America is still here.

December 3rd, 2016 | By | No Comments »

America Is

As someone with family in the very red state of Oklahoma, I was especially happy to see Tatyana Fazlalizadeh install this message of strength and defiance in Oklahoma City over the Thanksgiving holiday. Painting a mural in Wynwood is easy, but unimportant. Pasting up a message “to challenge whiteness” (as Tatyana told the Huffington Post) is probably not so easy, but infinitely more important. So while the art world spends this week on vacation in Miami, I’m thankful that Tatyana is doing real work.

You can read more about this piece on Tatyana’s Instagram.

PS, shout out to the fantastic Jess X Chen who is featured in Tatyana’s piece, and will hopefully have a guest post on Vandalog soon! Keep an eye out for that.

Photo by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh


Category: Photos | Tags:

Forged artworks, silly exhibitions, and the Banksy market

November 22nd, 2016 | By | 1 Comment »

Banksy

Melbourne’s controversial Banksy exhibition, curated by Steve Lazarides and unaffiliated with the artist, has been the target of much criticism since it opened last month. The exhibition has a ticket price of $30, was organized without the artist’s permission, includes a gift shop full of un-authorized Banksy merch, and just generally smells of slick businessmen trying to make a quick buck off of Banksy’s name. But don’t take my word for it… just ask the artist who was commissioned to paint a mural outside of the show, or Australian street art critic Alison Young who noted that, at best, the show takes great work and installs and displays it poorly.

Then again, who wants to read, when you can watch a video that explains it all? CDH‘s latest installation, FAKESY, sums up everything that’s wrong with The Art of Banksy (the exhibition I mean, not Banksy’s art) and the art market in general. For the performance, CDH set up a stall selling fake Banksy art outside of the Melbourne exhibition. Watch what happens next…

Did you catch that? The part where CDH is told that he can’t be selling his Banksy forgeries because it’s not good for business at the Banksy exhibition… At least the exhibition organizers seem to be admitting that their gift shop is also full of forgeries. That’s progress, sort of.

Bless you, CDH, for perfectly capturing this ridiculousness.

Photo by Duncan Hull


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Videos | Tags: , , ,

Film the police!

November 7th, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Nether

Nether‘s latest mural is a tribute to bearing witness. SATYAGRAHA was painted in Baltimore as part of the Baltimore Rising exhibition at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The mural highlights Kevin Moore and Ramsey Orta, who each witnessed police murdering a black man and decided to speak out. Moore filmed Freddie Gray’s arrest, and Orta filmed Eric Garner’s murder. Both have since faced intense police harassment.

Kevin Moore speaks a bit about that harassment, as well as how to interact with police, in this video:

EYES ON BALTIMORE from Nether Bmore on Vimeo.

Nether’s mural is also a plug for WeCopwatch, an organization dedicated to educating people on their right to observe police activities.

So remember: when it’s safe to do so, film the police.

Photo courtesy of the Maryland Institute College of Art


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos | Tags:

Why is someone emailing me about Alec Monopoly, Mr. Brainwash, and Kim Kardashian?

October 25th, 2016 | By | No Comments »
An object by Kim Kardashian, available now on Paddle 8.

An object by Kim Kardashian, available now on Paddle 8.

The following is an open letter to a trio of people (I’ve removed their names) who emailed me about promoting this auction on Paddle 8, and asked for my advice on spreading the word. Despite their C- rating from Charity Intelligence Canada, I am optimistic that the Baycrest Foundation does good work around Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research. You can contribute, without engaging in their auction, here. – RJ Rushmore

Hi X, Y, Z,

So here’s the thing… if you want to promote things made by Mr. Brainwash and Alec Monopoly, I suggest you do it far away from art blogs. Of course, I can’t say what they do is not art, because clearly it technically is an art-like thing, and when something it considered “not art,” it is all too often later regarded as groundbreaking. However, what Alec and Brainwash do is five steps backward. It is, at best, pop art solely for the sake displaying money and celebrity. If Donald Trump collected art (other than, of course, portraits of himself) Brainwash and Alec are the artists that he would collect. They are unabashed displays of wealth, for no other purpose than the display of wealth. These are the guys who show up to your high school reunion wearing a Rolex on both wrists, just because they want to tell everyone that they are wearing a Rolex on each wrist.

Yes, in this particular case, these two artists are choosing to raise money for charity, but have you ever considered why that might be? BP sponsors the TATE in London. Why? Not because they are good people, but because they are looking for a way to look like good people. (Thankfully, Liberate Tate has brought a stop to that.)

I have had Alec tell me to my face that his art is a joke, a money-making/get-laid scheme and nothing more. He knows it.

I have literally threatened to quit two jobs when the question of working with Brainwash was raised, and I was prepared to do it. Actually, one of them I did quit for a few days until they decided not to work with him.

But wait! Perhaps you think: Well, Brainwash is a fun man bringing art to the people. I can’t really convince you otherwise until a recording comes out saying “fuck ‘the people,'” but I don’t think it will because I think that Brainwash is just an idiot and who believes his own hype and doesn’t see how his work is at best misguided and at worst damaging. The one and only time I’ve ever written positively about Mr. Brainwash was when he made a pro-Obama poster, because he accidentally ended up on the right side of history and with a budget to hire a halfway-decent graphic designer to put him there. But with Alec, he’s never hidden it. You may look at Alec and think: He’s “subverting the idea of the Monopoly Man, laughing at Wall Street.” Alec thinks he’s being subversive too, but he doesn’t understand the meaning of the fucking word. Like, he literally believes it means the opposite of what it means. He’s an ostentatiously oblivious piece of shit. Coincidentally, this piece I wrote about Alec a few years back mentions healthcare and elaborates on my perspective.

I could kind of give a fuck about Kim Kardashian and Michael Buble. I mean, if people want to own a thing that a pop star touched and that thing raises money for charity, great. But no art site could possibly care, except for the clicks it would generate.

All the best with the Baycrest Foundation. I can’t quite buy a brain, but I hope that my modest personal contribution is helpful.

– RJ


Category: Auctions, Featured Posts, Random | Tags: , ,

Drills, not guns, with Icy and Sot

October 24th, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Icy and Sot

Gotta love Icy and Sot. I was sad to hear that the above installation didn’t last very long, but even the attempt is pretty fantastic. And while Icy and Sot may have become known for their stencils, much of the duo’s best works aren’t stencils at all. There’s, of course, the balloons above, but there’s also performance, sculpture, and photography. And then there’s also this other recent piece, made with a drill:

Icy and Sot

Kudos to Icy and Sot. I would love to see more street artists really pissing people off with their work and messing with tools and materials.

Photos courtesy of Icy and Sot


Category: Photos | Tags:

Weekend link-o-rama

October 9th, 2016 | By | No Comments »
Lady Liberty at Pedro Reyes' Doomocracy

Lady Liberty at Pedro Reyes’ Doomocracy

Between two projects launching at Creative Time and preparations underway for two major personal projects (more on one of those in just a moment), Vandalog has been pretty quiet lately. Taking a step back has allowed me to get excited about all the good things happening in street art, graffiti, and public art over the last month or two, and there’s lots more goodness still to come in through the fall. So here’s a bit of a round up of what I’ve been working on, the great things some friends of Vandalog are doing, and all the interesting stuff that people who I were were my friends are doing.

Photo by RJ Rushmore


Category: Books / Magazines, Events, Festivals, Gallery/Museum Shows, Products, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Clickbait: The cash, flaws and ethics of “revealing” Banksy

September 3rd, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Banksy unmasked

Editor’s note: This guest post is by Peter Bengtsen, one of just a handful of academics worldwide whose research focuses on street art, and I highly recommend his book The Street Art World. – RJ

Back in March 2016, Vandalog published a post that questions why anyone would want to learn the identity of Banksy. In the post, RJ Rushmore echoed the sentiments of David Choe by commenting that focusing on who the artist is “misses the point of Banksy, like watching a magic show from side stage while someone whispers in your ear how every trick is done”, and he stated that “[n]o good comes from trying to reveal Banksy’s identity, or wondering who Banksy is”. In the decade I have been studying street art academically, I have found this attitude to be very common among members of what I call the street art world, and it is one I happen to largely agree with.

The media have of course been attempting to find out who is behind the Banksy moniker for a long time. The latest attempt, published by Mail Online on 1 September 2016, suggests that the artist may be a member of a famous British music group or perhaps is a group of people working together as one persona. While media speculation about Banksy’s identity is nothing new, the avalanche in March of news stories about the ostensible uncovering of the artist’s identity – which most likely prompted David Choe to write his text – stands out because it was a result of the publication of an academic article in Journal of Spatial Science. In this article, a group of researchers presented the results of a geographic profiling study in which they had paired clusters of artworks attributed to Banksy with addresses associated with a named individual who they presented as their prime suspect for being the anonymous artist. Basically, by finding correlations between the clusters of artworks and the addresses, the researchers seemingly substantiated previous tabloid speculation about the identity of Banksy. The media, unsurprisingly, jumped on the story and repeated the name given by the researchers in the article. This was highly problematic, not only for the person being “outed” as Banksy, but also for scholars who are relying on the confidence of members of the street art world in order to do their research.

In addition to the commonsense-based critique, which has been put forward by David Choe, RJ Rushmore and many other members of the street art world, that it is simply wrong to expose an artist who has chosen to work anonymously, it is worth noting that the geographic profiling study seems to be characterised by a number of fundamental methodological flaws and ethical issues. I have described these in more detail in the freely available article Hijacking Banksy: using a contemporary art mystery to increase academic readership, but to name one example, it is a problem that the geographic profiling study focuses on just one candidate for being Banksy. With no other cases to compare their results to, the researchers openly admit in their article that it is “difficult” to make any definitive conclusions about Banksy’s identity.

Banksy revealed

Given the lack of conclusive evidence produced by the study, I find it odd (and highly ethically unsound) that the researchers are still comfortable with publishing the name of the person they have been investigating. While one of the researchers suggested on Twitter that making public the name of the suspect is not an ethical problem because the name has previously been put forward by a national English tabloid newspaper and has subsequently been repeated on thousands of websites, this line of reasoning is clearly flawed. There is, or at least there should be, a significant difference between the expectations we have for the quality of the content of tabloid press stories and academic articles.

So why would the researchers choose to include the name without solid evidence? I can only speculate, but as this segment on the news satire show Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver points out, researchers are in sharp competition for funding, and this increasingly seems to lead to sensationalism within academia, be it in the research itself, the way it is presented to the public, or both. It is no secret that the level of international media exposure the researchers have gained by naming their suspect for being Banksy could be a factor when funding bodies are going to decide where to place their money. Playing the sensationalist card is certainly one way of getting ahead in the race for future funding (at least in the short term), even if it happens at the cost of academic integrity and at the expense of named individuals and the community of street art researchers at large.

Screenshots by Peter Bengtsen


Category: Art News, Guest Posts, Random | Tags:

Molly Crabapple’s mural for Syrian refugees

September 3rd, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Molly Crabapple

Molly Crabapple shaped the visuals of Occupy Wall Street, her illustrations of places like present-day Syria and Guantánamo Bay have landed her in VICEVanity Fair, and The New York Times, and she’s about to open a solo show at Postmasters Gallery. If she wanted to, I’m sure there are plenty of walls that she could paint in New York, where she lives. If Crabapple wanted to paint a mural for the sake of getting some buzz for her upcoming gallery show, that would be the way to go. That would be the norm in this city. Nobody would mind. But that’s not Molly Crabapple. She turned down a chance to work with Lena Dunham because she disagrees with Dunham’s stance on the best approach to decriminalize sex work. So, for what I’m pretty sure is her first exterior mural, Crabapple traveled to Antakya, Turkey where she painted a youth center for Syrian refugees.

This was the third time that Crabapple has painted at a Syrian youth center in Turkey. In 2014 and 2015, she painted interior murals with the Karam Foundation. This year, she worked with Save the Children (here’s a bit more about their work in Turkey).

Molly Crabapple

Continuing along the same themes as those first two projects, Crabapple painted dozens of whimsical and animals all over the building. It’s a side of Crabapple’s works that I didn’t realize existed, but it seems a great fit for the space. What’s more universally cheerful than a bunch of slightly mischievous cats?

Let’s hope this is just the first of many exterior murals from Crabapple.

More photos below… Read the rest of this article »


Category: Photos | Tags:

Beyond wallpaper: street art works

August 16th, 2016 | By | No Comments »
Photo courtesy of Hyuro

Photo courtesy of Hyuro

Note: This post is in adaptation of what I presented last month at The Art Conference in London. So if you were curious about that talk, here you go.

As Rafael Schacter has argued, street art has moved “from dissident to decorative.” We’ve gone from politically radical drawings in New York subway stations to decorating music festivals so that attendees are a bit less bored while they sip beer and wait for Kanye to take the stage.

That safe public art is what I call wallpaper. Wallpaper is what when you mix street art with plop art, those huge, random, mostly abstract or minimalist sculptures that show up in semi-public squares as a result Percent For Art programs where a developer is legally required to install some public art in front of their building, so they just go for something big, expensive, and (most importantly) benign. Wallpaper, like plop art before it, reinforces existing power structures.

We live in a world of wallpaper. Mural festivals provide plenty of examples. When I see yet another mural by a globe-trotting artist who does most of their sketching on transcontinental flights, I have to ask, “Is this wallpaper productive?” There’s only so much funding for murals each year. Artists only have so much brainspace to create. Maybe more wallpaper isn’t the best use of our resources. Wallpaper is like sugar. Good in small doses, terrible in large doses, and we tend to overdo it.

Lady Aiko at the Coney Art Walls (2015). Photo by RJ Rushmore.

Lady Aiko at the Coney Art Walls (2015). Photo by RJ Rushmore.

Take the Coney Art Walls, a project that I actually do enjoy. In many ways, the Coney Art Walls are a prime example of wallpaper: concrete slabs installed solely for the sake of murals, high-end food trucks that the murals are meant to get you to eat at, a neighborhood that functions as an amusement park, funding from a controversial property developer… But unlike most wallpaper festivals, the Coney Art Walls are well curated, there’s a wide range of artists who are well paid and allowed to take risks, and many of the murals reference the historic neighborhood. Still, if the Coney Art Walls is among the best that the street art festival model can offer, it’s safe to say that festivals and similar mural projects generally do not live up street art’s radical roots.

On a good day, what can street art do, when we think beyond wallpaper? It can transform and empower. It can bring people together. It can propose better versions of public space.

Read the rest of this article »


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

Justin Giarla closes galleries, moves to Portland, allegedly screws over his artists

August 14th, 2016 | By | 6 Comments »
Justin Giarla. Photo by Lynn Friedman.

Justin Giarla. Photo by Lynn Friedman.

There was a time not to long ago when Justin Giarla loomed large over the street art/graffiti/low-brow art scene in San Fransisco. He owned three galleries simultaneously: White Walls Gallery, Shooting Gallery, and 941 Geary. All three closed quietly earlier this year, with their final shows opening in February. The building was sold. Last month, Giarla and his girlfriend Helen Bayly packed up their things, apparently abandoned his truck on the side of the road, and skipped town for Portland. That’s when the truth finally became public: Giarla hadn’t been paying his artists.

In a Facebook post that went viral, Ken Harman (owner of Hashimoto Contemporary and Spoke Art) claimed, “For years, Justin Giarla stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from artists who consigned works to Giarla’s gallery, White Walls / Shooting Gallery…  I don’t know if karma is a real thing (though I like to believe it is) but I do believe that [Giarla and Bayly] are sociopaths and criminals who prey on those who can’t defend themselves. If karma is real, you won’t hear me complaining.”

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Art News, Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: , , , ,