Last week, Jordan Seiler from PublicAdCampaign was here in Philadelphia for Taking From The Tip Jar, his solo show at Vincent Michael Gallery. While in town, Jordan didn’t just hang his show. He also put up a few pieces outdoors. The piece below is, I think, Jordan first street piece that isn’t over advertising.
Outdoors, Jordan brought his usual energy and made the streets of Philadelphia a brighter place. I think his art going over advertisements is one of the most important things that street art can do. Often, people (including myself) have said that good street art is something that brings a smile to your face or makes you think because something has been added to your environment, but Jordan’s art can have just as powerful an effect (but not an impact) by removing branding from the environment. An example: Advertising can make people feel like crap about themselves and convince them to buy crap they don’t need to feel better about themselves. By removing that advertisement, somebody might not feel better about themselves, but don’t feel worse. They have a better day without even realizing it.
Indoors at Taking From The Tip Jar, the artwork was extremely conceptual, which was not immediately apparent. At first, the glance, it’s a drawing of a girl in high heel or underwear, so of course I’m drawn in to look at that. Clearly, Jordan has thought about advertising long enough to know that sex sells. Or he’s been listening to Bill Hicks. Realistically though, the drawings are average. Would they make good street art? Yes. Are they an improvement over the advertisements in phone booths? Hell yes. But the drawings just don’t have that much to offer if you intend to look at them for more than a moment or two. But the drawings aren’t what Jordan’s show is about. It’s about the frames. My favorite work in the show may have actually been an empty frame on the wall.
Everything in Taking From The Tip Jar is framed the same way: in stolen phone booth advertisement frames. Even with his indoor art, Jordan has been able to continue his mission of disrupting public advertising. Once you’re aware of the frames, the entire show is changed. Now it’s about how the frames should be used both indoors and outdoors, if at all. For this reason, Taking From The Tip Jar is one of the stronger shows I’ve seen this year. It actually got me thinking.
The show runs through December 3rd at Vincent Michael Gallery in Philadelphia.