All posts tagged: Josh MacPhee

Fun Friday 12.07.12

Happy Friday! Wipe that stain off your shirt from last nights office holiday party and brush your teeth and get to work so you can be a zombie all day. For our part –  it’s time for a little Street Art roundup of some things that you might like.

1. Miami in The House All Weekend
2. “Deck the Walls” at Stolen Space (London)
3. “Rinse & Repeat” Group Show at Ambush (Sydney, Australia)
4. Skewville in France, Quel Surprise! (Lille, France)
5. Jaye Moon at Paik Hae Young (Seoul)
6. “Sowing The Seeds of Love” – Just Seeds Group Show Friday (Manhattan)
7. Icy & Sot at Nu Hotel (Brooklyn)
8. Zombie Nation – Ezra Eismont
9. Herakut The Giant Story Book Project (VIDEO)
10. SWOON’s Konbit Shelter – Art in the Streets – MOCAtv (VIDEO)

Miami in The House All Weekend

This weekend the fun is for Street Art in Miami and check out some of our recommendations (Best Miami Street Art: BSA Picks Awesomest for Basel ’12) for hoofing it around that we posted Wednesday. Tonight of course there are a number of grand opening parties/after parties (including Fountain), but really just being on the street is equally fun if not funner! Thanks for that adverb from 7 year old Darnell Wilsen of Brooklyn.

Dcypher, CBS and Supher wall. Wynwood Arts Disctrict 2011. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Entes, Pesimo and Jade wall. Detail. Wynwood Arts District 2011. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For a full listing of Art Fairs, Events and Street Murals click here and here.

But not all the fun is in Miami here are a few picks of what’s happening elsewhere in the world:

“Deck the Walls” at Stolen Space (London)

Greeting cards are a nice way to say Merry Christmas to Grandma, and for suburban white middle class families to distribute photos proving that their kids are not on drugs. This is Stolen Space Christmas Show celebrates greetings cards and holiday cheer with D*Face, Word to Mother, Will Barras and David Bray among others putting their own imprimatur on Christmas. Come on, Uncle Bert and Aunt Dolittle will be there, so comb your hair, put some shoes on and get out of the house!

D*Face on the Streets of Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this show click here.

“Rinse & Repeat” Group Show at Ambush (Sydney, Australia)

With a collection of Australian Graffiti and Street Art Artists, “Rinse & Repeat” finds its inspiration by taking a look at the Old Masters and re-interpreting them with their own styles and techniques. An interesting proposition albeit fraught with risks – there are a few good ones here though that will delight your academic/street sensibilities. Included in the line up are: Adnate (AWOL Crew), Bridge Stehli, Cam Wall, Carl Steffan, Deams (AWOL Crew), Fintan Magee, Guido van Helten, Phibs, Shannon Crees,  Slicer (AWOL Crew) , Team and Teazer.

For further information regarding this exhibition click here.

Skewville in France, Quel Surprise! (Lille, France)

Hope they realize what they have gotten themselves into, but Vertikal Gallery is hosting Brooklyn Street Art collective Skewville for a solo show entitled “Be Inside”. Considering we have had one or two Lillians in Brooklyn putting work up on the streets over the last few years, this sounds like a cultural exchange program of some kind, right?

Skewville being territorial in Bushwick. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this exhibition click here.

Jaye Moon at Paik Hae Young (Seoul)

New York Street Artist Jaye Moon is in Seoul, Korea on an Art Residency Invitation and tonight his her solo exhibition with her “Lego Tree House” opening tonight at the Paik Hae Young Gallery.

Jaye Moon. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this exhibition click here.

“Sowing The Seeds of Love” – Just Seeds Group Show Friday (Manhattan)

The Art Collective Just Seeds new group exhibition titled “Sowing The Seeds of Love” opens tonight at the Munch Gallery in Manhattan. The artists in Just Seeds aim to put forth their world views on a variety of issues – looking to inform and bolster you through the power of art. Participating in this show are: Jesus Barraza, Kevin Caplicki, Melanie Cervantes, Santiago Doesntsitstill, Alec Dunn, Molly J Fair, Thea Gahr, Nicolas Lampert, Josh MacPhee, Fernando Marti, Colin Matthes, Dylan Miner, Roger Peet, Jesse Purcell, Pete Railand, Favianna Rodriguez, Shaun Slifer, Chris Stain, Meredith Stern, Mary Tremonte and Bec Young.

Chris Stain and Billy Mode in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this exhibition click here.

Icy & Sot at Nu Hotel (Brooklyn)

Iranian expats and brothers Icy & Sot invite you to celebrate with them their first foray in the hospitality business. The brothers designed a room at the Nu Hotel in Brooklyn and you are invited to come over tonight for some refreshments.

Icy & Sot in Manhattan. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For further information regarding this event click here.

Zombie Nation – Ezra Eismont

Artist Ezra Eismont has a Kickstarter fundraiser to help publish his Zombie Nation book, which features his zombified portraits of icons and celebrities. Seems like a heartwarming holiday thing to do, doesn’t it? Please support your local artists and small family businesses.


Herakut The Giant Story Book Project (VIDEO)


SWOON’s Konbit Shelter – Art in the Streets – MOCAtv (VIDEO)

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Munch Gallery and Just Seeds Present: ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ A Group Exhibition (Manhattan, NYC)

Just Seeds

Justseeds Sowing the Seeds of Love
Opening Reception: Friday December 7th, 7-9 pm
Exhibition runs December 7-23, 2012
 ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ by collective group, Justseeds, is the newest exhibition in conjunction with Munch Gallery. Each artist has created a unique piece specifically for the gallery, and all original work will be accompanied by limited edition work. The exhibition will also include a site-specific collaborative mural. We are excited to present the first Justseeds group exhibition in New York City.
Artists include:
Jesus Barraza, Kevin Caplicki, Melanie Cervantes, Santiago Doesntsitstill, Alec Dunn, Molly J Fair, Thea Gahr, Nicolas Lampert, Josh MacPhee, Fernando Marti, Colin Matthes, Dylan Miner, Roger Peet, Jesse Purcell, Pete Railand, Favianna Rodriguez, Shaun Slifer, Chris Stain, Meredith Stern, Mary Tremonte, Bec Young.
Justseeds is a union of 24 artists, who bring together their individualistic opinions to collectively establish a certain perspective on their worldly views. Justseeds continues to collaborate with artists and other collectives from around the world, and the artwork is a forward attempt in discovering the issues and compliances of the human spirit in this world.
Founded in 1998, and originally the graphics distribution project of Josh MacPhee, Justseeds made the transformation into a worker-owned cooperative in 2007 – the original network being largely in place through past collaborations and friendships. In May 2010, Justseeds moved their distribution center from Portland to a new and larger base in Pittsburgh. Justseeds is a conglomerate of creative minds, whose artwork offers viewpoints on different social, environmental and political stances.
Munch Gallery
245 Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow Streets)
New York, NY 10002
Wednesday through saturday 12-7 pm
Sunday 1-6 pm
And by appointment
Subway: F or M to Delancey/Essex Street or D to Grand Street
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Chris Stain Gets Ready for the DNC in Charlotte

Chris Stain Gets Ready for the DNC in Charlotte

Street Artist Chris Stain is in Charlotte, North Carolina as the city prepares for the Democratic National Convention coming here on September 3rd.  Art on the streets historically has employed political themes and motivations, explicitly or implicitly, and this new installation by Stain again draws attention to the plight of the everyday person barely afloat on a teetering raft in an economic storm.

When you look at the work on the street, you find that Street Artists continue to address issues that affect the poor and Chris Stain has always kept these people front and center in his work. The street is actually one of the few places today where you will find these people represented so prominently because mysteriously, during a time of incredible need and insecurity, poor people are almost invisible on the glossy high-production “political” TV shows and websites and they are absent from most policy talk today – on the right or left.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC (photo © Chris Stain)

In town with other artists who have worked in the street, Imminent Disaster, Greg Haberny, and Ben Wolf, Stain is taking part in “America Now”, a show and residency hosted by the McColl Center for Visual Art. With fellow artist Josh Macphee alongside him, Chris was able to knock this piece out in a few nights. He says he can see that Charlotte has been improving its downtown area quite a bit and he just hopes they don’t forget about the rest of the city’s residents who aren’t quite as well-to-do.

Brooklyn Street Art: Why did you pick this location?
Chris Stain: The wall location was offered to me by the McColl Center for Visual Art. The building is affiliated with their facility. There has been a lot new construction and renovation in Uptown Charlotte over the past 10 years. However there are outlying neighborhoods still in need of assistance.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Does Charlotte have a lot going for it right now?
Chris Stain: Charlotte is preparing for the Democratic National Convention this September. According to the Miami Herald the federal government gave the police force $50 million dollars to update their technology and arsenal for crowd control. Charlotte is a financial hub of the south and has much to protect in the way of banking and business. Surprisingly their seems to be strong support though for Arts and Humanities throughout downtown for the privileged with major museums and performance spaces.


Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your subjects are often regular people who are working and just getting by. Did you see many people like that in the streets of Charlotte?
Chris Stain:
From what I experienced and picked up on after the work week some shops close up due to lack of commerce. That’s when one store owner told me “The Homeless come out.” Most of my interactions were with people who didn’t live directly downtown. People would stop and comment, “Nice Job! That’s reality!”. I was there for a week before I started the mural but it didn’t take long to recognize the familiar vibe of separation and uneasiness of the new downtown that had dropped in on the old neighborhood. As an outsider I can’t give an exact account of all the politics but going off my first impression and gut instinct I chose the images I did to create the mural. Their is more to NC than just the Panthers (football team) and I that’s who I was rooting for.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Birds fly high in so many of your works. Is that an aesthetic decision entirely – a way to use the space? Or do you think they somehow are symbolic of something more?
Chris Stain:
Yes the birds are symbolic and also they are an aesthetic choice. The birds are a great way to activate the negative space in the composition. On a personal level they represent hope; the concept of ideas taking flight. Once those ideas take flight they have the potential to be life changing. Creativity is a protest against complacency.

Brooklyn Street Art: What are people on the street saying about the pending arrival of the Democratic National Convention?
Chris Stain:
Saturday we had an open studio visit at the McColl Center for Visual Art. Myself and 3 other NYC artists were asked to make work in conjunction with the upcoming DNC. My work dealt with the protest angle. The people that I talked with that day, for the most part, seemed nervous about the influx of others and the potential mayhem it will bring to this easy-going small city.

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Chris Stain with Josh Macphee. Charlotte, NC. Detail. (photo © Chris Stain)

Chris Stain and Josh Macphee from their indoor installation at the McColl Center for Visual Art. Charlotte, NC. (photo © Ben Premeaux)

Chris Stain at the McColl Center for Visual Art. Charlotte, NC. (photo © Chris Stain)


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“I think it gives Brooklyn a kind of twist”; Willoughby Windows through the eyes of Brooklyn kids.

The Willoughby Windows Project, curated by Ad Hoc Gallery last summer was a big hit that helped revitalize a downtown block.

A developer who bought the block had made it look ugly by kicking out the mom-n-pop businesses that made their living there, so the street artists made it look super cool by putting art in the windows.

These four talented and insightful Brooklyn students in 4th,5th, and 6th grades made an excellent documentary about the project and it’s impact on the people they met who passed the windows. It is very funny and entertaining. Oh yeah, it’s educational too.

Brooklyn Friends Student Documentary Fall 2009 from Samuel Bathrick

The team really studied the topic and explained why they did the project. Here are some quotes from the documentary, to give you a flavor:

“We decided to make a documentary film about the different stores and that had art in them.”

“We had some questions and we wanted to find out what the general public thought about the art.”

“Personally I think the stores closed because of the economy.”

The documentary includes discussion about the project, how it came about, and interviews with people on the street. Garrison Buxton of Ad Hoc, and one of the featured artists in the project Dennis McNett, are also interviewed. The whole documentary was edited by the class instructor, Sam Bathrick.

Three cheers for after school programs!  Three cheers for teachers!  Three cheers for these amazing students!!

See a previous post on the Willoughby Windows Project

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Josh MacPhee review of “Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo”

Street Artist Josh MacPhee is also an author, cultural reviewer, activist, and about 27 other things.  He recently reviewed a new book on street art from San Francisco and shared it with us.

In Josh’s writing you can always get a sense for the historical underpinnings of the street art and public art movement that arose apart from the graffiti scene, as well as the deep connections between social justice, education, and the mural as message.  Rather than being a derisive self-satisfied critic, one can appreciate Josh’s opinion because he takes the time to educate himself, consequently educating us in the process.


Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo by Annice Jacoby and Carlos Santana, Abrams, 2009

Josh’s review of

Street Art San Francisco

I gotta say, at the first crack of the spine of this book I was immediately nostalgic for San Francisco, strangely enough a city I’ve never even lived in! There was something extremely powerful about the streets of SF between 1997-2004, even for a visitor and outsider like me. Coming to the city, and the Mission District in particular, was like walking into a giant, explosive, exciting car crash of ideas, experiences, ideologies and people. The walls literally dripped with the shrapnel, covered with the remnants of 1970s & 80s murals, anti-gentrification screenprinted posters, art student graffiti, Latino gang markings, weirdo street artists, anarchist slogans, and billboards triumphantly announcing the dot-com and real estate booms. And for the most part this book does a great job of capturing that energy and feeling, carrying us through the blur.

Although Street Art SF is broken into sections, they are fairly hard to distinguish, which in many ways is a good thing, allowing the reader to flow from one style to another, fade between histories, jump between artists, just like a pedestrian on Valencia, Bryant or Mission streets would. Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t just another edition pulled of the seemingly endless conveyor belt of dull “Street Art” book cash-ins. Likely a smart marketing move to put street art first in the title, this is really a mural book that understands and values the contributions that street art and graffiti have added to the brew of public expression.

Images from "Street Art San Francisco"

Images from Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo

From an outsider’s perspective the book is quite exhaustive, from the origins of the SF mural scene in Diego Rivera’s 1930s/40s trips to the Bay Area to the Billboard Liberation Front and everything in between. So many of the diverse artists that have added to the walls of SF are in here that it makes the head spin (including Rivera, Robert Crumb, Spain Rodriguez, Juana Alicia, Susan Kelk Cervantes, TWIST/Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen, Susan Greene, Ester Hernandez, Michael Roman, ESPO, Mona Caron, Scott Williams, SF Print Collective, Chris Ware, Rigo, Swoon, Cuba, Andrew Schoultz, Ray Patlan, Aaron Noble, Ivy Jeanne, Heart 101, Aaron Noble, and hundreds of others). By carrying us back and forth through all these artists and history, the book helps express the larger birds eye view of the Mission scene, something that is different and more than just a sum of its parts. But don’t worry, most of those parts are here, too, and many of them not just captured in images, but also in the words and ideas of the artists. The pictures tell a million stories, but thankfully we’re given some written history and stories too. Each page answers questions I’ve always had, including the origin of the thumb-sucking Wolverine painting in Clarion Alley, how the Balmy Alley murals came to be, and the names and pieces of stories of dozens of artists whose work I’ve admired on the street for years but I knew little or nothing about.


Images from Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo

Although I first started visiting SF in the mid-90s, it wasn’t until 2001-2003 that I started spending significant time in the city, or adding to the messages on the walls (full disclosure: one of the quick and dirty murals I designed with friends is featured in the book).

Read the rest of Josh’s review at

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Willoughby Windows Walkby – Street Art on Display in Downtown Brooklyn

It’s a great idea to go window shopping these days —as opposed to actual shopping.

Since 70% of the American economy is fueled by shopping instead of manufacturing, we’re all supposed to be doing our patriotic duty accordingly. But sometimes the wallet is bare, bro.  And sometimes the local dollar doesn’t stay local.

In yet another case of Street Art improving a community, the Willoughby Windows project in downtown Brooklyn officially opened this weekend with 17 artists, babies, scooters, costumed dancers, a sidewalk DJ, and inquisitive mildly bewildered citizenry slowing down to peek through the glass into artists’ clever minds.

Artist Logan Hicks leans into his piece comprised of collaged crowds of New Yorkers on the street. (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Artist Logan Hicks leans into his multi-layered screenprint piece depicting crowds of New Yorkers on the street. (photo Steven P. Harrington)

A stupendous 3-D installation of printing expert Dennis McNett (photo Steven P. Harrington)
A stupendous animal centric 3D installation utilizing the full space of the display window by print expert Dennis McNett can only be appreciated fully in person (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Garrison and Allison Buxton, anchors and workhorses in the Brooklyn
Garrison and Allison Buxton; anchors and visionaries, bring Willoughby Windows to Brooklyn  (photo Steven P. Harrington)

In a joint effort with Ad Hoc Gallery and the local BID (Business Improvement District), Garrison Buxton and Allison Buxton and all the Ad Hoc interns have worked tirelessly for a few weeks with artists to install this show behind glass and to revive a moribund block in this sector of retail Brooklyn.

A highly detailed storyline from Cannonball Press (photo Steven P. Harrington)
A detailed storyline from Cannonball Press also features a giant old -style cash register (not pictured) that reminds you there once were real businesses and customers here (photo Steven P. Harrington)

At the very least, it’s not so friggin depressing to pass this block on the way to work.  At most, it can inspire creative impulses and conversations. Friday’s opening featured many children, gawking families, kooky creative types, chalk games on the side walk, even a feeling of “community”.  Huh.

Willoughby Window gazer (photo Jaime Rojo)

Willoughby Window gazer (photo Jaime Rojo)

In a window display that once featured
In a window display case that featured bagels and home-baked goods, the late afternoon shadows slide across photographs of shadow-tracing by street artist Ellis G.  (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Ironically a neighbor to bailout-happy JPMorgan Chase, whose skyscraper casts a shadow over this district of mom and pop businesses displaced by developers, the Willoughby Windows Project gives creative stimulus to the community with a fresh way to think of the shop window.

Chris Stain's stencil invokes imagery from his working-class roots (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Stencil artist Chris Stain invokes the imagery of Brooklyn neighbors (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Josh MacPhee

Josh MacPhee brings his Celebrate People's History poster series to this window, creating a patchwork of text and images (photo Steven P. Harrington)

In the wake of boom-era blustery press conferences and erect Powerpoint bar-graphs that fell limp, this project doesn’t bring back the businesses or feed their families, but it does invite a conversation about what a locally created economy means to the people who live here.  Pedestrian?  Yes, actually. Moribund? No way.

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Willoughby Windows presented by Ad Hoc

Ad Hoc Art presents Willoughby Windows

Friday, July 10th, 2 – 7pm = Ad Hoc Art presents “Willoughby Windows”

An ambitious creative venture featuring 14 storefronts on an entire block of downtown Brooklyn which will highlight installations by 15+ artists. The opening will be a street party on Friday, June 19th, from 2-7pm. Some of New York’s artistic finest will be representing to the fullest.

Confirmed participating artists include:

Cannonball Press (Mike Houston & Martin Mazorra)
Chris Stain
Dennis McNett
Ellis G
Greg Lamarche
John Ahearn
Josh MacPhee
Lady Pink
Logan Hicks
Carlos Rodriguez {Mare139}
Michael De Feo
Morning Breath
Nathan Lee Pickett
Tom Beale

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Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures Poster show


Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now

Guest curated by Dara Greenwald + Josh MacPhee

Jan. 23 – March 8, 2009

Full Program here


PITTSBURGH — In Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, hundreds of posters, photographs, moving images, audio clips, and ephemera bring to life over forty years of activism, political protest, and campaigns for social justice. Curated by Dara Greenwald and Josh MacPhee, this important and timely exhibition surveys the creative work of dozens of international social movements.

Signs of Change presents the creative outpourings of social movements, such as those for civil rights and black power in the United States; democracy in China; anti-apartheid in Africa; squatting in Europe; environmental activism and women’s rights internationally; and the global AIDS crisis, as well as uprisings and protests, such as those for indigenous control of lands; against airport construction in Japan; and for radical social transformation in France. The exhibition also explores the development of powerful counter-cultures that evolve beyond traditional politics and create distinct aesthetics, life-styles, and social organizations.

Although histories of political groups and counter-cultures have been written, and political and activist shows have been held, this exhibition is a groundbreaking attempt to chronicle the artistic and cultural production of these movements. Signs of Change offers a chance to see relatively unknown or rarely seen works, and is intended to not only provide a historical framework for contemporary activism, but also to serve as an inspiration for the present and the future.


Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bosnia, Brazil, Burma, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.

Online Now: LabA6 Podcast Interview
Curators Dara Greenwald, Josh MacPhee and Miller Gallery director Astria Suparak discuss the “Signs of Change” exhibition and the history of social movements on Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts podcast program LabA6.


Dara Greenwald is a media artist and PhD Candidate in the Electronic Art Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her collaborative work often takes the form of video, writing, and cultural organizing. She worked at the Video Data Bank from 1998-2005 and taught DIY exhibition at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago 2003-2005.

Josh MacPhee is an artist, curator and activist currently living in Brooklyn, New York. His work often revolves around themes of radical politics, privatization and public space. His most recent book is Reproduce & Revolt/Reproduce Y Rebélate (Soft Skull Press, 2008, co-edited with Favianna Rodriguez). He also organizes the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series and is part of the political art cooperative

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“These images exist to help people change the world” Interview with Josh MacPhee

At the crossroads of art and activism, the thinking person makes a choice. Aside from discovering and pushing the boundaries of aesthetics and the occasional petty street beef, Brooklyn’s street artist sometimes sprays for a higher calling.

Brooklyn’s street artists have a proud history of getting out a message; citing social ills, expressing dissatisfaction with a current war, yelling about a feared police state, or even advocating positive solutions.

A new book out by Josh MacPhee and Favianna Rodriguez places the messages of the streets in a context that helps the reader understand that we are, at any given point, merely on a continuum; peeps have been reaching the masses on the streets for years using their artistic talent.

The book, Reproduce & Revolt quickly engages you and cuts to the chase: social justice movements have always heavily relied on the talent and ingenuity of the artist to communicate, elevate, agitate, and educate. CHANGE, anyone? HOPE, anyone? Some of the most pressing issues of the 21st century – gender inequality, racial injustice, prison reform, globalization, labor rights, queer rights, immigration reform — all of these movements started in the margins, with little resources and little political clout. The power, resourcefulness, and creativity of the graphic designer and the artist were crucial to getting the message out to as many people as possible, in the most meaningful way.

In both English and Spanish, Reproduce & Revolt features the work of artists from over a dozen countries. It includes hundreds of permission-granted images that can be used (and have been) on flyers, posters, t-shirts, brochures, stencils, and any other graphic method you can devise. Most importantly to the authors, the reader is encouraged and schooled step-by-step on how to to think of themselves as the artist.

One of the authors, Josh MacPhee, is a well-known Brooklyn dude. Artist, curator, writer and activist, MacPhee has had a hand in creating many a piece that advocates and educates – his favorite may be the poster. In fact, a large poster show he is co-curating opens January 23 at Miller Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now.

We are thankful that Josh took some time and talked to us about this book, and what it means to him.

Brooklyn Street Art: What is your personal connection to art and activism?
Josh MacPhee:
When I was a kid I used to make art. When the US invaded Iraq in 1990 I was in high school, and started to realize sh*t wasn’t right in the world. Between punk rock, graffiti and stumbling upon an early issue of World War 3 Magazine, I realized that art and politics could and should go together.

Brooklyn Street Art: And your co-author, Favianna Rodriguez, has dealt with social issues with poster design?
Josh MacPhee: Favianna is practically a political poster making machine. She has and continues to produce an amazing breadth and depth of political graphics.

Brooklyn Street Art: The book serves as a step-by-step primer with a quick history of modern social justice movements and how they have each used art to energize and activate the populace. Why is this history relevant to today’s artists and activists?
Josh MacPhee: Everyday I wake up and feel like the world around me is losing meaning, with more and more people getting screwed, and at the same time more and more of us throwing our hands up in the air and saying, “well, nothing matters anyway.” F*ck that, sh*t matters! And sh*t changes. By understanding our history, we can understand that things haven’t always been the way they are, which means that they can change. If as street artists we had a slightly better understanding of the diversity of amazing art that has been done on the street in the past (and I’m not just talking 1980, but 1960, 1940, 1910…), then we’d have much more to draw from in making new work that is engaging and powerful, rather than just rehashing and slightly tweaking what everyone was doing 6 months ago.

(Klutch) (courtesy Reproduce & Revolt)

(Klutch) (courtesy Reproduce & Revolt)

Brooklyn Street Art: In a media soaked world, how can a message break through and reach people?
Josh MacPhee: People read what they see on the street. Not everyone, and not every word, but people do read, and do absorb. Never mind whether you “break through,” there’s no way you’ll ever reach people at all if you don’t even try to meet them where they are at.

Brooklyn Street Art: What have modern activist/artists learned from corporate advertising methods?
Josh MacPhee: Or vice/versa? Most corporate advertising steals from youth culture, street culture, and graphic history. Street stenciling started as a political act, now it’s a promotional device. Images on moving trains started during the Russian Revolution. The creativity of capitalism is purely parasitic, it never comes up with anything new on its own.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you have to go to art school to make effective political graphics?
Josh MacPhee: I didn’t. Most effective political graphics are made by “amateurs.”

Brooklyn Street Art: But definitely you need a computer and Photoshop, right?
Josh MacPhee: These days it helps, but it also has a tendency to get in the damn way. Not only do you get sucked into the screen, and forget how to do things with your hands, but the computer has a nasty habit of homogenizing the way things look, and spitting out carbon copies of slick and dull images and designs…

"Safe Sex is Hot" (Merideth Stern) (courtesy Reproduce and Revolt)

Brooklyn Street Art: You like stencils? What other techniques do you like to use?
Josh MacPhee: My body hates spraypaint these days, so I’ve started cutting my stencils out of rubylith, and using those to burn screens to silkscreen my images. Silkscreening is a cheap and easy way to make really nice short runs of prints. But if you really wanna reach out to a lot of people, you need to go offset and print 500 copies, 1000 copies, 5000 copies.

Brooklyn Street Art: Okay, Josh, imagine you are speaking to a fired-up teenage artist who wants to really shout out their message visually. What is the rule of thumb for an effective design?
Josh MacPhee: If you can, let your image speak for itself. The failure of most radical political communication is that it’s way too wordy. No one wants to read a poster with 20 paragraphs of small type on it. Catch people’s attention, communicate a tight, concise idea, and send them on their way to think about it. If you reach them, they’ll follow up, do research, and hopefully act on whatever your trying to change.

And diversify how your communicating. Posters reach one audience, emails another, social networking sites, flyers, stickers, graffiti, pirate radio, murals, banner drops, do it all.

(Shepard Fairey) (courtesy Reproduce & Revolt)

(Shepard Fairey) (courtesy Reproduce & Revolt)

Brooklyn Street Art: When designing for social change, how important is it to know your audience?
Josh MacPhee: Most important. period. You can’t speak to people if you don’t know what language they understand. So many well intentioned artists try and put out social messages but use graphic language or vocabulary that most people misunderstand, and then they get frustrated when no one responds. It’s like going to Bolivia and putting up giant posters in Swedish, it’s unlikely people will be feeling you.

Brooklyn Street Art: What street artists today use their work to draw our attention to social issues?
Josh MacPhee: The most successful, of course, is Banksy. But Chris Stain and Swoon are pushing the envelope, I’ve been impressed by what Above has been up to lately, Armsrock, the whole Yo! What Happened to Peace? crew, and on and on….

"Comido o Amigo" (Tyler Galloway) (courtesy of Reproduce & Revolt)

Brooklyn Street Art: You want people to reproduce the graphics in this book, right?
Josh MacPhee: Hell yeah, let ‘er rip! The point is that all these images and ideas are part of the commons, we share them, just like we share the earth we live on and the air we breath. These images exist to help people change the world.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you going to be in any shows this year?
Josh MacPhee: A giant show of political posters, flyers, photos, video and film that I curated with Dara Greenwald is opening on January 23rd at the Miller Gallery in Pittsburg

Justseeds (a political art collective MacPhee is a part of) has a big collaborative show coming up in Milwaukee in March (, I’m really looking forward to that.


Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now

Opens January 23rd
Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh

Artist-run political art cooperative and blog
Out now! Reproduce & Revolt (edited by Josh MacPhee & Favianna Rodriguez) is a collection of over 500 copyleft political graphics for activist use. Pick up a copy today!
The Celebrate People’s History Poster Series
53 posters and running…

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Two Andrews talk about “From the Streets of Brooklyn”

An unprecedented show of Brooklyn street art starts off 2009 at ThinkSpace gallery.

Bam! The year has barely started and the momentum from the previous giant year for street art blows clear into January with a new show of 50 artists from the streets of Brooklyn.

ThinkSpace Gallery, a warm-hearted community space and home of rockin’ shows in L.A. since 2005, plays host to it’s brothers and sisters across the continent with a salon-style show of street artists, graff writers, a hot photographer, and live on-the-street work by the chalk artist from BK.

In the middle of the installation craziness, the curator of the show, Andrew Michael Ford (gallery director at Ad Hoc), and Andrew Hosner (co-founder of ThinkSpace), talked with Brooklyn Street Art about the show:

BSA: So how did AdHoc and ThinkSpace hook up to do this show?

Andrew Hosner: Andrew and I have been friends for a while, and met while he was still doing some curating before hooking up with the Ad Hoc crew. One day we were just shooting the s**t about some show ideas and I tossed out the idea of bringing Brooklyn to Los Angeles…

Andrew Michael Ford: I’ve followed what ThinkSpace shows for quite some time and I was always very impressed with the work. I also have always felt that the folks who run ThinkSpace and myself have very similar tastes as far as curating art goes. Something like this has been talked about or at least thought about for quite some time and when Thinkspace approached us about doing it I felt like it was the right place and right time.

BSA: Is it a kind of East-West cultural exchange?

Andrew Michael Ford: The show is about bringing a large group of Brooklyn street artists and graf writers to Los Angeles. We haven’t discussed bringing LA artists to Brooklyn but I would be open to talking about something like that for the future.

Thundercut (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Thundercut (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

BSA: Brooklyn’s streetscape is pretty dense and is largely accessible by foot. Do you think the L.A. scene is more spread out? How do the two differ, in broad strokes.

Andrew Michael Ford: I have never been to LA but I heard you need a car to get anywhere out there so I assume it’s gotta be pretty spread out.

Andrew Hosner: I think you nailed it on the head, Brooklyn is much more condensed and has more of a community vibe to it I feel, whereas LA is the true meaning of urban sprawl, being one of the most spread out and varied big cities out there. There’s no real community vibe, save for lil’ pockets here and there, but the breadth of the city kind of goes against the notion of all that.

Dan Witz "Scott" from show "From the Streets of Brooklyn" (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Dan Witz "Scott" from show "From the Streets of Brooklyn" (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

BSA: Maybe this is impossible to put your finger on, but what would be a couple of characteristics that distinguish Brooklyn street art from other cities in the world?

Andrew Michael Ford: For me it started in NYC. I mean, graf started in Philly but really came into it’s own in NYC. I just don’t see that kind of history anywhere else. I see the lineage of graf into street art and that is why so many graf writers have been invited to this show. It’s not just about who is doing a lot of street art. It’s about who is getting up and staying in the streets of Brooklyn regardless of tools being used. I don’t like it when street artists from other cities look at graf here in NYC as some kind of background for their work. It’s a massive slap in the face to all graf writers. Brooklyn street artists have a lot more respect for graf than street artists I have met from other cities, especially from Europe. Maybe that’s the thing that distinguishes what’s going on in the streets of Brooklyn from other places.

Imminent Disaster (earlier work) (courtesy ThinkSpace and Ad Hoc)

Imminent Disaster (earlier work) (courtesy ThinkSpace and Ad Hoc)

BSA: You are showing a LOT of artists…did you have enough (Think) Space?

Andrew Hosner: Hahaha… it will be a very packed show hung salon style, going off of color palette and style. Should look amazing, but it is going to be a visual overload for sure. Patrons will be overwhelmed by Gaia and Rachel Lowing’s thought provoking install immediately upon entering the gallery, then passing through the entry area will be met by a tidal wave of artwork, coming at them from all directions, floor to ceiling… before turning the corner into our project room in the back where Disaster’s massive undertaking will greet them.

BSA: A bit like herding cats?

Andrew Michael Ford: Not really. Honestly, everyone involved believes in this show so much and have been very supportive and helpful in putting it all together.

Matt Siren (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Matt Siren (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

BSA: Will you have time to give Mr. Ford a tour of the sickest sites while he’s there?

Andrew Hosner: It’s hard to say since the focus will be our show, but hopefully on Saturday after the show has passed we will get out to see some of the hotter spots about LA to enjoy works outside. With so many coming to town for the opening, there’s a good chance we’ll be able to watch some of Brooklyn’s finest… cool thing is, all will be able to watch Ellis G. on opening night doing his thing on our block, and I can’t wait for that.

Andrew Michael Ford: I would love to see some stuff by Saber if possible. But really anything good being done would be great to check out.

Ellis G. (courtesy Ad Hoc and ThinkSpace)

Ellis G. (courtesy Ad Hoc and ThinkSpace)

BSA: The Brooklyn scene keeps evolving rapidly; what is one trend that you are seeing that is telling you about the future?

I see more and more people throwing up wheatpastes in the streets that I don’t feel are well executed or well placed. I mean, there is room for everything and I love to see what people feel they need to put up but it does worry me sometimes when I see tons of poorly crafted wheatpastes thrown all over the place with no thought to where it is being placed or the quality of the imagery they are producing. I would just like to see people take a little more time in the creation of their art and in the selection of the spots they decide to hit.

Elbow-Toe (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Elbow-Toe (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

BSA: Whose work is exciting to you right now, and what does it say to you?

Andrew Hosner: I love the work of Elbow-Toe, whose work is really a statement on the state of things in our society right now. His every man piece is by far one of the most powerful and extremely well executed works of this past year. You can look at that work 20 years from now and know that it was referencing the economic struggles were going through currently, while also hinting at the 1st great depression. Powerful work.

Also very inspired by the works of Imminent Disaster, due to her strength in so many different creative outlets… Chris Stain also is someone who should be looked up to. Thought provoking work and just a great overall cat.

Stikman (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Stikman (courtesy ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Andrew Michael Ford: I think that street art needs to interact with the space where it is placed (good placement is key) and it needs to engage the viewer. Working big can sometimes do this but sometimes it can be a big massive nothing. It’s tough to point to a specific artist but if I had to pick one I can say I’m really intrigued by what the artist Stikman does, as he uses a wide variety of mediums and techniques and always catches you off guard with the placement of his work. Very smart work.

Anera (image by Luna Park) (courtesy Luna Park, ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

Anera (image by Luna Park) (courtesy Luna Park, ThinkSpace and AdHoc)

BSA: What impression do you think the gallery-goer in L.A. is going to come away with about the Brooklyn street art scene?

Andrew Michael Ford: That’s a great question but sadly one that I have no answer to. I haven’t got a clue what kind of reception we will get when we arrive. I am hoping this can be a positive experience for everyone involved.

Andrew Hosner: I hope they come away feeling inspired and filled with the desire to visit the streets of Brooklyn in person, so they can experience these works as they were originally meant to be, and also feel compelled to explore the works of each in the show further, hopefully coming away with a new favorite that they will watch in the years that lay ahead.

I think many will also be surprised at the sheer breadth and quality of work on view – it is definitely an eye opener type of exhibit. Hopefully this will help to open their eyes to the beauty that is all around them in Los Angeles and abroad. So many walk through their city with blinders on, and it really is a revelation when you start to take in and appreciate the work of urban artists.

ThinkSpace Gallery

AdHoc Art

From the Streets of Brooklyn

More stuff on ThinkSpace and Andrew Hosner from the art collector blog

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Josh and Favianna are Revolting in Italy!

Not really, I just try to come up with clever headlines

But truth be told, authors of House of Love and Dissent) on their world tour promoting their book on how to make a stencil and change the world.

Flyer from the opening

Flyer from last night's opening

Josh, a Brooklyn street artist, tells BSA that a ton of people came to last night’s event, and tonight is another cool party. “I’m excited to see which graphics from the book resonate with people here, and how that differs from other places.”

The book, a very accessible and quick historical primer on the power of using graphics for social change, features a multitude of stencils you can use immediately.

And that is what the authors intend: In an age of non-stop visual glut from corporate advertising and PR firms, the little guy and gal can seize the power of the message with some thoughtful application of stencils, or a photocopier.

Reproduce and Revolt

Favianna Rodriguez blog

Josh MacPhee at Just Seeds

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