Street Artist Gaia Talks About New Installation and Latest Study
For the opening this Thursday Gaia will be talking about the impressions he has gathered and internalized of Houston’s urban sprawl and of some of the folks on the front lines of the everyday; using painting, drawing, printmaking, and collage. Much like his commissioned installation at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) in 2012-13, where he created portraits of individuals in the community of Baltimore using techniques inspired by Gauguin’s Vahine no te vi (Woman of the Mango), this new installation will open Rice University Art Gallery’s fall season with faces, textual excerpts, and city/landscape sweeps of the city he is studying.
“Essentially I am creating this mural as a pastiche of Houston and then interviewing faculty, staff and students at Rice University to get a sense of the institution’s place in the greater city,” says Gaia of his study of the city and its international populations. At the moment he is taking a break sitting atop a mountain of styrofoam that will be soon be cut, shaped, and sculpted for the installation – a constructed cloister within the gallery space. “I want it to mirror the campus’ architecturally byzantine quotation,” he explains of the temporary structure.
Since BSA was a very early profiler of the work of this artist, our readers are quite familiar with Gaia’s work on the street and his interest in depicting important figures who influenced the direction he grew personally – remember the large head of his grandfather floating on Brooklyn walls in the late 2000s?
Eventually his examination and studies of important figures expanded to profiling politicians, developers, leaders, architects, city planners, spiritual figures, citizens, workers – all identified as pivotal parts of the DNA that give a city or a neighborhood its true sense of place. With these new oil paintings of participants in his latest anthropological exploration, visitors will be seeing a marbled moment in the storied history of Houston as a city and a society.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring 4 Burners Crew, Bast, Billi Kid, Bunny M, Doug Nox aka the Harlequinade, El Sol 25, Entes y Pesimo, How & Nosm, JMR, Kobra, Rubin, and Stikman.
YEEE HAAAAWWWW! Brooklyn Street Artist JMR has been exploring the dusty detritus of Dallas for a spell and has found that some of the BIG D’s outlying areas remind him of the wildness of abandoned spots in Brooklyn that provided succor and inspiration to artists and performers and poets and wise guys at the turn of the century. But he has no illusions about the future for a lively hipster art scene here. For one thing, there are no redheads from Portland with 36 stringed home-made musical instruments connected to a projector here yet. Naturally while exploring, JMR brought some paint with him. Here’s what he’s been seeing…
“The wall was offered to me in collaboration with a Dallas graff legend named Ozone. The building is a live-work space for two local guys starting a longboard company/music studio. They also repair motorcycles while watching documentaries in their make-shift living room; it’s a very early 90s Williamsburg ‘Frontier Land’ vibe, sans the imminent real estate surge. That’s never coming here and it’s refreshing. In the midst of this industrial lower class neighborhood at night you can light a fire and sit around it and talk about politics or whatever, while drinking beer and smoking.
There’s a bunch of hardcore graff writers out here as well, who I met through this painting. Although the city is oddly devoid of any tags, throw-ups, or fill-ins, there is a major freight yard where trains lay up for days and people are getting busy. The trains are bombed well and it’s inspiring to watch them pass, and frustrating to try and snag flix with my iPhone, fumbling to keep up with the motion.”
First submission “The SWAG Line”, which is very effective when done by two or more persons simultaneously. The gymnasium action STARTS AT .49 seconds.
French Street Artist LUDO’s sculpture “The Cacktus”
Now, is that nice? Don’t want to read too much into the possible symbolism here, but LUDO may have some anger issues he’s working out in this new sculpture project.
Says the artist: “Back from Zurich and a lot of works on paper, I wanted to spend more time in the studio to focus on a (almost) new technique for my pieces. 3 years after the first little sculpted Gunflower, I am very happy with this new series of sculptures called “The Cacktus.” ~ LUDO
Trying to figure out what to pack for your picnic in the hazardous waste industrial park today? Here’s a delicious option from the blog of BAST. See brand new stuff he posted on his blog yesterday here http://bastny.blogspot.com/
Yard Work Episode: 7
Deep inside suburban New Jersey, Snow and Joe Iurato rock a back yard.
Street Art Shows Its Softer Side in Canarsie, BK
Yo, we know ya’ll are hard beeaatches because you are STREET, right? Don’t front. And yet, Abe Lincoln Jr. shares this project with the BSA fam that makes everybody think you may not be the ostracized marginalized feral cats you pose as – Curated by the Love Movement, a handful of mostly New York Street Artists got together and painted big pieces to be permanently installed in a high school in the Carnarsie section of Brooklyn. Participating artists who gave of their creative juices freely include Leon Reid, Michael Defeo, Skewville, TooFly, Thundercut, Morning Breath, and Abe Lincoln Jr.
JMR Somewhere in Texas, “Here is Now”
It’s Getting Hot Out Here…. I know it was 97 degrees in NYC yesterday and it’s only June. At least here you literally CAN take off ALL of your clothes if you want.
Yes, Texas. Where they fry eggs on the street for breakfast, it’s so hot. That’s where Street Artist JMR has a show called “Here is Now”. Right now we are here, but congrats to Jim.
In these images from Austin, Texas and New Orleans, she begins her portraiture series with what we hope will be many dispatches from the road between now and June, when she expects to complete this exploration of places and people. When looking at these images, it is helpful to recognize that they are not from an app on an Iphone – the wet-plate process was invented around 1850 and begins with bromide, iodide or chloride salts dissolved in collodian – and gets more complicated from there. The laborious process requires a thoughtful approach to the subject, and the results can be stunning, mythic, or even heroic in character and atmosphere in Hasty’s hands.
This cross country “Homeland” trip is financed by donations to her Kickstarter project. While she has reached an initial goal in the first phase, the needs will most likely be double what was originally estimated. Please continue to donate to Robyn’s kick-starter campaign at this link – she still has about 12 days to go before it expires.
Street Artist NohJColey travelled to Texas for a few weeks to visit friends and put up these new portraits in the studios of a de facto music factory. The former meat packing plant is abuzz with activity day and night with up-and-coming entrepreneurs of all stripes pounding out the beats, doing fashion shoots, making videos, mixing music, and a little bit of partying to ease the stress of all that work. NohJ slept on couches for a few weeks and hung out with many unknowns on the hip-hop tip, and a few bigger names too. He also spent long stretches of time killing large walls in these artists studios with his very distinctive illustration style of portraiture. Not surprisingly, the theme of music runs through them.
“The first piece I did was done in the place I was sleeping in. It wasn’t about the owner but it was a reflection of him in a way because he literally ran around with his head cut off and he didn’t know what was going on half the time. He was mostly crying about his girlfriend or surfing the net looking at new videos. Supposedly he was a DJ. He had gigs, but no turntables. He was scratcher and mixer,” explains NohJ about this mural going up a staircase.
If you know anything about NohJ, it’s that he is always thinking and observing people. Each piece has a story that is rooted in his imagination as much as his observation of the human condition. His characters are illustrative of greater truths and of their personal idiosyncracies. You can imagine him becoming a literary or screen writer because he knows his subjects inside and out. Psychology, sociology, and popular culture all come to fore, placed with symbolism and gesture into the portrait and into a moment. If NohJ inhabits each fictional character he creates just for a moment, he stays with them for hours, gently observing their motivations and making judgments about their judgment, blending in some social critique.
Brooklyn Street Art:What about this dude?
NohJ: These are piano keys, I don’t know if I ever said that.
Brooklyn Street Art:No, I didn’t see that
NohJ: Yeah, they’re supposed to be exiting his chest
Brooklyn Street Art:So does it seem like musical notes coming out of his chest?
NohJ: No, just keys
Brooklyn Street Art:So they’re musical tools with which to create the sound but they don’t necessarily have a sound?
NohJ: I’d say they represent the sound just because those are the keys, you know?
Brooklyn Street Art:Biomorphic, undulating
NohJ: Definitely, contorted, yeah
Brooklyn Street Art:What about these gray lines that go around?
NohJ: That’s the chords
Brooklyn Street Art:He looks kind of constricted by them, his lower torso
NohJ: He’s can’t go anywhere because the line is wrapped. He wants to DJ but he can’t get the turntable, it keeps rocking back and forth. He can’t really see it. The right eye is covered because, you know how there are constantly music videos going – he’s constantly seeing the music video in something. He sees clothes, a phone, somebody’s chain, sneakers. He sees it in a video and thinks he’s gotta buy it.
Brooklyn Street Art:So he’s imprisoned by his consumerist tendencies?
Brooklyn Street Art:or just his impulses
NohJ: Probably his tendencies though because he’s like being brainwashed.
Brooklyn Street Art:It becomes a tendency after a while
NohJ: He’s like “Oh, it’s a whole lifestyle”, you know
Brooklyn Street Art:“this stuff represents ‘me’”. He doesn’t look like he’s very old.
NohJ: I don’t know – mid twenties, early thirties
Brooklyn Street Art: So what was the reaction of the person who hangs out in this space?
NohJ: He liked it. He didn’t know what it was about. It was about him though.
NohJ: This one is about noise levels.
Brooklyn Street Art:She’s plugging her ears too.
NohJ: Even though the sound is coming out of her nose. That’s why I used the pattern- It’s octagons and triangles. I usually use triangles to represent strife, the points!
Brooklyn Street Art:So if we see shapes that are in your work that are circles or are circular, what are those going to represent?
NohJ: I rarely use circles but it probably would mean that you are going through a transition. It might be rough but it’s going to get better. It all depends though cause it all has to do with the number.
Brooklyn Street Art:What’s her name?
NohJ: She doesn’t have a name but this is in a guys studio and when he has the speakers on, this piece makes so much sense to you. Because it’s like all this noise coming from the right side of the house and you are just looking at this woman and she is looking at you and she’s like, “Yeah it’s noisy right?”
Brooklyn Street Art:This pattern also makes me think of some folk art or maybe Native American art.
NohJ: I kind of figured you’d…. I mean, why?
Brooklyn Street Art:Because of the diamond motif repeated. I mean it’s a quadrilateral but it’s squashed. There’s no Native American influence here.
NohJ: Maybe, but if so it subconsciously got in there.
Brooklyn Street Art:I think her name is Consuelo. That’s what I’ve decided. But you don’t have a name for her.
NohJ: She’s trying to distance herself from the rest of her body because this over here is her back and the speakers are inbetween, you know?
Brooklyn Street Art:Man! She is really trying to get away!
NohJ: She’s pulling herself apart.
While a portrait may be a symbol of a greater truth, he isn’t going to stand on a soapbox. But if you really want to know and you are listening, he’ll tell you. If not, he won’t worry very much. Amalgams of people he’s met and the person he is, the pieces and their stories have their own logic – part reality and science fiction. Mixing fantasy with reality, sometimes it’s not clear where one ends and the other starts;Just when you think you got the scenario and you think it’s all symbolism and representation, you’ll learn that a character actually does have a piece of jewelry protruding from their head, or a cassette tape flowing out of his mouth and it is not a metaphor after all.
Brooklyn Street Art: Tell me about this boy
NohJ: He’s just like a teenager that listens to all this new music that we’ve been talking about. – Like poor quality stuff.
Brooklyn Street Art:He doesn’t think it’s poor quality though.
NohJ: Exactly, that’s the problem. That’s why there are all these tapes flying at him and he’s just covering his ears. He doesn’t want to hear the titles of the good stuff you know? – Whether it’s like Led Zepplin or the Beatles or I don’t know.
Brooklyn Street Art:What does he want to listen to?
NohJ: I don’t know, like Justin Bieber, Souljah Boy, stuff like that.
Brooklyn Street Art:Is this other guy lecturing him?
NohJ: Yeah, definitely. He’s like an older musician, dressed in 70s fashion.
Brooklyn Street Art:He looks like he was on the set of “Sanford and Son”
NohJ: Yeah, definitely. The large oversized collar, open.
Brooklyn Street Art:That looks like a VCR tape
NohJ: It’s a cassette tape.
Brooklyn Street Art:So what do you think this guy has on these cassette tapes?
NohJ: Like Hendrix, the O’Jays
Brooklyn Street Art:Oh yeah, like “Love Train”.
NohJ: …Sonny Rollins… I mean he’s really just telling him about quality stuff, and really where most of the new stuff derives from.
Brooklyn Street Art: This kid looks a little bit mad
NohJ: Yeah he’s super angry, he doesn’t like this
Brooklyn Street Art:But he can’t talk back, that’s why his mouth is closed
NohJ: I think he’s really scared though because he’s like “how are cassette tapes coming out of someone’s mouth?”
In the quiet everyday moments of this sister city to El Paso, Juárez can seem small and provincial, where neighbors share stories about sports teams or new babies or an upcoming Quinceañer while walking up the sidewalk or standing around in the corner Farmacia. Other days in the last couple of years find residents afraid and hidden as this dusty border city has become marred by the crossfire of a violent drug war that no one has found a solution to yet.
Street Artist Joerael spent some time in Juárez recently working with local friends to put up a few new pieces of Street Art just outside the industrial sector of town where international companies operate factories for goods exportable to the U.S. In these images you can get a feeling for the small town within the city, nestled between las colonias (the neighborhoods) named Ignacio Ramos and Colinas Del Norte, street art is a family affair. Joereal put up a complicated paper stencil of symbolic icons combining Mexican tradition, native history, cubist shapes, and storytelling to address the corrosive effect on the psyche here. Whether specific commentary on the local situation or a more general observation of human’s incredible capacity for denying uncomfortable truths, Joereal is laboring to be heard.