Yesterday, we shared with you the current edition of The Crystal Ship, a Belgian street art festival located in Ostend, which is located in the Flemish Region of Belgium. The collection of images that we presented was taken by photographer Martha Cooper, a frequent collaborator of BSA, during her recent trip to Ostend as a special guest of the festival.
In line with her usual practice, Ms. Cooper did not limit her work to capturing photos of the murals being painted for this year’s festival edition; she also endeavored to take as many photos of murals painted during previous editions of the festival. We are pleased to present a selection of these murals, painted over several years, with photographs taken by Martha Cooper herself.
This selection of murals is an exciting representation of the diverse and captivating street art that has been featured at The Crystal Ship Festival throughout the years, much of it creating a gallery of contemporary artists whose work is arresting and appealing to a general audience. The dedication and hard work put forth by Martha Cooper in capturing these pieces in all their artistic glory is genuinely commendable. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the festival’s vibrant history and the incredible art showcased in the public square in Ostend over the years.
“Ostend isn’t a metropolis like London, Berlin and Paris” explains Belgian art curator Bjørn Van Poucke to reporter Colin Clapson. He’s referring to the limitation in the number of walls available for legal murals. He should know, he’s responsible for The Crystal Ship, a contemporary art festival that has taken place in this coastal city since 2016 and has become one of the most significant street art festivals in Europe, attracting renowned artists from around the world.
“Ostend certainly has an impressive collection of street art with a wide variety of large and small pieces painted on all kinds of residential and commercial buildings,” says renowned photographer Martha Cooper, who was invited there by Mr. Van Poucke this year. “There’s a good paper map available at the tourist office and also an excellent website so people can find the walls,” says Cooper.
Every year the Crystal Ship invites a diverse range of international artists to create large-scale murals and public art installations throughout the city – names have included well-known and regarded artists like Miss Van, Alexis Diaz, and Fintan Magee – each bringing their own aesthetic to this festival/event that receives support from a mix of private and government funding that is local and national. For more about the past artists, you can check out The Crystal Ship website. Many of these artists’ work can also be found in Ruby Gallery, where Van Poucke and co-owner Thierry Dubois organize exhibitions on canvas.
In the past, the festival has showcased over 60 murals and art installations, and many are spaced far from one another, so Ms. Cooper tells us she had an excellent driver named Lorre Soenen to take her around. “He was very knowledgeable about the murals,” she says.
“Bringing people closer to art is the aim of The Crystal Ship” explains Mayor Bart Tommelein on the VRT news website. “It happens at the heart of the city, on walls at the centre of neighbourhoods, where people live and work.”
As Part II of our coverage of street artist Mantra painting Monarch butterflies in an astounding natural biosphere located in Mexico, we speak today with the artist about his original investigation into the region, his interactions with the local scientific community and the people who live in these areas, and his experience with documentarian photographer Martha Cooper and her travel companion and cousin, Sally.
“We had a really good time,” says Mantra. “It was quite perfect weather for what we wanted to see and we had a few happy surprises, including this celebration that was taking place in one village I painted in.”
Brooklyn Street Art: Can you tell us why you were in this part of Mexico at this time of the year?
Mantra: As you know, from my entire life path and professional path, I always have been mesmerized and attracted and curious of the living – especially insects and butterflies. However, I have never had the opportunity to create a body of work that speaks about monarch butterflies.
Last year after my solo show in Miami, I really felt that it was the moment to start to study and investigate this beautiful insect.
In January 2022 when I was in Mexico City, I decided to travel to the area where the main migration of monarch butterflies in the world settle for the winter.
So I went there via Mexico City to the nearby region in Michoacán to try to understand all the smaller details and mysteries about this migration – and it mesmerized me. Not only did I go with a scientific state of mind and this kind of spirit, but I was also interested in assuming an anthropologic approach to learn what was happening in this territory.
During different journeys in 2022, I met with so many different communities that are part of a patchwork of communities living in this lens. And I made these connections with the great help of an NGO named Alternare, and its director Ismael Venegasa at their headquarters in Zitacuaro.
They connected me with the ongoing main investigation on Monarch butterflies in Mexico happening at the University of Morelia. I learned with students from the university
I had the opportunity to investigate in a restricted area that must be approached carefully because of sensitivity to their protection. I have talked with Martha many times about her coming to see this, and this year we just turned this old wish into a reality.
Brooklyn Street Art: You had the opportunity to paint murals in a few locations. How did you decide which butterflies were appropriate for the walls?
Mantra: It’s an NGO that builds bridges between communities and institutions to try to assist the community and its relationship with the institutions, which means not only focusing on the scientific and biological aspects but also recognizing and respecting the social patterns that we can find.
My intention was to provide Martha and Sally the greatest experience I could, girded by the knowledge I gained last year from all my visits on-site with the different communities and inside the different monarch colonies. Martha is always saying she and Sally like to see how people are living. So with all of us animated by this same spirit, like really an anthropologic point of view, we were happy to make this journey together.
Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe the local culture and the environment for painting that you experienced?
Mantra: Well, honestly, in each location, I painted a monarch butterfly; a male and another female – from my collection of photos.
We spent one afternoon with Martha and Sally in front of a small wall of a beautiful family house that I just walked to and knocked on the door and asked permission to paint on their wall. They accepted my request, and it turned into a really beautiful and sweet afternoon for the girls and for me. For this family of five people (plus a dog), I just wanted to paint monarch butterflies because it’s the main butterfly, and it is really emblematic of the city and the region.
The second location was inside a village and really high in the mountain at nearly 10,000 feet in elevation. Because of the height, the village of one of the communities that earn the right to visit the second main butterfly colony, which is Sierra Chincua (on Cerro Prieto community territory).
I would say that my experience in this environment with the local culture that people are really warm, open, kind, and humble. They welcome you as part of their community as long they understand your vision – and that you are coming in peace and in a friendly way.
They teach you about the community they are living in, they bring you food, and they invite you to be part of their traditional celebrations. It’s amazing to see how they feel you part of their community once you share a vision with them.
This journey with Martha and Sally was for me the second year there, and I kept some of the friendships and I hope to keep those friendships naturally growing. I can’t wait to come back next year when the Monarch is back.
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca – RBMM) Main city : Zitacurato State: Michoacán Name of the sanctuary they visited : – El Rosario (on El Rosario community territory) – Sierra Chincua (on Cerro Prieto community territory)
The first mural was painted in Zitacuaro downtown. The second mural was painted on the wall of the 2nd school, “Lazaro Cardenas del Rio” in Cerro Prieto.
Read our first part of Mantra’s murals in the Monarch Butterfly Reserve HERE
Gorgeous natural beauty today from a part of the world known for hosting millions of butterflies during their annual migration to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where millions of monarchs gather each year to overwinter in the oyamel fir forests, primarily in the state of Michoacán. Street artist, muralist, biologist, and entomologist, Mantra has traveled to this region several times to study the butterflies, and this year he invited photographer Martha Cooper to witness this annual event and to see him paint in local towns like Zitabcuaro, Cerro Prieto, El Rosario, and Sierra Chincua.
The monarch butterfly migration usually begins in late August and lasts until early November, bringing butterflies from Canada and the United States. The purpose of the sanctuary is to protect the monarch’s habitat and promote conservation efforts to ensure their survival. The Mexican government and local communities manage the sanctuary, which reports as many as 200,000 human visitors annually.
Various local, regional, and federal authorities work together to protect the forest and educate visitors about preserving the monarch butterfly. Towns and farmers, even religious organizations, have embraced the monarch butterfly as a symbol of hope and renewal, and they have incorporated it into their art, music, and festivals.
We are thankful to Mantra, Martha, and cousin Sally for taking this trip to see these scenes just days before they began their migration northward again in March to places like the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, where the butterflies will stop to refuel and reproduce, as well as parts of the southern United States and Mexico where they breed and lay eggs before continuing their journey northward.
In the Ejido Cierro Prieto community, located in the state of Michoacán, the Bio-Cultural Festival of the Monarch Butterfly brings together community, conservation organizations, and visitors from everywhere to celebrate. Martha and Sally caught the “Danza de los Tecuanes,” or the Dance of the Jaguars. This dance is performed in many indigenous communities in Mexico and involves dancers wearing elaborate costumes and masks depicting jaguars and other animals.
The dance is accompanied by live music played on traditional instruments, such as drums and rattles, and it incorporates elements of storytelling and ritual. The sword clashes are said to represent the jaguars’ fierce and robust nature, as well as their role as protectors of the forest and its inhabitants. The dance symbolizes the community’s connection to the natural world and its commitment to preserving the monarch butterfly’s habitat and other vital ecosystems.
Mumbai is a city that captures the essence of Indian culture and tradition. When people think of Mumbai they may envision Bollywood actors executing their hook steps in flashy outfits with bright colors against extravagant backdrops. True, it is a place where Bollywood glamour and grandeur are made, but don’t forget the street food and Hindu festivals, and elaborate idols of Lord Ganesha. Also, the city’s Marine Drive, a picturesque promenade along the coastline, is a famous landmark that offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea. And yet, there is more to Mumbai than just the glitz and the glam.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Marine Drive lies Sassoon Docks, a hidden gem that has become a hub of Mumbai’s vibrant arts community. Located in South Mumbai’s historic fishing harbor of Colaba, Sassoon Docks has attracted a diverse range of artists, writers, photographers, and galleries. These artists are known for their focus on environmental issues and their collaborations with local fishermen. They use their work to celebrate and document the rich cultural traditions of Mumbai’s fishing communities. Through sculptures, paintings, and installations, they have created a unique tapestry that reflects the character and history of this charming area.
As part of St+art India’s festival, this year, invited artists had the opportunity to participate in murals, of course, but they also shared in the events that are rather normal for Sassoon Docks: talks, classes, performances, DJs. Recent events include researcher Shripad Sinnakaar presenting their poetry on Flamingoes in Dharavi, a light and sound installation, and the Indian drag queen Teya reading to kids and adults the children’s short story ‘The Many Colours of Anshu.’ They also hosted a conversation with pioneering documentary photographer Martha Cooper, the Swiss/San Franciscan muralist Mona Caron, and the Brooklyn-based Japanese street artist Lady Aiko on a panel moderated by co-founder and curator of St+art India Foundation Giulia Ambrogi.
Since Ms. Cooper was in Mumbai, she did us the great favor of capturing the works on the streets to share with the BSA family.
Today we have images from the Dharavi slum, a completely different street art project than the docks. It is an afternoon trip. According to some, it has become a larger tourist attraction than the Taj Mahal after it was featured in the movie “Slum Dog Millionaire”.
An ethnologist by training, Martha also befriends people. She asks if she can photograph them, so you will always get a sublime mix of art and people and the context in her collection. We’re proud to share these with you today; a city full of rich colors, street activity, elaborate design, religious symbols, and maritime history.
Behind the scenes at “Beyond the Streets London” is a hive of activity, with artists deeply focused on installing their work and seeking assistance with tools and equipment. Curators, organizers, and lighting professionals are bustling up and down the stairs, carrying props, or ladders, and communicating with vendors and artists via text message. Salespeople are diligently crafting wall texts to accompany the art pieces. It’s a few hours before showtime, yet everything is somehow accomplished just as the first guests arrive for the preview.
Photographer Martha Cooper is electrified by the activity at Saatchi Gallery. The event preserves the rich history of graffiti, street art, and commerce while pushing forward with new trends and directions. Cooper, who has documented this scene since the 1970s, has attended and exhibited in “Beyond the Streets” exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles – and we anticipate the next stop could be Shanghai. This particular iteration showcases an evolving mix of archetypes and invention, drawing on diverse influences from the US, UK, and EU.
Cooper observed many surprising music references at the show. Rock icon Eric Clapton was at the opening admiring a photograph of text declaring him to be God while filmmaker, musician, and BBC radio host Don Letts had a personal collection of his memorabilia/ephemera on display. Ron West, designer of the “Duck Rock” boombox, also made a sudden appearance at the opening, allowing guests to pose with his creation. Among the standout pieces was a Bob Gruen photo of Malcolm McLaren holding that boombox in front of Keith Haring’s Houston Street wall, a masterpiece of intersectionality, if you will.
Overall, “Beyond the Streets London” offers a smorgasbord of colors, flavors, and influences that are difficult to encapsulate in one show. However, Gastman, the visionary, gives it a good try, with a respectful nod to the many artists who have shaped this worldwide people’s art movement. Enjoy these behind-the-scenes shots from Ms. Cooper.
Beyond The Streets – London. Click HERE for more details, the schedule of events, tickets, and exhibition times.
Calligraffiti pioneer Niels “Shoe” Meulman tells us that he’s been having a great time during the opening of Beyond the Streets in London, where he is showing some new work that meditates on his path and represents this moment in his evolution. The unruly and elegant Dutch contemporary artist, designer, and calligrapher says that seeing his peers and heroes in person and on display in the exhibition reminds him of why he fell in love with graffiti in the 1980s.
Now principally a painter, Shoe continues in calligraphy and design and even teaches, but to get him excited here at the opening, show him what appears to be a precise replica of the “Duck Rock” boombox carried by Malcolm McLaren in front of Keith Harings’ wall on Houston Street in the 80s. Featured on the album cover of the same name in 1983, the artwork was designed by style writing master Dondi and designer Nick Egan against a backdrop by Haring. It’s a perfect nexus point for this prominent figure in the world of urban art and design – a point he doubles down on by rolling up his shirt sleeve to show you his bicep tattooed with a wild-styled “Duck Rock.”
We asked Shoe to tell us about his three-year triptych presented here at Beyond the Streets in London’s Saatchi Gallery, and he took us on a trip through his own memories and experiences to arrive at this moment.
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist. Even though I didn’t see graffiti as an art form in the beginning. I mean, all the kids were writing some kind of sobriquet in 1980’s Amsterdam and –apart from Dr. Rat (1960-1981) and friends– there wasn’t much artistic going on. Until I saw what they were doing on New York subway cars, and later in museums and galleries.
When Dondi (1961-1998) and I were hanging out in Amsterdam in 1984, I proudly told him, my mentor, that I was going to drop out of school to study graphic art. There, I was just in time to learn many obsolete graphic techniques. One of them was metal typesetting (letterpress) with its typical case; a big, undeep wooden drawer with compartments for each glyph of the alphabet, cast in lead. Every size would have been cut by hand, in reverse. It was real easy to mix up the d, b, q and p.
Ever since those early days of writing graffiti, I always felt that what we were doing was part of something much bigger. Something old and dirty, as Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1968-2004) would later tell us. Maybe it was because of the teachings of my other mentor, the iconoclast Rammellzee (1960-2010) who stated in his rhymes with Gregorian chants that what we were doing started in Medieval catacombs.
Before Gutenberg invented his wood block printing press, which lead to this moveable type setting, books were being copied by hand by monks, who I see as the graffiti writers of their age. Just like us, they were traveling with books, comparing handstyles, driven by competition and togetherness. But of course writing itself is much older than that. The oldest cave drawings (mostly done by women, recent research shows) were the beginning of letters. The letter ‘A’ derives from the sound and drawing of an ox. Letters have figurative origins. Words are images. Writing is painting.
I feel connected to all of this and very excited to see where writing culture will go in the future. Already so much has happened. For instance when I first named my work Calligraffiti in 2005, I never imagined that it would become the world wide art form it is now. And whether is was in caves, catacombs or the subway systems, the culture began under ground and is having a peek above ground. My piece for Beyond the Streets is about that.”
Artist: Niels Shoe Meulman Title: WRITING IS PAINTING AND PRINTING
A triptych consisting of three pieces:
Title: THE INVENTION OF WRITING MARKS THE END OF PREHISTORY year: 2021 medium: acrylic and ink on linen size: ± 400 x 280 cm (± 13 x 9 feet)
Title: FROM PAINTING TO PRINTING AND BACK AGAIN year: 2022 medium: acrylic and spray paint on ten stretched cotton canvases size (total): ± 160 x 160 cm (± 63 x 63 inch)
Title: UNAMBIDEXTROUS LETTER R year: 2023 medium: stone lithography print on handmade Japanese paper size: ± 32 x 43 cm (± 12.5 x 17 inch)
Beyond The Streets – London is open for the general public at Saatchi Gallery and tickets are available now for booking through saatchigallery.com/tickets
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. 1UP – ONE WEEK WITH 1UP – THE SHORT FILM
2. 5 MINUTES WITH: MADC in the Maldives
3. Liberation for Black Trans Women / CANS Can’t Stant / The New Yorker
BSA Special Feature: 1UP – ONE WEEK WITH 1UP – THE SHORT FILM
Global brand 1UP continues to build their mountain of exploits and is smart enough to engage the premiere film director Selina Miles to tell the story. “I loved seeing so many people rushing into action all at once,” says veteran graffiti documentarian Martha Cooper as she relates the adrenalin rush of highly planned aerosol operations on the U-Bahn that she and Ninja K captured for this book/short film entitled “One Week With1UP”.
The risks are measured in the duration of rapid heart rates, multiplied by the long slow burn of anticipation and divided by the dull hours of strategizing, discussion, and planning. Cooper says she’s fascinated by the persistence of the graffiti practice over 50 years, and she should know because she’s shot the evolution of this youth-centered practice since she was a cub photographer for the New York Post in the 1970s. Miles captures the prevalent sensations of the cat-and-mouse adventurism running through this hormone-fueled grey cloud that floats somewhere between art, self-expression, pranksterism, and straight-up vandalism. By leaving the area grey, the viewer is pushed to draw their line about privilege, propriety, and its additive/subtractive relationship with the cityscape.
“It takes community and camaraderie, and skills and experience, and preplanning and all of that,” says Martha.
Big up to Spray Daily and Ilovegraffiti.de for sharing this.
5 MINUTES WITH: MADC in the Maldives
“Painting in these surroundings is unbelievable,” says graff writer MadC as she marvels at the natural beauty she is working in tandem with in the Maldives. “You are right there on the water, there are eagle rays right under you, fish everywhere, flying foxes coming…,” she explains. “I don’t think while I’m painting. It’s on an emotional level.”
Liberation for Black Trans Women / CANS Can’t Stant / The New Yorker
While there is greater support for trans people today, in the end its usually trans people and their closest allies who still do all the work of creating a safe, just world. In this film by Matt Nadel and Megan Plotkawe, we gain a greater understanding of the insidious nature of transphobia as we see a group of Black trans women fighting to repeal a law used to target queer locals.
Famed graffiti and street art photographers Martha Cooper and Nika Kramer took to Jacó, Costa Rica, during the winter holidays in December, proving that they knew where to go when the weather up North is turning inclement and wintry. Naturally, they located some great walls to shoot as well.
A tourist destination since at least the 1920s, Jacó really took off in the 1970s when the first hotel opened here and, during the remainder of the century, transformed into a destination for vacation-residential development like the renowned Punta Leona just north.
Upscale accommodations, bachelor parties, party boats, and ex-pats in high supply, the town still retains connections to local culture thanks to its overwhelming natural beauty, hiking, surfing, and the mural program called Artify Jacó. Launched in 2016, its co-creator, Steward Invierno, also has owned a gallery/gift shop for the last decade that offers more traditional art-making workshops and sells canvasses by local and international artists.
Gravitating to broad themes relating to nature, love, community, and hope, the annual festival has been transforming the city with art and in some cases, has been likened to the neighborhood of Wynwood in Miami. Having spent a lot of time in that town as well during Art Basel, both Martha and Nika felt quite at home shooting the murals here at Artify Jacó.
It’s that time of the year again! Our 12th “Hot List” of books – a best-of collection that is highly personal and unscientific and sure to provide you with ideas.
Our interests and network continued to spread far afield this year, and we chose a cross-section of books that are well worth your time – whether it’s the stories they tell or the quality of the stock or the revelation of seeing images previously unseen except by a handful of people. We have political, personal, and professional takes on this beautiful street art scene, as well as a careful instruction book on how to make your own
So here is a short list from 2022 that you may enjoy as well – just in case you would like to give them as gifts to family, friends, or even to yourself.
STRAAT: Quote from the Streets. Lannoo Publishers.
In a space massive enough for a Dutch sea vessel, the Street Art Museum of Amsterdam (STRAAT) has one of the largest collections of today’s mural stars anywhere. During its official maiden voyage, curious street art/graffiti/contemporary art fans look to see if this ship is seaworthy. The brainchild of former graffiti writer, curator, and publisher Peter Ernst Coolen in the early 2010s, the D.N.A. of the museum is rooted in his forward vision as much as the ideal waterfront warehouse that showcases close to 200 international artists.
The human-built city has at times been called a jungle, but the concrete and steel environment flatters itself if it really thinks so. The intelligence and beauty present in the natural plant world far outstrips our modern cityscape, centuries after its origination. At least a few artists have been bringing it back to us in murals over the last few years, introducing a calm, lyrical serenity that dives way beneath the conscious, touching our roots.
The young Italian painter Fabio Petani has been reintroducing a natural agenda to cities across Europe for less than a decade – in a way that only a scientist, botanist, and naturalist with a design sensibility could. What is genuinely original is his subtle re-interpretation of the formal conventions of botany, introducing them to a modern urban audience without lecturing – and rising far beyond purely
Fabio Petani “Spagyria Urbana”. Torino, Italy. 2021. Texts by Alessandra Loale. Layout by Livio Ninni with translation by Mauro Italianodecorative presentations.
An updated version of his initial “Stay Melty” collection a half dozen years ago, street artist Buff Monster expands and shares with you more of his studio production, paintings, sculptures, murals, and ever-growing industry of collectibles in this photo book, a candy-coated volume of eccentricities that capture this moment in an artist’s evolution.
Carlo McCormick’s original text perseveres here as well, most possibly because it still captures so much of the dedicated madness that is Buff, afloat upon the detritus that demarcates our late capitalism era in dirty old New York. McCormick sagely comments on Buff’s take on “a realm of magical thinking in a contemporary visual culture where a few rare artists like Buff Monster can invoke alternate realities as palpably believable and emotionally transformative.”
Poet, urban author, photographer, and longtime NYC messenger Kurt Boone was there too, camera in hand and ready to record the action of the artists getting up on walls and meeting the public. Kurt throws himself into the scene and knows how to navigate while people are enjoying the atmosphere of creativity all around. With his knowledge of the street capturing graffiti, urban cycling, street photography, skateboarding, and busking, you know that his shots are on point.
Instead of uploading everything to a social media platform, Boone asked his friend Anthony Firetto to help lay out his photos to create a book. This is a genuine work of the heart – a self-published hefty book that captures a moment in time, the various players and styles, and a flashpoint in the development of Jersey City as it continues to change.
The political caricature is a treasured form of public discourse that still holds as much power as it did when we relied on the printing press. Able to express sentiment and opinion without uttering a syllable, the artist can sway the direction of conversation with skill, insight, and humor. Artist Robbie Conal has built a career from visually roasting the most sebaceous of our various leaders in the last few decades, often bringing his posters to the street and installing them in advertisers’ wildposting manner.
With the briefest of texts, slogans, or twisted nicknames, he reveals the underbelly as a face, dropping expectations into the sewer. If it were as simple as a political party, one might try to dismiss his work as only partisan. But Conal’s work functions more as an ex-ray, and frequently the resulting scan finds cancer.
ROBBIE CONAL / STREETWISE. 35 YEARS OF POLITICALLY CHARGED GUERRILLA ART. By G. James Daichendt. With a foreword by Shepard Fairey. Published by Schiffer Publishing LTD. Atglen, PA
Page after page of golden NYC hits from the Martha Cooper archive; this new hardcover tome expands the galaxy for fans and academics of that amber-soaked period when it seemed like New York was leading a Spray Nation of graffiti for cities across the country. Known for her ability to capture graffiti writers’ work in its original urban context, Ms. Cooper once again proves that her reputation as the documentarian of an underground/overground aesthetics scene is no joke.
With an academics’ respect for the work, the practice, and the practitioners, Cooper recorded volumes of images methodically for history – and your appreciation. With the vibrant and sometimes vicious city framing their pieces, an uncounted legion of aerosol-wielding street players raced city-wide at top speed, ducking cops and cavorting with a confident abandon in the rusted and screeching steel cityscape. By capturing these scenes without unnecessary editorializing, Cooper gives you access to the organically chaotic graffiti subculture on the move at that moment – directly through her unflinching eyes.
Martha Cooper: Spray Nation. Signed Limited Edtion Box Set is published by Beyond The Streets. With a foreword by Roger Gastman and essays by Steven P. Harrington, Miss Rosen, Jayson Edlin, and Brian Wallis.
One of the exciting book releases this fall drops today in stores across the country – which is appropriate with a name like Spray Nation.
The centerpiece of the complete boxed set released this spring, this thick brick of graffiti tricks will end up on as many shelves as Subway Art; the book of Genesis that prepared everyone for the global scene of graffiti and street art that would unveil itself for decades afterward. See our review from earlier in the year, and sample some of the stunning spreads here, along with quotes by the book’s essay writers, Roger Gastman, Steven P. Harrington, Miss Rosen, Jayson Edlin, and Brian Wallis.
Martha Cooper. SPRAY NATION 1980s Graffiti Photographs. Edited by Roger Gastman. Prestel. Germany, 2022.
Robert Proch: Sketches 2003-2018
“ROBERT PROCH – SKETCHES” : a collection of all the preserved drawings and sketches created by the artist in the years 2003-2018.
We had the opportunity to hang around with artist Robert Proch in 2015 at the No Limit festival in Boras, Sweden. Unassuming and bright, the artist was creating a painting on a massive wall that seemed to us to be insurmountable. He excitedly and with great ease jumped on the cherry picker and dove into the explosion he had sketched – pouring color and gesture into his futurist composition, bending and twisting the axis, capturing the flying energy and elements that appeared to jump off toward the viewer.
Later at dinner in a private home, it was a pleasure to speak with him. A warm, polite, and thoughtful guy – you would not necessarily know that his internal art view was so expansive, except to see his darting eyes perhaps, which didn’t appear to miss anything.
Robert Proch. “Sketches 2003-2018”. Robert Proch Foundation
You hope for it, but nothing is guaranteed. Transitioning from being an artist with a respected, lauded practice of graffiti/street art to a booming professional career on canvas is not a clearly defined route. Although many have tried, are trying right now.
What does it take, you ask? A potent mix of talent, luck, fortitude, applied effort, guts, and a willingness to change one’s approach if necessary, as necessary. In our experience, the last item proves to be the most challenging.
Yo, but Mad C is mad talented.
She’s made it a dedication to studying and learning the craft, fine-tuning the skills, practicing, perfecting, and persevering. All of those qualities will give you a great measure of personal satisfaction even when it doesn’t land you a big bank balance. In the case of MadC, internalizing the practices and codes of graffiti that originated with the 1960s/70s graffiti writers was core – imprinted her creative DNA forever – even though her first attempt to write was not until 1995 in Germany.
Color-blocked basketball courts appreciated from a plane, cheerful abstract murals for restaurants, hotels, and cafes, and massive wood collages comprised of assembled pieces that are each finished before joining. What do these expressions of artist Scott Albrecht have to do with one another? If you study the patterns, in time, you will see.
A handsome cloth-covered hardcopy of works by the Gowanus, Brooklyn-based public/studio artist presents a selection of works from 2017-21 that have a rational color theory, smoothly dynamic geometries, and a soothing certitude in their complexity. Spotlighting public art projects, studio processes, exhibitions in New York and LA, and his residency at Hyland Mather’s place in Portugal, the collection is refined yet human.
The Paris-based stencil artist C215 learned his skills in the street and in the studio beginning in the mid-2000s after being influenced by the burgeoning practice in the street art scene of Barcelona and recognizing the practitioners in his home in Paris. Within a few short years, he was watching the evolution of all his peers – and even curating their work into shows. You can see many styles and techniques by surveying the field, and you’ll decide whose work is a cut above.
“The book that you are holding in your hands is, therefore, a manual, an inventory of techniques to be appropriated in order to get yourself started in the art or to help you develop stenciling’s potential. Stencils have no limits and can be adapted to all styles,” says the author in his introduction.
C215 – The Stencil Graffiti Manual. Schiffer Publishing 2022
A new book here features six years of selected works from a Polish graffiti writer, muralist, and professor of art and painting at a secondary school in his hometown of Olsztyn, Poland. He reckons that his life is one of ‘Planned Freestyle,’ meaning that having structure imposed upon him is very helpful in focusing his creative mind. You may quickly appreciate this characterization if you know any artists.
The collection of selected works here by Bartek Swiatecki is as luminous and optically rewarding to the viewer as they are opaque to the mind and stirring to the heart. With prolific and gently evolving abstractions in movement, you can see an artist at work, at play, and at his personal best – topping his previous work. The grandson of another painter and professor (of philology), Miroslaw Swiatecki, and the nephew of a famous painter and animator, Marek Swiatecki, perhaps it was only a matter of time before this 90s graffiti writer moved into more formal practices on canvas and walls.
As we prepare to celebrate 15 years of daily publishing stories and insights about street artists from around the world here on BSA, you’ll know that there are some whose work has merited hours of writing and photography much more than others – perhaps because we first knew her work here in our neighborhood of Brooklyn long before we began this site. Following her through almost every iteration and project, we’ve interviewed her on many stages and in her studio as she continues to unfold, self-examine, recognize the damage, heal herself, give to others, and create on the street, in the studio, gallery, museum, and now on screen.
For her second bound monogram, Caledonia Curry, AKA Swoon, reviews her path as a collection of psychological and emotional journeys, or perhaps one all-encompassing voyage with concurrents and tributaries running alongside and underneath. Whether she is showing you her early work on the streets here or in Italy at a festival called FAME, her Konbit Shelter days, her Braddock Project with the church in Pennsylvania, her Perly’s Beauty Shop, her epic installations at Jeffrey Deitch, LA MOCA in Los Angeles, ICA in Boston, the Brooklyn Museum, or DIA in Detroit, we’ve reported to you on them all – so you have an idea where this new book The Red Skein will take you. It is great to see the memories and the people all pulled together here cohesively and to understand the skeins that all weave together loosely and tightly.
SWOON: The Red Skein. DRAGO Publisher. Rome, Italy. 2022
It’s time for Street Art and graffiti fans of all flavors to make their annual peregrination to that Mecca of murals and art fairs and performances on the street, Miami, during Art Basel.
Specifically, we constantly roam through Wynwood, which began with a very healthy graffiti scene a couple of decades ago. Now people of all kinds roam the streets here to see newly commissioned and uncommissioned works commingle.
We also include a list of the official art fairs to hit below. Expect to hear Bad Bunny on the streets, see a lot of hot pink fashion, and New York’s Chainsmokers at LIV this weekend.
Smell the aerosol, the tacos, and lather on the coconut sunscreen – and be ready to mingle with some of the best this gritty commercial and the still organic street scene offer.
Click HERE for further information, schedules and tickets.
MUSEUM OF GRAFFITI
SCOPE ART FAIR
SCOPE HIGHLIGHTS BELOW: Click HERE for further information, schedules and tickets.