All posts tagged: skateboarders

Carlo McCormick at Nuart 2012

One of the best parts about a celebration of Street Art culture like Nuart in Norway is that there sometimes is an opportunity to speak with and listen to people who make it their mission to put it into context. New York art critic, curator, editor, and writer Carlo McCormick has an exhaustive knowledge and enthusiasm for the scene that evolved on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1970s and 80s concurrently with the evolution of graffiti into a celebrated art form.  As Street Art continues apace, having perspective on some of its precursors is imperative and McCormick knows how to bring it alive.

An moment of elation with Carlo McCormick while he addresses the Nuart audience in his keynote presentation Re:mark. (image still © Nuart 2012)

To hang out with Carlo on the street is a joy because he can ground your current observations with his knowledge of their antecedents and yet become as equally appreciative of the new artists on todays’ scene whom he hasn’t heard of.  During this talk he gave this year at Nuart in a very conversational somewhat meandering unscripted way, Carlo reveals the mindset that is necessary to keep your eyes open and appreciative of the new stuff without feeling territorial or enslaved to the past. We appreciate him because he recognizes that the march of graffiti, street art, public art, and it’s ever splintering subsets is part of a greater evolutionary tale that began before us and will continue after us.

Carlo speaks about New York artist Haze and the distinct parallels between corporate branding with the practice of developing and distilling one’s tag for repetition on the street.  (image still © Nuart 2012)

Carlo at ease, conversing with you. (image still © Nuart 2012)

During his presentation McCormick dedicates a significant portion of his remarks to the historical practice of subverting advertising and official forms of messaging – referring to the Situationists, “détournement” and similar methods of playing with perception and turning it on it’s head. Here is an uncredited image from his presentation of a Times Square scene where artist Yoko Ono’s billboard toyed with the perceptions that the Vietnam war was inevitably unending while also alerting a compliant citizenry to it’s role in the matter. (image still © Nuart 2012)

“As I do my best as a really bad scholar to investigate this history of graffiti and mark-making – kind of prior to the official history – the greatest evidence that I find of stuff is in the real canon of fine art photography. Just about every famous photographer turned – I mean it’s not incidental – turned their attention to this illicit anonymous practice., ” Carlo McCormick at Nuart.

 

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Mike Giant Inks a Wall in Chinatown

New York has seen its share of giants. For most people, Mike is just another one.

But for fans of cholo-style graffiti and tattoo inspired art, he is a giant among men. That’s why it was cause for a celebration to see this skate boarding, fixie tricking, graffiti painting, grandpa hipster in suspenders hitting up a fresh white wall with some juicy markers last week under the Manhattan Bridge.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Thermometer-wise, it was one of our worst July days. For a fleeting moment the bespectacled grey buzzcut artist looked like he wasn’t going to take the New York heat while working outside in crushing hot humidity that felt like the inside of a rice cooker here in Chinatown. But the visitor from San Francisco’s Tenderloin rallied, calmed himself, found his personal zen, and focused on his wall with a positive mindset. While a cluster of hosts and fans stood by Giant methodically laid out the kind of precise, sharp lined calligraphic illustration that has distinguished his work and indelibly marked his reputation among the skater-punk-tattooed-graffiti-lowbro West Coast heroes of the last two-plus decades.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Very covered in full color ink himself, except for black and grey sleeves, the sometimes tattooist routinely updates his personal skin art collection with work by the likes of Greg Rojas and Chris Conn, like the recent additions of the Apple logo and the bars from Black Flag among the skulls and snakes and sassy vixens. Also routinely, his exacting and precise drawings sell out at shops and packed gallery shows across the world as his work is compared to that of such Mexican/cholo art pioneers like Mr. Cartoon, Chaz Bojorquez, and Jack Rudy. The symbols and metaphors popping boldly, they frame each other even as their meanings and origins conflict; reptiles, tigers, garden roses and The Grim Reaper sit comfortably alongside ornately carved crosses, the Virgin of Guadalupe and hot tattooed girls in fishnets giving you the finger.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For this street installation, Giant’s act of inking the wall affected the assembled fans and observers like the chanting of Spanish monks in those remote and silent monasteries: a slowly creeping utter peace. He approached the task with serenity, at a pace that seemed to conserve time rather than spend it. In complete control of his craft, he can aptly break away when approached for a chat or to sign a deck or black book.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This gig at Klughaus Gallery was to help promote a group show and launch the 8th issue of Kingbrown magazine and Giant said he was happy to visit the town he once lived in for a year before seeking the quieter pace of San Francisco. Right across from the spot is one of the city’s busiest skateparks and for most of the afternoon his work was accompanied by the unmistakeable sound of some exhibition boards hitting the concrete for friendly competitive trickery. He probably felt at home like this since he’s known to hang at the occasional skatepark or empty swimming pool back on the west coast. And for one day in this unbearable NYC heat, a number of fans were happy to see him knocking out this black and white wall, meditating on the good things that a fine line brings.

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The L.E.S. Coleman Skate Park  (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A custom designed and painted ramp by Kevin Lyons was used in the competition. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Mike Giant (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For details to visit the gallery to see Mike Giant’s completed panels in person and to see the rest of the exhibition now open to the general public click here.

Klughaus and Kingbrown produced this event in partnership with Fountain Art fair.

Artists included in the show are Morning Breath, Andy Jenkins, Chris Cycle, Dave Kinsey, “Grotesk” aka Kimou Meyer, Stefan Marx, Kevin Lyons, Mike Giant, Raza Uno aka MAx Vogel, Greg Lamarche, Zach Malfa-Kowalski, Steve Gourlay, Jay Howell, and Ben Horton, Beastman, Phibs, Hiro, Reka, Kyle “Creepy” Hughes-Odgers, Meggs, Sean Morris, Yok, Sheryo, Ross Clugston, Daek, Lister, Numskull, Ian Mutch, Rone/ aka Tyrone Wright.

 

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