West Coast graffiti superstar RISK, bomber of freeway overpasses, designer of graffiti-inspired clothing, regaler of rap and rock videos; a self-aware sage-like lion-maned merging of Rick Rubins, Greg Allman, and a Norse Yggdrasil, now brings you the psychedelic slaughter of a Cleveland façade.
“We had crowds come every day to watch us paint,” he says of the technicolor splashfest he did along with Nashville artist Chris Zidek. The mural wraps the entire venue, a nonprofit that raises money to provide educational scholarships to youth who can use them – among other missions. With his distinctive style of saturated striped washes flooding the entire block Risk foregoes the letterform on the outside, but ventured in to catch a wild styled tag.
About this new full-spectrum piece that ties together his nearly forty years of graffiti practice along with his contemporary art practice, the muralist says, “I call it beautifully destroyed.”
This project is sponsored by Graffiti HeArt. Our thanks to gallerist/collector Brian Greif for images and on-the-ground information.
As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2018 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s a box of treats to surprise you with every day – and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2019. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to you for inspiring us throughout the year.
Today’s special guest:
Tony Depew, Street Artist, painter, poet
This image selected is from July 6, 2018, and depicts a friend playing around on a trash can I had painted in Canton, Ohio, 2007. I had chosen this image because it reminds me of fun happy silly times, yet, a sort of sadness exudes from the eyes on the trash can.
Recently I noticed the sign on the pole reads- Burn Calories, Stress Less, Get healthy— and found that to be a nice motto. As for 2019, there are many things I think about and wish for— but as long as I’m a better version of myself, and still creating— that’s what really matters.
OverUnder is swinging through Cleveland with his flying pull down gates, upside downy paper birds, bolts of bending flat energy, and circling blue DNA balls of cytosine. The visual dictionary that OU consults regularly for his street symbols varies and grows but often it pops with these metal gates that you’ll find throughout commercial strip malls and city streets after business closes.
For him they are a magnet – and his dream state must be swirling with these ubiquitous rolling metal gates that seem to invite some artists and writers to hit them up with tags and throwies and scraps of poetry and other little bits of mark-making. Ironically perhaps, the same metal gates have also been used to protect Banksy pieces. By recreating them with their original art or markings, he is preserving them and copying that piece of urban visual language into another neighborhood, even another city.
These new walls are part of Zoetic Walls – a project that Pawn Works has been intermittently and quietly facilitating for muralists around forgotten areas of Cleveland for a little over a year. “We have had the honor of curating our own little world of murals free of hype, thus far,” says Nick Marzullo of Pawn Works.
“We have started our 2014 Cleveland work with OverUnder. By leaving the existing brick to be used as the fill for his iconic paper birds, OverUnder created this high concept piece in Cleveland’s Historic Ohio City neighborhood,” he says.
Organizer Nick Marzullo explains the new piece by Nanook that is firmly rooted in local history and politics.
“Nanook worked closely with the neighborhood on the development of his piece depicting a portrait of Carl Stokes, the former Cleveland Mayor and first Black mayor of any major city in US,” says Nick. Other symbols include the hand of city planning practitioner Norman Krumholz as he guides a car along a modernized highway system, something Krumholz is credited with bringing through the City of Cleveland.
Gaia’s barbershop pieces came out great and Mike from the barbershop is pretty psyched for the facelift in an old-skool airbrush style. Now if they can just fix that canopy, the 10th anniversary of Mike n Syd’s will be officially slammin’!
“Straight up, this is too thoughtful and too amazing, we are speechless,” says Nick Marzullo of Pawn Works as he looks at this newly aerosoled wall by Gaia in Cleveland.
The large hand holds a gilded framed painting as if it is a snapshot, superimposing his ode to Yosemite Valley, the 1866 painting by German/American landscape painter Albert Bierstadt, over a 1952 coal mining scene called The Early Shift by celebrated Cleveland native realist Carl Gaertner. The New York Street Artist continues to explore and incorporate cultural touchstones as he is influenced by them, leaving large pages from his travelogue sketchbook on walls in cities he visits.
This new piece is a part of a larger curated show but even on his unpermissioned walls Gaia takes you on his trip, conveying the truths and history and meanings he is uncovering, then uniquely recombining their elements to contrast their relative meanings and test their strength perhaps. This new wall may be interpreted as commentary on the 19th/20th century industrialization of the country that once boasted breathtaking natural beauty idealized by painters. Undoubtedly the Gen Y Gaia also may have in mind the fracking industry in this day that threatens to destroy even more of the beauty and natural resources for his generation and the next.
Gaia appears here at “Zoetic Walls” in conjunction with Arts Collingwood and curated by Pawn Works, who will be showing us more from their new Midwest project as it evolves in Cleveland, Chicago, and even parts of Wisconsin.
hygienic dress league (HDL) recently gold-plated an entire boarded up and neglected building in the Collinwood section of Cleveland as part of their ongoing conceptual branding art project. In the process, the destitute structure transformed into a solid block of bling.
Part Street Art, part culture jammer that brings to mind the Billboard Liberation Front, HDL plays with the nomenclature of consumerism and the corporate manipulation of culture. Just look at this shiny edifice! Don’t you want to buy something? A facemask? A bird, maybe?
Steve Coy, co-founders of the project with his wife Dorota, says HDL is actually a registered corporation and they do advertise, but “hygienic dress league does not manufacture any consumer service or product.”
Street Artist EVER was in Cleveland with Nick Marzullo from Pawn Works as Nick visited his hometown neighborhood of Collinwood a few weeks ago. While there the native Argentinian did this huge colorful and compelling mural in his surrealist style – perhaps it is a scene depicting a master of industry controlling the tools of technology while a mass of workers is in tumult below him. But just what does he see with those blue streams flowing from his eyes? Whatever the backstory is for his works, the talent and imagination are clear wherEVER he goes.
Nick wants to give a shout out to Amy Callahan of Arts Collinwood. Special thanks to Nick for these images.
Street Artists Nice-One and Lucx did some painting and wheat-pasting recently in Cincinnati and Savannah as part of a special student arts themed tour they took out of their native Chicago. Their complementary illustrative styles are thoughtfully whimsical, colorful, and sometimes satiric. The collaborations here captured by Chicago based photographer and BSA contributor Brock Brake give you a sense of some artists lustful focus on so-called “appropriate placement”, or putting the work where it functions with a bit of harmony in its context.
How a Street Artist chooses location can make a huge difference on its impact and how long it runs, believe it or not. Regardless of the wall choice (permissioned or not) street justice by peers and critics can take out a piece if it offends anyone’s sensibility, but some say that Nice-One has a rep for riding longer because of his good placement – even in cities officially hostile to any of this kind of work. Often, the piece can make you laugh. It probably doesn’t hurt that a large amount thoughtful preparation goes into each piece, and work by both artists could easily hang in your house, or school.