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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.