the north to the south. Given that Mel either walks or takes public transportation it became logistically challenging,” says Prigoff.

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Muhammad Ali by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

As he painted the portraits, Mr. Waters says his interest in these historical figures grew stronger and the project affected him in positive ways. “During the project, I did research nightly on who I was going to paint the next day. There are so many amazing stories and choosing who to paint was another challenge for me,” he says. “During my research I stumbled upon people I never heard of.  That was an amazing experience in itself for me.”

It is an unusual story, as Prigoff observes, because so much of graffiti has been traditionally about getting one’s name up and marking territory and a large number of the new Street Artists appear to avoid political or socially themed work today. “In the beginning of modern Graffiti it was tags, then letters and characters,” Prigoff explains. “As ‘pieces’ were developed, few raised social concerns as the focus was principally on the writer’s names with various embellishments.”

 

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Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

Waters says the act of painting daily, and painting quickly, has tightened his game and he also learned how to be more efficient with his time. “It was a real challenge from the start, not only to pay for it, but also to find the time to paint daily while keeping up with my other obligations and to find locations where I could paint,” he says.

“I learned how to paint faster and I developed some new techniques. For example, I would roll out the face with bucket paint so I didn’t have to spend much time filling the face in with spray cans.  Then I would just come in with the spray paint for shading… There was no time to create masterpieces, so I learned to let go of that need for perfection, too.”

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Josephine Baker by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

With figures as varied as statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass to singer Josephine Baker, poet Langston Hughes, and Major League Baseball player Larry Doby, Waters gives San Franciscans a taste of the vastness of African American contributions to history. Additionally he says he felt encouraged on his self-elected one man sojourn from people on the street who stopped by to talk with him while he was working.

“There were nice reactions from the communities I painted in and good feedback on social media.  I love celebrating my culture, which is African American and Filipino, through my art. I think it’s good to know about our past so we can use it to help us for the future.”

Mr. Prigoff tells us that he was elated to meet the artist in person and to get a tour of the paintings and to find a hopeful and positive project like this – especially in a Street Art scene that he has been documenting since its inception. “The use of public space to raise political awareness is meaningful to me and I hope it will be to others,” he says. “In this era of celebrated artists with major funding, Mel’s “street story” in creating a dynamic project is heartening and in the spirit of how this street art movement came to be.”

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W. E. B. Dubois by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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A collection of four important female figures: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Septima Poinsette Clark by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Frederick Douglass by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Marvin Gaye by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Nikki Giovanni by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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A partially buffed portrait of the 2nd Negro player in Major League Baseball, Larry Doby. Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Langston Hughes by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Emory Douglas by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Coretta Scott King by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Kendrick Lamar and Charles Mingus by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Art Shell by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Mario Woods by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Gil Scott Heron by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Dr. James E. West by Mel Waters. Black History Month 2016. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

 

Our very special thanks to James Prigoff for sharing his observations, insights, and photographs here for BSA readers.

 

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Jim Prigoff Writes: “SprayCan Art” and MEETING OF STYLES in San Francisco

Jim Prigoff Writes: “SprayCan Art” and MEETING OF STYLES in San Francisco

MEETING OF STYLES had a huge event celebrating the 28th anniversary of the seminal book Spraycan Art by Henry Chalfant and James Prigoff in September in San Francisco. Organized by the community organization Mission Art 415, a weekend long celebration took place in the Mission District that drew thousands of visitors and many artists and graffiti writers, and the two authors of the book. Included in the events was a lot of live painting, panels, black book sharing, autographing, sticker swapping and general re-connecting as old friends got together to talk about and discuss graffiti culture.

Today we are proud to present one of the book’s authors, Jim Prigoff as he gives BSA readers some insight into the events from his perspective as well as his analysis of the scene then and now.

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Henry Chalfant with Jim Prigoff with Lisa Brewer and Randolph Bowes, creators of Mission 415 (photo © Craig Potter)

……………………………

 ~ by Jim Prigoff  

The MEETING OF STYLES is an international concept whose main organization is based in Germany and their events are supported in cities and countries throughout the world including the Spraycan Art event that was held in San Francisco on the weekend of September 18-20 this year.

Hundreds of writers came, many from international countries like Mexico, France, the UAE (Dubai), Columbia, Costa Rica, Germany, and Guam. They painted long alleys in the Mission District including on Lilac, Osage, Cypress, Lucky, Orange, Horace and in the El Capitan parking lot. The event tied into the 28th Anniversary of Spraycan Art because it was the first book to show the emerging art form as it left the NYC subway tunnels and walls and traveled around the world. With over 200,000 copies sold over the years many writers have told Henry and I how the book changed their lives, and in some cases people have said that it even saved their lives.

 

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Dare from San Jose was at the launch of the book in 1987. He came back to support his friend being honored. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

Friday night there were awards and honors plus a panel discussion at the Mission Cultural Center as writers began to prep their walls and fill the air with the smell of spray paint. At the book signing, the graffiti writer Picasso came with a book he had signed in 1987 during the San Francisco introduction of the book. Carefully wrapped in a silk cloth, two new autographs were added.

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The original spray cans used were developed for painting small areas with a broad spray and writers would rack caps from oven cleaners and other spraycan household products and adapt them to develop a different paint flow; even developing their own techniques to alter the paint flow. The paint was highly pressurized. At the time paint manufacturers recognized and were delighted with the expansion of their market, but for many years they pretended that this new demand did not exist.

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Spraycan Art books ready to be signed by Jim and Henry. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Today many new brand names have entered the field with lower pressurized paint flow and specially developed paint content and are marketing directly to the writers. Caps of all varieties are marketed and sold and business is big.

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Deity (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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After 40 years in the streets of the world, how could I not reflect on what is taking place today as contrasted with the days when literally thousands of scrawling tags confronted me as I traveled through the streets of NYC hunting painted murals and community art. What a journey! Who could have conceived that a relatively small band of basically untrained, creative youth could be the start of a worldwide art form that became the most important art developed in the last 40 years? Greatly aided by the Internet, where posts of new creations can now be seen instantly, literally millions of practitioners have gravitated to the medium in every corner of the world.

There was no going back. The traditional name letters and characters have morphed over the years into a much broader concept labeled Street Art and also today is known as Urban Art as multi-story buildings are commissioned to be painted using expensive lift apparatus, writers travel the world and their canvases sell for major dollars at art auctions in Paris and beyond. A look at BSA is clear evidence how the imagery created by the spraycan has basically changed to a whole new image focus.

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Twick . ICP (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Like the small trickle of water that begins giant rivers like the Amazon, the Nile and the Ganges, this art form called Graffiti Art, Spraycan Art, Aerosol Art, Street Art or Urban Art, has emerged from its very humble beginnings to become a giant tide that I believe will continue to develop and change in the coming years.

Will there still be some traditional letters and characters created? Yes, but the vision and creativity of youth will be the driver of the future.

~Jim Prigoff

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Steel (Nekst RIP) (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Eon75 (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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LORDS . Anemal (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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El Diore (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Illegal Squad (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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ARM (photo © Jim Prigoff)


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Crayone, Eon 75, Deb, Jim Prigoff, Henry Chalfant, Mark Bode, and Cuba during a special panel discussion. (photo © Craig Potter)

 

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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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“West Side is the Best Side”, Vogue & BAM In Oakland

“West Side is the Best Side”, Vogue & BAM In Oakland

Today we have the honor of photographer, author and lecturer Mr. James Prigoff sharing with BSA readers his images and observations about a new 8,000 square foot mural that went up in Oakland last month paying tribute to graffiti’s love of locomotives, Oakland’s history as a port town and ship builder, and a line out of Tupac Shakur’s “California Love”.  A neighborhood project that aims to educate and beautify, two old school writers from The O named Vogue and BAM (Norman Chuck and Mike Tyau) gathered together some friends and interns to knock this mammoth one out. But enough from us, we’ll let Mr. Prigoff paint the scene for you.

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE (photo © Jim Prigoff)

By James Prigoff

I have been documenting Norman Vogue and Mike “BAM” Tyau’s Spraycan painting for thirty years. It was evident in the early days of West Coast “writing” that the two of them and their crews had very special talent.

Following their work over the years brought me to the Wrist Ship Supply building in West Oakland yesterday.

Modern Graffiti Art started on the East Coast with simple tags and evolved over the years until it became the most significant art form of the last forty years. In the evolution, part of the art form became Street Art and today is entitled Urban Art. The variety of imagery would fill endless books, light years away from what once were known as Graffiti Masterpieces.

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

The mural that these artists have created, “West Side is the Best Side”, is historically important for many reasons and I think it has an significant place among the art form’s historical images for these reasons;

  1.  It is technically very proficient as an example of how sophisticated the use of the spray can has become.

  2.  It pays tribute to a few of the most important writers to develop on the West Coast, particularly an iconic young R.I.P who wrote DREAM.

  3.  It is a classic in that it goes back to the roots of name writing and characters.

  4.  It celebrates the train writing that brightened the drab railroad cars and became a vehicle to send the “writer’s” name to distant cities.

Put it all together and they have created a very special piece of art, far more so than the average eye would perceive.

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

Sage coordinated the deal at first and got all the scissor/boom lifts for the artists to use and coordinated daily operations early on. Jase, King157, Sear & Done/TDK all painted their pieces within one day. Vogue painted his & Dream’s throwies all within one day also. The “Schmoe” piece was painted by Done on the caboose in memory of him since he passed away in a car accident back in July and he was a part of the TDK crew.

I’ve told Sage to help us file this at the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest train mural.

 
(Continued credits continue at the end of posting)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

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Vogue/Bam collaboration with help from Derp, Jase, King157, Goser, Sear & Done/TDK, Robz & Colour. West Oakland, CA. (photo © Jim Prigoff)

In addition to Bryan “DERP,” three other interns who worked on the mural include Thavin Rajanakhan, Thitiwat Phromratanapongse, and Dominic Cheng

“We would not have been able to complete the first half of this mural without these guys,” say Vogue and Bam, who wish to express their gratitude to everyone and especially to the interns.

 

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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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Apexer Photographed by Jim Prigoff

Apexer Photographed by Jim Prigoff

We’re counting down the last 12 days of 2012 with Street Art photos chosen by BSA readers. Each one was nominated because it has special meaning to a reader or is simply a great photograph from 2012 that they think is great. Our sincere thanks to everyone who shared their favorite images.

Our sixth entry comes from photographer, author, and lecturer James Prigoff, acclaimed for his extensive documenting of many aerosol art movements since he began shooting them worldwide in the 1960s. Not only do we dig his entry into our 12 Photos of ’12 because of it’s diverse, colorful, and celebratory nature, we’re honored because Jim doesn’t usually do this sort of thing.  “I have never sent a photo to any web site for publication and doubt that I will in the future. However, you fellows are doing such a diligent and excellent job in documenting the many forms of Graff and Street Art, that I decided to forward this very special piece of art,” he writes.

For his nomination, Prigoff chooses this 2012 piece by Apexer in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.  Some photographers may dive in for a detail shot of this vibrant work, but Jim says, “I believe in photographing the art in context to its location, not just a detail that could be anywhere. “

Our sincere thanks to him and and we wish a very Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating it today.

APEXER (APEX-RICARDO RICHEY) in San Francisco, CA (copyright ©2012  James Prigoff, Sacramento)

“Apex has been painting meticulously drawn, very colorful 3-D Images for a number of years. An early one appeared in my co-authored book ‘Walls of Heritage – Walls of Pride – History of African American murals’. His approach was quite different from the very early work of Daim and Ernie. Each year the work has shown increased sophistication. This image is by far the most unusual of his work thus far. It was exciting to discover it, ” says Prigoff.

 

To see a list of books authored by James Prigoff, click here.

 

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Check out the BSA Images of 2012 video here.

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