Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Prince Of Luna Park 2. Of Memory and Debris a film by Rodrigo Michelangeli 3. The Velvet Underground / Official Trailer
BSA Special Feature: Prince Of Luna Park
New York’s history is marbled and concrete, full of dreams and philosophy, and brutish transactional business at all costs. Before there was this Luna Park, there was the original Luna Park. But all the Luna Parks are tied together in a haze of thrills, chills, excitement, oddity, and french fries with hot dogs. Here in Daniel Lombroso’s “The Prince of Luna Park,” Alessandro Zamperla works to protect his family’s iconic theme park during the pandemic—and prove himself to his father.
Prince Of Luna Park. A film by Daniel Lombroso
Of Memory and Debris a film by Rodrigo Michelangeli
More than 20 million people have left Venezuela in the last five years due to economic collapse. A gorgeous story of love, loss, memory, and the artifacts of life that are all set in motion by upheaval.
“An intimate character diptych, OF MEMORY AND DEBRIS tells the story of an unseen generation — the grandparents left behind by the largest exodus in Latin America’s recent history.”
The Velvet Underground / Official Trailer
Good Evening. We’re your local velvet underground.
“Graffiti ain’t something you do, it’s something you live,” says the text above a wildly lettered REVS piece in a 1996 photo taken in El Paso. If there is a New York graffiti/Street Art icon that you would identify with a credo like this, he’s definitely one. Self-secreted away from the limelight and distrustful of many of the characters that are on the graffiti/Street Art “scene” today, REVS is nearly a New York folk hero, despite appearing to be completely firm in his anti-establishment, anti-commercial views – rooted in punk and hardcore music and those values that helped form his sometimes shape-shifting character since the the 1980s.
Today it is a rare moment for BSA to publish an exclusive interview with an anonymous and articulate thinking man and writer whose practice we consider to be an important lynchpin between graffiti and what would later be called “Street Art.” The scale of his massive roller tags with sometimes writing partner COST, the series of personal ‘diary’ entries that number into the 200s in underground tunnels, the replication and repetition of tags and messages through new print methods, the move to iron sculpture soldiered to the streetscape – each of these moves broke a mold and expanded the definition of art on the streets in some way.
New York author and respected Hardcore music and graffiti documentarian Freddy Alva is publishing the second edition of his book “Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore”this month, where he gives you the full account of personally meeting with and interviewing the elusive writer/artist/musician – a generous portion of which we bring to you here today. Mr. Alva tells us what it was like to meet with REVS and speaks of the illuminating and wide-ranging REVs interview that gives details and perspective behind the lore in his evolution with aesthetic street expression in a way that is rarely heard. Our thanks to both of these folks for sharing their stories with BSA readers.
Intro from Freddy Alva
When I first started to write my ‘Urban Styles Graffiti In NYHC’ book in 2016; the first person on my list that I wanted to interview was REVS. I’d been a big fan of his output since the late 80’s and I knew he came from a Punk/Hardcore background, which made him an ideal subject to highlight the synthesis and crossover of these vital NYC subcultures that went on to have such a worldwide cultural impact. I managed to get a sit-down with him through mutual acquaintances & traveled deep into South Brooklyn to pitch my book. He was a bit distant at first but warmed up as he found out I used to book shows at a place one of his bands played at in the early 90’s.
As I laid out my vision for the book and the writers that I was planning on interviewing plus images that I wanted to highlight; he patiently listened and towards the end politely declined to be included as he preferred to keep his story underground and maybe I didn’t quite correctly explain what the final product would look like but he did agree for a couple of songs from his early 80’s band Adam 12 to be included on a compilation I was planning on releasing simultaneously with the book. I left Brooklyn a bit dejected but respected his decision & figured that was it.
Flash forward to when the book came out in early 2018 and I
got in touch with him again to return those Adam 12 songs that I used &
also to give a him a copy of the book to see what he thought of it. He called
me up the very next day saying how much he loved it & if there was any
chance he could still be included. Fortunately, the book quickly sold out and I
was planning on expanding the 2nd edition, as there was a chapter
that was left off the first time around, plus correcting typos and fixing some
of the photos so to add a REVS interview would make this the definitive
Like I stated in my intro to his section; people that follow
him might not be as aware of how much his experience in being a Punk Rocker has
really impacted all of his art in such a profound fashion. It’s unheard of
these days, in what’s called the street art world, to have an artist of such
magnitude and influence like REVS eschew all and any attempts to commercialize
He will never sell you one of his works, there won’t ever be
a gallery exhibition, he will not do any commissions and forget about any
merchandise/marketing related to him. One need not look any further than the
defiant, middle finger, fuck you to the system attitude espoused by American
Hardcore bands like the Dead Kennedy’s or the Do It Yourself ethics of
subversive English Punks Crass; all resonating in his work throughout the
years. I seriously consider him one of the last great NYC artists from the 20th
century that got his start and influence from two rebellious subcultures that
are near & dear to my heart. I feel fortunate to fill in some missing
pieces, giving a more nuanced picture of who he is and why his art comes out
the way it does.
~ Freddy Alva
What was your next tagging name? The very first name I had was SATIRE and I probably got that from the Monty Python show on TV. I didn’t know what it meant, had no fucking clue, but I wrote it on an abandoned house with this kid that wrote RED and lived on my block
At what point did you start writing REVLON? That started in 1983. After writing SIRO I might have been ME2 for a few weeks, then it was KIRK, took some bullshit tags in the village with that, nothing particularly good. I was hanging out with this guy D-ROCK, he was in a band called Cooker, known before as Weed or also Sacro 13; all the same band. He used to write and we would go on missions and also go to HC shows together all the time. He had a dope dancing style, kind of like John Watson. We were hanging out in my hallway one day and I went to the bathroom, saw this Revlon shampoo bottle while taking a piss and picked it up.
What can I tell you? I was young and stupid, I had so much hatred in me. I hated every fucking thing. I stuck with that for a while because I developed a good one line tag. It’s a horrible tag I know but I love animals and hate animal testing so this I again one of those contrary things that I’m against what the name stands for, like Adam 12. Another tag of mine is SHIESTA and once again I’m the complete opposite of that because I don’t shyster with people. I don’t like shysters, there is always this duality that goes with me.
Did you do any burners on trains with the REVLON name or get down with any crews? Yeah, we used to go to the 4th Avenue layups, the M yard, RR layups in the city. We also went to the ‘Dead Yard’ in Brooklyn on 39th street. Me and my partner NB were hitting tunnels pretty extensively in 1983. I never joined any crews.
At what point did the REVLON name transition into REVS? That happened in 1987. We were painting at King Kong’s cave in Brooklyn where the N train goes to Coney Island. I was doing a wall with LAW and EROS from Staten Island, plus my partner at the time, KAB, and NIKE from DESTINY crew. I did a REVS because REVLON is a such a horrible stupid fucking name. I abbreviated it and put a Z at the end because I was sick of REVLON. By 1990 I was a nowhere guy, like that Reagan Youth song, “Go Nowhere”, that was me. I just threw the rule book out the door and didn’t give a flying fuck about making straight lines in graffiti. I just wanted to destroy like Johnny Lydon and I never looked back because I feel that I’m in my groove.
It’s interesting this transition happened when graffiti in NYC changed after the train era and new techniques, like wheat paste posters, in street bombing became more prevalent. You are associated with that, tell me about it. I was walking down Houston near Mercer one day and saw some stupid poster for a Tom Cruise movie and I was like; ‘Fuck this, I’m gonna do my own thing’. I figured it out, got wheat paste and started going out solo, putting my posters up in the Village. This is in 1990 or maybe 1989 because I had my first girlfriend in 1988. She was Porto Rock and wasn’t hearing about any of this graffiti shit. I couldn’t be a bum, had to dress nice and take her to dance clubs like 10-18. That was fun, going to places like The Palladium, got to do what you got to do sometimes! She actually ended up running away with a sailor and moved to Hawaii. I was like; ‘Fuck this, fuck everything’ once again. I started doing these crazy sloppy rollers with the wheat paste because everything at that point in graffiti was so meticulous in 1990. Perfect straight lines, right angles… I was like; ‘nah, I hate everything’.
People must have have thought you were putting up movie posters when you went out. How did you hook up with COST? I would do low spots like doorways and one day I saw COST hitting all the backs of the ‘Don’t Walk’ signs on the street and I knew him since like 1985. He was putting these 8 ½ x 11 inch ‘Hello My Name Is COST’ posters and I was doing 11 x 17 inch ‘Who Is REVS’ posters. I ran into the dude from Videograf and told him to give COST my number.
Where did the idea to do rollers come from? I think LAW and EROS used bucket paint for their piece at King Kong’s cave but they did it as fill-in material. The concept of “John Loves Mary’ written on the side of a bridge with house paint also influenced me but I took it on steroids. I’m a white dude that likes tools, got to use tools, it’s part of my nature. I can physically do some stuff but I’ll always settle for doing something smarter not harder. I got an extension pole, like 24 feet long, for the roller me and COST did. We did our first roller on a parking lot by Duane St, right on the roof. It was a brown roller on a tan wall.
COST is a straight up graffiti dude, he’s a bomber, that’s what he knows how to do. Don’t ask him to draw anything. He can probably do a piece but he’s great at throw-ups and tags. He’s not into abstract work, but when we did that roller a lightbulb went off. We blew up the whole spot, no one could go over us. It was a sloppy roller but to his credit, he’s a very neat guy and meticulous. He cares about perception, wants to get feedback. I don’t care, just don’t go over me, say whatever you want. He was like; ‘Yo Rev, we got to make these things neat, make them clean and everything’. I was like ok; I can go with the flow so when we started doing that’s when it really took off. We started hitting everywhere and these things look pretty good, almost semi-pro lettering, kind of like a stencil.
I know spray cans are easy to rack, but how did you get all these gallons of paint and wheat paste? Wheat paste was cheap. I always worked, been working since I was 11 years old so I had money for buying wheat paste. We found on Reade St. an old paint store that had like a gazillion DOT (Department Of Transportation) yellow standard buckets and I bought every single one for like a dollar a piece. This is the DOT yellow that I used before meeting COST. I ran Houston and Broadway with a DOT yellow piece. We also used whatever we found in the garbage, didn’t care it was oil based, we are not painting someone’s house but just blasting as much as possible. We found Photo Backdrop paper in Soho and started doing what we called street paintings on them, then gluing those up. They were 4 x 6 feet tall. We started doing street paintings where you paint the doorway and then take some shoe dye, put purple in the dye, then do my character. COST was doing his stick figures thing and we ventured out to the outer boroughs as well.
I imagine you guys started garnering attention as far as this is something, it’s not like traditional graffiti from the 70s/80s. What did other writers think of it? Writers didn’t like it. COST came up with the idea of getting a toll free phone number and then got his grandmother to record some foul language messages, insulting people. People were like; ‘What is this shit? That ain’t Graffiti!’ When dudes saw one of our rollers outside of, like Tower Records, or in Soho, they’d be off balance not knowing what to think. All their shit in the bottom didn’t mean anything anymore.
It’s ironic because traditional art theory people would look at this as some kind of performance art and graffiti writers would say what is this? They would say what is this toy shit? How come you’re not using spray paint? Regular people would call up and ask what is this about. It was mysterious but we were just two graffiti guys.
I was tracing the origins of the whole ‘Street Art” moniker and arguably; a lot of it can be traced back to what you guys were doing then Oh yeah it can. Street art has been around for a while but they didn’t really call it that, like the dude that put the shadows up everywhere. Then it was the ‘Kill Your TV’ guy. We started calling it street art and now it’s a bad word, at least amongst graffiti writers. It’s not a bad word for the people making money off it. I don’t call it graffiti anymore but “Greed-Fitti.” Once you throw money into something it has a way of making things go weird. All these dudes are selling things because there’s no real graffiti anymore. They took away the trains, buses, handball courts, the parks. Guys play with the tunnels now, RD and SEN 4 have the fire hydrants but we’ve got virtually nothing. Maybe some overpass by the freight trains. All of us still have the itch and being grown men now, we could do a good job. Everyone has a family with mouths to feed so they’re selling everything and calling it graffiti but it’s only graffiti when it’s up.
When did the rollers and wheat pasting era come to an end for you? Me and COST would argue a lot. We’d have these crazy discussions because we were together so much and have way different philosophies on life. I had to put my foot down otherwise he would have printed t-shirts to sell in Macy’s or something like that. One day we were wheat pasting and it ended up with us saying ‘Fuck You’ to one another. We went our separate ways but cops were trailing him because he was putting up a lot of stickers. Whenever we’d do a roller, he’d bring cans and do throw-ups. I didn’t want to do that because I don’t like spray paint anyway, but love tagging.
Is that when you started your series in the tunnels? Yeah, any motherfucker can write on a piece of paper but graffiti needs balls. The best graffiti guys have balls and talent, that’s dudes like ZEPHYR, SEEN, BAN 2. Some guys can get up but don’t have the talent. The tunnel thing was a case of I don’t give a flying fuck, I’m going to do whatever I want to do, don’t care who sees it. It’s not in book form, just made that shit up as I went along. I can’t spell. I was going with bucket paint and a ladder all painted black, clothes were black, pole was black. I used the best quality paint I could get my hands on and did 235 of these series. I didn’t get my groove on.
At what point did your steel sculptures come about? I don’t call them sculptures, more like metal pieces. DIVA used to call them weld-ups. I come from the working class so I build stuff. The first weld-up I did was in 1990 and it was a cage that I installed in Soho with railroad spikes and some epoxy on the bottom. It ran for a couple of months and then I did another one by the cube on St. Marks. It was an oil can that was for the Gulf war in 1991. Me and CZ, who I used to write with, humped that thing from my third floor apartment on the Lower East Side.
I started to get more into welding
and even when I was hanging with COST I would tell him to get a book to get the
concept of welding. He was like, ‘Nah REV, it’s not the right time.’ He doesn’t
come from the working class, has a different background. I got down with my
union and started getting better at welding, practice in anything will make you
better. I got balls and you combine that with being good at something; this is
the shit I’m into. I love getting into steel with a grinder and a torch. It’s
so easy to get a rechargeable grinder now but they didn’t have them back then
and now everyone is forty years old. Fifteen year olds ain’t fucking with that
but grown men know a little bit about tools. You can lose your shit once you
weld something. They’ll cut the fence down and go for the easiest part of your
piece, just take it down. That’s where I’m at, trying to device ways to make it
hard to take down and they’re looking for ways to stop me.
I remember at the time
you and COST were doing stickers and the 12” cover cover seemed an extension of
that as the cover looks like one giant REVS sticker
I can see why you say that but the
cover wasn’t a sticker, it just looks like one. That’s the difference between
me and COST. The 12” was a personal thing to me not some kind of mass media
campaign. I didn’t give a shit about becoming anybody. That’s the great thing
about the Adam 12 guys, none of us wanted to become anybody, that’s why I like
those guys. Other dudes like the Greed-fitti guys always want to become
somebody, they want to be the next Andy Warhol, Keith Haring or Basquiat.
That’s the problem because the
Greed-Fitti guys don’t come from punk. They don’t come from ‘Fuck you, stay the
fuck away from me’. I’m not left wing, I’m not right wing, just stay the fuck
away. That’s the punk I know and grew up on and when things started changing in
1984, it was disheartening. The machismo, why have violence against your own
people? As Jello (Biafra) says; ‘Thrash a bank if you have the balls’. Why fuck
with your own kind, back then everyone got along except for maybe there was a
hippie or two that got beat up at CBGB’s.
An amorphous shape-shifting consortium of Berlin-based aerosol hooligans named 1UP is one of those graffiti crews who eventually make the entry into graffiti street lore because of the scope and daring of their travails.
Primarily Berlin based, you’ll find their almost-commercial sounding name on roofs, walls, abandoned factories, and in tunnels in many cities around the globe. Without a clear idea of the exact number in their association nor precise membership these daredevils are most often described as white men in their twenties and early thirties reveling in the athleticism and sport of graffiti, in addition to style. The tag itself appears to be rather “open source” at times, with only insiders able to keep track of the distinct hand styles forming the ubiquitous name on thousands of surfaces.
We spent a few days in Berlin recently and easily collected a handful of images here to share, but it the actual number one could capture would fill a bulky tome.
“1Up Crew…? ‘All City’ doesn’t even begin to cover it, these guys smash walls like sledgehammers,” says Roland Henry, managing editor and a journalist for VNA (Very Nearly Almost), the UK-based independent magazine that has featured interviews with some of the world’s top artists, illustrators and photographers from the urban art scene over the last 10 years. Living in Berlin this spring and summer after calling London home for many years, Mr. Henry says he still hasn’t stopped seeing new 1UP’s.
In a city famously permissive, even celebratory, toward graffiti culture like Berlin, once you notice one 1UP tag on a wall you can’t stop seeing them – like the time your brother started dating that Mexican girl in high school and suddenly you realized that there were hot tamales everywhere! – In the hallways, at the laundromat, in the park, at the corner grocery.
“Spend any time in Berlin and one thing is immediately glaringly obvious: 1UP have their hometown on lockdown,” says photographer and graffiti expert Luna Park, whose forthcoming New York contemporary graffiti book (UN)Sanctioned will be released on Carpet Bombing Culture books in October.
“Take the time and dedication that your average all city bomber expends in getting their name out – now multiply that by 20. Maybe you’ll come close to grasping 1UP’s prodigious output. If there were an Olympic sport for team graffiti, surely 1UP would be gold medal contenders. Not only do they excel at all graffiti disciplines, they take what it means to push a crew to the most logical extreme.”
Park’s point about disciplines is well taken, as not one discernible specific style or medium is used by this one united power – throwies, bubble tags, wildstyle, rollers, juicy markers, sculptures, extinguisher tags.
But it is working as an organized crew covering multiple cars on trains that they are perhaps most well known for – covering cars top to bottom, end to end – in a few short minutes.
“Look up their legendary and brazen daytime whole-car missions on YouTube and you’ll begin to understand this is a crew that seriously rolls deep,” says Ms. Park. “Better yet, get your hands on their “One United Power” film and prepare to be inspired by their global exploits.”
Now in their 13th year, at this point 1UP is a brand (sort of like its older cousin 7UP) – and it probably shows up on scatter charts in PowerPoint slides in advertising and marketing conference rooms – desired psychographics and demographics analyzed, sought after, targeted.
But keep the numbers in perspective – they can’t rival the millions of illegal logos plastered across our cities in violation of numerous regulations. You think graffiti is lawless? Hell, try advertising – it’s nearly completely unregulated in cities like New York and the very few laws that exist are rarely enforced. That Coke crew, for example, they are seriously worldwide with their bombing and tagging – taking over hectares of public space and millions of atoms of mindshare.
World-traveling superstar urban art photographer Martha Cooper, who has been tracking graffiti since trains were first plastered with aerosol paint in the late 1970s and whose first namesake library will open next year with the inauguration of the Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin, says she’s had some time to observe 1UP, and she acknowledges their status.
“This very active crew has sprayed the world with an impressive assortment of carefully-planned, well-executed tags, throwies and pieces above and below ground,” says Cooper. “Big Up to 1Up for helping to keep the original outlaw spirit of graffiti alive.”
We first met Peter Carroll in the Spring of 2008 at Ad Hoc Gallery at an opening. He gave us a bunch of his Pet Bird stickers and talked to us as if he had known us for years, making us feel welcomed and like friends. That’s just how Peter was and how he remained over those years as we grew closer.
An honest, witty, straight shooter no-nonsense type of guy with a very clever glint in his eye. He didn’t suffer fools gladly, didn’t put on airs, and when he needed to call out the BS on some blabbermouth or poser he would do it, no problem.
He loved the graffiti scene and appreciated what Street Art added possibly because of what it didn’t require; permission, wordy catalogs, gate-keepers, pomposity, fakes. He loved Luna, cats, cars, graffiti, bicycles, science, medicine, and his friends. He knew how to value material possessions, was a loyal friend, loved good food and good music. When he was feeling well he’d offer to help you if you needed a hand. When the pain and the discomfort of his recent illness was too much to bear he’d stay home reluctantly but would strategize how to keep a good attitude, even though that could be very hard work as well. He’d ideally want to be out with you, playing and hanging out and when he was not being able to do so it bummed him out.
Peter and Katherine AKA Luna Park made a formidable and beautiful couple. You always could tell that they liked each other a LOT and they knew how to make each other laugh really hard and they were very kind to one another. They were an excellent role model for us and we cherished them as much together as on their own. Both were walking encyclopedias of graffiti and spoke about it enthusiastically, always excited to discover new ruins and railroad tracks and new cities together, camera in hand. Equally they were enthusiastic about the writers as individuals and they celebrated their skills together. We were blessed to know Peter, and we are all very lucky to have Luna.
We’re just rambling now, we are filled with sadness writing this, something we shouldn’t be writing, certainly not so soon…
He passed away on Monday evening, probably as a complication from recent illnesses. Our hearts go out to Luna and to Peter’s mom and to their families and to the many friends whose lives were touched by his. Shout out to Becki Fuller who is a strong and beautiful friend to Luna and the community of friends around them.
Please come Saturday night for A Celebration of Peter Carroll AKA Laserburners AKA PET Bird
and in support of his partner Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park whom he loved dearly.
Saturday October 3rd from 4pm until late
22 Waverly Avenue Between Park and Flushing
Brooklyn, New York
We will post more information on Facebook (Brooklyn Street Art), Twitter @BKStreetArt, Instagram @BKStreetArt as we learn it.
Curator and artist Ryan Seslow has pulled off an overview of art on the streets and the practices employed, minus the drama. So much discussion of graffiti, Street Art, and public art practice can concentrate on lore and turf war, intersections with illegality, the nature of the “scene”, shades of xenophobia and class structures; all crucial for one’s understanding from a sociological/anthropological perspective.
“Concrete to Data”, opening this week at the Steinberg Museum of Art on Long Island, gives more of the spotlight to the historical methods and media that are used to disseminate a message, attempting to forecast about future ways of communicating that may effectively bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual.
Seslow has assembled an impressive cross section of artists, practitioners, photographers, academics, theorists, and street culture observers over a five-decade span. Rather than overreaching to exhaustion, it can give a representative overview of how each are adding to this conversation, quickly presenting this genre’s complexity by primarily discussing its methods alone.
Here is a sneak peek of the the concrete (now transmitted digitally); a few of the pieces for the group exhibition that have gone up in the last week in the museum as the show is being installed.
“This really made my day honestly,” says Cope2, the Bronx bomber as he finishes his new rainbow striped iconic bubble letters in the Boogie Down. It’s a sunny, warm perfect Saturday in New York, and he writes on his phone as he puts it up excitedly on his Instagram, “It’s international day against homophobia this ones for my GLBT brothers and sisters!!”
Cope2 in the Bronx in front of his brand new rainbow striped tag. “Love is all we need”. May 17, 2014
He instinctively knows he’s bracing for some negative comment on his feed – this is New York after all and this is a guy some people in the graffiti scene call a “King” with a 30+ year history on the street as well as an established gallery career. And yes, there is a scattered disapproval and disbelief among the majority positive responses. “Why, Cope, why?!”, asks one, and “Fuck tolerance shit,” responds another. Earlier in the day someone had written “that SHIT gay as fuck boy,” and another “Fuck fagz bun a batty man” – but these voices were more or less drowned out by shows of support and thanks throughout the day.
“So clean and freshh”, “Beautiful,” “Memeo contigo”, “Great stuff bro,” “LOOOOOVEE!!!” and “maybe the haters will shut the fcuk up now. Way to take the high road.”
That last comment was probably a reference to the firestorm that erupted as he took on the big Houston Street Wall this past week and his own past use of homophobic slurs and insults on social media called into question his attitudes toward folks, and the meaning of his choice for this iconic Manhattan location that has hosted many big names including the openly gay Keith Haring . The discussions were hot and a genuine volley eventually took it in the wrong direction for all parties before finally public apologies were made and some people have granted forgiveness. But bruises still exist, and Cope wants to do his part to at least build some bridges.
On a day like today Cope is on top of it and for all his GLBT friends and fans he says he wants to make clear his position on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks once and for all. “Love is all we need!!”…and we’re probably just going to go ahead and agree on that one.
A screenshot of Cope2’s Instagram page shows a number of the things that have been on his agenda lately.
But why bring it up to begin with, some would ask. Isn’t this sort of beyond the point of aerosol and bubble tags and graffiti and art? One of Cope2s Instagram commenters says, “cuz we don’t ignore shit that is wrong.” Truth is, there are a lot of folks victimized every day everywhere, and like a guy with a conscience Cope2 knows he has a voice on the street where it can matter.
“Given his stature in the graffiti community I think it sends an important message,” says Luna Park, the well respected photographer and documentarian of the graffiti and street art scene, particularly over the last decade. Park says that when a revered graff writer and artist takes a position on any issue like this, it has an impact on the peers and kids who idolize them.
“It is a signal. And from my perspective it is welcomed. I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of sending signals like that. And if you look at the feedback he has already received in social media – there is an immediate positive impact. He has an enormous platform and a lot of people look up to him and regardless whether you personally like his work or not, the fact is that it is important how he uses his platform.”
“So many kids are looking up to him,” says Street Artist Olek, known for her crochet street installations that have taken her around Europe and the US, covering the Wall Street Bull sculpture and even landed her in the Smithsonian. The Polish born Brooklynite wanted to do her own installation today by the Houston Street wall to show support of a community she feels close to, so she staged her crochet camouflaged models in front of it with rainbow crocheted cans in hand.
Street Artist Olek created this public performance installation next the Houston Street Wall today. The words read “Respect The Rainbow.com” – referring to a webpage she created for it also. (#IMAHOT).
“This is subject that I want to stand by,” she says by way of reclaiming some of the negativity that has been associated with the Houston Street wall that was once actually covered by one of the first openly gay artists painting in the street back in the 80s and 90s. “I want to be part of it and to make a statement and encourage positive vibes.”
Throughout the day there has been a lively banter about these new developments on the street and on social media and in private offline conversations. Most think that a page has been turned, at least a little one, and that some bridges recently burned may yet be built.
Street Artist Gilf! reposted her 2010 piece online called “Empower Equality”, saying “Today is International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. It’s time to celebrate love, instead of honoring hate. We live in a world that exponentiates your energy.”
Cope2 tells us he has his eye on generating some positive energy in the graffiti and Street Art scene and with his new piece he’s telling us “Love is all we need!!”. We’re down with that.
We’d like to invite you to join us at the Brooklyn Museum for “Street Art Stories”,
a presentation and conversation with Swoon on April 24th.
It’s going to be a scintillating, entertaining and fun night
and the museum is staying open late for us so you can see
the brand new Swoon: Submerged Motherlands installation
in person with other BSA friends and fans.
We look forward to meeting you there!
Along with Swoon we are excited to welcome as our guests photographer and graffiti/street art enthusiast Luna Park and curator Keith Schweitzer, who will lend us some of their expertise and insights for our “Street Art Stories” theme. We are honored that our event will be moderated by none other than Sharon Matt Atkins, the Managing Curator of Exhibitions at The Brooklyn Museum and the curator of Swoon: Submerged Motherlands.
The reception will be regaled with the eclectically funky musical stylings of DJ Sleptember!
In Conversation: Brooklyn Street Art, April 24th
Jaime Rojo and Steven P. Harrington, Brooklyn Street Art Founders
On Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m. the Brooklyn Museum presents
In Conversation: Brooklyn Street Art. Brooklyn Street Art founders Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo lead a dynamic, multimedia conversation that explores the evolution of street art stories as told by the earliest graffiti writers to today’s D.I.Y. artists. They’ll reveal secret backgrounds, show what stylistic themes are recurring today, and hint at the future of street art in New York.
They are joined in conversation by artists Swoon and Luna Park, and curator Keith Schweitzer.
A reception with a DJ, cash bar, and a guest-inclusive art-making project will follow. Presented in conjunction with the site-specific installation Swoon: Submerged Motherlands, on view from April 11 to August 24 in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery on the 5th Floor.
Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo are the Founders of the influential art blog BrooklynStreetArt.com. Proud New Yorkers, artists, and cultural workers for more than twenty-five years, both are experts on the evolving street art scene in New York as well as globally. With daily postings on Brooklyn Street Art (BSA), over 175 articles on The Huffington Post, and tens of thousands of followers on social media, the two have shown and discussed street art, graffiti, murals, and public art in more than 100 cities over the last few years.
Swoon, born Caledonia Dance Curry, currently has an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Swoon: Submerged Motherlands. Swoon studied at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn before bringing her art to the streets in 1999, wheat pasting her large linoleum and woodcuts on the sides of industrial buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Her art is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and Tate Modern, among others.
Katherine Lorimer (aka Luna Park) is a Brooklyn-based graffiti and street art enthusiast, photographer, curator, librarian, and co-founder and regular contributor to The Street Spot blog. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago and have appeared in leading street art books and magazines.
Keith Schweitzer is the Co-Founder/Director of MaNY Project (Murals Around New York) and the Co-Founder/Director of The Lodge Gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He is also Director of Public Art for Fourth Arts Block, the non-profit leadership organization for Manhattan’s officially designated Cultural District in the East Village.
Contribution $12; students with valid I.D. and seniors $8. Free to members and children under 12 accompanied by an adult. Group tours or visits must be arranged in advance by calling extension 234.
Subway: Seventh Avenue express (2 or 3) to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop; Lexington Avenue express (4 or 5) to Nevins Street, cross platform and transfer to the 2 or 3. Bus: B41, B69, B48.
On-site parking available.
Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; first Saturday of each month, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Here’s a fresh video (below) completed yesterday that shows a little of the excitement and machinations behind the scenes of the Project M/3 in Berlin, as well as dramatic foreshadowing of the UN. Director Yasha Young lays some of the groundwork philosophy and Martha Cooper alludes cheerfully to the scope of things to come.
How often do you find a new tag from an 80s graffiti writer? How often is it made of iron?
REVS is back.
Or maybe he never left. It is impossible to tell when the tag is a welded sculpture on a large rusted I-beam, or soldered on an oxidized chain link fence that rattles back and forth in the wind as city traffic rumbles by. Since this elusive graffiti artist doesn’t do too much talking to the public about his work the small cold piece before you could potentially be years or even decades old by the time you discover it.
“Fiercely reclusive Street Artist REVS surprises everyone following his arrest in 2000 by abandoning his practice of creating monumental roller tags on walls and instead makes dozens of metal sculptures. He installs them, mostly legally, around New York, including many in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, known for being an epicenter of Street Art growth in the early 2000s. REVS and his buddy COST are pointed to as inspiration by many of a new generation of Street Artists.”
In 2014 we keep finding more of these sculptures, most of which look like they must have required permission, and we thought you’d like to see a few of them. Some say REVS, often written cleverly, other times cryptically, and variously under one of his other nom de plumes like Shiesta, Toots REVS or the more declarative Fuckin REVS.
Finding these metal REVS can be a little like discovering the Holy Grail for graffiti and Street Art photographers not just because they are hard to locate, but because of the stories people tell about the sheer number of times you saw his name rolled out in New York in the 1990s. Then there are the multiples and replications of photocopies he pasted around town with his running mate Cost that included a real phone number you could call – an unheard of use of interactive elements long before the word “interactive” became associated with clicking a button or swiping a screen.
And what about the hundreds of real-life diary pages he painted in train tunnels then, each one a recounting of his life experiences, some posing existential questions. You can still see some of these mini-diatribes when the train stops mid-tunnel, scrawled in black aerosol across a primed white rectangle on a concrete wall two inches from your face as you glance out the window.
“REVS holds a special place in NYC graffiti lore for two reasons. For one there’s his creative output, which is hard to beat: from writing on trains to painting highly visible rollers to wheatpasting the city in a first-of-its-kind campaign to almost completing an ambitious project to paint diary entries between every single stop in the NYC subway system to taking it to the next level and sculpting his name out of steel,” says one of the most intrepid of today’s graffiti photographers, Luna Park, who has published around 200 REVS photos on her Flickr page in the last decade.
She continues, “Combine that output with a devil-may-care reticence and a complete disdain for the mechanisms of the art market and you’ve got the makings of a legend.”
That last part is notable in this time where a growing number of artists appear to be using the street to advance their fine art or commercial careers. REVS has done very little to capitalize on his work on the street publicly and is quoted in interviews as having a deep aversion to commercializing his work. Nonetheless, as the marketing mavens like to say, Brand REVS continues to strengthen and photographers are not the only people hunting for stuff by the man of steel.
“Given the propensity for REVS sculptural work to be stolen – and unfortunately there has been a lot of that recently – for his most loyal fans, locations of REVS pieces are closely guarded secrets,” says Ms. Park.
Ironic then, that for some urban art fans this work is far more important than that of, say, the British Street Artist Banksy, who alerts the world using the Internet and social media as soon as a new piece is up, sometimes with hints about location.
“He’s the greatest living graffiti artist,” Jake Dobkin of The Gothamist was recently quoted saying, “You know how some people feel about Springsteen or Bob Dylan? That’s who Revs is for New York graffiti enthusiasts.”
Our beat is Street Art, so we’ll trust Jake about this, but as a stylistic and creative lynchpin between graffiti and what would eventually be widely called Street Art, no one is questioning REVS steely staying power.
It’s been weeks since we had an “Images of the Week” posting with you, due to the end of the year spectacular we presented for 13 days; a solid cross section of the talented photographers who are documenting this important moment before it passes.
As a collection 13 From 2013 exemplified the unique and eclectic character of Street Art and graffiti photography today. Each person contributed a favorite image and along with it their insight and observations, often personal, very individual, and with a real sense of authenticity. Each day we were sincerely grateful for their contributions to BSA readers and to see the street through their eyes.
And so we bring back to you some documentation of moments before they passed – our weekly interview with the street, this week including $howta, Appleton Pictures, ASVP, BAMN, Chase, Dceve, Doce Freire, EpicUno, Hot Tea, Jerkface, Judith Supine, Leadbelly33, LoveMe, Meres, Olek, Rambo, Ramiro Davaro-Comas, Square, and Swoon.
Happy Holidays to all you stupendous and talented and charming BSA readers! We thank you from the bottom of our socks for your support this year. The best way we can think of to celebrate and commemorate the year as we finish it is to bring you 13 FROM 2013 – Just one favorite image from a Street Art or graffiti photographer that brings a story, a remembrance, an insight or a bit of inspiration to the person who took it. For the last 13 days they will share a gem with all of us as we collectively say goodbye and thank you to ’13.
Well known and regarded photographer and documentarian of the graffiti and Street Art scene, Luna Park has a voracious appetite for combing the bushy overgrown abandoned areas in the margins of our urban landscape in search of a perfect tag, throwie, burner. An enthusiastic and knowledgeable expert on the graffiti scene, her thousands of images made her a lot of Internet friends and fans when Flickr blew up and she now authors The Street Spot with Becki Fuller. Today Luna tells us about a spring ’13 adventure she had that included a trip to the rail yards in New Orleans.
In early spring of 2013, I made a pilgrimage to New Orleans. The trip marked the end of a year of personal hardship and it was important to celebrate this milestone by escaping from New York. New Orleans had been on my mind since my last visit in 1993.
I was eager to reconnect with this special place in American history, to finally meet in person kindred spirits I’d previously only known online, and to hunt down as much graffiti as possible within a short timeframe. New Orleans was eye opening, a contradiction in terms, at once deeply ravaged and depressed, yet at the same time vibrant and full of life.
The rail lines which make up the backbone of the city are visually and also very much audibly omnipresent. Standing on an overpass overlooking this massive freight yard was a strangely euphoric experience. There were unfettered sight lines to several (!) entirely new-to-me Read pieces. And as a student of graffiti history and a closet rail nerd, the proximity to so many freight trains – the modern day successors to the painted NYC subways – filled me with tremendous awe and respect. Watching these steel behemoths come and go was a beautiful and for me very necessary reminder that life carries on – cherish it and embrace the beauty around you.
A very heartfelt thank you to Steve and Jaime for their ongoing friendship and support!
A new photography show that captures the street in the borough you love organized by Jim Kiernan and Aakash Nihalani.
Opening tonight at 17 Frost Gallery in Williamsburg, “The Brooklyn” features photography by Barry Yanowitz, Chris Arnade, Jaime Rojo, Jake Dobkin, Jamel Shabazz, Jim Kiernan, Lucas McGowen, Luna Park, Mario Brotha, Matt Weber, Sam Horine, and Timothy Schenck.