artist Swoon’s Heliotrope Foundation continues to add artists to its lustrous roster
of prints and projects with a new program of pieces for you and your kids to
with a few artists to make this activity book in response to all the need for
home schooling and anyone else who likes to color,” she tells us.
collection is called Compass: “a unique and beautiful handbook, a collection of
creative activities and an inspirational journal. The aim of the project
is to generate work for artists while sharing the joy and necessity of art to
heal, grow and play.”
COMPASS is a free PDF activity book available for distribution to those at home, those with children, and those looking for something to be motivated by. If you would like to distribute Compass in your local area, please contact us: email@example.com
Artists Shine Light on Trump, GOP Atrocities in Emotionally-Charged New Billboard, Street Art Campaign
The billboards are going up in Detroit, Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Phoenix, Arizona – all so-called “battleground” states for this years presidential election. Using their talent as street artists to draw attention in public, this group of billboards is grabbing the attention of passersby with aesthetics as well as content.
In a campaign funded by Collective
Super PAC, the SuperPAC affiliate of The Collective PAC, a number of street
artists as well as artists from other genres and practices are lending their
individual skills to remind potential voters what has already been done – with a
warning that four more years would march us straight off a cliff, in their
Artists Shepard Fairey, Nekisha
Durrett, Nate Lewis, Rafael Lopez, Robert Russell, Rob Sheridan, and Swoon each
take on their variation of the messages on topics like police brutality,
racism, hate speech, immigration and the Coronavirus pandemic. Some are simply dedicated
to controversial statements made by Trump and others on his team.
“Our message is simple:
Remember what they did and vote them out,” says organizer Robin Bell, whose
known for his projections on the façade of the Trump Hotel.
For Shepard Fairey, it was
the irony that this spring and early summer Trump was trying to solve our
problems with police brutality with, uh, police brutality.
“My art piece is a reminder
that while the American public was protesting in the streets, in record
numbers, against racism and police brutality, Donald Trump was encouraging
police brutality against the protesters, reinforcing the very same problems
within law enforcement and the criminal justice systems the protesters were
demanding to be reformed,” says Fairey. “This image implies that the police are
supposed to be peacekeepers, not warriors, and that Donald Trump is on the
wrong side of social justice and the wrong side of history!”
The images are stark, sometimes
shocking, but then so are the times they are documenting – and street art is
often holding a mirror up to society. “Life imitates art, and the images we see
have a direct impact on our democracy,” says Quentin James, Founder and
President of The Collective.
As the economy continues to
deflate and the Greater Depression is waiting to be triggered by a crash, not
only will we see more street art, we’ll depend on it as tea leaves to read about
ourselves and hopefully remember what we all did (and didn’t), so we can learn
Judy Chicago, Jane Fonda and Swoon are teaming up for a Global Open Call to #CreateArtForEarth, and the hashtag is picking up speed quickly.
“There are so many ways that art will be part of how we survive this climate crisis and the current pandemic, from helping us work through paralyzing fears so that we can act constructively, to keeping our hearts and minds inspired by what matters, and even using the creative process to tackle tangible solutions. I’m such a believer that the first step to action is an act of imagination.”
Working side by side with Greenpeace USA, National Museum of Women in the Arts and $FireDrillFridays invite you to join the launch of #CreateArtforEarth – a global initiative to encourage art that addresses the climate crisis and hopes to inspires action.
Plastic arts, songs, performance, poems, – all are encouraged. Just follow the hash tag to see where you can participate. #CreateArtforEarth
“Over the last few decades, we have witnessed the melting of the Arctic ice; the warming of the oceans; massive wildfires; dramatic changes in weather patterns; the extinction of hundreds of living creatures; and now, the coronavirus which is upending human behavior all over the planet, causing the disruption of economic systems at a level never seen before and death for many thousands of people. The most pressing issue for us today are the conditions out of which these dire occurrences have happened, which artists can help illuminate if they start addressing what matters in understandable modes.” – Judy Chicago
Innovative artist in the public sphere, Daniel Weissbach aka DTAGNO aka COST88 has charted new territory many times with his hand made experimentation that makes graffiti and street art search themselves for new definitions.
Creating new tools and techniques for applying the traditional aerosol spray to the wall, he inspired many imitators and redefines the artists’ relationship to art in public space. Rooted in graffiti culture but scaling a number of disciplines, he has trail-blazed his own idiosyncratic routes and aesthetics full of humor, discovery, and contradiction for more than two decades at work, and in the process he’s created new paths for us to explore.
Beginning next week with a special showcase of works by admiring peers in the graffiti/ Street Art/ Urban Art/ public art Berlin family, a large number of works will be auctioned to benefit the 44-year old artist as he lives with a medical diagnosis that is a great challenge. Since 2016 he has faced the challenge bravely and will need to have greater care as time moves forward, so the community is reaching out to help.
Following on the heels of a successful campaign on GoFundme last month, this multi-stage online auction of works donated by many local and international artists will assist him and his family during this time, so that he can spend it “in his familiar surroundings, at home, with his 8-year-old daughter and with us,” says artist Christian Hundertmark in his GoFundme essay.
“Get Well Daniel” is the charity auction initiative begun by Steffen Köhler, Markus Mai and Matthias Wermke with the support of many others.
BSA invites you to join with the family of admirers, companions, and friends and to participate at the opening exhibition this Friday, February 21 in Berlin to see many of the works donated Friday night and all day Saturday. If you cannot attend the exhibition please look online beginning Sunday night February 23 at 8 pm for the first group of 30 items.
The benefit auction, which gives 100% of the proceeds to Mr. Weissbach, will continue throughout the month of March and will be updated with new works March 2, 9, and 16, with the final group being unveiled March 23rd.
“Get Well Daniel” Exhibition
21.02.2020, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. // 22.02.2020 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. @ Salon am Moritzplatz (Oranienstrasse 58, 10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg)
Participating artists include: Adams & E.B. Itso, Adrian Nabi, AKIM, AMIGO, André Simonow, Angabe noch zu klären, Anna Herms, Antwan Horfee, ARIS ONER, BARTO, Beerbird Press, Bernhard Uhlig, BIO, Brad Downey, BUNY, CHEERIO, Christian Falsnaes, Christian Schellenberger, Clemens Behr, Coco Bergholm, Conny Maier, CREAM – 247/MAD, CYOP & KAF, Dan Murphy, DEJOE, DELTA (Boris Tellegen), DEON, DES78, Dmitry Ilko, DRIK, DTAGNO & TRYONE & Jürgen Große, Dumar Novy, EGS, Emmett Edelstein, Enzo Ricordo & Mr.Z, Eric Winkler, ERUPTION (JB. Institute), ESHER, EXOT, Fabian Treiber, Felix Amerbacher, FISTER, Flatliners & Tuff City Kids, GATE, Gambette, Graffitimuseum (Joachim Spurloser, Stefan Wartenberg), HuskMitNavn, ICOS, IDEE, IMOS, Jakob Traxlmayr, Jan Kaláb, Jeremias Böttcher, Jeroen Erosie, Jeroen Jongeleen / influenza, JOLIE, Julien Fargetton, Kaos (VIM), Katdog Wartenberg, Kevin Kemter, Kiddo Oh, KingOfVoid / NICK, Konsens Berlin, KROK, LOFKER, Louise Drubigny, LOVER, LuluGazel, Markus Mai & Markus Butkereit, Matthias Wermke, Max Schaffer, Max Stocklosa, Mischa Leinkauf, MISERABLES, Mister Adam & Gijs Weijer, MONKEY, MOSES & TAPS™, Norman Behrendt, OLABO & AKAY, Olivier Stak / O.K-T, Pablo Tomek, Paul du Bois-Reymond, Paul Simon Krüger, Philip Emde, Philipp Clasen, Philipp König, Possible Books, RACHE, REACT, REVOK, REW KREUZBERG, ROY1st, ROZER, Ruohan Wang, SEEK, SOME SOScrew, SPAIR, Stefan Haehnel, Stefan Marx, Stefan Strumbel, Steve Paul Steven Paul, Streetfiles, SWOON, The WA, Thomas Bratzke, Thomas Korn, Tony Savas, VELI & AMOS, Velo Tramp, Vincent Grunwald, Wilhelm Klotzek & Konrad Mühe, 1UP Crew and φαντομας!
For further press information, please contact Katia Hermann // firstname.lastname@example.org
The three-dimensional figures cavort with the thickened and filigreed waves of memory and emotion. They emerge from the wall, flicker across the screen, mesmerizing.
The hand-drawn lines and patterned shadings are familiar to fans of street art over the last two decades, but this goddess seems so real, so haunted. Swoons’ Cicada installations at Deitch Gallery on 76 Grand Street are in movement, fluttering in your periphery, stories from her past melting into motifs and fragments of her memories, and quite possibly yours.
Cicada is a life cycle, and it glimmers in the darkness as you turn. In this collection of drawings, installations, and film you finally reach the pain, the trauma, the escapist desire for divinity to save us. Swoon introduces the fluttering mystic figures into her new stop motion film, again your memories are triggered, but it’s hers that are on display – while they continue to hide before us.
Even though she’s not here with you, it feels like Swoon’s never been so close and so theatrical, even when she sailed the Switchback Seas with this same journeyman Deitch. Her own odyssey continues to be rebirthed in so many surprising ways; often at the center of the stage, and still behind the wings.
Swoon “Cicada” exhibition ran at Deitch Gallery in New York from Nov 14, 2019 – February 1, 2020.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. How Art Saved Swoon’s Life 2. The Masters: Futura 2000
BSA Special Feature: How Art Saved Swoon’s Life / The C Files with Maria Brito
In 2011 we had a show in Los Angeles called “Street Art Saved My Life”. It sounded like some humorous hyperbole but in reality, it was a sentiment we had heard many times in graffiti as well – including from tough-guy and tough-girl types who have told us with tears in their eyes that graffiti saved their lives. So the transformative power of art is not merely anecdotal at this juncture, and we patiently await the fields of science embracing it as well.
Witnessing the evolution of Street Artist/fine artist Swoon has been moving, and she’s generously opened the trip to you over the last decade. Because of this bravery, her painful growth and their accompanying revelations have enabled others to examine their own path. Certainly, you can relate to her when she says she realized, “There was damage. It was psychological and emotional… and it could be healed.”
“The thing about art-making for me is that it’s kind of like
this pole that is in the center of your world and that the wind is blowing and
your feet are off the ground and you feel like you are getting sucked away, but
there is one thing that you can hold on to.”
Dude, whatever it takes for any of us to be healed, let it
The Masters: Futura 2000
Essentially a tour through Futura’s creative and personal life, here you can see the fluid linearity of the creative spirit as it’s channeled through art, music, fashion, branding, the street and merchandising. We’re just thankful he shares the ride and gives us insights and observations along the way with his disarming humor and canny pronouncements.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Swoon: Cicada at Deitch 2. Biancoshock: GRAFFITRICKS 3. Bien Urbain Festival 2019 Re-Cap by Kristina and Nazar from MZM Projects 4. ARTinfect 4 – The Pfaff Project Part 2
BSA Special Feature: Swoon: Cicada at Deitch
Long time supporter of Street Artist Swoon in her work on the street and in the studio, gallery director Jeffery Deitch has again given a platform to the enlightened wanderings and otherworldly investigations of the artist with a new exhibition in Manhattan. Directed by Frederic King, the character/s of the artists now have dimension, and movement, and a curious way of revealing and concealing. Once again the undercurrents in Swoon’s work are formidable, the presentation ornately manifested.
Biancoshock is back with a new collection of handmade tools that enable hoodlums to write graffiti, or some variation of it in a multitude of ways. In a continuous stance of provocation, the Italian conceptualist redefines the street game by creating one ingenious invention after another. For him, “This is a simple demonstration that creativity can easily fight every kind of institutional control and prohibitive policies.”
Bien Urbain Festival 2019 Re-Cap by Kristina and Nazar from MZM Projects
The 9th edition of Bien Urbain is just completed and MZM Projects presents a tonal treatment to the uniquely contextual festival. You don’t know who the stars are, because in the case of Bien Urbain it truly is a more inclusive conversation – to use an overused word – about the role of art and intervention in the urban environment.
ARTinfect 4 – The Pfaff Project Part 2
The graffiti writer’s lexicon continues to evolve and spread into areas that early writers would have considered verboten. Today graffiti artists often do the same stuff as Street Artists but the labels aren’t important as long as you know how to command the can.
Here in Kaiserlautern, a city in southwest Germany, the artist Carl Kenz has curated the new edition of ARTinfect with a sensibility toward space that recognizes the individual artist – and is a little uncommon in the ‘graffiti jam’ event world. Here you see that each artist is afforded ample industrial framing to develop their work – unimpeded by a too-close neighbor. These abandoned factories are often splendid staging spaces, and it is good to see this international selection of artists granted a good place to create harmony with the decay.
BSA has been here with you for this entire decade – an honor and a privilege. Reviewing the many interventions and events we witnessed and shared with our readers, we realize that this grassroots people’s art movement is reflecting our society in fundamental ways and reaching deep as well as wide. Here in roughly chronological order we recount for you a Top 10 for BSA that have impacted our way of seeing art on the streets.
The “Girl In The Blue Bra” – December 2011
Oppressive regimes worldwide have a few
commonalities. One of them is patriarchy. Over the last decade we have seen
many female artists rise powerfully to smash it, harnessing their rage and
power and taking their voice to the street.
There were countless images that encapsulated the ferocity and the tenacity of the protesters during the Arab Spring uprisings in Cairo, Egypt in December of 2011. One image, in particular, captured the attention of the media and the public. The image is commonly referred to as the “Girl In The Blue Bra”. The image depicts a young woman, whose identity remains anonymous, being beaten and dragged by soldiers as she was taking part in the protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo, against Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Her face is veiled and her jeans are still on but as she was being dragged by the soldiers her abaya came undone exposing her bare torso and revealing her blue bra as a soldier was about to kick her in her abdomen.
While the image exposed the abusive practices and of power of the military in Egypt – it also swiftly sparked ferocious reactions around the globe, particularly with women who subsequently staged their own march in Tahrir Square in Cairo to demand the end of military rule.
Among the artists who carried the Blue Bra theme to the streets was one artist, Bahia Shehab, whom BSA and its readers helped to get a movie made about Street Artists in the Arab Spring, called Nefertiti’s Daughters, directed by Mark Nicolas. Later we were the first to debut a scene from it at the Nuart Festival in Norway (“#Activism on the Street Now”), and years after that Nuart actually hosted professor Shehab. This is a small world, this Street Art community.
The actions of the young woman, the
violent response of the military, and the overwhelming support of the public,
in general, sparked a new wave of feminism in Egypt and inspired artists to
create and display their artworks on the streets in protest.
“Art In The Streets” Opens at LA MOCA – April 2011
Art in the Streets was the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art, curated by MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch and Associate Curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose, an exhibition tracing the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s to the global movement it had evolved to. BSA was there to capture and share some of what was happening.
“Yes, Banksy is here. The giant ‘Art in the Streets’ show opening this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles gives a patch of real estate to the international man of mystery who has contributed greatly to the worldwide profile of what is soon to be, maybe already is, a mainstream phenomenon known as street art. A smattering of his pranksterism is an absolute must for any show staking claim to the mantle of comprehensive survey and an excellent way to garner attention. But “Streets” gets its momentum by presenting a multi-torch colorful and explosive people’s history that began way before Banksy was born and likely will continue for a while after.
The show is an audacious multi-platform, colorful endeavor; part history lesson and part theme park bringing about 50 years of graffiti and street art history, it’s influences and influencers, under one roof. Then there is the stuff outside. Engaging and educational, “Art in the Streets” makes sure visitors have the opportunity to learn how certain tributaries lead to this one river of swirling urban goo, mapping connections between cultural movements, communities, and relationships within it. When it does this, the museum system effectively differentiates its value apart from a mere gallery show. “
Banksy’s NYC Residency – “Better Out Than In” – October 2013
An unprecedented city-wide near daily installation of works in New York established a new high-water mark in the flood of Street Art that took many cities in the 2010s. The British Street Artist played to a media capital in such an effective campaign that even the least interested residents became familiar with the elusive prankster.
A Genuine October Surprise for New York Street Art Friends and Foes Alike.
“In a series of communiqués beamed from his website, the global Street Artist Banksy gave graffiti and Street Art followers a near-daily jolt of mystery and mouse clicking that had people looking at every street scene as a possible Banksy by the time it ended. While few can confirm the exact level of involvement the actual artist had in the five boroughs, if any, none will deny that the Banksy brand underwent a major “refresh” this month that again put his name on the lips of those who had begun to forget him and many who had never heard of him.
Thanks to this masterful marketing campaign billed as a month-long ‘residency’ on New York’s streets, many thousands were talking about him daily on the street, on television, radio, social media, in galleries, studios, office cubicles, art parties, and the mayors’ office. By effectively combining the sport of treasure hunting with humor and populism, each new cryptic appearance of something-anything gradually conditioned some grand art doyennes and the plainer mongrels amongst us to drool on command and lift a leg in salute to the curiously still anonymous artist and the team who helped him pull it off.”
The Brooklyn Museum’s Exhibitions with Swoon, Faile, BÄST, Haring, Basquiat, ESPO, JR Expand Knowledge, Appreciation
One cultural institution in New York City and indeed in the United States has been notable throughout the decade for its commitment to organizing exhibitions where graffiti, street art, and the artists whom have shaped it are given recognition for their contribution to the arts. The Brooklyn Museum’s leadership, including former director Arnold L. Lehman, current director Anne Pasternak, and Sharon Matt Atkins, Director of Exhibitions and Strategic Initiatives have been channeling resources and focus to the study, promotion, and exhibition of the works of important figures in the contemporary graffiti and Street Art movement. It notable that the museum has in its permanent collection the works of distinguished graffiti and Street Artists dating back to the dawn of the modern scene; something that other important cultural institutions in New York City that are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of modern, contemporary, and American art lack in their collections.
It’s for this reason that we
have selected the Brooklyn Museum as one of the top ten graffiti and street art
movers of the decade. Predated by 2006’s “Graffiti” exhibition the museum has
mounted several important presentations during this decade that have not only
been blockbusters but they have contributed to the cultural enrichment of all
New Yorkers and the expanded discussion of the relevance of these art forms to
established canons. Here are some highlights:
“Keith Haring: 1978-1982, a traveling exhibition first shown in Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna and The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, introduces a period of his work not often examined, taking you up to the edge of the seemingly sudden international fame he experienced as artist, activist and public figure through the rest of the 1980s.
… At a time when the small-town boy was developing his visual vocabulary as an artist, Haring was also discovering himself as a man in the world and in a city that he found endlessly fascinating and worthy of exploration. Capturing his spirit of hands-on experimentation, the show is almost entirely comprised of works on paper with one collaborative piece on plywood with his contemporary Jean Michel Basquiat, paper collage, video, and documentary photos.”
“Sharon brought me in here and said, ‘What is interesting to you in the building?’ and I really love that because the thing about working on the street is that you are always thinking site-specifically. And so that thinking has to translate into your work in all places. For me, if I make something in a museum I want it to be very site-specific and this is probably one of the most site-specific pieces I’ve ever done,” explains Swoon.
Under the advice and guidance of an engineer, the artist also modified her design process to allow for foundational considerations like truss sections and lift points. “I showed him an initial model and he showed me an engineered system and then I built another model based on the system that he engineered.”
It is probably unusual for a grand museum to be so amenable to the requests of an artist for a site-specific piece that literally inhabits the furthest reaches of space, and Swoon says she recognizes the leeway she received. “You know, they have been really adventurous in letting us create this. We’ve been sort of pushing a lot with the creation of this piece.”
For Matt Atkins, the opportunity to bring an internationally known street artist and neighbor into the museum has been the result of just over two years of planning. ‘It’s been so wonderful working with Swoon to realize her vision for this project. This is the first time we’ve really used the full height of the 72-foot dome, so it’s quite spectacular. I am thrilled to see her boats back in New York and for them to have this new life. The underlying ideas about climate change in the installation also make this project an appropriate tie into the Museum’s focus on activism with our other exhibitions and collections,’ she says.”
“In Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, now running at The Brooklyn Museum until August 23rd, the genius of his fragmenting logic is revealed as a direct relationship between his private journals and his prolific and personally published aerosol missives on the streets of Manhattan’s Soho and Lower East Side neighborhoods in the late 1970s and 1980s.
These notebooks were for capturing ideas and concepts, preparing them, transmuting them, revising them, pounding them into refrains. In the same way his text (and glyphic) pieces on the street were not necessarily finished products each time; imparted on the run and often in haste, these unpolished missives didn’t require such preciousness.”
“FAILE may be a religious experience this summer at the Brooklyn Museum, but only one of the hallowed installations is called Temple. The seedier, more dimly lit venue will surely have the larger number of congregants by far, bless their sacred hearts.
Celebrating the duality and appropriation of words, slogans, and images have been the bailiwick of the duo since they first began hitting Brooklyn streets at the turn of the century with their stencils and wheat-pastes on illegal spots and neglected spaces. In FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds, their new attention-commanding/refracting exhibit organized by Sharon Matt Atkins at the Brooklyn Museum, these guys pour it on, compelling you into a complex panoply of possible re-imaginings of meaning that reference pop, pulp, myth, art history, 50s sci-fi, 60s advertising, comics, punk zines, consumer culture and their own pure artistic and branded fiction.”
Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To A Seagull) is one of 3 new exhibits inspired by the historic attractions of Brooklyn’s seaside.
“Graffiti artist-turned-sign painter Stephen Powers is dreaming of Coney Island and he is bringing a colorful collection of found and freshly produced signage that evokes a forgotten era to climb the columns of a Brooklyn Museum gallery.
Given the boisterous parade of brands and logos into museums that is happening as part of the institutional funding and programming mix, it’s fun to see the ninth episodic installation of this traveling ICY SIGNS shop here; its simplicity and guile recalling amusing persuasive techniques from the mid-century American advertising lexicon. Simultaneously, for those who have been lucky enough to sicken themselves on cotton candy and The Wonder Wheel, the new show imparts a rather reassuring and seedy nostalgia for Coney Island, complete with an inexplicable hankering for a thick beef hot dog.”
“A retrospective at Brooklyn Museum currently showcases the photographic works and public projects envisioned and created by French Street Artist JR. Covering roughly two decades of work, JR: Chronicles dedicates an in-depth examination into his practices and personal philosophies when creating – as evidenced by this collection of his murals, photographs, videos, films, dioramas, and archival materials.
Brooklyn Street Art: JR created a new digital collage for this exhibition featuring a thousand or so people individually interviewed and photographed. Can you tell us about what criterion he used for selecting his subjects? Sharon Matt Atkins: JR’s main focus was on capturing the rich diversity of New York City. As such, he photographed people in all five boroughs of the city, including many neighborhoods that were new to him. While he did invite some guests to participate, most of the people were passersby or business owners and workers of local stores. “
Blu and Street Art – Banksy & Co.
Curated by Christian Omodeo, Luca Cinacabilla, and Sean Corcoran. March 2016
BLU buffing his own works in Bologna took the news cycle, his legion of compatriots armed with rollers and bucket paint. But it was the show that he was reacting to that brought thousands to the museum space to discuss the rightful place of Street Art, graffiti, and the relevance of preserving it for posterity.
“The contested Banksy and Co. exhibition contains, among many other works, walls removed from a privately owned abandoned building in Bologna that were painted by BLU. Displaying the walls and his artwork without his consent so angered the painter that he rallied artists and activists to help him snuff out all his remaining murals and paintings in this Northern Italian city last week. (See A BLU Buffer Talks About the Grey Action in Bologna)
The heavily attended Friday night opening of Street Art – Banksy & Co. at Palazzo Pepoli – Museo della Storia di Bologna was curated by Luca Ciancabilla, Christian Omodeo, and Sean Corcoran and features roughly 250 historical and contemporary works spanning about fifty years and highlighting a number of movements within the so-called Urban Art genre. On balance it appears that 90 percent of the works are studio works, paintings, sculpture, videos, original sketches, and ephermera and were probably collected in a more conventional way and the tagged posters, stickers, metal doors, and wall fragments are viewed in the context of the whole scene.”
“Reality TV is usually completely devoid of reality. That isn’t the exact comparison Andreco said on his Facebook page but we thought it was a fitting analogy. Street Art in a museum or gallery can sometimes feel like taxidermy.
Andreco actually said ‘Deciding which wall to paint or not to paint has always been one of our free choices. This operation, to uncork the walls and move them elsewhere, oversteps this freedom.’ Fair enough.
Of course, that is not the primary reason why activists and Street Artists joined in to help BLU paint over the many murals that he completed on Bologna city walls over the last two decades or so. In an English titled press release on the Italian website Wumingfoundation the artist lays out a multi-layered justification for destroying his own murals, many of which have become beloved landmarks around the city and which have helped make him an art star in some circles.”
American conceptual, activist and street artist John Fekner, whose art and his art partner Don Leicht were represented in the exhibition Street Art: Bansky & Co weighs in the controversy by saying:
The bottom line is: what’s done in public-doesn’t remain in public. There’s no protection for artists who trespass. It’s the chance one takes outdoors.
If you create illegal art murals, street rules are always in effect:
You can’t stop a drunk in the middle of the night from pissing on your wall.
You can’t stop a bulldozer from razing your work.
You can’t stop a neighborhood anti-graffiti squad from painting over your work.
You can’t stop a well-dressed thief in a suit, or their hired slug with a chisel from removing your wall work and hauling it off to their laird, garage, museum or art market.
“Under any circumstances, don’t immediately and irrationally react. If your original aspirations were to be an artist- then just do what you were meant to do: be an artist. Don’t double shift and be a night watchman patrolling the streets to try and thwart thieves of your work. Unique temporary outdoor creations engender a public conversation that includes everyone: art lovers and art haters, lowbrow and highbrow, and everyone who interacts with your public work.”
Urban Nation Museum for Urban Contemporary Art Opens in Berlin – September 2017
We had the unique perspective of being two of the foundational curators who made this exhibition happen and made the doors fly open to thousands of visitors, so it only made sense that we covered the opening that brought much promise to the institutional recognition of Street Art, graffiti, and its move into Urban Contemporary.
“This week is Art Week in Berlin, and you just stole Art Week,” said a handsome and intensely opinionated German to us as we leaned on the arm rail of the M.C. Escher-inspired walkway before a Carlos Mare139 sculpture and above the capacity crowd on Saturday night at the Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art (UN).
Not sure if that was the exact goal, but we get his larger point; the UN has just made a massive entry into a number of societally and culturally influential minds when it comes to the relevancy of Street Art and graffiti to visual culture and art history. This movement into so-called Contemporary began as early as the 1970s and has overcome and weathered cultural and market ebbs and flows – persisted, if you will – yet somehow institutions have been wary of this work and these artists and unable to fully embrace their importance, you decide why.”
Five Pointz: A Legal Case For Urban Artists Shifts the Focus – February 2018
“In a ruling that many graffiti and Street Artists interpret as a validation of their artwork and which may spawn further legal claims by artists in the future, Brooklyn Judge Frederic Block, a United States Federal Judge for the Eastern District of New York, awarded $6.7 million in damages to a group of 21 artists in the high profile case of the former graffiti holy place in Queens called 5 Pointz.
Under the leadership of artist and organizer Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, also a plaintiff, the award is in response to a suit that cried foul on the overnight destruction of multiple artworks on building walls without consultation or notification of the artists.
Citing provisions of the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act that grants artists certain “moral” rights, the artists claimed that their artworks on the 5 Pointz compound that was owned by real estate developer Jerry Wykoff were protected and should be afforded certain rights and considerations.
Arts and intellectual property lawyers and judges will now be examining the implications of the ruling and citing it as an example in arguments about art created on walls legally and possibly those created illegally as well. In a city that prides itself as being a birthplace of graffiti and Street Art, many artists and wall owners must ask themselves if there will need to be an additional layer of the agreement before an aerosol can is held aloft.”
The New York Times Publishes DONDI’S Obituary – February 2019
In an unprecedented posthumous publication of an obituary, this year The Times acknowledged something that it had so far failed to do; the contribution of graffiti writers to the cultural and art canons deserves serious recognition. By publishing the iconic image of DONDI taken by Martha Cooper that burned “Subway Art” into the mind’s eye of many generations of graffiti writers, the “paper of record” caught up with one the the scene’s leaders and heroes.
“First things first – Full disclosure; we are featured in the movie and we are close friends with both the subject of the doc and the director and we first suggested to the director that she was the perfect candidate to make a film about Martha Cooper. Now that we have that out of the way here are a number of shots from the premiere and our review of the movie:
Martha: A Picture Story had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Thursday to an enthusiastic crowd that included big graffiti, Street Art, international press and film industry names, to see the highly anticipated documentary about the venerable photographer Martha Cooper by the Sydney director Selina Miles.
The electricity was in the air as Director Miles and producer Daniel Joyce along with the just-arrived Australian members of the “Martha” crew looked for their seats in the Village East Cinema. After a brief introduction by Miles, who told the audience that the film had been a great pleasure to make, the curtain went up to reveal the mother of the superstar art twins Os Gemeos on the big screen. She is sitting at her kitchen table in São Paulo remarking how her boys used to draw on everything, including fruit, and how Cooper and Chalfant’s 1984 book “Subway Art” changed their lives forever. With their story as a backbone for the film, the theme of personal transformation is repeated in a hundred large and small ways for the next hour and twenty minutes. “
Street Art and Activism Takes Larger Share of the Cultural Stage
decade that is coming to an end has seen its share of natural disasters, human
rights violations, atrocities of large scale against humanity, corruption at
the highest levels, the reversal of hard-fought policies to protect the planet
and keep our air and water clean. We have witnessed with despair the
renaissance of hatred based on people’s nationalities, their skin color, their
religion, their choice of attire, their level of material affluence and their
have seen progress as well. Women around the world have been freer to speak
their mind against oppression and abuse of power thanks to social movements
that have flourished around the world in big cities and small towns. Our LGBT
brothers and sisters have scored numerous legal battles in their favor thanks
to enlightened lawmakers and judges who have searched deep inside their
intellect to find the right answer to make sure everybody is treated equally.
Likewise, our peers whom we need to advance our cause have taken seriously the
responsibility at the ballot box to make the correct choice with policies that
will bring relief to those who have less than we do.
and artists have often reflected back to us the world we live in, it is for
this reason that we have chosen Street Art and Activism as an important action
in this decade. We have always championed the work of artists who imbued their
art with a strong sense of social urgency. It is with their art that they talk
to us in the hopes to change one mind, one action, one concept, one attitude
towards the goal creating a common good. There are many of them currently
active on the streets. This wouldn’t be the appropriate space to list all of
them but we would like to give you some highlights:
“This past Sunday, February 17 at La Plaza de las Tres Chimeneas (Three Smokestacks Square) in Barcelona an international group of artists participated in the first ‘No Borders Festival.’
NO BORDERS is a grassroots organization that was created to raise awareness about the refugees, to demand their acceptance, and to raise funds through debates, art, and documentaries.
They say they want to raise the uncomfortable questions – which will undoubtedly lead to uncomfortable answers as well. To paraphrase the text on their website:
‘Do we settle for a society that violates its moral and legal obligations to refugees? A refugee is a person who flees – Flees because he is on the losing side. Because he thinks, feels or prays differently than those who point him with their weapons.’
As usual, artists are bringing these matters to the street for the vox populi to debate.”
An Art, Science and Climate Action project by Andreco
“And the statement isn’t hyperbole, according to AIR-Ink, the company that made his ink, which is “the first ink made entirely out of air pollution,” they explain on their website.
The unique art-making material is part of the Italian Street Artist / Activist’s most recent installment of his Climate Art Project, which he orchestrated on the streets here in New Delhi for the St+Art Festival this year. Part of a global, multi-city installation and demonstration, ‘Climate 05 – Reclaiming Air and Water’.”
” ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Ass Ads,’ says a new stencil-style printed poster by New York’s epic, if sometimes cryptic, street commentator of four decades, John Fekner. Anyway, who will argue with that?
“Post-posters is a cooperative proposition about
public billposting,” says French conceptual street anarchist
Matthew Tremblin about his new project with hit-and-run situationist street
posterer Antonio Gallego. Together they reclaim space
with individually produced posters and they invite artists from around the
world to do the same.
Over a two month period the creative place-makers are facilitating an international crew of artists to post posters on the occasion of the double exhibition by Banlieue-Banlieue group* (°1982, Poissy) taking place in Strasbourg, at both AEDAEN and the Syndicat Potentiel. “
“By putting these images of people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks on the street with their blunt-force sentiments addressed to would-be harassers, she not only stands with them, but Tatyana has also used her work and vision to give them the courage to stand proud, assert their voice and to take public space.
After all, it belongs to the public.
“Women are not outside for your entertainment”, a startling
truth for some guys that pointedly highlights abusive behavior toward women on
the streets of Brooklyn and many cities around the world. Brooklyn Street
Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has been targeting daily oppressive experiences of
marginalized people with her campaigns of art on the streets – and in the
Addressing themes of social justice, racism, LGBTQ+ rights, and sexist street harassment, her beautifully drawn campaigns on wheat-pasted posters and painted murals across the globe have brought attention to issues sorely in need of addressing during hostile rhetoric from some men in the highest offices.”
“This spill and these events did not happen in San Diego or Palm Beach. The story doesn’t affect wealthy white families and cannot be used to sell shampoo or real estate. That’s probably why we don’t see it in the press and never on the talking-head news. Street Artist Jetsonorama is not only a photographer who has been wheat-pasting his stunning images of people and nature on desert buildings for over a decade, he is also a doctor on the Navajo reservation, a human-rights activist, and an erudite scholar of American history as it pertains to the poisoning of this land and these people. Today we’re pleased to bring you this long-form examination from Jetsonorama’s perspective on a complicated and tragic US story of environmental poisoning and blight that affects generations of native peoples, miners, military personnel, and everyday people – and has no end in sight.
Most alarming is the news the current White House administration is endeavoring to mine uranium here again.
‘Private companies hired thousands of Navajo men to work the uranium mines and disregarded recommendations to protect miners and mill workers. In 1950 the U.S. Public Health Service began a human testing experiment on Navajo miners without their informed consent during the federal government’s study of the long-term health effects from radiation poisoning. This study followed the same violation of human rights protocol as the US Public Health Service study on the long-term effects of syphilis on humans by experimenting on non-consenting African American men in what is known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from 1932 – 1972.’ ~ Jetsonorama”
“As part of our core commitment as a non-commercial platform that has helped hundreds of artists over the last decade+, BSA significantly helped Escif to raise money for his Indiegogo fundraiser in Spring 2017 when we promoted his “Breath-Time” horticultural project heavily as he planted trees to reforest Mount Olivella in Southern Italy.
Today BSA debuts REWILD, a new
tree-related project by the Spanish Street Artists – just as the Global Climate
March is spreading to cities around the world, including New York.
The concept of the short film is
simple: can’t we just push the “Rewind” button?
‘The narrative runs in reverse, rewinding the clock on deforestation to undo the damage caused by the unsustainable production of one of the world’s most versatile commodities. Beyond the industrialisation of the land, we end at the beginning, a thriving ecosystem alive with wildlife. The concept mirrors the real world action of the Sumatran Orangutan Society and their partners in reclaiming land on the borders of the Leuser rainforests to rewild them with indigenous trees, expanding the boundaries of one of the most biodiverse places on earth.’
Finally, a stunning custom soundtrack by Indonesian composer Nursalim
Yadi Anugerah captures and carries this into another world, which is
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Graffiti on the Berlin U Bahn 1 2. SWOON’S “CICADA” Opened at Deitch Projects 3. Hedof & Joren Joshua. Parees Fest 2019
BSA Special Feature: Phone video of Berlin trains this week.
What fun to see the graffiti rolling by on Berlin train tracks this week – Jaime Rojo shot these pieces and strung them together — all in slow motion so you can appreciate it more.
Graffiti on the Berlin U Bahn 1
Graffiti on the Berlin U Bahn 2
SWOON’S “CICADA” Opened at Deitch Projects
We just wanted to share with you the news about Swoon’s new show at Deitch – We’re sad to miss the opening of but happy to see this video on her Instagram and a recent interview with her on Street Art News.
Hedof & Joren Joshua. Parees Fest 2019
Parees Fest this year produced some great murals and full video interviews with their artist-guest. Here you can listen to Hedof and Joren Joshua as they complete their collaborative work and describe the process.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Gross Domestic Product – Banksy 2. New Stop Animation Project from Caledonia Curry AKA Swoon. 3. Henry Chalfant “Art vs Transit 1977-1987” Bronx Museum of the Arts 4. Street Art Summer Round-Up – 2019 from Fifth Wall TV / Doug Gillen
BSA Special Feature: Gross Domestic Product – Banksy
The doublespeak of Banksy very effectively demanded a whirlwind of media attention in the art/Street Art world once again this week. The anti-capitalist launched a full street-side exhibition while his personal/anonymous brand benefitted by the new record auction price of 9.9 million pounds with fees for one of his works depicting a “Devolved Parliament” full of apes – precisely during the height of inpending Brexit hysteria.
Gross Domestic Product / Banksy Installation. Video Courtesy Ash Versus
New Stop Animation Project from Caledonia Curry AKA Swoon.
Street Artist Swoon (Caledonia Curry) has been pushing her creative limits in a medium she is not known for, and the results are exhilarating.
Facing a backlog of fears and eager to go out of her comfort zones of that include linotype printing and wheat-pasting on the street – and the many projects building community – her last two years of study in stop animation are ready to be seen. Present her narrative practice and character in a surprising new way, Swoon takes chances bravely, and is ready to share her new work.
Her new exhibition with Jeffery Deitch is coming up in New York – but today we offer a sneak peek of what the deep diving Swoon has discovered.
Henry Chalfant “Art vs Transit 1977-1987” Bronx Museum of the Arts
Its here and the reviews have been glowing. One of the originals in documenting and providing platforms to artists and participants of art on the streets and trains, Henry Chalfant is please to present an impressive retrospective through next spring at Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Street Art Summer Round-Up – 2019 from Fifth Wall TV / Doug Gillen
Hop into the Doug soup of insight, mangled pronunciation and zealous fannery for projects and Street/public art concepts he wants you to remember from this summer.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Swoon and The Heliotrope Foundation: A Catalyst For Local Change 2. One Minute Dance: Petites Deambulations Sur “Paradis Perdus” 3. Festival Concreto #5 – Narcelio Grud in Fortaleza, Brazil 4. Murfy Paints Mural for La Fiesta de los Corremayo
BSA Special Feature: Swoon and The Heliotrope Foundation: A Catalyst For Local Change
term economic development? From a Street Artist? Sustainable homes? Jobs?
if the question is about Cormiers, Haiti and the answer is Street Artist Swoon
with her Heliotrope Foundation. You can draw a direct through-line from her
earliest wheatpastes of people on the street to the earthquake surviving Haitians
whom these buildings and programs are for and from. By listening, sharing, and
working alongside, the volunteers and foundation have been building community. And
you thought it was all about vandalism, didn’t you?
One Minute Dance: Petites Deambulations Sur “Paradis Perdus”
Nadia Vadori-Gauthier, the performance artist behind the project One Minute of Dance Per Day, has teamed up with other dancers for a new project titled Petites deambulationssur “Paradis Perdus”
Festival Concreto #5 – Narcelio Grud in Fortaleza, Brazil
For 6 years artist, professor, and organizer Narcelio Grud has gradually
grown the Concreto Festival in Forteleza. As he and the team prepare for
November’s new edition, he tells BSA readers about this video recap of Concreto
“In the timespan of 9 days, downtown Fortaleza received more than 40 artists from Brazil and all over the world to participate in the 5th edition of Festival Concreto – International Festival of Urban Art. Great names from the urban art scene, such as Mônica Nador, Guto Lacaz, Inti Castro, Sabek, SatOne and others, met between November 16 and 24 to color and democratize art in the city.
In the year of 2018, the Festival brought interventions and other activities
to Downtown neighbourhood in Fortaleza, Brazil, called ‘Centro’. The idea was
to occupy and reestablish the connection with an area of the city that was once
a great place of cultural movement, especially in the city’s ‘Belle Époque’. All
this brought color and movement to the local landscapes, realigning the
neighbourhood to a greater valorization of urban culture.
In the video, you can watch most of the activities and artworks that took place in the Festival, as well as participant artists, staff members and the general public talking about their experience within Concreto.”
Murfy Paints Mural for La Fiesta de los Corremayo
Muralist Murfy was in the south of Spain to paint this four-story portrait of a child on the street. “This is a girl dressed in a harlequin costume,” he says of the outfit, “a typical feature at a party in southern Alhama de Murcia, which is where this is.” The La Fiesta de los Corremayo is at the end of April and beginning of May and features bands, music, food, and lots of dancing in the streets by people wearing variations of the harlequin.
They used to run from the Vandal Squad in this
neighborhood. Now people pay to see their art here.
Through the expansive glass wall on the 6th floor you can look down Kent Avenue to see the spot where a monster pickup truck with a heavy chain tied around a FAILE prayer wheel almost jackknifed on the sidewalk, gave up and sped away. Not that many Brooklynites saw that event in the 2000s – nobody walked here and few people drove through Williamsburg then except truckers looking for street walking ladies wearing high heels and spandex. Oh, and a serial killer.
Now visitors buy tickets to see a circular colonnade of FAILE prayer wheels here at 25 Kent – including the real estate developers and Wall Street professionals who displaced the community of artists whose work made the neighborhood attractive and “edgy”.
Along with Street Artists in this exhibition like Shepard Fairey, Bast, Swoon, Invader, Aiko, Dan Witz, Katsu, 1UP, and Lister, the FAILE duo put completely illegal artworks on walls under cover of night and threat of arrest in this same neighborhood then – transforming it with many others who are not in this show into an open gallery of the streets, placing Williamsburg on the map as New Yorks’ epicenter of the newly emerging Street Art scene.
The Nature of Graffiti and Street Art
As graffiti and Street Art are migratory and necessarily elusive by nature, this story is only one chapter in a volume of history that serious academics are now reconstructing and analyzing. With each passing year and published white paper, the practices of 20th century public mark-making are being examined in greater detail for archiving and for posterity. Not surprisingly, institutions, patrons, collectors, and brands are increasingly interested in this story as well.
When it comes to the anarchic subculture of illegal
street art practice and its influence on society, there are non-stop ironies
sprayed en route from verboten to Vuitton, and street culture has supercharged
the imagination of the mainstream and high culture throughout history – that’s
where the best ideas come from sometimes. Many seminal artworks from “the
scene”, as it were, represent much more than what you are seeing at first
glance. As art and cultural critic Carlo McCormick has described the iconic
Shepard Fairey ‘Hope’ image in Art in
America, many graffiti and Street Art works saved are “not a
fleeting pop-culture sensation but simply the latest crossover hit in a long
line of underground classics.”
The wide-ranging survey that is Beyond the Streets makes sure that you know where the roots are, and who many of the pioneers were. It is impossible to tell a complete story that includes scenes as diverse as west coast Chicano muralism, hobo graffiti, hip-hop commercial design, NY downtown artivism, Japanese low/hi contemporary, skateboard, tattoo, early train writing and a current romance with muralism, but BTS at least gives a serious consideration to each and offers you the opportunity to look further into them.
With the help of photography documentation from people like Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Jim Prigoff, Lisa Kahane, Joe Conzo, John Fekner, Bill Daniel, Maripol, and Dash Snow, the crucial importance of this work provides needed interstitial and contextual information that enables myriad stories to be elucidated.
Exhaustive, no. Exhausting, possibly. Pace yourself.
spent my life surrounded by graffiti and Street Art,” says the shows’ director
Roger Gastman “and you could say that I have been obsessed with understanding
the culture, its origins, and its evolution. It’s incredible to me how far it
With 150 artists whose practices span five decades
and various (mainly) American subcultures displayed in a maze of new walls in
this 100,000 sf, two-floor exhibition, the Beyond the Streets senior curatorial
team includes Gastman, filmmaker/ graffiti historian Sacha Jenkins SHR, Juxtapoz
Editor in Chief Evan Pricco, and author/ graffiti historian / graffiti writer David
CHINO Villorente. Each curator brings core competencies and knowledge of the
graffiti scene (Gastman, Jenkins, Villorente) as it has evolved to include the
Street Art practice and an eventual move toward contemporary art (Pricco).
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Villorente, who says his history as
a graffiti writer compounds the impact for him. “I was glad that the show was
coming to New York because I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I couldn’t have
imagined it – especially when I think back on when I was writing on the trains
and doing illegal graffiti. To have of show of this magnitude is really
“We started writing in ’68 and here we are, fifty-one years later,” says Mike 171 as he gestures toward himself and crew writer SJK 171 when talking about how they began and continued writing their tags on the street in New York City. “This is the history right here,” he says, and you know you are about to be schooled about the plain realities of early graffiti writing. At the opening, you witness each guy tagging in a large dusty window here and realize the love for writing never actually stops.
“We were expressing something that was inside of us,” says SJK 171. “The streets were like ours,” he tells you against a backdrop of their work, Cornbread’s work, and of images full of one color, single line monikers that set the stage for the more colorful, character-driven pieces and burners a decade later, transforming trains into a rolling aesthetic symphony by the mid 1970s.
One of the actual “whole car” writers of that period, Lee “LEE” Quinones, here recreates a “Soul Train” car side on a canvas that looks like it could easily wrap an actual MTA #2-line car that he used to slaughter with cans in the middle of the night at the train yard. When describing the new work he said he was intentionally keeping it simple – perhaps owing the style to his earlier practice.
“I think this is one of Lee’s most amazing pieces,” says Charlie Ahearn, the director of the seminal 1982 “Wild Style” film that Quinones stars in. Ahearn self-produced that film which became an important distillation of the merging of graffiti with hip-hop culture during a pivotal moment in the history of both. Now also a professor of Hip-Hop, art, design, and documentary film making at Pace University, Ahearn is familiar with many of the artists work here, many relationships reaching back decades. “I told Lee that I liked that it was a one-off, that he painted all the color straight off without the embellishment, texturing, and all that stuff.”
Charlie’s twin brother John Ahearn is represented here popping out from walls as well, his sculptures serving as authentic portraits of people you may easily have seen on New York streets over the last four decades. Casted directly on top of the people themselves in a technique he has perfected, the placement of the sculptures gives life to the space.
Star Writers, Immersive Environments, Foundations
The individual clusters of work and canvasses by 1970s-80s train painters like Futura, Crash, Lady Pink, Freedom, Carlos Mare, Blade, Haze, and Daze and next gen graphic painters like Doze Green and Rime are complemented by a number of so-called “immersive” spaces here like the Mission Schools’ Barry McGee storefront with smashed window, and the Australian Pop duo Dabs & Myla’s eye candy floral walls with thousands of artificial fauna created in collaboration with Amelia Posada.
The high-profile graphic activist Shepard Fairey’s 30 year career overview takes a large area and encompasses all elements of his street and studio practice, and Bill Barminski’s cardboard home is open for you to explore with a wry smile, remembering the security room installation he did at Banksy’s Dismaland a couple years earlier.
also treated to a full rolling wall of Craig Stecyk posters that brings you the
sun and surf of California skate culture, sculptures by Mr. Cartoon and Risk, a
kid-friendly illustrated room with crafting supplies for young fans on tables
from HuskMitNavn, and an astute freight train culture educational display by
writer/painter/sculptor Tim Conlon (complete with a mid-sized Southern Pacific freight
on train tracks he and friends built), prints/photos by historian Bill Daniel, and
original drawings by the man some call the King of Hobo Art, buZ blurr.
are a self portrait as predicated on a first Bozo Texino person and I kind of
changed the image around,” says Mr. blurr, a legendary figure in denim
overalls, as he patiently describes his classic tag image of a railway cowboy.
is a writer motif – the pipe smoke is going up and then it is trailing back to
signify movement as the train goes down the track,” he says. “I worked in the
train yards and my job was as a brakeman. I had a little free time so I started
making drawings. I made my first one on November 11, 1971,” he says as he
recalls the state of mind that he was in at the time as he began to tag
freights with the image and text that came to him clearly – and may have
perplexed other travellers.
came from a confused state. I was questioning everything. I was putting kind of
cryptic messages under my drawings. It was anybody’s guess as to its literal
interpretation. I addressed some of them up to specific people but whether they
saw them or responded to them, I wouldn’t have any idea.”
it’s shipped in the crate its 550 pounds,” says Conlon as he stands by the 3-foot
high freight car re-creation on tracks and ties that is
hit with a couple of wild and colorful graffiti burners. “Here I’m going to
show you something,” he says as he pulls back the roof to reveal the narrow
coffin interior in rusted red. “So I’m going to hide some beer in here during
the opening party. This is like the fifth one of these I’ve made,” and he proudly
confides that one lives in the house of Robert Downey Jr.
Digging Deep to Take Risks
to rest on laurels and previous formulas of success, the show keeps a freshness
by presenting known entities pushing themselves further and taking creative risks;
a reflection of that spirit of experimentation we have always prized on the
writer Earsnot from Irak crew, now known professionally as Kunle Martin, said
he had been making work for the gallery containing elements of graffiti, but
felt they were too “safe”.
“Then my friend Dan said ‘you should go back to doing drawings,’” he says as he stands before figurative canvasses in black and white on cardboard. “I said ‘I can’t! It’s too hard! But eventually I began working in my studio five days a week, and I made enough for a show.”
Reflective of the attitude of Gastman toward artists in the community, he told Martin that if he made enough of them, he could place them in this show. “I think he was happy to hear that I was in my studio working. He’s been very supportive of it.”
color-drenched graphic/photographic collage style is featured with plenty of
space in large frames from Chicago’s Pose, who says he is letting photography
and geometry lead him away from his previous pop collage style that may have reminded
many of Lichtenstein. His inspiration here comes from his research into early
photos of graffiti writers running from police “I was
obsessed with John Naars photos and I have usually Norman Mailer as in
inspiration. Some of these photo references are from the Philadelphia Inquirer,” he says.
New York’s Eric Haze also dares himself to take a new direction with three canvasses featuring a refracted piecing-together of imagery and memories of this city in monochrome. Based on black and white scenes of the city by photographer and NYC taxi driver Matt Weber, the scenes capture aspects that are culled from imagination and impression. The centerpiece canvas captures an iconic piece of the Williamsburg waterfront that has been removed in the last few years by developers; the signage of the old Domino Sugar factory by the Williamsburg Bridge.
Mr. Haze said he meant it as a gift and tribute to
his wife, actress and longtime resident of the neighborhood, Rosie Perez who
used to see it along Kent Avenue as a kid. “He’s not afraid to take risks. He’s not afraid to go in the
studio and express what’s inside of him. When he brought me to the studio, he
says, ‘I have a surprise for you’,” she remembers. “I saw the beginnings of the
Domino painting and I was stunned into silence and I got teary-eyed.”
An expanded version of the show that first mounted
in Los Angeles last year, the collection is focused a great deal on the
American history of graffiti with a balance of East/West coast graffiti history
– in a way that may remind you of 2011’s “Art in the Streets” at LA MoCA. That
makes sense, considering Gastman co-curated that show as well.
“It’s both a historical and current look at where
the culture went and where it started and how widespread it is,” says
co-curator Evan Pricco, who perhaps provides a lynchpin view toward the big
name Street Artists who continued to push expectations in the 2000’s on streets
and in commercial galleries around the world. “With the space spread over two
floors it has a way better curatorial sense. I also think it does compete with
museums because it shows that this kind of work is on the same level. You kind
of have to present it in a way that feels very institutional and archival.”
So is Beyond the Streets
a graffiti show or a Street Art show or a contemporary art show? For artist
Kenny Scharf, who first gained attention during the heyday of Downtown
Manhattan’s art scene that benefitted from an interlude where rents were dirt
cheap and Wall Street was on a cocaine high, there is no need to categorize
what kind of art this is.
“You know I never liked labels or titles anyway so
even back in the early 80s I was pegged like ‘oh you’re a graffiti artist,’” he
says. “People feel the need to title and label so I’ll
let them to continue to do that but I don’t fit into any of them and I don’t
want to. I want to fit into all of them and none of them.”
Streets opened June 21 and continues through the summer.
Martha Cooper’s work as exhibited at Beyond The Streets New York
Beyond The Streets NYC is now open in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to the general public and will run until August 2019. Click HERE for schedules, tickets and details.