The self-styled punk rock street artist in the studio PREPPING FOR HIS PARTICIPATION IN AD HOC ART’S “WILLOUGHBY WINDOWS V 2.0”
Welcome to the Jungle; Hellbent’s Wild Kingdom at Willoughby VWindows 2.0
For the second year in a row, Ad Hoc is curating a block of defunct store window displays in a busted part of downtown Brooklyn with a series of installations by street artists. Opening officially tomorrow afternoon, the project brings to life a moribund block of 13 storefronts with 14 artists, each of whom have conjured themes from their imagination. A proactive public-friendly venture, WWII is yet another example of artists giving freely of their time and resources to encourage conversations and add color and character to our public space.
A soon to be hand carved hummingbird by Hellbent in the studio earlier this week. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
This year sagacious smart-mouth HELLBENT is bringing his set-designing skills, which are many, to bear upon an abandoned storefront. In what he describes as a nod to the wild untamed nature of urban living, street art, graffiti culture, and the original wild kingdom, Hellbent’s ferocious animals rage and hiss at viewers from deep inside a lush field of plastic vegetation. The backdrop is a myriad of psychedelic dripping wall flowers and a BP oil spill of black industrial soot.
In the studio, one of Hellbent’s ferocious hand carved snakes poses in advance of the show before a multi-layered colorful stencil background. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The elephant, snakes, and hummingbirds are current favorites of Hellbent. To create heft and stability, he glued 2 layers of luan board together before sketching out the shapes and jigsawing them. The black painted surface is then carved out with a power drill and a lot more drill bits than you can imagine – as they only last 5-10 minutes before drilling. “It cost me over $150 in drill bits – because they wear out so fast doing this kind of work. I was chasing these drill bits around town and I sold out every hardware store in the immediate area getting these.”
Hellbent, on his knees carving the 7 foot tall elephant, “I’m just focusing on nature; the natural. Since graff is a predominately urban thing and we forget about animals and the wild, it’s a way to bring them back into the urban setting. They are like animals that are stuck in the city, like many people are.” (photo © Jaime Rojo)
A peek at the “ANGRY ELEPHANT”, peeking back at you. Hellbent, “These are kind of menacing animals… it feeds back into the graffiti and street art aggressive nature, the determination to get your work out. There is a lot of machismo out there so this work is kind of riffing on that. Like my name – it’s a play on words and on other themes – it sounds really fierce but it’s done in bubble letters, or a cursive hand, or in pastel colors – stuff like that.” (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Hellbent pimped out the lush vegetation in his diorama for the animals to frolic in.
So, what’s it like working on this larger scale? “It’s nice. It’s overwhelming. It’s a little overwhelming, a challenge, you know. I learn stuff as I go. I’ve learned stuff definitely. For example, how much stuff and materials it takes to make something like this. I got a lot of stuff donated from friends, and a number of friends helped me figure this out – I definitely didn’t do this by myself.”
Willoughby Windows V 2.0 opens Friday, May 14th, 2-6pm and runs through the summer.
Artists include C. Damage, Chris Mendoza & Pablo Powers, Daryll Peirce, Faust, Hellbent, Jef Aerosol, Joe Iurato, Laura Lee Gulledge, LogikOne, Ron English, Skewville, and Thundercut.
106 Willoughby Street (not Ave), Brooklyn, NY 11201