All posts tagged: Luna Park

BSA Images Of The Week: 07.30.17

BSA Images Of The Week: 07.30.17

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We really dig these new collaged political cartoons that are on the street as quickly as the weeks news – each depicting one of the many rich white men who are impacting our minds and our bank accounts and our health and sense of security right now. Are we watching the White House or Good Fellas? The backstabbing, front stabbing, chicanery, and ongoing systemic tomfoolery makes you wonder who’s actually running things.

The news cycle is hourly it seems, with tweets and personnel changes and threats happening so fast that people are developing PTSD that is triggered by news alerts on the phone. We have to admire any Street Artist who tries to keep up with the developments and get their commentary on a wall.

Many young and old New Yorkers are wincing from high rent, high debts, crumbling infrastructure, and everyone is working longer hours, if they are lucky enough to work. Some just give up. Meanwhile the one plausible healthcare option that many have gained over the last handful of years? – the servants of the rich have been trying to stab it to death – but they couldn’t muster it this week. Even now – Trump says he’ll stand by and watch it die rather than improve it in any way. Have we ever had a leader who is so cynical?

Even Senator McCain – in our top image above – fresh off his tax-payer funded brain cancer surgery, waivered this week before providing the pivotal vote that saved healthcare for 20 million or so. Most GOP Senators ignored the majority of the US citizens who implored them to fix Obamacare not nix it. But their bank accounts proved far more important than our health. The rich and their corporations are flooding our entire political system and only after we get their money out would we be able to call the USA a democracy. Otherwise we are just fooling ourselves.

So here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Bifido, El Sol 25, Jarus, London Kaye, Luna Park, Miss17, MSK, Myth, Otto Schade, Rime, SikaOne, Solus, Sonni, Spy33, and Wonderpuss Octopus.

Top image: Unidentified artist. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sonni (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Solus for The Bushwick Collective. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Sidka One (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Otto OSCH Schade “Taurus” in Shoreditch, London. (photo © Otto Osch Shade)

Otto OSCH Schade “Taurus” in Shoreditch, London. (photo © Otto Osch Shade)

Otto OSCH Schade paints a small Snoopy and Woodstock on a sunsent in Shoreditch, London. (photo © Otto Osch Shade)

London Kaye (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Miss 17 with unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Rime . MSK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bifido for Oltremare Festival in San Cataldo, Italy. (photo © Bifido)

“In this area the government is building a gas pipeline and to do it they are cutting many olive trees. Part of the local economy is based on olive oil production, so people are fighting for preserve their lands and trees. I wanted to address this situation with my artwork.” -Bifido

Bifido for Oltremare Festival in San Cataldo, Italy. (photo © Bifido)

Bifido for Oltremare Festival in San Cataldo, Italy. (photo © Bifido)

Luna Park for #resistanceisfemale (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Myth (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified artist. We want to attribute this to Mr. Toll but we don’t think this is his work. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jarus for Art Untied Us in Kiev. Ukraine. (photo © Iryna Kanishcheva)

“This mural depicts a woman sitting at the window sill and reaching outwards. Turning the wall into a window is a metaphor for opening your mind and heart towards new ideas and concepts. The woman is in a red dress because I felt it would compositionally fit into the area of the wall and surrounding buildings.”-Jarus

Jarus for Art Untied Us in Kiev. Ukraine. (photo © Iryna Kanishcheva)

El sol 25 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Spy33 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Wonderpuss Octopus (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified artist. Looks a lot like JMR work but we don’t think it is his. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Untitled. Boots on the NYC Subway. March, 2017. Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Luna Park’s “(Un)Sanctioned” Book – Our Interview & This Weekend’s Launch

Luna Park’s “(Un)Sanctioned” Book – Our Interview & This Weekend’s Launch

When we invited Luna Park to the Brooklyn Museum to be onstage with us and Swoon (Callie Curry) a few years ago, she told us she was a bit nervous because of the size of the audience, but really she was probably more nervous to meet the artist. That night on the stage with New York’s best known female street artist and Sharon Matt Atkins, the curator of Swoon’s Submerged Motherlands that was on exhibit upstairs, and Keith Schweitzer, Luna told us all the significance of the moment for her as a photographer and a Street Art fan.

“I can actually remember the first piece of Callie’s that I saw – for the very simple reason that it was my introduction to Street Art,” she said recalling a scene on the street in the (then) artists neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2005.

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

“I was walking down Wythe Avenue, where the Wythe Hotel is now and all of the sudden this female face popped out at me from a door – and because I hadn’t really given Street Art or graffiti any thought up until this point I really had no way of putting this in any sort of context so it literally stopped me in my tracks…. It really represented a paradigm shift for me because all of the sudden the wool had been pulled from in front of my eyes and I started seeing Street Art and graffiti everywhere.”

She spoke of that moment that many of us in the scene describe when you become so sensitized to the practice of creating a public dialogue with one’s art that you begin to see it wherever you look, forever transforming how you interact with the city. It was at that moment when Luna was speaking to us all that the personal passion of her public photography came home to us.

“So I was actually very pleased to be invited to participate this evening,” Luna said as she looked at Callie, “because in a way I’ve come full circle to be able to sit with the woman who inspired me to take this journey is a great opportunity.”

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

The memory of the joy and the excitement of discovery of graffiti and Street Art is something we never take for granted, and we have always given voice to as many artists and photographers as possible on BSA for that reason. Luna, whose real name is Katherine Lorimer, this month introduces her first book-bound collection of many of her most electrifying moments of capture and documentation.

Heavy on New York artists, particularly her favorites and dear friends, the collection captures a splendid offering of the spine tingling pieces of ephemera one could stumble upon here in the last 11 years – if they did the hard work. Expertly collected and selected, this above all is a reflection of one personal journey.

In 2010 we interviewed Ms. Park with her Street Spot blog partner/photographer Becky Fuller and their west coast associate and Street Art photographer Stefan Kloo about their challenges and satisfactions in a rapidly evolving street photography scene.

“Today I go about following up on leads or hunches much more strategically, all the while ready to adjust my travels around the city as needed. Of course there are still plenty of serendipitous sightings – I revel in every lucky, random encounter,” she told us. After thousands of photos and many miles underfoot, this volume unfolds before you and one can see that it takes a lot of skill and hard work to be lucky.

We spoke with Luna about her brand new book and what the whole practice and journey has been like for her.

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

Brooklyn Street Art: What initially drew you to the practice of capturing and documenting graffiti and street art?
Luna Park: 2005 was a watershed year for me: having ended a failing relationship, I found myself in a personal and creative rut. Being in a transitional phase, I think I was perhaps more open to new inspirations. I was living in Greenpoint at the time, so I frequently cut through what was then still an active warehouse district on my way to the L train. It was there that I first stumbled across a piece by Swoon, a chance encounter that would propel me down a new path in life.

Once I became attuned to the proliferance of work on the streets, I started playing a game in which I purposefully varied my commute so as to never walk down the same street twice. I bought the first of many digital cameras and began honing my craft.

At the time, it was not unusual to regularly find new works by the likes of Faile, Dennis McNett, and Dan Witz to name but a few. There was so much weird and wonderful stuff to be discovered – like that tentacled UFO thing with the googly eyes hanging off the sides of buildings – the mystery of it all struck a nerve and piqued my interest. This being the early days of social media, documenting required a great deal more legwork than today – but being a determined and inquisitive person, I was up to the challenge.

I really had no idea how deep I would delve into this culture and how profoundly it would influence my life. Something about the experience of walking the city and finding art on its streets filled me with so much happiness, I quickly became obsessed.

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

Brooklyn Street Art:  There are any manner of art-making methods on the street today and a variety of approaches creating work in the public sphere.  What are some of the components or qualities of a piece that draw you to shoot?
Luna Park: Being drawn into conversations with random strangers is one of the greatest pleasures about shooting on the street. They see the camera, stop, look and invariably I end up debating with them what is and isn’t art. Even if we disagree, at the very least I’ve given them pause to think.

Ultimately one’s appreciation of art is entirely subjective – that being said, for me to shoot a piece, it needs to resonate with me on an emotional level. Some things, like clean lines or a good handstyle, just hit you at the gut level and don’t require overthinking because you just know they’re good.

If work is funny, clever, or political, that certainly draws my attention. I prefer originals to multiples, but only because the latter are often implemented so heavy-handedly that they come across as advertising. I like a good puzzle, so work that defies easy classification really pushes my buttons. And admittedly I’m a sucker for sculptural installations – the stranger, the better.

Thoughtful placement, with an eye for the surrounding environment, is another key factor. And of course crazy placement – of the ballsy, bordering on death-defying, how did they pull that off variety – always impresses. While not popular outside graffiti circles, I’m an unabashed fan of large-scale, highly visible vandalism.

I’m not an art historian, nor do I lay claim to any definitive or complete view on NYC street culture. It will take an encyclopedia to do that complex and nuanced subject matter justice. I can only speak for what I’ve experienced with my own eyes and that’s a very personal and highly opinionated view on the art on NYC streets.

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

Brooklyn Street Art: There is a larger discussion about legal versus illegal work today that calls into question the permissioned mural and myriad festivals that are producing elaborate compositions. Do changes like this in the scene affect your own photography?
Luna Park: Absolutely. As much as I enjoy some permissioned murals, they certainly don’t awaken the same sense of excitement as unsanctioned works. There’s no sense of urgency on my part to run out and photograph a mural – unless it’s something at risk of imminently being dissed or painted over.

What was once largely a DIY community affair has ballooned into a three-ring festival circus of wall brokers, gallerists, curators, agents, developers, sponsors, public relations officers, vertical media networks and high follower Instagram account holders with a sideshow of handlers and enablers all up in the mix. Each new wall brings with it a scrum of photographers loitering below lifts, eagerly competing to upload to social media before the paint has even dried and obsessing about having enough likes.

For me, street photography is a joyful and natural extension of the very personal and largely solitary experience of taking in art. The public spectacle surrounding muralism has sucked the life out of something that should be more pure, relegating us all to hamsters in a giant content-creation wheel.

Of course I still photograph murals, only I do it strictly on my time.

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

Brooklyn Street Art: Flickr as a photography platform sort of started you off with sharing your images and building community. How did it change your experience of shooting graffiti and street art and what part of it still resonates for you?
Luna Park: In its heyday, Flickr was a magical place. For many of us, it was not only the first, really game-changing social network, but one specifically catering to visual artists. It was where I got my first education in street art and graffiti: starting off with no idea how to identify artists, the hivemind of Flickr always pointed me in the right direction. Groups and discussion threads were active, and, for the most part, welcoming of newcomers.  By following artists and a few key photographers in cities around the world, I always had my finger on the pulse of the scene. And with each new follower, I gradually came to understand it as my solemn responsibility to come correct, step up my game and capture what I saw on the streets of New York as best I could.

I’m absolutely certain that without Flickr, my passion for shooting the streets would not have taken off like it did. It took me about a year of posting to Flickr before artists started inviting me to hang out at paint jams and attend openings. What was initially a virtual community soon solidified into a real, live community. So many artists I now call friends, I first met on the platform. Because the Flickr experience was so overwhelmingly positive, it removed any stigma in my mind associated with meeting people online. If anything, now I’m suspicious of people without an online presence.

Thanks to Yahoo’s mismanagement, Flickr missed the critical jump from desktop to mobile app. Like rats fleeing a sinking ship, more artists and photographers alike shifted to Instagram and the Flickr community of yore died a slow death. I still regularly post to Flickr for the simple reason that it’s an indispensable index to my photo archive. The librarian in me latched onto the organisational aspects of Flickr immediately and to this day, I make sure that anything I upload has all the necessary hashtags. What good is an online photo archive if you can’t find anything?

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Katherine Lorimer AKA Luna Park (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets. Carpet Bombing Culture. Great Britain 2016

Brooklyn Street Art:  How does it feel to see your images collected together with words from friends and bound into a book for the first time – as opposed to seeing them primarily on screen?
Luna Park: It feels great! After documenting NYC streets in a digital format for eleven years, it’s immensely gratifying to see it condensed into a proper, 192 page book. I’m very proud to that my contribution to the history of the movement is now officially on the record. And it is an honor to have my work on a bookshelf next to that of my heroes.

I’ve wanted to put a book out for a while now, but the timing hadn’t been right until now. I’m very thankful that my publisher, Carpet Bombing Culture, not only gave me this opportunity, but were also tremendously supportive during my darkest hour last year. Having had this book project on which to focus all my energies really helped propel me through a difficult time in my life.

And don’t believe what people say: the book isn’t dead by far.

Brooklyn Street Art: What would you like people to know about this amazing evolving scene of art on the streets?
Luna Park: The streets are an incredible wellspring of inspiration. Don’t just sit there – engage with your environment. Explore more. Go outside your comfort zones. Stop thinking about doing something and do it. Be passionate about something. Anything! And give it all you’ve got.

 


 

All photos of the book’s plates © Jaime Rojo

Katherine ‘Luna Park’ Lorimer’s book (UN)SANCTIONED The Art On New York Streets from Carpet Bombing Culture will be launched in conjunction with AdHoc Arts 10th Anniversary show at the opening party at 17 Frost Gallery in Brooklyn NY. Click HERE for further information. Copies of Ms. Lorimer’s book will be available at the show.

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Project M/3 Opens for UN in Berlin and Martyn Reed on Table Etiquette

Project M/3 Opens for UN in Berlin and Martyn Reed on Table Etiquette

 “good table manners, social awareness, whether or not they are house trained…”

Project M sounds like a James Bond plot feature, and if you’ve seen the smartly swarthy man of mystery at the helm of this installation you may expect him to scale the facade of the Urban Nation, instead of simply curate it.

But that is what Nuart’s founder Martyn Reed is doing in Berlin right now – cultivating a diverse program of urban artists on the ground level of a promising new project now under construction. Last week Martyn met with a number of the participants who flew, drove, walked to this neighborhood in transition to install their works for M/3 – including New York’s Martha Cooper, Melbourne’s Buff Diss, and Berlin’s Various & Gould, among others.

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Martha Cooper. Shot from inside the window. (photo © Luna Park)

Project M, now in it’s 3rd edition, is a rotating street level exhibition to draw attention to the birth of an auspicious new cultural and art project that will anchor Berlin even further in the minds of fans and academics alike who follow the scene that continues to evolve around art in the streets.

An international presence in an internationally revered street art/ graffiti/ urban art/ mural city, so far Project M has featured artists such as Faile, Ron English, Know Hope, Sandra Chevrier and Strøk, and by the end of this series will have featured many more who are lending shape and form to this global scene with many names.

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Martha Cooper poses in front of her window, 33 years after taking the original photo. (photo © Luna Park)

On hand for the installation action a few days ago was New York based photographer Luna Park, who shares with BSA readers some of the installation action, and we spoke with Mr. Reed about his curatorial vision for this iteration of Project M.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you tell us about Project M and what you will be drawing attention to here?
Martyn Reed: It’s an interesting project and quite unusual in that it uses the inside of windows to house the work, and due to the nature of the project has quite a few restrictions that we’re not used to on the street or gallery. But like working on a canvas, these restrictions can often focus the mind.

For this iteration of Project M (the third), we set ourselves three tasks; to integrate Berlin artists into the group, to focus primarily on Stencil Art, and to mix well know names with emerging talent. We also asked a few of the artists, Martin Whatson and Ernest Zacharevic for example, to work site specifically.

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So much for the “Broken Window” theory. Martha Cooper (photo © Luna Park)

Brooklyn Street Art: When you were thinking about which artists to choose for this project that is still in its early days at UN, what qualities were you looking for?
Martyn Reed: As ever with Nuart, it’s not always just about the art. This was to be a pretty intense 12 hour working period in a relatively small space with a crew who hadn’t yet met the artists. In cases like this it is important, like at all great dinner parties, to get the mix of guests just right.

Failing that, it is important to ensure that there’s plenty of alcohol available. Other qualities we looked for were good table manners, social awareness, whether or not they are house trained, and whether they can they be trusted with sharp implements etcetera. – For the most, I think we got the balance just right.

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Levalet at work on his piece. (photo © Luna Park)

Brooklyn Street Art: Berlin obviously is a major city for street/urban/graffiti/mural art. How would you describe the influence of the local scene as factoring in to your curatorial vision on this project?
Martyn Reed: I think it’s important to get to know as much as possible about the artists and area you’re working in. Fortunately we have a lot of friends based in Berlin and a pretty intimate knowledge of the scene.

I knew which artists and style of work I wanted for this project and also those I thought who would be valuable allies for the UN project in the future. Berlin’s an interesting place to work with its heady mix of activism, anarchy and youthful abandon. I guess finding a way to harness and present this without becoming it, is key.

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Levalet (photo © Luna Park)

Brooklyn Street Art: You have had some view of this already during the installation – but which artist do you think will provoke the most response from passersby?
Martyn Reed: For me it is Martha Cooper’s “Cops” from 1981, a vintage photo install chosen specifically for this location that is overlooked by the U-Bahn, Berlin’s Subway. It’s 20% larger than life and is really imposing in situ and when viewed from the train. It has already garnered the most interest and I’m sure is on its way to being a “future classic”.

I’m really happy bringing this particular work to the street and presenting it as a work of art in its own right, and of course, it’s always a pleasure to honour such a legend as Martha.

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Various & Gould at work on their piece. (photo © Luna Park)

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Various & Gould (photo © Luna Park)

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Martin Whatson at work on his piece. (photo © Luna Park)

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Martin Whatson (photo © Luna Park)

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Buff Diss at work on his piece. (photo © Luna Park)

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Buff Diss (photo © Luna Park)

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Buff Diss (photo © Luna Park)

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Evol. Detail. (photo © Luna Park)

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Plot Bot at work. (photo © Luna Park)

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Ernest Zacharevic at work on his piece. (photo © Luna Park)

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Ernest Zacharevic stands aside his new installation for M/3 (photo © Luna Park)

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Poland’s M-City through the glass. Detail. (photo © Luna Park)

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M-City with David Hochbaum on the right. (photo © Luna Park)

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Rone on the facade, upper portion. Curated by Urban Nation. (photo © Luna Park)

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David Hochbaum on the lower facade. Curated by Urban Nation. (photo © Luna Park)

We wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Luna Park for sharing her photos with us. If you wish to see more of Luna’s work click HERE

PROJECT M/3, curated by Martyn Reed of Nuart features: MARTHA COOPER (US), DOTDOTDOT (NO), ERNEST ZACHAREVIC (LT), VARIOUS AND GOULD (DE), M-CITY (PL), LEVALET (FR), PLOTBOT (DE), MARTIN WHATSON (NO), EVOL (DE), BUFF DISS (AUS)

For more information on Urban Nation, click HERE.

 

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Street Art Photographers: Capturing Ephemera Part 2

Street Art Photographers: Capturing Ephemera Part 2

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We continue with Part 2 of our interview with Becki Fuller, Stefan Kloo, and Luna Park; three Street Art photographers who have reached a certain stature among their peers for their contributions to the scene.  As each describes their work and their experiences as documenters and creative artists, one can see that their level of understanding goes beyond merely academic or stenographic while including elements of both. From beginner to expert, there are artists on both side of the camera and the very nature of Street Art provides a forum for each.

Google Maps does a pretty good job at simply documenting streets. These professionals and others like them know how to discern, interpret and present the work of Street Artists in ways that can add context, meaning, breath and life. We heartily thank these three artists for their candid and insightful responses (and incisive wit!) and we look forward to including many other voices in the ongoing discovery that is Street Art today.

C215 © Becki Fuller

C215 © Becki Fuller

Brooklyn Street Art: Five years ago the act of documenting pieces by street artists was the work of a relative handful of photographers. Thanks to new technology there are more photographers today documenting it and some Street Artists document their own work, posting images on their personal Flickr pages and web sites before the photographers get to them. How do you feel about this and does it change your view of your efforts or you view of the artists?

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Becki-Fuller-competitionBecki Fuller: I say the more people who are interested in street art enough to document it, the better! But yes, it has definitely changed things. When I first started shooting street art, I easily received a lot of attention just because there was a much smaller group of people who were documenting it and sharing it. And for a while it took some of the fun out of it for me when I realized that people were trading locations with each other or getting them from artists even before the work went up, really turning on the pressure to photograph a piece within hours of its appearance. But I quickly came to terms with what I want to do and what I am willing to do in order to continue enjoying street art photography. I honestly don’t pay too much attention to much of what other people are doing, just because I need to maintain balance in my life and I need to keep my competitive spirit in check.

As far as the artists themselves photographing their work goes, well, that’s their right…but (with a few exceptions, such as JR) they also tend to reinforce where their talents lie, and it’s not in photography.

Luna Park: Street art has come of age in the era of social media. Thanks to modern technology, everyone is a photographer now and everyone has the tools with which to position himself or herself within the scene and, if desired, promote themselves within the art marketplace. Where there wasn’t a street art media or blogosphere five years ago, there most certainly is now. The speed at which images are disseminated has been amplified and the whole world is watching. That artists photograph and promote their own work is only natural – some do a better job of it than others – and that’s their prerogative. The Internet has an insatiable appetite and it constantly demands more content; as a result, I feel more pressure now than ever to continue to deliver the goods.

Cern, Cekis, Inti. © Luna Park

Cern, Cekis, Inti. © Luna Park

There are definitely more players on the documentation field, but I enjoy a little friendly competition, as it motivates me to keep on top of my game. Thanks to my relationships with many artists and my standing in the community, I am often tipped off to the locations of pieces from artists directly or others who share my interests. Five years ago I would have left the house with my camera, without any expectations of what I might find and open to discovery. Sometimes I miss that.

Today I go about following up on leads or hunches much more strategically, all the while ready to adjust my travels around the city as needed. Of course there are still plenty of serendipitous sightings – I revel in every lucky, random encounter. The downside of having achieved a certain level of recognition is that I get a ton of unsolicited email, either from artists eager to introduce me to their work or from PR flacks and marketers desperate to have me shill their products to their target audience. At times it can feel very calculated and cynical, yet by and large I remain unaffected by this type of maneuvering. I am still passionate about street art after all these years and thankful for all the wonderful people that have come into my life because of it. I am never bored, as I constantly have places to go and things to see. My enthusiasm is wholly driven by inspiration and the desire to play it forward.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-stefan-kloo-ponyStefan Kloo: I’m absolutely O.K. with others doing the same thing, patrolling the same alleys, getting the same shots. How can you not. It’s like stone soup; it just gets better with everybody contributing the missing ingredient. So you got a better shot, got it first, got the only shot before its gone? What of it? – It’s not a competition! And don’t expect anything in return, most of the artists don’t. If it chaps your hide that someone else got the same shot or got it first, it either means that you’re taking yourself too serious or that you’re a bit of a one trick pony. Just find a different angle, heck find a different subject if your doing it for the approval of others.

The artists deserve props first and are entitled to a “clean take” on their work. We know how fleeting it is and how often a photo is all you got to show for. Whenever possible it’s probably for the better not to rely on others to document your work. Flickr and the blogosphere definitely changed things for me, for the better. Where I used to practically work in a vacuum I now get to flaunt the shots to peers I didn’t know I had. What’s not to like about that?

Roa and Chase in Venice, CA. © Stefan Kloo

ROA and Chase in Venice, CA. © Stefan Kloo

Brooklyn Street Art: Today there are many websites dedicated to showcasing street art around the world. Many people who run the sites take images and post them without permission or credit to the photographer. What is your opinion of this and should photographers take any action?

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Becki-Fuller-slapBecki Fuller: Honestly, it really pisses me off when artists or people who should know better do that…I enjoy receiving a nod of recognition for my efforts as much as anyone anywhere does. I spend a lot of time, thought, and money doing what I do, often going into debt just to upgrade my camera or buy a new lens, all without receiving any monetary compensation. I can’t even tell you how many books my photographs have been included in, and it is usually rare for me to receive even so much as a free copy in return. So to directly lift my image and treat it as if it is your own is a slap in the face, as far as I am concerned.

Luna Park: I realize that in putting things online, I open my work up to being stolen, but I still believe the benefits outweigh the risks. It’s unfortunate, but there are unscrupulous sites that continue to post unaccredited photographs, including a few within the larger street art community. I am keenly aware of the pressure to break stories online, but not crediting your sources is just downright disrespectful.

I’ve also encountered an attitude from certain artists who believe that they are not only entitled to dictate what is done with my photographs of their work, but also to freely distribute my photographs without credit. I put a lot of effort into displaying work in the best possible light and always credit artists – it is unfathomable to me that some people think that photographs magically take themselves. I understand that viewers are primarily looking at the artwork depicted, but having a good photograph of it is half the battle. Aside from demanding that credit omissions be rectified, I don’t know what else photographers can do. I am opposed to watermarking, as I find them incredibly distracting. Brooklyn-Street-Art-Stefan-Kloo-dick

Stefan Kloo: That’s a kick in the taco. You can’t be happy about it. But I don’t think of myself as that important that it warrants a fuzz. I’d like to think that we (street art aficionados) are among friends. We know what everybody brings to the table and if you’re a dick about giving credit and just sponge off others efforts you’re excluding yourself from that circle of a fairly closed group, that’s your loss. It also goes to motive – if you don’t have it in you to credit someone when due, what’s it all about for you then? It’s a lot like having an “assistant” painting or pasting your work – you’re on the outside looking in. If that’s all you got, you’re missing the point. However, the photos should make the rounds, almost regardless of who took the shot.

The art and the artists who created it are the key. Which should not stop you from calling bull on the jockeys and hang them by their nut purse till death is welcome… If anyone makes a buck of a street art photo, two people should get a cut: the artist and the photographer. O.K., and the publisher if you put it in a book. Simple, no? Luckily that’s a dilemma that does not play out very often…

Dolk © Becki Fuller

Dolk © Becki Fuller

Brooklyn Street Art: Some art critics have suggested that Street Art enthusiasts, photographers in particular, lack an intellectual and artistic approach to the art that they document and are unable to truly understand Street Art. What’s your opinion on this?

Becki Fuller: At the risk of sounding like a dolt, I don’t think that it is necessary to intellectualize art in order to enjoy it. While a greater understanding of art can definitely enhance your appreciation, I believe that over intellectualizing art leads to a sterile and heartless environment. That’s the main thing that really turned me off from the Chelsea gallery scene in the 2000s and really lead me to Street Art in the first place. Everything seemed so conceptual to the point where you couldn’t enjoy an opening without reading about it first. So I would counter than anyone who believes that you need a PhD in order to appreciate and understand street art probably doesn’t know the first thing about really seeing street art in the first place. Brooklyn-Street-Art-Becki-Fuller-phd

As far as lacking an artistic approach goes, well, I guess that just depends on the individual. On one hand you have urban photographers such as Nils Müller, Mr. T and Keegan Gibbs. When I look at their photographs, the graffiti/street art becomes secondary to the fact that I am looking at a wicked piece of artwork in its own right. Then you have photographers who become better known for where they have gone, the artwork that they have photographed, and the sheer bulk of what they have to offer. Within this group there are varying levels of artistry, but I would say that all of us do it out of passion and that passion itself can become what is most beautiful about your work.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Luna-Park-capableLuna Park: Hogwash. To dismiss all street art photographers as unsophisticated fan boys is an unfair characterization and a gross oversimplification. We are as varied in our backgrounds and talents as the artists whose work we document. In discussing the quality of street art photography, one must differentiate between two issues: the work being documented and the photography itself. Regarding the work being documented, street art photographers are uniquely positioned to recognize trends, chart artistic growth, and identify influences within our own particular street art microcosms. While I’m an unabashed fan, I’m not uncritical: I’m very capable of forming my own opinions and I have distinct likes and dislikes, some of which aren’t rational. But that’s the nature of art; it doesn’t always speak to you on an intellectual level. Astute followers of my photo stream know that what I post is heavily curated, that is, what is missing from my Flickr speaks volumes. I walk past mediocre art on a daily basis; if it doesn’t engage me, I don’t waste time photographing it. If anything, I would say my taste in street art has become decidedly more refined over the years.

Blu, Erica Il Cane. Anacona, Italy. © Luna Park

Blu, Erica Il Cane. Anacona, Italy. © Luna Park

Regarding my photography, I believe it too has matured over time. It has long-since been my goal for my photographs to reflect my passion and enthusiasm for street art. I aim to capture work in the best possible light, all the while taking context, materials and possible interpretations into consideration. Over years of observation, I have developed a deep and profound understanding of this incredibly diverse subject matter. I have embraced street art wholeheartedly and internalized it. It has had a pronounced influence on my photography and, as a result, my photography has become my own kind of street art.

Being that I am so close to the subject matter, I am hard pressed to put it into any kind of larger, art historical context. Nor do I necessary see that as my role or responsibility, at least not at this point in time. We are in the midst of a truly global art phenomenon whose parameters have yet to be set. Given the right context and the proper forum, I am willing to engage anyone in an intellectual conversation about the critical merits of street art. In the meantime – and as long as I am in the position to do so – I will continue doing what I love, explore this magnificent, vibrant yet decrepit city, absorb as much amazing art as possible, and create photographs as mementos. And when I run out of steam, maybe I’ll finally sit down and write a book about it one day.

Stefan Kloo: That’s rich…and rather laughable. It’s more the other way around – the trained critic approaches street art mostly with the established criteria his academic training provides. That’s only fair but won’t buy you a drink. In street art it’s about the raw authenticity, the creative kick and the unadulterated pleasure a grievously misguided act of vandalism can provide. If you can’t grasp that a lot of it is simply about mixing things up, you probably should not get on that ride. It’s still a lot about class and that we can’t allow to consolidate the established art world and the slippery street. It’s just snobbery, mostly a vain argument, but it fills the day. I honestly don’t see a conflict between, say, a painting by Poussin or Pollock and a Faile paste or a C215 stencil. In the end it’s how it speaks to you and if there’s a challenge in it for you. Only then do you need to query how relevant it is in terms of cultural anthropology.

What does a critic reply to Banksy’s sentiment “I’m not so interested in convincing people in the art world that what I do is ‘art,’ – I’m more bothered about convincing people in the graffiti community that what I do is really vandalism.” ? Doesn’t that wrap up the whole argument?

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Stefan-Kloo-OpinionsStreet art represents a definite paradigm shift in the arts. It’s just a very liberating kick in the ass of bourgeois attitudes towards anything and the arts in particular. Most critics fail to recognize that, and can’t handle the rule bending imposition street art represents. The fact that street art gets by and continues to evolve in theory and practice without the sanctimonious blessing of the art establishment is testimony that the joke’s on them. And we already know how the wine and cheese crowd will speculate the wits out of the genre to buy back their long lost subversive streak and hipness credentials, blissfully oblivious that if you can afford to pay the prices street art commands in the galleries you are all out of street cred and are just buying a commodity. Street artists do perfectly well without the critics’ half-hearted labels and boilerplate opinions. Who needs it? When did punk ever ask for approval?

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Street Art Photographers: Capturing Ephemera Part 1

To see more of Stefan Kloo’s work go here.

To see more of Luna Park’s work go here.

To see more of Becki Fuller’s work go here.

Becki and Luna’s blog The Street Spot is here.

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Street Art Photographers: Capturing Ephemera Part 1

Street Art Photographers: Capturing Ephemera Part 1

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Capturing-Ephemera-part-1We’ve got a love affair going on right now with everything Street Art. Part of the reason we know so much about it is because we can see images of it on the Internet.  And of course in books, magazines, in apps, and if you are lucky, on the street.

Conor Harrington © Stefan Kloo

Conor Harrington © Stefan Kloo

The photographs of a dedicated collection of fans, artists, documentarians, and more casual collectors spread the news all around the globe that there is a multi-lingual vocabulary of art in the public sphere developing almost daily almost everywhere. No one can doubt that photographers have played a key role in making the art form popular, helping make many names on the Street Art scene household names. Pursuing photos and putting them up on their Flickr pages, blogs and elsewhere, these photographers have been instrumental in spreading the word, educating, and generating interest in this art form among ordinary people who would have otherwise never viewed the art on the streets.Brooklyn-Street-Art-Stefan-Kloo-anecdotes

With the help of photographers who take their craft seriously and doggedly pursue the art in often off-the-beaten-path locations, an ephemeral history is recorded and preserved like never before. The Street Artists themselves have taken notice of the effectiveness of new platforms for communication and the most savvy of them have adopted new media to effectively promote and advance their work and their careers. Curators in galleries, museums, pop-up shows, myriad art festivals, and cultural institutions take notice of new names through images online and contact artists to offer them opportunities, and instant peer groups coalesce around an ever growing mound of images of work by street artists. Researchers and designers in industries from fashion to textiles to lifestyle to technology all invest time in scouring through photos and collections as resources to glean trends and make products and pitch new schemes. And of course blogs and print publications that are dedicated to documenting and tracking this art form research these growing sources of information for their arts coverage of this emerging movement.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Becki-Fuller-photography

To be sure, there are street art aficionados that have noticed the work of the photographers and are appreciative of the diligence and passion required to go after the art. It is also true that the public still needs a greater awareness of the role that photographers have played in the past and the role that they are playing now.

While many fans of Street Art are very familiar with the artist’s work, fewer are cognizant of the photographers who reliably capture and deliver the images of the work. And why would they? Many images one can see are unaccredited.  In fact there is such little regard for the authorship of images that there is a growing practice of populating sites and building a reputation as a curator by simply filching the images without crediting the photographer.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Luna-Park-unscrupulous

We have asked three of today’s active Street Art photographers; Luna Park, Becki Fuller and Stefan Kloo, to talk about their experiences and opinions to help us illuminate the relationship between Street Art and the photographers that document it. Together they have perhaps 25 years of shooting Street Art, thousands of miles on their kicks, and thousands of hours and dollars spent pursuing and presenting the explosion of Street Art that we have fallen in love with.

Banksy in Los Angeles © Luna Park

Banksy in Los Angeles © Luna Park

Brooklyn Street Art: You have been documenting Street Art for almost a decade now. How do you view your body of work and its relative importance to Street Art and history?

Becki Fuller: I think that street art is such an immediate and evolving form of expression that it can be easy to forget what an artist did last year, much less three or four or five years ago.  Being a street art photographer is a lot like being a historian in that we carefully and thoroughly document the evolution of an artist’s technique and style in a way that would otherwise be lost.  Each picture is then categorized and stored away, hopefully used or viewed again in the future.  I think that it should be of no surprise that the other two photographers that I am being interviewed with are librarians!  But as far as my street art photography collection goes, I have been covering the New York City area for a long enough period of time to amass a pretty comprehensive evaluation of what has been happening here.  I don’t necessarily have the time to post or share a good portion of my photographs anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t take them!  For people who are interested in putting together a book or some other project, my collection can, and has been, a good resource.  To me, any time my pictures are published, it has the duel importance of helping an artist’s work to live on and to be seen by people all over the world as well as reinforcing the importance of photography (and photographers) in the street art world.

Vhils. San Diego, CA. © Stefan Kloo

Vhils in San Diego, CA. © Stefan Kloo

Luna Park: Although I’m still a few years shy of having documented for a decade, street art has most certainly played an increasingly important role in my life over the last few years. Chronologically, my introduction to the world of street art coincided with my discovery of Flickr and the two have been inexplicably entwined for me ever since. Coming from a library science background professionally, the organizational possibilities of Flickr intrigued me from the get-go. As I began to amass more and more street art photographs, Flickr provided me with the perfect platform to both present and organize my work. It’s also been an incredible place to learn about street art and connect with the community. Although I never imagined at the time that my photo stream would one day grow to include over 7,500 images in 175 sets, it was my intention to create an archive of street art documentation from the very beginning. As an information professional, the tenets of credible and reliable sources of information are the foundations of my work.  In my travels through New York City and beyond, I have sought out what I consider the best of current street art and, to the best of my ability, identified its makers. Enriched by the knowledge of the hive mind and supplemented with lively commentary and analysis from within the community, I believe my body of work has grown to become a well-respected resource.

Stefan Kloo: I feel rather privileged that I got to take these shots. I look at my catalog of photos about the same way I cherish my record or art collection. It’s testimony to my passions, my life in these times and the people I connected to through their work. Just keeping an eye on things, my posts are my mixtapes.

I love going back and looking at photos of older pieces, and it’s a thrill to see the evolution of certain artists, styles or the genre as such, but I’d much rather be surprised by a new piece in the street than looking at photos of those that no longer exist.

I’m convinced that street art is here to stay, so why look back when there’s so much clever beauty around us anytime? To write history, there I said it.

Without the photos, or films for that matter, Street Art would be an anecdote, and I wonder of course how serious we would take it if legend and lore were all that remained.

I love the idea that we were there when that dog and pony show came of age, which I got a good shot and get to tell about it.

Dan Witz © Becki Fuller

Dan Witz © Becki Fuller

Brooklyn Street Art: Street Art has become very popular across the globe with websites, blogs, week-long festivals, installations, shows in galleries and exhibits in museums. Do you think your work has helped the artists and street art and its popularity?

Becki Fuller: I think that photography – regardless of whose it is – has played an important and necessary role in growing the popularity of street art.  If it weren’t for photography, few of us would know much about what’s going on outside of our immediate communities.  But because of the images available online and in books, street artists can have a built-in global fan base.  It was because of photography that I became aware of what Os Gemeos were doing in Brazil, what A1one was doing in Iran, or what Know Hope was doing in Israel, as I have never been to those countries.

Then there is the ephemeral nature of most street art – if you don’t document it right away, there may never be a chance for anyone to see it again.  And realistically, 20 or 30 years down the road; a well-documented body of work is your legacy.  Outside of a very small group of aficionados, few people talk about graffiti artists from the 80s who weren’t well documented and I think that the same will be true for street artists in the future.

Luna Park: While I am but one cog in the increasingly big wheel of international street art coverage, of course I’d like to think that my work has been meaningful and had an impact. I’ve been one of NYC street art’s biggest cheerleaders for the past six years, making it my business to hunt down and present the best the scene has to offer in a timely fashion. Through my travels, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the street art of other countries and in turn share these discoveries with others. I’ve developed and maintained close, personal relationships with many artists and fellow photographers, which in turn has enabled me to facilitate connections between artists and introductions to gallerists. I’ve even housed and fed visiting artists, guided them to suitable spots and arranged for wall space – I don’t think it gets any more helpful than that!Brooklyn-Street-Art-stefan-kloo-defining

Stefan Kloo: Just as much as every other photo taken, every piece put out there, every gallery show and any other conversation on the topic had – the proliferation of street art is more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s bigger than any one person, it’s the defining art form of the young millennium and hardly a fluke.

I get the nod by the artists or street fiends – that’s got to be enough. Everything else is a bit of a fantasy, nothing that alone would drive this lunacy.

In photographing street art you have to be mindful that without the piece in the street there would be no photo, but that without the photo there may be less incentive to put the piece out in the first place. Yes, in most cases the work in the street is a selfless gift asking little in return than the thrill of putting it there, but consider how much an artist would be willing to invest and risk if there’s never any feedback, no comment on the work, no compliment or critique? If that coveted dialogue in the street becomes little less than shouting in the wood? Would all your creativity and moxy not become stifled or self-indulgent?

It’s that dynamic where the photographers and bloggers come into play – they can be counted on to digest, record and promote the ephemeral efforts of the artists.

Photographers are generally the first responders, reliable observers and quasi curators of the street galleries. The concerted effort to document the art by committed photographers must be an incentive to many artists, knowing that their work will have a much larger audience and longer shelf life. That fosters that dialog that in turn encourages and motivates the artists. It’s the vanity of the vandal that pulls the cart, and the photographer tickles that fancy.

To paraphrase McLuhan – If you talk about street art and the document of it, it always comes in pairs with one acting as the content of the other while obscuring the operation of both.

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Street Art Photographers: Capturing Ephemera Part 2

To see more of Stefan Kloo’s work go here.

To see more of Luna Park’s work go here.

To see more of Becki Fuller’s work go here.

Becki and Luna’s blog The Street Spot is here.

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New Gallery: Pandemic opens Saturday in Brooklyn

New Gallery: Pandemic opens Saturday in Brooklyn

Some work in progress on the gallery floor from Keely (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Some work in progress on the gallery floor from Keely (photo Steven P. Harrington)

NYC’s unemployment rate is nearing 10% (higher than the national average by a point), the heat index in the City this week was as high as the crowd at Glasslands, we’re losing Arts programs in the schools left and right, Ad Hoc is shutting down their main gallery space, and Jennifer Anniston was thrown into the trunk of a car.

Who would believe in this topsy-turvey New York that a GALLERY celebrating Street Art is actually OPENING?  You read it right. It’s called Pandemic (explanation below) and its on the South Side of Williamsburg Brooklyn in a space that used be the DollHaus, a Gothic-themed and deliberately disturbing gallery with Kewpies on skewers and mutilated cyborg dolls with Lydia-Lunch eyes. Even though it’s a little off of the main Williamsburg drag, it’s just a block from the first artist/hipster outpost “Diner”, and two blocks from the favorite place for Wall Street big-bellies to take guests for a daring trip across the river for steak on their corporate card , “Peter Lugers

A bright "Welcome!" from 3 of Celso's ladies (photo Steven P. Harrington)

A bright “Welcome!” from 3 of Celso’s ladies (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Now the newly painted space has a fresh air of possibility that washes over you when greeted by the sunny owner of Pandemic, Keely Brandon, an artist and friend of the street art scene for some time.  This week we stopped by during the installation and the gleaming walls, new lighting, and shiny floors bespoke a world full of possibilities.  Saturday night the small gallery will host a group show of work by no less than 14 street artists, an impressive show of strength for the Grand Opening.

Brooklyn Street Art: A new gallery!  How did you hook this up?
Keely: It kinda just fell into my lap, I was apartment hunting and was offered a storefront instead. At the time it was a jewelry store. I started thinking about how awesome it would actually be to have a gallery space that I could run my own way. Free to display the art and merchandise of myself and other artists I respect. So I just went for it.

Always willing to lend a paw around the gallery! (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Always willing to lend a paw around the gallery! (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is “Pandemic” referring to something in particular, or just a general feeling of dread?
Keely:
It’s the concept of a creating a worldwide epidemic, but in a positive way! expanding the global consciousness of our breed of art.

Stikman is mapping out the inner route (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Stikman is mapping out the inner route (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you ever had a gallery before?
Keely: Nope

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you chose the artists that are involved with this show?
Keely:
I chose a group of prolific street artists who’s artwork and dedication I really admire. Many have worked together before on projects, and create an awesome looking show.

I've got an eye on the underwater world (Keely) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Fresh from the East River! (Keely) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: This place used to be a gallery for baby dolls dressed in gothic garb – babies with black lipstick and white eyes, etc.  You find any heads rolling around in the closet?
Keely:
Ha.. yea actually when i first moved in there i could have sworn the basement was haunted! No heads, but a lot of fuschia to paint over!

A box fer all yer stuff (Deekers) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

A box fer all yer stuff (R. Deeker) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you following a particular theme for this show, or is it mainly a group show?

Keely: No real theme… The name of the show is pandemic 37 – which is basically the gallery address. The show is just a grand intoduction to the place..

That IS Cheap! (photo Steven P. Harrington)

That IS Cheap! (artist Gay Sex) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Outside of the artists in the new show, what art excites you the most?
Keely: hmmm.. I like alot of different things.. strange 70’s artwork. Peter Max, Marushka, and other obscure wall hangings. I love old illustrations in wildlife books, deep sea creature photographs and dinosaur everything. Anything with gnarly teeth!

Brooklyn Street Art: You ever have dinner at Diner? Muffins at Marlowes? Porterhouse at Peter Lugers?
Keely: Dinner at Diner once, muffins at Marlowe… never. As for Peter Luger… I’m a vegetarian and I’m not rich!

You KNOW what time it is! (Royce Bannon) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

You KNOW what time it is! (Royce Bannon) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

One of the more entertaining pieces in the show is the working clock on the face of one of two monsters by Royce Bannon.  Royce explains the new development”

BSA: What made you make a clock?
Royce: I made a clock because I like functional art.  It looks cool and tells the time too.

BSA: What new skill did you use to install it?

Royce: No new skills were used in the making of the clock just the same old skills

BSA: What room of an apartment would it be more appropriate for?
Royce: Probably the kitchen.


BSA:
Is it Monster Time?
Royce:
It’s always monster time

From here to INFINITY (photo Steven P. Harrington)

From here to INFINITY (photo Steven P. Harrington)

In addition to celebrating the opening of the new gallery, everyone will be celebrating the new Street Art Blog by celebrated photographers Rebecca Fuller and Luna Park.

Their exciting new endeavor, The Street Spot, will feature many of the images of the street that fans have faithfully followed for the last few years.  Besides being avid documentarians of the ever-evolving street art and graff scene in NY, Park and Fuller have a deep reservoir of knowledge and stories to draw upon.

TheStreetSpot.com will surely add to the richness of this vibrant scene for all the fans of the wacky world of street art.  The AfterParty is where we’ll raise a glass to these fine individuals and their dream.

So that’s TWO great openings in one night!  Things are LOOKING UP!

Familiar names in a new location

Familiar names in a new gallery, Bixby, Buildmore, Celso, DarkClouds, infinity, Judith Supine, Keely, Kngee, Matt Siren, R. Deeker, Royce Bannon, Stikman, Skewville, Wrona

Pandemic Gallery

37 Broadway Between Kent and Wythe

Brooklyn (South Williamsburg)

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Portrait of a First Lady:  Billi Kid and Sticker Collabs

Portrait of a First Lady: Billi Kid and Sticker Collabs

Maybe it’s history in the making, or myth-making, maybe it’s unending fascination with celebrity, but many artists, street artists included,

have produced art about Obama in the last 12 months. The new administration is a machine in motion this spring, and while the haterz are looking for ways to play down Obama’s successes, his missus is not missing an opportunity to engage the press with her Harvard Law School graduate brain, her support of military families, her commitment to volunteering, and (oh yes) her fashion statements at the G20 meetings and Personal Displays of Affection toward the British Royal Family (PDABRF).  More popular in polls than her husband, Mrs. Obama’s personal and professional history are being fleshed out daily, and her place as a cultural icon is happening before our jaded eyes.

Brooklyn street artist Billi Kid is no stranger to “Obamart”, having shown his own portrait work of Barack when he participated in a group show in Washington, DC in the days preceding the Presidential Inauguration called “Manifest Hope:DC” with 150 artists including Shepard Fairey and Ron English. Truth told, Billi has done quite a few versions of the president over the past year, feeling like it was a good way for him to participate in the public discussion about the political landscape.  His sticker collaboration collage work has been slapping up in magazines here and abroad, and it’s helping his fellow artists get exposure along the way, which he loves.

Preparing for a new show at ArtBreak Gallery in Brooklyn May 2nd, (this time as a curator), Mr. Kid talks to BSA about his engagement with the political as personal and his experience with his recent Michelle Obama piece;

Street artist Billi Kid scored big with his recent illustration of Michele Obama in New York magazine.

Street artist Billi Kid scored big with his recent illustration of Michele Obama in New York magazine.

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you score a full page in the New York magazine article?
Billi Kid: Luck had a lot to do with it. I pasted a recent piece titled “Greed i$ Good” on the wall of one of my favorite spots on 22nd street, outside of Comme des Garçons. It happened to be right in front of where the photo editor (Jody Quon) of New York magazine lives. One thing led to another.

Wall Street robber amid a chorus of FKDL, KH1, Judith Supine, and more (courtesy Billi Kid)

“Greed i$ Good”; a Wall Street robber amid a chorus of FKDL, KH1, Judith Supine, Peru Ana and more (courtesy Billi Kid)

Brooklyn Street Art: Hundreds of artists made portraits of Obama. Do you think we look to artists to help us understand these people?

Billi Kid: I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a registered independent, I became completely engrossed with the campaign our current president was running in 2008 and immediately re-registered as a Democrat for the occasion. Adding my voice to the streets became a natural extension (of that).

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about the technique you used to produce this?

Billi Kid: I’m known for my combo slaps and had labored during the campaign to get everyone I trade stickers with into the mix. In particular, boards using the epic Obama for President poster by Zoltron as a centerpiece. It simply involves collage techniques and composition. One of these boards made it into Time magazine’s man of the year issue with a Shepard Fairey portrait on the cover.

Billi Kid's sticker combo made it into the Person of the Year issue of Time Magazine in December. (courtesy Billi Kid)

One of Billi Kid’s sticker collaboration pieces in the Person of the Year issue of Time magazine this past December (courtesy Bill Kid)

The Michelle portrait involved a breakdown of her likeness into a two-layer stencil. The actual portrait used in the magazine was a print pasted on the collage board, but this would be same technique used to execute my stencils. I plan some stencil boards of this in the near future. Look for it on the streets.

Brooklyn Street Art: Your work typically employs a lot of color, why did you chose simple black and white?

Billi Kid: So far all of my stencil boards are colored backgrounds with black and white stenciled layers on top. I was planning to do a stencil originally, but time did not allow it. Besides that, stickers became a factor.

Is it all black and white? (courtesy Billi Kid)

Is it all black and white? (courtesy Billi Kid)

Brooklyn Street Art: What is the significance of placing her head on a bed of stickers?

Billi Kid: In conversation with the magazine, I understood they wanted artists to interpret their ideas about Michelle into their portrait. For me, it became clear that I had to use stickers because they represented community and inclusion to me. Precisely what the Obamas are about. It felt right to get all of my brothers and sisters from around the country and the world into the magazine. Kind of a one-world point of view.

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you heard from the other sticker artists who are in the piece? Were they excited?

Billi Kid: Yeah!!! They love this about my work. They trust that the work goes up, instead of into a private little black book. That they get published is icing on the cake. This approach pays ample dividends for me. What goes around comes around.

Brooklyn Street Art: A lot of artists want to be published but aren’t familiar with the process that happens during editing. Was your piece altered at all by the editors? Was there a lot of back and forth discussion?

Billi Kid: We discussed my idea at length and fortunately I had plenty of samples to illustrate my intent. The only discouraging edit was the fact that they cropped the image so tight. The board went temporarily up somewhere in the Bronx and I wanted the environment to be part of the final cut. Unfortunately, this did not happen – for good reason – it was about Michelle after all, lol.

The original piece by Billi Kid

The original piece by Billi Kid

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you have any special connection to the first lady, her personal story?

Billi Kid: Only in so far as what we all have heard about her. Like her husband; a self-made independent person who picked herself up by the straps of her boots and carved a place for herself in the American landscape. Precisely what Republicans always say about their vision for America, no handouts, just the courage to move forward with the gifts given to you by our creator.

Brooklyn Street Art: What role do you think Street Artists play in the public discourse of politics or social issues?

Billi Kid: The same role graffiti has always played on the word stage throughout history; to give voice to opinions not paid for by the ruling parties. Until recently, it had always been about politics, not just pissing on the wall.

Brooklyn Street Art: What project are you working on right now?

Billi Kid: I just completed four canvases commission by the Ace hotel opening in NYC and am now co-curating, with the incomparable Luna Park, an exiting new exhibition, theGREAToutDOORS opening at Artbreak Gallery in Williamsburg May 2nd.

Ultimate Collabo (courtesy Billi Kid)

Ultimate Collabo; Billy and Luna  (courtesy Billi Kid)

Luna Park

Billi Kid

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