Melbourne Monthly Madness – July 2013 (belated)

September 2nd, 2013 | By | No Comments »

Apologies for the delay posting this. I have had to hold off posting it due to Illegal August.

HAHA - Photo by David Russell

HAHA – Photo by David Russell

Metro Gallery started off the month with the opening of their group show “Writing on the Wall” with works from local and international artists such as Swoon, Rone, Matt Adnate, HAHA, Word to Mother, E.L.K, Dabs Myla and D*Face and more. Some shots from the opening below and more here.

Rone - Photo by David Russell

Rone – Photo by David Russell

Word to Mother - Photo by David Russell

Word to Mother – Photo by David Russell

The day after the opening Metro hosted more live painting, this month featuring work by Unwell Bunny, Two One and again E.L.K. More shots here.

Unwell Bunny - Photo by David Russell

Unwell Bunny – Photo by David Russell

Two One - Photo by David Russell

Two One – Photo by David Russell

E.L.K - Photo by David Russell

E.L.K – Photo by David Russell

Chaotic Gallery’s 1st show BRUISER by Creature Creature was a cracker. A massive turnout for the Southside’s newest gallery. The works were amazing; a combination of the two artists styles which mesh so well together, featuring influences from the samurai era throughout. Check out some of my favourite pieces below and more here.  Also check out some of their recent paste ups, which I also love, here.

Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell

Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell

Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell

Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell

Creature Creature - Photo by David Russell

Creature Creature – Photo by David Russell

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Category: Art News, Books / Magazines, Events, Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows, Interview, Photos, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Illegal August: Vandalog’s a month-long experiment revealed and explained

September 1st, 2013 | By | 17 Comments »

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I have a confession to make: If you read Vandalog at all this August, you were taking part in an experiment, but today we are ready to publicly announce what we were doing. We nicknamed the experiment Illegal August. Look back through what we posted last month and you’ll see that we only posted about illegal work or news stories relating to illegal work from August 1st-31st. The experiment extended to our Tumblr and Facebook pages too. It was an entire month of ignoring murals, gallery shows, print releases and the VMAs on all of the general Vandalog sites (we didn’t include our personal social media accounts in the experiment, so that’s why you may have seen legal work on the Vandalog Twitter or Instagram accounts, which are really my personal accounts).

The idea for Illegal August came out of a dinner that Caroline and I had with Luna Park and Laser Burners. We were discussing mural festivals and legal murals, and how perhaps street art blogs have lost focus on street art in favor of covering a roving band of international murals touring city to city like mercenaries with spray cans, ready to paint something out of their sketchbook on any wall they can get access to, as long as they also get access to a lift. Somehow, I don’t think Luna Park actually ever said this to me, but I got the idea in my head that she had challenged Vandalog to only post about illegal work for one month. Whether she said that outright or even intended to make that challenge or not, I associate Illegal August with Luna Park. I thought it was a great idea to try only posting about illegal street art and graffiti for one month, and I chose August for the challenge/experiment because I thought that would be the most difficult month. There are so many mural festivals from July through September that I knew Vandalog would miss out posting about some great murals. It would hurt, but if it wasn’t going to hurt, what would be the point?

The rules for Illegal August were simple: Anyone posting on Vandalog from August 1st through 31st had to be reasonably confident that what they were posting about had been done without permission, or if they were posting news or an interview that the content was related to something that had been done without permission.

Illegal August morphed from a challenge into an experiment when I decided that we would attempt to complete the challenge without announcing it publicly. I wanted to see what readers would do. Would people complain that we weren’t covering Living Walls? Would they stop visiting? Would they get tired of posts featuring stickers and tags when they had come to expect murals? Would anyone notice what we were doing and ask us about it?

One way to analyze what happened is by looking at visitor numbers. In July, our most popular post by a mile was this one about a legal mural by Escif. In August, it was this post about a piece by Above that I believe to have been done illegally but I’m not positive. The Escif post got about 3x the visits as the Above post. Looking at pageviews in July versus August, we saw about a 10% drop in visitors.

But not all visits should be counted equally. Multiple posts in August inspired people to email me personally to say how much they enjoyed something that we had published. Most months, people will share what they like on Facebook or Twitter, but honestly it isn’t common for me to receive the kinds of emails I got last month. To me, that says that at least some of the people who did visit Vandalog in August were more engaged than visitors in July. I would rather know that a handful Vandalog readers are really loving the content than that a lot of people are visiting who are mostly indifferent about the content. It seems that focusing on illegal work forced myself, the rest of the Vandalog team and this month’s guest posters, to create more engaging and unique content.

What a lot of people may not realize is that a lot of what gets posted on Vandalog are things that I learn about because people email me press releases (sometimes very formal ones, sometimes entirely informal) about them. But most artists don’t send out messages to their mailing list when they put up a wheatpaste. Those emails are pretty much reserved for legal murals and gallery events. Illegal August forced me to not be so lazy. I had to go out and find content, whether that be interesting guest posts or searching through archives to highlight underrated artists. It was a lot harder than just publishing whatever was in my email inbox. But because I wasn’t worried about posting the latest murals, it freed me up to write about artists like You Go Girl! and Enzo&Nio whom I love but tend to neglect posting about. Basically, Illegal August allowed me to escape the rat race that street art blogging can be, the very existence of which is nuts since all of us bloggers are doing this out of love and a passion for the art.

But what art are we really so passionate about? I’ve always described Vandalog as a street art blog, and then there are blogs like StreetArtNews and Brooklyn Street Art with “street art” right in the name. I did a quick look at at what StreetArtNews, Wooster Collective, Brooklyn Street Art and Juxtapoz (in their “Street Art” section) posted during the week of August 19th…

    • 28 out of 38 posts on StreetArtNews that week were definitely about legal work, with one post mixing legal and illegal work and 9 where I wasn’t positive if the work was painted legally or illegally.
    • The only post on Wooster Collective that week was about a print release related to their 10 year anniversary show with Jonathan Levine Gallery.
    • Brooklyn Street Art had 2 posts about legal work, 2 posts about work that seemed likely to be illegal, and 3 posts that had a mix of legal and illegal work.
    • 13 out of 14 posts that Juxtapoz published under their “Street Art” category were entirely about legal work.
    • I would guess that if Vandalog had not been in the midst of Illegal August, at least 75% of our posts for that week would have been about legal work.

Given those numbers, if you think that “street art” means art placed in public space without permission, it’s pretty clear that street art blogs are not the place to go looking for street art online. But why is that? Talk to any street art blogger and they will tell you about the awesome wheatpaste or sticker that they saw recently before mentioning the mural they posted about the night before.

Huge murals captured in the perfect light by professional photographers look great on blogs, regardless of how they look in person. Stickers and wheatpastes captured with an iPhone that look like crap on blogs can stop you in your tracks on the street. And on the street, the work is confronting you, so you’re going to look at it whether it’s Swoon or Mr. Brainwash or someone you’ve never heard of. Online, if you’re like most viewers and see a headline for a blog post along the lines of “Some guy you’ve never heard of who does wheatpastes in a city you’ve never been to,” you’re maybe not so likely to read that post. This may be one reason why street art blogs and general art and culture blogs that cover street art have shifted from covering street art to covering contemporary muralism under the guise of covering street art.

And then there is the issue of laziness that I mentioned. Well, not really laziness, but it’s just easier to post about the legal piece is sitting right in your inbox than to go out searching through flickr or actual streets (if you’re lucky enough to live near a lot of street art) in search of something brilliant but still illegal.

Or maybe street art just doesn’t mean the same thing that it once did. Maybe mural festivals and the ease of finding legal walls has elevated the genre. Artists can spend days on a mural without worrying about police rather than sneaking around at night and working as quickly as possible. With plentiful legal walls, maybe some artists don’t see the need for working illegally anymore. Can the same goals be achieved at a legal wall as at an illegal spot? I don’t think so, but some may disagree with me.

For me, Illegal August was difficult. I had to spend a lot more time than usual coming up with content, even though I asked guest bloggers to come in and help lighten the load. And it hurt. It hurt to not post about Living Walls while Caroline and I were there watching the conference happen. It hurt to not post about Tristan Eaton painting a spot that I helped to organize in Little Italy. It hurt to tell artists whose work I really like, “Sorry, no. I can’t post about this.” But Illegal August was also freeing. It made me realize when it hurt to not post something, and when I hardly cared. It allowed me to get out of posting work that I would have otherwise been on the fence about, but would have felt obligated to post because of personal ties or because all the other blogs were posting about it and not posting would make it look like Vandalog wasn’t up on the latest thing. I hope that this experiment can spark a discussion in the street art and contemporary muralism communities about how we create, promote and consume art, but on a personal level it has helped to remind me that Vandalog is about what I feel strongly about, and I need to keep the focus on that. Today Vandalog goes back to “normal,” but it won’t be unchanged.

What do you think about Illegal August? Did you notice anything different on the site? Was the experiment valuable or a waste? Are street art blogs too focused on legal walls? Has “street art” become about legal work? If so, should that change and how could it?

Photo by RJ Rushmore


Category: Featured Posts, Random, Site News, Vandalog Projects

Weekend link-o-rama

August 31st, 2013 | By | No Comments »
Judith Supine

Judith Supine

It’s the last week of my summer. Why am I on my laptop? Okay, I’ll make this quick…

Photo by Luna Park


Category: Art News, Photos, Random | Tags: , , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

August 24th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
Elfo

Elfo

Okay, time for me to relax like Elfo’s character. I’ve got one week before senior year begins… But anyway… art:

Photo by Elfo


Category: Art News, Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , ,

L’Imagination Prend Le Pouvoir!

August 23rd, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Editor’s note: I am so glad to publish this essay by the prolific ekg. This piece of writing explores some of ekg’s ideas about street art and graffiti while chronicling his time getting up in Paris earlier this year. ekg’s work may at first appear to be quite simple, but upon closer inspection it’s clear that there’s a lot going on behind his tag. Hopefully this essay provides a bit of insight the mind of ekg. – RJ Rushmore

L’Imagination Prend Le Pouvoir! (Imagination Usurps Power!), or what i was thinking while getting up in Paris for three weeks.

by ekg

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the above Situationist slogan was one of many revolutionary statements painted across the walls of Paris during the 1968 youth rebellion. the idea that imagination is revolutionary was a revelation to me. the inner personal vision becomes political; the political becomes fantastical. this internal reversal stokes passion and inspires external action, resulting in even more commitment to the illegal public mark, the residue and resonance of such revolutionary aesthetic actions. beautifully symmetrical in equivalency and explosive force, external actions that initiate change become a reflection of the internal universal. at this point in the grand evolution of our species, having created an electronic topological reality of coordinates, data, and patterns, Graffiti and Street Art are the uncontrolled voice, the instinctual blurt, the collective convulsive id of the cultural unconscious, a channel for aggressive alternative frequencies, the visually vociferous, ghost images of mutated mass-media, writhing wraiths of the imagination, irruptions into the matrix. in terms of these ideals, Paris is still a city vibrating with aesthetic rebellion and living up to its past as a hot bed of experimentation, philosophy and art, especially, graffiti and street art.

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while in Paris, i was on an all-city broadcast mission: solo guerrilla visual communication and direct neurological connection with the local populace, utilizing the physicality of the materials, tools, methods, and operations of Graffiti and Street Art to transmit illegal aesthetic manifestations. i had also visited a bunch of other cities over this past year, where i would simply walk and tag for eight-to-twelve hours a day until i would leave the city one-to-three weeks later. walking so much, just looking for the next spot, is mesmerizing, as distinguished from meditative, relaxed or unconscious, other descriptions i have read describing the experience of tagging. personally, i become energized and elevated, turned on and tuned in, an activated semiotic transmission tower, relay station, radar, satellite: during the day, one develops a heightened awareness of the empty spaces, the bubbles of silence, between the flow of people and traffic, finding that subtle spot of invisibility within the rhythm designated by the metronome of the traffic and pedestrian light system; whereas at night it is the opposite, turning up the antennae to eleven, hyper-aware of a single particular movement or noise, the glare of headlights, the rhythmic approach of pedestrian shoes, just one noise or movement. Lab Note: a look-out check list for any time of day: 1. pedestrians 2. cars (parked and moving) 3. police 4. surveillance cameras 5. windows (including second floors). as Rusk once said to me: Stay paranoid, stay safe.

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Category: Featured Posts, Guest Posts, Photos, Random | Tags:

Weekend link-o-rama

August 17th, 2013 | By | No Comments »
Unknown artist in Berlin

Unknown artist in Berlin

Caroline and I are headed to Chicago today. We’ll have a few days to explore, so any suggestions are appreciated. Here’s your links:

  • El Toro, Dave The Chimp, Invader, Flying Fortress, Mr. Penfold and others sent in stickers and other small artworks to This must be for you, who put all the work together into little folders and lift them as free gifts around London. Giving out free gifts unexpectedly to random people with no expectation of anything in return, sounds like fun to me (although of course very similar to Papergirl). Check out the video here.
  • I love this intervention by Plastic Jesus. He went into Best Buy stores in LA and left them with some special new products.
  • TrustoCorp put up a sign in Bushwick last week.
  • Luzinterruptus put up this fantastic sculptural intervention in Madrid in response to accusations of corruption and money laundering in the Spanish government.
  • Anyone know who did this? It’s so cute.

Photo by pareto8020


Category: Photos, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

August 9th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »
Gold Peg

Gold Peg

What am I missing? Because I don’t have much to add this week for the link-o-rama. It’s the middle of summer? Aren’t people getting up? Am I just not seeing it?

  • Horfe and Coney/Ken Sortais went wild in an abandoned swimming pool.
  • Sweet Toof is understandably upset that a recent mural project in Hackney, where he and the rest of the Burning Candy crew painted some of their best illegal street art and graffiti, intentionally avoided including local artists. You’ve gotta love this quote from Sarah Weir, who heads the charity that commissioned the new murals: “We unashamedly wanted to showcase the best international artists and transform this part of the canal into a destination for street art.” That might be the dumbest thing I’ve read all summer, except for course for arguments defending the NSA or calling for Edward Snowden to return to the USA. First of all, murals (while interesting) emulate street art and graffiti, but there is a distinct difference between legal murals by street artists and illegal street art by the same artists. I’m sure that on Vandalog I have referred to murals as street art for the sake of simplicity, but not in a context like this where the difference between murals and street art is actually quite important. Hackney Wick’s canal already is a destination for street art, in large part due to the work of Gold Peg, Sweet Toof and the other members of Burning Candy. Weir is trying to turn it into a destination for murals, most likely at the expense of street art and graffiti if the intense pre-Olympics graffiti removal efforts in the area are anything to go by. Mural projects and festival are awesome, but they are not the same thing as illegal street art or graffiti.
  • Israel Hernandez, an 18-year-old Miami graffiti writer, was killed this week when he was tazered by police. They were chasing him after catching him writing in an abandoned building. CNN’s coverage of Hernandez’ death was surprisingly fair. Their piece was framed as the tragedy that is clearly is, rather than a piece demonizing Hernandez for his artwork like you might expect from some mainstream media.

Photo by Alex Ellison


Category: Art Fairs, Festivals, Photos, Random | Tags: , , , ,

Weekend link-o-rama

August 3rd, 2013 | By | No Comments »
Swoon

Swoon

Enjoy your Saturday. Also, if you enjoy the above photo, make sure you didn’t miss this post from earlier in the week.

  • Dr. D and Leah Leah Borromeo floated some sculptures in a London canal (near where the whole Banksy / Robbo feud went down) to comment on England’s welfare and tax policies.
  • Clet Abraham’s road signs are kinda awesome.
  • Hyperallergic has been doing an amazing job covering street art related stories recently:
    • Urban Maeztro has been putting up some very Mr. Brainwash-y posters in Honduras, but they aren’t so bad when you consider the context.
    • This artist reacted brilliantly to all the recent new about Detroit.
    • Peter Drew, who recently wrote this post for Vandalog, may be expelled from the Masters program he is taking at the Glasgow School of Art. The administration is not happy that he is continuing to do street art while enrolled at the university, which is weird because it sounds like he was admitted at least in part on the basis of his street art… Shouldn’t it be the administration’s job to support Drew now that he is enrolled there, rather than try to stifle his creativity?

Photo by Luna Park


Category: Art News, Photos, Random | Tags: , , , ,

Melbourne Monthly Madness – June 2013

July 30th, 2013 | By | 2 Comments »

June was another busy month in Melbourne. My round up for the month includes trains, walls, shows, a rad new publication and some other bits and pieces of goodness.. I’ll start with my favourite train for June. This one ran on June 6th – thanks to The best of Melbourne Graffiti for the pic. This guy has been killing it lately!

01 RUNZ - Photo via The Best of Melbourne Graffiti

RUNZ. Photo courtesy of The Best of Melbourne Graffiti.

Some shots from Burg’s show at the Vic below, more here. Burg’s street characters are some of my faves with twisted and expressive faces appearing all around Melbourne.

BURG - Photo by AllThoseShapes

BURG. Photo by AllThoseShapes.

BURG - Photo by AllThoseShapes

BURG. Photo by AllThoseShapes.

BURG - Photo by AllThoseShapes

BURG. Photo by AllThoseShapes.

Knock Knock Magazine released their latest issue, Issue 4 -The Travel Issue. Knock Knock is an online magazine focusing on talented creative people, this issue features articles on Ben Quilty, Mark Drew, Geoffrey Lillemon, Dave Cragg, Sobekcis, Sheryo & The Yok, Onur Gulfidan, Rosek, Haribow, Maaden, Beatrix Curran, Kate Florence Knowlden, Val Kelmer, Jess Howell, Robyn Aubrey, Arman Nobari, Embassy, Spoonty and DoubleTrouble. A great read and a well put together production. Check out these screen shots from Issue 4:

Screenshot from KnockKnock Issue 4

Screenshot from KnockKnock Issue 4

Screenshot from KnockKnock Issue 4

Screenshot from KnockKnock Issue 4

Screenshot from KnockKnock Issue 4

Screenshot from KnockKnock Issue 4

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Teaching graffiti history and practice

July 30th, 2013 | By | 3 Comments »

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Ryan Seslow is an artist and professor in New York. I asked him to write this guest post about his experiences bringing street art and graffiti into the college classroom. Hopefully it will help to inspire others to do the same. – RJ

Street Art & Graffiti has entered the college and university level. It was long overdue. At both Long Island University (Post campus) and this coming year at CUNY York College students earn 3 credits towards their degree requirements in the areas of art history, studio art, or as an art elective. “The History & Emergence of Street Art & Graffiti” is the title of the course that I created and began teaching at LIU Post in 2010. One may think that the course would have trouble with enrollment at a University on the North Shore of Long Island, but this is quite the contrary. The course has booked solid every summer since it has been offered. I started teaching at the college level in 2003 simultaneously between 4 colleges and universities here in the NYC area.

Bringing this subject and content to the college level did take some time and convincing, but not with the students, it was more with my peers, administrators and colleagues. Even rallying support and over all approval for a course of such nature took even more time, but here we are 3.5 years strong and only building and expanding. As a graffiti writer, artist putting his works in public spaces, and an art professor, the state accreditation aspect of the course is important to me. There are a few schools and programs out there that offer workshops in both street art and graffiti, and they are fantastic. Being able to earn actual credit towards one’s chosen degree requirements validates the importance of the content itself as an emerging art movement of value contributing to the “art world” in the realm of academia. I’m passionate about graffiti and street art, it is the core of my inspiration as an artist. As an art educator, I feel it is my responsibility to bring that passion into my classroom to share and instill its energy into my students. We just completed one of the most productive, collaborative and energetic classes of my teaching career to date. The course at LIU is a 1-week intensive course. The class is offered in July and runs from 9AM-6PM Monday-Friday.

I carefully curated this course, and have been micro testing and interweaving the content into all of my classes for the last 10 years. Keeping students engaged and excited is a huge part of my teaching strategy, and I’m lucky to have a multidisciplinary studio based workload of courses that I teach. Street art and graffiti are always a topic of interest, whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpture, print-making, graphic design, or art history based courses, my passion for the content, its history, and techniques always comes through. In the classroom, the students will find themselves switching regularly between slide and video based lectures, technical demonstrations, museum and gallery visits, guest artist presentations, and hands on collaborative art making experiences. This results in an over stimulating experience filled with retained use value, plus the generation of several new pieces of both collaborative and individual works. Students create a network of new colleagues in a communal course like this. Having guest artists frequent the courses is of huge importance. All of guests are highly respected in the movements for their prolific styles and commitment to their work. Best part of all, these are warm and open people, their process and love for their craft is transparent. If that is not contagious enough, I don’t know what is. Hearing their unique personal stories inspires motivation beyond one’s expectations. This course has filled to capacity every summer since 2010. I don’t have to convince anyone to take the course, and 90% of the students that do are not street or graffiti artists. People are inspired by the movements of street art and graffiti, and I’m taking about adults older than 20 years of age. This particular class that just ended had an average age range of 28 – 40 plus. Read the rest of this article »


Category: Featured Posts, Guest Posts, Random