All posts tagged: NPR

UPDATE: SABER Tags Sky Over New York to Defend Arts and Bash Romney

UPDATE: BSA exclusive new footage courtesy of video artist Chris Jordan plus new images from Jaime Leo, Eszter Klajman and Chris Jordan.

New York’s skies got majorly tagged today. And Mitt Romney got called out in front of 8 million people as a #GOPFail

New Yorkers who looked up from stoop sales, soccer games, and strolls across the Brooklyn Bridge saw graffiti artist and fine artist Saber flying five planes in formation across sunny Sunday skies with messages castigating the presidential candidate for his plans to kill funding for cornerstone arts programs like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Public Radio (NPR), the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

“#DefendtheArts” was sky written by artist Saber over lower Manhattan at 2 pm today. NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As the planes spelled out #DefendTheArts over Manhattan, Saber explained to BSA in a phone interview, “Basically I’m calling out Mitt and any other politicians who are cutting arts funding because they are actually cutting jobs that are an engine to our economy. Not to mention the effect these programs have on creativity and inspiration.” One dot-matrix style message said “Protect NPR PBS NEA from cuts” while another offered the Twitter hashtag simply entitled “#MittRomneyHatesArt”.

“Protect” – which was followed by words like “actors, writers, poets, designers..” The ARTS. NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As one of a handful of high profile graffiti/street artists in the US who have taken the national stage with their social and political commentary, Saber has “gone big” before, but never on this scale and never over New York City in an hour and a half display that he estimated could be seen over a 20 mile radius. “NYC is the art center of the world,” Saber says, “It is quite a good feeling to be able to spread this public message.”

BSA Exclusive Raw footage by Video Artist Chris Jordan shows artist Saber spraying the sky over Manhattan (VIDEO)

The extremely wealthy Republican candidate Romney told Fortune last month that in addition to scrapping the new national health program that is offering medical care to millions, he intends to cut funding to major arts programs if he is elected, saying of the arts programs, “I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own.”

Rather than relying simply on the generosity of patronage, Saber thinks that the government and society at large benefit from investing in artists in an increasingly “creative economy” – many of whom he called out in the sky today, including artists, writers, poets, designers, actors.

Saber. Protect The ARTS. NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Taking his campaign to social media with the #DefendTheArts hashtag this time, Saber very visibly entered the national fray during the healthcare reform debate of 2009, saying that the existing for-profit system cut out people like himself, uninsurable because of his epilepsy.  Today grassroots activism that emanated from downtown NYC has expanded the conversation and he acknowledges those voices who have focused attention on Romney and the so-called 1%. “We’re making sure to fly directly over Zucotti Park with a big ‘Occupy Wall Street’ message, because that’s what New York is too.”

Amid the political messages skywritten by Saber are shout outs to friends and graffiti artists who have passed; a nod to the roll-call community memorial walls that graffiti and street artists have done in cities for decades. This new way of “getting up” also has Saber waxing poetic as he sees the effect his fresh tags have at 34,000 feet as they melt into the blue canvas over most of NYC. “It’s almost like I’m painting in the sky – it has a really beautiful effect when a fresh one lays over the one that is fading away.”

As the planes made long oval trips over Manhattan, the East River, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and back, the normally tough stuff graff guy couldn’t really mask his enthusiasm, “I’m really excited about it!”

Telling you to Tweet “@Saber” from his #defendthearts campaign over NYC 2012 (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

“Actors Poets”, Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Poets Patrons”, Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Poets”, Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 NYC 2012 (photo © Jamie Leo)

“Artists”, Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 NYC 2012 (photo © Eszter Klajman)

“#OccupyWallStreet”, Saber in the sky directly over Wall Street and Zucotti Park. 2012 NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“#OccupyWallStreet”, Saber in the sky directly over Wall Street and Zucotti Park. 2012 NYC 2012 (photo © Chris Jordan)

“Artists Designers”, Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Protect NPR PBS NEA” (upside down from here), Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Protect NPR No Cuts” , Saber in the sky over NYC 2012 (photo © Eszter Klajman)

Saber included shout outs to #graffiti, #streetart, and some graffiti artists and crews- here is one photo made from two cell phone photos (photo © Steven P. Harrington)

While he was 34,000 feet up over NYC, Saber had to do a few shout-outs to friends back home in LA; AWR and MSK, and even a misspelling of artist RETNA’s name. Other tributes included New York street artist Keith Haring (photo © Steven P. Harrington)


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NPR Features Martha Cooper’s Sticker Book

Brooklyn-Street-Art-WEB-Martha-Cooper-Chris-StainImage from “Going Postal” by Martha Cooper of a Chris Stain sticker next to an early one by NohJColey. (copyright Martha Cooper)

Nestled in between heartwarming stories about mythological Thanksgiving feasts and recipes for Butternut Squash Hotdish Jubilee, NPR has this fun slide show of sticker tags from Martha Coopers book “Going Postal”.

“For me,” Cooper writes in the book’s introduction, “looking for stickers is an on-going treasure hunt, increasing my pleasure as I walk around cities.” She not only photographs the stickers, but also collects them. “I took two today,” she says.

Read more in the NPR site here:


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Elbow Toe Creates Fictions With Little Bits of Shredded Truth

The Street Artist talks about New Collage Series, NPR, and Haiku

Heat waves shimmering
one or two inches
above the pavement.

This is New York right now. Blistering smells of bubbling soot from the street.  Like no other time of the year most of these summer streets are a haven for life and freedom. School’s finally out, few summer jobs are available, and there are more service cuts on the bus and subways.  But in this time of lowered expectations the parks are still open and the free concerts and block parties and parades hint very little at the stress that so many are under.

Elbow Toe

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The Brooklyn artist and poet of the streets whose moniker is Elbow Toe gets up early to “go to work” on the subway, where he rides and draws portraits of his fellow riders in a sketchbook before returning to his studio.  It’s there, in the air-conditioned underground, that he wakes up and re-connects to his city, loosening up the lines so that they can wend and bend freely, and jotting a little text as it manifests.

His impressive body of work continues to grow and develop both on the streets and, in the last couple of years, into galleries on both coasts and across the pond. Recently kicked out of his studio (another New York artist story), he has settled in to working at home on a new collage series using ripped and shredded paper to create quite detailed pieces that from a distance look like paintings.


BSA: How’s the new studio? Have you done any work in it yet?
Elbow Toe: The new studio is suitable. I lost the last space when the landlord got in a dispute with the owner and forced us all out. I have been in the new space for a couple of months at this point and it has seen it’s fair share of work. I am primarily working on collages.

At this point I have converted part of my residence to a studio. It is a weird mix because we don’t have any walls in our place per se. And I don’t want to ruin the floors so I had to build a wall that could balance on the floor to provide privacy yet let in some light. I have done well over a half dozen collages at this point so the space is pretty broken in. If I had one complaint it would be that I wish I was in a studio building again so that I could just shut the door at the end of the night. As it is, the pieces sort of nag away at me. Who knows, it might make them just that more intimate with my psyche.brooklyn-street-art-elbow-toe-jaime-rojo-2

She’s seen it all. Two of Elbow Toe’s figures stretch from Madonna’s eyes as Elbow Toe adds to MBW (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: What’s informing your art right now? What’s inspiring you?
Elbow Toe: I have to hold the cards for what is informing me pretty close to my chest, as I am still engrossed in working out the imagery for the show. But I can say that I spent the better part of a year working out the boundaries and technical hurdles in my approach to collage. Though I am doing some portraits still, the new works are exploring narrative frameworks. I would say that I am creating fictions with a little bit of truth.  I do my best to let my imagination play with the hopes that it know intuitively what stories I want to tell.

Elbow Toe

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: You touch on political and social themes in your art. Are you a news junkie?
Elbow Toe: I am a news junkie. It certainly doesn’t help that I get into bouts of listening to NPR for 8 – 10 hours a day. It really makes for great light small talk in social situations, let me tell you.


Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: What’s your best way to get news right now? Radio, TV, or internet?
Elbow Toe: I primarily stream NPR in on my computer.

BSA: What’s the environment that you like to create in your studio while you work?
Elbow Toe: When I start a piece I like the studio to be pristine. By the time I have completed the piece there is very little space to stance, and it is quite visually painful as there is basically a storm of color all over the floor. I generally get so pulled into the process that the chaos works to my advantage as I tend to know where every piece of paper is amidst the chaos. The real problem that arises is when I set my  keys down in the studio by accident.

Elbow Toe

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: You’ve referred to classic and modern art masters in your work. Is there anybody in the current crop of contemporary artists who do you admire and with whom you would like to collaborate on a piece with?
Elbow Toe:
There are a lot of artists out there that I really admire. I am always looking. Cutting up Art Forum magazines for my collages keeps introducing new artists to me. As much as I like their work, I am really not that interested in collaborating with any of them. I prefer honing my own vision.brooklyn-street-art-elbow-toe-jaime-rojo-5

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: You are known to write a bit of poetry – what brings it forth? People on the street? Books you read? Music?
Elbow Toe: The quotes that I write around town… They tend to just well up from somewhere inside me. I go draw (in my sketchbook) on the subway in the mornings to warm up, and when I really drop into the work, they just sort of present themselves.


Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
Elbow Toe

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Who is your favorite poet? What resonates about their work?
Elbow Toe: I like the Haiku masters Basho, Buson and Issa. There is such a compactness to the form. And the work is so humble.

I have been a fan of Sharon Olds for some time. There is such a vocal quality to her work. The rhythm is so strong that it completes the ideas perfectly that she is conveying. A particular favorite book of hers is The Father. Amazing.

Elbow Toe

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Elbow Toe (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

You can see Elbow Toe’s newest piece tonight at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in a collage based group show, “Shred”. See the press release and his piece HERE.

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