Strange Things are Happening Every Day

July 15th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Brake by Dosjotas. Photo by Dosjotas.

Who doesn’t like something a bit weird and surprising on the street? Who doesn’t want to see something strange? This week, two such interventions landed in my inbox, while a fundamentally unimaginative attempt has been going viral and clogging my social media and blog feeds. I’m not even sure that these two successful pieces have much in common with each other, except that they are both new, made me think about all the imaginative ways to mess with public space, and compare favorably to what’s been going viral.

Resurrection by Elfo and Biancoshock. Photo courtesy of Biancoshock.

Resurrection, a collaboration between Biancoshock and Elfo, is a commentary on the Italian village of Bussana Vecchia. The town was devastated by a deadly earthquake, which led to to be abandoned as a ghost town. Over half a century later, it was resettled by artists, and has been an artist colony since the 1950’s. The duo write that the work reflects, “the impossibility of reconstructing [the village] except through the artistic ability and will.” So here you have a really beautiful piece, relatively simple, in a unique location, and certainly something that would be a surprise to come upon if you were exploring the ruins of Bussana Vecchia.

Brake, by Dosjotas, imagines a world with the physics of Mario Kart or Batman, with a car slamming on its breaks climbing up the wall of a building rather than crashing through it. Very fun, and a nice use of multiple surfaces. It was painted for Unfinished Museum of Urban Art in Fanzara, Spain.

Brake by Dosjotas. Photo by Dosjotas.

As for the work that’s been frustrating me every time I see a tweet about it… no need to link or name names, but maybe you’ve seen it. The work in question shows that the artist actually has a great eye for placement. However, this piece is basically an advertisement designed to go viral. If you need to paint the entrance of a posh restaurant with someone else’s cartoon character while bringing no new concepts to that character, what you’re doing is closer to an ad campaign for the restaurant than muralism or street art. Arguably, for the artist, that’s fine. Get paid. But us bloggers should know better than to help something like that go viral when truly strange things are happening every day.

Photos by Dosjotas and Biancoshock


Category: Photos | Tags: , , ,

RJ and Good Buy Boris Talk Internetchki

July 6th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Good Guy Borris, Mick La Rock, RJ Rushmore, Mathieu Tremblin, and Jasper van Es in Eindhoven.

Last month, The Grifters’ Good Buy Boris and I sat down with Radio Slik to chat about graffiti and the internet (or, as Boris would call it, the “internetchki”). We all know that internet is changing the way culture is created and consumed. And of course applies to graffiti too. Performance is more important, styles cross borders faster than ever, and social media is essential. Viral Art is all about that shift, but it’s really Boris who is at the cutting edge of it as a practitioner and content creator. Just check his Instagram.

Excerpts of our conversations have been turned into a podcast. Have a listen:

Thanks to MU artspace in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and Radio Slik for putting together that podcast. Boris and I were in town together because MU and the EMOVES festival had invited us to town as part of MU’s #VIRALVANDALS exhibition (co-curated by Jasper van Es and Boris). More about that exhibition here.

Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann


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

A Trip to Bethlehem, Also… BANKSY

June 20th, 2017 | By | 1 Comment »

As just about anyone reading Vandalog will know, Banksy has opened up a hotel in Bethlehem, Palestine. The Walled Off Hotel has “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” with rooms looking out onto the illegal separation wall that Israel has built in the West Bank.

When the project was first announced, I was eager to hop on the first flight available and spend a week in Palestine. After all, when Banksy says to show up somewhere, it’s a good idea to show up. But I was reminded that perhaps it was a bit silly to visit Bethlehem just because Banksy’s got some art up there. That was a fair point, and then a dozen other real-life considerations started to make the whole thing feel impractical. So, on a personal level, perhaps I’m living on a boring life and I’d just rather pay my rent on time than have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But on a broader level: That’s the whole question of the hotel, right? Should someone travel half way around the world to see a Banksy installation in Palestine? To what extent is going to The Walled Off Hotel “slum tourism” or its opposite (is there a phrase for visiting a country or a neighborhood for the sake of visiting a tourist attraction instead of experiencing the everyday of the place, like flying to the gated-off Mar-a-Lago and saying you’ve seen Palm Beach)? Is Banksy exploiting a situation or helping the local economy and bringing press attention to an under-reported and deeply-worrying situation?

I’m tempted to lean in Banksy’s favor here. He’s not an idiot. He knows that, as he’s done before, working in Palestine will give press attention to the situation there. He knows that people will fly to wherever he puts on a project (as I’ve done before). And, as is the case with so much of Banksy’s work, the question then becomes how the audiences reacts, and that’s largely on them. Which is why it was so encouraging when I saw a “review” of The Wall Off Hotel by my friend Doug from Fifth Wall TV. Check it out:

Well Doug, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think that’s the way to experience The Walled Off Hotel. Actually, now you’ve made me want to visit again…

Photo courtesy of The Walled Off Hotel


Category: Videos | Tags:

Virtual Graffiti: #ViralVandals at MU artspace

June 12th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

At first, graffiti writers wrote on walls to get their names up. Then, they wrote on trains because those trains traveled all over the city, and got their names up all over. Soon, they started snapping photos and mailing those photos to friends in other cities, to get their names known there. That evolved into zines and books, and the culture (and certain names) spread even further. All the while, styles of writing evolved to fit those new communication tools. And then the internet came along. #ViralVandals, an exhibition open now at MU artspace in Eindhoven, considers how graffiti writers have responded to the internet, social media, VR, and other new technologies. It’s a familiar question for me, as it was also the inspiration for my book Viral Art.

MU #VIRALVANDALS from stichting MU on Vimeo.

It’s exciting for me to see curators Jasper van Es & Good Guy Boris thinking about some of the questions that I looked for Viral Art, and to see how they see the scene having evolved in the years since Viral Art was published. Plus, their focus is more on graffiti while mine was on street art. Which is all to say, I’ve been looking forward to seeing #ViralVandals since I first heard about the idea for it, almost a year ago.

That will finally be happening later this week, when I’ll be in Eindhoven at the invitation of MU artspace and EMOVES to participate in a panel about #ViralVandals with Good Guy Boris (The Grifters), Mathieu Tremblin, and Mick La Rock. I dunno how many Vandalog readers we have in the Netherlands, but I hope to see a few of you there.


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

When Women Disrupt

June 11th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

When Women Disrupt Tour. Photo courtesy of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

I just want to take a moment to applaud Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Jessica Sabogal, and Melinda James for their When Women Disrupt tour, where Tatyana and Jessica traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico installing a series of bold murals (with Melinda documenting the process). The tour wrapped up this week, and these three women pulled no punches in their work. Here’s some more about the tour from The Root:

It seems like everything that went up for When Women Disrupt is amazing and necessary. I could go on, but I’ll just let the work speak for itself: Read the rest of this article »


Category: Photos, Videos | Tags: ,

GATS Does New York

June 10th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

GATS in Little Italy for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC. Photo by Rey Rosa Photography/The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, Inc.

New Yorkers have been seeing a fresh influx of work by GATS this past week. He’s one of my favorite Oakland writers/artists, so it was exciting to see him in town to work with my friends at Spoke Art NYC and The L.I.S.A. Project NYC.

GATS provided a fresh update to one of my favorite rotating walls along Mulberry Street for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC (see above). Not an easy wall to photograph, so it’s especially worth checking out in person.

A hand-painted ad takeover also appeared in Brooklyn. Maybe it’s still there? Let’s hope so, but the lifespan on these things doesn’t tend to be all that long.

GATS in Brooklyn. Photo by Caroline Caldwell.

And of course there’s the project that brought GATS to town: Against The Grain, his solo show at Spoke Art. Great use of found materials, and as well as techniques like pyrography. Against The Grain is open through June 25th at Spoke’s location on the Lower East Side.

Photos by Rey Rosa Photography/The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, Inc. and Caroline Caldwell


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

The Corrections: Street Art Calling Out Bias in The New York Times

May 7th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

As much I’ve enjoyed the anti-Trump stickers that have been making up a healthy portion of my Instagram posts lately, they’re pretty basic: Trump sucks. We get it. New York agrees (except for maybe that one asshole putting up Infowars stickers in my neighborhood). I enjoy those stickers, but what I’d love to see some work that goes a bit deeper into the issues that Trump represents.

Luckily, there’s Alexandra Bell. Her new series of posters smacks you in the face, highlighting the everyday racism that was hiding in plain sight even before the age of “Trump’s America.” Bell has been putting her journalism degree to work critiquing articles from The New York Times to highlight the implicit bias in their stories, headlines, and page layout.

A post shared by Alex(andra) Bell (@yesitsalex) on

She starts with a real page layout from The New York Times, and redacts, critiques, or remakes the page to remove or highlight the paper’s implicit racial bias. Would Michael Brown have been referred to as “A Teenager Grappling with Problems and Promise” if he were white? Why was a major article about Brown given equal billing as an article about his killer? Why was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s photo used below and article about the four white American swimmers who got caught vandalizing a Rio gas station?

A post shared by Alex(andra) Bell (@yesitsalex) on

Bell’s posters have been appearing across NYC, in the subways and on the street, and they’ve provoked different reactions. At first look, they may be confusing, and that’s also why they’re so powerful. These alternative versions of the Times give a glimpse into a different reality, and in doing so highlight the racism still present in ours, even in supposedly liberal and culturally sensitive publications like The New York Times. It’s some of the best street art I’ve seen all year.

And Bell has more to come.

A post shared by Alex(andra) Bell (@yesitsalex) on

Photos from Alexandra Bell’s Instagram


Category: Photos | Tags:

Thank you Very Nearly Almost

April 27th, 2017 | By | 1 Comment »

Roa in London, taken around the time I was interviewing him for Very Nearly Almost.

Sad news to report: Very Nearly Almost, the UK’s premier magazine covering street art/graffiti/muralism…, is shutting down after 10 years.

VNA was an early inspiration for me when Vandalog was just starting out. I would devour their interviews. VNA privileged the voice of the artist, publishing in-depth interviews with street art superstars like Shepard Fairey, as well as people who probably don’t get quite the same chances to take deep dives exploring their work. A few times, I’ve been fortunate to contribute to VNA as an interviewer. Actually, an interview with Case for VNA might have been the first time that someone else published my work.

The community around VNA, a community of contributing writers, photographers, and even artists who collaborated on limited edition covers, is a testament to the importance of the magazine and the genuine love and excitement with which the VNA team approached their work.

To give the magazine a proper send off before they close up shop, dozens artists have contributed work to a charity auction that VNA has organized to benefit Macmillan Cancer Support. Bidding starts today.

Photo by RJ Rushmore


Category: Auctions, Books / Magazines | Tags: , , ,

Upcoming: A West Cost Tour for Wastedland 2

April 9th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Andrew H. Shirley’s Wastedland 2, which premiered last year in Detroit, is headed on a west coast tour. Wastedland 2 is part short film, part immersive art installation, and 100% a graffiti nerd paradise. Of course, it’s a sequel to Shirley’s Wastedland, from 2008.

This time around, the film stars the writers Avoid, Smells, and Wolftits playing alternative versions of themselves in a post-apocalyptic dreamworld. The trio, fueled by beer and weed, spend their days searching out the next spot to catch a tag and chasing traces of the God-like writer UFO. Other writers, mostly members of 907 crew or closely associated with the crew, make cameos too. But what makes Wastedland 2 a must-see is the immersive installation that accompanies some of the screenings, where Shirley and his team transform venues into mini-Wastedlands. Attendees get a film screening, plus an art exhibition to set the vibe.

The beginnings of Wastedland 2’s installation at Superchief Gallery in LA.

The team is already at work transforming LA’s Superchief Gallery in preparation for next week’s screening.

There are also upcoming Wastedland 2 screenings in Oakland, Reno, and elsewhere. Check the full list here.

Photos courtesy of Wastedland 2


Category: Events, Videos | Tags:

Holding onto Hope in a Sea of Destruction

April 9th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Pat Perry‘s latest mural really is stunning. On Instagram, Pat captioned the work, “trying to keep the vision during these unraveling times.” We do have to keep trying, whatever the odds, and I love that Pat has referenced the importance not just of science, but also of art, craft, and creativity in preserving and replenishing our natural environment.

The mural was painted in Napier, New Zealand as part of PangeaSeed Foundation‘s Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans initiative.

As an aside, Sea Walls is an especially interesting mural project in a sea of mediocrity and artwashing. All of their murals take on a pro-environment theme, with a particular focus on oceans. Sea Walls murals have gone up around the world, most recently in Napier, New Zealand, where Pat Perry painted his mural. So far as mural festivals go, it’s a nice model. The same team could just as easily travel the world, going to whatever town wants some pretty pictures on whatever warehouse district is being “revitalized”, commissioning artists to paint whatever the hell they want. So, within the parachuting-artist model of muralism, I’ve got to give credit to Sea Walls for at least basing their work in useful and important content.

Photo by Tre Packard, via Pat Perry’s Instagram


Category: Photos | Tags: ,