All posts tagged: John Grider

Broken Crow Knock Out 4 New Murals for “The Bigger Picture” in St. Paul

Minneapolis based Street Artists John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons, known together as Broken Crow, have just completed a jigsaw-style stencil installation at four locations along St. Paul’s central corridor that, when seamed together, create a 60-foot long stampede of wildlife charging along University Avenue. Using the trademark stencil illustration style they’ve employed on 126 murals over the last decade, this enormous wildlife composition includes a lion, camel, rhino, zebra, tortoise, and penguin running alongside others to accompany the light rail that is being built to whiz by here.

It’s an unusual concept and the resulting video of all four locations being installed simultaneously really makes this newly released time-lapse video especially entertaining (see below). A public works project called “The Bigger Picture Project”, each mural contains a QR code that will trigger images compiled by photographer Benjamin Clasen of what the entire project looked like from the vantage point of the guy who shot 30,000 photos of it.

Broken Crow, “The Bigger Picture Project”, (detail of a composite image of the four walls together) (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art talked to both artists and the photographer about the Bigger Picture; 

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you imagining people traveling to all four sites and looking at each installation to combine them?
John Grider:
The 4 walls are all on the same transit line/main thoroughfare between the downtown areas of St Paul and Minneapolis on University Avenue, which has been under construction for what feels like years now. I’m actually really excited about riding the light rail once it’s done just to see the murals all together because they were designed for the new trains to be the ideal viewing area.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about the preparation for the project? Did you cut all these stencils by hand?
John Grider: We spent over a year planning and preparing for The Bigger Picture Project from start to finish. We cut all the stencils by hand, which took about a month, and it took us around 6 months making and refining drawings for it before that.

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art: Mike, your stencil work for the last few years has created portraits of many animals – sometimes as metaphor, sometimes as straightforward documentation.  Is there one that appears more often than others?
Mike Fitzsimmons: We both have many favorites.  John loves to paint rams and big cats and I like to paint bears and penguins.  They all have very different reasons for being favorites. For example I like that penguins are very curious creatures that only survive the cold through their community efforts.  Plus they make me laugh both in real life and my artwork.  I like bears because they have adapted so diversely for survival.  A panda bear has adapted a thumb for breaking bamboo whereas, a polar bear has translucent fur to deceive and hunt seals.

Brooklyn Street Art: What is one of the newer ones you really connect to?
Mike Fitzsimmons: If I had to pick a favorite it would be the polar bear.  I had a moment of and clarity about this entire project that I wont forget while painting the polar bear fur.  I was beating myself up about my color choices.  I went down the ladder, took steps back and realized that it was exactly what I wanted it to look like.  All I had to do is take my sunglasses off.

I also really liked that in this composition we were finally able to paint an elephant in a way that it could never be mistaken for a political mascot.

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

One of the four walls in progress as Broken Crow completed this portion of “The Bigger Picture Project” in St. Paul, Minnesota this month.  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art: Ben, as a photographer, this was a huge undertaking to capture all the action and then seam it all together. Was it clear to you what it would look like from the beginning, or did it reveal itself as the project moved forward?

Ben Clasen: Our preparation and organization evolved as we thought of new ideas. As the project got underway, we tried to consider everything and control as much of the outcome as we could: Mike and I scouted each location 4 times, and did a lot of measuring. Once we figured out the shape for the final composited building, I think we all fell in love with it.

We had a good plan for the layout of the 4 corners — in each case we were planning for a tolerance of 6 inches — I think we matched our layout within an inch and a half for each wall. We scouted for the path of the sun and knew when and where it would appear in the frame shot.

I feel like I had a good idea of what the final time-lapse would look like as we got down to shooting. Having said that, it was the organic stuff that happened, the stuff we couldn’t control, that created some of my favorite parts of the composite video. I love how the clouds, moving at different rates on the different days, add an old-school cinematic projector feel to portions of the frame. I love the interactions of the ladders and the seeming army of painters across the four simultaneous walls — there is a portion where John’s head and arms on the top-left wall seem to sit atop his body from the bottom-right wall.

Controlling everything is science. Letting stuff happen is where art comes from.

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you prefer the still images of the finished work alone or the ones with the guys creating the pieces?
Ben Clasen: That is a tough call; It’s like choosing a favorite among your children. There are so many wonderful vignettes of the guys in process — literally thousands of them. I feel like a real story is told by compressing the four days into single moments that you can sample at any given time. The human interaction with the murals I think is the essence of what street art is all about.

I felt compelled to go back to the walls to photograph the individual final pieces, and assemble The Bigger Picture under optimal lighting conditions, because in many ways it is the only way to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The composite scene is beautiful and full of character, representative of the neighborhoods in which they were painted. I love watching people’s reactions to seeing the composite photograph of the finished scene: there is an initial reaction to the whole of the work — “This is a beautiful mural…” and then there is a second reaction, “Oh goodness, those are separate buildings!”

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

The completed 4-part composited mural by Broken Crow, entitled “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Here is the Video Debut on BSA of Broken Crow’s “The Bigger Picture Project” by Benjamin Clasen

If you are in St. Paul you can scope the murals out in person 633 University Avenue, 651 University Avenue, and both sides of 2145 University Avenue.

All photos are copyright © Benjamin Clasen. Learn more about him at MidnightToil.com

“The Bigger Picture” by Broken Crow was financed in part by the Cultural Sales Tax Revitalization Program through the City of St. Paul and is a collaboration of Irrigate.

Learn more about this project at thebiggerpictureproject.net

Broken Crow’s latest show “We Did What We Could”, opens Friday June 15 at XYandZ Gallery. Learn more about Broken Crow at brokencrow.com

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Cell Phone Snap : Broken Crow + Wolves Feasting on a Carcass

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Is this a metaphor for the rich feasting on the US economy? Or just the Macy’s One Day Sale? Here’s a quick cell phone snap of the new piece by Broken Crow at Living Walls : Albany, complete with blood slopping across the field of yellow flowers. More to come soon.

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Broken Crow photo ©  Samson Contompasis

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VIDEO Premiere : Broken Crow in Mexico

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Video-Still-Broken-Crow-en-mexicoHere it is – a fantastic documentary-style short about Street Art duo Broken Crow’s first trip to Mexico City and some of the stencil based installations they undertook as guests of MAMUTT Arte and the Antique Toy Museum of Mexico (MUJAM). We don’t usually see this level of sophistication in a graffiti/Street Art video, so these guys are taking it up a notch.

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As you may remember from the two missives (1) (2) we posted in March for their Mexican Travelog, Broken Crow painted a total of five murals in different locations in D.F. The new video, which we proudly debut here, shows some of their work along with a very personal insight into their relationship as friends and painting partners. The larger piece entitled “Robot Thief” drew a regular crowd during it’s installation, while some of the smaller pieces were a more personal scale.

Congratulations to the Broken Crow gents and to Filmaciones De La Ciudad for making such a compelling and insightful piece. Enjoy.

Another point of interest in the video is the placement of “Robot Thief” next to a huge installation by Street Artist ROA, who also worked with the esteemed team of Roberto Shimizu of MUJAM and Gonzalo Alvarez of Mamutt Arte during his visit to Mexico previously. With friends/fans/promoters like Shimizu and Alvarez, international Street Art is quickly gaining a solid foundation in a city already blessed with a rich arts and cultural scene, historical and modern.

Music by CAV3 cav3.bandcamp.com/

Check out BrokenCrow.com

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Fun Friday 03.11.11

Fun-Friday

Broken Crow’s Still Rockin’ the Toy Museum in Mexico City

In what may possibly be the final stencil of the trip that they are making, Mike and John of Street Art Duo Broken Crow have pulled out what looks like a blue woodchuck and a fine feathered friend.

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photo © Museo de Jugete – follow their photo stream here http://yfrog.com/h3k2gtaj

Broken Crow : A Mexican Travelog

Broken Crow: A Mexican Travelog Part II

www.toymuseummexico.com
http://www.brokencrow.com/

Rats on the Streets, Rats in the Boardrooms, Rats in the Legislature

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Image in garment district of Manhattan this morning (© Steven P. Harrington)

As you may have read, the last protective force standing between workers and the unbridled forces of pure capitalism are being knocked down before your eyes in the US. Or maybe you were distracted by the concentrated wealth we’re celebrating: According to their new issue Forbes estimates that there are 1210 billionaires in the world today, up 214 on last year, holding a total net worth of $4.5 trillion.  As the losers in the rat race are gradually flushed into the streets, wonder how the art in the streets will be affected?

Fountain Art Fair Redux

Yeah, Fountain nailed it to a tree this year.  But then, we knew they would. Big Ups to Joe Iurato in this new video by Roberto Serrini. Joe’s work is featured in the second half of the video, and who’s recent work refers to the crosses he bears.

See more of the Street Art installation shot by photographer Jaime Rojo here: Stick Out Your Tongue : Street Art So Close You Can Lick it at Fountain

Read BSA’s piece: Joe Iurato Offers “Salvation” in Philadelphia

Matt Sewell at Mighty Tanaka

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Tonight at Might Tanaka a new show by Matt Sewell. For more information about this show, location and time click on the link below:
http://www.brooklynstreetart.com/theblog/?p=19197

El Celso¡NO HABLA ESPAÑOL! at Pandemic

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From the press release;

“¡NO HABLA ESPAÑOL! is El Celso’s most personal show to date. This new series of works was inspired by a recent trip to Peru where the artist became obsessed with posters made in the “chicha” style. These hand-made posters line city streets all over Peru and generally feature an eye-popping neon color palette and commercial graphics-inspired lettering.”

El Celso¡NO HABLA ESPAÑOL! (full listing here)
New works and an installation featuring Peruvian vernacular posters – and a diminutive discotheque
On Display:Fri. March 11 – Sat. April 2, 2011
Opening ReceptionFriday, March 11, 2011, 7-11pm

Spending Time With Felix Morelo

Ever wonder by artists put their stuff in the streets?  Felix Morelo may be able to school you on that one.

Stick ‘Em Up! Teaser

Dang! This is a spicy teaser – a scathing assessment of everyday folk as people who hate their lives is employed as motivation to go out and do art in the street.

URNewYork at Power House Arena

Local Street Artists are hitting up the Power House in Dumbo!

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Broken Crow “The Lion Man”

From Mike Fitzsimmons and John Grider, two street art stencil artists known as Broken Crow, comes this colorful mural called “The Lion Man” that they created last summer.

A recurring theme in the Broken Crow approach to story-telling is a reclamation of the man-made world by the natural one. Realistic animals express distinct personalities and opinions about what our grand blind ineptness. In a merging of the animal kingdom with ours this piece uses the body of Charlie, their model, and supplants his head with a lions’ as he crawls along the wall on all fours.

Aside from the coolness factor, the benefits of seeing how work is produced in a time-lapse video are myriad for both the fans as well as the artists. Questions about technique that you may have had can be quickly answered, and subsequent murals can be improved by the artist by observing themselves in action.

This video is really nicely done by Benjamin Clasen of Saint Paul, the sister city of Minneapolis, MN, where Broken Crow hail from.

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Porcupine and Bear Sighting: Broken Crow in Billyburg

Seen on the Street: Work in Progress

After two successful openings over the weekend, Broken Crow gets up in the BK.

During a brief respite from the rain – for about 8 hours yesterday, Broken Crow brought back the wild into our Brooklyn urban environment.  All you need is a cool slab of flat, a couple ladders, and giant stencils you’ve been cutting all night, and you’re ready to rock the block!

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Amazing how much you can get done in 3 hours! Broken Crow at work (photo Jaime Rojo)

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Bear keeping his distance from his prickly cohort. Broken Crow at work on a new large mural in one of Williamsburg's still ungentrified sections. (photo Jaime Rojo)

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Kind of makes all the rain worth it. (photo Steven P. Harrington)

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