The moment you think you understand the street is the moment you begin to lose touch. Behavior on social media is also about as reliable as your Uncle Oscar after he’s had a few too many frosted rum balls and rosy red holiday cocktails. First, he’s twirling Aunt Marge to the Beatles on the living room rug, next thing he’s headbanging with your cousin Teddy to Bon Jovi on the back porch – and later you regrettably see him getting his freak on with a Missy Elliott classic as he waits his turn at the pool table in the basement.
So we rely on the numbers to tell us what is popular with our readers, and not surprisingly, you like everything! Little tiny stickers, massive murals, 3-D sculptural elements, even Lizzo running for president. These are the top ten pieces that got retweeted, shared on Instagram, commented about on Facebook and read about on the site. It’s not scientific, and it’s skewed through the lens of BSA’s POV, but these hottest pieces are still an indicator of the sentiments and tastes of fans on social; sophisticated, insightful, critical, dark mooded, conscious and funny AF. You’re just our type!
November was “Native American Heritage Month” in the US and has been since 1990 and ironically the growing right-wing extremism of the intervening decades appears to have further erased our collective knowledge of native peoples – so it’s the perfect time to find this new campaign of local natives on the streets of New York by Street Artist LMNOPI.
9. Abe Lincoln Jr. & Maia Lorian. A Presidential Parody
The public takeover of ‘street furniture’ and advertising kiosks continues as artists demand back the mindspace and public space that is sold or given to corporate advertisers or propagandizers. This duo brings complementary skills to the old phone booths with their own brand of political satire.
8. Okuda & Bordalo II Collaboration in Madrid.
This Frankenstein duet on the streets of Madrid caught our eye this spring and you liked it too. By Spain’s Okuda and Portugal’s Bordalo II. Madrid, March 2019.
7. Oak Oak in Bayonne, France.
A small stencil in Bayonne, France from Oak Oak resonates in its cheerful satire of pompous crass man-boys with bombs.
6 Lula Goce for NRNY Artsy Murals /Street Art For Mankind
The Swan and the falcon depicted on the mural are actual residents of New Rochelle. They came and liked what they saw and decided to stay and raise their families there. A fitting real story as New Rochelle is a town where immigrants are welcomed and are an important part of the community.
5. I Heart Graffiti “Lizzo for President”
A campaign for singer/songwriter/ rapper Lizzo capitalized on the stars meteoric rise in 2019 to the top of many charts. Considering the number of Democratic challengers on the debate stages this summer and fall, it seemed plausible that she was actually running. If she promised Americans to help the poor and working-class yet assured her corporate donors to screw them once in office, she could get elected too.
4. Judith Supine’s Luxury Cowboy/girl Ad Take Over
The brilliant collage surrealist Judith Supine was back with a new lasso this year, skillfully misleading audiences on the street with his free associations equating luxury fashion brands and 20th-century cancer product advertising. It’s a match made in Hell!. Welcome!
3 Nafir at Urban Spree in Berlin
Iranian Street Arist Nafir left this Instagram alienation indictment hanging in a hidden spot at Berlin’s Urban Spree playground this year, and for some reason, it struck a chord with many.
Do you want to talk about it? We’re not joking about suicide.
2. “Outings Project” for Urban Nation Museum in Berlin
It began as a way of bringing fine art pieces from inside the museum to the Street, and “The Outings Project” has brought hundreds of artworks out into the daylight this way for a decade or so, thanks to French artist Julien de Casabianca. These particular dark angels have been cast out of heaven and are just about to hit the ground across the street from Urban Nation Museum, Berlin.
1. Sara Lynne-Leo struck a chord with her pain commentary on the streets of NYC
A relative newcomer to the streets in New York, Sara Lynne-Leo keeps her small scale pieces well-placed, if your eyes are open. A comedian and social observer, her character’s pains and insecurities are played out in magnified emotional tableaus that quickly capture the severity and make light of it at the same time. This one must have really captured the zeitgeist of a troubled time across modern societies, where one pretends a wound is made bearable with an optimistic sunny perspective, even if the situation may be life-threatening.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. VHILS “Debris” Sets Macau in Golden Nostalgia 2. OKUDA: The International Church Of Cannabis 3. Mr. Sis. and #SoloUnBeso 4. Parees International Mural Festival. Oviedo, Spain. Edition 2018.
BSA Special Feature: VHILS “Debris” Sets Macau in Golden Nostalgia
Last year Vhils published this film about communication – personal, intimate, and global. We waited a year to see if it felt equally timeless as the first time we viewed it and indeed it is. Some stories like these have an additional element that secures their status. Surrounding the portraits created by the Portuguese Street Artist in Macau, this collage of images, interactions, flashes of expression and sequences of behavior is accompanied by a linear/circular narration that attempts to reconnect to a personal history while chiding the narrators own behavior.
It’s a winsome recounting of memories that are shared globally; a communal and personal experience at once told with clarity and emotional nostalgia, written and directed by José Pando Lucas.
OKUDA: The International Church Of Cannabis
One would hope that the International Church of Cannibis would look like this! Owing perhaps to psychedelic art of 1960s counterculture, liquid light art, concert posters, murals, underground newspapers, and of course kaleidoscoping the world with new eyes, the Spanish Street Artists Okuda San Miguel transformed this internal architecture into a truly holy space. Denver is one of those American cities that still has a good economy thanks to Colorado’s low taxes, growing marijuana industry and soaring real estate market. It seems like the whole city has invited many Street Artists to transform street space over the last decade and with a good collector’s base, the art galleries are busy and special projects are popping up everywhere to show off the skillz.
With a new church that uses pot as a sacrament, this project is spearheaded by Steve Berke, who’s Wikipedia posting lists him as “two-time candidate for mayor of Miami Beach, cannabis activist, rapper, YouTuber, entrepreneur, and former All-American tennis player.” Dude, just gaze at the ceilings here and you realize that the possibilities are awesome.
“Artist Mr. Sis is in Barcelona painting this pair of full figured females going in for the kiss on this billboard for Contorno Urbano,” we wrote a few weeks ago in a posting about this wall. Today we have the finished video.
Parees International Mural Festival. Oviedo, Spain. Edition 2018.
A new mini-doc from the
Parees Festival in Oviedo, Spain has just been released about the 2018 edition.
It features on-screen interviews with many of the artists who were involved,
including Colectivo Licuado, Roc BlackBlock, Taquen, Xav, Andrea Ravo Mattoni,
Kruella d’Enfer, Alfalfa y Twee Muizen.
Photographer Lluis Olive took a quick
trip recently to Madrid and he did what he loves to do; took photos of graffiti
and shared with us his new discoveries. This one caught our attention.
On Calle Embajadores he found
that a mural by the Madrid based artist Okuda was dissed with “Tu Street
Art Me Sube El Alquiler” or roughly, “Your Street Art Makes My Rent Go
And the writer has a point, going
to the heart of gentrification, and its connection to art.
It goes like this: Rotten,
abandoned, vermin infested and derelict neighborhoods with large industrial
buildings left in a state of decay are “discovered” by creatives who
make them their homes and studios. Artists work to make any environment
aesthetically pleasing, and that’s often their downfall.
Last night in a Brooklyn beer
garden a buddy told us that he had taken a complete toxic dump in the lot
behind his apartment and slowly transformed it into a beautiful garden. For his
efforts, he said, the landlord wanted to raise his rent because he now has an
attractive garden apartment that he should be charging a higher price for,
according to the market. Punished for success?
This aerosol defacement of Okuda’s
mural is a partially accurate statement– at least indirectly. But let’s not
scapegoat the artist as the one to blame for gentrification. That’s an
oversimplification of a complex cycle that no one appears able to diffuse
effectively because the incentivized real estate system is surely twisted in
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Evan Roth “Since You Were Born” 2. “Island” Hamburg Max Mortal and Robert Lobel 3. Isaac Cordal In-Studio Visit. Bilbao, Spain. 4. ARTRIUM in Moscow
BSA Special Feature: Evan Roth “Since You Were Born”
Graffiti Research Lab
co-founder Evan Roth has been hacking his way through life and art practice for
the mid-2000s when he was a student at Brooklyn’s Parsons, where he was
valedictorian. Now an older wiser daddy of two, he turns his attention to the
saturated everyday data pileup generated from Internet browsing. The
accumulated images, logos, maps, banner ads in the cache is like so much DNA of
the person behind the mouse, and when it is printed to display, one becomes
Our favorite term from his new exhibit?
“An alternate form of art-making,
memory-making, and storytelling”.
Project Atrium: Evan Roth
“Island” Hamburg Max Mortal and Robert Lobel
From Hamburg an animated short video by Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel explores the irresistible desire to communicate with this stop motion & 2D animation piece. Adorable exotic creatures come alive during the day to explore and seek kindred spirits.
Isaac Cordal In-Studio Visit. Bilbao, Spain.
From our visit to his studio comes this silent overview of how to turn a pig into a pig-man. “Here is where you see the craftsman at work; carefully attentive, problem-solving industry in play, possibly more at peace while he is creating than when he is left to think too much. He picks up a pink pig figurine and begins the plastic surgery, the fine reconstruction; a gentle whirring, a whittling away of snout and a defining of chin-line.”
When we were in Moscow last summer as
curators at Artmossphere, we had the opportunity to meet the director of the
new program to bring international Street Artists to paint a shopping
mall. The magnetizing force that drew
artists to hit these walls is pretty strong; just ask Shepard Fairey, Felipe
Pantone, Tristan Eaton, Ben Eine, PichiAvo, Okuda San Miguel, Pokras Lampas,
Faith47, WK Interact, Faust, and Haculla.
“Every man is the son of his own works” ~ Miguel de Cervantes.
The greatest writer in the Spanish language was inspired by the character of this region and its arid but fertile elevated plateau when creating his greatest work Don Quixote, a true titan of historical literature and one of the world’s most translated books after the Bible.
His central character is a delusional would-be knight who calls himself The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. His absurdist but imaginative self-regard is echoed in the sheer scale of the grand new Titanes (Titan) mural project. Given the camaraderie among artists and organizers here you may say that the heart of Titanes is more likely aligned with the earthy wit of his sidekick Sancho Panza.
Naturally when these characters are intermingled by an imaginative multi-disciplinary artist like Okuda San Miguel you are not surprised to see the image of movie director Pedro Almodovar co-starring along with Quixote; Okuda’s silo is seated in the filmmaker’s town of Calzada de Calatrava and Almodovar’s richly drawn characters have captured a generation of Spaniards happily. As a rainbow splits the storm clouded sky behind him, it’s precisely this painters intuitive alchemy of reality and fiction that may shake a viewers’ conscience while entertaining them, revealing Titanes as an enormous vehicle of communication.
“The past and present are seen through my geometric and surrealist filters,” says Okuda, who is a principle architect of this audacious public mural project in La Mancha. In an era of perplexing social, political, and economic upheavals, it is comforting to see modern artists take on the messages of the classics, reinterpreting and re-presenting them.
15 or so more murals on silos are on the way here from top talents before the year is complete. The societal outreach is ground-breaking in its own way with an uncommon integration and engagement with the neighboring communities.
“It’s an interesting story,” says photographer Martha Cooper, who shares her images with BSA readers today. “Okuda is working with organizations who help people with disabilities like autism and Down Syndrome. The part of the mural at the base of each one of the silos was painted by a number of these participants,” she says. “And they all seemed to be having a great time.”
Startlingly original and indelibly context-specific, Titanes is a mural/public art project that resides at the intersection of social responsibility and community participation. Organizers say that the goal is not only to bring a roster of well-respected artists here to paint but to be completely inclusive of societal members who aren’t typically thought of as artists.
From now until October, a number of artists from the urban art scene will be transforming silos into art all across this region, including Bicicleta sem Freio, Daniel Muñoz, Demsky J., Equipo Plástico (comprised of Eltono, Nuria Mora, Nano4814 and Sixe Paredes), Fintan Magee, Hell’O, Smithe, Nychos, Ricardo Cavolo and Spok Brillor. In an unprecedented program of social inclusion through public art, 450 members of the Laborvalía association will also be working alongside the artists on various creative activities.
Already the program has proven life-changing in many ways, say participants, as perspectives and relationships are evolving during the initial painting program. “Okuda worked with one boy with autism while painting his mural,” Martha tells us. “He began to speak and interact after starting to paint – much to his parents’ delight. This part of the project gave it more weight than just the usual “artists-painting-walls” event.”
Organizers say that they hope Titanes will be an epic project that will go down in history as one of the world’s biggest events to promote social inclusion. At its core are Okuda’s own multi-faceted art agency called Ink and Movement, the Laborvalía organization, the Provincial Government of Ciudad Real, and a number of other municipalities and civic and tourism-related fields who are supporting the art and its message throughout society.
Laborvalía says in its mission statement that its principal goal is to promote the integration of people with disabilities in society and the workplace.
Titanes looks like it is the perfect project to make a big impression.
Hell’O Our idea was to mix abstract shapes and figurative elements in a colorful environment. We enjoy playing with the balance between different shapes and finding a homogeneous composition. We wanted to give it an optimistic, pop, fresh touch, something that speaks to everyone
Bicicleta sem Freio
“Os Gigantes de la Mancha” (The Giants of La Mancha) represents the
power of creativity and imagination and its indispensable role in the ability
of human beings to make sense of the world and others, especially among
children and people with disabilities.
Daniel Muñoz & Spok Brillor:
There are a number of concepts behind our intervention. First, it represents 15 years of working together as artists and friends: each medal symbolizes a story from some of the projects we’ve worked on in recent years.
It also reaffirms the building from an architectural standpoint: “decoration” in the sense of an award or honor and not just ornamentation. For us, it’s important to reaffirm the object in itself and not its political history. Finally, there’s an irony in the use of gold and its contrast with bread, a basic product produced by the silo and one that, in reality, was always represented as luminary and powerful in the imaginary of the 20th century.
Equipo Plástico (Eltono, Nuria Mora, Nano4818 and Sixe Paredes)
“Meseta” (Plateau) is a homage to the countryside, to the intractable space surrounding these silos. The tones and patterns of the surrounding areas, their textures and shades, cover every centimetre of the wall like a blanket, giving the building a round, almost sculpted look. Ignoring the limits of the building and symbolically camouflaging it in its environment accentuates its current invisibility after years of neglect and helps lighten the weight of its history.
Demsky & Smithe
In “Parábolas del
Pensamiento” (Parabolas of Thought), we have unified our style, based on the
phases of the brain for creation and thinking: preparation, incubation, illumination
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Okuda San Miguel. The World is Ours 2. Vhils – Annihilation 3. C215 Au Pantheon 4. On Set / Kenny Scharf
BSA Special Feature: Okuda San Miguel. The World is Ours
The awesome expanse of one artists’ life during the course of a year, as expressed visually in the travels of Okuda San Miguel. Prolific, pro-people, kaleidoscopic in his imaginings; Okuda’s public works are as engaging as any artist working outside today, and in some cases, very inspiring. This is a good era for the artist, and with talented people on his team galavanting the globe, at this moment the world is theirs.
Okuda San Miguel. The World is Ours
Vhils – Annihilation
Finding the right partner for collaboration is no easy matter, and Vhils is here studying the contrasts and shiny chaos of the US in late stage capitalism, finding that harmony can be struck from the most unlikely of pairings. Europeans can’t believe the disparity here, and we know its setting aflame the very fabric of our society – but it’s so dazzling as it burns. Feel your pulse quicken as you see Vhils chip away at the veneer with Shepard, Retna, and a jackhammer.
C215 Au Pantheon
master C215 continues his move into other arenas, in this case the crypt of the
Pantheon with his portraits of great men and women. Full of character and
dignity, his people are somehow brought to life in his depictions through
On Set / Kenny Scharf
Is this a commentary on the times, or a commentary on The Times? Maybe Kenny knows
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring 1Up Crew, Add Fuel, Alice Pasquini, Ben Eine, Clet, Dan Witz, Dingo, Kill It, La Tabacalera, LaNe Leal, Lelo021, Nano4841, Okuda, Ruben Sanchez, and Wolf.
“Urvanity seeks to explore and thus imagine possible future scenarios for this New Contemporary Art,” they say boldly in the manifesto for this art fair/cultural platform in Madrid. A thrilling nexus is created here in this college campus of architecture where art from the streets is evolving in such ways that it is invited to come in from the street.
Whatever your perspective is on this evolution, we encourage the conversation – which usually contains elements of tribalism (various), resistance, acceptance, even euphoria. During breaks from hosting the BSA Talks this weekend we are also skipping and swerving through the crowds to look at the art that galleries have on offer.
Here we offer a very quick sample of some items that have caught our eye, looked fresh, or were indicative of larger movements in the so-called “scene”. And we use the word “scene” very loosely, because there is really not such thing as a homogeneous scene, only a constellation of them which are intersecting, coalescing, and redefining themselves. Some pieces are remarkable.
Here is the past, existing side by side with the future.
With a theme of “Theriomorphism”, curated by Okuda San Miguel with four other artists, the Pop Up exhibition just opened at Galeria Kreisler here in Madrid- and it looks like Sabek has taken the idea to the street as well.
“So it’s all about animals and
God,” say Agostino Iacurci, the Italian Street Artist, muralist, and fine
artist. “God in the shape of animals or mixing with humans.”
As you imagine human/animal hybrids your thoughts may wander to plants and sheep and bare breasted women and hooved men with erections and surrealist naturist imagery that verges on bestiality – that all seems like fair play in this cunning mix of artistic styles and fluorescent visions. Last night’s opening in a tony part of the city featured a large crowd of friends and family, including Okuda’s mom and a number of exotic and eclectically dressed hybrids as well.
But for Iacurci, it’s a domestic
matter. “My idea is more about the contemporary role of animals in our lives in
the domestic sense. I am interested in the fact that we choose some species
over others to make them into pets.”
Together with artists Bruno Pontiroli and Kristen Liu-Wong, Iacurci is listening to a gentle samba while painting in Okuda’s studio on a large canvass that will be in the show. Naturally it also has a striking multi-colored figure from Okuda as well.
The fifth artist in the show, Bordalo II created collaboratively in an aesthetic hybrid as well, a simian sculpture split in two – a parallel to the mural they completed here on the street (see Monday’s posting).
Does Agostino think that God is
involved in the selection process of our pets?
“No I think it’s human
arrogance. It’s the human being pretending to be God.”
Outside a new installation by Sabek in Plaza Callao has captured human’s imaginations – as most artworks including cats are bound to do these days. This one done in concert with Urvanity was originally scheduled to be on display until March 5th.
So successfull has the new work been that it has sparked a grassroots petition drive, gathering hundreds of community signatures to get the new sculpture to stay for much longer, even years.
How God is involved in these matters, we cannot elucidate.
Madrid Increíble! – with its venerable two hundred year old Prado Museum stuffed full of Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez and Goya – and Okuda San Miguel’s favorite, El Bosco, or Hieronymus Bosch. Little did we know yesterday when we nearly got decapitated by security for trying to snap a cell photo of Velasquez’ “Las Meninas” at the museum that we would enter an alternate universe of Okuda’s studio and his own work in progress tribute to Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” today. May we also just say that this new painting will also belong in the Prado when it is finished?
More on that studio visit later, along with the crew of artists whom Okuda is curating for tomorrow nights’ Theriomorphism show. Today we bring you some fresh shots of his brand new mural in Lavapiés, a run-down yet exotically rendered old part of Madrid that teams with graffiti and new immigrants from the Indian subcontinent, China, a smattering of Arabs and a spectacular selection of Senegalese. This kind of cultural hybrid always produces the most scintillating and surprising results; perfect soil for this new collaboration as well.
You’ll recognize Okuda’s Street Artist partner literally just around the corner from his half of the painting, the Lisboan Bordallo II, who is still collecting discarded refuse to complete his sculptural counterpoint to Okuda’s fulsome geometrics in hallucinogenic color. The neighborhood was popping with spectators on this sunny spring-like day with hearty opinion-givers and inquisitive photographers filling the sidewalk.
Señor O. kept his headphones on to concentrate on his painting while the owners of the wall, Jorge and Jose from Xpresion Creativos, offered visitors refreshments and their hairstory told in equally vivid colors. Self-professed #Hairhackers, their team creates effects you literally have never seen before – including their October collaboration with Okuda below. Currently, they are turning hair into Tartans. Check out this shot of a hair collabo they did together.
Meanwhile, here’s a detail of the newly finished piece by Okuda and Bordalo II in Lavapiés, Madrid.
OKUDA is melting! Even in sub-zero frigid weather like this!
As the US Midwest suffers a once in a generation “polar vortex” over the last few days, it may be hard to believe but that level of freezing cold is typical January weather in Yakutsk, Russia, where the average day in this city of 300,000 is −38 degrees celsius (−37 farenheit).
Street Artist and fine artist Okuda, who deals in powerful displays of
tropicalia geometric color in his murals and sculptures, ventures far afield
here- or should we say far atundra.
Sasha Krolikova, who curated this project with Artmossphere and the Yakut Biennale of Contemporary Art, says this is the world’s northernmost sculpture created by Okuda. The area is being developed into a modern urban space for recreation and sports and cycling area (it will be warmer this summer, promise). She says the installation is with the support of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Sakha and appears on the embankment of Sajsary Lake in Yakutsk.
“We had a lot of work to do with the colors,” says Krolikova, “because they don’t look the same as in Spain when they have been exposed to this cold.” A melting skull with a spiked mohawk in technicolor, the capital city of Sakha Republic is going to have this Okuda for a long time – since it is made of steel. Not many people are likely to see it until spring here however, we are guessing.