All posts tagged: Nunca

Martha Cooper, Photographer of Art on the Streets for Six Decades

Martha Cooper landed in LA yesterday and will spend the next week installing her photos and their remixed new versions beside them, even flanking hers like stereo speakers. Since the press release has gone out we thought we’d share with you the bio written by Steven P. Harrington and the promo photo by Jaime Rojo which will appear in a special issue of The Art Street Journal dedicated entirely to her to come out this week.


Martha and Pablo at home, with a portrait of her sitting on a train car with camera in hand painted by Os Gemeos overlooking the scene. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Martha Cooper, Photographer of Art on the Streets for Six Decades

Written by Steven P. Harrington, this article is featured in The Art Street Journal vol ii – issue v.

The daughter of a Baltimore camera store owner, Martha Cooper’s romance with photography began in the 1940s when bobby-soxers and penny loafers were the sign of edgy youth culture. Her dad, an amateur photographer himself, gave his small girl a camera and together they hit the streets in search of adventure. “Yeah, my father used to take me out and we would take pictures. That’s what I thought photography was…we were just looking for pictures,” she recalls. Six decades later, Cooper is still looking for pictures; meanwhile, many works from her archive are cited as pivotal recordings of the birth of hip-hop culture and its plastic art form, graffiti.

During the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, Cooper earned a Bachelors of Art degree in Iowa, taught English for the Peace Corps in Thailand and rode a motorcycle from Bangkok to obtain a graduate degree at Oxford. As a freelancer and staff photographer in Japan, Maryland and Rhode Island in the early 1970s she moved to the media and art center of New York City to catch bigger fish. Landing a job on the staff of The New York Post in 1977, she discovered that the resistant and competitive boys club of photographers there were reluctant to countenance this scrappy young woman shooting hard news stories and Studio 54 celebrities.

Hungry for discovery, Cooper would spend her time to and from assignments in bombed-out neighborhoods, where she took pictures of kids entertaining themselves with games they devised on the street, often with the humblest of materials. It was during one of those trips that she stumbled on graffiti and the members of its community. She met a young boy who suggested she photograph the work she was seeing, then showed her a stylized drawing of his name, or piece, in his notebook.

Then he asked her if she wanted to meet “The King”.

Following this lead to Brooklyn, Cooper met Dondi, the citywide-famous graffiti writer who kept a published photo of hers in his black book because its background contained one of his graffiti throw-ups. Cooper quickly realized that she had stumbled into a lively street culture and became an avid student of the teen writers she befriended. By the time she took her last news picture for the New York Post in 1980, her primary desire was to capture as many pieces, tags, and trains as she possibly could find. Today, she remarks on her near-obsessive devotion to documenting New York’s graffiti: waking before dawn to hit the street, waiting five hours for a freshly painted #2 train to pass with the sun at her back and countless secret adventures with vandals in train yards, evading transit police in order to pursue a shot.

Joining efforts with fellow graffiti photographer, Henry Chalfant, Cooper proposed putting together a book of their documentation. The pair endured multiple rejections from publishers while lugging around a big “dummy” book with their pictures glued to the pages. Eventually, however, they landed a deal and Subway Art was published in 1984. Although not an immediate success, it came to sell half a million copies and established itself as a holy book for fans, aspiring artists and art historians worldwide.

By the time the 25th anniversary edition was published in 2009, generations of graffiti and street artists had been influenced by it and the hip-hop culture Cooper and Chalfant had captured had gone global.

In the intervening years, Martha Cooper never stopped shooting. Her love of serendipity on the street and the exploration of cultures led her to publish thousands of photos in books such as R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art, Hip Hop Files 1979-1984, We B*Girlz, Street Play, New York State of Mind, Tag Town, Going Postal, and Name Tagging. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, Natural History, and Vibe. While she is still shooting graffiti, street art and the occasional break dance competition today, Cooper’s current project involves documenting people and events in Sowebo, a drug-riddled neighborhood in her birthplace of Baltimore.


Steven P. Harrington is editor-in-chief of and co-author (with Jaime Rojo) of Brooklyn Street Art and Street Art New York, both by Prestel Publishing. He and Jaime Rojo are also contributing writers on street art for The Huffington Post.



Photographs by Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper ; Remix


Original remixes of these photographs in a range of media by Aeon, John Ahearn, Aiko, Bio, Nicer & B-Gee, Blade, Blanco, Mark Bode, Burning Candy, Victor Castillo, Cey, Cekis, Claw, Cosbe, Crash, Dabs & Myla, Anton van Dalen, Daze, Dearraindrop, Jane Dickson, Dr. Revolt, Shepard Fairey, Faust, Flying Fortress, Freedom, Fumakaka, Futura, Gaia, Grotesk, Logan Hicks, How & Nosm, LA II, Lady Pink, Anthony Lister, The London Police, Mare 139, Barry McGee, Nazza Stencil, Nunca, José Parlá, Quik, Lee Quinones, Kenny Scharf, Sharp, Skewville, Chris Stain, Subway Art History, Swoon, T-Kid, Terror161 and more.

Carmichael Gallery is pleased to announce Martha Cooper: Remix, an expansive group show featuring highlights from Martha Cooper’s photographic archive and works by over 50 artists who have created their own unique interpretations of her iconic, historically significant imagery. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Saturday, April 9 from 6 to 8pm with Martha Cooper and several of the participating artists in attendance. The exhibition will run through May 7, 2011.

Click on the link below to read BSA interview with Martha Cooper:

Carmichael Gallery

5795 Washington Blvd

Culver City, CA 90232

April 9 – May 7, 2011

Opening Reception: Saturday, April 9, 6-8pm

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Martha Cooper Remixed by Chris Stain and Billy Mode

More pictures and an interview here with Martha Cooper, Chris Stain, and Billy Mode about their new mural in Brooklyn and her new show next month. An inspiration to many graffiti and street artists, her photos are the basis for the Martha Cooper: Remix show at Carmichael and why she and Street Artist Aiko are wheat pasting 170 of them on a wall at the MOCA Art in the Streets exhibition opening the following Saturday.

When we were thinking of Martha’s work and and the concept of remix, it easily tapped into the span of her career; both the hip-hop analog dj technique of vinyl sampling as well as the digital cut-and-paste practice of modern mashup artists who are running the streets at the moment. While it is true that Ms. Cooper has captured a vast archive of history, it’s the high regard she has earned and the relationships she has engendered that are the reason that many of these Remix pieces are so powerful. An ethnographer by training and one of the most important photographers of street and street art culture for the last four decades, Ms. Cooper remains amazingly approachable and outright enthused about her photographs and the people in them, as if she had snapped them just yesterday. And she’s pleased to meet you.

Brooklyn Street Art: Of course the city has changed a lot in the last 35 years, and you probably have also. Can you share some insight with us about what the city was like for young photographers at that time?
Martha Cooper:
I first came to NY in 1975 and for me the city was a place of opportunity. Although it was the center of publishing at the time, there weren’t that many photographers. You could call up an editor and he (usually he) would pick up the phone. I loved roaming around neighborhoods looking for pictures. Graffiti was very much underground and few people even realized that what kids were writing on walls and trains was their name. My fascination with graffiti and b-boying grew out of photographing the unknown, of being allowed entry into a world that most adults didn’t know existed. The city was going bankrupt, very few security systems were in place, and both photographers and graffiti writers could get away with a lot.


This original photo taken on Houston Street in NYC in 1978 from which Chris Stain borrowed the boy on the right. (photo courtesy of Ms. Cooper © Martha Cooper)

Brooklyn Street Art: You used to get up before dawn to catch a picture of a train, and sometimes wait 5 hours for the right shot. How did you pass the time when you had to wait for hours? Crossword puzzles?
Martha Cooper:
There was no down time. Trains were constantly going by in both directions. I had to stay alert watching for just the right painted car. All of the trains in my photos were moving.


Brooklyn Street Art: So how did you get this idea for the theme for the show?
Martha Cooper: From you! (laughs) Over the years I’ve seen a lot of people using my photographs, authorized and unauthorized. The Carmichaels had asked me to do a solo show. After considering a number of options, I thought about what we had done, what you had done in that blog post. We talked about how artists had used my work and I thought, ‘Why don’t I do that?’ So that’s how it happened.

Brooklyn Street Art: Way before this show, Street Artists like Chris Stain and Shepard Fairey interpreted a number of your photographs in their work.
Martha Cooper:
Some photographers don’t want their photos to be used as a basis for someone else’s art but mostly I don’t mind. Both Chris and Shepard asked permission and in both cases the collaboration has had unexpected positive results, one of which was connecting with BSA.

brooklyn-street-art-chris-stain-billy-mode-martha-cooper-jaime-rojo-03-11-web-2Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: And what have the responses been like so far?
Martha Cooper: I got a lot of really heart-warming responses from people I’ve been in touch with over the years. A lot of old-school and new-school artists and that made me feel good.

Brooklyn Street Art: Was it surprising to see the response?
Martha Cooper: I didn’t know what kind of response I was going to get. It was a little scary to write to people. I decided right in the beginning that I was going to write personal notes to everybody. So you guys and I talked about it and we made a list.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Well, we tried to include old-school people you were very familiar with and a number of the new people that we were familiar with.
Martha Cooper: Yes, many of whom I had met. As it turns out, Miami was really a hotbed of street artists for me in the two years I went down there to shoot at Wynwood during Art Basel. And I would not have known some of them had it not been for Basel, so I have to thank Tony Goldman for that.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: We’ve worked with Chris Stain before and we’ve been talking to him about doing another wall together. When we told him about this show he said “Why don’t I do a Martha piece?”
Martha Cooper:
I didn’t know who Chris Stain was. He contacted me a couple of years ago by email and just said that he had done work using my photographs. And a little dialogue developed and I went over to his studio in Brooklyn and I met him and it all worked out. He had already seen my books – he doesn’t take the exact picture, he takes parts of it.

Brooklyn Street Art: Yeah, he takes elements from your photographs and puts them in a different context. And that’s okay with you, it doesn’t offend you that he takes a portion of it?
Martha Cooper: No! It flatters me. You know, just the idea that people are looking at these pictures and liking them enough to base their own art on them, to me is flattering. Maybe not to everybody, but to me, I like it. Especially if you asked permission and at least you are acknowledging that you are borrowing work from me. Then it is fine.


Chris and Bill take a break from the cold winds to talk about the piece (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: So tell me about this piece and the boy in the picture. Do you remember when you first saw that picture?
Chris Stain:
The first time I saw that picture was in Martha’s book, “Street Play” because she gave me that book. The image is from her photograph. I had been working from other images of hers and I felt bad working from all these photographers work.  I thought, “Maybe I should just try to contact them and seeing if it’s okay if I work from them.” Because some of this stuff was going into paintings and I’m selling them and some of them are going into the streets, which doesn’t really matter.

So she was the first photographer I contacted. I was like, “Dear Ms. Cooper, I’m a big fan of yours, have been for a long time….” I talked about Subway Art, this and that. “…and I’m making paintings from some of your photographs and I was just wondering how you felt about it.”  She wrote me back and she was really into it and she was really cool with me using the images and we just kept going. She said, “I want a painting” and we met up one day and I gave her a painting and she gave me her book “New York State of Mind”. It went from there.

…..This whole wall, Billy and I did it in Miami but we’ve changed it up.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode. The second day in the late afternoon begins (photo © Jaime Rojo)



Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: You did it for Wynwood? Primary Flight?
Chris: Yeah Primary Flight like three years ago. The train behind the boy says “Cries of the Ghetto” and I was told that it was originally a piece done by Dezz and Ski, and somebody else told me it was Shane. So I’m not sure who originally did it. But I’ve always liked that train a lot and I liked the words a lot so we just incorporated the whole thing together.

And tonight Bill re-did the lettering to bring it up to date a little bit and to add our own kind of twist to it and that’s what we got.

Brooklyn Street Art: So really it’s a collage of a few images.
Chris Stain: Actually it’s a collage of a photo that I took, a photo of Martha Coopers’, and I don’t know who originally photographed that “Cries of the Ghetto” train – I’m not really sure exactly who did it – whether it was Martha or Henry or somebody else but I’ve always liked it.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)



Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: But thematically it is a good way to tie together her history ..
Chris: Yeah because it has the kids, which she was always photographing, together with the graffiti aspect that she’s really well known for.

Brooklyn Street Art: And then as a technique that you use, it brings the whole into the Street Art thing that is going on today.
Chris Stain: Yeah it’s bringing it up to what people are doing with street art now.

Brooklyn Street Art: How many pieces of hers have you done?
Chris Stain: I’ve probably done six or seven, with one that’s unfinished. I’ve done the one with Lady Pink holding the spray paint cans, the one with boy taking the tire off (or putting it on, I can’t tell), the one on the roof, the “Cries of the Ghetto”.

Billy Mode: You did that one with the kid holding the dove on the roof.

Chris Stain: Yeah the kid holding up the pigeon on the roof with one hand and there’s another one with the same boy where he’s holding two pigeons close together.


A Chris Stain piece from a couple of years ago is based on a photograph by Martha Cooper (© Chris Stain)

Brooklyn Street Art: Oh yeah! Gaia is doing that one for this show!
Chris Stain:
He is?  Cool, that’s cool.
Brooklyn Street Art:
Well he loves doing birds, and feathers, and animals.
Chris Stain: Well Gaia’s a bird brain, that kid, so it makes sense.


Chris Stain’s reference screenprint for the wall (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Billy Mode updated the letter style for this new piece. Here’s his sketch. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: So Billy you changed the style of the lettering for “Cries of the Ghetto”. How would you characterize this new style?

Billy Mode: Windy style!  It’s loose, I don’t know. The original style in some ways it’s fitting to the imagery in that it is classic but I kind of see the “Cries of the Ghetto” as being more victorious now. I want those letters to be more celebratory and have more energy to them. A lot of my letter styles are, not necessarily flamboyant, but  they have a lot of flair, a lot of motion. I’m really just bringing in my own take on it.  There’s some influence from other people’s style, and I think that’s what happens in graffiti art is you get motivated by what other people are doing.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Martha, your blog for 12oz Prophet is followed quite heavily. What is your favorite part about writing a blog?
Martha Cooper:
My favorite part is not the writing part! For me the best thing about blogging is that I get to make use of photos immediately instead of just archiving them for possible future use as I formerly did.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Stickers are a really popular medium for expression on the street today and you point to Twist, Cost, and Revs as some of the first to use them. What makes stickers so interesting?
Martha Cooper:
Stickers are everywhere and yet they’re invisible to the uninitiated. Keeping your eyes peeled for stickers turns a walk down any street into a treasure hunt.  It’s a fun way to navigate a city.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: After years of searching for perfect shots, what’s the Holy Grail now?
Martha Cooper:
Now I’m more worried about archiving my photos than taking them. I have enough pictures to last several lifetimes but I need to be able to find and access them.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Your photographs of New York City youth and their art inspired the art of the next generations. What do you think is your legacy as a photographer of this pivotal period?
Martha Cooper:
In the pre-digital era, culture was disseminated by newspapers, magazines and books. I was part of a small corps of mostly freelance photographers, filmmakers, and journalists who documented early hip hop. By paying attention to subjects that might have been overlooked by mainstream media, we helped start and spread the art, dance, and music movements, now called hip hop, worldwide.


Martha with her beloved 21 year old cat Pancho (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Martha Cooper : Remix
Featuring original photography from Martha Cooper and original remixes from Aeon, Anton van Dalen, Aiko, Barry McGee, Bio, Nicer, B-Gee, Blade, Blanco, BurningCandy Crew, Cey, Cekis, Chris Stain, Claw, Cosbe, Crash, Dabs & Myla, Daze, DEARRAINDROP, FAUST, Flying Fortress, Freedom, Fumakaka World Dominator, Futura, Gaia, How & Nosm, Jane Dickson, John Ahearn, Jose Parla, Kenny Scharf, LA II, Lady Pink, Lee Quinones, Anthony Lister, Logan Hicks, The London Police, Mark Bode, Nazzareno Stencil, Nunca, Mare, Quik, Evil Dr. Revolt, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, Subway Art History, Swoon, T-Kid, Terror161 and Victor Castillo.

Coming to Carmichael Gallery April 9.

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Chris Stain and Billy Mode “For Martha”

This weekend for BSA was a little bit of street art and graffiti history alchemy, transmuted by the presence of the lady we were all doing it for, Martha Cooper. To celebrate her birthday and the soon to be unveiled “Martha Cooper: Remix” show at Carmichael Gallery in Culver City, CA, Street Artists Chris Stain and Billy Mode sprayed aerosol into gold using imagery from her photography as base inspiration.

brooklyn-street-art-chris-stain-billy-mode-for-martha-jaime-rojo-03-11-web- 2Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)

On this bitterly cold and windy Brooklyn night, the good humored boys were blowing through cans on tops of shaking ladders, continuously working against the elements for what Chris called “some xtreme painting”. While taking a break to warm up inside, everybody had some chocolate birthday cake and Martha flipped through Subway Art with Chris and Billy, answering questions and relating stories about what it was like for her to capture graffiti on trains in New York in the 1970s and what it’s like to see Street Artists like Chris Stain interpreting her photographs today. 

brooklyn-street-art-chris-stain-billy-mode-for-martha-jaime-rojo-03-11-web- 1

Chris Stain and Billy Mode in the reflection of rainwater pooled  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Our first conversations in September ’09 with Martha for a posting on BSA that discussed art inspired by her work evolved into a 50-artist “remix” show featuring old-school graff writers and new guard street artists next month.

“I thought about what we had done, what you had done in that blog post. We talked about how artists had used my work and I thought, ‘Why don’t I do that?’ ,” Martha remarks on the formation of her show plan.

It has been a genuine honor to be a part of the process and to see the pieces coming in to Ms. Cooper’s studio for the show. It’s also been intoxicating to imagine the relationships and personal paths that have intersected in the pursuit of artistic expression. Each invited artist has a very personal take on the influence of her photographs from a 40 year span, and the directions they take the work are myriad. Watching Chris and Billy create this large scale wall tribute in Brooklyn reminds us of the interconnected worlds of Graffiti Art and Street Art and how Ms. Coopers’ photography has contributed to the history and artistry of both.

Here are a few shots by Jaime Rojo of the installation for a sneak peek of this great experience – with a full length feature interview with Martha and commentary about the nature of the image from Chris and many more images coming this week.


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chris Stain and Billy Mode (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Photo © Jaime Rojo


Martha Cooper : Remix
Featuring original photography from Martha Cooper and original remixes from Aeon, Anton van Dalen, Aiko, Barry McGee, Bio, Nicer, B-Gee, Blade, Blanco, BurningCandy Crew, Cey, Cekis, Chris Stain, Claw, Cosbe, Crash, Dabs & Myla, Daze, DEARRAINDROP, FAUST, Flying Fortress, Freedom, Fumakaka World Dominator, Futura, Gaia, How & Nosm, Jane Dickson, John Ahearn, Jose Parla, Kenny Scharf, LA II, Lady Pink, Lee Quinones, Anthony Lister, Logan Hicks, The London Police, Mark Bode, Nazzareno Stencil, Nunca, Mare, Quik, Evil Dr. Revolt, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, Subway Art History, Swoon, T-Kid, Terror161 and Victor Castillo.

Coming to Carmichael Gallery April 9.

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Images Of The Week 01.09.11 : From Miami With Love, Part 2

Images Of The Week 01.09.11 : From Miami With Love, Part 2


Following up on Part 1 last Sunday, here are more amazing kick-arse photos from the various street artists who took over Wynwood in Miami last month.  This weeks interview on the streets of the Miami features work by Burning Candy, Clare Rojas,Dustin Spagnola, Fumero, Invade, Joe Iurato, Kid Acne, LMA Cru, Mark of the Beast, Michael DeFeo, Miguel Paredes, ML, Nunca, OverUnder, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, VyalOne, and 305=2011=131,Vincent Luca,Shadowman,Luciano 3.


Shepard Fairey (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-clare-rojas-jaime-rojo-01-11Clare Rojas (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-clare-rojas-detail-jaime-rojo-01-11Clare Rojas Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-305-2011-131-jaime-rojo-01-11305=2011=131. Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-burning-candy-jaime-rojo-01-11Burning Candy (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-burning-candy-kid-acne-jaime-rojo-01-11Burning Candy, Kid Acne and Skewville (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-fumero-jaime-rojo-01-11Fumero (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-invader-jaime-rojo-01-11Invader (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-joe-iurato-jaime-rojo-01-11Joe Iurato (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-lma-cru-jaime-rojo-01-11LMA Cru (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-mark-of-the-best-ishmael-jaime-rojo-01-11Mark Of The Beast Ishmael and Dustin Spagnola (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-miguel-paredes-jaime-rojo-01-11Miguel Paredes (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-miguel-paredes-detail-jaime-rojo-01-11Miguel Paredes. Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-michael-defeo-jaime-rojo-01-11Michael Defeo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-ML-jaime-rojo-01-11Vincent Luca,Shadowman and Luciano 3 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-nunca-jaime-rojo-01-11Nunca (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-overunder-jaime-rojo-01-11Overunder (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-skewville-jaime-rojo-01-11Skewville (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-VyalOne-Mark-of-the-beast-jaime-rojo-01-11VyalOne and Dustin Spagnola (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Images Of The Week 01.02.11 : From Miami With Love, Part I

Images Of The Week 01.02.11 : From Miami With Love, Part I

Now that the thumping headache from too many orange sodas on New Year’s Eve is gone, it’s time to regale little Baby 2011 with some eyeball pleasing baubles from sunny Miami. In early December many Street Artists converged upon this city to add to the sparkling traffic of Art Basel and to crush some major wallage.

Of course, not everybody finished their piece in time because there were parties to attend, booties to shake, and pretty things to watch workin’ it on the street. Dust settled and work completed, last week we climbed walls, squeezed through fences, and raced up railroad tracks to catch all the finished pieces for you.  In the process we met some barking bulldogs and charming new friends, because Miami is mad friendly yo, and we even got some inside tips on hidden treasure.

brooklyn-street-art-os-gemeos-2-jaime-rojo-12-10-webOs Gemeos From 2005 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

brooklyn-street-art-os-gemeos-3-jaime-rojo-12-10Os Gemeos Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Os Gemeos Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Os Gemeos Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Tati (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Kenton Parker (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Lister Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Lister Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chor Boogie and Kofie Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chor Boogie and Kofie Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Aiko (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Cash For Your Warhol (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Bask (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Tes One (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Ephameron (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Roa Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Roa Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Roa Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Roa Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Dabs ans Myla (photo © Jaime Rojo)


David Cooper (photo © Jaime Rojo)


David Cooper detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Gaia (photo © Jaime Rojo)


How Nosm (photo © Jaime Rojo)


How Nosm detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


How Nosm Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Right, because it’s for the breaded crunchy mac and cheese and green string beans your mom’s gonna make when you get home.  Cause your momma loves you, that’s why. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Invader did this, or possibly that drunken tile guy your cousin Barney works with. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Unlike what you have heard kids, smoking is cool. EMA+Will Barras+The London Police and Kid Acne (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Nunca (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Mr. Yago, Ron English, and Tristan Eaton (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Ron English, Tristan Eaton, Mr. Yago and Nunca Detail (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Skewville (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Surge (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fun Friday 09.03.10


Fun Friday 09/03/10

C215 and Eelus are in Brooklyn This Weekend


Brooklynite Gallery, deep in Bedstuy, creates a certain lively tension with  two Street Art tricksters in this duo Euro show.

Parisian C215 continues to exceed expectations, which isn’t easy because he has already set them pretty high as a world class urban stencillist with  portraits that glow from within uncannily, summoning more empathy than a Jerry Lewis telethon.  The vastly more light-hearted Eelus guards the class impudent role – combining youthful humor, technologic fantasy, and a bit of antsy-lad sexual tension in his starkly popish compositions. A rewarding and rich show, “Paradise Lost” is another solid and smashing Street Art /gallery show that doesn’t compromise either one.

Kid Acne “Stabby Women” New Zine and Video

Word the heck up.The Stabby invasion is here…

Image Courtesy of the Artist

STABBY WOMEN – 52 Page Fanzine & Postcard Set, edition of 250

Stabby Women”  – a project of serendipity that started in São Paulo includes the female battalion of over five hundred Stabby Women now patrolling our streets amongst the hustle and bustle of New York, Paris, Barcelona, Munich and London – peering from the bottom of doorways, subtly patrolling their domain.

Learn more about this Kid Acne project directly from the artist here

Countdown to FAME

FAME Festival Begins This Month in Italy

A stunning array of street artists from around the world have been gathering over the summer to do large-scale and high quality installations leading up to the FAME Festival, starting September 25. Included in the lineup are JR , ERICA IL CANE , SAM3 , NUNCA , BLU , OS GEMEOS , BORIS HOPPEK , ESCIF , 108 , DALEK , NICOLA TOFFOLINI , LUCY MCLAUCHLAN , SWOON , SLINKACHU , CYOP E KAF ,DAVID ELLIS ,VHILS , BEN WOLF , WORD TO MOTHER , MOMO , and BASTARDILLA.

As told by our friends at, “The festival now is in it’s third year and is set to be bigger and better ” Read more at      (image of MOMO ©


Shepard Fairey in San Diego for Viva La Revolucion

“The thing with Street Art is you can’t be too precious about it.  It’s ephemeral.”

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“Whole in the Wall” Opens with Fanfare

NYC Graff as Historical Touchstone
International Street Art Stars
Train Writers turned Fine Artists
High Culture/Street Culture Mashups
Corporate Logos and Celebrity Collectors

If that is not enough variety for you, then you have just been spoiled by too many years living in the center of a cultural and media capital.

You’ll be glad the former photo studios, two blocks north of Manhattan’s West Side Rail Yards, are generously spacious because you’ll need headroom to contemplate the variety of messages that Chantal and Brigitte Helenbeck, Parisian gallerists, are bringing to Hell’s Kitchen for a month.

For Chantal, “The street art style and story is distinctly American. It became a global phenomenon”. Her sister Brigitte agrees and asks her to translate to the visitor, “Yes, it is about movement, and color, it is very free and for this we say it is very American.”

Trains, geometric shapes, and natural beauty on Coney Island (Daze) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Trains, geometric form, fills, and natural beauty on Coney Island (Daze) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Amidst the flurry of 11th hour installations all over this temporary gallery, the sisters say that they see graffiti and “street art” on a continuum with other schools in contemporary art and art history in general. Chantal observes as she looks around the cavernous 12,000sf upper floor at the “Whole in the Wall” exhibition that the kids that used to be “Bad Boys” (and girls) of graffiti back in the 70’s are now warm and friendly adults who are great to work with. Better yet, many continued to develop their skills and have truly become “great studio artists”. “It is important that their talent and recognition is seen and documented with the art world,” she says.

Lee Quiñones at work (photo Jaime Rojo)
Lee Quiñones at work (photo Jaime Rojo)

A prime example of that observation could be Lee Quiñones, who is busily running up and down an aluminum ladder preparing a 12′ x 14′ canvas that couldn’t be more of a departure from his style back in the days of Sly Stone and Richard Nixon. A subway train writer as a teen in the 1970’s, his later exhibitions and studio work placed him in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum. The piece he’s working on for this show speaks to a sinister, more complex time using animal symbolism so often seen in the 00’s.

Up close to this canvas, it is an imposing thick dark forest of trees where the sprouting leaves and fallen, swirling fragments are actual dollar bills. Popping forward at you from the center comes the menacing protagonist; a realistic wolf in businessman’s clothing lurking from behind a tree in horn-rimmed glasses, looking at you with a dead-eye stare.

Wolf detail of work by Lee Quiñones (photo Jaime Rojo)
Wolf detail of brand new work by Lee Quiñones (photo Jaime Rojo)

As you talk to Mr. Quiñones, it’s easy to see that he cares deeply about his work, and he spends a great deal of time thinking about it, re-working it in his mind, and relating with it on an emotional level. The metaphor Lee had in mind this time is the children’s story “Little Red Riding Hood” and, as he points to parts of the canvas, you can see the story as it applies to any number of scams and backroom deals that clutter the business pages and Senate hearings these days. You might think of the same connection between financial crisis and the meager options for a teen in New York’s 1970’s while he describes the power brokers that created the current environment. Conspiratorially, he reveals that when the lights are out, the wolf’s eyes actually glow in the dark. He also says this piece is not finished but he’ll know when it is.

“Art is tricky, you know, you gotta look at it a lot,” the Puerto Rico-born painter says, “Then it tells you ‘Stop! Leave me alone! I’m done.’… I talk to my art, I spend time with it.”

"I was thinking of putting Madoff over here" (photo Jaime Rojo)
“I was thinking of putting Madoff over here”

He contrasts the life and the approach to creative work back in the “wild style” days and now; “My studio is not this big but it’s pretty big so I can step back and take a look at it. When I was painting trains 35 years ago I only had like this much space (holding his hands a yard a part) and I had this big 40 foot (long) train in front of me. …. I had no luxury of looking at it from a distance, or time. But that’s also where I get my nocturnal practice. I can actually stay up four nights without sleep, no problem. And I’ve been up three days now.” A broad smile breaks across his face as he announces this feat of endurance and commitment.

Be careful handling the ivy (photo Steven P. Harrington)
It really DOES grow on trees. (photo Steven P. Harrington)

There is so much exuberance and so much to see at this show that A.D.D. seems like an excellent processing mechanism – Ramellzee’s sculpture on a highly ornate fifteenth century credenza, a French dude in a suit holding forth about the geneology of a chair, Plateus moving briskly across the floor gazing upward at the multiple canvasses and downward upon his high-gloss contorted letter sculptures, Henry Chalfants’ screen prints of miniature trains spread out on some bubble wrap, NYC’s Sharp amiably chatting with Brazillian Nunca (recently at the Tate), stencil godfather Blek le Rat sneaking outside for a cigarette where Blade is showing off the 1972 creme colored roadster he’s restoring, and, quietly, the Banksy rat glances over his shoulder.

The selections of artists for this show are not meant to be comprehensive, as is evidenced by the lack of any number of current European street artists, and almost complete lack of artists from today’s New York. What impact “Whole in the Wall” will have on current “street art” and graff movements is hard to say, but it is an often inventive way of drawing the connections and revealing the threads in a storyline that continues to be told.

Rammellzee and King Louis (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Meet you on the Kings Highway! Rammellzee and King Louis mashup (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Martha Cooper prints waiting to be hung (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Martha Cooper prints waiting to be hung (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Who let the dog in the mansion? (Blek le Rat) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Okay, who let Sir Duke in the mansion? Don’t let him lick the gold leaf again! (Blek le Rat) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Armed nationalism on Sesame Street (Icon) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Armed nationalism on Sesame Street (Ikon) (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Henry Chalfant silkscreens Blade (in the show) and many others on these metallic plates that clearly evoke the subway trains of the 1970’s and 80’s. (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Helenbeck Gallery

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“Whole in the Wall” interview with the Co-Curators

“Whole in the Wall” interview with the Co-Curators


That’s a grand claim, and the Helenbeck sisters are going to try to back it up in June. The curators of this show are planning to pair New York writers from the 70’s and 80’s with European street art stars of the 00’s and present them in Louis XIV drawing rooms furnished with genuine articles from the period.

The show’s  numbers are grand too; 150+ pieces, 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, 40 years of art.  Promising to shake collectors and historians awake to the relevance of graff and street art in the continuum of fine art, it remains largely unknown what impact this show can have on the street. At the very least, it’s a bold courageous approach to further the ongoing conversation about Street Art’s relevance to the art world.

In the midst of installation, the co-curators of the show, Brigitte & Chantal Helenbeck, give us some insight about their approach and what they hope people will get from the “Whole in the Wall”;

Brooklyn Street Art: Why does this show juxtapose theses genuine antiquities, originally created for the upper classes, with an art form more frequently associated with the working class?

Brigette & Chantal: We think that Street Art has become a real part of the contemporary art scene.  By juxtaposing these Street Art pieces with antiquities we would like to underline the entrance of contemporary street art in the history of art.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you pick one particular pairing of an artwork and an interiors setting in this show that made you laugh with glee?

Brigette & Chantal: We never really laughed, but were often amazed and surprised to notice how two genuine and high quality works of art create a balance and a force between them, no matter which time they belong to.  The audience always finds the pairing interesting.

Brooklyn Street Art: As you know, New York (particularly Brooklyn) is currently experiencing an explosion of new street art.  Are there any particular street artists of the new crop whose work excites you?

Brigette & Chantal: We are in New York also to discover this new crop, which one day we can maybe bring to Europe so that people can discover their works in future exhibitions.  We cannot put out a name, but the spirit of our gallery, which has been an experimental territory for young or acclaimed artists, has definitely been thrilled by the extreme creativity of young artists here in New York.

Brooklyn Street Art: As co-curators and twins, have you had the same vision for this show, or do your tastes differ a great deal?

Brigette & Chantal: We are alike and very different at the same time, but we function as a team and all our final decisions are a mix of our sensitivities and tastes. We find a way to agree at the end, and what people see is a jigsaw version of the two of us.

Brooklyn Street Art: A show of this vast scope must take a huge amount of planning, logistics, and effort.  What has been the most surprising part of the process for you?

Brigette & Chantal: To discover New York in a different way, definitely. We learn from people here every day and this turns out to be an extremely interesting experience. This is the logical direction of our professional path, and also part of a journey that we’ll continue in the future.

Brooklyn Street Art: Popular perception of graff and street art continues to evolve.  When people walk away from the show, what you like them to be thinking?

Brigette & Chantal: We would like them to see that these artists and their works have their place in the contemporary art field and they are part of the future history of art.  We are satisfied when people enjoy our exhibitions and discover new forms of art and new talents. This exhibition in particular is very alive, full of movement, colorful, like the Americans are, and like this city remains despite this difficult economic crisis worldwide.


Whole in the Wall: 1970 to Now

Friday, May 29 to Saturday, June 27
Open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays
529-535 W. 35th St. @ 11th Ave. (former Splashlight Studio)

Helenbeck Gallery

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