When the Obvious Becomes Radical Leftist Politics

February 23rd, 2017 | By | No Comments »

When did pointing out the primary message of the Statue of Liberty (which was immortalized as a poem used to fundraise for the statue and then installed next to it) become an act of protest? Don’t answer. We all know that it was sometime between November 8th and January 20th.

This week, four activists attached a banner reading “REFUGEES WELCOME” at the base of the Statue of Liberty. It was swiftly removed by the park rangers who manage the site. Curbed has more on the story, including a statement from the team that installed it. WHY WAS THAT MESSAGE EVEN NECESSARY TO SAY? This is America, and the idea that refugees and immigrants are welcome should be obvious. Unfortunately, it is not, and that banner was absolutely necessary. Kudos, to whoever installed it. Everyone in America owes you a beer.

On a related note, a school in Maryland made teachers remove posters from their classrooms that celebrated diversity in America. The posters, designed by Shepard Fairey, were determined to be too “political” and “anti-Trump.” So yeah, apparently celebrating diversity counts as anti-Trump now too. Reminds me of this Fox News tweet describing anti-fascist graffiti as anti-Trump.

I guess if anything good is coming out of this, it’s at least the acknowledgement from the right-wing establishment that Trump is in fact a fascist white nationalist.

Photo by Alt Lady Liberty


Category: Art News, Photos | Tags: ,

The Truth Behind Banksy (According to Portlandia)

February 21st, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Portlandia does it again. For their latest segment taking on the art world, Portlandia have Fred Armisen’s character convinced that he is Banksy. Watch what happens:

“Everything’s better, everywhere that we add the art.” Love it. Of course, there’s more than a grain of truth to this piece. Not only about the way that street art, by Banksy or by others, can increase property values and add a “cool factor” to a individual buildings or to entire neighborhoods, but the way that countless property owners added (or perhaps occasionally found) sub-par street art to their buildings, only to call the local news and say, “Oh man, I think Banksy just painted on the side of my building! This is crazy. Get over here and do a story about my building!”

So, kudos to Portlandia, as always.


Category: Videos | Tags: ,

Kibera, 8 Years After JR

February 1st, 2017 | By | 3 Comments »

@jr eight years after on the rooftops of #Kibera . Thank you @bankslave for your time today

A photo posted by gaiastreetart (@gaiastreetart) on

Longtime Vandalog contributor Gaia posted an intriguing photo today on Instagram. I’ll let these photos and Gaia’s caption speak for themselves, other than to say that this seems to be the great (largely) unwritten critique of JR within the street art world.

Update (Feb 2, 2017): A few readers have reminded us of this incident from 2015 where an ad agency tried to “steal” JR’s artwork from Kibera to raise money for charity, but then things went a bit pear-shaped.

Kibera in 2017, with the remnants of JR’s work on visible.

Photos by Gaia


Category: Photos | Tags: ,

ALL BIG LETTERS Opens in Haverford, PA

January 30th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Photo by Caleb Eckert

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, head out on to the burbs for ALL BIG LETTERS at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, probably my most ambitious curatorial project to date. The exhibition features specially-commissioned work from CURVE, FAUST, EKG, Egg Shell Stickers, and Evan Roth, plus contributions from dozens more artists and photographers.

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

ALL BIG LETTERS investigates the tools and strategies of graffiti writers. My hope is that visitors can walk into the show with next to zero knowledge of graffiti, and leave with the ability to see a tag on the street and roughly understand how it came be there and why it looks the way it does. Was it made with spray or a marker or something else? Is the style something city-specific, like a wicked? Why did the writer choose that spot? How did they get there? How long did it take to paint? Curve’s installation in particular functions as both an artwork and a teaching tool. A similar thread runs throughout the exhibit, like in Evan Roth’s Graffiti Taxonomy series, which highlights 140 S’s from each many different tags, all written with a variety of different styles and tools.

Photo by Caleb Eckert

For people already immersed in the culture of writing, ALL BIG LETTERS is a different take than your typical graffiti group show. This is not tags or throw-ups on canvas. Rather, it’s a show for the graffiti nerds who understand that style is an important part of writing, but it is just one element, and it serves a particular purpose. A collection of homemade tools from MOMO, stikman, Fumakaka Crew, Biancoshock (yes, I know that a handful of the artists in the show fall more towards the street art spectrum, but I swear they fit in), plus commercial graffiti products, is paired with a series of photos by Martha Cooper of writers and street artists that highlight their tools.

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

From a new diagram by EKG to photos by Luna Park and Steve Weinik (among others) to an investigation into the development of BLADE’s style over time to never-before-scene work by Adam VOID, ALL BIG LETTERS covers a lot of ground that is all-too-often ignored in more commercial settings, and I would like to think that it’s a pretty unique exhibition. On opening night, a handful of Philly writers all told me a similar story: I came out to support a friend in another group exhibition, but this is unlike any graffiti show I’ve ever seen.

So, if you want to see an exhibition about graffiti that’s truly different, an exhibition where the whole of graffiti is acknowledged (the repetition, the drive for fame, the performance, the risk, the competition, the hacking…), I hope you’ll stop by ALL BIG LETTERS. It’s open through March 3rd.

ALL BIG LETTERS is open at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery through March 3rd. Contributors include Adam VOID, Aric Kurzman, BLADE, Biancoshock, CURVE, DB Burkeman, Egg Shell Stickers, EKG, Evan Roth, FAUST, Fumakaka Crew, Jordan Seiler, Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer, Lee George Quinones, Loiq, Martha Cooper, MOMO, NTEL, Smart Crew, Steve Weinik, stikman, and more. Learn more, and read essays related to the exhibition by RJ Rushmore and Carlo McCormick, here.

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

Photos by Caleb Eckert and Kendall Whitehouse


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

United States of Immigrants

January 29th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Icy and Sot hit the nail on the head with this one.

Photo by Luna Park


Category: Photos | Tags:

Artists in a State of Resistance

January 28th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Donald Trump is president, and things have gone south even more quickly than most people imagined. Now what? Since the election, I’ve heard from so many artists who are reevaluating their work in this new context. I’ve also heard from or come across artists are already taking action. I thought I’d bring together a few of my favorite public projects so far, in the hopes that they might spark a bit of hope, inspiration, and action in others.

First off, this piece didn’t last long, but I came across the above urinal while I was out in Haverford, PA for the opening of ALL BIG LETTERS. Just glad that I was able to snap a photo (and make use of the work) while it lasted.

On a similar note, whoever is putting up these PLEASE PEE ON ME stickers around NYC deserves a medal.

For more anti-Trump street art (some old, some new), The Huffington Post has a nice listicle.

Protest signs are another way artists can help. Everyone needs a good protest sign. One of the highlights of my week was seeing this post on the British graffiti blog Hurt You Bad. Shepard Fairey has once again been designing some iconic protest posters. And the Amplifier Foundation made sure that plenty of beautiful and powerful posters were on hand for the Women’s March in DC. Hopefully we see more great projects coming from them in the coming months and years. Really though, Hyperallergic nailed it with this post of the best signs from the Women’s March locations across the country.

And signs aren’t just for protests and anger. Organizers in Philadelphia and Atlanta sprang into action for Signs of Solidarity, a project where artists made dozens of handmade signs to hang all over various private buildings throughout Philly and Atlanta during inauguration weekend. It’s amazing to see how quickly and smoothly that project came together. Of Signs of Solidarity is any indication, the art world is poised to mount a serious resistance, but that only happens if we keep taking action.

Of course, being anti-Trump is important, but we also need some acknowledgement of the specific harms that he is inflicting (and the Women’s March touched on that). Just one example from this week (and yes, I know this feels like 25 news cycles ago, but that’s just how bad shit is right now): Trump made moves to restart the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. So now, once again, we need artists who can take on that issue and arm the opposition with strong visuals. This week’s installation for Art in Ad Places, a poster designed by Monica Canilao and Eric Loundy, is one example. Spencer Keeton Cunningham’s new mural in Brooklyn, the latest in a series of murals he’s painted in support of Standing Rock, is another. And okay, maybe Standing Rock isn’t what pulls at your heartstrings. What about immigration? Healthcare? Voter suppression? Take your pick, but do make a choice to be active.

Resist.

Photos by RJ Rushmore


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

A deep dive with NTEL

January 20th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

NTEL in Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik.

NTEL is one of my favorite Philly graffiti writers. From stickers to throw-ups and extinguisher tags to beautiful pieces, plus sculpture and other methods of getting up, is one of the most versatile and unique writers in the city. That’s why I’m so excited to include his work in ALL BIG LETTERS, which opens today at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in Haverford, PA. NTEL also has a solo show coming up next week at the Deep Space gallery in Jersey City, NJ. With these two shows approaching, NTEL and I thought that it would be the perfect time to chat about art, politics, philosophy, and his unique approach to graffiti. Enjoy!

RJ: Does the title WORLD WAR FREE, or the upside-down flag on the flyer, have anything to do with the fact that the show opens just one week after Trump’s inauguration?

NTEL: Unfortunately, it was not a conscious pre-conceived link to Trump’s inauguration, specifically. It was just a perfect little accident, which sadly would have been just as relevant regardless of who ‘won’ the election. The title, upside-down flag, the color palette of the works, and the Philosophies behind them reflect a variety of issues, locally and globally, that add up to the senseless actions like, electing a racist, ignorant, short-tempered, bully/pussy, sexist, greedy, scared, Narcissist into one of the most powerful positions in the World. The absolute worst part of it is that we as a People, are the ones who hold the most blame. Americans should feel even more responsible, because Amerikkka is often the original engineer of the lifestyle trends, violence, and legislatures that become so popular, World-wide. We let them get away with their Black Coffee Briefings, and never hold them accountable when they breach the laws of Man, Morals, or ‘God’. We allow them to frighten, confuse, exhaust, and overwhelm us into accepting The Christie’s and The Trump’s of our Society. We literally and figuratively buy into what they’re selling from the Capital to Corporations, which only encourages their behavior. It’s all of our faults.

The title, WORLD WAR FREE, is an evolution of WORLD WAR THREE. It is the next stage. WWIII has been going on for years, ‘informally’ through globalization and exploitation of the World’s peoples and resources from biased, mis-used politics, greed, ‘smaller’ wars, injustices, and disregard for Culture. Even though there have been no declarations, or structured movements, or open references to a WWIII – proper, the actions of our policy and product makers over the past few decades have had the same effect. Global Alliances. Social and Economic Abnormalities. Destruction. Hatred.

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Interview, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , ,

Portals to a future of healing: uplifting women of color in public art

January 7th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

O Wind, Take Me To My Country by Jess X. Snow. Kingston, NY, ft. Safia Elhillo. Photo by Jess X Snow.

Jess X Snow (@jessxsnow), the author of this post, is an artist, filmmaker and Pushcart-nominated poet.

At its worst, public art can be imagery that heightens already existing social hierarchies and inequalities, and at its best–can be a portal into a future of healing and transformation.

I am a queer Asian American immigrant woman and non-citizen to this country. I grew up with a speech impediment so severe it caused me to fear my own voice. When my speaking voice failed, I fashioned myself a new one on the blank page.

I became a muralist because public art became the closest thing to a voice after a lifetime of feeling silenced. When I started painting murals, I was both exhilarated to make work on such a large level and immobilized by a fear of taking up public space. Where did this fear come from? For my childhood, every time I stuttered, my classmates finished my sentences for me. As I grew up, I experienced gender and racially-exoticizing harassment just walking down the street. As a woman of color working in film and public art, the icons I have to look up to are few and far between. As a migrant, I grew up watching my mother get denied at the U.S. border, homeland security giving her trouble every time she renewed her visa, up until we finally obtained our green cards after nine years. In all this, the ability to survive as an artist, and live here legally, comes at so high of a cost that the idea of doing illegal art, or physically taking up public space, can feel life-endangering.

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

ALL BIG LETTERS: Exhibiting graffiti tools and strategy

January 6th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Philadelphia graffiti. Photo by Steve Weinik/@steveweinik.

On January 20th, I hope you’ll join me in Haverford, PA for ALL BIG LETTERS, an exhibition I’ve curated at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, just a few minutes outside of Philadelphia.

ALL BIG LETTERS includes art, photos, tools, and ephemera from Adam VOID, Aric Kurzman, BLADE, Biancoshock, CURVE, DB Burkeman, Egg Shell Stickers, EKG, Evan Roth, FAUST, Fumakaka Crew, Jordan Seiler, Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer, Lee George Quinones, Loiq, Martha Cooper, MOMONTEL, Smart Crew, Steve Weinik, stikman, and more.

Generally speaking, when galleries try to bring graffiti indoors, the focus is on style. Those shows portray graffiti writers as designers, illustrators, the new pop-artists and calligraphers… Headlines along the lines of “Can you believe what he does with a spray can? Now you can buy it on canvas!” still seem all too common. But style is just one component of graffiti. Or maybe the shows focus on writers who have gotten up a lot, trying to capitalize on their fame. Or, as in the case of someone like Barry McGee or Boris Tellegen, the art is (largely) removed from graffiti, a separate practice.

For ALL BIG LETTERS, I took a different approach. To write graffiti is, at its most pure, the performance of an illegal act; the performance is as important as the product. The best graffiti is also strategic. It relies on a combination of repetition, longevity, visibility, degree of difficulty, novelty, and style. ALL BIG LETTERS explores all of those strategies, and the tools writers use to realize them.

Because of the show’s angle and some deep digging over the last year, it’s full of surprises. New work from FAUST, Curve, NTEL, and EKG, never-before-seen photos of two Philadelphia graffiti legends at work (you’ll have to come to the show to find out who), homemade graffiti tools dating back as early as the 1960’s, and more.

ALL BIG LETTERS opens January 20th (4:30-7:30pm) at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in Haverford, PA. The exhibition runs through March 3rd.

On a personal note, I worked at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery for just about my entire time as a student at Haverford College. It’s humbling to be invited back to exhibit at the space where I learned so much, and where we exhibited the work of so many amazing artists and curators (Hank Willis Thomas, Natasha Logan, the Dufala Brothers, Sam Durant, Pete Brook, Raymond Pettibon, Christine Sun Kim…). I can’t say thank you enough to everyone at Haverford for this opportunity.

Photo by Steve Weinik


Category: Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

52 weeks of ad takeovers in NYC

January 6th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Admittedly, things have been a bit quiet on the blog lately. Not very many posts on Vandalog, and you may be wondering what’s up, but we’ve been staying busy on a few major projects behind the scenes. This week, we’re excited to share to share one of those projects with you: Art in Ad Places (AiAP), an entire year of ad takeovers in NYC.

Co-curated by Vandalog contributor Caroline Caldwell and I, AiAP is a 52-week public art campaign replacing NYC advertisements with artwork. AiAP launched on Thursday with artwork by Adam Wallacavage and an article on Hyperallergic. Every week, starting this week and continuing for a full year, the AiAP team will install a new artwork by a different artist at a payphone in New York City. AiAP is an active and artistic response to the unending proliferation of outdoor advertising in New York City and elsewhere.

AiAP was inspired by a specific instance of an especially body-shaming billboard that we walked by almost every day this past spring, a general dislike of outdoor advertising (consuming advertising is unhealthy, and with outdoor advertising, there’s no way to opt-out, except to remove it), and a desire to see a different kind of ad-takeover campaign. Rather than putting up a lot of ads in one day, AiAP will be sustained over a year, one artist at a time, with each artist giving their reason for participating.

We kicked off AiAP with an installation by Adam Wallacavage. The poster, part of Wallacavage’s Shipwrecks of Unicorn Beach series, can be found in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Further AiAP installations will come from artists from all over the country and who work in a variety of mediums. Artists will be announced each week on Instagram as their posters are installed, with the full line up only being revealed at the culmination of the exhibition.

To keep up to date with AiAP and learn more, check the website, follow the campaign on Instagram and Facebook, and sign up for the AiAP email list.

Photos by Luna Park


Category: Featured Posts, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , ,