Dazed and confused, how much of our population is apparently anesthetized; directed through daily decisions by a delicious blend of disinformation and propaganda? Everyone will insist they are not, but look closely. Occasionally there are glimmers of civic engagement, even democratic movements that pop up – before they are gently maligned and subtly marginalized as if simply a matter of consumer “choice”.
‘Byte the Candy’ is the new work in Madrid by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada; a portrait of a woman is contoured as if a computer chip inlaid with circuitry, no more than a central processing unit.
“In 1984, Niel Postman gave a talk about how we are ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death,’” says Rodriguez-Gerada of his inspiration for this new piece he did in conjunction with the Urvanity art fair. “He criticized how the news we see on television is entertainment,” he says, “there only to maintain our attention in order to sell advertisement time instead of trying to make us think.”
Notable also is the earthen color range the artist selected as if merging his precise realism on large-scale murals with his other field of public expression, land art. Even the uniformity of spacing and graduated shading suggests industrial farming methods… but his greater point is the melting together of ethical conscience and the judgment-free manipulation of the subconscious.
“Today, we are living something beyond what Niel Postman was warning us about – social media platforms, with a system of algorithms that have no conscience or mercy,” says Rodriguez-Gerada. “These algorithms work incessantly to keep our constant attention to see advertising and propaganda, and in that way become more efficient with the use of personal data, achieving the ability to target advertising that coincides exactly with the profile of interests of each user.”
Madrid’s Art Week – who would believe that it could actually happen? And to prove it, we have the 5th Anniversary of Urvanity defiantly strutting from one end of the COAM headquarter to the other. Taking its original inspiration from graffiti, post-graffiti, surrealism, pop, and that broadly applied “Urban Contemporary” tag, Sergio and the Urvanity team have persevered this year again.
Where others have failed, Urvanity has succeeded and grown and even matured – with more than 25 national galleries and others from as far away as New York, Brussels, and Bogotá. This is not about fanboys and big unsubstantiated claims, Urvanity drives for quality, and it shows.
The talks this year revolved around high-caliber artists, gallerists, architects, and curators of projects that have made new pathways and invariably give you insight and inspiration in equal measure. BSA has been proud to sponsor this thinking-persons fair, along with the artists and creators; we even hosted their talks a couple of years ago and loved the folks we met there.
Here are a few images of fine art works evolving from the street practice of a number of artists whose names you may recognize.
To see the complete list of galleries and the artists exhibited with the available works click HERE
Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is working in a Spanish wheat field. Would you like to lend a hand?
We travel today to the rural setting of Estopiñán del Castillo, a small town in Aragón, Spain to see this new piece of land art made by artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada with friends from Fundación Crisálida, a workplace that values the participation of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
An artwork that is designed to grown and evolve over time, this first of three phases features the green of Spring time during April, at play with the earthtones of soil and compost. When it is in its final phase in October, this artwork will have fully completed its intended natural and aesthetic cycle.
Rodríguez-Gerada says this wheatfield installation is entitled “Nourishing Self-Esteem”, a reference to the interconnectivity of people and the interwoven nature of building community.
“With their hands, the folks at Fundación Crisálida bake bread on a daily basis for their town and the towns nearby. Bread transcends cultures and geography, to unify in its simplicity, a fundamental physical and emotional sustenance,” says his press release. The two hands are meant to symbolize those of an adults and child. The artist says that uniting one to another creates family, community, bolsters feelings of self-worth, and ultimately strengthens everyone involved.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this project and artwork grows.
Video by Luis Campo Vidal / La Cupula Audiovisual
Fundación Crisálida with Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, and Iris, Aleix, Martí, Cristina, Álex, David, Jacinto, Carina, Caroline, Jennifer, Esmeralda, Ana, Milla, Alén and many locals, create this work that will continue to change for the next six months with three interventions.
What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?
In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.
From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.
We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.
When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.
The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.
We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.
Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.
We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.
As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.
Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada: Somos La Luz (We Are The Light) 2. Vegan Flava: Migration In The Anthropocene 3. “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock – Diner Scene
BSA Special Feature: Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada: Somos La Luz (We Are The Light)
“This project is very personal to me. I have lost friends due to Covid 19. During the process of creating this portrait, I was able to meet Dr.Decoo´s family. I saw firsthand their immense sorrow for his loss. His life faded away just as the portrait I created was meant to fade away. Too many frontline workers are in danger of fading away. We must realize that this is in part due to the reality of institutional racism. I have seen the effects of poverty and marginalization. We must come together to address this reality.” – JRG
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada: Somos La Luz (We Are The Light)
Vegan Flava: Migration In The Anthropocene
Maybe its because this weekend is Halloween but this promo video for street artist/land artist Vegan Flava may bring to mind another movie from this time of year.
More hippy chic and free-wheeling than you may remember, Miss Van brings her buxom, plump, yet oddly drowsy beauties to the Avant Garde festival in Spain. Evermore stylized and romantic, her feathered and festooned ladies have always had a mysterious sensuality since you first began seeing them on the street over a decade ago. Now as their dandy evolution swoons them to something closer to hyperreal, we may be seeing a merging with aesthetics of AI and the smoothly moving robotics of today’s science realm.
The raven-haired Toulousean street artist/muralist/painter brings here ‘Las Gitanas’ as the final of this three-chapter Tudela tome, a warmly languid femininity that washes over you, bringing you closer than you had imagined to the future. With June’s mulberry bruised skies above the rusted mountain range behind them, these pursed-lipped adventurers are given an added dimension of surreality from the photo-framing by gifted photographer Fer Alcala in these shots for Avant Garde Tudela 2020.
Jeff McCreight crosses the rubicon with this allegory of summer joy at Avant Garde Tudela 2020. The American painter brings these two jumping boys to the river to cool off just as the heat of July is arriving to cook us all.
When it comes to street art and murals, as you know, context is everything and this spot at Paseo del Castillo is the environment that frames your childhood dreams, and hopefully, one many child will yet enjoy.
Japan’s Mina Hamada has just completed her mural for the 2020 edition of Avant Garde Tudela in Spain. Curated by artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada and organized by Tudela-Cultura, the northern Spanish city has been home to a number of murals in the last decade or so from names most street art fans will recognize, and despite being in the middle of Covid-19 lockdown and gradual stages of liberation, this show finds no excuse to stop.
“Betting on culture is always risky, even more nowadays,” say organizers, but the results are solid. Three new medium and large scale murals my Hamada, Miss Van, and Jeff McCreight were added to the twenty-one brought in the previous edition of the festival.
Here we see that Hamada’s universe of shapes and color call out the natural world and environmental elements. Flora and plant life react to the stimuli of wind and water, with Mina interpreting her relationship with them all.
Hispanic and African American communities have suffered disproportionately due do entrenched social and economic disparities in American society during the COVID-10 pandemic. Not only are larger proportions of each community affected by the illness, they are also heavily represented as caretakers and front-line workers.
While the systemic inequalities are also fueling the current demonstrations and abuses of people and press in 10s of cities across the country in ways that shock the conscience, we turn briefly here to honor the work of those who have helped our families and our friends with the virus outbreak.
Cuban-American land artist and contemporary artist Jorge Rodriguez Gerada and his team have been in Queens the past few days painting this enormous mural to celebrate the heroism of our front line workers. The most diverse population in the US, Queens is truly a symbol for the harmonious possibilities of people living and working together that defies any right wing ideologue – with an estimated 800 languages being spoken in this fair borough.
So its undeniably
appropriate that Gerada chose this location in the heart of Queens entitled
‘Somos La Luz,’ (We are the Light), which memorializes the late Dr. Decoo, a
Latino physician who lost his life after battling this pandemic in NYC. A
striking portrait to be seen from the sky, it is a broad gesture of gratitude
from all New Yorkers to those who truly have our collective and individual best
interests at heart every day.
project was curated by @henryrmunozlll, sponsored by @SOMOSCare and with
production assistance by @GreenPointInnovations / @GreenPoint.EARTH. Mr. Gerada
says he is proud to partner with the @queensmuseum, @elmuseo del
Barrio @maketheroadny and @NYCParks on this incredible project.
This story starts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and ends in Madrid, Spain but its focus is global in nature.
With the earth at the center of the eye, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada tells us that the first of two murals he painted for the recent COP 25 conferences is called “Forest Focus.” As the world has been watching the largest forests of Australia burning this month, he clearly knows what we’re all facing.
“With an image of the world as the iris,” he says, “This mural has an artistic focal point that symbolizes the values set forth at the COP25 conference being held in Madrid.”
The Cuban-born Street Artist, now based in Barcelona, was partnering with a public art program/platform called GreenPoint EARTH during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, or COP 25 to create two new street art pieces.
Well known for his “Terrestrial Series” of artworks spread over masses of land that are visible by planes flying overhead, Rodriguez-Gerada blends social and ecological themes seamlessly with sometimes profound results.
His second mural of the series is a portrait of Hilda Pérez, a person indigenous to Peru and theVice President of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP). The team says she was chosen to represent indigenous people because their voices are frequently marginalized in discussions about ecology and climate change, despite occupying 25-50 percent of the Earth’s land.
“We need to think of every tool in our toolkit because time is ultimately running out,” said Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio at a panel discussion with the artist at the Action Hub Event during the COP25.
He was speaking about the pivotal role that Street Art has been able to fill in education, as well as his own interest in partnering with artists and other collaborators to raise awareness for a myriad of environmental issues. “That’s why it’s really important that Chile/Madrid COP25 has this really strong message that it’s time for action.”
more plans to involve Street Artists around the world “to inspire climate action with
positive messages about the interconnected themes of nature, people, and
climate,” Donofrio says he believes that the
power of communication that Street Artists wield can be focused to make real,
“The connectivity is really important
in these projects to establish that we are dealing with globally challenging issues
that boil down to a really local consequence.”
The videos that we present every week on BSA Film Friday give us as much inspiration as they do our readers, and we are honored to see the progression of artists and directors as they continue to capture, document, and share their skills, techniques, and stories. This year we have seen a continued professional quality, a widened scope, a desire to connect with an audience perhaps in a way that we haven’t seen before. Each of these videos, whether completed in-studio or shot by hand on a phone, touched you- and the numbers of clicks and re-shares tell us the story. Or many of them.
INTI / “PRIMAVERA INSURRECTA”, Spring Insurrection
vandalizing public sculptures to handmade signs to waving banners, banging oil
drums and pots and pans, lighting fires, chanting, and dancing in the streets –
these are the insistent voices and perspectives coursing through streets in
cities around the world, including these scenes from Chile last month. In one
of the tales of people’s victory, these marches and mobilizations of citizens
pushing for their rights and fighting state overreach actually worked this
month and Chile’s protesters have won a path to a
During the demonstrations Chilean Street Artist INTI was at work outside in Santiago as well, adding to the public discourse, with his new work entitled “Dignity!” It was a spring insurrection, now culminating in an autumn victory
Icy & Sot: Giving Plants. Film By Doug Gillen/FWTV
Street Art brothers Icy and Sot once again lead by example with their latest act of artivism at a refugee camp in Greece.
People chased from their homes by wars in places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are now part of a larger conversation in Europe as countries struggle to accept the massive numbers of refugees in the last decade. On the Greek island of Lesbos, the overcrowding of a camp named Moria has produced Olive Grove, a temporary place full of tents, but little nature.
While they have traveled around many international cities in the last
five years creating site-specific interventions that contemplate issues
of immigration, environmental degradation, and endangered species, the
artists felt that the gravity of this place merited something more than
just an art installation.
Working with a group called Movement on the Ground and with Doug Gillen of Fifth Wall TV in tow, the two helped build raised gardens and planted vegetables, in addition to handing out many potted plants. Today we have images of persons in the camp from Icy & Sot along with the new video, one of Doug’s best.
Guido van Helten in Faulkton, South Dakota by Brian Siskind
A massive piece by the observant eye of Guido van Helten, who knows how to capture a spirit, a gesture, a knowing expression. Here on a grain elevator in Faulkton, South Dakota, his piece becomes a clarion, captured here by Brian Siskind.
Bordalo II “A Life of Waste” A short film by Trevor Whelan & Rua Meegan
Spending a lot of time and effort clawing your way to the top of the pile, braying
loudly about your achievements and kicking the people behind you back down the
hill? Look where you are standing. It’s a mountain of garbage. And you don’t really
care for the others up here.
Bordallo II has been examining our culture of waste. And making sculpture from it. “The artwork is really a reflection of what we are,” he says. “I always had my conscience.”
Land artist Jorge Gerada mounts a large project in Ouarzazate, Morocco that extends over 37,500 meters in this commissioned job for a coffee brand calendar. Using rakes, stones, dark gravel, and vegetable oil, a scene of two hands under running water is created.
In a collaborative gallery space or at a barbecue on Devil’s Mountain, Berlin’s calligraffiti writers and artists are showing off the attitude and exactitude of the city as well as the evolution of this art form.
Hosted by Theosone at the “Scriptorium Berlin” and
curated by Makearte, a small selection
of scientists artists are convened at the Letters Temple where artists create
an exhibition with lucid and ornate letter skillz. Later on Devil’s Mountain
(Tefelsberg) they paint together for the first time.
In the videos featuring daredevilry, parkour and graffiti the Lengua Drona
has been adding words to our visual vocabulary that were once reserved
for extreme sporting, National Geographic docs, Crocodile Dundee and
Now the pixação writer and urban climber, Paradox releases
unprecedented adventure footage and editing from photographer CPT. Olf,
and its sending shockwaves.
Somehow this is a new way to synthesize wall-climbing and train
surfing; positioning it as a visual and audio symphony that almost makes
you forget that these are graffiti vandals “fucking the system”,
pushing their limits – and yours.
As you thrill to these evolving genre-combining aspects of Oleg
Cricket, 1Up Crew, Berlin Kidz, and Ang Lee, it’s important to realize
that these are real risks that people take that could result in serious
injury, death, and rivers of grief if a miscalculation happens. So,
yeah, we’re not endorsing the irresponsible risks or a mounting “arms
race” of stunts, but we are endorsing the athleticism, imagination, and
sheer slickness of this FPV drone mastery, which appears to have taken
this stuff up another level.
The doublespeak of Banksy very effectively demanded a whirlwind of media
attention in the art/Street Art world once again this week. The
anti-capitalist launched a full street-side exhibition while his
personal/anonymous brand benefitted by the new record auction price of
9.9 million pounds with fees for one of his works depicting a “Devolved
Parliament” full of apes – precisely during the height of inpending Brexit hysteria
A culmination of five years of murals visible from planes, French duo Ella & Pitr nudge you awake on a sleepy Friday to say “Thank you for being part of this story!” You didn’t even realize that you were a part of it, did you? In a way, you can see your own reflection somewhere here.
Their sleeping giants have appeared in cities around the world, often too big even for the massive rooftops they are crammed uncomfortably atop. With a true knack for childhood wonder and illustration, perhaps because they have a couple of them at home for inspiration, Ella & Pitr bring the petite rebel spirit to these characters; imperfect specimens with stylistic idiosyncrasies and sometimes ornery personalities.
In the end, they were all “heavy sleepers” resting temporarily, as is often the case with (sub)urban interventions variously referred to as Street Art, public art, land art, pavement art… Make sure you stay for the end of this video that comprised most of the giants.
Graffiti Jam in San Francisquito, Queretaro with Martha Cooper
When local graff writers in Queretaro, Mexico heard that New York’s famous photographer Martha Cooper was going to be in their town for a new exhibition they decided to welcome her in the best way they knew how: A graffiti jam on a train.
With the help of the organizers at Nueve Arte Urbano, the local kings and queens scored a long wall on a busy major avenue that they could paint subway cars on and convert to an NYC train. They hoped Martha would feel at home seeing this and it looked like she definitely did.
It’s a fast-growing major city without a subway, even though it could definitely use a more inclusive and efficient public transportation system since its quick growth has swelled to a million inhabitants. Scores of multi-national corporations left the US and set up shop here since they wrote the NAFTA trade deal and now employ this highly educated population.
It is always interesting to go into the studio space of a Street Artist to see how their big public practice translates to their “fine art” commercial work. Here we have new works from a figurative painter and portrait maker Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, who is preparing pieces for his upcoming “Fragments” series.
He says that the haunting and beckoning faces are painted upon textured surfaces that are at least 150 years old. How, exactly? “I have perfected a process that allows me to remove old interior wall paint surfaces from abandoned buildings to use as my canvases,” he says. The fragile cracked and flaking surfaces are stabilized and made whole so the new works can actually have an archival quality.
gazes at these beauties and considers the axiom, “beauty is only skin deep”,
meaning that a pleasing appearance is not a guide to character. Here,
Rodriguez-Gerada appears to adding character with old skin.
may think of them as architectural skin grafts newly preserved, or some form of
urban exfoliation. Seeing the process at play, you may also be reminded of
Italian preservationists “skinning” the first few centimeters of a façade to
remove a BLU piece in Bologna – later hung in a museum.
“While most walls surfaces touched by a restoration technique have some kind of tangible historic importance – frescos or murals, for example,” he says.
“I am giving importance to these commonplace textures for the intangible memory that they possess and the passage of time that they portray.” These fragments of memory and time are now merged with new spirit, enabling them to travel further into the future.