Happy New Year to All! Thank you for inspiring us to do our best and to those of you who continue to support our personal art project / cultural examination, we extend our gratitude more than ever.
Begun as an enthusiastic discovery of what was happening in a few neighborhoods in New York, we continued to expand our view into more cities around the world last year and into the history and future of the scene. We also aimed to provide you with a critical platform for examination of the street art/ graffiti / public art/ contemporary art continuum with interviews with artists, curators, collectors, organizers, observers and thinkers in the street, studio, gallery, and museum – trouble makers and taste makers alike.
In the end, it’s your observations and the conversations on the street that are most important. As we begin the year with over 300K fans, friends, and followers on social media platforms and 225 articles on the Huffington Post (thanks HuffPost team!), we feel like we get a valuable good survey of current opinions heading our way daily.
With in-depth interviews, investigative articles, opinion infused examinations, plain celebratory reverie, occasionally silly non-sequitors, and public appearances where we get to meet you, we get a good analytical look at an ever-evolving movement, glittery polish and warts and all.
As the new year begins we take a look back at the top stories chosen by BSA Readers in the last 12 months. Among them are two takeover pop-up shows in soon-to-be demolished buildings, a story about commercial abuse of artist copyrights and the effort to fight back, a street art community’s response to the sudden death of an activist street artist, a Street Art tourist trip, and a few inspirational women, men, and Mexican muralists. Even though we published at least once a day for the last 365 days, these are the most popular pieces, as chosen by you, Dear BSA Reader.
Iranian Brothers Generate Cultural Exchange Between Two Homes
Icy & Sot, the Iranian Street Artists who have been making their mark on the New York scene for just two years are again making news by curating a gallery show that introduces Iran and the US to one another through the visual vernacular of Street Art.
With two shows running concurrently in Tehran and Brooklyn, the stencil loving spray painters have successfully exposed fans of this genre to the artists in another country with actual examples of art in a gallery setting rather than simply through the Internet. During the South Williamsburg opening on June 13th guests at the TBA temporary space were treated to works by 10 Iranian artists as well as a video projection on the wall of their counterparts viewing the US artists show at Seyhoun Art gallery, which was recorded only hours earlier.
Without diplomatic relations between the two countries, it is a wonder that this exchange could be cultivated, let alone executed. Given the restrictions imposed upon music, film, literature, and art since the revolution of 35 years ago, it added a layer of incredulity for gallery goers to measure the implications while viewing the works by a youth culture that has as its DNA a certain strain of rebellion.
New York sent the work of 35 artists, an impressively sized roster of participants who were each given size restrictions to keep shipping simpler and costs lower. While the brothers were clearly elated to bring new work to both cities, one might have surmised that the more excited feelings were directed toward their recently departed home where about 55% of the population is estimated to be under 30 years old and a youthful cultural evolution is said to be happening in the artist underground.
Work from the Iranians reveals an accurately studious affinity for the pop of Warhol and irony of Banksy alongside polished versions of wildstyle and more modern graffiti lettering and loose splattering. The larger cross section of New Yorkers sampled from that pot as well as the myriad influences on the streets today including illustration, photography, geometric patterning, cartoon, and collage.
BSA spoke with the brothers as they were installing the New York show:
Brooklyn Street Art:So would you say this is primarily about cultural exchange? Sot: Yeah, I mean the fact that there hasn’t been any relationship between Iran and the US, but this is totally about the relationship between the artists.
Brooklyn Street Art:What do you think that a viewer at the New York show is going to realize when seeing these works? Icy: First of all they are going to get to know the artists because they are not familiar with their work and haven’t had a chance to know them before. Also they will realize the fact that there are people in Iran doing this kind of art. It is underground, it is just a small scene, but still. Sot: It’s a good chance for these artists to show their work.
Brooklyn Street Art:Would you say that these artists are taking real risks by showing their work like this? Icy: I mean, for the street artists there everything is risky, putting works in the street… like having the show is stressful but luckily the people there have gotten their permits and stuff.
Brooklyn Street Art:Who did they have to ask for permission and what did they need to see? Sot: It’s hard to translate the name but it’s an official organization Icy: They have to check out the work and see it and they have to approve it. Sot: Yes they have to do that for everything – for music performance or for art exhibits or anything, they have to go through this – but for this show it is at one of the oldest galleries in Iran so.
The guys related some of the exigencies of putting a show like this together and Sot talks about one of the artists who is an old classmate of his who doesn’t use the tools of communication that so many of his peers in the west would. “He doesn’t have a website for his art and he’s not on Facebook,” says Sot, “so I was like Facebook messaging another friend to ask him to call this guy for me and ask him to be in the show, and then to ask him for the status of shipping of his piece or information about the piece.”
Brooklyn Street Art:So with the Superman and the Warholian Marilyn, I like this idea where there is a mixing of the two cultures together quite literally. Sot: Yeah, for these shows there wasn’t really a theme but some artists, because they knew where they were going to be displayed made specific choices to communicate something. Like Gilf! wanted to write something in farsi so she picked the words “I am You” in farsi. Icy: And El Sol 25 did the words “Iran So Far Away”, which is inspired by the song. (by Flock of Seagulls)
Brooklyn Street Art:What is one of your favorite pieces here, or rather, which one would you like to talk about? Icy: I like them when they talk about social issues. Sot: Like this one with CK1 – it has all these pictures from newspaper with the Shah
Brooklyn Street Art: They look like they may have been around ’81 or ’82…
Icy: Yeah, then the hijab came after the revolution and then the women had to wear the hijab. Brooklyn Street Art:So before then they didn’t have to wear it? Sot: No, before that they could choose. Icy: Then they had no choice. Sot: And this one with Superman and on his chest it says “love” in farsi and there is Tehran in the background and there is the freedom tower in the background?
Brooklyn Street Art:Is that called “Freedom Tower”? Sot: Yeah, or Liberty Tower, it’s like the symbol of Tehran. It’s like you have the Statue of Liberty here and that’s the freedom tower in Iran.
The outdoor gallery is the one we visit most and NYC is always front and center in our heart even as we branched out to about 100 other cities and towns last year. Outdoor Gallery – New York City is also the name of the brand new book by photographer and writer Yoav Litvin, who has spent the last couple of years shooting New York streets and meeting many of the artists who make the painting and wheat pasting that characterizes the class of 2014.
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by Chris Stain.
Published by Ginko Press, the large 235 page hardcover features nearly 50 street artists / graffiti artists whose work you see here regularly (with the exception of two or three) along with comments and observations from the artists about their practice, their experiences, and the current Street Art scene primarily in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
When Yoav told us of his hope to publish a book last year we offered whatever advice we could – but primarily we advised him to stick to his vision and not to let anyone discourage him. A true fan of the scene, he has worked tirelessly to do just that and now he can share with you a personal survey and record of many of the artists who are getting up today in New York.
Outdoor Gallery. New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by Joe Iurato.
“Outdoor Gallery – New York City grew organically to embody my process of exploration and discovery on the streets of New York City. It is a creation that was born out of love for New York City streets and their people, and focuses on artists as leaders with a unique and necessary role in a society that aspires for freedom and change,” says Litvin in his introduction, and throughout the book you can sense the respect he has for the art and the dedication he has put into this project.
Careful to let the artists speak for themselves, he presents their work without commentary and with ample space given for expression. Using primarily his own photos, it is carefully edited and presented as an uncluttered and measured overview of each artists work.
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by Jilly Ballistic.
For us it is a proud moment to see someone’s dream realized after so much effort and dogged determination – especially in a scene whose challenges we are well familiar with. No one knows how hard it is to make something happen unless they do it themselves. So congratulations to Yoav for sticking to his vision and having the fortitude to finish this and thanks to him on the behalf of the artists whom he is helping to receive recognition for their work as well.
To that end, you are invited to the big launch party this Saturday at 17 Frost in Williamsburg. We’ll be there and we hope you can make it out for a great New York Street Art family reunion. You can’t miss the entrance, it’s been newly smashed by El Sol 25, Bishop 203, Royce and some other people we can’t remember right now but who will remind us as soon as this goes up ; ) .
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by Gilf!
You can find out more about it on the Facebook Event Page, but we understand there will be a newly debuted video from Dega Films, a special tribute to Army of One, and a full show of new works from many of the artists in the book, including;
Adam Dare, Alice Mizrachi, Army of One / JC2, Astrodub, ASVP, Billy Mode, Bisho203, Bunny M, Cern, Chris RWK, Chris Stain, Cope2, Dain, Dirty Bandits, El Sol 25, Elle Deadsex, Enzo and Nio, Free5, Fumero, Gaia, Gilf!, Hellbent, Icy and Sot, Indie 184, Jilly Ballistic, Joe Iurato, Kram, Lillian Lorraine, LNY (Lunar New Year), Miyok, ND’A, OCMC, OverUnder, Phetus88, QRST, Russell King, Shin Shin, Shiro, Sofia Maldonaldo, The Yok, Toofly, and Veng RWK.
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by Icy & Sot.
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by Hellbent.
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Art by QRST.
Outdoor Gallery – New York City by Yoav Litvin. Front and back cover art by Bishop203, LNY, Alice Mizrachi, QRST, Gilf!, Cern and Icy & Sot.
Below is a look at behind-the-scenes of the making of the mural for the cover of the book.
With studio apartments in Manhattan now hitting nearly 3K a month the closest thing most Milennials will ever get to a house party in Gotham will be snagging a VCR tape of the Kid ‘n Play danceoff movie at their parents stoop sale. Last week during the “polar vortex” cold freeze some lucky invitees did get access to a secret house party in a dilapidated building on the Lower East Side for 2 hours however. There wasn’t much heat, no DJ, and your flask of Jack Daniels substituted as the bar, but if you made it in you scored a free condensed Street Artist show that is as rare as a New Jack Swing hit these days.
A little more than 40 (mostly) Street Artists brought the four floor former tenement building to life one last time before it will be destroyed – and they did it almost entirely in secret over the course of a week. Just how secret this event was is debatable considering the multitude of blog posts and photos of it that appeared in the days following but in the Internet age, news about stuff like this goes viral no matter what.
All tolled, the varied collection of participants was a cross-section; a blurry screenshot of Street Artists on the New York scene along with a few graff writers, taggers, sticker slappers, painters, illustrators, aerosol experts, installationists, art school students, and visitors to the big city who happened to be around at the right time. Also, a couple of pyros.
While this sort of artist takeover of an abandoned house or building is increasingly occurring in bankrupt cities and neighborhoods in America and Europe where no one wants to live except the creative types, you don’t find this unruly and freewheeling expression much in the increasingly scrubbed and mall-like playground for the rich in Manhattan.
Similarly, producers of large Street Art/Urban Art events in global cities can deliver murals that make you salivate and on a scale that dwarfs this “event” thanks to corporate underwriters and shills for sneakers/sodas/urban-themed tampons these days, but few can truthfully rival the unpolished impromptu spirit of a semi-secret House Party jam session. For one week during installations and on opening night it was like the ghost of New York’s downtown 1970s-80s Bohemia was coming back to the island in all it’s imperfectness to remind everyone of Manhattan’s former greatness as a petri dish for experimentation and discovery.
Considering the huge increase in sanctioned walls over the last two years in New York, this work looks surprisingly alive, and is just the sort of balm needed for the raw nerves of anarchists everywhere who have bemoaned the polished soul-deadening mural painting of late. Even if some of this looks sort of slap-dash and ragged in spots, and it does, it also gives off an air of being authentic and in-the-moment.
Notably, the ratio of penis, breast, and defacation-related themes was higher than your average art show but as you know, there is an audience for every artist, even the ones gravitating to bathroom humor as creative wellspring. Judging by the few hundred images floating around on Flickr and elsewhere, this pop-up was a hit for the people.
Given the growing number of artists communities that have blossomed outside of Manhattan, this could have been one of its last jams for Street Art. Yo! That’s my jam!
And now please step aside as we build another luxury condo.
Happy hot sticky Friday live from New York! Lots of cool stuff on the street and in the exhibition spaces this weekend – just bring a water bottle. Here are some of our picks for you on BSA.
1. Détournement, Carlo McCormick at Jonathan Levine (NYC)
2. Chris Stain and Joe Iurato at Mighty Tanaka (BKLN)
3. Peeta Solo at ArTicks (Amsterdam)
4. “You & Me” – Low Brow’s Second Group Show (BKLN)
5. Miss Van at Copro Gallery “Wild at Heart” (Santa Monica)
6. Part2Ism “New Horizons & Future Love Songs” at Red Gallery (London)
7. “Who’z Got Game!” ? at Sacred Gallery (NYC)
8. Numskull ,”Dance Like a Video, Sting Like a Gif” at Mishka (BKLN)
9. “Primeveal” group show Carmichael Gallery (LA)
10. Futura Live Painting (Richmond, VA)
11. KFC Loves The Gays with John Goodman (Video)
Détournement, Carlo McCormick at Jonathan Levine (NYC)
Carlo McCormick, Paper Magazine Senior Editor and NYC cultural intuitor, is guest curator at the Jonathan Levine Gallery with a show titled “Détournement: Signs of the Times” Carlo has assembled an interesting list of artists to tell his story with the works of AIKO, Dan Witz, David Wojnarowicz, Dylan Egon, Eine, Ilona Granet, Jack Pierson, John Law (Jack Napier), Leo Fitzpatrick, Mark Flood, Martin Wong, Max Rippon (RIPO), Mike Osterhout, Posterboy, Ron English, Shepard Fairey + Jamie Reid, Steve Powers (ESPO), TrustoCorp, Will Boone and Zevs.
Mining a vein that has been here in front of us all the time, the composition of the selected works reveals a powerful undertone about how we engage and communicate with our artwork, and hi-jack the messaging of others. Says McCormick, “We do not need to follow these signs, we need to make our own so as to find a way out of the mess we are in.”
It’s also one of the few shows that seamlessly blends Street Art and non-street art practices without needing to draw a distinction for its own sake. This show is now open to the public.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Chris Stain and Joe Iurato at Mighty Tanaka (BKLN)
Tonight at Mighty Tanaka Gallery in DUMBO the inevitable pairing of Street Artists Chris Stain and Joe Iurato finally takes place. With a show titled “Deep in the Cut” these two stencil artists will bring the knives out for the love of art and the perfection of their craft. Style and mannerism distinguish the differences between these two, and Stain has been at it much longer with a lot of work on the street, but metaphor and empathy to the human condition is the overlap in these guys work. Grab the F train to DUMBO and come see what new common ground emerges from this combination.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Peeta Solo at ArTicks (Amsterdam)
Italian Graffiti and Fine Artist Peeta has been writing his tag on walls, trains and many other surfaces since 1993. Like a few of his generation who have been stretching graff style past it’s outer limits and morphing it with abstraction, his work has slowing gelled into it’s own distinctive style. He focuses his lettering and his tag by feeding it through Chinese and Islamic calligraphy as a departure from the traditional Latin and Greek lettering. A collaborator of New Yorks RWK collective, he resides in Venice and tonight opens his solo show in Amsterdam at the ArTicks Gallery.
For further information regarding this show click here.
“You & Me” – Low Brow’s Second Group Show (BKLN)
The Low Brow Artique Gallery in Brooklyn has decided to enter the matchmaking business and Saturday their second show titled “You & Me” artfully combines the work of two at a time. While many of these artists have worked collaboratively on the street in the past, crossing freely between sanctioned and unsanctioned Street Art and graffiti, the results of merging their styles and techniques always creates new creatures with the combined DNA. Sometimes it’s a mutt, and sometimes it is purebred brilliance. Artistic couplings here include: Cash4 & Smells, Chris & Veng (RWK), EKG & Dark Clouds, Matt Siren & Fenix, OCMC & This Is Awkward, Royce Bannon & Russell King, and Veng & Sofia Maldonado.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Miss Van at Copro Gallery “Wild at Heart” (Santa Monica)
Miss Van, the French Street Artist and fine artist has a new solo show “Wild at Heart” in Santa Monica, California this Saturday at the Copro Gallery and the ladies are again strutting their stuff across her rich canvasses. Painting since the age of 18 Miss Van has chosen her appearances carefully while being very active within the smaller pool of female Street Artists, maintaining a continous presence with her unique doll-characters, a rich color palette and plenty of erotica.
For further information regarding this show click here.
Also happening this weekend:
Part2Ism has a new solo show “New Horizons & Future Love Songs” at the Red Gallery in London, UK and it is now open to the general public. Click here for more details on this show.
Wanna know “Who’z Got Game!” ? Head over to the Sacred Gallery for this group exhibition opening today in Manhattan. Click here for more details on this show.
Numskull will “Dance Like a Video, Sting Like a Gif” at Mishka tonight in Brooklyn. Click here for more details on this show.
“Primeveal” a group exhibition including Emol, Stinkfish and Zio Ziegler opens tomorrow night at the Carmichael Gallery in Culver City, CA. Click here for more details on this show.
Futura will paint live in Richmond, Virginia this Saturday.
Screen Shot from Futura’s Hennessy NYC Video.
Master Graffiti Artist and fine artist Leonard “FUTURA” is touring the country to promote this project with a spirit maker and this Friday he will stop in Richmond, Virgina where he will paint live on a canvas inside the ABC Store located at 101 North Thompson Street. The live painting will commence at 2:00 pm. It is a rare opportunity to catch Futura in action.
A recent ad featuring Futura for this campaign (not a sponsor)
Low Brow Artique is proud to present You & Me, which examines the collaborative element within the street art community. The exhibition will be open to the public from August 11th to September 1st, with an opening reception on August 11th from 6 to 9pm. The gallery presents the work of Cash4 & Smells, Chris & Veng (RWK), EKG & Dark Clouds, Matt Siren & Fenix, OCMC & This Is Awkward, Royce Bannon & Russell King, and Veng & Sofia Maldonado. Inspired by the stylistic changes that occur when two artists create work together, You & Me brings together duos that can naturally be seen in the streets of New York as well as a few who have come together specifically for the show.
The collaborative element of the street art and graffiti scenes are constantly developing. Sometimes inspired by friendship, sometimes by a piece an artist sees while putting up their own work, this element has the power to change the way both artists think about their styles, use of space, and other factors in the art-making process. By coming together to create one piece, the artists also provide a unique experience to those who take notice of their work in the streets. For You & Me, Low Brow Artique is recreating that elated feeling you get when you see two of your favorite artists working together.
Over the past decade, Veng has collaborated with numerous artists, including members of his crew Robots Will Kill. When working with fellow crew member Chris, a palpable change can be seen in how both artists paint. Flowing back and forth between the realistic and cartoon-like, this work is contrasted by how Veng’s work evolves when painting with Sofia Maldonado. For example, when creating art together live for an event, the pair’s art takes on a hard-edged feel as Sofia’s bold shapes and outlines define the background. By placing the work of Veng collaborating with two different artists, You & Me depicts how sharing a canvas with two distinctly different artists can influence one artist’s practice.
However, probably the most ubiquitous partnership in the world of illegal art is none other than Cash4 and Smells. While the direct influence the two artists have on one another may not be as apparent as it is with others in the show, it is the cohesive vision that Cash4 and Smells display that makes them memorable. In addition to this vision, their roller tags can be seen from most above ground trains while their stickers, tags, and characters permeate every space within reach of the ground. With their carefully designed fonts and strong presence, Cash4 and Smells are a definitive partnership in New York City.
By representing artists from both the street art and graffiti worlds, You & Me gives viewers a taste of the partnerships that are seen in the streets. While there are plenty yet to still be discovered, we hope you will join us in celebrating a few of our favorites.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Concrete Jungle, Edaurdo Jones, El Sol 25, Know Hope, Love Me, Matteo Efrem Rossi, Peeta, Phlegm, QRST, Rambo, Royce Bannon, Russell King, Shok 1, The Weird, Venezia, WAS, Swil and Willow.
Featuring an array of legendary artists grouped with new masters
Jean Michel Basquiat • Rick Begneaud • Susan Breen • Thomas Buildmore • Alexander Calder
Celso • Deborah Claxton • Darkcloud • Paul Gauguin • Sybil Gibson • Richard Hambleton
Curt Hoppe • Infinity • Jasper Johns • Russell King • Kosbe • LAII • Moody
Margaret Morrison • Mel Ramos • Robert Rauschenberg • Matt Siren • stikman
Jeremy Szopinski • Francesco Tumbiolo • Jo Ellen Van Ouwerkerk • Andy Warhol
That was a short week, right? Let’s resolve to have short weeks for the rest of the year! Welcome back to Fun Friday, which took a little vacation. Here are our stories this week;
1. LUDO and FKDL Welcome 2012
2. “Rather Unique” Saturday at Woodward Gallery
3. New Labrona Prints
4. Droid and Avoid “Live the Dream, Learn to Die II”
5. VHILs Video of his Skulls at Nuart
6. “En Masse”, Miami 2011 Parts I and II by Fred Caron
Taking advantage of the fact that a lot of New York street art goes into hibernation this time of year, artist/curator Royce Bannon ia collecting a “Rather Unique” group of Street Artists for this new show at Woodward, opening January 7. A group show opening the 7th at the Woodward Gallery in Manhattan.
Along with the new piece, “Personality”, pictured above by Street Artist Infinity, the roster includes many of the names on the scene today bringing it inside from the cold, including Cassius Fowler , Celso , ChrisRWK , Cope2 , Darkcloud , H. Veng Smith , Indiw 184 , KA , Keely, Kenji Nakayama , Kosbe , Manhattan , Matt Siren , Moody , Nose Go, Royce B , Russell King , UR New York, and Wrona
For further information regarding this show click here
New Labrona Prints
Walls, freights, canvasses – all are attractive sights for Labrona, and now he’s hawking some new prints he made, like the one below, which he’s selling here.
Dogman Rides Again (yellow), by Street Artist/ Fine Artist Labrona
Droid and Avoid “Live the Dream, Learn to Die II”
Speaking of trains, Avoid and Droid have collected tales of their freight-hopping journey up the West Coast in the summer of 2011, and include fun stories told in rusted rail haiku like ones about the pot-growing subculture they discovered in California. Also they give helpful hints about how to pick your spot in the weeds to catch some shut-eye, how you should not defecate in the pathways, and that urine flows downhill. Welcome to the Jungle! Call it a punk-rock travel guide.
You can check out their publishing enterprise of zines here
VHILs Video of his Skulls at Nuart
Courtesy of Martyn Reed, here’s a new video of Street Artist Vhils’ work at Nuart 2011.