DUUUUUUUDE, it’s Fun Friday! We changed the sign today. Looks fresh right?
1. ICY & SOT “Made in Iran” (NYC)
2. Barry McGee at Berkeley (CA)
3. BORF Solo in Newcastle (UK)
4. “Klimpt Illustrated” at Lazarides (London)
5. Lush Does “Shitty Drawings in New York City”
6. Shepard Fairey Does “Americana” (LA)
7. Dabs & Myla: Artists Driven (VIDEO)
8. CYRCLE “Beautiful Disaster” (VIDEO)
9. ALL STYLES Dance Battle at Postmasters Gallery in NYC (VIDEO)
ICY & SOT “Made in Iran” (NYC)
Two Street Art brothers, Icy & Sot, born in Iran and encouraged by their parents to pursue their dreams and aspirations have ventured outside their country and landed in New York, their first foreign trip, their first international city, their first art show in which they were able to attend. “Made in Iran” is now open to the everybody at the Open House Gallery in Manhattan.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Barry McGee at Berkeley (CA)
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) mid-career survey of San Francisco based artist Barry McGee. From the press release: “Using a visual vocabulary that borrows elements from comics, hobo art, sign painting, and other sources, McGee’s work addresses a range of issues, from individual survival and social malaise to alternative forms of community”. This exhibition is now open to the general public.
For further information regarding this exhibition click here.
BORF Solo in Newcastle (UK)
Detroit native BORF has traveled to England for his solo show “Walls Are Two-Sided” at The Outsiders Newcastle. With this new body of work, Borf illustrates the derelict aspect of Detroit and elevates the decay to art by zeroing in on a detail of the building’s peeling and corroding facade and transporting that vision on to the canvas. The result in the words of the press release is: “Rothko talked about wrestling with opposing and competing elements to eventually discover an equilibrium, what he called a pocket of silence” says BORF. “For this show I was fighting through layers of ambivalence and opposites: graffiti as youth expression and Rothko as adult expression; the art market and property rights; education and improvisation, youth and adulthood.” This show is now open.
For further information regarding this show click here.
“Klimpt Illustrated” at Lazarides (London)
Gustav Klimt the famous Austrian painter is turning 150 years old and The Vienna Tourist Board has teamed with The Lazarides Gallery in London to give Klimt street creed in the hopes that younger audiences will start following him on Twitter to gain knowledge on the secrets of his longevity and hopefully on his craft as well. To this effect curator Sydney Ogidan tapped nine international artists to take inspiration from some of the master’s most iconic masterpieces and create their own paintings. The opening reception for this show “Klimt Illustrated” is tonight at Lazarides Gallery in SOHO.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Lush Does “Shitty Drawings in New York City”
We thought we noticed a change in the air when the Australian storm called LUSH landed on these shores. Well here he is, likely to offend a few uptight prone-to-nose-bleeds stiffs and even more likely to amuse a lot more of us loose New Yorkers. LUSH has been madly working on a series of drawings/illustrations for his show “Shitty Drawings In New York City” opening Saturday night at the Klughaus Gallery in Manhattan. Half political cartoons/ half comic book with a blunt appreciation of the mechanics of the male and female reproductive organs, LUSH’s commentary on social, political and popular culture can be right on the spot. Dimwits need not apply.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Shepard Fairey Does “Americana” (LA)
Shepard Fairey needs no introductions at this point in his career or this point in our dang blog. One can always be certain to find him busy at work and getting involved in as many projects as he can humanly fit in his schedule. Mr. Fairey is constantly looking for inspiration and finding it often in popular culture that is around and accessible to all of us. For his new show “Americana” opening tomorrow at the Perry Rubestein Gallery in Los Angeles the artist has created a new body of work inspired by the songs of the great artist-musician Neil Young. Shepard has found material for his canvases in the songs of Mr. Young new album “Crazy Horse”.
Perry Rubenstein Gallery (LA) presents a special project by Shepard Fairey and Neil Young in celebration of the recent release of Young’s new album with Crazy Horse, “Americana,” which features reinterpreted classic, American, folk songs. Fairey has created eleven new paintings, each one inspired by the songs, such as Oh Susannah, This Land Is Your Land and Clementine. The new Shepard Fairey paintings will be on view to the public at Perry Rubenstein Gallery in Los Angeles starting August 25th. In addition, Shepard will have a limited quantity release of the Americana Print Edition Box Set at the opening on August 25th at Perry Rubenstein Gallery. The Box Set will include a collection of screen print versions of all the new paintings, more info and official release date on the prints to come shortly, so STAY TUNED!
The “Americana” project developed as a result of Shepard Fairey’s relationship with Neil Young and his long-time manager Elliot Roberts. Fairey created a portrait of Young for the artist’s May Day show in 2010, based on his view of the musician as a social commentator philosophically aligned with people like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Joe Strummer. Young and Roberts then asked Fairey to design the art, CD and DVD packaging for the 25th anniversary of Young’s Bridge School charity. Fairey states, “Neil really liked the art and I was thrilled he asked me to collaborate by making paintings inspired by the songs on his “Americana” album. I’m a huge fan of Neil’s music in general, but when I heard the album I realized how much the subject matter of several songs reflected the aspirations and tragedies of those pursuing the American dream tied into issues relevant to the 99% movement which I have been supporting.”
Fairey says he listened to the music and lyrics to come up with concepts for visual representations of the songs. Then for each song, Fairey presented Young with ideas about a visual image that would best capture the meaning and/or protagonist/s in each song. The artist enjoyed hearing how Neil interpreted aspects of the songs that moved him the most musically and lyrically. Fairey states, “I showed Neil sketches, and then we discussed the ideas and refined them. He was very open to my ideas and encouraged me to go with what inspired me the most. Latitude for interpretation is something that Neil utilizes and seems to value as an important way for the listener/viewer to personalize their interaction with art and music. I also was excited about this project because the concept of re-interpreting pre-existing songs filtered through Neil’s unique sensibility parallels what I have often tried to do as a visual artist by building upon iconic images that are an accessible part of the cultural dialogue.”
Each of the new Fairey paintings resonate powerful messages presented in the songs, some depicting a hopeful outlook on the pursuit of a better tomorrow, while others reflect the hardships that come in trying to achieve that dream. One painting related to Clementine, which captures the words of a mourning lover whose “darling,” the daughter of a California Gold Rush miner, drowned. Here she is represented by the levitating body of a young woman draped in white, with the text “And Gone.” Another painting is related to the 1848 minstrel song Oh Susannah that features a dungaree-wearing banjo player with the text “DON’T YOU CRY FOR ME.” Other works feature a wanted poster (Travel On); an iconic image of Queen Elizabeth embroidering an American flag (God Save the Queen); and, a lonely tree, stripped bare of its leaves, in a desolate landscape (Tom Dula).
For Young and Crazy Horse’s rendition of the famous 1940 Woody Guthrie song known to every school-aged child in America, This Land Is Your Land, written in response to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America, Fairey has depicted the hopeful face of a youth, set against a dramatic Western Landscape. Three rows of sharp, barbed wire cross the boy’s path with the text “NO TRESSPASSING / THIS LAND IS MY LAND.” The text is derived from a variant verse Guthrie added as a social commentary during a 1944 recording session. Fairey’s paintings are mixed media on canvas, including techniques such as stenciling, collage, and screen-printing. All of the paintings measure closely to the 30 x 44 inch dimension, which is one of Fairey’s standard choices of size. “Americana” is Neil Young with Crazy Horse’s first album together in nine years and is being released on June 5 on Reprise Records.
Faile, the Brooklyn Based Street Art Collective just released a new print today on Paper Monster titled “Fashion Chimps NYC”.
From Paper Monster’s site: “This brand new print from the guys at Faile was a long time in the making, and it shows. Based on a piece from their 2010 show at Perry Rubenstein Gallery, this 25 color screenprint is done in their recent “block” style which gives the illusion of its 3D sister from the show.”
“The first New York gallery show in three years for Street Art collective Faile opens tomorrow at Rubenstein Gallery; a heavy graphic quilt of past, present, and “jimmer-jam”. With the 12-piece “Bedtime Stories”, Patrick and Patrick debut a densely packed wood painting show of story, texture and humor in a quite intimate setting.
Checking on progress as they finished final pieces last week, Brooklyn Street Art was treated to completed block tapestries and works in progress in their buoyantly buzzing studio. Long days have turned to long nights at the end of this parsing of pieces, and the output exceeds the storage…”
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.
The first New York gallery show in three years for Street Art collective Faile opens tomorrow at Rubenstein Gallery; a heavy graphic quilt of past, present, and “jimmer-jam”. With the 12-piece “Bedtime Stories”, Patrick and Patrick debut a densely packed wood painting show of story, texture and humor in a quite intimate setting.
All Hands on Blocks
Checking on progress as they finished final pieces last week, Brooklyn Street Art was treated to completed block tapestries and works in progress in their buoyantly buzzing studio. Long days have turned to long nights at the end of this parsing of pieces, and the output exceeds the storage.
It’s a hard charging exploration of process, with the selective re-combining of broken-apart wood canvasses.
“Bedtime Stories” is a glut of hand-packed eye candy; steel girded graphic thoughts crashing and merging deep into the diamond mine of Faile’s visual verbiage, delivered with storytelling finesse. Each individual piece is a near-dizzying puzzle of pop plied with rigor chock-a-block against the restraints of an unbending welded frame.
Brooklyn Street Art: These new pieces feel very dense.
Patrick McNeil: It’s like eating chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate pudding and a cup of hot chocolate. They are a lot to take in.
Patrick Miller: They need space.
As they talk you get the idea that they needed some psychological space from the constrictions of a themed show and they became enamored with the wood painting process more than the exact outcome. It’s clear that the new approach has been gratifying.
Patrick McNeil: This isn’t really an exhibition about message, it’s more about process. Not to say that it is devoid of any message. It’s just been more about building than about going out and trying to make a statement with the visual.
Patrick Miller: Yeah I think that’s more what we talked about a little before – about how it was about getting loose and have fun making images again and not feeling like it was one big overarching theme that was going to drive the whole body of work. Given that we were really interested in exploring the medium, I think the message is kind of coming through in the process.
Patrick McNeil: Yeah I think our last two shows were so theme related that I was like, “Let’s not think about the space as much.’ It’s more like, let’s just make a body of work and when it’s show time let’s collect it all and see what hangs right and looks good in the show and go about it that way. We wanted to be more organic in the process instead of so structural.
Patrick Miller: Some of our recent previous shows were “a series of” paintings that either ran together or lived together in some way –although these actually do too in a way.
Brooklyn Street Art:Well each piece contains your DNA so they kind of have to reflect your story.
Patrick Miller: Right, they all start as a bigger piece, and then those get broken apart and built back into other pieces. I feel like when you look at them all and they are all spread out you can really see; “Oh, that’s a part of that, and this is a part of that”. So in that way I feel like it is a “Faile” kind of thing.
In the middle of the studio a large wooden canvas painted blue with a black lined pulp inspired tryst is lifted by three studio assistants to rest on blocks against the wall so that it’s bottom can be painted. Later this thick wooden canvas will be sawed into cubes, but for now it is a complete 4’ x 6’ duotone.
The process of creating can encompass many pieces developing at once. A smaller or midsize piece that grows beyond its’ original boundaries is re-located into a larger frame where it has more freedom to grow.
“We don’t want to see any go out without enough lovin’, ya know”
Often a piece will get re-worked multiple times to finally strike the balance that it needs – a intuitive sense that both Patricks have and trust in the other. Studio assistants have also learned the language of Faile and can tell when something probably needs reworking.
Patrick McNeil: There’s a lot of made up words; Shimmer-sham, Jimmer-jam….
Brooklyn Street Art:Shimmer-sham? Jimmer-jam?
Patrick McNeil: Yeah you’ll be like, “That needs a little shimmer-sham right there and some down there.”
Brooklyn Street Art:And does shimmer-sham mean the same thing, have the same definition for everybody?
Patrick McNeil: Yeah, pretty much. Patrick Miller: Pretty much.
Ask the studio assistants, and they’ll tell you the same; In a close-knit group that works long hours together making art, it’s not unusual to develop a vocabulary and shorthand that speaks to the art and the process.
Brooklyn Street Art (to studio assistant Sarah): If one of the Patricks said, ‘we need more Jimjam over here’… Sarah: Jimmer-Jam (laughter) Brooklyn Street Art:What would that mean? Sarah: Um, it really depends on the context I would say. Patrick McNeil: And the gesturing involved. Sarah: And the gesturing, yeah Brooklyn Street Art:So if the gesturing is very insistent, then it might mean… Sarah: It usually is in reference to something that’s already happening. If it needs more of something or less of something. Also Zibber-zabs. Brooklyn Street Art:Zibber-zabs? Which is analogous to Patrick Miller: Which is very different! You could have a problem..
Brooklyn Street Art:Are there other vocabulary words? Sarah: Um, those are the two that are most frequently used. Jimmer-jams and Zimmer-zabs. (to the others) Can you guys think of anymore? Maggie: Did you say Shim Shams? Male assistant: “Could use a little more lovin’ ” Sarah: Yeah, that’s a P. Miller one. Brooklyn Street Art: What would ” lovin’ ” mean in this context? Patrick Miller: It’s like ‘you need to push it a little more’ Brooklyn Street Art:More attention? Patrick Miller: Yeah. We don’t want to see any go out without enough lovin’, ya know
It’s not likely that would ever happen in a Faile show, they care too much. A loose tension. Structure and play. The rebel yell. Details don’t slip by, meanings are hardly incidental, and everything is considered. Smartly aware of concepts like brand and marketing, they stay on message and deliver the goods. New patterns and texts must be vetted and go through a background check. Just kidding.
Brooklyn Street Art:What is “Bedtime Stories”? – A reference to your parents, your mates, your children, Madonna, Peter Rabbit?
Patrick Miller: I think we’d been searching for a title. We’d been talking about different things along the way. One of the pieces in the show is called “Bedtime Stories” and it’s a part of one of the new images. I think one thing we kept thinking about was that there was a period when we were both really interested in quilt making. We did a lot of research on it.
Brooklyn Street Art:Quilt making?
Miller: Yeah, and we kept saying throughout this process to each other how quilt-like these wood paintings were to us in a way. How much the process reminded us of that kind of craft feeling; Old American quilt making and that tradition. There was something about that – and bedtime, and beds. And then “Bedtime Stories” obviously refers to the narrative quality of the pieces and there is so much of that built in. As they come together and we take bits out of one thing and put it into another thing it starts to make new stories. There is sort of this tension between the pieces and how much visual experience that is in all of them and the bedtime being this quiet special moment. All those things, for me, made me feel like bedtime stories was a good fitting title.
Brooklyn Street Art: (to McNeil) You didn’t have anything to add to that?
Patrick McNeil: That’s pretty much it.
Patrick Miller: It won out over “Block Shock”! (laughing)
Brooklyn Street Art:Yeah, that name has a certain alliterative quality right?
Patrick McNeil: It really is shocking through blocks. They are kind of shocking pieces in the sense of the denseness of them and how much is in them.
Brooklyn Street Art:In a way these pieces are also analogous with dream states and what you remember the following day.
Patrick Miller: It’s true.
Brooklyn Street Art:They could be very intense pieces but…
Patrick Miller: And dreams, like, your memories of them are so fragmented. You are kind of left with “I remember this part and that part”, and that’s how these pieces are. They are assembled parts that make up this kind of weird tapestry.
Brooklyn Street Art:Right, and the parts of the dream that you remember are the most vivid, emotionally charged ones, or psychologically charged parts, not the subtle parts.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, and that’s a great way of seeing it.
Brooklyn Street Art:And you guys are not really marketing subtlety
November 4 – December 23, 2010
Perry Rubenstein Gallery
527 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
November 4 – December 23, 2010
Opening Reception, November 4, 2010, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
New York, October 18, 2010 – Perry Rubenstein Gallery presents Brooklyn-based multimedia artists FAILE. The artist collaborative returns on November 4th with Bedtime Stories, an exhibition of new works that feature imagery mined from FAILE’s singular visual archive and that emphasize the painterly dimensions of their frenetic visual tapestries.
Following on the heels of two major projects—the interactive arcade of Deluxx Fluxx and the haunting, allegorical suite, Lost in Glimmering Shadows—Bedtime Stories is a return to fundamentals that pushes questions of form and process to the forefront. Each of the twelve works’ compositions are assembled from numerous painted wooden blocks and they emerge as unified paintings. They reveal FAILE’s relentless assimilation and refinement of the vast visual vocabularies of both the urban environment and their own decade-long practice. The grids of these paintings are at once modular and fixed, tactile and graphic. On their surfaces, iconoclastic characters fluidly intermingle with adroit deconstructions of commodity culture. The re-combinations of carefully constructed texts and images provide a glimpse into FAILE’s rigorous and organic process, and draw attention to painting’s inherent materiality.
Works such as Addicted & Alone and Faile Launch reshape painterly traditions of pointillism and the affichistes, while simultaneously suggesting newer media that draws on the pixelation of digital technology and the improvisational roots of collage and street art. Bedtime Stories presents works of a neo-baroque ilk yet they are aggressively beautiful while underscoring FAILE’s continued exploration of formal and aesthetic inquiry and evolution.
Perry Rubenstein Gallery
527 West 23 Street
New York, NY 10011
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
The air of collaboration is evident in this maze of activity – as well as an appreciation for process. The multi-level ex-industrial building has been reconfigured internally over the last decade to contain and accommodate the adventurous appetites of the childhood buddies who took their Street Art from Brooklyn to the Tate, with many stops along the way.
This doesn’t happen for everybody, so in this first visit of two before their upcoming debut solo show at Perry Rubenstein Gallery on November 4, we looked for clues about the creative and working DNA of Faile. In the ten quick long rotten beautiful years of this century they’ve plowed through many experiments methodically from simple one color small stencils on light posts to now museum quality raft-sized wooden block collages that take months to screenprint, saw, sand, and assemble.
In a pretty remarkable run through the neighborhood and the globe the two Patricks have used aerosoled stencils, screen prints, wheat pastes, roller tags, animated video games, carved wood, vinyl sculptures, spinning prayer poles, even alabaster and tile reliefs in their ever growing collection of work. Cumulatively, the forays have given depth and resilience to their nearly iconic pop imagery.
Since returning from their Lisbon temple installation mid summer, where their piece (two years in the making) became a focal point for that city’s first biennial, the Faile dudes are now making a multitude of these “wood paintings” here in their Brooklyn studio. Among the many silkscreens stacked against walls, rolled canvasses in tubes, and pieces by Banksy and Shepard Fairey adorning the walls, there are open wooden boxes, maybe 20 or 30, full of small wooden printed blocks laying open on tables and shelves.
Brooklyn Street Art: When the blocks get that small they are almost just a texture.
Patrick McNeil: Exactly, or just color palette. It’s so modular you don’t get stuck with anything, you get to explore a lot and if it doesn’t work you just put it back the way that it was or pull it apart.
Brooklyn Street Art:That’s right, you can reverse yourself pretty easily
Patrick McNeil: Yeah you just kind of build a piece and then realize it works better in something bigger – so they are very loose in a sense. It seems very precision-y and thought out but it’s much more looser than it looks.
The selective sampling of images that create the Lingua Faile has steadily grown into a library of totems, symbols, pulp art snippets, typefaces and signifiers set free from their context and recombined with a lucid dexterity, a splash of irony, and an inner voice that says, ‘go for it’. It’s an old-skool visual sampling that doesn’t need autotune for anything, just a hyped sense for combining clips and dropping it on the beat. Talking to them, one sees that it’s a loose intuitive sense that is guiding the process.
Patrick McNeil: And I like what is happening in this one, it’s still coming along. That one, the bottom needs to be worked out. It’s really top heavy. And we’ll kind of pull some colors down. That one is just kind of getting started. This one’s kind of in the middle right now; Just slowly working on blacks and switching things up.
Brooklyn Street Art:So you’ve used a lot of powdered pastels…
Patrick McNeil: Yeah…
Brooklyn Street Art: let’s see, blasting fluorescents…
Patrick McNeil: Well a little bit, yeah. There are not too many fluorescents, well, that pink is probably the only fluorescent. Well, there’s yellow on that one. But none of these have any fluorescent.
Brooklyn Street Art:I’m thinking of the DeLuxx Flux thing you did with Bast.
Patrick McNeil: Yeah Perry made the rule, “no fluorescents”.
Brooklyn Street Art:Oh okay. Well it’s good to have that guidance.
Patrick McNeil: Yeah, we might sneak one in there.
Patrick McNeil: Then we were looking more at abstractions, breaking color groups up, pushing it really far.
Brooklyn Street Art:Yes that’s an unusual combination of the violet and the grey. It looks fresh.
Patrick McNeil: Yeah, it’s kinda switchin’ it up. We kind of like tweak things and leave them up for a while and then switch it out. It’s kind of interesting.
Even though the new book, their first, is coming out to mark the first 10 years that took them from Brooklyn streets to group shows, street art exhibitions, galleries, and museums around the globe, the creative partners are focusing right now on the work at hand. A decade of work, play, and planning together has created a shorthand of cues and patterns and symbols that makes their work move quickly without much strife or discussion. In the studio it’s equal parts industry and creativity – where real world dedication to process and structure adds a loose tension to the spirit of play.
Brooklyn Street Art:Are you both the leader? Or do you take turns being the leader? Is there one who just says “THIS is where we have to go!”
Patrick McNeil: It goes back and forth really.
Patrick Miller: It’s pretty rare when it is “This is the way it has to be and there is no room for discussion”
Brooklyn Street Art:So you don’t come to loggerheads?
Patrick McNeil: No, we’ve known each other since we were 14 so we’ve got a pretty good friendship.
The new block collages, or “wood paintings” started about a year ago and the artists introduced them at Cour Carrée du Louvre for the FIAC in Paris. With a loyal fanbase that hangs on their every print release and microsite revelation, the new pieces were an instant hit and complete success. The scale of pieces at that time seemed manageable and something you might carry as part of your luggage; however some of these new wood paintings for the Rubenstein show might well be snagged by Swoon for walls in one of her Konbit shelters.
Brooklyn Street Art:How do you achieve a sense of balance? You have the professional, personal,… family is growing.. How do you guys achieve a sense of balance regularly?
Patrick Miller: For one, we treat this like a pretty regular thing in the sense of working Monday through Friday, pretty much 9:30 to 6:00.
Brooklyn Street Art:So you have a schedule and a structure.
Patrick Miller: Yeah, so we have structure in that sense. It’s a business after all on some level, and it has to be thought of in that way too. I mean it’s tough some times when we have big shows going on and we’re traveling and trying to not be away from the kids for too long. But you know, I guess I never stopped to think about it. It was nice last year because Patrick and his wife had their second child and we had our first within a few weeks of each other, and so that worked out really well, in the sense of timing-wise. We were able to slow down a bit.
Brooklyn Street Art:You know I was just thinking about the blocks and interactivity. I wonder if you could make a piece where some of the blocks were free and the person who buys it could play with the blocks.
Patrick Miller: Hey, you’re really onto something!
Patrick McNeil: Let’s go upstairs.
Brooklyn Street Art:You’ve already thought of this!
We shuffle eagerly behind our hosts like hypnotized penguins out to the darkened hallway and up some stairs to a high security print room that is pristine and plum full of stuff that might make you cry – things they’ve collected, been gifted, or just like to entertain visitors with. They could drop names but the brothers Faile are more interested to show one of their newest inventions, a wooden tray of blocks that form a puzzle – well, six actually. The lo-tech games perfectly marry our current digital longing for interactivity and the latent one to become a Luddite.
Patrick Miller: (The puzzle boxes) kind of came up in Paris, so we just developed these pieces on the side totally on their own. Then we started thinking there are some situations and combinations that we really liked. Each one is printed on all six sides and you can manipulate it and play with it.
Brooklyn Street Art:Hours of endless pleasure! How do you prevent them from getting damaged?
Patrick McNeil: That’s just part of it.
Patrick Miller: I don’t think they’re going to get too damaged. They are already sanded and their meant to be touched. We’re actually making a site, because it’s really hard to show them.
Brooklyn Street Art:Have you thought of customization on the site so people can select options and order it?
Patrick: Yes we’ve thought of that but effectively you’d have tons of combinations.
Faile wood blocks at the studio (Photo @ Jaime Rojo)
Brooklyn Street Art:Have you thought of doing an app for these so people can play with them?
Patrick: Yeah and that is something that may come out of it. The people that we work with… That would be a fun thing, as a little game. And it’s actually pretty simple because the navigation is just like ‘click’ and it turns it. It should be a fun little site. It’s been fun to do these little micro sites.
Brooklyn Street Art: Right, with a phone’s motion sensor you could roll the blocks around. Wow, you guys are on top of it.
This visit draws to an end with a promise to rejoin shortly before the show to see the progression. But before we go, the new book is placed with slight aplomb on the counter. The one and only copy they’ve received from the printer, we stare at it like cats at an aquarium. The splashy pink raging dog cover says the thing about Faile you might not notice on a casual tour; these guys are ferocious in their desire to succeed and have built a body of work to prove it.
Tentatively peeling back the pages of the book, we see that the first image is the simple stencil of a figure carrying a canvas with his back to you and the words “A Life”, their first name, across the top. Anyone stumbling home drunk through industrial Williamsburg in the late 90’s would remember what curiosity was sparked with this humblest of images scattered everywhere. Later they anagrammed it to form their current name.
Brooklyn Street Art:So “A Life” got converted to Faile, which is just the opposite of what you’ve done!
Patrick Miller: Yeah it was always kind of about growing from it and making the most of all your failures.
Brooklyn Street Art:Did you both design the book?
Patrick Miller: We worked on it with a friend of ours. It was such an undertaking. But it’s good. It’s definitely a pretty personal book in the way that it’s written, very friendly, an enjoyable read. It’s nice just to have the works on print.
Patrick McNeil: It’s nice to see the earlier work, and it’s nice to see how the process goes because it’s chronological as well.
Brooklyn Street Art:Who is going to have seen all of this stuff besides you two? Nobody.
Patrick Miller: It’s a nice way to put it together for yourself too, after 10 years of working on Faile it’s nice to have this.
To curate any show well requires a finely balanced hand that can go unappreciated. If the gentle and deliberate directing of artists and their contributions is not thoughtful and focused, a show may feel off-kilter, unkempt, even ruinous. Although he denies it with humility in equal proportion to his expertise, curator Carlo McCormick displays his adept hand at collage (or assemblage) in “Shred”, the new collage show he curates for the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district.
In talking about the genesis of “Shred”, McCormick describes a downtown East Village scene and the concurrent Graffiti scene of the 70s and 80s that imploded messily at the end of a hyper-excited zenith. An author, editor, and speaker who is considered expert on the topic of NYC’s downtown scene at the time, McCormick knows well what the signs of our fickle obsessions can look like, “And yes everyone gets kind of famous for a bit and a bunch of money flows through it and it is over”.
Drawing a few connections, he explained he’d like to avoid the “the kind of phenomenology of that moment” that Street Art could find itself precariously hanging on the edge of. So it is with purpose that he extends the span of this collection to broaden the dialogue about the practice of collage.
“The main thing I thought was about street art – involving the wheat pasting and it’s stenciling and it’s silk screening – is that it has inherently a lot of collage effects”. In addition to today’s adventurous street artists who are represented here by Faile, Swoon, Elbow Toe, Shepard Fairey, and Judith Supine, McCormick also includes some of their predecessors and peers, like Jess, Erik Foss, and Gee Vaucher. For final balance, he called upon three film makers who are “really ripping shit apart”.
Recognizing that “collage was not exactly invented yesterday”, McCormick stipulates that he was crafting his own message by selecting these artists. The great common denominator? “Well obviously surrealism had a great part in it. I’m looking for the more outré elements of it. I’d say it’s an attitude; there is a certain irreverence in it, and caring about the materials working with it”. Talking with a few of the artists and guests Thursday night at the opening, those elements are present in this show and were very well received.
In attendance at the opening was the Street Artist known as Elbow Toe, who created one of the more mystifying images, both in it’s content and it’s thousands of hand-cut pieces that are applied in such a painterly fashion that standing a few feet away from the piece can lead a viewer to believe it was done with oil and brush.Speaking about a new series of collages based on psychological and possibly autobiographical themes that he’s exploring, Elbow Toe said, “It was the first one I’ve done….all the collage stuff is heading in a more narrative direction. And this is the first of many that are all getting much more weird, I guess.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brian Douglas "Bears" Photo Courtesy of the Artist
PERRY RUBENSTEIN GALLERY
527 WEST 23 STREET
Curated by Carlo McCormick
July 1st – August 27th, 2010
Opening reception: Thursday July 1st, 2010 6-8pm
Perry Rubenstein Gallery is pleased to announce SHRED, curated by Carlo McCormick, senior editor of Paper magazine, opening on Thursday, July 1st from 6:00-8:00pm and on view through Friday, August 27th, 2010. A small catalogue brochure with an essay by McCormick will accompany the exhibition.
SHRED will feature collage-based works from a diverse group of artists, some who have pioneered collage as fine art and others who are expanding upon the subversive flavor inherent to the medium. Featured are works in myriad media—from simple collages of newsprint on paper to lively video animations made from cutout paper silhouettes.
The exhibition will include historic works by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008);Bruce Conner (1933-2008); a prominent member of the Beat community recognized for his innovative assemblages; California-native, Jess (1923 – 2004) whose oeuvre includes collages based on alchemy, religion and comic strips; Dash Snow (1981-2009) whose work on paper appears deceptively simple; Gee Vaucher whose surrealist tendencies are tied to punk; and Jack Walls whose self-portraits incorporate photographic imagery taken by his long-time partner Robert Mapplethorpe.
Provocative new works were specifically produced for the exhibition. The collective Faile will show a ripped painting featuring brand new iconography. Shepard Fairey, Leo Fitzpatrick, Mark Flood, Erik Foss, Swoon, Judith Supine will all debut their latest works. Finely cut paper collage by Brian Douglas (Elbow-Toe) resembles intricate painting and Shelter Serra will present three-dimensional work: cast roses in white silicone. Video works by Martha Colburn, Tessa Hughes-Freeland and Bec Stupac will be featured, with Stupac premiering a new piece.
PRG is thrilled to welcome Carlo McCormick as guest curator for this extraordinary summer exhibition. McCormick is a prominent New York City-based author, curator, critic and champion of the downtown art scene. He has authored numerous books, monographs and catalogues on contemporary art and culture, including The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene 1974-1984 published by Princeton University Press which he coauthored. He has lectured and taught extensively at universities and colleges around the United States. His writing has appeared in Aperture, Art in America, Art News, Artforum, Camera Austria, High Times, Spin, Tokion, Vice and countless other magazines. He has curated exhibitions for the Bronx Museum of Art, New York University, the Queens Museum of Art and the Woodstock Center for Photography.
FAILE & BÄST PRESENT “DELUXX FLUXX ARCADE”, Brooklyn Street Art
For Immediate Release
FAILE & BÄST DELUXX FLUXX ARCADE
April 30 – May 27, 2010
Opening Friday, April 30, 2010, 7:30 – 10:30 PM
What do you get when Brooklyn-based duo Faile and collaborator Bast take over a disused store front on the Lower East Side? Deluxx Fluxx, a functional video arcade that will be open to the public from April 30th to May 27th.
Originally conceived as a one-off project in London, Deluxx Fluxx allowed Faile and Bast to indulge nostalgia for the classic video arcade while exploring the tactile possibilities of the wooden cabinet as sculptural medium. In its New York incarnation, the retrofitted machines run new games by Adapted Studio based on Faile and Bast’s omnivorous visual language, with sounds produced by Seth Jabour of the noted band Les Savy Fav.
Deluxx Fluxx aims to make art less sterile, more fun, and accessible to a broad audience. This sensibility harkens back to the golden age of arcade games; a time when the Lower East Side itself was still a redoubt for punk rock and graffiti culture. These foundational roots of the neighborhood are apparent in the show’s DIY and street art production values. Faile and Bast rebuke the contemporary art world’s fixation on ideas of relational aesthetics and democratization, and give their audience a chance to genuinely engage the work without the looming formality of the traditional gallery. Deluxx Fluxx is entirely interactive, and invites viewers to play a round of psychedelic foosball and take part in the art itself. It is the artists’ intention that viewers will forget they are looking at art, and be captivated by the carnivalesque. The video arcade may be a lost form, but in Faile and Bast’s re-imagining, it gets a temporary and much needed revival.
Faile is represented by Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York. This autumn they will have a solo exhibition with the gallery in New York.