Mr. Jeff Soto in NYC

Update: The original headline on this post, and the one that you probably saw if you are found this on your RSS feed, mentioned a new toy. Then I decided not to mention Jeff Soto’s new toy because I went on a rant about art versus advertising. If you’re curious though, Hi-Fructose has some info on the new toy that Jeff is working on.

Looks like Jeff Soto just painted this piece outside of Eyebeam in NYC.  Which reminds me, if you’re in NYC, tonight would be a good night to stop by Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Jeff Soto and Dave Cooper both have solo shows opening there tonight (those shows run through July 24th). Arrested Motion recently posted a studio visit with Jeff, which includes some of the artwork that will be at his show tonight.

Now, I don’t mean to direct any potential negative attention towards Jeff Soto, but this piece reminds me of an interesting argument that I had last night with a friend of mine, who I’ll call James because I’m sure he doesn’t want me to publish his name. I said that I’d rather not be subjected to advertising while I’m in a public space, especially illegal advertising. Naturally, James brings up that I’m more than okay with artists putting up street art illegally. He thinks that I’m hypocritical for hating illegal ads but loving illegal art, especially since the definition of what is art is subjective. I say there’s a big difference, since street art, public art and architecture aren’t trying to sell you anything. Naturally, James makes the point that when a street artist puts up a piece, that’s advertising for their own work. In the case of Jeff Soto, Jeff rarely paints outside anymore, and this particular wall is clearly a form of promotion for his show with Jonathan LeVine Gallery. So it’s an ad, right? Not in my opinion. Yes, it’s an ad, if you know who Jeff Soto is and you know that he has a show opening tonight, which is probably less than 1% of the people who walk by Eyebeam today. For the vast majority of New Yorkers, that’s just a piece of art. Even if Jeff had signed his name, it’s not like he’s put a sign next to it saying “You can buy this image as a print for $70 at!” (although, actually, you can).  Maybe murals like Jeff’s and 99% of street art is a form of guerilla marketing, but it’s only seen as marketing by a tiny minority of the population. For the rest of the world, it’s art in the place of a grey wall, and there’s nothing better than that. So that’s my rant about the different between street art and advertising. Hopefully you agree with me, otherwise I may have just turned a few people off of Jeff Soto, which would suck.

Photo by amc_