Just as we leave for Madrid’s Urvanity we thought you’d like a look at New York’s current scene on the street. Or a portion of it.
We start off the new collection with Andy Warhol, who looks fresh on the street – and who’s work is on exhibit at on display currently at the Whitney.
Also he is in an ad campaign for Burger King – that old footage of him eating one of those mystery meat sandwiches is now wholly appropriated to actually sell their products instead of mock them. It’s from Jørgen Leth’s 1982 documentary 66 Scenes From America. According to folklore, Andy didn’t even like BK –preferred McDonalds. What a jokester, that Mr. Warhol. #fastdeathfood
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Antennae, City Kitty, Combo-CK, DPM Crew, Fuck Cats, Invader, Matt Siren, Phoebe New York, Seed, The Postman Art, and William Wegman.
Let’s move to Weimaraner dogs with William Wegman’s famous pooches, Flo and Topperdogs in stylish outfits. The new mosaic murals by German mosaic fabricator Mayer of Munich adorn the NYC Subway stations on 23rd street.
The stunning new Whitney Museum opens tomorrow, May 1st, in the Meat Packing District of lower Manhattan and you will be overwhelmed to see the last 115 years or so of artistic expression in America on display for the exhibit “America Is Hard To See”. 400 artists of every discipline and many art movements during your life and your great grandparents are here – from film and video to painting and sculpture and new media and photography, from abstract, figurative, text based, landscapes, and our own visual jazz – abstract expressionism – you’ll be exhausted when you are through with this show.
You’ll also be energized by the sense of sheer possibility presented – and the amount of space and the many outdoor plaza views. This is a new jewel in New York, and you have discovered it.
We don’t get a new museum every day, but tomorrow you do, and it is rather spectacular to be privileged this way in this city of constant change. No matter your perspective, you will find the inaugural show to be vast. You are certain to like or disagree or applaud or dish with someone here, and it is all strangely American – Here is just a partial sampling of names showing about 600 works that should whet your appetite; Vito Acconci, Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Rory Arcangel, John Baldessari, Mathew Barney, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Paul Cadmus, Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Imogen Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Mark di Suvero, Elsie Driggs, William Eggleston, Anna Gaskell, Milton Glaser, Nan Goldin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, George Grosz, Keith Haring, Eva Hesse, Edward Hopper, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Rober Mapplethorpe, Gordon Matta-Clark, Paul McCarthy, Joan Mitchell, Donal Moffett, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keefe, Jose Clemente Orozco, Nam June Paik, Jackon Pollock, Richard Prince, Christina Ramberg, Robert Raushenberg, Hans Richter, Mark Rothko, Edward Ruscha, David Salle, Dread Scott, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, Frank Stella, Hedda Sterne, Alfred Stieglitz, Rirkrit Tiravanjia, Anne Truit, Cy Twombly, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, Weegee, William Wegman, Gertude Vanderbuilt Whitney, David Wojnarowicz, Francesca Woodman, Andrew Wyeth.
You’ll look through that list and want to add some of your own of course, everyone does. Despite the revered Biennial which periodically bowls you over with new talent, some still find that there are not enough of certain social groups represented, and that is probably fair.
We find it somewhat alarming that 50+ years of graffiti and street art is only minimally represented here – especially when it has become one of the hugely praised cultural exports to cities around the world and it is highly collected and ever-more auctioned. Talk about American! New York is considered a birthplace for the urban art scene and we can recommend a short list of these artists who are daily defining a new contemporary art for serious consideration. Yes this show has Haring, Basquiat, Kruger – acknowledged. But a great deal has happened in the last two decades. Maybe now that formally trained artists are frequently killing it on the streets in the 2000s and 2010s we will see more of these names included as part of the American story in the future. In fact, there is no doubt.
The striking new modern home by Renzo Piano is twice the size of the old one and some of the views from the museum of this city that you love may rob your attention briefly from the art displayed inside. The inaugural show up until September is called America is Hard to See, and at $22 a ticket, so is the new Whitney Museum of American Art. That price may not seem like much when you consider it would get you four hours rent in a market rate one-bedroom in this neighborhood. But in a city where workers are fighting for a $15 minimum wage we’d like to see it accessible to more New Yorkers as it is the preeminent institution devoted to the art of the United States. Just had to say it. Hopefully they will find a way to institute frequent “pay what you want” nights, and to be fair, students get in FREE every day.
But this is your museum, and we hope you add your voice to the discussion.
Meanwhile, join us as we say “Welcome to the New Whitney!”
Royce Bannon and a diverse team of talented street artist/graff writers are taking the challenge seriously: Revive the artists’ space in Soho that boasts a proud history and restore it to the constructive, collaborative, democratic roots of a real artists’ community; one that will have a mission of giving back, as well as re-establishing a laboratory for discovery.
These are times for bold actions of hope, and all hands are on deck for a show opening this month called “Work to Do” at 112 Greene Street in Soho, a place that first flourished in the years before the Reagan Revolution.
A Monstrous Welcome to a New Era for 112 Greene Street (Royce Bannon)
Long before Soho became a jewel encrusted haven for high-end couture, over-priced “foodie” groceries, hi-jacking delis, and exclusive password private clubs, the wild-eyed artists were the only people interested in the abandoned buildings south of Houston, and north of Canal. In the decade of the 1970’s, during a financial crisis when a Republican president told our bankrupt city to “drop dead”, that he would veto any bailout for a cash-strapped NYC economy, Soho was a largely abandoned carcass of warehouses and lifeless factories. As is so often the case, it was the perfect playground for the innovative talents of artists and art students needing cheap raw space to create and coalesce and eventually re-start the engine of cultural growth. Like the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick neighborhoods in Brooklyn today, Soho in Manhattan was a pounding heart in a hurting city that was drained by an energy crisis, sapped by a costly possibly illegal war on foreign soil, and duped by the ponzi-schemes of corporate titan opportunists at home.
112 Greene Street in Soho was the original home of 112 Workshop, a raw space open between 1970 and 1980, offering exhibition space for installation and performance for the new generation of conceptual artists who emerged from the radicalized minds and cultural upheavals of the previous decade.
With artists having complete control to curate their shows, the space put on challenging and inspirational work of hundreds of people. During the life of this laboratory it produced a list of influential performers and artists that helped shape the cultural cityscape over next 30 years, including names like Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Joseph Beuys, Louis Bourgois, Chuck Close, Spalding Gray, Phillip Glass, Fran Lebowitz, Jeffrey Lew (co-founder), Gordon Matta Clarke (co-founder), Richard Mock, Richard Serra, William Wegman.
A spirit of collaboration and lively exploration returns to this space on March 26 when street artists well known in North Brooklyn today clear out the moribund basement space at 112 Greene and electrify the walls with a new era of youthful big ideas – and with thanks to those who came before in this hallowed space.
Royce Bannon, core member of the collective ELC (Endless Love Crew), is curating an audacious and boundless graphic cavalcade of street art styles to christen the historic space that honors the creative spirit. While ELC has a rotating roster that sometimes totals as many as 9 artists with a variety of styles, the currently active members of the ELC for this project will be Abe Lincoln Jr., Anera, El Celso, infinity, and Royce Bannon. With everyone working collaboratively, the “Work to Do” show pays homage to the new president and embraces a new reality that artists and creatives in the city are feeling right now.
The 112 Greene Street space is christened The Combine with this inaugural show. Steve Loeb and John Robie are creating The Combine to provide a new environment for the exhibition of art; an alternative to the traditional gallery opening and exhibition, transforming static work into multi-media, performance oriented events.
Detail from Kosbe at “Work to Do” (photo Steven P. Harrington)
On a recent sunny Saturday, with Soho sidewalks anxiously trampled with tourists dragging shopping bags out of Prada, Dean & Deluca, and the Apple store, Royce and Chris from Robots Will Kill are laboring below street level on work for the new show. Descending the stairway you hear the blasting remixed hip-hop jams, see the spray-painted names along the walls claiming space for pieces; Ad Deville of Skewville and U.L.M. have staked their real estate, as has Cake and the Smart Crew. Others have already created pieces on their wall allotment; a 7 foot tall Mochni from Veng on the landing, a chaotic collage from Kosbe as you hit the floor, a manic back wall collaboration with Deekers, infinity, and Celso.
A complete history of 112 Workshop
Royce sits at his makeshift table of plywood and saw-horses, pouring over a large book about 112 Workshop, marking its’ pages with post-its, and eyeballing every available inch of the entire basement space, thinking about how to fill it, and with whom. His phone keeps ringing, but he’s concentrating on the long rectangular room. He’s loving this moment, and proud of the work his friends have put into the space. Chris from RWK climbs a ladder to lay-in the first wash of color that will build the backing of… perhaps a robot?
Did you hear the new one about Octomom? (Royce Bannon, Dain, and AVOID Pi) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
The mottled concrete floor is marked with blue tape where a stage will be built for Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force on opening night, and the backdrop wall is already claimed by an undulating AVOID Pi tentacle, some Dain wheatpasted portraits that well up with fluorescent tears, and some smart-aleck monsters from Mr. Bannon himself, and a space remains for Abe Lincoln Jr.. Walk past a stack of plywood into a makeshift rectangular “gallery” room where many 3’ x 8’ foamcore canvasses lean – soon to showcase Deekers, infinity, Celso, and Royce pieces and hung in the windows of a music store further north of here.
Brooklyn Street Art: So who decided to put on this show? Royce Bannon: Steven Loeb (composer, arranger, producer) and John Robie (composer, musician and record producer). They both have really extensive resumes in the music industry that go back to the 70’s – have worked with so many great musicians and artists that have impacted most of us – Kurtis Blow, Public Enemy, James Brown, LL Cool J… and a lot more. This is their space, and they’ve given me full control to make this show rock.
This is how we do it (Chris from Robots Will Kill) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Brooklyn Street Art: How did you get involved? Royce Bannon: They hit me up on MySpace about a year ago, I guess. They knew about ELC and liked our work. About November or December they asked me if we could throw an ELC show and I was like “Sure!” We got together and had lunch and they showed me the space. It was a mess when I saw it. It was full of a bunch of wood, tables, broken furniture, junk… it was basically used for storage, hadn’t been used for anything I guess for years.
Brooklyn Street Art: Are they planning to use the space after the show? Royce Bannon: Yeah, they are turning it into an event center, mainly for charitable events. They want to make money, but they want to give back as well. This will be the first kind of event that is following that approach.
Brooklyn Street Art: So they first contacted you to do an ELC show, but you actually know a lot more people who can do work in a space like this. Royce Bannon: Yeah exactly, they were like “we like ELC” and I said, “This is a lot of room to fill for just ELC, so why not invite people who I admire, and some of their friends and we can just crush this whole place up?”
Waiting for the Smart Crew (Cake) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Brooklyn Street Art: Have you had to tell people “no” since this roster started filling up? Royce Bannon: Yes, (laughs) I’ve been telling people “no” a lot, and that’s really hard. What I’ve been telling them is to hold on, and once everybody paints, there will be other smaller or tight spots where they can do “fill-ins’, cause some people like those smaller spots too.
Brooklyn Street Art: Looking at this giant space, you are giving people a lot of real estate; these spaces look like 8’ by 8’ chunks of wall. That’s pretty generous. Royce Bannon: Yeah definitely, why not? The spaces are claimed, and we’ve got lots more space to do, and about a third of it is done already.
Brooklyn Street Art: Are people excited to be in the show? Royce Bannon: Yeah, very excited, I think it’s gonna be like a madhouse in here. It’s about 4,000 square feet floorspace.
This place is Smokin’ ! (detail from Kosbe) (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Brooklyn Street Art: You have been working long hours to accommodate all these artists? Royce Bannon: Yeah, since mid-January I’ve been here like 12 hour days, sometimes late at night. First we had to clean up the space, figure out what materials we wanted to keep. We’re using everything they had left here and re-purposing it, cause “why not”. Better than throwing it away. Like my monsters are cut out of some bookshelves (laughs). They’ve been supplying us with whatever tools we need, gave us a bunch of paint. So with extras, like ladders and tools, I just go to them and we can get to work. They are really supportive of us, plus they’re collectors.
Brooklyn Street Art: So some of the artwork is going to be on sale? Royce Bannon: Yes, I think some of the people are going to actually put their artwork on top of their pieces. We’re going to make a little gallery (gesturing to a 10’x 14’ room) – I think some people are going to put their stuff in there. We’re going to cover the floor, I think, in fake grass… brighten the space up a little bit. But we still got a lot of work to do.
In planning for the new show, Royce and all of the artists have been inspired by the words of the 44th president:
“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. It has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up.“
So far the lineup for the show includes: Endless Love Crew, Moody AA, Cabahzm, Cake, 2Easae, Avone, Chris RWK, Veng RWK, Brando * Nev1 * Sinatra Smart Crew, AVOID pi, infinity, Deeker, Keeley, El Celso, Dain, Pufferella, Skewville, Royce Bannon, AnerA, Abe Lincoln Jr., Ellis Gallagher AKA Ellis G., Matt Siren, Overconsumer, Kosbe, Aiko, Abby Goodman, Alone art, Bast, Ben Jackson, Bobby Hill, Buildmore, C. Damage, Chris Brennan, Christopher Gordon, Dark Clouds, Deeker, Destroy and Rebuild, Erica Faulke, Keely, Pufferella, OHM, Smells, Stikman, U.L.M.