Last week I had the chance to spend 2 days in New York City. New York is where modern graffiti and street art originated (yes I am aware that Cornbread was from Philadelphia), so it was a trip I had been looking forward to for a while. I crammed as much art into my visit as a possibly could.
First, before getting to New York, I was in Baltimore for a day. While there, I had lunch with Gaia. One of the topics we spoke about, the perception of street art as a democratic process, turned into a post on his blog, and soon (probably after finals are over) I think I’ll be doing a similar post.
My first day in New York, I made sure to see a number of galleries. I’m sure I’ll forget to mention somewhere I visited, but here’s a summary.
First I went to the Jonathan LeVine Gallery for their Phil Frost show. I’m not the biggest fan of Phil Frost. I own one small piece by him, and I really like it, but for the most part, I just don’t get his work. I had never seen more than 2 or 3 pieces together at a time though, so I thought that maybe seeing an entire show would convert me to a fan. It did not. I’m still pretty indifferent to his work.
Next, I made a quick stop at the Doma Café and Gallery for a show by Erik Otto. I’d never heard of Otto, but it was recommended by Hooked. I was in a rush, so I only browsed the show quickly, but it was pretty impressive for artwork in a café, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for Otto in the future.
Naturally, Deitch Projects was a place I had to stop, and though I originally had little interest in Ryan McGinness’ show there, a few pieces definitely caught my eye.
After popping in at Glowlab and then seeing the amazing wall where the above video took place, I was headed to Williamsburg, the heart of NYC’s street art scene…My first stop in Williamsburg was Ad Hoc Art. Their benefit show for Swoon’s boat project had just opened, and that meant work from some of the top names in street art at moderately affordable prices. Swoon’s work in particular was very impressive as always.
Unfortunately, I was not as pleased when I went next door to Eastern District for PosterBoy‘s Adbooster show. People have very polarized views on PosterBoy’s work, and I am big a fan of his subway poster cut-ups. I had high hopes for his first solo show. I was disappointed. I’m sorry, but I can’t tip-toe around it. It was a bad show. He is very good at what he does on the subway, and the piece he did the night he was arrested worked well inside, but this show just wasn’t up to his usual standards. I really, really, hope he improves and can impress me in the future with his gallery work. I don’t want to see PosterBoy have a bit of luck with some street pieces and then fade away. And maybe this show was a one-time thing, or maybe he needs collaborators indoors. His work with Zeus and the Neo-Cons in LA looks so much better. I don’t know. I just hope he improves.
Moving on then.
After I saw Eastern District, Ellis G. was kind enough to show me around town for a while. In addition to knowing where a lot of cool graffiti is hidden, he brought me to Alphabeta, New York City’s graffiti supply shop. Really nice place. In the back, there a number of walls that have been legally painted countless times by some of the world’s top writers. Ellis G. also showed me his fire tags by writing a Vandalog fire tag for me. You can see a video of his fire tags, as well as Alphabeta, in the videos below:
After hanging with Ellis G., I was meant to meet up with Luna Park, but I was on my bike and I vastly underestimated the size of Brooklyn and we couldn’t meet up (sorry).
Instead, I rode around Williamsburg for a little bit longer, and randomly came across Factory Fresh just as they were closing for the night. I had hoped to go visit the gallery to see this piece by Roa, so it was pretty lucky that I came across the place. Skewville has a show going on there now called “Word Up” and I got to see that painting by Roa. Ali and Ad, the owners, were fantastic, and I urge anybody who can to stop by and say hello.
And that was just my Friday. Saturday was just as good.
On Saturday afternoon, I met up with Becki who took me on a walking tour around Williamsburg to see some street art. If you don’t know Becki already, definitely check out her flickr. She’s always taking photos of what’s new on the streets. Sometimes London feels like a glut of not-Banksy guys putting up crap stencils, so it was awesome to see new and different work. As much as street art is global and flickr gives people access to work from anywhere, each city also has a local flavor.
At the end of the tour we went to see Robots Will Kill paint. On our way there, we met Sean from Art Battles, a great painting event in New York. The three of us all went to see Chris and Veng paint the wall photographed below. I think it turned out really well.
After my second afternoon in Brookyln, it was time to clean up put on a nice shirt; Aiko’s show “Love Monster” was opening. Although I wouldn’t agree with TAC Blog that “it is abundantly clear that Lady Aiko has moved beyond her roots as a founding member of the Faile collective,” I would say that Aiko has progressed and created a style that, although definitely similar to Faile, is different enough that fans could tell the difference. It was a very good show though, and well worth a look if you’re in New York. I especially liked her stencils done on found windows.
So that’s my trip to New York City. I didn’t get to go everywhere I wanted to or see everybody I would have liked to see, but I only had two days, and it couldn’t all be about art. One crucial show that I didn’t get to see was the group show “Work To Do.” I thought it had already closed, but I was wrong. It’s still on. Check it out.