All posts tagged: Willoughby Windows

Welcome to the Jungle: HELLBENT’s Wild Kingdom

Welcome to the Jungle: HELLBENT’s Wild Kingdom

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 diarama for the animals to frolic in.

Hellbent pimped out the lush vegetation in his diorama for the animals to frolic in.

The original model for the installation was quite a bit smaller than the final project installation.

The original model for the installation was quite a bit smaller than the final project installation.

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
Downtown Brooklyn

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“I think it gives Brooklyn a kind of twist”; Willoughby Windows through the eyes of Brooklyn kids.

The Willoughby Windows Project, curated by Ad Hoc Gallery last summer was a big hit that helped revitalize a downtown block.

A developer who bought the block had made it look ugly by kicking out the mom-n-pop businesses that made their living there, so the street artists made it look super cool by putting art in the windows.

These four talented and insightful Brooklyn students in 4th,5th, and 6th grades made an excellent documentary about the project and it’s impact on the people they met who passed the windows. It is very funny and entertaining. Oh yeah, it’s educational too.

Brooklyn Friends Student Documentary Fall 2009 from Samuel Bathrick

The team really studied the topic and explained why they did the project. Here are some quotes from the documentary, to give you a flavor:

“We decided to make a documentary film about the different stores and that had art in them.”

“We had some questions and we wanted to find out what the general public thought about the art.”

“Personally I think the stores closed because of the economy.”

The documentary includes discussion about the project, how it came about, and interviews with people on the street. Garrison Buxton of Ad Hoc, and one of the featured artists in the project Dennis McNett, are also interviewed. The whole documentary was edited by the class instructor, Sam Bathrick.

Three cheers for after school programs!  Three cheers for teachers!  Three cheers for these amazing students!!

See a previous post on the Willoughby Windows Project

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Dennis McNett “Year of the Wolfbat” Swarming the East Coast

Dennis McNett “Year of the Wolfbat” Swarming the East Coast

Gallery Tour Stops in Philadelphia Friday at Space 1026

Smile and the World Smiles With You (McMutt) (photo Jaime Rojo)

Smile and the World Smiles With You (McMutt) (photo Jaime Rojo)

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2009 is the Year of the Ox, which said that I would be winning the lotto around mid-year.  Maybe I should have read the “Year of the Wolfbat” instead.  Dennis McNett seems to be having a rocking good time.

The wild animals that Dennis “McMutt” McNett brings to the streets are ferocious and savage and sometimes byzantine in carved detail.  When you turn the corner and see one of them plastered or, in the case of recent sculpture, pacing behind a chain-link fence, you are excited by it’s raw rage;  a black and white wheatpaste lino print of a snarling snow leopard with jagged pointy incisers ready to rip chunks of flesh.  Rarrrrhhh! McMutt is on a tear!

Here kitty kitty! (photo Helen Christenson)

Here kitty kitty! (photo Helen Michelson)

The “Year of the Wolfbat” tour began in New York in June and has flapped it’s webbed wings across the US, swooping in for exhibitions, artist talks and workshops along the way. The migratory flight of the Wolfbats has included shows at Fecal Face Dot Gallery in San Francisco and Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles.



The swarming mass of wolfbats will next fly to the city of Wolfbrotherly love, Philadelphia Space 1026 in Philadelphia (Thursday Oct. 2) with an installation of print-derived sculpture and mural, accompanied by unique and editioned works both large and small.

Willoughby Windows project

Dennis McNett’s installation Willoughby Windows Project in downtown Brooklyn this summer (photo Helen Michelson)

A longtime head-bashing punk and metal music fan, Dennis is also a professor at Pratt here in Brooklyn, sharing his thousands of hours of experience and mastery of craftsmanship with aspiring artists of the new generation. An artist and street artist, you’ll find his wild animal kingdom wheatpastes in Brooklyn on the facade of KCDC skate shop in Williamsburg, and in the ongoing Willoughby Windows exhibit downtown.

Vans by Dennis McNett

You can also find his designs on sneakers, t-shirts, and skateboards.

Brooklyn Street Art: How many hours does it take to carve one of those giant 4’x8′ linotype blocks?
Dennis McNett: If I have no distractions and lots of coffee it usually goes very quickly once I have my drawing on the block.


Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles this August (photo Helen Christenson)

Dennis’s show at Thinkspace Gallery in Los Angeles this August. Says owner Andrew Hosner, “Dennis rocked our spot. One of the best installs we’ve had to date.” (photo Helen Michelson)

Brooklyn Street Art: Is it possible to develop Carvel-Tunnel Syndrome?
Dennis McNett: You mean Carvel like the ice cream?….. I’m sure if you scoop too much you could.

snake in the eye

Come quick Hilda! There is something in my eye! (Dennis McNett at Thinkspace) (photo Helen Michelson)

Brooklyn Street Art: There was recently a sighting of a prowling mountain cat in Bushwick. Have you seen this ferocious feline behind a fence?
Dennis McNett: I have seen it but I think it was a snow leopard and just like the illusive and mystical cat it is now nowhere to be found.



So I’m a snow leopard, eh?  Watch me chew a hole through this fence. (photo Helen Michelson)

Brooklyn Street Art: Who are the five best heavy metal artists of all time?
Dennis McNett: Black Sabbath is timeless to me. Gwar is underrated for the amount of creative energy put into their theatrics, longevity, and mastery of the mediums of story telling, costume making, set design, character development, album cover art, comics, metal music, etc… whether you like their aesthetic or not. Slayer!!! Motorhead!!! Death!!! This list may change from day to day…. there are too many.

Gwar At Bamboozle 2009

Gwar getting ready to go to the supermarket (photo Kerosene Photography)

Creative Commons License photo credit: Kerosene Photography
Brooklyn Street Art: Now that we are in the fourth quarter, how has the “Year of the Wolfbat” been?
Dennis McNett: It was awesome to travel around and show work. I met a ton of really amazing people and was able to invoke their wolfbat. The folks at Fecal Face and Thinkspace were really generous and hospitable with their time and space. The Badlands were intense. Good times.

Some not-so-casual fans of Dennis McNett (photo Helen Christenson)

Some not-so-casual fans of Dennis McNett (photo Helen Michelson)

Brooklyn Street Art: You have referred to the Wolfbat as a spirit. Would you say that you are a spiritual man?
Dennis McNett: Wolfbats are spirits… they are kin to the great wolf Fenris who was wrongfully bond by the gods …. I started a sort of mythology of my own by resurrecting Fenris. He was killed during Ragnarok (the battle of the Gods and Giants) by Oden’s son Vitar. I rewrote the ending where his sister Hel resurrects Fenris and raises a new army. Wolfbats wake the sleeping spirit of people who need to be woken. That is their reason for coming into our dimension and world.


Odin and Fenris by Dorothy Hardy, published in 1909 in

“Odin and Fenris” by Dorothy Hardy, published in 1909 in Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas.

Brooklyn Street Art: Your creatures are violent and rageful. Should people be afraid of you?
Dennis McNett: Absolutely not. I don’t see my work as violent or rageful. I just see these characters as very alive and expressive in their gesture. I usually choose animals with some mythology behind them or that are mystical, misunderstood, or pack/family oriented.


Sunset blved

A Wolfbat on Sunset Boulevard (photo Helen Michelson)

From the 1026 Space gallery:

“You can expect to see a loud psychedelic woodcut landscape covering several walls of the gallery in which nature’s bass has been cranked up to 11. Duck your head walking in and make way for an entire flock of hotheaded Wolfbats swooping overhead, not to mention the supercharged eagles diving out of their path to let them through.”

Dennis in studio working on a new piece to be debuted Thursday

Dennis in studio working on a new piece to be shown Friday.

…as well as new wood carved pieces, relief cut prints, masks, oversize tapestries, leopards with serpent tails, goat heads wrapped in snakes, angry beasts, eagles fighting snakes, bats, and of course, Wolfbats.

 Wolfbat and Goat: detail of new work to be shown at Space 1026

Wolfbat and Goat: detail of new work by Dennis McNett to be shown at Space 1026


“Year of the Wolfbat”
An installation by Dennis McNett

Show dates:  October 2nd –October 31st
Opening Reception: Friday October 2nd 7-10pm
Where: Space 1026, 1026 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA

Space 1026 Website

Dennis McNett Website Howling Print


Great thanks to BSA special correspondent Helen Michelson for her cheerful disposition and her eagle eye!

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