In the heart of Berlin-Neukölln, the Genezareth Church, a neo-Gothic tower with a history as rich and intricate as the city itself, stands renewed and vibrant, thanks to the artistic duo Various and Gould. Their latest project, “Strahlen” (German for “rays” or “to shine”), was inaugurated in mid-September, almost 120 years to the day after the church’s foundation stone was laid in 1903. The installation heralds a new era for the church, which has been experiencing a revival under the Startbahn team, an open-minded group managing the church for the past few years.
Street artists and installation artists Various and Gould, known for their immersion in the context and history of their chosen sites, have transformed the church’s bricked-up windows into a dynamic visual narrative. “We were immediately struck by the church’s colorful redesign and open concept. Our design for the windows evolved into a dynamic, upward-striving bundle of rays, a lantern-like view into the church, reflecting its vibrant, multi-layered new program,” they shared. This transformation is particularly poignant, considering the church’s history of resilience and adaptation, especially during and after WWII when its proximity to Berlin-Tempelhof Airport necessitated critical architectural changes to work in concert with aeronautic needs.
The mural, “Strahlen,” is not just an aesthetic enhancement but a symbolic representation of the church’s role in a changing neighborhood. Various and Gould observed, “The surrounding area, especially since the closure of the nearby airport, has been a juxtaposition of contrasts. Our mural mirrors this dynamism, serving as a beacon of diversity and plurality.” This is evident in the faces depicted in the mural, generated with AI and then artistically altered, representing the diverse community the church embraces.
Inside the church, artworks by other artists, like Polina Soloveichik’s Easter triptych, complement the external mural, creating a dialogue between the interior and exterior. The Startbahn team, according to their website, envisions the church as a space for artistic, spiritual, and socio-political projects, a vision embodied in Various and Gould’s “Strahlen.”
The installation of “Strahlen” at the Genezareth Church is a testament to the evolving role of public art in contemporary society. It bridges the free spirit of graffiti with the finesse of trained artists, creating a new paradigm in public art engagement. As Pastor Jasmin El-Manhy of the Startbahn initiative aptly says, “We aim to inspire and accompany people through life with a blessing, opening our doors to all walks of life.” One may say that this new project is not just a visual spectacle but a reaffirmation of the church’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and community engagement in a neighborhood rich with history and undergoing significant transformation.
The artists would like to thank Juliane Kownatzki and Tavar Zawacki for their spontaneous help.
The vibrant margins of cities around the globe have long echoed with the silent yet visually boisterous language of graffiti. For artists and graffiti writers, these urban practices and canvases are sacred, bound by several unspoken codes that regulate the street, and may vary somewhat from country to country, city to city. One that is universal: you do not “go over” or paint atop another’s work unless you intend a deliberate provocation.
Yet, Munich-based graffiti veterans Patrick Hartl and Christian “C100” Hundertmark, known collectively as Layer Cake, dare to challenge this rule in a groundbreaking collaborative project titled “Versus”. Presenting the fourth iteration of this show at the Subliminal Projects Gallery in Los Angeles, the “Versus IV” exhibition features a brand new roster of collaborations. It is a testament to the boundless possibilities when artists embrace challenge, change, and true collaboration.
Layer Cake’s audacious process commenced in their Munich studio during the last decade or so. They initiated canvases, leaving them deliberately unfinished before shipping them to various artists worldwide. These artists, in an act of trust and faith and an urge to collaborate, completed the paintings without prior discussion of details with Layer Cake. In some instances, this exchange occurred multiple times, spanning up to two years. The artworks emerged as stunning mosaics or hand style and eclectic modernism, a synthesis of diverse visual languages, methodologies, and ideas – a reflection of the artists’ non-verbal dialogues with one another as well as their introspections on personal boundaries.
The Versus project gathers a mosaic of artists, from Hera to MadC to Rocco and His Brothers to “Chaz” Bojórquez and Shepard Fairey, united by a fervent passion for style writing, street art, and graffiti. Each artist brings their distinct style to the canvas and in doing so, contributes to a diverse spectrum that blurs the lines between individual contribution and collective creation. These works aren’t just paintings; they’re conversations, layered dialogues that traverse geographical and artistic divides, embodying a unique intersection of graffiti and contemporary art.
Hartl and Hundertmark, despite being rooted in the world of graffiti, have constantly evolved their artistic expressions. Their collaborative moniker, “Layer Cake,” perfectly encapsulates their artistic ethos. Like a lush multi-tiered confection, theirs is a collection of artworks that is infused with depth – from Patrick’s writing elements juxtaposed against Christian’s hard-edged abstract forms. This joint effort, as they remark, challenges artists to confront an existing work rather than the pristine white of a blank canvas, pushing them out of their comfort zones and into new horizons.
For the uninitiated and the aficionados alike, “Versus: IV” at Subliminal Projects is more than an exhibition; It’s an invitation into a realm where graffiti’s age-old traditions meet the revolutionary ethos of contemporary art. It re-defines visual and psychological spaces where boundaries, both inner and outer, are tested and where creativity resists limits. Layer Cake’s initiative doesn’t just question the norms of the graffiti world; it celebrates the transformative power of collaboration in art.
BSA/Urban Nation’s Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo saw the new works going up at Subliminal Projects yesterday, with Layer Cake leading the way. Please join us all Saturday night with artist and host Shepard Fairey and graffiti godfather “Chaz” Bojórquez for a panel discussion and a grand opening for Layer Cake: Versus IV.
Join us Saturday, September 16th, 6-7 PM for the Opening Reception. To kick off the reception, the gallery will host a special Artist Talk at 6:15 PM with Layer Cake, featuring contributing artists Shepard Fairey (@obeygiant) and Chaz Bojórquez (@chaz_bojorquez), moderated by Steven P. Harrington co-founder of Brooklyn Street Art (@bkstreetart). RSVP to email@example.com to attend. This exhibition is made possible with support from OBEY GIANT ART & URBAN NATION MUSEUM
AKTE ONE, Bond Truluv, Carolina Falkholt, Chaz Bojórquez, Cren, CRYPTIK, Dave The Chimp, Flying Förtress, Formula76, HERA, HNRX, Layer Cake, MadC, MAMBO (Flavien Demarigny), Matthias Edlinger, Łukasz Habiera Nawer, Peter “Paid” Levine, Rocco & His Brothers, Shepard Fairey, Various and Gould, and Zepha (Vincent Abadie Hafez).
Click HERE for more information about this exhibition and Art Talk.
A great project has just emerged from the collaboration between Urban Nation Museum and the dynamic Berlin-based street art duo Various and Gould. This new addition to the ONE WALL series has been expertly curated by Michelle C. Houston, with valuable production support from YAP. The project bears the name ‘We all belong to this community’ (Wir alle hier gehören zum Wir). At a time when xenophobia has been on the rise in many Western societies, public art has taken on a crucial role in educating and reconnecting people and communities.
What makes this project in the Berlin-Spandau district truly captivating is its engagement with local kids at a youth center through an inspiring art workshop. During this workshop, the artists introduced their mural concept and collaborated with the young participants to create captivating collages and individual portrait photos. The mural is an eclectic collage sketch that beautifully incorporates elements from the participants’ faces, effectively symbolizing a collective identity for the neighborhood.
The artists behind this remarkable piece tell us, ‘Our mural is based on a collage from our ongoing Face Time series, which we initiated back in 2015 to celebrate human diversity and question conventional beauty standards.’ Throughout the mural’s creation, the artists meticulously inscribed numerous first names on the wall, including those of workshop participants and other individuals they encountered in the neighborhood. Remarkably, the project seemed to tap into the live pulse of community sentiment as kids and adults gathered on the sidewalk below, joyfully shouting out their names to be included in the mural. A local legend named Moha even stepped in to lend a helping hand by sending lists of names up to the artists’ phones.
As Various notes, ‘When you paint a mural, it’s an exhilarating journey where every day and hour counts, and you must transform your sketch into a grand-scale masterpiece.’ It’s a process that demands intense concentration, all while under the watchful eyes of local residents. Gould adds, ‘Our playful approach might make it seem effortless, but each step of the way is filled with intensity.’ This is evident in instances such as when they found themselves stuck in a lift – and during the tumultuous, rainy hours when painting was challenging.
In essence, this mural project not only showcases the remarkable creative talents of the artists but also underscores the significance of community and diversity in the face of pressing societal issues like racism and exclusion. Their manner and message both serve as powerful reminders of the need for every member of society to feel valued and included.
Various and Gould would like to express their gratitude and extend a heartfelt shout-out to Luis Limberg for his daily production assistance and offer many thanks to their fellow artist friend, Tavar Zawacki, who joined them for a day on the cherry picker, contributing to the project’s success. Our special thanks to Sebastian Kläbsch, Luis Limberg, and @MOHA for sharing their photographs with BSA readers.
It’s a brave and intricate undertaking, receiving someone’s painted canvas into your studio and then determining how you will alter it by painting over someone else’s work. Graffiti writers spend years developing and perfecting their ability to handle letters with a can, to coin their individual style. Partly in recognition of this, other writers avoid going over your work on the street, unless it is done with the intention to provoke.
Each partner in the Versus 3 Project, which we tie up today with some photos we didn’t publish previously, knows that the rules of the street are intentionally, and functionally broken here. The artists tell us it is uncomfortable even when permission is given. The root of collaboration in the project required passing the canvas back and forth between artists in a silent conversation, with no rules about style or materials – and the results can not be predicted accurately.
Patrick Hartl and Christian Hundertmark, as a duo called Layer Cake, repeatedly related stories last week of opening the newly arrived package, unwrapping the painted canvas, and staring intently at it.
“I think we don’t really have expectations, right?” says Hundertmark of the process.
“We know the work from the artists,” says Hartl, “so we probably know what they are about to do. In the end, we don’t know how comfortable they feel when they get not a white canvas, but a painted canvas.”
It’s relevant to mention that the collaborative works of Layer Cake have always been this way between the two – and the Versus project is simply opening up the process for new artists to participate in this way. “We had been doing this for five years already,” says Hundertmark, “so for us, it was just normal.” That practice grew into the Versus Project, a project of trading canvasses that resulted in two mounted exhibitions at Urban Nation’s special project space in Berlin. Now for Versus III, the exhibition travels to Miami with the guys at the Museum of Graffiti.
Some artists they had met only through the Internet or social media, and others were long-time friends. Some had a special meaning because they were introduced by recommendation. Others were revered originators in the graffiti and street art scene, with well-known careers on the street stretching back decades. No two experiences were the same – with multiple variables at play, including how much time an artist took to respond with their new iteration. A few never returned their canvas at all.
“Of course, you always have something in your mind about how the canvas will look when it comes back,” says Hartl during an exhibit tour.
When working with the Berlin art couple Various & Gould, the guys thought they would send them their first layer in tones they would be pleased with. “For this one, it was exceptional because we sent them a green and yellow canvas,” says Hartl. “They opened it and said, ‘Okay, these are not the colors that we usually work with!’”
“For us it was interesting to see what was coming back. So we opened it and said, ‘Wow, they added orange!’ ”
The Swiss graffiti writer and artist Thierry Furger speaks of his ‘buffed’ paintings and relates that it was a tentative process to collaborate like this on a canvas, feeling like he was breaking the rules, but eventually, he liked it.
“In graffiti, going over or crossing other pieces is actually a no-go and sometimes connected with consequences,” he says, and it sounds like he still has some reservations. “But I really hope that if I ever meet the two guys that they do not punch me because I went over them, ha ha ha.”
As a 2-man graffiti/street art crew, how do you collaborate on a canvas with Flying Fortress?
Various & Gould?
Rocco and His Brothers?
It’s a multi-layered process.
That’s what we found out today when we got a sneak preview of LAYER CAKE at the Museum of Graffiti with Co-founder Alan Ket leading the way. The Munich-based duo landed in Miami last night to attend tonight’s opening in the Wynwood District.
“Versus III” is the latest iteration of this back-and-forth project between Layer Cake and some of the most accomplished and avant-garde names on the European (and American) graffiti/street art scenes. Ket and co-founding partner Allison Freidin and the museum team are hosting the two former graffiti writers Patrick Hartl and Christian “C100” Hundertmark tonight for a special reception in the main gallery. We thought you’d like to see some behind-the-scenes shots of the installation.
Come through tonight for a special talk tonight with Urban Nation’s Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo with the artists about the politics, practices, and possibilities that can pop up when you ship your painted canvas off the someone else and say “do whatever you want to this – and send it back”.
The guys will be showing us photos of the stages of the process and telling the audience how their lives have changed from being graffiti writers to being regarded as contemporary urban artists.
Also, there will be cake. See you there!
Layer Cake – The Versus Project 3. Miami, Florida. Opens on O2.03.23 for the general public. Click HERE for more details, schedules, tickets, etc.
Layer Cake: THE VERSUS PROJECT III / Museum of Graffiti / Miami
The German art duo Layer Cake (aka Patrick Hartl and Christian “C100” Hundertmark) are splashing into Miami next week with a new show at the Museum of Graffiti.
After two successful exhibitions with Urban Nation Museum of Urban Contemporary Art in Berlin, the two former graff writers from Munich are bringing a brand new collection of canvases they have completed with graffiti and street artists from all over the world.
The unique show relies on unspoken communication, with no words exchanged, an aesthetic call and response that pushes each participant to dig deep and rely on their own courage to collaborate. “In this creative, non-verbal dialogue, painterly mosaics of different ideas, styles and working methods were thus created in an associative manner,’ says the press release.
The project is called “Versus” and both Hartl and Hundertmark will attend in Miami Thursday night. New canvases will be on view for the first time. Artists include Layer Cake (Patrick Hartl and Christian Hundertmark aka C100), Akue, Raws, Flying Förtress, Various&Gould, Bond Truluv, ThierryFurger/Buffed Paintings, Arnaud Liard, Rocco & his brothers, Hera & MadC.
BSA will also be there to help launch this exhibition! As ambassadors for Urban Nation, we’re proud to see these collaborations in person and to join museum director Alan Ket and the team to welcome Layer Cake.
Hope to meet you there!
MUSEUM OF GRAFFITI AND LAYER CAKE ANNOUNCE “THE VERSUS PROJECT III” PRESENTED BY RIP IT February 3 – April 16, 2023
Layer Cake “The Versus Project III” opens to the general public at the Museum of Graffiti on February 03, 2023.
Hours: The Museum of Graffiti is open from 11 AM – 6 PM on weekdays and 11AM– 7PM on weekends.
Location: The Museum of Graffiti, located at 276 NW 26th Street, Miami, FL 33127.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Monumental Shadows: Rethinking Colonial Heritage 2. Os Gemeos: Secrets – Ep. 03
BSA Special Feature: Monumental Shadows: Rethinking Colonial Heritage
Last month we covered this Berlin-based project addressing the staining effect of colonialism and racism on everything we see and the structures that we interact with and are formed by today in so-called Western culture. To see the documentary progression of the project and hear the voices of those who executed it is powerful – and instructive.
“We have to deal with people who feel entitled to exclude other people from participation, from conversation, from civil rights, from society, from history,” say Various and Gould.
Brilliant pieces and campaigns like this that require so much time and energy and resources are carefully planned and considered, and quietly have the opportunity and potential to change hearts and minds – even to alter the course of history.
“It’s nice that the story isn’t made from one point of view. There are many accounts, and from various elements,” says artist Soberana Ziza, and you suddenly realize that this is the very dynamic that makes this series by OSGEMEOS about Hip Hop so ardently insistent on grabbing your attention, and communicating the steely core of a culture born from our common streets.
There are many voices that make a scene, and not only the loudest ones, and that is an important quality that gives such resonance to this scene over time, wherever it grows. Here we get a brief look at the inherent misogyny evidenced in society generally, and therefore in the culture of Hip Hop specifically.
Are we surprised? “What place is not hostile to women,?” asks Soberana Ziza.
It’s surprising and revelatory to travel the transom between graffiti, street art, public art, and commercial art – or can be. Since we’ve supported artists at every juncture of their careers, it is enriching to contemplate the variety of projects artists do just to keep engaged with the work that rings true for them.
In the case of German duo Various & Gould, only two days ago we presented a very important multi-week installation and performance examining colonialism and systemic racism. Today we look at a commercial gig that synthesizes their fun-loving visual vocabulary and realizes it in heavy metal.
“500 grams of paper became 500 kg of metal,” Various tells us as they describe their first metal collage that helps an industrial materials company celebrate a benchmark. “The starting point was a paper collage with elements from our Face Time series,” says Gould to help you place the screen-printed eyes and graphic pieces, stylized “Farbstrahlen”, or color rays.
Mounted and secured on the side of a building on the company property, this permanently installed new installation near Niemegk may possibly last longer than many of their other works. “By slightly staggering the levels, the shadow cast within the installation changes, depending on the position of the sun,” they tell us. “Thematically, it is about the sensual perception of color and color processing.”
In their ongoing quest for creating public works that meaningfully impact society and provoke examination, Various & Gould bravely trespass the silent agreements and disagree.
During their recent multi-week installation in Berlin, the street art activist duo rips at the roots of Western Colonialism by messing with the permanence of statue materials and decades of history and its retelling.
The results are colorful and sometimes bitter, usually illuminating.
By targeting the 6 meters (19.6 foot) statue of the first German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck they created a paper-cast of the man and “took it symbolically off the pedestal under the eyes of dozens of spectators,” they say.
The de-mythologizing work brings the man and his history down to the level of the everyday person, and through of series of performances and discussions over a 5 week period from August through October, the street artists and their collaborators hope to crack open some of the conspiracies that were wide open for everyone to read about when white guys split up Africa like so many spoils.
“For ‘Monumental Shadows’,” V&G tell us, “a series of seven artistic paper impressions of monuments in Europe is planned.” This particular installment is set “against the historical background of the Berlin ‘Congo Conference’ (1884-85),” which regulated the colonization of trade in Africa by fourteen countries, effectively partitioning the continent in a formalizing of theft and imposition of power. Aside from that, it was great.
Using colorful papier-mache techniques of wrapping the sculpture and bringing the pieces to the ground for performers to interact with and formal discussion panels to happen, Various and Gould intend to recall the false narratives and address the underlying debris of social and structural racism in German society specifically, western society generally.
“Our concern is to break the power of the white narrative on colonialism by proposing a change of perspective,” they say, and their accounts of responses by passersby range from supportive to corrosive; from outright verbal attacks on dark-skinned members of the crew to Boomers stopping by to say that all of this topic was essentially passe and not necessary anymore. “We fought colonialism already in 1968!” said one woman as her husband shouted profanities at the couple.
In a story similar to those of American confederate statues coming down, there also were a fair number of people who stopped by the art project to protest the disrespect to the legacy of the statue and their personal ownership of historical events.
“Two black members of our team were still finishing some last bits of work on the scaffolding while the rest of the team was preparing the lunch break down on the ground,” they say. “Suddenly a woman (white, German, in her seventies) came by and started to shout up into the scaffolding, addressing our two team members: ‘I am outraged! This is my history.’”
“One of our team in the scaffolding answered instantly: ‘This is also our history.’”
This is not the first time that Various and Gould have created large-scale installations involving public monuments and the repositioning of historical perspectives – See our 2017 article “Marx and Engels Statues Re-Skinned & Re-Located” for example.
Perhaps because of the increasing tensions today in Europe and the US and elsewhere due to voracious crony capitalism and corruption creating a fast gulf of opportunity – and increased anxieties due to the coronavirus, V&G say they were a bit more soured than usually by the vitriol directed at them and their art project – including the unusual multiple requests by police to show permits. There were other subtleties of course.
“We noticed in many conversations with outraged citizens, that they would behave far more respectfully towards a white, cis male team member, than for example towards a female and/or person of color,” says Various.
“In general many passers-by kept bothering our team members in a number of ways,” offers Gould. “Very frequently people trivialized the German colonialism and Bismarck’s role in it.”
And for the black members of the team, the experience was also intense at times.
Billy Fowo, who worked as part of the team on the scaffolding and on the paper-casting is part of Colonial Neighbours / SAVVY Contemporary, posted this on his Instagram @karl_fowo at the end of the second week:
“Though very personal, I think the presence of people like me who don’t look ”German” to their eyes, in this process, made the pill even more bitter to swallow. But what do the words ‘my history’’ constantly sang as a chorus by this second group really mean? Bismarck & Co in organizing the 1884-85 Berlin conference – didn’t they unfortunately/ unconsciously make us ALL part of ”that history!” Of course, this is not a question! If it were one then the answer is obviously YES! We are ALL part of ”that history”. We ALL build histories! We are today more than ever in dire times, and it is vital that in rewriting and writing the pages of our histories, we completely destroy the narrative of the single story and start including multiple perspectives.”
Thus the power of monuments, and art in the public sphere. Various & Gould again do the hard work of helping us examine those who we revere, and the messages we integrate into our institutions and our daily life. Equitable society needs these questioners and questions about the ‘monumental shadows” cast over others.
“We have to deal with people who feel entitled to exclude other people from participation, from conversation, from civil rights, from society, from history,” they say.
What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?
In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.
From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.
We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.
When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.
The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.
We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.
Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.
We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.
As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.
Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.
Black Lives Matter is rolling forward, quickly and unevenly, causing revelation, elevation, discomfort, and hopefully eventually liberty and freedom and equality.
Until then, big wheels keep on turning. Berliner’s Various and Gould are the duo behind these new vintage clip-art wonders that may recall the permutations of yesterday’s kaleidoscopes, although the images may be new. That’s the paradox baked in to the truisms that these perennial mixologists offer. Just think of these new powerful and ironic artworks as a mirror on events of this moment, with a through-line to the past.
The ephemeral qualities of art in
the streets are effectively contradicted by this site, and we have captured
much in the time we’ve been documenting the scene. Even, so, it is primarily
digital, our work, our gift to you. If you want something of more lasting
value, buy a book.
This year we had the pleasure of
reviewing a number of books, and even appeared in a few ourselves with text and
photos. If you’re looking for a lovely gift for the graffiti/Street Art/ Urban
Art/ Contemporary Urban Art fan in your life, have a look at this list – our Hot
List of 2019.
Futura 2000 “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz
Futura Goes “Full Frame” by Magda Danysz
One benefit of being ahead of your time is that you can paint your own rules, discover your own voice, set a standard. A drawback is that you may have to push forward on your own before you gain support for what you are pursuing. The key is to keep moving.
As Futura pulls fully into the frame of contemporary artist, its important for upcoming artists to remember that he had a long route – including being a bike messenger on Manhattan’s untamed streets to provide for his family – while he was waiting until the rest of the street and art world caught up with him. Now that Street Art has confirmed that his abstract explorations on subway trains were an early sign of what was coming, brands and gallerists and collectors often call. “Full Frame” helps appreciate the body of work he developed during that time.
Hendrik Beirkich: “Siberia”
Hendrik Beikirch Traces Lives and Memories in “Siberia”
A corollary to 2015’s “Tracing Morocco” by German street artist Hendrik Beirkirch (aka ECB), a new book travels to meet the rugged inhabitants of Siberia’s countryside in the Russian Federation. The results are starkly genuine, impressively authentic.
Again indulging us in the deep crevasses of many a weathered façade, Siberia invites you to meet the people whom he has met in his travel and presumably befriended, given their ease as subjects. A part of the Jardin Rouge stable over the past few years, Beirkirch has followed the lead of founder Jean Louis Haguenauer, the Frenchman who moved to Russia in the early 1980s and found his own odyssey outside the city to be formative to his character, leading him to write the introduction to the handsome tome.
“Graffiti In New York Hardcore” by Freddy Alva
Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore
A welcome and necessary addition to any graffiti academic’s library comes Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, carefully documented by Freddy Alva. A thorough recounting of the birth and growth of graffiti through the lense of punk and hardcore scenes after 1980, Alva presents a parallel evolution of a scene as it was interpreted by a largely white constituency of rockers, anarchists, and rebels who grew up in and around New York at that time.
Alva is careful to give due to the graffiti scene that is more often identified as the roots of this practice of urban mark making; the hip-hop culture of primarily black and latino youth during the 1960s and 1970s. As the neoliberal corporate capitalists took over Wall Street and the Reagan White House, a different sort of graffiti writer was often showing up on the street – and often on stage as part of a hardcore band.
“Smashed: The Art Of The Sticker Combo” by I Will Not
SMASHED: The Art of the Sticker Combo by “I Will Not”
Anyone born after 1960, and that includes most sticker artists on the street today, has a positive association with the humble sticker. From “smiley” and “gold star” rewards stuck to the top of your grade-school class papers to scratch-n-sniff or puffy stickers to MAD magazine product parodies for Quacker Oats and Minute Lice, a lot of kids grew up with good feelings about slaps.
Over the past two decades a serious community of sticker designers, traders, artists, exhibitors and collectors has emerged – virtually assuring that public bathrooms in heavy metal/ punk / hip hop/ alternative music clubs will be covered top to bottom or ‘smashed’ with stickers. Adhesive equivalents of a business card or portfolio sample for many artists, musicians, philosophers, anarchists, and wise guys/gals, stickers are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get your message out to the world.
“The Rap Quotes Coast To Coast” by Jay Shells
Jay Shells: The “Rap Quotes” Book
Context and placement are key to the success of Street Art. Jay Shells’s project, “The Rap Quotes” more than meets those standards. Indeed his project might be one of the most relevant examples of street art responding to a specific time and place in history that you’ll ever see.
We’ve been repping Jay Shells (Jason Shelowitz) for years since we
first found his text-based signage on Brooklyn streets in the oddest of
locations. Within a short time they began to make sense, and then brilliant sense – since they acted as a GPS for some of your favorite rap lyrics.
“What if somehow these lyrics existed visually, in the exact location mentioned?” he says to illustrate his original idea.
“Flowers” by Michael De Feo
Michael De Feo “FLOWERS”
Amid the detritus of the urban cityscape in decline, it is a welcome contrast to see a dandelion or wild daisy sprouting up from a crack in the sidewalk. Not only is it a reminder of the original inhabitants of the land you are standing on it is an ever-present truth that the plants and the trees and the animals will inherit the earth again, no matter what grand ideas you have for it.
The simplest symbol of nature in the layered debris of urban margins, and a decorative one, is the flower that Micheal De Feo has been “planting” on walls since the early 1990s. The practice has sustained him through many cities and travels abroad, introducing him to artists and fans and collectors, eventually pushing him into explorations of contemporary art.
“Street Art Las Vegas” by William Shea and Patrick Lai
“Street Art Las Vegas” Takes a Tour Beyond the Strip
Before there was a scene in Las Vegas, there was a scene in
Not in just the shimmering, drink slamming, dice rolling, pink-fur bikini with a rhinestone choker kind of way – that’s the real Las Vegas scene that you may think of – but in the urban art scene as well.
In this context, the Las Vegas graffiti/Street Art scene that existed in the 1990s and 2000s that led up to a massive “Meeting of Styles” in 2012 was lively and varied and leaned more toward lettering, handstyle, and characters. Later, beginning in 2013 with a music/art festival called “Life is Beautiful”, a select group of international Street Artists was paid by public and private interests to help the city tap into a growing interest in urban decoration with eye-popping murals.
“Stencillists / Pochoiristes” by Serge Louis
“Stencilists / Pochoiristes” Cuts Across the Street Scene Gallantly, with Serge Louis
Enthusiastic authors like Serge Louis can make Street Art sing, even in print. His new “Stencilists/Pochoiristes” is a finely illustrated hardcover of iconic images from the street. The carefully selected plates are placed within interviews in French and English.
The 17 stencillists whom he has selected are from a populated field of possibilities but he captures a fair range from his travels in Europe – with a few from the US to compliment them.
“Utility Writers” by MRKA
MRKA Gives High Marks to “Utility Writers” in Unique Street Tome
When academics and post-modern esoteric poets plunge into descriptions of graffiti sometimes they proffer colorful didactics and clever terminology like “mark-making” and “gestural” to describe the tagging practice. Conceptualist, graffiti writer, and multimedia artist MRKA takes a step toward the mundane and discovers a new kind of poetry with his “Utility Writers”.
“Stickers Vol 2: More Stuck Up Crap” by DB Burkeman
Stickers Vol. 2: More Stuck-Up Crap from DB Burkeman
In the Street Art continuum that presents itself to the passerby on city streets, the early practice of hand-drawn tags on stolen postal stickers eventually morphed into mass-produced slick runs of personal branding and large scale one-off hand rendered/cut paper pieces wheat-pasted with a brush. This story, ever-evolving, is more inclusive than some may think of when you talk generically about “slaps” on a door or on the base of a streetlamp in the city’s visual dialogue. For the book Stickers Vol 2, author DB Burkeman takes a wider survey of the practice, however, and in his second compendium, he goes where BSA has always followed the creative spirit; wherever it leads.
Dont Fret “Life Thus Far”
Dont Fret: “Life Thus Far”
Nothing to lose your head about, but you’ll be thrilled to hear about the long-anticipated release of the new monograph by the ingenious troublemaker and largely incognito Chicago Street Artist DONT FRET.
Emerging on the streets for a decade or so with painted wit and misshapen characters wheat-pasted where you least expect them, he’s the sharp observer and human humorist whose work is as brilliant as your cousin Marlene, as funny as Johnny at the funeral home, as handsome as the guys behind the counter at Publican Quality Meats.
maybe not that handsome.
Various & Gould “Permanently Improvised”
Various & Gould and a Collaged Human Future: “Permanently Improvised”
“Our early conceptions
about a future robot world were made from what we knew about automation and
mechanics. Thankfully the surrealists and Dadaists were there to help us with
flying ships made of tea pots and mystic, amiable metal helpers soldered and
screwed together with spare train pistons and kitchen implements. Our helpers
were all carefully oiled and pumping, marching in a mathematical concert
through dry-ice fog, propelling herky-jerky humanoids up the path to the
thoroughly modern world.
Do Rabotniki exist?
They are already here. It just took Various & Gould to remind us.”
~ Steven P. Harrington in his essay “A Mixed and Matched
Future-Past: Robotiniki” for “Permanently Improvised: 15 years of Urban
Print Collage” by Various & Gould