“I’ve faltered, but I haven’t given up,” says Calendonia Curry AKA Swoon. “I believe in it and I hope you do too.”
She is speaking about the much ballyhooed Braddock, Pennsylvania church which she purchased a decade ago and parlayed into an art project, or two. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Now we enter “The Sanctuary”.
Now along with her Heliotrope Foundation the street artist is proposing to convert the church into a sanctuary for persons transitioning from incarceration and programs to assist. She’ll be donating it to Ronna Davis Moore, an originator and shepherd for similar such safe havens, – but first Swoon is making sure there are new windows in the building, and is raising money via Kickstarter.
“The Heliotrope Foundation has rallied our community to fix the roof in a traditional way (no tiles this time), so now the building is secure and dry,” Swoon says, “and our next step is the windows.”
READ MORE about how you can participate in the final delivery of this planned safe haven.
“It’s a specific project in a specific place,” says Swoon, “but I believe that it is a beacon in many ways, and that its success will have a ripple effect, addressing questions like: How do we help people heal so that they no longer make harmful choices? Can participating in an effort to re-enfranchise the black community with land and assets be part of a journey of healing for people who have benefitted from our country’s brutal legacy? Can artists work alongside social workers, activists, and community organizers to create spaces that challenge cycles of intergenerational trauma and create the potential for lasting change?”
Now you can help in this new chapter for Swoon’s Braddock church, which will be called called Donelle’s Safe Haven. The church will join Z’akiyah House, a house Swoon bought and fixed up a few years ago for a similar mission.
Swoon recalls the exchange that took place to finally get to “Yes”.
Swoon says she placed the call to Ms. Davis Moore and asked, “Ronna, if we can get this church building to you with the roof and windows fixed, do you think you could take it from there, and make it into something that continues to serve your mission?” She stresses that Davis Moore took all things into consideration before answering.
“Ronna is no naive visionary like I was, so she didn’t answer right away,” says Swoon. “She looked at the space, she contacted her community, she slept on it – and then her answer came back. ‘I have a vision for what it can be, and if you can get it that far, we can take over the rest.’ ”
The Eidophones at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Mezzanine Gallery.
What is a more quintessential activity in New York on a Sunday than to go to the museum? The steps of the Met Museum were crowded despite the cold blustery (spring?) weather. We climbed the steps with Martha to see one of street arts’ best storytellers in the mezzanine of a warm-hued private gallery area. A small collection of peers and friends and fans, adults and children, milled around the taupe linen space for a meet-and-greet that glowed like stained glass Mission table lamp wrapped in copper foil upon a thick oak table.
We were here to look at a new body of work inspired by that time – 30 or 40 small-scale pieces mounted on the wall. “Their paper forms take inspiration from harmonographs, Chladni plates, natural forms such as ice crystals and radiolarians,” said the invite, “as well as traditional textile and weaving patterns, alchemical symbols, and architecture.” Curated by Laura Einstein, she calls these collected pieces “Eidophones”.
She greeted us all, red bubbling ringlets spilling, happy for the reunion, pleased with the new works. Martha was taken with two girls who played on chairs patiently, their mom with one eye trained to them while talking with someone else nearby.
We chatted with a Bushwick artist named Felix who helped hang the show and who showed Martha his taxidermy, Steve talked with Robert Aiola and friend Fabiola about their trip this afternoon to the Hip Hop show at Sotheby’s. Robert was fascinated with a crate of vinyl there from DJ Jazzy Jeff. Faust arrived and interviewed a woman who carried a tablet like a clipboard and looked like a salesperson. All of us got to meet a young painting prodigy of 10 whose mom showed us her paintings on her phone, and then Jaime asked to snap a pic of Swoon before we left.
In addition to addressing a common narrative, thematically curated group shows can draw attention to contrasts in style and present something that unified to the visitor. A new women-centered project opening at the end of the month in Roubaix, France, aims to draw similarities and differences among a variety of street artists to create a dialogue about how women are depicted in public space.
Using new and borrowed art pieces, curator and art dealer Magda Dansyz fills a 15,000 square foot exhibition space at La Condition Publique, a culture factory that inhabits an historic former wool and cotton processing facility and is now a venue for artistic creation. “I have been working for a year now about the place and representation of women in the public space through the light of street art practices,” she says about Urbain.es and the nearly 30 artists whose work is here.
They span perhaps 40 years of street practice from risk-taking activists to self-promoters leveraging activism as a brand builder, to more subtle artworks in the public sphere that raise incisive questions about perceptions of women in society.
“In a variety of forms, the exhibition presents in situ works, original art pieces lent by the artists or private and public collections, as well as documentary testimonials retracing historical urban performances,” says a text from the organizers. Exciting highlights include the inclusion of works by true old-school billboard activists like the Guerrilla Girls who for decades have been confronting art institutions for systemic sexism, the 1970/80s NY graff writer Lady Pink who painted trains in a male dominated subculture, and Yseult YZ Digan, whose painterly depictions of women represent a quieter tribute to the strength and steel of women that appears through many cultures, often overlooked.
Artistes I Artists Yseult YZ Digan, eL Seed, Guerilla Girls, Maya Hayuk, Icy and Sot, Invader, Mark Jenkins et Sandra Fernandez, JR, Kubra Khademi, Lady Pink, Madame, Miss.Tic, Miss Van, Mode 2, Robert Montgomery, Eko Nugroho, Obvious, Quik, Edmond Marie Rouffet, Magda Sayeg, Saype, Swoon, T-Kid, Aya Tarek, Amalia Ulman, Zevs
Exposition collective sous le commissariat de Magda Danysz Group Show curated by Magda Danysz
Du 31 mars au 24 juillet 2022 From March 31st to July 24th, 2022
Click HERE for more information and a complete preview of the artworks.
It may be a challenge to identify the through-line when it comes to curation of artworks at an auction house exhibition. Selections are predicated on the availability of artworks at the moment and the exigencies of the market. And 30 additional variables.
You will however see a warm confirmation of greater themes in the new exhibition at Phillips auction house that opened last week entitled 1970s / Graffiti / Today, and you’ll leave enriched by the experience. With the works of 30 or so artists on display for approximately a month, it is not intended to be a comprehensive survey, yet it manages to spread a wide net over a number of scenes, practices, and personalities working on US streets during the previous five decades.
There is a vastness to this scene, its people, its practices, its histories, its quality variations. As evidenced by a show like this, there is now a general acceptance of the street-born form of visual expression called graffiti, its various hybrids expressed broadly as street art, and the onward march of certain forms of both toward acceptance as contemporary art. As suggested by the title, you’ll probably see a good representation of each here, and one or two will strike you as quite impressive.
Curator Arnold Lehman is a recognized champion of that march forward, most notably for when he shepherded the “Graffiti” exhibition as Director of the Brooklyn Museum in 2006. That show, one of the first museum shows dedicated to the movement, featured 20 large-scale canvasses by graffiti artists that were donated by the estate of famous mid-century New York gallerist Sidney Janis, who had shown a number of them in the early 1980s.
A native New Yorker, Lehman grew up with graffiti on the trains and easily recognized the contributions it was making to his city and the culture. When he had an opportunity to introduce the works as an exhibition, he says he faced much opposition, despite the fact that it came from the collection of a gallery owner who was celebrated for introducing most of the emerging leaders of abstract expressionism, the Fauves, the Futurists – and later the proponents of Pop.
“He began showing graffiti in his gallery in 1981 or 1982,” Lehman says of Janis when speaking of the canvasses he organized in the Graffiti show at the Brooklyn Museum. “A number of my colleagues were quick to write and say, ‘Have you lost your mind?’ “
Five of those same canvasses provide an anchor in the timeline here, supported with early photos and light ephemeral documentation of the burgeoning graffiti scene on subway trains and elsewhere in New York. This city and its streets and culture figure prominently into this collection of about 150 pieces, with Mr. Lehman estimating for us during a recent tour that the mostly US-focused show is divided into two-thirds New York and one-third Los Angeles.
“The artists we are showing really deserve a presentation like this,” he says as we walk through an exhibition of individual expressions that are as varied as the kind of people who’ll typically ride a subway car; drawings from sketchbooks (Al Diaz), stenciled canvas (Chaz Bjorquez), photographs (Martha Cooper, Gusmano Cesariti, Steve Grody, Cheryl Dunn), elaborate “wood paintings” on welded steel sculpture (Faile), canvasses by early generation graffiti pioneers (Fab 5 Freddy, NOC, Daze, Lady Pink, Toxic, Haze), repurposed metal subway signs (Julius “T. Kid” Cavero), a slickly painted motorcycle (Crash), mixed media collage (Augustine Kofie) a refurbished ice cream truck (Mr. Cartoon), a repurposed bus stop poster (KAWS), an acrylic painting on scrap metal (Margaret Kilgallen), a mounted neon sculpture (Risk), paper cutouts pasted on found wooden doors (Swoon) and a heavily tagged Fun Gallery refrigerator hit up in the early 1980s by people like Basquiat, Haring, and Futura.
The newly completed Phillips gallery is ironically and literally underground. Its thousands of square feet lie just below the Park Avenue street level, lending a hidden secretive quality to it. Nevertheless, the massive venue sports triple-height ceilings and a vast marble spaciousness that allows for mounting and lighting a variety of gallery sizes, shapes, and volumes. It’s also free.
One piece caught our eye and the eye of our companion, the photographer Martha Cooper, whose photos of 1970s-80s graffiti on subway trains places her squarely at the center of the scene. It’s the large fabric canvas/backdrop that commands one of the walls in the gallery – not only for its dynamism of placed elements and handstyle-vibrance but because of the history of the piece and the cross-section of writers and performers who intersect on it. Attributed to Futura 2000, it also contains work by Dondi and a tag by Phase2, at least. It also pays tribute to the musician and performer Afrika Bambaataa, the Rock Steady Crew, a number of possibly British graffiti writers and crews.
When posted on social media by people like Futura and Ms. Cooper this week, discussion of this piece lit up like a fire – with people surmising different venues where it may have been displayed, arguing about the propriety of selling such an item, conjecturing about who owns it, and spotting it in the background of photographs by Janette Beckman and David Corio.
Mr. Corio allows us to show his images here of that event, which he identified as being part of the London stop of the NY City Rap tour, November 23rd, 1982. Assessing photos and the relic itself, one surmises that it was not signed by all the persons named necessarily since its function was a marquee naming of participants of the tour as well as a vehicle of visuals.
Corio later posted images from the event on his Instagram with his current recounting, but we like this older one from his website, as it is lyrical.
“Welcome to the future. This was one of the first hip-hop shows in London and it was at my favourite place to shoot gigs. Bam had brought with him vibrant visions of the New York street in the form of graffiti legends Fab Five Freddy and Futura 2000. While he played, they spray-painted the backdrop. Londoners had never experienced any gig like this before – with break-dancers from Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation and a team of skippers doing the double-dutch. ‘Planet Rock’ and ‘Looking For The Perfect Beat’, two singles of 1982, along with Grandmaster Flash’s ‘The Message’, gave notice of a new musical force breaking out of New York – hip-hop and electro – and it was all rising straight off the record decks. It was amazing to witness this revolution in person.”
As you stand before the piece, you may better appreciate the human scale of some events that have stepped into a golden storied past. Without these antecedents, many would not have known the art, music, and dance world as it evolved – nor appreciate the components that Hip Hop grew and evolved from. Looking at this unnamed banner, you remember again that once in a while a piece of art transcends itself, and becomes a historical document.
1970s / Graffiti / Today is an opportunity for fans and historians to see some of these works before they disappear into private collections. That alone is worth the trip.
Our sincere thanks to photographer Martha Cooper for contributing her photos to this article. Her Instagram is @marthacoopergram
Thank you as well to the photographer David Corio for allowing us to use his historical photos here. To learn more about him and his work please go to www.davidcorio.com and his Instagram is @david.corio
When it comes to street art, murals, graffiti, and related events around the world last year, we were running to keep up.
You may have missed some of the people, thinkers, artists, projects, and community resources that we shared with BSA readers last year. We’re pleased to share with you some of those stories you may overlooked. Here are some of the greatest hits of 2021.
Graffiti and street art are cyclical in many ways – reflective of society, urban planning, politics, current events, demographics… Currently the city of Barcelona is pushing hard on cleansing itself of the wild graffiti and street art that brought it so many tourists 15 years ago.
Okay okay everybody settle down. We’ve got a lot of excited people yelling things and making huge pronouncements about things – most full of hysteria tinged with paranoiac visions. When it all gets to be too much for us, we like to see how cartoonists are capturing the current zeitgeist, and making something funny. It’s a talented group of artists who can condense complexity and extract the humorous essence of a situation. Also, so far our move toward the right, the far-right, and the fascist has not led us to have leaders that outlaw cartoons. Fingers crossed.
It’s a pity that the pandemic has kept so many people away from seeing great exhibitions in museums and galleries, among other things. At the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, street artist Swoon’s “Seven Contemplations” ran its course without nearly as many visitors as you would expect.
So we decided to show you the exhibition in a mini-tour. Who else could be your host today but the artist herself, Swoon.
The streets have been anticipating the arrival of the new president and vice president for a few months now. Today it took place and the U.S. has a 46th President – Joe Biden and 49th Vice President – Kamala Harris.
Sometimes art in the streets can be like that – a reflection of your intellectual musings and your heart’s leanings. Because he has often taken a path less traveled, photographer / doctor / activist / organizer / producer / teacher Chip Thomas (aka Jetsonorama) seamlessly slips into and out of all of his roles. In this way, he may also appear as poet.
No More Normal is a semi-regular newsletter written by Jeff Stoneon his substack. He recently interviewed us on the topic of activist street art and we’d like to share his article here.
In May 2020, Todd Lawrence and Heather Shirey were taking pictures of graffiti focused on the coronavirus in Minneapolis when a police officer killed George Floyd just a few blocks away.
The two cultural historians from the University of St. Thomas had recently started taking pictures of the murals, graffiti, stickers and tags throughout the Twin Cities in an effort to preserve that work during a once-in-a-century pandemic. Their archiving, though, took on a new level of urgency when a police officer murdered Floyd and footage of the killing went viral, sparking anti-racist demonstrations in Minneapolis and throughout the world.
Checking in with Panteón Cultural Center in Mexico City, where we first took you when it was inaugurated in 2017, we find street artist/ fine artist Said Dokins participating in a large exhibition and a new mural for the storied interior. It’s reassuring to see “This is not the end of the world,” the title of the collective show featuring many Mexican artists in this venue that is refined and raw and at least in some ways community based – Not such a typical scene these days.
Freedom of expression is foundational in a democracy. Without it, it is not difficult for a culture to descend into authoritarianism, fascism, and dictatorship. By many standards, Spain’s democracy is still young, with a Parliamentary Monarchy since 1978. So it is curious and alarming to hear that this EU country has been silencing free speech in the last few years.
External critics may never be as brutal as your internal one – but graffiti and street art sometimes reveals a specifically vicious world of criticism that greets artists and writers. Imagine making friends with those critics and validating their position, and then moving on unscathed or even healed.
“Overall, the project is meant to inspire those who may take criticism to heart,” says street artist HOTTEA, and he means it as a form of sweet liberation, not a bitter one.
Angelo Milano, the founder of Studiocromie and FAME Festival, has been courting Brooklyn artist duo Faile for more than a decade, and they finally created a series of ceramics together for his studio art business in Grottaglie under the tutelage and traditional expertise of the centuries-old Ceramiche Nicola Fasano’s workshop.
The world is slowly making movements toward the door as if to go outside and begin living again in a manner to which we had been accustomed before COVID made many of us become shut-ins. Parisian street artist FKDL was no exception, afraid for his health. However, he does have a very attractively feathered nest, so he made the best of his time creating.
International Women’s Day is only controversial for those who feel threatened by the idea of equality and freedom.
Perhaps that’s why, according to current statistics, women continue to fight and protest against the gender wage gap in Spain, as well as against violence against women. The national female unemployment rate is 17.4%, compared to 13.8% for men.
Sara Lynn-Leo. Well-placed, well-rendered, witty, insightful, incisive.
These are hallmarks of the miniature pieces of street art that New Yorker Sara Lynn-Leo has been putting up in many neighborhoods in alleyways, doors, dirty corners, magnet walls, street furniture, and lamp posts. Finding these offerings can be difficult. They may be tiny in size and often placed out of eye view.
The era of fractured attention spans, heightened emotions, and ravaged hierarchical systems for ordering institutions, beliefs, and the truth is ripe for examination and dissection – even if it takes a looking glass to see it.
The anonymous art-activist thinkers at INDECLINE have spawned many interventions in the last decade in public space – intricate and smartly storied at times, obvious and deliberately provocative at others.
Perhaps, caught up in the energy of street art and graffiti, we do not pay quite so much attention as we should to it being something we might otherwise call public art. Consider that public art as a form goes back through centuries of municipal planning and myriad private and public interests that are concerned with how community identity may be constructed and represented. It is shortsighted not to acknowledge how much of public art has long been about monuments.
This Friday, the anonymous artivists said they were set to return their ransomed confederate chair monument, “The Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair.” It was first reported missing from Live Oak Cemetery in Selma last month – an ornately carved stone chair dedicated in 1893 to the Confederate president’s memory and estimated to be worth $500,000.
It really is primarily about your State of Mind, says LA-based painter Augustine Kofie about his battle with art and quarantine during this last year.
“The pandemic was a stop, an interruption, a loss of control,” he says – and points to the incomplete cycle symbols that appear throughout his new collection of paintings. Normal life, in its circular wending, was interrupted time and again, along with all our typical expectations.
Together with citizens, environmentalists and researchers, he’s created a work of Land Art here in Rome, and he calls the project Aula Verde.
“The work is alive, and over the years it will take shape and as it grows it will return innumerable benefits to the territory,” Andreco says, “currently it is studied by the researchers who are involved in the project, both for the purification of the water and the redevelopment of the surrounding greenery.”
Shots today from last month’s Shepard Fairey “Future Mosaic” at Dubai’s Opera Gallery. With works on canvas, paper, wood, and metal, as well as examples of iconic images and repeated motifs from the breadth of his art and design history, Fairey was very much present for his first solo show here. In a grueling schedule of just 9 days he also managed to install two huge murals facing a skate park in a commercial district of the city, the d3 (Dubai Design District).
Trust artist Dread Scott to perfect the provocative phrase that can raise the prickly ire of certain street passersby, simply and succinctly. And trust the self-elected censorious social media platforms like Instagram to actually ban it.
Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based Scott says, “White people can’t be trusted with power” in this new public artwork at 42nd near 10th Avenue in Manhattan. It may remind you of a Jenny Holzer “Truism” that she may have wheat-pasted on the street in the past, a pertinent pique that strikes at the heart of the matter, minus the sense of irony. But in the current context of white people’s reluctant awakening, Mr. Scott writes, “When this was originally posted, Instagram banned it as ‘hate speech.’ ”
Highbrow art institutions have coalesced behind a small recurring collection of well-known graffiti/street artists in recent years, granting them a lot of space and a powerful entrée to blue-check media parties, blue-chip platforms, and blue blood collectors. The bigger (and frequently well-funded) names are often the easiest to explain to an unfamiliar general audience of art viewers and, of course, will appeal to that younger demographic everyone is after. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when even the New York City Ballet spawned a series of collaborations with street artists in the last five years to bolster flagging attendance due to aging and, well, dying fans.
Artists are getting robbed. It is time to give them the legal tools they need. With this spirit, a few years ago, I started researching copyright aspects of street art and graffiti.
These artistic movements have been intriguing me for a while. Living for several years in the East London area of Shoreditch, where creativity has exploded and developed after the new millennium’s arrival, has certainly nurtured my curiosity towards these forms of art.
“This project represents an innovative attempt to solve one of the biggest problems when exhibiting street art,” says Berlin-based street artist Vermibus, “- the lack of its original context.”
True, something about our previous curated exhibitions of street art – even our current show of Martha Cooper’s photography work at Urban Nation Museum here – loses the feeling of the street once it enters the museum doors.
“I truly believe this way of experiencing and conserving Street Art will be the inevitable future.”
Concreate Urban Art Festival, held now for the second time, has clearly taken over Keran Hallit in Espoo, Finland. Keran Hallit is a huge former logistics center currently operating as a space for art, culture, sport, and other free-time activities. During the next few years, the halls will be demolished to make space for a new neighborhood.
Frankfurt-based ultra-talent Case Maclaim is with the Urvanity Art Fair this week, and he has created a new mural in Madrid’s old, historical city center. His work is being shown by Brussells Ruby Gallery, along with that of street artists EverSiempre and Wasted Rita. Still, he just wanted to go big with a tribute to children’s imagination.
Russian Urban Art: Poetry, Philosophy, and Manifestos in the Streets
In the interest of defining specific areas of the study of Russian Urban Art, I’ll highlight here three main periods that I think are important in the development of these forms of urban art: the 1910s–20s, the 1990s, and the current era. From my perspective, each period was usually born during crisis and revolution, went dead after a few years, and then came to life slowly again. It was this circular pattern that I am trying to define in my recent book Russian Urban Art: History and Conflicts, but here I want the focus to be more specific.
Madrid’s Art Week – who would believe that it could actually happen? And to prove it, we have the 5th Anniversary of Urvanity defiantly strutting from one end of the COAM headquarter to the other. Taking its original inspiration from graffiti, post-graffiti, surrealism, pop, and that broadly applied “Urban Contemporary” tag, Sergio and the Urvanity team have persevered this year again.
A Superstar of the disco era long before people even heard of telling you their pronouns, this queen crossed over and back and even had bonafide dancefloor hits. How fitting that queer muralist Josh Katz painted this glamorous portrait to lift spirits in this city where day socializing and nightlife has been hamstrung by the pandemic, even shuttering some gold-plated legends in LGBTQ+ club history.
Katz says he is happy to bring Sylvester out into the street-life, a response to “what I see as a lack of LGBTQ representation in street art.” He promises that he’ll continue painting portraits to honor legacies and increase visibility.
According to his descriptions of the artist’s new “Inside” installation in the UK’s only island city of Portsmouth (pronounced PORT-smith), there will be tours in this secret location – ever so because the atmospheric and theatrical work is not officially sanctioned and is staged in an abandoned building.
25 years in the game, Pener routinely lets his mind travel to encompass possibilities, then channels them abstractly through a series of echoing geometric forms with aerosol and brush. Here in his hometown of Olsztyn, Poland, he says he imagined the possibilities that young minds inside an elementary school could contemplate.
On a recent sunny May day, we followed street artist Winston Tseng to document his new series of posters installed on three locations in Manhattan. The series is titled “Money Fixes Everything.”
The flat and colorful 2-D illustration style of street artist/graphic artist Winston Tseng doesn’t scream social inequity and cultural insanity the way other graphic styles may. The graphic language is the 2-D, flat, icon-based vernacular familiar to phones and applications, a neutral and familiar reduction to precisely convey the visual elements necessary to infer more is there. Brilliantly pared and exacting in composition, a close look allows the viewer to unpack Tseng’s specific brand of critique – perhaps causing you to crack a smile, or roll your eyes, shake your head.
Leon Keers is subversive, if that is the way your mind works. His mind-bending plays on real and surreal perspectives may lead you down a path of suspicion, for it appears that he is adept and agile when playing with perspective.
For five years conceptual artists Biancoshock and Harmen de Hoop have been giving each other assignments as part of a common project that can range from titillating to amusing to incomprehensible.
As with so many works in public space by either of these two interpreters of societal nomenclature, these works field-test theories of the visual prank as much as they level observations or critiques of human behavior. With each installation, you are welcomed to examine one more of myriad modern idiosyncrasies – now placed in a new context. Your interpretation may vary.
Italian land artist/street muralist Gola Hundun has divided his creative projects in the last few years into two distinct but related practices.
The first is to investigate buildings that are being reclaimed by nature and develop site-specific installations that work in harmony with the history of the relationship between architecture and nature. The second, of which we have an example for you today, is a mural installation on active buildings within cities, perhaps invoking a more integrated ecology of symbols and natural systems around it. These two lines of inquiry comprise his project “HABITAT”, a sincere stream of research that lies on the border between anthropic space and natural space
It’s impossible to imagine the contemporary built environment without considering the impact of street art and graffiti has had on not only city dwellers but our city’s designers and architects. While previous generations may have dismissed incorporating painting techniques beyond traditional frescoes or murals, the new generation considers it their birthright to bring modern art movement influences, including Optical Art, Kinetic Art, and straight-up tape art often used on the street.
It’s not every day that you have an 800th anniversary.
Bringing monumental aesthetics, theologic references, and the language of classical architecture to this massive wall at Calle Fernán González, 52, the French duo MonkeyBird celebrates the Burgos Cathedral in grand style. Louis Boidron and Edouard Egea say they worked painstakingly to prepare their tribute to the original workers and artisans who first built the Gothic and Baroque-styled Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984.
We’ve had the privilege to travel to many cities and cultures over the last decade and a half, from Russian to Chinese to North African to Tahitian and Norwegian, to witness the affecting power of street art on cities, communities, and everyday people. Regardless of the street author’s intent, however earnest or carefully considered, we’re often surprised by the variety of interpretations that can arise from a singular work of art or intervention.
Édgar Sánchez and Arcadi Poch may not simply be curators of the new initiative called Mexpania that merges the cultures of Mexico and Spain. They are social scientists, anthropologists, historians, and some may say, alchemists. With the inaugural installations of this auspicious project primarily created inside the entrance and with only 4 national/international artists, you may be curious how these foundational works will influence future curatorial choices for this ever-growing museum dedicated to urban art, or arte urbano.
Elfo’s furtive and artful wanderings can veer off into the neo-Dadaist fields at times, sometimes wittily so, and textually. The Italian graffiti writer and street artist uses the simplest of devices to capture attention, a reductive and deliberate strategy born of careful consideration girded by impulses to broadcast his view, to be seen and heard.
Italian street artist Bifido finishes this rough wall with the sweetest of sentiments here as summer draws ever nearer to its end. Quoting Keats, as romantics are wont to do, Bifido tells us his latest staged photo wheatpaste is transparent in its sentiment, opaque in his specific meaning.
“It is a hug, so it is something that can be shared,” he offers. “For this time I have nothing to say about this piece.” Enough said.
Ah, the feckless, sebaceous, inward-turned man; Bumbling through the world unaware and uncaring how his actions may impact the lives of others. Little does he know that the fire he starts will burn him as well.
I am inhabited by a cry. Nightly it flaps out Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.
Street poet and street artist Bifido doesn’t mean to be morose, but here in Mostar he can’t help himself as he creates mirrored expressions of a sullen, ill-tempered youth on city streets. Part of the Bosnian /Herzegovinian street art festival named after this city of 113,000 Croats (48.4%), Bosniaks (44.1%), and Serbs (4.1%), the annual meeting of international and local artists produces a broad variety of artworks for the city.
“I am not that, sir,” he answered, “I’m the vacuumer.” Our short tour ends abruptly as the loud whir of the cleaning machine rises to meet the southern-fried rock classic on the sound system here at Fleetwood’s in Asheville, North Carolina. Ours, and his, is a quick sweep through this small city of 90,000 in the Blue Ridge Mountains known for its progressive ideas, punk squats, Thomas Wolfe, and a harmonious alliance between sanctioned murals, organic street art, and graffiti.
The brilliant illustrator of fantasy and firey allegory, BLU, championed the cause of the Rog Factory squat in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2016 with a centrally framed handgun in pink and red. In that heated moment the community of artists and activists had fended off developers, construction thugs, and even some kind of fascists attacking them or trying to chase them from the property.
We have some special events taking place this month to celebrate one complete year of the career-spanning exhibition “Martha Cooper: TAKING PICTURES”, which we created with the team at Urban Nation Museum in Berlin.
Today graffiti/street artist AIKO talks about her striking new graphic mural for the façade of the museum that highlights and interprets a suite of recognizable elements from Martha’s iconic photographs – a perfect answer to the Martha Remix section of the exhibition inside featuring 70 or so artists “remixing” her photos in their individual styles.
Half biologist, half street artist, all gentleman. The French painter Youri Cansell AKA Mantra opens his very first US solo show tonight at Goldman Global Arts (GGA) in Miami. In preparation for “Metamorphōsis,” the artist has been painting non-stop all summer at a temporary studio in Cancun.
When we asked Shepard Fairey if he would be up for a new remix of a Martha Cooper photo for our exhibition celebrating her career, he quickly said yes. Not only did he create a new original piece of art based on one of her classic “Street Play” images to hang in the gallery of our “Marth Remix” section, but he and his excellent team have also produced a new print – 250 of which sold out in 20 minutes on the Urban Nation website last night.
SpY describes his new public art project “Earth,” as “a luminous red sphere caged inside a structure.” You may wonder what this structure made from building-site scaffolding represents, especially when he says “the sphere is caged within it”. Gaseous fumes? Global Oligarchs? Free-trade agreements? K-Pop fans? We asked him:
BSA: Is the earth the color red because it is on fire, in pain, in a state of emergency, or perhaps in love?
SpY: The red earth in a cage has different meanings.
Get in, get out, no one gets hurt. Our few days in Miami were full of adventure on the street and at parties and receptions for artists. The party rages on tonight and this weekend at the fairs and in the galleries and bars and streets of course, but our last events were interviewing Faile onstage at Wynwood Walls last night, going to the Museum of Graffiti 2nd Anniversary party/opening for FUZI, and, well there was this thing with Shepard Fairey and Major Lazer and a guy proposing marriage to his girl before the crowd…
This time of year, it is hard to find people in Manhattan on the weekends – they’re “weekending” in the Hamptons, darling.
Not exactly the original setting you might associate with graffiti, street art, hip-hop, punk rock, zines, and underground art culture but where else can curators Evan Pricco and Kim Stephens sell these works on paper while sipping cool drinks poolside?
“Beyond the Streets” carries the mobile party to Southampton Arts Center this Saturday with a wide swath of styles – 500 works from over 100 artists in an art fair-sized venue. It may remind you of the Urban Air Fair tried in Manhattan in summer 2017, but this one has something that one didn’t: Roger Gastman.
If it’s here, it’s because it is quality work and has a connection to the roots of these subcultural scenes usually as well. Expanding now to the more nebulous category of Contemporary, you may be surprised to see more accessible interpretive variations on the themes. Let’s see that paper, people.
Artists include: Action Bronson, Addam Yekutieli, agnès b, AIKO, André Saraiva, Andrew Schoultz, Andrew Thiele, Andy Rementer, Aryz, Bert Krak, Brandon Breaux, Broken Fingaz, Bryant Giles, Camille Walala, CES, Cey Adams, Charlie Ahearn, Chloe Early, Chris FREEDOM Pape, Clark Fox, Cody Hudson, Conor Harrington, Craig Costello, CRASH, DABSMYLA, Daniel Rich, David “Mr StarCity” White, DAZE, DEFER, Emily Manwaring, Eric Haze, Ermsy, Escif, FAILE, Faith XLVII, Fucci, Greg SPONE Lamarche, Gustavo Zermeno, Hilda Palafox, House 33, HuskMitNavn, Ian Reid, Icy & Sot, Jaime Muñoz, Jamilla Okuba, Jane Dickson, JEC*, Jeremy Shockley, Jillian Evelyn, JK5, John Konstantine, Julian Pace, KATSU, KC Ortiz, Kelsey Brookes, Khari Turner, Kime Buzzelli, LeRoy Neiman, Linas Garsys, Liz Flores, Lucy McLauchlan, Lujan Perez, Maripol, Mark Mothersbaugh, Martha Cooper, Marshall LaCount, Matt McCormick, Maya Hayuk, Michael Vasquez, MIKE 171, Mister CARTOON, Neena Ellora, Nehemiah Cisneros, Nettie Wakefield, NUNCA, Otto183, Paije Fuller, Paul Insect, POSE, Rebecca Morgan, Reko Rennie, Rello, Richard Colman, RISK, Ron English, Ryan McGinness, Sage Vaughn, Saladeen Johnson, Scott Campbell, Sean from Texas, Senon Williams, Shantell Martin, Shepard Fairey, SJK 171, Sofía Enriquez, SNOEMAN, Spacebrat, STASH, Steve ESPO Powers, SWOON, TAKI 183, The Perez Bros., Timothy Curtis, Todd James, Troy Lamarr Chew II, Umar Rashid, Victor Reyes, Wasted Rita, Wulffvnky, Yarrow Slaps, Yusuke Hanai, ZESER, ZOER and 45RPM.
BEYOND THE STREETS on PAPER July 17—August 28, 2021 Southampton Arts Center, Southampton, New York, 11968
This Saturday marks the opening of an outstanding exhibition in Bristol, England documenting the pivotal role the city has played in the formation of street art from the 1980s to today. Entitled Vanguard Bristol Street Art: The Evolution and mounted at the Global Movement Bristol Museum’s M Shed, the show presents the view of this worldwide movement as seen through the birth and growth of Bristol’s scene from the perspective of artists singular voices rising together in a crescendo that shook the arena of public self-expression with maverick ideas and activist ideals.
Vanguard positions itself as an examination of artists creative response to Bristol’s “pioneering underground scene throughout the UK’s turbulent social and political history” with a focus on driving social change – one that influenced subsequent street artists everywhere.
Among the Bristolian and UK artists featured will be new works by Adam Neate, Andy Council, Antony Micallef, Bill Posters, China Mike, Conor Harrington, Dale VMN Collins (Dale Marshall), Dicy, Eko, Feek, Filthy Luker, Inkie, Lucas Price, Lucy McLauchlan, Matt Small, Mau Mau, Mr Jago, Paris, Rowdy, Sickboy, Swoon, Will Barras, and Xenz.
A trove of documentation presents times that provide context and insight into the wild, wooley, and ingenious artist works that shaped what was to come – including a five minute edit of the seminal film Wild Style by filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, and a new seven-minute film by Scottish filmmaker Doug Gillen. Additionally presented are unseen and classic images specific to the Bristol graffiti and street art scene by Henry Chalfant, Matthew Smith, Carrie Hitchcock, Yan Saunders, and Beezer, along with projections by Kineta Hill and Karen Dew.
Running through October 31st this year, the original works and memorabilia are key to understanding the events and socio/political arnarchistic framework that sparked and fueled what became known as the Bristol scene, replete with an accompanying book featuring worldwide academics, film directors, writers, artists, creatives and specialists and an exclusive album of tracks forming the roots of the Bristol Sound.
We’re pleased to offer a sneak peek of the show here today and we encourage you to make the trip to see what will undoubtedly be sited as an important exhibition – as we all continue our education about the pathways of the global evolution of street art.
Vanguard | Bristol Street Art: The Evolution of a Global Movement is kindly supported by Vans. Vanguard | Bristol Street Art: The Evolution of a Global Movement M Shed, Bristol, BS1 4RN Saturday 26 June 2021 – Sunday 31 October 2021 Admission £8 adult* / £7 concession* (*Tickets include £1 voluntary donation to Bristol Museums Development Trust)
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. Happy Purim! Streets in Brooklyn were wild with Hasidic Jews in funny costumes the last couple of days, accompanied by loud music and seemingly drunk men weaving through the streets.
“The efforts of underpaid artists and arts professionals have always powered NYC, but in an ongoing crisis, NYC is turning its back on them,” Nuyorican Poets Cafe Executive Director Daniel Gallant told the Daily News this week, referencing job losses that have affected 2/3rds of New York’s creative community. We are in crisis. And national leaders have been quibbling over a $1,400 check – which is only the third check for poor and middle-class people in a 1 year period. One month’s rent can be that much.
Meanwhile on the street we have been seeing a boon of new creative displays by artists – with a broad sweep of themes and techniques.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Allie Kelley, Aya Brown, Billy Barnacles, Bobo, Elianel Clinton, Fells, George Ferrandi, George Collagi, Gianni Lee, Icebox, Megan Gabrielle Harris, Merch, Plan9, Sara Lynne-Leo, Sasha Lynn, Shoki San, and Swoon.
In collaboration with SaveArtSpace.Org Swoon and Giani Lee curated a series of billboards in NYC and In Los Angeles asking the artists involved to focus on the themes of climate change, racial justice and the places where those concerns intersect. Below we share with you some of the billboards we found in NYC.
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. It’s been snowing and snowing and snowing this month in New York – providing perfect framing for graffiti and street art.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Adrian Wilson, Beer, Claudia Ravaschiere, Dasu, Dos Wallnuts, Eron, Goog, Guild234, Hellbent, Magda Love, Michael Moss, No Sleep, Note, Par, Seo, Serve, Swoon, The Postman Art, and Treeze.
It’s a pity that the pandemic has kept so many people away from seeing great exhibitions in museums and galleries, among other things. At the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, street artist Swoon’s “Seven Contemplations” ran its course without nearly as many visitors as you would expect.
So we decided to show you the exhibition in a mini-tour. Who else could be your host today but the artist herself, Swoon.
I feel incredibly grateful to have gotten to continue creating large scale immersive experiences for people in a year when so many things were impossible, but when spaces of solace and wonder and creation are needed more than ever.
This exhibition contained a hidden layer, in the form of a series of meditation and contemplation prompts. Small seats were placed within the exhibition, and fixed-gaze meditation instructions given, alongside a set of contemplations for visitors who wanted to settle deeper than usual into the experience of the artwork.” – Swoon
Contemplation – The miracle, grace, forgiveness, that which is given without reason, that which arises spontaneously:
New life is given to us freely with each breath we take. Our cuts heal, our hearts pump blood without being ever asked, and every spring new flowers push up from under the snow. Are there ways that we can appreciate, or even mirror this spontaneously giving aspect of life? Think of a time when you became able to understand someone you had been angry with and so found yourself able to forgive them, or they you. Think of a bit of luck that changed your life, or a gift you were given whose generosity still surprises you. Sit and feel into the tinge of the miraculous that hangs around something as simple as a single breath or as wondrous as a second chance.
Contemplation – Medea, Fear and Suffering:
Sometimes terrifying events can scare us out of our skin. We become dislocated from ourselves and may seem to float outside of our bodies, or feel cut off from our lives. Suffering can make us reach for destructive behaviors or substances in an attempt to release ourselves from pain and anxiety. Can we use small instances of discomfort or anxiety to help ourselves learn to face big emotions when they arise? For just a few moments, recall something small in your day to day life that usually makes you uncomfortable or a bit anxious. How do these feelings show up in your body? Do you feel them in your chest or hands? Or in the quality of focus you are able to give to things that need your attention? Practice staying with an uncomfortable emotion, observing it, and allowing it to pass on its own. When we can sit with and experience the things that scare us, or the things we would like to escape from, we gain a great deal of strength and power. We become more able to chose how we want to react to the world around us.
Contemplation – Thalassa, Primordial self:
Who were you before you were born? Who were you before the earth was born? Sometimes our personal selves get stuck. The mind’s tendency is to fasten onto things it perceives as problems, or threats to self, and to ruminate there. Is it possible to step outside of our individual ‘I’ for a moment and give our consciousness more room to breathe? Sometimes a seemingly nonsensical question can shift our focus and connect us to a more spacious awareness. If you were to arise right now from the primordial sea, what form might you take?
Team: Curator Aaron Ott. Special thanks to Zack Boehler, Eric Jones, Kristine Virsis, Caroline Caldwell, Frances Segismundo, Andrea Tults, Marshall LaCount, Greg Henderson, Ryan McDaniel, Karl Mattson, Zach Prichard, Eileen Saracino, Carolyn Padwa and, the rest of the incredible Albright Knox installation team. All photos by Tod Seelie.
To learn more about Swoon’s “Seven Contemplations” click HERE
“When I first read Jessi’s zine I cried the kind of tears you cry when you feel seen and known in a loving way,” says New York street artist Swoon, who has made her own recovery from childhood trauma quietly and gently public in the last few years. An internal process of discovery that is central to her art practice, you may also discern related stories in the pieces she makes for the street.
Swoon is speaking of the second zine in a series we began this past Saturday – a zine that you can download for free. This one is about working with trauma that we or others in our lives have experienced. “It’s a beautiful book which speaks so simply and clearly to the condition of trauma, and to the footholds we can get in our everyday lives which will help us on our journey towards wholeness,” says Swoon.
She considers therapist and artist Jessi Rado to be one of those brave visionaries who is not afraid to “go there” and who uses their skills and their art to help people to heal. Using her workshops with The Million Person Project and Philly Mural Arts, Jessi has developed this very accessible booklet that may be helpful to you or somebody you care about. Working with the The Heliotrope Foundation and Swoon, we are proud to share it with you.
“Trauma and the question of how to heal from it has become a central part of my practice as an artist,” says Swoon. “What I have found over the years is that trauma is real, it’s not “just in our heads” and it can be healed from. There are many brave therapists at the frontlines of this field who are finding new ways to work through the nervous system and the mindful self to unravel the debilitating stress which holds people in destructive patterns of coping.”
A free zine today for you
from Jessi Rado, an artist and therapist interested in helping those of us who
have suffered trauma or one kind or another. It’s accepted knowledge among
those who work with those struggling with substance abuse that it often is a direct
result of trauma – a fundamental insight that may help us all re-set our thinking
Ms. Rado’s new zine is the
product of a program she collaborated in with street artist Swoon with the Mural Arts’ Restorative Justice
Program in Philadelphia
a few years ago. At this time when so many in our communities are already
dealing with the wreckage of addiction and what it does to families, the stress
of COVID-19 and economic insecurity only compound the fears and in many cases,
That’s why BSA is so happy
to offer something constructive that can help!
The new zine is born from the
program that Swoon participated in with Rado and storytellers Heather Box and
Julian Mocine-McQueen; It “hosted a series of trauma-informed art therapy
courses, followed by a month of storytelling workshops, designed to develop an
understanding of the conditions and context of trauma that lead to and
perpetuate lifelong addiction.”
Take a look at some of the simple and simply profound artworks and texts here, and download the PDF at the end of the posting. One day at a time, friends.