All posts tagged: Matt Siren

Graffiti and Street Art Lock Up “21st Precinct” in New York

Graffiti and Street Art Lock Up “21st Precinct” in New York

This weekend the NYPD police precinct is hosting a graffiti and street art show, and the public is welcome to see every floor completely swimming in aerosol and plastered in wheat-paste.

Admit it, it is not often you receive an invite like that.

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Pesu (center), Pixote (left) and Bill Claps Morse code writing the history of the building on the walls. (right) (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“When this precinct was built it was a very bad, very poor neighborhood. When the cops came in there was a lot of brutality and there was a lot of corruption,” says curator Robert Aloia of this building architected for the NYPD in 1863 and closed down fifty years later. A quick search on the web shows a history of thuggery born of Dickens. Records at the time of closure indicated there were 9,500 arrests annually and this tiny slice of Manhattan alone had 37 brothels.

So why not have a graffiti show here before tearing it down, right?.

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Savior, El Mundo, Ben Angotti, Depoe, Esteban Del Valle and Chris Soria. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: So you literally could hit every wall here and it wouldn’t matter because it is coming down at the end of the month?
Robert Aloia: Yeah the inside walls. The outside walls they don’t want us to touch.

In a twist of events pulled from a satire, one of the artists on display this weekend was arrested this month in Brooklyn and spent the night in jail before seeing a judge. The following day he came to this precinct and hit up some walls with impunity.

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Savior, El Mundo, Ben Angotti, Depoe, Esteban Del Valle and Chris Soria. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“It’s just amazing that these artists can put their time, their money, and their talent into something that is just coming down,” says Aloia while touring us through rooms and stairways during one of the four visits we made for these exclusive first images, “ and it is only going to be seen for a certain amount of time.”

Hellbent has his own room. So does Rambo. Cash4 and Matt Siren are sharing one together, as are Sheryo and the Yok. Elle spent an entire night in hers watching her black wax sculpture melting away with the candles she planted in it. An unconfirmed story says it is a sculpture cast of the elusive Judith Supine.

“She painted it black, melted it and filmed it,” says Aloia.

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Faust (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you thought of the irony behind the fact that this is a former police precinct and many of the artists would have been running away from this place instead of trying to get into it?
Robert Aloia: That is true, I didn’t think of that aspect of it really, but the gallery area was the actual holding cell.

Brooklyn Street Art: So how did you draw these people together?
Robert Aloia: Every show I’ve done I start with my friends, and then it’s friends of friends, and that’s it. It’s just about one degree of separation.

In the last three years the New York native has curated a number of shows heavily weighted with graffiti artists and Street Artists, primarily on Manhattan’s Lower East Side at bars, event spaces, and venues with downtown history like Fuse, White Box, and La Mama.

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Vexta (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A bartender and DJ who has mixed with a lot of New York nightlife and street life without becoming hardened, Aloia and co-curators like Erik Foss and Ricky Powell have been doing sometimes star-studded yet unassuming one-off shows the past few years with Street Art names like Bast, Supine, and Aiko and some of the newer kids like N’DA and Icy & Sot.

“I am from New York and I always knew a lot of graffiti artists, that’s how I ended up getting into it. I was just lucky enough to have access to some venues to do stuff.”

Brooklyn born, Aloia’s been on the LES since the 80s, which explains his devotion to the memory of “outlaw parties” where people would set up an illegal bar and a pumping sound system in improvised celebrations at unsanctioned locations. Outlaw parties and pop-up speakeasies still exist of course, but more often they are in Brooklyn now as Manhattan is shoving artists out by the truckload.

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Vexta (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For “21st Precinct” he’s called in nearly 50 artists from as far away as Japan, Australia, California, and nearby New Jersey. The mix of artists is eclectic and sometimes quite powerful like the tribute to SAMO (Basquiat) in the gallery by his co-conspirator Al Diaz, and the dark room built by Swedish photographer Jesper Haynes which features images from the downtown New York in the Reagan era.

“I definitely always have a mix with fine art, photography, installation, but you know I always have old-school graffiti artists and street artists,” he says as he looks over the four floors of thickly gritty splendor by renowned and unknown.

For those lucky enough to see the show in this venue this weekend or next, “21st Precinct” is a quintessential New York minute, a steamy grimy melting pot of authentic attitude that begs to differ and perhaps stick a finger in your chest just before the wrecking ball hits. Thank Aloia while you’re there. Not surprisingly, the new building that replaces this one will be for…..wait for it…. luxury residences.

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Jesper Haynes (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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KET (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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N Carlos J (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Li-Hill (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Li-Hill (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rambo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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URNew Yrok (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Rae (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Shiro (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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bunny M (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ASVP (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Chris RWK (center) URNew York (left) ASVP (right). (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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NEPO (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Mr. Toll (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Never (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Matt Siren . Cash4 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Al Diaz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Amanda Marie (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nick Tengri (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Joseph Meloy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Hellbent (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bishop203 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The Yok and Sheryo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Iena Cruz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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X-O (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pixote in action. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Justin Carty (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Curb Your Ego (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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OUTLAW ARTS Presents: “The 21st Precinct”
Curated by Robert Aloia & VNA Mag

The show will be in the old 21st Precinct located on 327 East 22nd Street. More information HERE.

Contributing Artists:

Adam Dare, Al Diaz, Amanda Marie, ASVP, Bad Pedestrian, Ben Angotti , Bill Claps, Bishop203, Bunny M., Cash4, Chris RWK, Chris Soria, Coby Kennedy, Curtis Kulig, D. Gaja, Danielle Mastrion, Dasic, Dizmology, Duel, ELLE, Erasmo, Esteban del Valle, Faust, Ghost, GIZ, Hellbent, Hue, Icy & Sot, Iena Cruz, Jesper Haynes, Justin Carty, Ket, Lexi Bella, Li-Hall, Lorenzo Masnah, Matt Siren, Mr. Toll, N. Carlos Jay, Nepo, Nick Tengri, Pesu, Phil, Pixote, RAE, Rambo, Ricardo Cabret, SAE, Savior Elmundo, Shery-o & The Yok, Shiro, Tone Tank, URNY, Vexta, X-O.

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UR New York hits Woodward Project; New Video Debut at BSA

UR New York hits Woodward Project; New Video Debut at BSA

“Eye of the Beholder”, 2esae and Ski Challenge Themselves to a New Freestyle

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UR New York’s 2esae in their studio is projecting and painting by hand, a new process that made both he and Ski a little nervous, to tell the truth. (Photo courtesy of the artists © UR New York)

This week UR New York is rocking the four-panel spot across the street from Woodward Gallery in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The born-and-raised New York duo, who have both done graffiti in the past, have been working hard year-round on the streets of Soho selling their art for about 3 years . With their folding tables displaying original screened and sprayed urban image collage, they’ve built a serious fan base. With themselves as their own best reps, they’ve also landed their work in shows and private collections and even corporate lobbies. Always hustling and always challenging themselves to take it to the next level, they’re pretty stoked to fill this spot that has hosted a number of New York’s hometown favorite Street Artists over the last few years.

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The new four panel piece by UR New York (photo © Jaime Rojo)

To mark the new installation, 2easae and Ski wanted to do something new and creative so they painted everything by hand instead of using screens and stencils. The results are somehow more personal and inviting. Stretching beyond their comfort level, they also took on something more abstract. When an artist does something courageous like going outside what is safe for them, you gotta applaud. According to the guys, the end result was a feeling that they were more connected to this piece than others they’ve worked on. They also scored a greater appreciation for artists who work by hand.

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Two panels chillin on the street by UR New York (Photo courtesy of the artists © URNewYork)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk a little about the actual shapes and symbols you used and what pushed you toward them?
UR New York:
We decided to use different symbols, and arrows in particular, to represent the different directions we may take in life. When you look at our work traditionally it’s detailed and defined with elements of graffiti. We started this project taking a completely different route. We figured we’d use simple imagery to convey an abstract feeling.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can each panel stand as a piece by itself or is it meant to be as a single piece only?
UR New York:
The initial thought was for the four panels to create a narrative. Artistically each panel was structured to stand alone but when they come together you grasp the full vision of the piece.

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UR New York, detail of “Eye of the Beholder” (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Talk a little bit about how you feel about changing it up stylistically.
UR New York: Changing our style of work is refreshing. As much as we love urban landscapes and graffiti, we decided to try something different and slightly out of our element. We get a thrill out of trying new techniques and styles. Our audience and supporters are always expecting something fresh and new. It’s exciting to deliver and get positive and creative feedback.

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UR New York, detail of “Eye of the Beholder”(Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you always bring graffiti to the game?
UR New York: Our style is as unique as a fingerprint but an element of graffiti will always play a role in our artwork. It’s part of our background and we pay homage to the roots and culture of where this all started for us.

Video Debut of “Eye of the Beholder”, starring UR New York in studio.

Visit URNewYork online here:

Now on view at Woodward Gallery Project Space:
UR New York, “Eye of the Beholder”

Previous Installations by:

Cycle, Forest Spirit
Kenji Nakayama, Brooklyn
FARO, Mood Swingz
El Celso, Sardana
Stikman, Double Vision
Michael De Feo, New Territories
Royce Bannon, Conversation with Monsters
Lady Pink, Pink Brick Woman Reclining
Sonne Hernandez, The Revolution Will Be Televised
LAII, Stop the War
Terence Netter
JM Rizzi, Chinese New Year
Matt Siren & Darkcloud

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(Photo courtesy of the artists © URNewYork)

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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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James, Karla and Billi Kid talk about Mom & Popism: Open to Public Saturday

James, Karla and Billi Kid talk about Mom & Popism: Open to Public Saturday

Manhattan is turning into a Mall. There I’ve said it.

In the 80’s when I first got to NYC my best friend guided me through the canyons of Manhattan lamenting the pace of change, the cultural cornerstones gone, the new soul-lessness that was going up in new buildings and neighborhoods. I said, “Get over it, are you kidding? This place is amazing!”

Making a call while Billi Kid looks on (photo Jaime Rojo)

Hi De Hi, Hi Di Ho! Making a call while Billi Kid looks on (photo Jaime Rojo)

 

Now the pace of “progress” that has turned every small and mid-sized city in America into an interchangeable power strip of Olive Gardens, Radio Shacks, and OfficeMaxes has gradually infiltrated the culturally vibrant and wacky island. But it isn’t only Manhattan, it’s true in almost every neighborhood in the city – In fact, the chains are shackling most of our culture to a homogenized dullness that preys on low-paid workers elsewhere and creates low-paid workers here.  How many Mom-and-Pop stores have been wiped out by the undercutting prices and special tax considerations that Big Box stores have?

Ask James and Karla Murray.

They started taking pictures of New York’s Mom-and-Pop stores a decade ago when they were out shooting graffiti. By definition, a Mom-and-Pop is a family-owned and usually family-run business with roots in it’s community, providing needed goods or services and jobs and wealth to it’s small ecosystem. The Murrays noticed that they were disappearing, rapidly.  It alarmed them and they published a book featuring those businesses call “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York”, featuring 250 images of these Mom and Pops.

Buildmore, Morgan Thomas, and Blanco (photo Jaime Rojo)

Buildmore, Morgan Thomas, and Blanco love pasta! (photo Jaime Rojo)

 

A new show, open to the public this Saturday, features images from that book blown up almost to their original size in a “streetscape” and installed on a gorgeous rooftop. The twist with this show of storefronts is it also includes the work of 28 artists all over it, thanks to the curating skills of Billi Kid, street artist and entrepreneur.  We went to the opening of the event (read here) and then we had the pleasure of interviewing the authors and the curator of the show to get more of the backstory:

Brooklyn Street Art: How did the opening party go?

Karla Murray: The opening party was a huge success. We have to thank Liz and Genevieve at Gawker Artists for helping launch such a great event as well as Billi Kid for planning and curating the event. We have never seen our Store Front photos so big before, let alone be decorated by many talented graffiti and street artists. Lots of media and artists were there to celebrate the unveiling of the exhibit. We also want to thank Bear Flag wines who donated the wine.

Ticky/Underwater Pirates, and Celso with guests (photo Jaime Rojo)

Ticky/Underwater Pirates, and Celso with guests (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you come up with this unusual idea and then convince Jim and Karla to help make it happen?

Billi Kid: Jim and Karla’s book had been sitting on my coffee table for quite a while and of course, triggered the original idea. MOM & POPism was my fourth collaboration with J&K, our second in which other artists work over their images, so it came down to a matter of trust and love for the concept. To be honest, they jumped right in. No arm twisting on my part. If anything, we three held our breath while waiting for Gawker Artists, who presented the exhibition, to decide whether they wanted to commit their time and resources to the event. Liz Dimmit, our champion and curator of Gawker Artists, fought our battle hard and flipped the POWERS THAT BE over to the dark side.

Royce Bannon monster takes a bite (photo Jaime Rojo)

Royce Bannon monster takes a bite (photo Jaime Rojo)

Birds on a ledge by Cern (photo Jaime Rojo)

Birds on a ledge by Cern (photo Jaime Rojo)

David Cooper and Ralph's (photo Jaime Rojo)

David Cooper and Ralph’s (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe the process and materials you used to print these large scale repicas of storefronts?

James Murray: The process began by Billi Kid selecting the photos from our “STORE FRONT” book that he thought would have enough “negative” space for artists to paint directly on top of the photo but still maintain the integrity of the store. After Billi Kid told us his initial selection of images, we worked with him making the final selection. We based this decision on the actual image size because we wanted to use photos that we knew would be able to be blown up to that large size and remain clear. We then gave all the image files to Billi Kid so that he could do the math on every one of them and figure out how large the image would print. He also figured out what spaces the artist would paint on and assigned every artist a particular area to paint on. Billi Kid then printed out our photos in segments of 4 feet wide by 9 feet high on matte photo paper rolls using his wide-format printer. If it wasn’t for Billi Kid owning such a large printer, this project would never have gotten off the ground because it would have been too expensive to print at a local lab.

 

Ideal Dinettes, in business from 1953-2008 Brooklyn, 2004, by James and Karla Murray from “STORE FRONT- The Disappearing Face of New York”

 

Brooklyn Street Art: Were you ever afraid it wasn’t going to work out?

Billi Kid: Only in so far as the weather was concerned. When we kicked off the planning phase of MOM & POPism, the last thing we figured was a rainy July/August season. Who knew? We had considered the tremendous amount of work involved in getting this to look just right. I mean, Liz Dimmit actually committed to building 9 walls on the roof of Gawker Media HQ so that we could cover them with James and Karla’s beautiful photography. On top of that, we had to figure out the blown-up dimensions of each image and how to layer them up as wallpaper slices. It was definitely touch and go for most of the process, but the stars finally aligned in our favor.

Lady Pink (photo Jaime Rojo)

Lady Pink (photo Jaime Rojo)

 

Brooklyn Street Art: Isn’t Billi Kid rude and difficult to work with?

Karla Murray: Billi Kid is one of the nicest and most generous guys as well as a talented artist. This is the 3rd time we have collaborated with him on an exhibition. The first was a graffiti/street art/photography hotel room installation at the Carlton Arms Hotel in Manhattan and the second was an exhibition called Underground/Overground at the Artbreak Gallery in Williamsburg. We also selected him to be part of an exhibition we are curating during Art Basel Miami called GRAFFITI GONE GLOBAL presented by SushiSamba Restaurants. His work, including the panel he painted as part of MOM and POPism, will be shipped down to Miami and included in the show that takes place from Dec 3-6, 2009.

Brooklyn Street Art: How important is community in a project like this?

Billi Kid: As curator, my first concern for MOM & POPism was to bridge the gap between graffiti/street art and how it is exhibited in a gallery environment. I wanted the public to experience it in it’s pure form, exactly how I see it when I walk the city streets. Secondly, I wanted to continue James and Karla’s “Store Front” conversation along with the sadness felt by all as we watch the disappearing face of New York along with the economic and artistic implications involved. And last, it was all about community. Bringing all of these talented artists to this roof was a dream come true. When working together, the community can go a lot further in spreading the love as far as I’m concerned.

Shiro and her buddy by her piece (photo Jaime Rojo)

Shiro and her buddy by her piece (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: What conversation do you hope to spark about the significance of these businesses, and their disappearance?

James Murray: We hope to open people’s eyes to the disappearance of these mom-and-pop businesses and encourage people to shop in them and support them. Since we began the project of documenting these stores over 10 years ago, over half of the images which appear in the book have now closed. With the economy doing poorly even more businesses are threatened. These mom-and-pop stores are what makes each neighborhood in the 5 boroughs unique. They are the backbone of the community and when they close a little piece of history is lost.

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you think people are beginning to make the connection between corporate power, globalism, big box stores, and the killing off of Mom-and-Pop’s?

Karla Murray: We hope that people do make the connection between corporate power and big box retailers and the killing off of Mom-and-Pops. People often have the misconception that shopping at a big box is cheaper then going to a local store but it’s not true! Many store owners have told us that their prices are actually lower and the quality of their goods are better. These mom and pop store owners take pride in what they sell and stand behind their product whether its food or clothing or whatever. Many of these businesses have been handed down from generation to generation and the owners are proud to have their name attached to their store.

Brooklyn Street Art: Sometimes when you stretch your mind to combine art and artists in a new way, you can reach a new audience. Maybe you are letting more people know about these artists…
Billi Kid:
Whenever I have a willing ear, I’m always talking about preaching beyond the choir. The work deserves and demands a wider audience. It’s beautiful to see and read how people outside of the graffiti and street art world reacted to MOM & POPism. Hallelujah!

Zoltron took the signs to a new street (photo Jaime Rojo)

Zoltron took the signs to a new street (photo Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Now that the family owned stores are gone, do you see any hopeful signs in the development of the cityscape?
James Murray:
Many family-owned businesses are still in existence so we remain hopeful that the cityscape will not change too drastically.

Infinity says he liked the garbage bags piled there

Infinity says he liked the garbage bags piled there because it looks more realistic (photo Jaime Rojo)

 

Brooklyn Street Art: What was the biggest surprise of the whole installation?
Karla Murray: The biggest surprise was all the rain we got while doing the installation. We knew going into this that the weather was not something we could control but we really were subjected to extremes. The boards were even blown over by a heavy wind/rain storm and had to be secured more tightly. When the artists were painting on the photos we had to erect “tents” out of tarps to keep them covered from the heavy rain storms. We even had to change the date of the opening party under threat of rain. Despite all this, everything worked out well and the photos and artwork held up remarkably well to the elements.

David Cooper signing a copy of Jim and Karla's book (photo Jaime Rojo) 

David Cooper signing a copy of Jim and Karla’s book (photo Jaime Rojo)

 

Brooklyn Street Art: Work and logistics aside, it looks like you had fun putting this one together!
Billi Kid:
OK, scratch everything I said so far! Hell yeah!!! It was all about having fun! Seeing how much pleasure each artist had working and looking over each other’s shoulder was my finest moment in bringing MOM & POPism to life. At the end of the day, we ALL have to enjoy what we do, because it shows.

Here’s a piece by videographer Greg DeLiso:

MOM & POPism include Blanco,  Buildmore, Cake,  Celso, Cern, Chris  (RWK), Crome, Cycle, David Cooper, Destroy & Rebuild, Enamel Kingdom, Goldenstash, Infinity, Kngee, Lady Pink, Matt Siren, Morgan Thomas, Peru Ana Ana Peru, Plasma Slugs, Royce  Bannon, Shai R. Dahan, Shiro, The Dude Company, Tikcy, Under Water Pirates, Veng (RWK), Zoltron and Billi Kid.

MOM & POPism will be open to public on Saturday, August 15th from noon to 4 p.m. Additional exhibition viewings are available by appointment throughout August.

MOM & POPism Public Viewing Invite.jpg

Previous projects that combined the talents of James and Karla and Billi:

An article James and Karla wrote about Billi in Peel Magazine

The room Billi did at Artbreak Hotel with James and Karla

Underground Overground with Billi, James and Karla and Cern


Great Photos at the opening of Mom&Popism from talented photographer Joe Russo at our friends Arrested Motion

See an exhibition of photos from the book at the Clic Gallery now through September 27, 2009

Billi Kid

James and Karla Murray

Gawker Artists

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“Cheap Shots” Endless Love Crew at a bar in Bushwick

“Cheap Shots” Endless Love Crew at a bar in Bushwick

Who you calling Cheap?

No, that’s the name of the show, silly.

Bushwick Open Studios is this weekend, and of course that means that in between scattered studio visits and avant garde performances you will have to go to bars in the ‘hood to soak up that local D.I.Y. flavor.  Conveniently, there will be art there too.

Not to be confused with the Kings County Bar Association, the name of the bar is Kings County (so is the county by the way) and the ever morphing roster for this round of ELC mayhem is: RoyceBannon, Anera, infinity, Celso, Abe Lincoln Jr., Ad Deville, Matt Siren, and Dark Clouds.

Brooklyn Street Art: What themes have you been working with?
Royce Bannon:
The theme is ELC on a smaller scale, collabos, transmissions, hot chicks, and monsters

Brooklyn Street Art: Who has more fun? Monsters or voluptuous babes?
Royce Bannon:
I think that when you combine monsters and voluptuous babes the only outcome is fun… its been proven.

Brooklyn Street Art: Will you be serving cheap shots?
Royce Bannon:
Shots are cheap.

New piece by Matt Siren and Royce Bannon (photo courtesy ELC)

New piece by Matt Siren and Royce Bannon (photo courtesy ELC)

More about Cheap Shots on our Calendar here.

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“The Great OutDoors” with Luna Park at ArtBreak Gallery

“The Great OutDoors” with Luna Park at ArtBreak Gallery

A true street art Opening in Brooklyn, with shutters open wide and many doorways to contemplate.

A collection of 30 artists on the street art scene are contributing to the vision of the adoorable Luna Park and her co-curator Billi Kid.  Ms. Park, a well-travelled street art photographer who calls Brooklyn home, is among a very select group of intrepid souls cris-crossing the borough by any means possible to get the right shot.

Well regarded and always smartly outfitted, Ms. Park and Mr. Kid have added a bit of poetry to the street art oeuvre by decorating the departure, edifying the entrance, festooning the frontage, and gilding the gateway!

Image by Luna Park featuring a Celso in the doorway.

Image by Luna Park featuring a Celso in the doorway.

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you and Billi Kid conjure a show using doors as canvas?

Luna Park: Last year, Billi Kid, Jim and Karla Murray, Cern and Elisha Cook Jr. decorated a room at the Carlton Arms Hotel, which is known for it’s fabulous, one-of-a-kind, artist-decorated rooms. I highly recommend it as an affordable place to send your arty guests. To capitalize on the network of artists they’d built through the hotel, in March 2008 the owners opened Artbreak Gallery in Williamsburg. When Billi Kid contacted them about the possibility of doing a doors-themed street art show, they were immediately on board. I agreed to participate last December and the rest, as they say, was a matter of logistics, logistics, logistics.

Brooklyn Street Art: As you march across the city looking for great shots, have you found that some artists gravitate to doorways?

Luna Park: Definitely! I’d even go so far as to say not only SOME, but MANY. Your average urban door is the perfect gateway to graffiti – pardon the pun – it provides a smooth, even surface, accessible to all and, most importantly, visible to all. Although I don’t subscribe to the so-called “broken windows” theory of graffiti leading to crime, I do think it holds true for doors in the sense that graffiti on doors DOES attract more graffiti. It generally starts with a lone tag and – provided that tag isn’t buffed – the tags soon multiply. Before you know it, stickers get in on the action, the odd wheatpaste sticks around and, voila, suddenly you have a proper door!

Brooklyn Street Art: Why would a doorway be better than, say, a wall?

Luna Park: I’m not saying doors are better than walls, but as a surface on which to write or stick, a doorway offers a certain degree of protection from prying eyes. No one looks twice at someone who is ostensibly fumbling for keys in front of a doorway, but that same person loitering by a wall…

Cake

Cake from “The Great Outdoors” (photo Luna Park)

Brooklyn Street Art: Where did all of these come from? Have you been dumpster diving?

Luna Park: Well, I’m certainly not one to condone any kind of illegal activity, ahem, so I’m assuming the doors were all acquired legally, perhaps through a fine, neighborhood purveyor of sundry household items.

I personally salvaged two doors from the curb down the street from my house. Billi Kid acquired his door and several others at a farmhouse sale in rural Connecticut.  A few people must have visited demolition sites, as there are a number of extraordinarily heavy fire doors as well. The doors really run the gamut of everything from vintage to factory fresh.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are most of the pieces in this show made specifically for “The Great Outdoors?”

Luna Park: Yep, with one notable exception, all of the pieces for this show are brand spanking new!

“Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

The Dude Company

The Dude Company for “The Great Outdoors” (photo Luna Park)

Brooklyn Street Art: Every door has two sides; has anybody addressed both for the show?

Luna Park: We asked the artists to decorate only one side of the door – to make hanging them all the easier – but Celso and LA2 collaborated on one side of a door that already had a piece on the other side. I’d mention who, but that would spoil the surprise.

Brooklyn Street Art: It’s not the same as painting ox blood over the doorway, but do you think there is any symbolism to the act of decorating a door?

Street art and graffiti covered doors aside, I think the decorated door functions as a marker, defining the threshold between the private and the public spheres. There are certainly any number of cultures around the world that place markings on doors to celebrate rites of passage: in the part of northern Germany from which my mother comes from, it is not uncommon to see important family dates chalked onto doors, presumably in conjunction with some kind of religious blessing.

“we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

Feral for "The Great Outdoors" (photo Luna Park)

Feral for “The Great Outdoors” (photo Luna Park)

Brooklyn Street Art: On a grander scale, this show could be a commentary about the times we’re in, with many doors slamming shut, while others that we scarcely imagined only two years ago are opening wide.  Do you care to philosophize?

Luna Park: I’m an optimist at heart and a pragmatist by nature, as such, I believe very much in silver linings and unforeseen occurrences. Especially in times of crisis, one has to embrace change, because only by accepting change can one move forward. When Billi Kid approached me with the opportunity to co-curate this show, you better believe I opened that door, despite initial misgivings about never having organized anything of this magnitude before.

I can only speak for myself, but having this show – something I’ve come to see as an incredibly positive force in my life – to occupy me and to look forward to has made the struggles I endure at work all the more bearable. I am slowly realizing that this show has opened doors for others, and that has made this experience all the more meaningful to me. By the same token, the outpouring of support from the street art community – BSA included – has been enormous and for that I am very grateful.

Brooklyn Street Art: Given their past locations and your personal experience shooting the streets, what does it feel like to see these doors lined up in a spare white box gallery space?

Luna Park: There is often critique of street art and graffiti work in galleries, in many cases justified in that some work simply does not translate well onto canvas. But in this case, we’re literally bringing doors in off the street and taking them to the next level (the gallery’s on the 2nd floor). Because the doors are relatively large and heavily decorated, being surrounded by a clean, white gallery wall gives each piece space to breathe. Above and beyond that, it’s nice to see the humble door elevated to a place of honor.

“Listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go.” – e.e. cummings

His holiness Blanco for "The Great Outdoors" (photo Luna Park)

 

Brooklyn Street Art: What door surprised you the most?

Luna Park: Without a doubt, Blanco! I’ve been following his stencils since he first started putting them out, seeing his progression with each, more intricate piece. When we invited him to be part of the show, I had high hopes, but he’s really exceeded all expectations and then some! Bravo, J!

That having been said, I’m very pleased by the quality of ALL the work and am super proud of everyone’s efforts. My sincerest thanks to everyone that helped make this show possible.

Brooklyn Street Art: What time do doors open on Saturday?

Luna Park: Doors open at 6pm. I for one can’t wait to find out if it’s Bachelor #1, #2 or #3 behind my favorite door! ;p

“Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.”  Brooklyn’s own Mae West

THE GREAT OUT DOORS
MAY 2 – 29, 2009

Art Break Gallery
195 Grand Street, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Thursday through Sunday, 1-7 pm.

Opening Reception Saturday May 2, 6-10 pm

At the opening Saturday you’ll also get to see a projection show of Luna Park’s photography, specifically images of doors on Brooklyn streets and elsewhere.

Billi Kid

Luna Park

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Royce and ELC Workin’ in a Combine

Royce and ELC Workin’ in a Combine

112 Greene Street Revived by Street Artists

Like Obama says, we’ve got work to do, people.

Royce Bannon and a diverse team of talented street artist/graff writers are taking the challenge seriously: Revive the artists’ space in Soho that boasts a proud history and restore it to the constructive, collaborative, democratic roots of a real artists’ community; one that will have a mission of giving back, as well as re-establishing a laboratory for discovery.

These are times for bold actions of hope, and all hands are on deck for a show opening this month called “Work to Do” at 112 Greene Street in Soho, a place that first flourished in the years before the Reagan Revolution.

A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)

A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)

Long before Soho became a jewel encrusted haven for high-end couture, over-priced “foodie” groceries, hi-jacking delis, and exclusive password private clubs, the wild-eyed artists were the only people interested in the abandoned buildings south of Houston, and north of Canal. In the decade of the 1970’s, during a financial crisis when a Republican president told our bankrupt city to “drop dead”, that he would veto any bailout for a cash-strapped NYC economy, Soho was a largely abandoned carcass of warehouses and lifeless factories. As is so often the case, it was the perfect playground for the innovative talents of artists and art students needing cheap raw space to create and coalesce and eventually re-start the engine of cultural growth. Like the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick neighborhoods in Brooklyn today, Soho in Manhattan was a pounding heart in a hurting city that was drained by an energy crisis, sapped by a costly possibly illegal war on foreign soil, and duped by the ponzi-schemes of corporate titan opportunists at home.

112 Greene Street in Soho was the original home of 112 Workshop, a raw space open between 1970 and 1980, offering exhibition space for installation and performance for the new generation of conceptual artists who emerged from the radicalized minds and cultural upheavals of the previous decade.

With artists having complete control to curate their shows, the space put on challenging and inspirational work of hundreds of people. During the life of this laboratory it produced a list of influential performers and artists that helped shape the cultural cityscape over next 30 years, including names like Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Louis Bourgois, Chuck Close, Spalding Gray, Phillip Glass, Fran Lebowitz, Jeffrey Lew (co-founder), Gordon Matta Clarke (co-founder), Richard Mock, Richard Serra, William Wegman.

A spirit of collaboration and lively exploration returns to this space on March 26 when street artists well known in North Brooklyn today clear out the moribund basement space at 112 Greene and electrify the walls with a new era of youthful big ideas – and with thanks to those who came before in this hallowed space.

Royce Bannon, core member of the collective ELC (Endless Love Crew), is curating an audacious and boundless graphic cavalcade of street art styles to christen the historic space that honors the creative spirit. While ELC has a rotating roster that sometimes totals as many as 9 artists with a variety of styles, the currently active members of the ELC for this project will be Abe Lincoln Jr., Anera, El Celso, infinity, and Royce Bannon. With everyone working collaboratively, the “Work to Do” show pays homage to the new president and embraces a new reality that artists and creatives in the city are feeling right now.

The 112 Greene Street space is christened The Combine with this inaugural show. Steve Loeb and John Robie are creating The Combine to provide a new environment for the exhibition of art; an alternative to the traditional gallery opening and exhibition, transforming static work into multi-media, performance oriented events.

Detail from Kosbe at "Work to Do" (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Detail from Kosbe at “Work to Do” (photo Steven P. Harrington)

On a recent sunny Saturday, with Soho sidewalks anxiously trampled with tourists dragging shopping bags out of Prada, Dean & Deluca, and the Apple store, Royce and Chris from Robots Will Kill are laboring below street level on work for the new show. Descending the stairway you hear the blasting remixed hip-hop jams, see the spray-painted names along the walls claiming space for pieces; Ad Deville of Skewville and U.L.M. have staked their real estate, as has Cake and the Smart Crew. Others have already created pieces on their wall allotment; a 7 foot tall Mochni from Veng on the landing, a chaotic collage from Kosbe as you hit the floor, a manic back wall collaboration with Deekers, infinity, and Celso.

A complete history of 112 Workshop

A complete history of 112 Workshop

Royce sits at his makeshift table of plywood and saw-horses, pouring over a large book about 112 Workshop, marking its’ pages with post-its, and eyeballing every available inch of the entire basement space, thinking about how to fill it, and with whom. His phone keeps ringing, but he’s concentrating on the long rectangular room. He’s loving this moment, and proud of the work his friends have put into the space. Chris from RWK climbs a ladder to lay-in the first wash of color that will build the backing of… perhaps a robot?

Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and Avoid Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and AVOID Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

The mottled concrete floor is marked with blue tape where a stage will be built for Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force on opening night, and the backdrop wall is already claimed by an undulating AVOID Pi tentacle, some Dain wheatpasted portraits that well up with fluorescent tears, and some smart-aleck monsters from Mr. Bannon himself, and a space remains for Abe Lincoln Jr.. Walk past a stack of plywood into a makeshift rectangular “gallery” room where many 3’ x 8’ foamcore canvasses lean – soon to showcase Deekers, infinity, Celso, and Royce pieces and hung in the windows of a music store further north of here.

Brooklyn Street Art: So who decided to put on this show?
Royce Bannon: Steven Loeb (composer, arranger, producer) and John Robie (composer, musician and record producer). They both have really extensive resumes in the music industry that go back to the 70’s – have worked with so many great musicians and artists that have impacted most of us – Kurtis Blow, Public Enemy, James Brown, LL Cool J… and a lot more. This is their space, and they’ve given me full control to make this show rock.

This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: How did you get involved?
Royce Bannon: They hit me up on MySpace about a year ago, I guess. They knew about ELC and liked our work. About November or December they asked me if we could throw an ELC show and I was like “Sure!” We got together and had lunch and they showed me the space. It was a mess when I saw it. It was full of a bunch of wood, tables, broken furniture, junk… it was basically used for storage, hadn’t been used for anything I guess for years.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are they planning to use the space after the show?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, they are turning it into an event center, mainly for charitable events. They want to make money, but they want to give back as well. This will be the first kind of event that is following that approach.

Brooklyn Street Art: So they first contacted you to do an ELC show, but you actually know a lot more people who can do work in a space like this.
Royce Bannon: Yeah exactly, they were like “we like ELC” and I said, “This is a lot of room to fill for just ELC, so why not invite people who I admire, and some of their friends and we can just crush this whole place up?”

Cake waits for friends from her Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Waiting for the Smart Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: Have you had to tell people “no” since this roster started filling up?
Royce Bannon: Yes, (laughs) I’ve been telling people “no” a lot, and that’s really hard. What I’ve been telling them is to hold on, and once everybody paints, there will be other smaller or tight spots where they can do “fill-ins’, cause some people like those smaller spots too.

Brooklyn Street Art: Looking at this giant space, you are giving people a lot of real estate; these spaces look like 8’ by 8’ chunks of wall. That’s pretty generous.
Royce Bannon: Yeah definitely, why not? The spaces are claimed, and we’ve got lots more space to do, and about a third of it is done already.

Brooklyn Street Art: Are people excited to be in the show?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, very excited, I think it’s gonna be like a madhouse in here. It’s about 4,000 square feet floorspace.

This place is Smokin'! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

This place is Smokin’ ! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Brooklyn Street Art: You have been working long hours to accommodate all these artists?
Royce Bannon: Yeah, since mid-January I’ve been here like 12 hour days, sometimes late at night. First we had to clean up the space, figure out what materials we wanted to keep. We’re using everything they had left here and re-purposing it, cause “why not”. Better than throwing it away. Like my monsters are cut out of some bookshelves (laughs). They’ve been supplying us with whatever tools we need, gave us a bunch of paint. So with extras, like ladders and tools, I just go to them and we can get to work. They are really supportive of us, plus they’re collectors.

Brooklyn Street Art: So some of the artwork is going to be on sale?
Royce Bannon: Yes, I think some of the people are going to actually put their artwork on top of their pieces. We’re going to make a little gallery (gesturing to a 10’x 14’ room) – I think some people are going to put their stuff in there. We’re going to cover the floor, I think, in fake grass… brighten the space up a little bit. But we still got a lot of work to do.

***********************

In planning for the new show, Royce and all of the artists have been inspired by the words of the 44th president:

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up.

For more info on ELC and its members:
ELC
Royce Bannon
infinity
El Celso
Abe Lincoln Jr.
AnerA

So far the lineup for the show includes: Endless Love Crew, Moody AA, Cabahzm, Cake, 2Easae, Avone, Chris RWK, Veng RWK, Brando * Nev1 * Sinatra Smart Crew, AVOID pi, infinity, Deeker, Keeley, El Celso, Dain, Pufferella, Skewville, Royce Bannon, AnerA, Abe Lincoln Jr., Ellis Gallagher AKA Ellis G., Matt Siren, Overconsumer, Kosbe, Aiko, Abby Goodman, Alone art, Bast, Ben Jackson, Bobby Hill, Buildmore, C. Damage, Chris Brennan, Christopher Gordon, Dark Clouds, Deeker, Destroy and Rebuild, Erica Faulke, Keely, Pufferella, OHM, Smells, Stikman, U.L.M.

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