Philly Tech Week talk about Viral Art

April 2nd, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Ted Talk

A piece of viral art. Click the here to understand why.

Okay, so I’m not quite speaking at TEDxPhiladelphia, but I am pretty excited to be giving a talk next week at AIGA Philadelphia‘s Old City headquarters/gallery, SPACE, as part of Philly Tech Week. The talk, Viral Art: Disruptions in the spectacle from spray paint to Google Bombs, will focus on some of the ideas found in my free ebook Viral Art.

I’ll be speaking about two main themes: 1. How the communication technologies from zines to books to the internet have affected the street art and graffiti that we see on walls and 2. How street art and graffiti are closely linked to hacking and net art. That will be followed by a Q&A, which I’m really looking forward to.

So if you’re in Philadelphia, I hope you’ll stop by SPACE on Thursday, April 10th. The event runs from 6-8pm. The talk is free, but you can RSVP here.

Photo courtesy of Evan Roth


Category: Events, Vandalog Projects | Tags: ,

Tim Hans shoots… Dan Witz

March 31st, 2014 | By | No Comments »

DanWitz_TimHans03

Dan Witz is one of the original New York street artists, with almost 35 years of experience getting up. He’s also one of my favorite realist painters and pranksters. If you want to see some of Dan’s work in person, he’s got a solo show opening this week at Jonathan Levine Gallery‘s 529 West 20th Street space in New York City. Tim Hans met Dan at his studio for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim. I asked Dan a few questions over email.

RJ: What’s the best prank (involving art or not) that you’ve ever pulled?

Dan Witz: Hmm-best? Hard to say: I mean most of my street stuff over the past 35 years could be described as pranks. I wouldn’t want to single out a winner, but probably the one that consistently gets the most ‘likes’ out of all my one-off pieces would be the clown face house in Brooklyn.

RJ: How did your work with Amnesty International come about and what keeps you working with them?

DW: They got in touch with me. Or, actually, an ad agency that was handling them in Germany reached out to me. Like most street artists I get a lot of e-mail probes from marketing types eager to link their product or cause with urban art. It’s been pretty easy for me to avoid this because my stuff works much better if I keep my identity, or “brand” as much under the radar as possible. When Amnesty International got in touch though, I was so honored and such a long-time supporter of theirs that I was willing to consider it. And I’d already been working with figures trapped behind grates in my WHAT THE %$#@? (WTF) series, so advocating for illegally detained prisoners was an easy fit.

I am so incredibly glad I opened up to this. The 20 or so Wailing Wall pieces in Frankfurt became one of the peak experiences of my career. Oddly, even with all the media frenzy (and the accompanying police attention) there was no pressure on me to compromise my normally aggressive installation tactics (these days, to avoid easy theft I anchor my grate pieces into the wall, which involves serious industrial adhesives and a hammer drill). It turns out that Amnesty international, despite its mainstream respectability, is a surprisingly bad-ass organization. They recognized that my methods, although illegal, were the most effective way to galvanize public attention. If anything they even pushed me to go larger and bolder than I usually do. I date a huge growth in my street practice to that first Amnesty project.

DanWitz_TimHans01

RJ: Whose artwork hangs in your home and why?

DW: There’s a rotating selection of friends’ work, a few copies of old master paintings I’ve done, (in gold frames, which really class the place up), and the usual magnetized refrigerator masterpieces from our two year old. I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying fooling around with the non-toxic kiddie art supplies. Don’t look for a new Crayola series from me or anything, but it’s reminded me how great it is to draw just for the fun of it

RJ: The kitschy artist Thomas Kinkade called himself a “painter of light,” but that description is probably more appropriate for you. What fascinates you about light in paintings?

DW: Didn’t that guy copyright or trademark the “Painter of Light” thing? And isn’t he like the best selling artist, ever? I’ve never seen one in real life but I bet they have a nice heartwarming glow. To be honest, not to put him down, but simulating light with oil paint isn’t really that hard to do. And yeah, like him (I’m guessing) I’ve never gotten over what a miracle it is. It’s magic. And addictive. Same for me with creating trompe l’oeil illusions of space. I never get sick of it. I guess I should be grateful to artists like Kinkade: if it wasn’t for them I might forget how easily these effects can turn into clichés.

RJ: What are you working on at the moment?

DW: As usual I’ve got a few projects simultaneously dead-lining in my studio. Right now, on easel one I’m preparing this summer’s street art; and easel two has my ongoing Mosh pit painting series. Most days I bounce back and forth—I get sick of one and take refuge in the other. But in a few weeks  I’ve got a show, NY Hardcore, opening at Jonathan Levine Gallery so we’re frantically varnishing and framing and e-mailing and packing. Fortunately my studio has a separate ‘dirty’ room in the garage downstairs so I can spray and do woodwork without endangering the artworks and my family’s health. But it’s out of control over here. Which used to be an unbearably stressful way to live, but I’ve gotten used to it, and sometimes (like now, answering these questions) I even get a brief moment to step back and appreciate how lucky I am to be so busy and have all this crazy shit going on.

DanWitz_TimHans02

Photos by Tim Hans


Category: Featured Posts, Interview, Portraits by Tim Hans | Tags: , ,

Labrona and Jason Botkin in Mexico

March 30th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »

IMG_7111-1

This past February a group of Canadian artists including Jason Botkin and Labrona were invited to Mexico to paint at Fiap, International Festival of Public Art, in Holbox. While they where there, they met friends who invited them to paint in Cancun and Mexico City. In Cancun, Labrona and Botkin joined Liz Rashell, a local artist, who organized a mural (below) with the support of the CRAD, Cacun Riviera Arts Destination. The mural above, also located in Cancun, was organized by Leon Alva and painted by local artists Alva, Marisol d’EstrabeauCarlos Generoso and Canadian artists Ruben Carrasco, Labrona and Botkin.

IMG_6971

Labrona, Jason Botkin and Liz Rashell in Cancun

Details

Details

IMG_6966

Details

In Mexico City, Labrona and Botkin had a lot of fun painting a mural, wheat-pasting and exploring the capital. The mural was done at a school. Labrona said, “It was an amazing place to paint because all the children got to see us painting and maybe some of them will be inspired to try art. Also, when we were painting, the teachers brought there kids out to watch and draw.”

IMG_7316

Labrona and Jason Botkin in Mexico City

IMG_7291_01

In progress

IMG_7380

Jason Botkin aka Kin in Mexico City

IMG_7360

Labrona in Mexico City

IMG_7365

Labrona and Jason Botkin in Mexico City

IMG_7355

Labrona in Mexico City

IMG_7351

Jason Botkin aka Kin in Mexico City

Photo by Jason Botkin


Category: Festivals, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Zoo Project, Parisian street artist, is dead at 23

March 29th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »
3974742492_d36985ed53_z

Photo by urbanartcore.eu

Some very sad news. Earlier this week, we posted about the graffiti at Detroit’s Brewster Projects. What we did not know at the time is that Zoo Project, a 23 year old street artist whose work is very well known in Paris, had been found murdered at the Brewster Projects last summer. His body has only just now been identified.

Photo by gildas_f

Photo by gildas_f

I remember seeing a lot of Zoo Project pieces around Paris the last time I was there. They seemed to be everywhere and they immediately caught my eye. Unfortunately, I’ve never been all that good about covering Parisian street art on Vandalog, and I absolutely failed to properly cover Zoo Project’s work while he was alive. The why of that is unimportant right now. Zoo Project was like a young Blu: Painting large pieces on the street in black and white or muted colors, commenting on society, politics and technology with surreal imagery… He will be greatly missed, and his death is a loss to street art. To make up in a very small way for me neglecting his work on Vandalog despite my admiration for it, here are a few Zoo Project pieces…

Photo by G@ttoGiallo

Photo by G@ttoGiallo

Photo by kayexalate

Photo by kayexalate

Photo by Gaël Chardon

Photo by Gaël Chardon

Photo by marcovdz

Photo by marcovdz

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by Béatrice Faveur

Photo by Béatrice Faveur

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photo by gillesklein

Photos by urbanartcore.eu, gildas_f, G@ttoGiallo, kayexalate, Gaël Chardon, marcovdz, gillesklein and Béatrice Faveur


Category: Art News, Photos | Tags:

Nanook gets lost in the sunset

March 28th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

nanook_fullwall

Last month Nanook ventured to Central America to paint for Mamutt in Mexico City. ”Perdido en la Puesta del Sol,” or “Lost in the Sunset” draws upon the local history as well as the site. The former flour production factory Nanook painted this mural on is located in the very industry driven neighborhood of Camarones. Nanook speaks of the enmeshing of narratives, stating:

“About 15-20 years ago many of the factories closed and moved either outside of the city or out of the country. The neighborhood subsequently fell into decline. The parrot wing is representative of two things 1. The nickname for cocaine is parrot, while the neighborhood was losing industry many people began using and selling drugs. 2. The wing is also representative of the Quetzalcoatl, which had many meanings, but one of which was fertility and growth. It is attached to the corn and the woman squinting into the sun as a representation of growing past the loss of industry and ultimately the rebirth of the industry.”

While exploring the representation of local history, the artist continues his experimentation with portraiture and landscape. The juxtaposition is reminiscent of a mural he created last year for Living Walls Atlanta, which set two figures against a pastoral scene. As Nanook continues his nomadic lifestyle, the artist grows from the local experiences, leading viewers to imagine what the next amalgamation will be.

IMG_2144

Photos courtesy of Nanook


Category: Photos | Tags:

An introduction to Debra Yepa-Pappan from Chip Thomas

March 27th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
bode

“Spock was a Half-Breed (Live Long and Prosper)”

Note from the editor: I’m pleased today to have this guest post from Chip Thomas aka Jetsonorama, an artist we have covered on Vandalog many times and also the organizer of The Painted Desert Project. The most recent contributor to the project is Debra Yepa-Pappan, whose piece is shown above. Yepa-Pappan’s work is new to me, so we’re also publishing an interview that Thomas did with her. – RJ

Chip Thomas: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?  Where are you from originally, how did you meet and end up in Chicago?

Debra Yepa-Pappan: I was born in Korea. My father was in the Army and was stationed in Korea where he met my mother. I was born after he had been moved back to the U.S. When I was 5 months old, my mother and I emigrated to the States to be with him. We lived in Jemez for a short time, then on the Army base with my dad in Alabama and then Mississippi, where my parents were married. By the time I was one year old, my dad was discharged from the Army and we moved to Chicago. I’ve been here ever since, although I maintain a strong connection with Jemez and my Korean side. Throughout my childhood and teen years, my parents and I would visit Jemez frequently. And I ultimately went to school at IAIA in Santa Fe to meet other Natives and to be close to “home” that being Jemez Pueblo. Chris and I met there, and I brought him back to Chicago with me when we were both done at IAIA. We’ve been together for 22 years and married for 19 years with a beautiful 12 year old daughter.

CT: What is your art training?

DYP: Growing up, I never really thought of “becoming an artist.” My interest in art started late in high school and I was focused more on design. When I attended IAIA, I began by taking jewelry and then photography. I fell in love with photography. I felt at home in the darkroom and I enjoyed the hands on process of developing my own film and prints. My instructor was Meridel Rubenstien. What I really appreciated about her was that she didn’t teach me to just be a photographer, but she taught me to be an artist. So I’ve never really thought of myself as a photographer, but an artist who uses photography as my medium. I continued on at Columbia College of Chicago where I learned to refine my darkroom skills and where I learned how to use the digital medium, but then I had to “take a break” when I became pregnant. I’m still on that break!

debra-at-dusk

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Guest Posts, Interview | Tags: , ,

Judith Supine is even more interesting than originally suspected

March 27th, 2014 | By | 2 Comments »

Animal just released this fantastic interview with Judith Supine. This actually isn’t the first time Supine has shown his face but the video is still great. I love how cheeky and honest he is. For a man who didn’t speak until the age of seventeen, he’s quick to offer his blunt (and spot on) critique of the art world.

His solo show Golden Child opens at Mecka Gallery on March 29th, and he has worked with the gallery on the release of two prints (one which is already sold out, and another which will be available at the opening). For more of Judith’s unbridled banter, check out his other recent interview on 12oz.


Category: Interview, Videos | Tags: ,

A punk’s fantasy: Droid907 directs for Japanther

March 26th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

Droid has been described eloquently as, “giving punk meaning again.” In the ultimate dream partnership, in my humble opinion, Droid 907 directed, edited, and wrote the video for Japanther‘s new single “Do It (Don’t Try).” The video follows as he writes out the song’s lyrics in his signature style. He then surreptitiously places the stickers around Bushwick while the band belts out “Do Do Do Do Why Fight It?” The juxtaposition of lyrics with illegal art underscore the song’s do or die attitude, one that Droid faithfully lives by.

It is also important to note that the video ends with a shot of a “Droid = Afrika” sticker. This piece pays homage to one of the crew’s deceased friends, writer Afrika.


Category: Videos | Tags: , ,

The life and death of Detroit’s Brewster Projects

March 25th, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Slits, February 2014

Slits, February 2014

My first encounter with the Brewster Projects was in June of 2012. In the middle of a sunny afternoon, the heat was relentless. The sun bleached, weed filled center circle drive stood out in harsh contrast to the dark empty windowed towers looming around in a group. On my first trip to Detroit at the time, I was too intimidated to venture any further than the ground level perimeter of the site. I had been told it was a sketchy neighborhood and that there was security. I never saw any and there were no fences, so I took pics of Flying Fortress and Nychos hitting up the bottoms of the towers.

In the summer of 2012 the European graffiti crew JBCB (Juke Box Cow Boys) were in town along with other international artists involved with the Detroit Beautification Project.

By the time I got to Detroit there were only 4 remaining of the big, 15-story towers. There used to be 6, but 2 were torn down in 2003. The towers were called the Frederick Douglas Apartments and were built in the 40s and 50s. This was the housing project where singer Diana Ross grew up and where, in the rec center, boxer Joe Lewis trained. The projects are right across the freeway from Ford Field and downtown Detroit. There were other low rise apartment houses there too, but they have been removed in pieces over the years.

Juke Box Coy Boys

Juke Box Coy Boys, June 2012

Nychos

Nychos, June 2012

rem and ff

Nychos and Flying Fortress, June 2012

Flying Fortress and Nychos

Flying Fortress and Nychos, June 2012

Nychos and Flying Fortress

Nychos and Flying Fortress, June 2012

I moved to the Detroit area in the fall of 2013 and made it back to the Brewster towers in October of 2013 determined to check out the inside. On that trip I made it to the top of one tower. In the 15 months since I’d last been there, tons of graffiti had been added to the towers. The bottoms were now grilled with tags, throws and pieces. More noticeably, 3 epic 15-story top to bottom rollers had been executed. In addition, Gats, Feral Child, and Ghost Owl had done rollers at the top of another tower, prominently placed and visible to highway traffic heading south into downtown Detroit. As I climbed I noticed preparations for demolition, but didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. There had been ongoing delays and interruptions in the effort to complete the removal of the projects.

Aerub, October 2013

Aerub, October 2013

Feral, Gats, Ghost Owl and more, October 2013.

Feral Child, Gats, Ghost Owl and more, October 2013

Read the rest of this article »


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

BNE lies to his fans, sells a fake collaboration with Banksy

March 25th, 2014 | By | No Comments »

bne

UPDATE March 29th: BNE has updated his website and posted a statement claiming that Banksy and he had communicated about a shirt release, but that BNE decided to announce the shirt and make it available for sale before getting confirmation from Banksy that the collaboration was on. That logic is about as reasonable as me emailing Banksy and asking him about doing a solo show in my bedroom, and then announcing the show without hearing from Banksy. Because, why wouldn’t Banksy want to do a solo show in a college dorm in suburban Philadelphia?

BNE continues to resist the use of the word “scam” to describe what he did, but he fails to acknowledge the numerous lies that he told over the course of this “product launch,” from saying that he was collaborating with Banksy, to saying that he hadn’t sold people something that he presented as BNE x Banksy t-shirt, to saying that this whole thing was a “social experiment.” BNE doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge that at best he messed up by jumping the gun and then he flat out lied, and at worst he orchestrated a massive scam.

He also claims on his site that nobody who picked up on this story requested a comment from him. That’s not true, which I know because I emailed him and requested an interview. Maybe he missed my email, or maybe he ignored it. I don’t know.

But now BNE is offering refunds for those who request them (although I’m not sure how that will work since his PayPal account is frozen). I hope this time BNE gets my email, since I’ve emailed asking for a refund. I’ll be donating a portion of my refund to Living Walls and Give Directly.

BNE also says that he’s working to start a company that will sell a variety of basic necessities like sustainably made shampoo and t-shirts, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. That sounds like a great idea for a company. If I still trusted BNE, I would probably support that business. But it also sounds like a B-Corp, and there are plenty of B-Corps that I’m willing to put a lot more trust into than whatever BNE comes up with.

Saturday was supposed to be a great day. BNE, a graffiti writer who has been raising money for water-related charities (primarily Charity:Water) through BNE.org since late 2011. Most of the money raised has been through the sale of products like t-shirts, lip balm, original artwork and stickers. Earlier this month, BNE released t-shirts by Invader, Shepard Fairey and Faile, some of the biggest names in street art. Shortly after all of those sold out, BNE announced that “a surprise from Banksy in support of our efforts to end the world water crisis” would be unveiled on BNE.org at noon on March 22nd, and that people who helped spread the word of the announcement beforehand would be entered “to win a collaborative gift from BNE + Banksy.”

Well, that was all a lie. BNE was not working with Banksy, and the t-shirts (which cost $92 including shipping to the USA) that were released at noon on the 22nd on BNE’s website just a few pixels away from a large Banksy logo were not done in collaboration with Banksy at all. It was all a ploy, or as BNE called it “a social experiment,” to raise money for Charity:Water, relying on the idea that people would be more likely to contribute to charity if they get something like a t-shirt in return. People were understandably outraged when they discovered that they had not in fact bought the Banksy t-shirt that they thought they had paid for. There’s a lot more to this story and it’s all a bit crazy, but Animal New York have done some great reporting on it, and I highly encourage you to read their post about what happened.

As a fan of BNE’s charity work, someone who has supported in some small way just about every fundraising campaign BNE has organized and a victim of this trick, I’m pretty upset. I’m all for pranks in art. Hell, I’ve even fallen for some before and the responsible thing to do is laugh at yourself. But this was no prank. This was BNE turning on his supporters. He’s lost my trust, and I won’t be supporting his projects in the future (if he manages to get anything off the ground after this fiasco).

It’s unclear at this point what is going to happen to the money that BNE  got from his con. BNE donated the funds to Charity:Water almost immediately after the 500 t-shirts sold out, but it’s not clear that Charity:Water will be accepting his donation. At the same time, BNE promised Animal that he will be refunding every single buyer whether they specifically request it or not, but BNE’s PayPal account has been frozen.

While everything is in limbo for now, assuming that those of us who bought a shirt get our money back, I hope that a lot of it goes right back to charity. It’s easy to donate directly to Charity:Water, who were not involved in BNE.org and are only the recipients of BNE’s donation, and if you do want some great art in return for helping to fund a water-related charity, try this auction that Juxtapoz is involved with. This might also be a good time to mention the current fundraising campaign for the 2014 Living Walls Conference, which includes a matching grant from Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs so that your donation goes even further.

Again, this whole fiasco is fascinating and ongoing, but if you’re at all interested, you should read Animal’s post about what has happened so far, including exclusive comments from BNE.

Photo illustration by RJ Rushmore, original photo by troykelly


Category: Art News | Tags: , , ,