All posts tagged: John Fekner

BSA Images Of The Week: 09.10.23

BSA Images Of The Week: 09.10.23

Welcome to BSA Images of the Week!

This week we see a few new walls in New York mixed with images from Stavanger and Utsira, Norway that we caught a few weeks ago. Speaking of Stavanger, last night we had a Nuart reunion of sorts in New York as we saw the first solo exhibition of Norwegian Martin Whatson here at Harman Projects, and it was good to see the artist and many beautiful people from this scene that we love so much.

Here is our regular interview with the street: this week featuring 1Up Crew, Martin Whatson, Helen Bur, Carrie Reichardt, M-City, Ardif, XSM, JPO Art, the J0N, Never Satisfied, StayOne, SynSynerSynet, HOPES, SHIE, Ban Box, Dr. AW, John Fekner, and La Staa.

A tribute to Firefighter Robert W. McPadde who didn’t survive the 9/11 attacks in NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Perhaps inspired by Banksy’s kissing coppers of yesteryear. Dr. AW in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Helen Bur in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Never Satisfied (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Currently showing at a Manhattan gallery, Martin Whatson in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Artist unidentified in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ban Box (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The J0n in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
La Staa in Utsira, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Hopes, Shie, XSM, Toney, Roda and friends on this popular graffiti magnet wall in NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ardif in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ardif in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Posters calling out the people’s dire reliance on fossil fuels…and UFOS… (photo © Jaime Rojo)
M-City in Sandnes, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
JPO ART (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP CREW and John Fekner in Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
StayOne in Sandnes, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
SynSynerSynet in Sandnes, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The Weather Forecast Office in Utsira, Norway. Truthfully, it is as helpful as the weatherman on the 6 o’clock news sometimes. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 08.13.23 – Stavanger, Norway

BSA Images Of The Week: 08.13.23 – Stavanger, Norway

Welcome to BSA Images of the Week! This week we have a stunning array of street art pieces in Norway, from small detailed stencils to sweeping murals, figurative to conceptual to heroic. We’re in Stavanger for the Nice Surprise festival. Naturally, our own Jaime Rojo also had to strike a pose atop Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), which takes all the stamina and courage you can affjord. We are also seeing pieces and installations from previous Nuart festivals all over the place in Stavanger, many of which we’ve published previously but have not seen in person. Of course, not all of these shots are from Nuart and one is in Flekkefjord – a storied town that looks like it is frozen in time. And by frozen, we mean, well…

Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: 1UP Crew, John Fekner, HYURO, Add Fuel, EVOL, Snik, Jaune, JPS, Pøbel, Ammparito, Nuno Viegas, Vlady Art, Slava Ptrk, Toddel, Mendioh, and STRØK.

Snik. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Snik. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Snik. Nuart Festival 2019. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pøbel. Bryne, Norway (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Add Fuel. Nuart Festival 2016. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jaune. Nuart Festival 2016. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jaune. Nuart Festival 2016. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Evol. Nuart Festival 2011. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Beary funny. JPS. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
One of the original Dukes of Hazard, JPS. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
JPS. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
JPS. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Hyuro. Nuart Festival 2019. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Nuno Viegas. Nuart Festival 2019. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Nuno Viegas. Nuart Festival 2019. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew. Nuart Festival 2019. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Everyone’s favorite, by Toddel. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
STRØK. Nuart Festival 2014. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
STRØK. Nuart Festival 2014. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ampparito. Nuart Festival 2017. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
John Fekner. Nuart Festival 2017. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Slava Ptrk. Nuart Festival 2017. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Slava Ptrk. Nuart Festival 2017. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Mendioh. Flekkefjord, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Vlady. Nuart Festival 2018. Stavanger, Norway. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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Juneteenth 2023

Juneteenth 2023

Frequently one step ahead of broader cultural movement, conceptual street artist John Fekner concisely gets right to the point with this text piece on a brick wall called “Juneteenth”. It’s a relatively new sanctioned national celebration that only took about 130 years to be recognized.

John Fekner. Juneteenth. Welling Court Mural Project NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Marking the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced General Order No. 3, which proclaimed the freedom of enslaved people in Texas, the illustrative point of this story is that the announcement came two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Today we call it Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and acknowledging the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth serves as a reminder of the struggle for freedom, the resilience of African Americans, the legacy of slavery, of how far we need to go for equality, and how important it is to honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans and foster unity and cultural understanding.

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Photos Of BSA 2021: #2: New York is OK

Photos Of BSA 2021: #2: New York is OK

We’re celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of the next by thanking BSA Readers, Friends, and Family for your support in 2021. We have selected some of our favorite shots from the year by our Editor of Photography, Jaime Rojo, and are sharing a new one every day to celebrate all our good times together, our hope for the future, and our love for the street.


An earliest New York street artist – socio/political commentator, John Fekner has battled through many wars and storms in this city over the last four decades. Despite the hardships we’re enduring with Covid and economic near-collapse, we trust Fekner when he reassures us simply in his forthright unadorned stencil style.

New York is OK.

Then again, maybe the sentiment is less than a dazzling opinion of the city. Perhaps its a shrug of the shoulders and an underwhelming assessment of the city that sounds like it was sighed by a bored teenager. New York is OK.

John Fekner for Welling Court Mural Project NYC. Queens, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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Losing BLU in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Losing BLU in Ljubljana, Slovenia

The brilliant illustrator of fantasy and firey allegory, BLU, championed the cause of the Rog Factory squat in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2016 with a centrally framed handgun in pink and red. In that heated moment the community of artists and activists had fended off developers, construction thugs, and even some kind of fascists attacking them or trying to chase them from the property.

BLU-ROG. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)

“During the last weeks they have resisted a brutal eviction by the municipality and a neo-nazi-shit attack during the night,” BLU said at the time on his personal blog. The website site of the Rog collective claimed people in high places were involved. “We jointly defended our factory against the deceitful night attack of the mayor and his militia,” they say in a statement, “We held the occupation.”

The encroachment of private capital on community spaces often provokes a rallying cry of artists like BLU, a never-ending battle to preserve human-scale projects that are full of idiosyncrasy, warmth, and democratic ideals – they may say. “Autonomous spaces across Slovenia and Europe are being cleared at an alarming rate,” says the Rog site, “and in their place, there are polished facades that hide a lack of imagination.”

BLU-ROG. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)

The settlement at the former bicycle factory had been around for a decade and provided refuge and community to many, and the Italian artist lent his talents as a sign of forceful solidarity, with a gun comprised by, “such weapons as skateboards, tools, instruments, pens, brushes, bicycle tires,” said Arrested Motion when the piece first went up.

As with all graffiti/street art/murals, we accept the fact that part of their definition implies ephemerality – but nevertheless, city dwellers also do become attached to it sometimes. Over time an artists’ work on the street, even if originally done illegally, can implicate itself into our lives, becoming part of our daily experience of a city, effectively defining it in some way.

BLU. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)

That’s why the loss of this painting is worth noting – and why locals decided to let it go in style with a festive paint party. When gentrifiers floated the idea of preserving the work, BLU resisted vehemently, says photographer/ethnographer Martha Cooper, who documented the wall this summer. She tells us of a more jovial way concocted to bid “adijo” to BLU.

“So with Blu’s blessing,” she says, “some artists organized an effort to fire homemade bazooka paint guns to cover the mural. They had 7 guns and several hundred bullets filled with different colors of paint all greased up and ready to fire.” A splattered goodbye that again echoed the militancy that some feel about defending their squatter rights.

BLU-ROG. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)

The plan was abandoned finally however due to a strong presence of security – and possibly because using guns, however playfully, could be misinterpreted and end badly, but we are surmising. After all, BLU’s “gun” was full of creative ways to dismantle the patriarchy, including an ode to Woody Guthrie’s guitar, and later on Pete Seeger’s banjo; an admonition to use art powerfully in a battle for people.

“I have photos of the gun mural which is composed of peaceful ‘weapons,’” Martha tells us. “There is an inscription on the guitar which says, ‘This machine kills fascists.’”

BLU. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)

As the summer wound down, we heard from Sandi Abram, the Ljubljana Street Art Festival director. “The municipality has begun the demolition of the Rog Factory front facade, which means Blu’s mural will also be demolished probably by the end of the week.”

BLU-ROG. Ljubljana, Slovenia. August 7, 2021. (photo © Sandi Abram)

Luckily for all of us, documentarians like Ms. Cooper have preserved it beautifully for posterity.

BLU. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)
From John Fekner Instagram
BLU. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)
BLU. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)
Unidentified artist. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)
BLU-ROG. Ljubljana, Slovenia. (photo © Martha Cooper)




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Welling Court Mural Project NYC – 2021

Welling Court Mural Project NYC – 2021

The Pandemic is still raging. Sorry. But New York is OK.

John Fekner. That’s right… Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Meanwhile, artists are still getting up and we must continue living even if we have to take extra precautions and listen to the science and to those who care.

Dirty Bandits. That’s right too! Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This year’s Welling Court festival in Queens took place under the same health measures as last year. There wasn’t a big block party. The artists painted at their own pace and time sometimes only one alone at the compound – sometimes two at a time.

For the moment, the big gatherings and week-long shenanigans are gone due to Covid. Here are some selections of this year’s proposals and some from previous years that we missed either due to weather, traveling, or simply because those darn cars are always parked in front of the murals.

Crash & Joe Iurato. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Kimyon 333. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Danielle Mastrion. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Epic Uno & Col Wallnuts. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Too Fly. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jim Rizzi. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Daze. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Souls NYC. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Lexi Bella. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jeromy Velasco. 2019 Stonewall Commemoration. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
JCorp. 2019 Stonewall Commemoration. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Bella Phame. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jessie Novik. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Vudu Child. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Sinned & Ria. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Tats Crew. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Sash. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Jeff Henriquez & Dirt Cobain. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Queen Andrea. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Pinky Weber & NYC Hooker. Welling Court Mural Project NYC 2021. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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BSA Images Of The Week: 01.31.21

BSA Images Of The Week: 01.31.21

A few weeks ago we saw a populist uprising invade one of this culture’s most sacrosanct public institutions out of anger and disillusionment, among other factors; generally a repudiation of what was perceived as a corrupt cabal who ignores the will of the people. Within days the news was full of stories of the State tracking down and cracking down on the dangerous insurgents and tracing their words and actions. Alliances were suddenly severed, fingers were wildly pointed, threats were issued, straw men swiftly collapsed. An historic quake, the tremulous ground is still shifting.

This week we witnessed another social-media-fueled populist uprising that is shaking the opaquely vexing market of stock trading. Again we hear that this is an unwelcome ambush – one that is fanning the class rift between self-styled ivy-league “elites” and everyday workers (or out-of-workers) who radically barge into a space they are not welcomed in. With access to the wheel, seemingly moments later, Robin Hood puts on the brakes for traders, stemming a hemorrhage for the wealthy. Wall Street warriors are at once calling for regulations on an industry they have steadily de-regulated for decades. The financial and rhetorical upheavals apply great strain to the very foundations again. Everyone is incredulous.

We’re don’t intend to oversimplify here, but you have to admit there appear to be parallels in these stories.

In the end, we see the ripples through street art. Actually, sometimes we see the antecedents to events like these as well – but we may not recognize them as such until later. One cryptic prophet and cultural critic from the street art world, Don Leicht, passed away this week after a very trying illness. His original use of the digitalized Invader predates the high profile street artist of the same name; his comic/cutting assessments of modern hypocrisy echoed across walls of New York as early as the inception of the video game itself. A long time trusted friend and creative collaborator with street artist John Fekner, Leicht was quickly memorialized with this new installation on the street (below).

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UP Crew, Bastard Bot, Below Key, CRKSHNK, De Grupo, Don Leicht, Duke A. Barnstable, Ethan Minsker, Freedom, John Fekner, Maks Art World, Nick Walker, No Sleep, and Young Samo.

A tribute for artist Don Leicht, conceived by Adrian Wilson.
In a collaboration with John Fekner, Wilson used his original stencils. The project was coordinated by Wayne Rada and Ray Rosa at the L.I.S.A. Project in Manhattan.
John Fekner. In Memoriam. Don Leicht. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Reposted from John Fekner:

“Don Leicht (October 12th, 1946-January 22nd, 2021)Don was my fierce older Libra brother, colleague and collaborator throughout almost fifty years of friendship. Don was a passionate and devout painter who played by his own Bronx cool rules; whether as a teacher in the public school system in the South Bronx, or in his hand-written personal writings or hand-cut metal, plastic or cardboard sculptural works, all visually charged with a deep meaning and social purpose. His imagery could spark a laugh or a smile; but were intended to cause a reaction within a viewer’s heart, mind and soul.

Don was a steadfast bridge to carry me through my sometimes unwieldy behavior. He would provide answers with care, understanding and positivity; whether it was in person or through a 10-minute or hour phone call. Within our conversation (and with many of his friends), he would always repeat the message as to be sure that you ‘got the message’ and would act accordingly. Don always had a simple soothing solution: ‘Get one thing done by the end of the day.’

Don was preceded in death by his wife Annie; and he will be deeply missed by his two sons, Anthony and Nicky, who helped their father throughout his overwhelming health issues, especially in this past year.

Walk on dear friend. We celebrate your life work!”

Another street memorial to radio and television talk show host Larry King by Maks Art World. Larry King 1933 – 2021 “Those who have succeeded at anything and don’t mention luck are kidding themselves. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Freedom is back! Actually Freedom never left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Bernie and friends…(photo © Jaime Rojo)
Bastard Bot combines the death of rapper MF Doom, who fashioned myriad masks, with the Bernie Inauguration meme. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The Pandemic Twist! Bastard Bot (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Ethan Minsker (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Urban Russian Doll NYC (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Below Key (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Trump with a big black dot blotting his visage. McConnell peering out through the splatter to see a raging fire. Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
CRKSHNK (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Nick Walker (photo © Jaime Rojo)
No Sleep (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Young Samo (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1UP Crew (photo © Jaime Rojo)
We wish Duke A. Barnstable good luck with his New Year Resolutions… (photo © Jaime Rojo)
De Grupo likes Pele. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
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John Fekner: Working for “A Change” for Fifty Years

John Fekner: Working for “A Change” for Fifty Years

Street artist and conceptual artist John Fekner participated in student demonstrations and peaceful moratoriums in New York in the 1960s, with his first outdoor work completed in 1968. When younger generations of artists are feeling inflamed about this spring and summers’ demonstrations it is helpful to remember that artists of each generation have been a crucial part of many, if not most, movements of social and political change.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

With his new mini-retrospective in a space limited by Covid-19 considerations the exhibition is available to see only by appointment in Bayside, Queens, you can see that Fekner’s dedication to drawing our attention to our behaviors as citizens, cities, politicians, and corporations lies at the root of his advocacy.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Putting your mark on society is an ironic way of describing the literal act artists and vandals engage in when putting their work on the streets. While “getting up” for many is an act of self-promotion or marking of territory, Fekner has often used his spray paint and stencils to critique, to call-out the failure of societies to care or take responsibility for their actions or inactions, and may trigger you to bear witness.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Spraying “DECAY” on a rusting hunk of detritus breaks through the psychological defense systems you may array against “seeing” history and outcome. A blunt aesthetic written in a large format makes an impression – the simple act of tagging objects and surfaces of industrial and urban neglect is radical, a defiant gesture that calls the state and the citizen to account. By drawing attention, even cryptically, you may cause one to question – or even to regard these layers of debris as violence toward others, toward the natural world.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

For A CHANGE, the show takes his 1981 painting and applies it broadly to the running narrative throughout his work, as a proponent of self-reflection and advocate of positive change.

“The economic imbalance, the energy crisis, health insurance, pollution, and global warming increase exponentially every day,” Fekner says in an overview of the exhibition, “all compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our issues boil below the surface, making it convenient to turn a blind eye.”

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Meticulously curated, the exhibition is showcasing a selection of Fekner’s paintings, mixed media sculpture, and ephemera as well as a “sampling of art objects, photographs, books, and a glimpse into Fekner’s personal archive spanning a fifty-year timeline,” viewers can get a broader overview of the artists’ sincere belief that his art in the streets has the power to affect the world. “Although some of the work is decades old, their relevance resonates today, maybe with even greater urgency,” says his description.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA had the opportunity to ask Mr. Fekner about his work and worldview as we appear at a nexus of profound change.


Brooklyn Street Art: Looking back on the issues you contemplated fifty years ago, we can’t deny that things have indeed changed – but we are also discovering that things really didn’t change, especially when it pertains to race and poverty. How do you, as an artist confront this reality? Are you despondent? 

John Fekner: The greatest ferment of change, I believe, is the risks that people are willing to take in the face of tremendous setbacks. This has been true throughout history whether it’s the storming of the Bastille to the toppling of Confederate monuments. I’m heartened by the courage I see today and despondent art doesn’t help.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA: What do you think about the concept of “voluntary human extinction”. Is it possible to just simply stop making more humans to save the earth?

John Fekner: I believe that optimism and the survival of the human race are hard-wired into our nature.

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA: Rich countries are on a heavy diet of “consumerism” fueled by the endless appetite of tech giants for quarterly profits to appease shareholders. People spend money they don’t have. Most people don’t have savings and live paycheck to paycheck. What went wrong?  

John Fekner: This is nothing new. The exploitation of the poor by the rich is the perennial struggle of humanity and will probably always be. There is no reason to stop fighting. We should never lose our courage and vigilance.

BSA: On Wednesday the CEO’s of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will testify before Congress. If you were the one asking the questions what would you ask them?  

John Fekner: The greatest safeguard of capitalism in our country has always been the resistance to monopolies. My question would be: ‘What are you going to do to insure that your companies don’t monopolize and dominate every market?’

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

BSA: Can we still have hope? Is there still time to change course to save our communities?

John Fekner: If I didn’t have hope, I would stop making art.


Mr. Fekner asks us to “remind everyone they have to REGISTER in order to VOTE. Do It. Make A Change.”

  https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote   https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

John Fekner. A CHANGE (photo © Icy & Sot)

Due to the pandemic, both the exhibition and talk will be by appointment only. Please email contact@garageartcenter.org to schedule.

The Garage Art Center, Inc.
26-01 Corporal Kennedy Street Bayside, NY 11360


Gallery Hours
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm
(Opens during the exhibition only.)

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John Fekner (with Don Leicht and Brian Albert) “Hymn 2020” / Welling Court Mural Project NYC

John Fekner (with Don Leicht and Brian Albert) “Hymn 2020” / Welling Court Mural Project NYC

A recent street stencil work by John Fekner, Don Leicht, and Brian Albert is a reprise, a sad reminder that the legacy of racism in the country has been with us for what seems like forever. During another chapter of Fekner’s creative life on New York streets he sang a visual HYMN to the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in the wake of the murderous brutality of white New York teens in Queens. Now thirty three years later the viciousness of police violence against black citizens on display can make you think nothing has changed fundamentally, even though we know it has.

We asked the artist how this HYMN at the Welling Court Mural Project this summer is a counterpart to the HYMN project more than three decades ago – a collaboration by John Fekner and Brian Albert.

John Fekner and Brian Albert. Hymn. Queens, New York. 1987. (photo courtesy of John Fekner)

HYMN  was a collaboration by John Fekner and Brian Albert. The project constructed on an embankment overlooking the Grand Central Parkway in Queens was intended as a call for peace, an immediate response to the growing racial tensions over the death of a young black man in New York City. A gang of white youths in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens brutally beat three black men whose car had broke down in the neighborhood, chasing one of the three, 23-year-old Michael Griffith from Bedford-Stuyvesant, to his death when he was hit by a car crossing the Shore Parkway on December 20th, 1986.

The piece consisted of a tombstone-shaped concrete electrical power box painted black with the word “HYMN” stenciled in 12-inch high white letters. Flush with the ground, in front of the ‘tombstone’ was a translucent 40” x 50” photographic print portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., illuminated from a light source in the ground. The electricity necessary for the underground lighting was tapped from a streetlamp, which switched on at sunset.

Hymn was installed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 19th, 1987. Passing motorists could see the work both during the daytime and at night when it transformed into a subtle glowing image of harmony and peace. The illegally sited work remained for a few weeks and was eventually removed from the parkway embankment.”

John Fekner, Don Leicht, and Brian Albert. Hymn. Welling Court Mural Project NYC. Queens, NYC. June 2020. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

John Fekner (with Don Leicht and Brian Albert) Hymn 2020 (Rest In Power) (above) is intended to be a solemn reflective message to show empathy and compassion to the local community and beyond, during this time of protest, police reform and positive change.


(Installation by Dante, Roman & Dave Santaniello at Welling Court Mural Project NYC)

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John Fekner Exchanges “MEMORY” with Brad Downey / Dispatch From Isolation # 43

John Fekner Exchanges “MEMORY” with Brad Downey / Dispatch From Isolation # 43

As you watch and wait to see the festering uprisings of workers and the growing crowds of poor and hungry in the US, we take you back to Friday, which was Labor Day in Europe. It was also the release date for this curious and interesting project by the artist and people’s advocate, the New Yorker John Fekner.

John Fekner “Memory” (photo courtesy Bien Urbain)

This unique collection of objects and images and textures called MEMORY is a publication linked by projects that are strung together in a constellation across five decades, a few continents, and pivotal moments that reflect the themes in this New York artists’ activism on the street and through various public interventions. A true innovator, trouble maker, and activator of moribund spaces, its Fekner’s cryptic pronouncements that can read as final judgements and humorous summaries.

“This publication gathers 6 objects edited by projects : a parcel memory from the artist’s archives,” says the description of this limited edition. “It is the result of exchanges between the artists John Fekner and Brad Downey, the artistic director of the Bien Urbain festival David Demougeot and the graphic designers Laura Bouchez and Bart Lanzini.”

John Fekner (photo courtesy Bien Urbain)

It all seems so current, of this moment: with references to broken promises, saving schools, worker’s movements, the remains of industry, government abandonment, citizen participation, engaging memory, beseeching the power of poetry. It’s all of one cloth, and all a wistful piece of our collective memory – now brought to life again.

John Fekner “Memory” (photo courtesy Bien Urbain)

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR EDITION OF “MEMORY”

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2010-2020 : 10 Impactful Street Art & Graffiti Interventions & Events of the Decade

2010-2020 : 10 Impactful Street Art & Graffiti Interventions & Events of the Decade

BSA has been here with you for this entire decade – an honor and a privilege. Reviewing the many interventions and events we witnessed and shared with our readers, we realize that this grassroots people’s art movement is reflecting our society in fundamental ways and reaching deep as well as wide. Here in roughly chronological order we recount for you a Top 10 for BSA that have impacted our way of seeing art on the streets.


1.

The “Girl In The Blue Bra” – December 2011

Oppressive regimes worldwide have a few commonalities. One of them is patriarchy. Over the last decade we have seen many female artists rise powerfully to smash it, harnessing their rage and power and taking their voice to the street.

There were countless images that encapsulated the ferocity and the tenacity of the protesters during the Arab Spring uprisings in Cairo, Egypt in December of 2011. One image, in particular, captured the attention of the media and the public. The image is commonly referred to as the “Girl In The Blue Bra”. The image depicts a young woman, whose identity remains anonymous, being beaten and dragged by soldiers as she was taking part in the protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo, against Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Her face is veiled and her jeans are still on but as she was being dragged by the soldiers her abaya came undone exposing her bare torso and revealing her blue bra as a soldier was about to kick her in her abdomen.

A young woman is being dragged and kicked, exposing her bare torso in the act by the military in Tahiri Square. Cairo, Egypt. December 17, 2011. (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

While the image exposed the abusive practices and of power of the military in Egypt – it also swiftly sparked ferocious reactions around the globe, particularly with women who subsequently staged their own march in Tahrir Square in Cairo to demand the end of military rule.

Stencil work by Bahia Shebab “No to stripping/Long live a peaceful revolution” (image courtesy of the artist)

Among the artists who carried the Blue Bra theme to the streets was one artist, Bahia Shehab, whom BSA and its readers helped to get a movie made about Street Artists in the Arab Spring, called Nefertiti’s Daughters, directed by Mark Nicolas. Later we were the first to debut a scene from it at the Nuart Festival in Norway (“#Activism on the Street Now”), and years after that Nuart actually hosted professor Shehab. This is a small world, this Street Art community.

The actions of the young woman, the violent response of the military, and the overwhelming support of the public, in general, sparked a new wave of feminism in Egypt and inspired artists to create and display their artworks on the streets in protest.

Stencil work by Bahia Shebab “No to stripping/Long live a peaceful revolution” (image courtesy of the artist)
An unidentified artist in Cairo. (photo from Pinterest)

2.

“Art In The Streets” Opens at LA MOCA – April 2011

Art in the Streets was the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art, curated by MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch and Associate Curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose, an exhibition tracing the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s to the global movement it had evolved to. BSA was there to capture and share some of what was happening.

Red Hot and Street: “Art in the Streets” Brings Fire to MOCA

From BSA

“Yes, Banksy is here. The giant ‘Art in the Streets’ show opening this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles gives a patch of real estate to the international man of mystery who has contributed greatly to the worldwide profile of what is soon to be, maybe already is, a mainstream phenomenon known as street art. A smattering of his pranksterism is an absolute must for any show staking claim to the mantle of comprehensive survey and an excellent way to garner attention. But “Streets” gets its momentum by presenting a multi-torch colorful and explosive people’s history that began way before Banksy was born and likely will continue for a while after.

The show is an audacious multi-platform, colorful endeavor; part history lesson and part theme park bringing about 50 years of graffiti and street art history, it’s influences and influencers, under one roof. Then there is the stuff outside. Engaging and educational, “Art in the Streets” makes sure visitors have the opportunity to learn how certain tributaries lead to this one river of swirling urban goo, mapping connections between cultural movements, communities, and relationships within it. When it does this, the museum system effectively differentiates its value apart from a mere gallery show. “

“Art In The Streets” Blade . Os Gemeos. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
“Art In The Streets” Invader’s invasion of Martha Cooper’s installation. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

3.

Banksy’s NYC Residency – “Better Out Than In” – October 2013

An unprecedented city-wide near daily installation of works in New York established a new high-water mark in the flood of Street Art that took many cities in the 2010s. The British Street Artist played to a media capital in such an effective campaign that even the least interested residents became familiar with the elusive prankster.

Banksy’s Final Trick

From BSA

A Genuine October Surprise for New York Street Art Friends and Foes Alike.

“In a series of communiqués beamed from his website, the global Street Artist Banksy gave graffiti and Street Art followers a near-daily jolt of mystery and mouse clicking that had people looking at every street scene as a possible Banksy by the time it ended. While few can confirm the exact level of involvement the actual artist had in the five boroughs, if any, none will deny that the Banksy brand underwent a major “refresh” this month that again put his name on the lips of those who had begun to forget him and many who had never heard of him.

Thanks to this masterful marketing campaign billed as a month-long ‘residency’ on New York’s streets, many thousands were talking about him daily on the street, on television, radio, social media, in galleries, studios, office cubicles, art parties, and the mayors’ office. By effectively combining the sport of treasure hunting with humor and populism, each new cryptic appearance of something-anything gradually conditioned some grand art doyennes and the plainer mongrels amongst us to drool on command and lift a leg in salute to the curiously still anonymous artist and the team who helped him pull it off.”

BANKSY “Better Out Than In” NYC Month Long Residency. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
BANKSY “Better Out Than In” NYC Month Long Residency. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

4.

The Brooklyn Museum’s Exhibitions with Swoon, Faile, BÄST, Haring, Basquiat, ESPO, JR Expand Knowledge, Appreciation

One cultural institution in New York City and indeed in the United States has been notable throughout the decade for its commitment to organizing exhibitions where graffiti, street art, and the artists whom have shaped it are given recognition for their contribution to the arts. The Brooklyn Museum’s leadership, including former director Arnold L. Lehman, current director Anne Pasternak, and Sharon Matt Atkins, Director of Exhibitions and Strategic Initiatives have been channeling resources and focus to the study, promotion, and exhibition of the works of important figures in the contemporary graffiti and Street Art movement. It notable that the museum has in its permanent collection the works of distinguished graffiti and Street Artists dating back to the dawn of the modern scene; something that other important cultural institutions in New York City that are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of modern, contemporary, and American art lack in their collections.

It’s for this reason that we have selected the Brooklyn Museum as one of the top ten graffiti and street art movers of the decade. Predated by 2006’s “Graffiti” exhibition the museum has mounted several important presentations during this decade that have not only been blockbusters but they have contributed to the cultural enrichment of all New Yorkers and the expanded discussion of the relevance of these art forms to established canons. Here are some highlights:

Keith Haring – March 2012

From BSA

Keith Haring 1978-1982 : Early Keith at The Brooklyn Museum

Keith Haring: 1978-1982, a traveling exhibition first shown in Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna and The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, introduces a period of his work not often examined, taking you up to the edge of the seemingly sudden international fame he experienced as artist, activist and public figure through the rest of the 1980s.

… At a time when the small-town boy was developing his visual vocabulary as an artist, Haring was also discovering himself as a man in the world and in a city that he found endlessly fascinating and worthy of exploration. Capturing his spirit of hands-on experimentation, the show is almost entirely comprised of works on paper with one collaborative piece on plywood with his contemporary Jean Michel Basquiat, paper collage, video, and documentary photos.”

Keith Haring. Matrix, 1983. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Swoon – April 2014

From BSA

“Swoon: Submerged Motherlands”, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Museum

“Sharon brought me in here and said, ‘What is interesting to you in the building?’ and I really love that because the thing about working on the street is that you are always thinking site-specifically. And so that thinking has to translate into your work in all places. For me, if I make something in a museum I want it to be very site-specific and this is probably one of the most site-specific pieces I’ve ever done,” explains Swoon.

Under the advice and guidance of an engineer, the artist also modified her design process to allow for foundational considerations like truss sections and lift points. “I showed him an initial model and he showed me an engineered system and then I built another model based on the system that he engineered.”

It is probably unusual for a grand museum to be so amenable to the requests of an artist for a site-specific piece that literally inhabits the furthest reaches of space, and Swoon says she recognizes the leeway she received. “You know, they have been really adventurous in letting us create this. We’ve been sort of pushing a lot with the creation of this piece.”

For Matt Atkins, the opportunity to bring an internationally known street artist and neighbor into the museum has been the result of just over two years of planning. ‘It’s been so wonderful working with Swoon to realize her vision for this project. This is the first time we’ve really used the full height of the 72-foot dome, so it’s quite spectacular. I am thrilled to see her boats back in New York and for them to have this new life. The underlying ideas about climate change in the installation also make this project an appropriate tie into the Museum’s focus on activism with our other exhibitions and collections,’ she says.”

“Swoon: Submerged Motherlands” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks – April 2015

From BSA

Basquiat’s Notebooks Open at The Brooklyn Museum

“In Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, now running at The Brooklyn Museum until August 23rd, the genius of his fragmenting logic is revealed as a direct relationship between his private journals and his prolific and personally published aerosol missives on the streets of Manhattan’s Soho and Lower East Side neighborhoods in the late 1970s and 1980s.

These notebooks were for capturing ideas and concepts, preparing them, transmuting them, revising them, pounding them into refrains. In the same way his text (and glyphic) pieces on the street were not necessarily finished products each time; imparted on the run and often in haste, these unpolished missives didn’t require such preciousness.”

Famous. 1982. Basquiat:The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Faile & BÄST – July 2015

From BSA

Holy Faile ! “Savage/Sacred Young Minds” at Brooklyn Museum

“FAILE may be a religious experience this summer at the Brooklyn Museum, but only one of the hallowed installations is called Temple. The seedier, more dimly lit venue will surely have the larger number of congregants by far, bless their sacred hearts.

Celebrating the duality and appropriation of words, slogans, and images have been the bailiwick of the duo since they first began hitting Brooklyn streets at the turn of the century with their stencils and wheat-pastes on illegal spots and neglected spaces. In FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds, their new attention-commanding/refracting exhibit organized by Sharon Matt Atkins at the Brooklyn Museum, these guys pour it on, compelling you into a complex panoply of possible re-imaginings of meaning that reference pop, pulp, myth, art history, 50s sci-fi, 60s advertising, comics, punk zines, consumer culture and their own pure artistic and branded fiction.”

FAILE. Temple. “Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds” Brooklyn Museum, July 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stephen ESPO Powers – November 2015

From BSA

Coney Island Dreaming: Following the Signs to Stephen Powers

Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To A Seagull) is one of 3 new exhibits inspired by the historic attractions of Brooklyn’s seaside.

“Graffiti artist-turned-sign painter Stephen Powers is dreaming of Coney Island and he is bringing a colorful collection of found and freshly produced signage that evokes a forgotten era to climb the columns of a Brooklyn Museum gallery.

Given the boisterous parade of brands and logos into museums that is happening as part of the institutional funding and programming mix, it’s fun to see the ninth episodic installation of this traveling ICY SIGNS shop here; its simplicity and guile recalling amusing persuasive techniques from the mid-century American advertising lexicon. Simultaneously, for those who have been lucky enough to sicken themselves on cotton candy and The Wonder Wheel, the new show imparts a rather reassuring and seedy nostalgia for Coney Island, complete with an inexplicable hankering for a thick beef hot dog.”

Steve Powers “Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To A Seagull)” Brooklyn Museum. November 2015 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

JR – October 2019

From BSA

“JR: Chronicles” Revels in His Explorations at Brooklyn Museum

“A retrospective at Brooklyn Museum currently showcases the photographic works and public projects envisioned and created by French Street Artist JR. Covering roughly two decades of work, JR: Chronicles dedicates an in-depth examination into his practices and personal philosophies when creating – as evidenced by this collection of his murals, photographs, videos, films, dioramas, and archival materials.

Brooklyn Street Art: JR created a new digital collage for this exhibition featuring a thousand or so people individually interviewed and photographed. Can you tell us about what criterion he used for selecting his subjects?
Sharon Matt Atkins: JR’s main focus was on capturing the rich diversity of New York City. As such, he photographed people in all five boroughs of the city, including many neighborhoods that were new to him. While he did invite some guests to participate, most of the people were passersby or business owners and workers of local stores. “

JR. 28 Millimètres, Portrait d’une génération, Braquage (Holdup), Ladj Ly, 2004
JR: Chronicles. Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY (photo © Jaime Rojo)

5

Blu and Street Art – Banksy & Co.

Curated by Christian Omodeo, Luca Cinacabilla, and Sean Corcoran. March 2016

BLU buffing his own works in Bologna took the news cycle, his legion of compatriots armed with rollers and bucket paint. But it was the show that he was reacting to that brought thousands to the museum space to discuss the rightful place of Street Art, graffiti, and the relevance of preserving it for posterity.

From BSA

BLU Allies : A Counter Exhibition to “Banksy & Co.” Launched in Bologna

“The contested Banksy and Co. exhibition contains, among many other works, walls removed from a privately owned abandoned building in Bologna that were painted by BLU. Displaying the walls and his artwork without his consent so angered the painter that he rallied artists and activists to help him snuff out all his remaining murals and paintings in this Northern Italian city last week. (See A BLU Buffer Talks About the Grey Action in Bologna)

The heavily attended Friday night opening of Street Art – Banksy & Co. at Palazzo Pepoli – Museo della Storia di Bologna was curated by Luca Ciancabilla, Christian Omodeo, and Sean Corcoran and features roughly 250 historical and contemporary works spanning about fifty years and highlighting a number of movements within the so-called Urban Art genre. On balance it appears that 90 percent of the works are studio works, paintings, sculpture, videos, original sketches, and ephermera and were probably collected in a more conventional way and the tagged posters, stickers, metal doors, and wall fragments are viewed in the context of the whole scene.”

About Ponny (photo © @around730)

A BLU Buffer Talks About the Grey Action in Bologna

From BSA

“Reality TV is usually completely devoid of reality. That isn’t the exact comparison Andreco said on his Facebook page but we thought it was a fitting analogy. Street Art in a museum or gallery can sometimes feel like taxidermy.

Andreco actually said ‘Deciding which wall to paint or not to paint has always been one of our free choices. This operation, to uncork the walls and move them elsewhere, oversteps this freedom.’ Fair enough.

Of course, that is not the primary reason why activists and Street Artists joined in to help BLU paint over the many murals that he completed on Bologna city walls over the last two decades or so. In an English titled press release on the Italian website Wumingfoundation the artist lays out a multi-layered justification for destroying his own murals, many of which have become beloved landmarks around the city and which have helped make him an art star in some circles.”

BLU action in Bologna. (photo © Andreco)

American conceptual, activist and street artist John Fekner, whose art and his art partner Don Leicht were represented in the exhibition Street Art: Bansky & Co weighs in the controversy by saying:

  • The bottom line is: what’s done in public-doesn’t remain in public. There’s no protection for artists who trespass. It’s the chance one takes outdoors.
  • If you create illegal art murals, street rules are always in effect:
  1. You can’t stop a drunk in the middle of the night from pissing on your wall.
  2. You can’t stop a bulldozer from razing your work.
  3. You can’t stop a neighborhood anti-graffiti squad from painting over your work.
  4. You can’t stop a well-dressed thief in a suit, or their hired slug with a chisel from removing your wall work and hauling it off to their laird, garage, museum or art market.

“Under any circumstances, don’t immediately and irrationally react. If your original aspirations were to be an artist- then just do what you were meant to do: be an artist. Don’t double shift and be a night watchman patrolling the streets to try and thwart thieves of your work. Unique temporary outdoor creations engender a public conversation that includes everyone: art lovers and art haters, lowbrow and highbrow, and everyone who interacts with your public work.”

John Fekner (© John Fekner)

6.

Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art Opens in Berlin – September 2017

We had the unique perspective of being two of the foundational curators who made this exhibition happen and made the doors fly open to thousands of visitors, so it only made sense that we covered the opening that brought much promise to the institutional recognition of Street Art, graffiti, and its move into Urban Contemporary.

From BSA

“Inundated!” Scenes from the Opening: UN – Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin

“This week is Art Week in Berlin, and you just stole Art Week,” said a handsome and intensely opinionated German to us as we leaned on the arm rail of the M.C. Escher-inspired walkway before a Carlos Mare139 sculpture and above the capacity crowd on Saturday night at the Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art (UN).

Not sure if that was the exact goal, but we get his larger point; the UN has just made a massive entry into a number of societally and culturally influential minds when it comes to the relevancy of Street Art and graffiti to visual culture and art history. This movement into so-called Contemporary began as early as the 1970s and has overcome and weathered cultural and market ebbs and flows – persisted, if you will – yet somehow institutions have been wary of this work and these artists and unable to fully embrace their importance, you decide why.”

Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Hot Tea’s installation. Urban Nation Museum For Urban Contemporary Art. Berlin. September 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

7.

Five Pointz: A Legal Case For Urban Artists Shifts the Focus – February 2018

From BSA

Tell It to The Judge ; Graffiti Artists Win in 5 Pointz Case

“In a ruling that many graffiti and Street Artists interpret as a validation of their artwork and which may spawn further legal claims by artists in the future, Brooklyn Judge Frederic Block, a United States Federal Judge for the Eastern District of New York, awarded $6.7 million in damages to a group of 21 artists in the high profile case of the former graffiti holy place in Queens called 5 Pointz.

Under the leadership of artist and organizer Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, also a plaintiff, the award is in response to a suit that cried foul on the overnight destruction of multiple artworks on building walls without consultation or notification of the artists.

Citing provisions of the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act that grants artists certain “moral” rights, the artists claimed that their artworks on the 5 Pointz compound that was owned by real estate developer Jerry Wykoff were protected and should be afforded certain rights and considerations.

Arts and intellectual property lawyers and judges will now be examining the implications of the ruling and citing it as an example in arguments about art created on walls legally and possibly those created illegally as well. In a city that prides itself as being a birthplace of graffiti and Street Art, many artists and wall owners must ask themselves if there will need to be an additional layer of the agreement before an aerosol can is held aloft.”

5Pointz. LIC Queens. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
5Pointz. LIC Queens. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
5Pointz. LIC Queens. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

8.

The New York Times Publishes DONDI’S Obituary – February 2019

In an unprecedented posthumous publication of an obituary, this year The Times acknowledged something that it had so far failed to do; the contribution of graffiti writers to the cultural and art canons deserves serious recognition. By publishing the iconic image of DONDI taken by Martha Cooper that burned “Subway Art” into the mind’s eye of many generations of graffiti writers, the “paper of record” caught up with one the the scene’s leaders and heroes.

Dondi White by Martha Cooper. (photo courtesy of NYT / Martha Cooper)

The NYT obituary of Dondi begins like this:

Donald Joseph White, considered a legend before “street art” became popular, turned New York City’s subways into rolling canvases of color, humor and social commentary.”

Dondi White by Martha Cooper. (photo courtesy of NYT / Martha Cooper)


9.

Martha Cooper: A Picture Story Premieres at TriBeCa. A film by Selina Miles. April 2019

From BSA

MARTHA: A Picture Story. Shots from the Premiere and Movie Review

“First things first – Full disclosure; we are featured in the movie and we are close friends with both the subject of the doc and the director and we first suggested to the director that she was the perfect candidate to make a film about Martha Cooper. Now that we have that out of the way here are a number of shots from the premiere and our review of the movie:

Martha: A Picture Story had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Thursday to an enthusiastic crowd that included big graffiti, Street Art, international press and film industry names, to see the highly anticipated documentary about the venerable photographer Martha Cooper by the Sydney director Selina Miles.

The electricity was in the air as Director Miles and producer Daniel Joyce along with the just-arrived Australian members of the “Martha” crew looked for their seats in the Village East Cinema. After a brief introduction by Miles, who told the audience that the film had been a great pleasure to make, the curtain went up to reveal the mother of the superstar art twins Os Gemeos on the big screen. She is sitting at her kitchen table in São Paulo remarking how her boys used to draw on everything, including fruit, and how Cooper and Chalfant’s 1984 book “Subway Art” changed their lives forever. With their story as a backbone for the film, the theme of personal transformation is repeated in a hundred large and small ways for the next hour and twenty minutes. “

Martha Cooper “A Picture Story” TriBeCa Film Festival. April 2019. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Director Selina Miles with Martha Cooper. Martha Cooper “A Picture Story” TriBeCa Film Festival. April 2019. (photo © Nika Kramer)
Martha Cooper “A Picture Story” TriBeCa Film Festival. April 2019. (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

10.

Street Art and Activism Takes Larger Share of the Cultural Stage

This decade that is coming to an end has seen its share of natural disasters, human rights violations, atrocities of large scale against humanity, corruption at the highest levels, the reversal of hard-fought policies to protect the planet and keep our air and water clean. We have witnessed with despair the renaissance of hatred based on people’s nationalities, their skin color, their religion, their choice of attire, their level of material affluence and their sexual preferences.

We have seen progress as well. Women around the world have been freer to speak their mind against oppression and abuse of power thanks to social movements that have flourished around the world in big cities and small towns. Our LGBT brothers and sisters have scored numerous legal battles in their favor thanks to enlightened lawmakers and judges who have searched deep inside their intellect to find the right answer to make sure everybody is treated equally. Likewise, our peers whom we need to advance our cause have taken seriously the responsibility at the ballot box to make the correct choice with policies that will bring relief to those who have less than we do.

Art and artists have often reflected back to us the world we live in, it is for this reason that we have chosen Street Art and Activism as an important action in this decade. We have always championed the work of artists who imbued their art with a strong sense of social urgency. It is with their art that they talk to us in the hopes to change one mind, one action, one concept, one attitude towards the goal creating a common good. There are many of them currently active on the streets. This wouldn’t be the appropriate space to list all of them but we would like to give you some highlights:

No Borders: Murs Contra el Murs (Walls Against Walls)

Barcelona, February 2019.

From BSA:

“This past Sunday, February 17 at La Plaza de las Tres Chimeneas (Three Smokestacks Square) in Barcelona an international group of artists participated in the first ‘No Borders Festival.’

NO BORDERS is a grassroots organization that was created to raise awareness about the refugees, to demand their acceptance, and to raise funds through debates, art, and documentaries.

They say they want to raise the uncomfortable questions – which will undoubtedly lead to uncomfortable answers as well. To paraphrase the text on their website:

‘Do we settle for a society that violates its moral and legal obligations to refugees? A refugee is a person who flees – Flees because he is on the losing side. Because he thinks, feels or prays differently than those who point him with their weapons.’

As usual, artists are bringing these matters to the street for the vox populi to debate.”

Enric Sant. No Borders Festival. Barcelona, Spain. February 2019. (photo © Lluís Olive)

Andreco: Reclaiming Air and Water for Delhi, India “Climate 05”

New Delhi, March 2019.

From BSA:

An Art, Science and Climate Action project by Andreco

“And the statement isn’t hyperbole, according to AIR-Ink, the company that made his ink, which is “the first ink made entirely out of air pollution,” they explain on their website.

The unique art-making material is part of the Italian Street Artist / Activist’s most recent installment of his Climate Art Project, which he orchestrated on the streets here in New Delhi for the St+Art Festival this year. Part of a global, multi-city installation and demonstration, ‘Climate 05 – Reclaiming Air and Water’.”

Andreco. Climate Art Project. In collaboration with St+ART India Foundation. Delhi, India. March 2019. (photo Akshat Nauriyal)

“Post-Posters” Puncture Public Discourse in Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, May 2019.

From BSA:

” ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Ass Ads,’ says a new stencil-style printed poster by New York’s epic, if sometimes cryptic, street commentator of four decades, John Fekner. Anyway, who will argue with that?

Post-posters is a cooperative proposition about public billposting,” says French conceptual street anarchist Matthew Tremblin about his new project with hit-and-run situationist street posterer Antonio Gallego. Together they reclaim space with individually produced posters and they invite artists from around the world to do the same.

Over a two month period the creative place-makers are facilitating an international crew of artists to post posters on the occasion of the double exhibition by Banlieue-Banlieue group* (°1982, Poissy) taking place in Strasbourg, at both AEDAEN and the Syndicat Potentiel. “

John Fekner . Carole Douillard. Post-Posters Project. Strasbourg, France. April 2019. (photo courtesy of Syndicat Potentiel)

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: When the Lion Roars Back, a small overview

Brooklyn, NY. July 2019.

From BSA:

“By putting these images of people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks on the street with their blunt-force sentiments addressed to would-be harassers, she not only stands with them, but Tatyana has also used her work and vision to give them the courage to stand proud, assert their voice and to take public space.

After all, it belongs to the public.

“Women are not outside for your entertainment”, a startling truth for some guys that pointedly highlights abusive behavior toward women on the streets of Brooklyn and many cities around the world. Brooklyn Street Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has been targeting daily oppressive experiences of marginalized people with her campaigns of art on the streets – and in the gallery.

Addressing themes of social justice, racism, LGBTQ+ rights, and sexist street harassment, her beautifully drawn campaigns on wheat-pasted posters and painted murals across the globe have brought attention to issues sorely in need of addressing during hostile rhetoric from some men in the highest offices.”

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jetsonorama Tells “Stories From Ground Zero”

Church Rock, New Mexico. August 2019.

From BSA:

“This spill and these events did not happen in San Diego or Palm Beach. The story doesn’t affect wealthy white families and cannot be used to sell shampoo or real estate. That’s probably why we don’t see it in the press and never on the talking-head news. Street Artist Jetsonorama is not only a photographer who has been wheat-pasting his stunning images of people and nature on desert buildings for over a decade, he is also a doctor on the Navajo reservation, a human-rights activist, and an erudite scholar of American history as it pertains to the poisoning of this land and these people. Today we’re pleased to bring you this long-form examination from Jetsonorama’s perspective on a complicated and tragic US story of environmental poisoning and blight that affects generations of native peoples, miners, military personnel, and everyday people – and has no end in sight.

Most alarming is the news the current White House administration is endeavoring to mine uranium here again.

‘Private companies hired thousands of Navajo men to work the uranium mines and disregarded recommendations to protect miners and mill workers. In 1950 the U.S. Public Health Service began a human testing experiment on Navajo miners without their informed consent during the federal government’s study of the long-term health effects from radiation poisoning.  This study followed the same violation of human rights protocol as the US Public Health Service study on the long-term effects of syphilis on humans by experimenting on non-consenting African American men in what is known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from 1932 – 1972.’ ~ Jetsonorama”

JC with her younger sister, Gracie (who is a NBCS participant).  (photo © Jetsonorama)

BSA Special Feature: “REWILD” from Escif

Sumatra, Indonesia. September 2019.

From BSA:

“As part of our core commitment as a non-commercial platform that has helped hundreds of artists over the last decade+, BSA significantly helped Escif to raise money for his Indiegogo fundraiser in Spring 2017 when we promoted his “Breath-Time” horticultural project heavily as he planted trees to reforest Mount Olivella in Southern Italy.

Today BSA debuts REWILD, a new tree-related project by the Spanish Street Artists – just as the Global Climate March is spreading to cities around the world, including New York.

The concept of the short film is simple: can’t we just push the “Rewind” button?

‘The narrative runs in reverse, rewinding the clock on deforestation to undo the damage caused by the unsustainable production of one of the world’s most versatile commodities. Beyond the industrialisation of the land, we end at the beginning, a thriving ecosystem alive with wildlife. The concept mirrors the real world action of the Sumatran Orangutan Society and their partners in reclaiming land on the borders of the Leuser rainforests to rewild them with indigenous trees, expanding the boundaries of one of the most biodiverse places on earth.’  

Finally, a stunning custom soundtrack by Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah captures and carries this into another world, which is possible.

Shout out to the folks behind the project Splash and Burn: a cultural initiative curated by Ernest Zacharevic and coordinated by Charlotte Pyatt run in association with the Sumatran Orangutan Society and the Orangutan Information Centre.

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“Cash Is King II” is Rolling In It at Saatchi in London

“Cash Is King II” is Rolling In It at Saatchi in London

Now that corporate and global debt has surged to an all-time high, posing unprecedented risk to the value of all money, it’s a sweet and sour nostalgia that drives you into your purse or wallet to pluck out a thin colorful slice of that rumpled paper fiat currency to buy yourself a beer at your local pub.

Bitcoin may be coming, and plastic is fantastic but in some parts of the world, cash is still king. And it rules everything around you.

Icy & Sot. Last Supper Five Dollar Bill (photo courtesy of the curators)

Right now you can see a collection of these banknotes from around the world developed as a series of canvasses at London’s Saatchi Gallery – mutated and defaced and adorned by graffiti and Street Artists, along with a series by Iranian born Aida Wilde, who uses banknotes from Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria.

Penny. Picasso Ten Pound Note (photo courtesy of the curators)

Cash is King II, a sequel to last years Cash is King – the brainchild book and exhibition of artists Robert Osborne and Carrie Reichardt, the show opened this week to an appreciative crowd who appeared to really enjoy seeing bills reimagined.

Jef Aerosol. Arts Can’t Buy Me Love (photo courtesy of the curators)

Curators Susan Hansen and Olly Walker share these images here with us and tell us they’re also happy that Ms. Wilde’s sales are going to benefit the Help Refugees organization so they are able to continue their work around the world. Not surprisingly perhaps, “Many of these banknotes represent some of the countries that have seen the highest numbers of people become refugees in recent years,” says Hansen.

Olly Walker. Process shot. (photo courtesy of the curators)
Aida Wilde. And We Walk Eritrean. Process shot. (photo courtesy of the curators)
Al Diaz. Samo Dollar (photo courtesy of the curators)
1 UP Crew. Tag Dollar (photo courtesy of the curators)
Anthony Lister. Zero To One Hundred Real Quick Dollar (photo courtesy of the curators)
Bortusk Leer. Art Is Not Serious (photo courtesy of the curators)
Caroline Caldwell. Oil Money Dollar (photo courtesy of the curators)
John Fekner. Greed Dollar (photo courtesy of the curators)
Cash Is King 2: Money Talks. Opening night. (photo courtesy of the curators)

Aida Wilde’s work will available for sale on the Saatchi website from 2pm on Tuesday the 20th of August. All proceeds will go to support Help Refugees’ work around the world.

Cash is King II: Money Talks features works of art executed on banknotes, an exhibition curated by Olly Walker of Ollystudio.

Cash Is King 2: Money Talks is currently on view at the Saatchi Gallery in London installed in the Prints and Originals space until September 8th. Otherwise, click HERE to view and purchase available works of art.

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