Sometimes it is a talisman who is having adventures on the behalf of an artist, a part of him/herself who stays behind and watches the area.
At other times it is a character seen through a mirror, an alter-ego who represents a fictional part of their inner world who has been set free onto the street to interact. It may be a branding element, a logo, or signature that lays claim to the artwork it is attached to. By itself it is often a form of marking territory; a practice begun by graffiti writers decades ago.
Whether it is a symbol or a figure, it is undoubtedly a personification of some part of the artists id, one that is so individual that you can spot it from a distance and if you are a fan, you’ll smile in recognition.
Many street artists have a discernable style, that is true; a hand-style, a recurrent motif, color palette, a topic that reappears, a technique of application, even a likely location in the urban landscape where they are most likely to appear.
Of that number, fewer have developed a character or a motif so well defined in our minds that it can stand alone, but we have found a few over the decades. Each is imbued with memory, with place, with personality, with character.
For about seven years (2007-14) the city of Stockholm practiced a so-called “zero tolerance” policy against graffiti and Street Art, following the exalted/derided ‘broken windows’ theory (Wilson and Kelling, 1982). As recently as 2011 the touring national theatre company named Riksteartern ran into serious trouble with city leaders when promoting an international Street Art convention called “Art of the Streets” because it violated the spirit of the policy.
The loosening of the strict approach in 2014 coincided with the dawn of Snösätra, a bastion of urban art practice in a rough and industrial part of southern Stockholm. Landowners there gave permission for the painting of pieces, burners, productions, and murals by graffiti writers and Street Artists all along the streets of this sector in the suburb of Rågsved where about 30 businesses cater to construction, recycling, and mechanics. A new annual festival has popped up there with DJs and live painting and various shows and celebrations throughout the summer.
Magic City, the traveling exhibition celebrating 50+ years of a wide swath of urban art practice globally, has been successfully drawing audiences here down in the industrial docks of Stockholm since last year as well, a sign of the evolving perspective on the topic. We’ve had the honor of being in both of these venues inside and outside this week and can tell you that the results in many cases are spectacular.
In addition to exploring the current works in Snösätra with local artist Vegan Flava, we hit some of the larger commissioned murals in the more bohemian streets of Stockholm and helped celebrate Magic City’s HUGE weekend, named after the local graffiti writer who specializes in photorealistic lettering in the style of helium balloons.
Both of our BSA Film Weekend programs Friday and Saturday night were a lot of fun – complete with families and kids and a few scholars and graff historians sprinkled in for flavor. We thank everyone who came up to introduce themselves and even the shy ones whom we saw from a distance.
Our sincere thanks to Vegan Flava, whose work is on the streets and in Magic City, all of the artists, curators Carlo McCormick and Ethel Seno, and director Christoph Scholz with the whole Magic City team.
Here are some of the images from our travels during this quick visit to Stockholm.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1Up, Alkie,Amara Por Dios, Arrow, Biesk, Disk, BrasilSuecia, Frankie Strand, Holem, Hop Louie, Mark Bode, Mnek, Os Gemeos, Peter Birk, RCW, Sweet Toof, Sibylla Nohrborh, Tear, Tonk, Vegan Flava, Vickan Art, Yash, CAS Crew,Cheat,Poker One,Kiss, and Ziggy.
We haven’t had such a frightening Halloween in years! – and we know we speak for many readers as well while we all look at the monstrous tabloid TV parade that is scaring the electorate. Boo!
Luckily we found some treats on the street! And a few tricks, but those are for our paid site, wink wink.
So here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Bifido, Buff Monster, City Kitty, Dee Dee, Disto, Droid, Flood, Myth, Nychos, R2, REVS, RODA, Rusk, See True Fame, Sipros, Smells, Smith, Sweet Toof, and Texas.
A lot of people thought so, and the rise of commercial festivals and commissioned public/private mural programs probably brought more artists to more walls than in recent history. Judging from the In Box, 2016 is going to break more records. Enormous, polished, fully realized and presented, murals can hold a special role in a community and transform a neighborhood, even a city.
But they are not the “organic” Street Art that draws us into the dark in-between places in a city, or at its margins.
We keep our eyes open for the small, one-off, idiosyncratic, uncommissioned, weirdo work as well, as it can carry clues about the culture and reveal a sage or silly solo voice. It also just reinforces the feeling that the street is still home to an autonomous free-for-all of ideas and opinions and wandering passions. For us it is still fascinating to seek out and discover the one-of-a-kind small wheatpastes, stencils, sculptures, ad takeovers, collages, and aerosol sprayed pieces alongside the enormous and detailed paintings that take days to complete.
The main image above is from a vinyl subway advertisement that was high-jacked and we published it in February of this year on our Images of the Week posting. It’s small, personal, and very effective as you can see someone suspiciously similar to Batman is jumping out of the mouth of someone looking awfully similar to Hedwig of “Angry Inch” fame.
Of the 10,000 or so images photographer Jaime Rojo took in 2015, here are a selection 140+ of the best images from his travels through streets looking for unpermissioned and sanctioned art.
Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo
Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo includes the following artists;
365xlos43, Amanda Marie, Andreas Englund, Augustine Kofie, Bisser, Boijeot, Renauld, Bordaloli, Brittany, BunnyM, Case Maclaim, Casg, Cash4, CDRE, Clet, Cost, Curve, Dain, Dal East, Dan Budnik, Dan Witz, David Walker, DeeDee, Dennis McNett, Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel, Mata Ruda, Don’t Fret, Dot Dot Dot, ECB, El Mac, El Sol25, Ella & Pitr, Eric Simmons, Enest Zacharevic, Martha Cooper, Martin Whatson, Ever, Faile, Faith47, Findac, Futura, Gaia, Gilf!, Hanksy, Hellbent, Hot Tea, How & Nosm, Icy and Sot, Inti, Invader, Isaac Cordal, James Bullough, Janet Dickson, Jef Aerosol, Jilly Ballistic, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Le Diamantaire, Li Hill, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Low Brow, Marina Capdevilla, Miss Van, Mr. Prvrt, Mr. Toll, Myth, Nafir, Nemos, Never Crew, Nick Walker, Nina Pandolofo, Old Broads, Oldy, Ollio, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Paper Skaters, Pet Bird, Kashink, Smells, Cash4, PichiAvo, Pixel Pancho, QRST, ROA, Ron English, Rubin415, Saner, Sean 9 Lugo, Shai Dahan, Shepard Fairey, Sheryo & The Yok, Sinned, Sipros, Skewville, Slikor, Smells, Sweet Toof, Snowden, Edward Snowden, Andrew Tider, Jeff Greenspan, Specter, Stray Ones, Sweet Toof, Swil, Willow, Swoon, The Outings Project, Toney De Pew, Tristan Eaton, Various & Gould, Vermibus, Wane, Wk Interact
New York is bittersweet as we are welcoming summer this weekend and remembering those who served and who were lost in war as well (Memorial Day); amidst a changing political atmosphere where the country is tentatively beginning to seriously debate whether the US should have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan.
So it’s also Fleet Week in New York, which means a lot of sailors and marines and Coast Guard personnel are carousing the tourist spots and bars – sort of a military spring break and a chance for the local girls and boys to yell out “Hey Sailor!” – and flash some flirty eyes. It’s also big weekend for movies, barbecues, beers, burping, suntans, rummage sales, bike rides, and of course spray painting empty trailers in cluttered lots. That’s why we start this weeks pack with a new stallion just sprayed on a trailer in Williamsburg by Cern. He’s running wild with a great view of the cityscape behind him.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Cern, Christos Voutichtis, David De La Mano, Din din, Dont Fret, DourOne, Iraq Veterens Against the War, Kuma, Mata Ruda, Miishab, Musketon, Pablog H Harymbat, Rebel, Smells, Sweet Toof, Temo & Miel, and Urma.
In case you thought that your uncle Ernie was the only one full of hot air, public artist creates this installation that attempts to capture the breath of the city. He tells us that in the end he decided his experiment was a good mix of architecture, Art, and postmodern French literature.
“I applied simple means to build parametric and temporary installations;
It is an open system, varying with steadily modifying environmental processes, but without completely changing its own structure.”
Even current Street Artists have a fascination with skulls, with Swoon in a show called Memento Mori and the Italian Street Artist Borondo’s named his new book after it. Today we wander out into the street with your hand in ours to look at death, as interpreted by artists of the street right now.
Here’s to you and your family and a great tumultuous spectacular 2015 that is in store for all of us on the street, in boardrooms, behind cash registers, on walls, in galleries, museums – wherever you are. We’re celebrating the creative spirit wherever we find it and when it comes to Street Art and graffiti and public art you can be sure there will be plenty of new things to see.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring $howta, Clint Mario, Crummy Gummy, Dame Edna, Damien Mitchell, Don’t Fret, Eurotrash040, Fred63, Gordo Pelota, Jerkface, Jon Burgerman, Kashink, Korn, Myth, Smartcrew, Specter, Sweet Toof, and Yenta
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Adam Fujita, Be Everything, Che Man, Clint Mario, Dan Witz, E.L.K. Icy & Sot, Ishmael, JR, Kenny Scharf, LMNOPI, Mika, Mike Makatron, Rusebk, Sabio, Solus, Sweet Toof, and You Go Girl!
Apparently there is another spectacular sporting event that’s got everyone captivated today and for a couple hours it will be easy to get a cronut or a seat on the subway because people will be worshipping flat screens inside a dark sports bar on the Lord’s Day. We recommend you jog right over to the High Line because it’s free and will likely be a little more commodious than usual. You can lounge while listening to a sleek waterfall, stroll arm in arm with your beloved, gaze upon the urban-wild landscaping and even catch a new billboard high-jacking that might make you crack a smile.
The billboard space is great if reserved for Art On The High Line, but has been recently replaced by straight up garishly banal advertising, sort of marring the beauty of this big public works project whose spirit is better served when it steers clear of commercial messaging. This week sometime a few buckets of yellow paint were used to selectively buff the message to create a new one. A bit of genius goes a long way sometimes, doesn’t it? Although, for all we know, it’s a clever way to draw attention to the original ad, since you can still read it.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Alice Pasquini, bunny M, Bust Art, Cera, Damon, Gazoo, Gum Shoe, Kid Monkey, Knarf, Labrona, LMNOPI, Low Bros, Miriam Castillo, Mr. Prvrt, Pyramid Oracle, Sweet Toof, Trentino, UD, Urban Spree, Vexta, Wing, and Zaria.