All posts tagged: Mirf

Bathroom Graffiti on Canvas With Mint & Serf

Bathroom Graffiti on Canvas With Mint & Serf

New canvasses celebrate the graffiti-covered bar bathroom and its aggressive lack of style.

A quick snort, a scribbled tag, and you my love.

Now that you are caked with sweat and nearly deaf from gyrating and slamming your body to the music at your favorite jam-packed downtown dive, it’s time to hit the line for the unisex bathrooms and wait behind frat boys, saucy girls, and a couple of drag queens.

The closet-sized bar bathroom is barely big enough for a toilet and sink and may have been cleaned sometime in the last week. This one was last remodeled in the 1970s probably – and has been a thin slice of respite, however tawdry, for years – shunting many guests away from the rumbling roar of a New York nightclub and providing a private moment.

An actual bathroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on the left. Detail from a new canvas by Mint & Serf on the right. (both photos © Jaime Rojo)

With battered and buckling flooring underfoot and one bare light bulb overhead, it’s a good place for guests to fix their hair, snort a line of coke, perform a rushed sex act with a new friend, or perhaps to barf. If you happen to have a juicy black marker in your boot you can scream a quick tag across the pileup of graffiti that smothers the walls, or slap a sticker on it, before zipping up and pushing your way out the door to find another beer.

For Mint & Serf, this is inspiration.

And now they are bringing it to the canvas.

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Like when you go to some Williamsburg bathroom and you see this pile of tags – that’s the aesthetic. That’s the graffiti,” explains Mint during a recent in-studio visit, “ because graffiti to me is this aggression, this turbulence. The beef, the sex, the fame. You know what I mean?”

The new collection is still evolving, and it began initially with spreading canvasses out and inviting friends to hit them up whenever they visited the studio. “(It’s been) an ongoing therapy session where a lot of our friends would come in and start doing fill-ins and tags. Then about a month or two ago we started taking them down and focusing more on each one,” says Serf.

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

When viewed on their own, each of these canvasses does look like a sawed off chunk from a sleezy restroom wall, but not like a Banksy. While the guys appreciate that Street Art and commercially successful graffiti artists have their place, this bathroom aesthetic is from the CBGB punk era perhaps, rather than the MTV polished rebelliousness that followed. Raw, aggressive, unstyled – it’s a return to the gestural, the raw markings of graffiti, in an effort to strip it back to the nerve endings. If the campy stylings of latter day Banksy are Green Day, Mint & Serf are evoking the Dead Boys or Sex Pistols. Not that early punks were unstyled, and neither are these deliberately raging canvasses.

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As they talk, there are references to some of the 20th century painters whose work was repulsive before it was revered, and these 30-something graffiti artists are not afraid to disgust you while pursuing work that feels real. “Because there is beauty in ugliness,” Mint opines as he talks of initial responses to Bacon, de Kooning, and Picasso. With time, he says, people realized “They actually are masterpieces, you know.“

But you may hear them bracing for some criticism, even as they appear confident in this direction. “I know it’s probably gonna be kind of hard to swallow for a lot of people just because they are used to seeing graffiti work nowadays being very precise and calculated,” says Serf, “But it is what it is. It is probably the most honest work we have done to date.”

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The stripping back, the lack of artifice, the aggression – it all comes through here on this collection that is not yet ready for public display. For guys who have had commercial success as graphic artists creating more stylized installations for hotels and night clubs and who have a solid track record in product and lifestyle design, this new work is a return to what originally attracted them to doing graffiti on the street.

“One of the reasons I got into graffiti is because of the crazy stories I’ve heard about it. About jumping rooftops, stealing paint, staying out late, going to raves, getting laid – all this shit. The turbulence of that lifestyle, that’s what turned me on. Not doing a piece for 20 hours,” says Mint as he stares up at the cacophonic canvasses.

He continues, “For us it’s taking an existing portrayal of graffiti, which is these beautiful, colorful pieces, and just stripping it down to graffiti.”

And as a specific reference point, Serf couldn’t be clearer, “It’s all about the bar bathroom.”

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mint & Serf in studio, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mint & Serf, Pablo Power and Jacuzzi Chris at The Broadway Chapter.  February – August 2012, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In studio with Mint & Serf, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Graffiti and stickers cover the walls of a bathroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Inspiration: Graffiti and stickers cover the walls of a bathroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Graffiti and stickers cover the walls of a bathroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Graffiti and stickers cover the walls of a bathroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Graffiti and stickers cover the walls of a bathroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Happy New Year! BSA Highlights of 2010

Year-in-review-2010-header

As we start a new year, we say thank you for the last one.

And Thank You to the artists who shared their 11 Wishes for 2011 with Brooklyn Street Art; Conor Harrington, Eli Cook, Indigo, Gilf, Todd Mazer, Vasco Mucci, Kimberly Brooks, Rusty Rehl, Tip Toe, Samson, and Ludo. You each contributed a very cool gift to the BSA family, and we’re grateful.

We looked over the last year to take in all the great projects we were in and fascinating people we had the pleasure to work with. It was a helluva year, and please take a look at the highlights to get an idea what a rich cultural explosion we are all a part of at this moment.

The new year already has some amazing new opportunities to celebrate Street Art and artists. We are looking forward to meeting you and playing with you and working with you in 2011.

Specter does “Gentrification Series” © Jaime Rojo
NohJ Coley and Gaia © Jaime Rojo
Jef Aerosol’s tribute to Basquiat © Jaime Rojo
***

January

Imminent Disaster © Steven P. Harrington
Fauxreel (photo courtesy the artist)
Chris Stain at Brooklyn Bowl © Jaime Rojo

February

Various & Gould © Jaime Rojo
Anthony Lister on the street © Jaime Rojo
Trusto Corp was lovin it.

March

Martha Cooper, Shepard Fairey © Jaime Rojo
BSA’s Auction for Free Arts NYC
Crotched objects began appearing on the street this year. © Jaime Rojo

April

BSA gets some walls for ROA © Jaime Rojo
Dolk at Brooklynite © Steven P. Harrington
BSA gets Ludo some action “Pretty Malevolence” © Jaime Rojo

May

The Crest Hardware Art Show © Jaime Rojo
NohJ Coley © Jaime Rojo
The Phun Phactory Reboot in Williamsburg © Steven P. Harrington

June

Sarah Palin by Billi Kid
Nick Walker with BSA in Brooklyn © Jaime Rojo
Judith Supine at “Shred” © Jaime Rojo

July

Interview with legend Futura © Jaime Rojo
Os Gemeos and Martha Cooper © Jaime Rojo
Skewville at Electric Windows © Jaime Rojo

August

Specter Spot-Jocks Shepard Fairey © Jaime Rojo
“Bienvenidos” campaign
Faile studio visit © Jaime Rojo

September

BSA participates and sponsors New York’s first “Nuit Blanche” © Jaime Rojo
JC2 © Jaime Rojo
How, Nosm, R. Robots © Jaime Rojo

October

Faile “Bedtime Stories” © Jaime Rojo
Judith Supine © Jaime Rojo
Photo © Roswitha Guillemin courtesy Galerie Itinerrance

November

H. Veng Smith © Jaime Rojo
Sure. Photo courtesy Faust
Kid Zoom © Jaime Rojo

December

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Mint & Serf Cover District 36 …and Fairey, Gaia…

Mint & Serf Cover District 36 …and Fairey, Gaia…

Mint & Serf (Mirf), the New York City based Street Art Collective give a nod to the era of mega clubs as they proudly unveil an ambitious new nightlife project with the opening of District 36.

brooklyn-street-art-mint-and-serf-jaime-rojo-district-36-12-10-web-9Mirf Site Specific Installation at The Entrance of District 36 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Since this summer the duo have been creating three site-specific permanent art installations inside the newly opened nightclub in the garment district.

No strangers to indoor walls Mirf collaborated recently on the interiors of rooms in the Ace Hotel, giving visitors very individual experiences according to their location. When Mirf heard of a new club being planned in a former garment warehouse in Manhattan, memories of their own wild fun times as teenagers in Gotham’s mega-clubs came rushing back.  The artists jumped on the offer to help in the planning of the club as it was being built and what has resulted from Mirf’s concepting is a visual experience evocative of today’s richness and yesterday’s rawness.

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Mirf (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For the epic staircase of District 36 Mirf’s inspiration was the iconic New York big clubs that drew crowds of students and creatives and freaks in the mid 1980s and 90s, a time when the city seemed to have a more robustly participatory artistic nightlife – and a feeling that they would like to bring back. Says Mint, “We both grew up in the nightlife in the 90s so when we met the owners they told us that we should reference the vibe of The Tunnel and Limelight.”

“Those days it wasn’t about bottle service – It used to be more about dancing and losing yourself for about three to four hours. So we wanted to create a piece that was site specific to this place and that referenced the NYC nightlife of clubs like Area, Danceteria, Palladium, The Tunnel and Twilo,” says Mint.

The two poured over press clippings for research and Lucien Samaha a friend, gave the guys photos from his days as a DJ in The Tunnel and Limelight and Osvaldo Chance Jimenez a friend as well, gave them photos from today’s nightlife.  The resulting hallway staircase is a collage of vintage photographs and graffiti that merges the city’s nightlife over a few decades into one.

“The Tunnel was such a great inspiration to me. I started going there when I was 16 or 17 and you just would walk in, paid your $20 and lose yourself. It was fun. It was entertaining. The clubs now days are very bland. Getting in and enjoying is not just for rich people,” says Mint.

brooklyn-street-art-mint-and-serf-jaime-rojo-district-36-12-10-web-3The Middle Wall by Mirf at District 36 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Tell me about this middle wall. What was the process and inspiration?

Mint: Since the early 2000’s we started with the idea of mixing genres. We both have backgrounds in graphic design and we always wanted to combine the sensibility of graffiti and graphic design and mash it up. We wanted to create something very surreal and visually stimulating where people can look at it and say, “this is a beautiful thing” regardless of whether or not they know what it is. To me the nightlife then (1990s) was about seeing so many interesting things including the decorations like the Kenny Scharf room (The Lava Lounge) at The Tunnel. That room was also the inspiration for this wall.

brooklyn-street-art-mint-and-serf-jaime-rojo-district-36-12-10-web-4

Mirf (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Did you get inspiration from the ocean/underwater landscape also?

Mint: This wall is not so much about aquatics as it is about plants. We went on trips and took photographs of individual plants and began processing them in Photoshop, creating these original compositions. I really didn’t think about the design being too aquatic until we put it on the wall and took a picture and we went “Wow it looks almost like a fish tank!”

Brooklyn Street Art: Yeah in certain spots it looks like you are underwater and the sunlight is coming through.

Mint: It is a surreal landscape with elements of graffiti. I draw a lot inspiration from nature. I like the translucency of light.

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Mirf Lounge (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: And the Lounge; Is this a place for people to drink and have conversation?

Mint: The sound system in this place is amazing and it is loud so if you are spending three or four hours in this place you might want to get away from the sound, sit down and maybe have a conversation.  That’s why is set up as a lounge.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about the images on this wall? It seems like some of these images were ever-present in the city this summer.

Mint: The original concept for the image was Mirf, which is Mint and Serf put together. When we used to write on roofs and there wasn’t enough room for both our names we would combine our names into Mirf. So back in April I designed the original Mirf poster and put a bunch of them in Russia. It was one of the first times I’ve seen graffiti being put up on the street but with wheat paste.

Back from their trip Mirf decided that they were going to grab their posters and go through the city over everything.  Says Mint: “It wasn’t about beef it was creative because the conversation with Street Art a lot of times is how ephemeral it is, but the funniest thing is, once someone goes over someone it’s like ‘Oh my God I can’t believe someone went over a Swoon piece.’ But it is like if you are putting stuff on the street you have to realize that it is either going to be buffed or someone is going to go over it and you just can’t have these feelings about it.”

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Eliciting charges of “Wall Hogs” and worse, Mint and Serf covered walls like this with other street artists on them with their giant wheat-pastes this summer.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“If you say it’s ephemeral then you say is ephemeral that’s it. So we wanted to make that point present and we started going over everything to make sure people don’t take that seriously,” says Mint unapologetically.

Taking that message more formally into the gallery, Mirf’s show at Lyons Wier in Manhattan this summer shook some street art fans when they saw framed pieces by artists like Shepard Fairey and Gaia gratuitously tagged over by Mirf. “Collabo”, as Street Art term, instantly became muddied.

brooklyn-street-art-mint-serf-shepard-fairey-gaia-lyons-copyright-steven-p-harrington

Phone pics at the gallery of Mirf going over Gaia (left) and Shepard Fairey (right) (photos © Steven P. Harrington)

For his part, Mirf found the whole experience with their peers to be positive, despite some of the negative responses. “The response was great. This conversation needs to happen more often. When people think, “Oh Mirf went over us”, it is not going over you at all. We are kind of opening up people’s minds. So that’s what the whole idea behind what this Mirf thing is”

At the gallery show they also created fresh black and white posters using some of their graffiti friend’s tags and stylized them in the Mirf style – now reprised for the back wall of the new lounge.

brooklyn-street-art-mint-and-serf-jaime-rojo-district-36-12-10-web-2

Mirf (photo @ Jaime Rojo)

“When we saw this round wall we knew the posters would be perfect. We wanted to pay an homage to all our friends we did graffiti with over the years. So these are a series that will probably be an ongoing project and we’ll add more people to it”

To go to Mint & Serf site click here

For more information about District 36 click here

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