Weekend link-o-rama

MOMO for Open Walls Baltimore

I think we actually did a pretty good job this week on Vandalog covering what needs to be covered, but here are the few things we missed:

Photo by MOMO

Weekend link-o-rama

Don't Fret

Lots of news to share this week and I’m late with this post, so let’s get on with it…

Photo by Don’t Fret

All City Canvas – Mexico City’s Urban Art Festival

Herakut. Photo courtesy of All City Canvas.

From April 29th to May 6th, Mexico’s capital city was hit with some paint, color and talent. The good news is that Mexico’s All City Canvas had a fantastic line up, who appear to have done fantastic work. Artists participating included Roa, Escif, Herakut, Sego, Interesni Kazki, Vhils, Saner and El Mac. The bad news is that unless you were one of the lucky few who were able to see it in person, the rest of us had to bare with the insta-nostalgia, lo-fi photo processing of Instagram since this was primarily how images of the murals were being released online. Interestingly enough, Gonzalo Alvarez, one of the project’s creators, acknowledged that “many artists in Mexico have no money to travel to other countries, and many of their influences come from the pictures they see on the Internet.” All City Canvas’ PR people could be commended for adhering to Alvarez’s philosophy and releasing the images where the masses seem to be (namely Instagram). But to broadcast art to its global audience through heavy photo filters is kind of like putting ketchup on a steak. Perhaps this argument is irrelevant if the intended audience was the Mexican youth who were able to witness street art in person instead of online. That was the philosophy, right? Quality photos had eventually been released. I suppose I am a bit apprehensive to see Instagram used as a marketing device for art or as my only means of seeing a piece. But that is a total digression from what this post should be focused on.

All City Canvas was awesome. Take a look at these almost completely unedited photos. Or go to Mexico City.

Herakut. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Street Art.
Roa. Photo courtesy of All City Canvas.
Vhils. Photo courtesy of All City Canvas.

In conjunction with the festical, gallery Fifty24MX in Mexico City is exhibiting a number of the artists participating in All City Canvas in a show entitled “Piezas“. The show opened on May 10th and will be running until May 27th, featuring work by Aryz, El  Mac, Interesni Kazki, Roa, Saner and Sego. Check out photos of the exhibition here.

Interesni Kazki. Photo courtesy of All City Canvas.
Interesni Kazki. Photo courtesy of All City Canvas.
Saner. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Street Art.
El Mac. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Street Art.
Escif. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Street Art.
Sego. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Street Art.
Sego. Photo courtesy of All City Canvas.

Photos courtesy of All City Canvas and Brooklyn Street Art

Katowice Street Art Festival – part 2


In continuation of Katowice Street Art Festival – part 1, this post concludes the two-part series on the Katowice Street Art Festival, which took place last month from April 20th to the 29th.

Toward the end of last month the Katowice Street Art Festival came to a close. Held in southern Poland, the festival featured a reputable lineup of street artists from around the world including Roa, GanzeerEscifHyuroLudoM-CityOlek, Mentaglassi, and more. The energy surrounding these artists provided the opportunity for a few local artists to exhibit some work on the streets as well (though not affiliated with the festival). Here are some more of the completed murals, and an interesting collaboration between Mark Jenkins and Moneyless; the only two artists involved whose outdoor work primarily consist of sculptures.

Mark Jenkins and Moneyless collaboration
Mark Jenkins and Moneyless collaboration
Etam Cru

Photos by Kalevkevad

A visit in Baltimore: Legal art

Vhils. Photo by RJ Rushmore

This is the first post in a two-part series based on the visit to Baltimore that Caroline Caldwell and I made last week. We made the trip to see Open Walls Baltimore, but ended up getting a taste of the larger street art and graffiti scenes in Baltimore too. This post is about the work we saw at Open Walls Baltimore. Thanks so much to Gaia, Killian, Martha Cooper, Nanook and AVOID for showing us around the city.

As previously covered, Open Walls Baltimore is Gaia‘s stab a street art/mural art festival. Taking inspirations from festivals like Wynwood Walls and Living Walls, Open Walls Baltimore has been bringing some of the world’s most talented street artists to Baltimore to paint murals. With the help of friends like Martha Cooper and Nanook, Gaia has managed to pull of quite a festival. This video gives a pretty good idea of what’s been going on from Freddy Sam’s perspective:

Like so many mural festivals, Open Walls Baltimore manages to do a lot with a small budget (at least compared to budgets like the budget of the Mural Arts Program). Caroline and I slept in Gaia’s studio next to Ever, which was also being used as Jaz‘ studio so that he could finish the work for his show in Barcelona, the studio for many of Gaia’s friends and the meeting place for most of the Open Walls Baltimore artists. When we arrived in town, Ever was stuck a couple of stories up in the air because his lift had nearly run out of gas. Despite minor snags like that, Open Walls Baltimore’s outward appearance is as a great success. Most, but not all, of the walls look good and have had a positive reception from the community.

Unlike a lot of other mural festivals, Open Walls Baltimore have been pretty honest about the criticism they have received and the double-edged sword that is muralism. This interview with Gaia really highlights just how complicated a mural festival can be for those directly involved and the communities receiving murals.

There are still a few pieces left to be finished, but the festival is winding down. Check out some of what Caroline and I saw on our visit after the jump… Continue reading “A visit in Baltimore: Legal art”

So what really is Seize Art Fare?

Over the past few weeks, I am sure many of you have heard whisperings about Seize Art Fare happening in London June 1. With no location or artist roster release, there is a lot of speculative reporting about what it actually is: from a baiting by cops to arrest street artists to a wannabe Cans festival with lesser-known artists. Is it a graffiti or street art fair? So of course Vandalog wanted to get to the bottom of Seize and spoke to the man behind the illegal fair, RSH, to get some answers.

What is the concept of Seize Art Fare? Is it a fair or is it a festival? Is the main purpose to showcase talent or buy art work like other fairs? What makes Seize different from other street art fairs out there?

As graffiti and its attendant culture are being appropriated by corporations keen to capitalize on its popularity, particularly with young people, those of us who do it for the love have grown tired of the endless stream of advertising disguised as “street art.”

Through the increasing commoditization and corporate appropriation of graffiti’s aesthetics the true nature of graffiti is being lost. Graffiti is ultimately an act of insurgency, a refusal to be on the receiving end of the confines of environmental control imposed by cities and corporations. Regardless of the level of talent involved in the act of graffiti the action itself is a pure form of artistic expression. A reaching out to the community for acceptance, notoriety, and engagement either positive or negative.

On the other hand the “art fair” has become the prevalent model for the large scale sale of contemporary art. Short one week festivals akin to an upscale starving artists group portrait sale at a roadside motel. They charge galleries incredible amounts to rent a cubicle style space and reduce art, its public consumption and its sale to an overpriced boot-sale. Art fairs are the horrible by-product of the capitalist driven model of art investment, like the slave trading markets of ancient Rome art is bought and sold far from the eye of anyone but the 1%.

So Seize Art Fare is both a reaction to the appropriation of graffiti, the blatant removal of the vandalism heart of graffiti, and to the cancer of the art fair commodities market that the art world has mutated into in the 21st century. No sales, no admission fees, no artist fees, no sponsors. Just people getting together to paint; fuck permission.

What do you think the sudden international rise in street art festivals and is? Do you think it is financially driven?

Street Art is a general term used to mean art that is displayed on walls outside, which has become very popular in the last decade or so. But in the 1930-40s you had much the same kind of push into public art display, though at the time it was called murals, not street art. This kind of sub culture branding and rebranding is useful to the companies that want to cash in on the trend. Much the way Nirvana was suddenly ‘grunge’ in the 1990’s so that other bands could be sold under the same genre label.

The thing that none of these festivals have is the legitimacy of illegality. All of the festivals and fairs have been planned long in advance, public license applied for, council and corporate sponsorships sorted. They have banners printed, run ads in big papers announcing their “graffiti” festival and yet they are just the rebranding of muralism, nothing new. A brand name danger, packaged and sold with no real risk involved for anyone, participant or spectator. Without the action of doing it against the permission of society at large graffiti is gutted of its true power – it looses its soul to the realm of marketing and advertising.

Why did you choose London for its location?

It’s centrally located, some of the greatest artists in the world live close by, and it’s close to a major airport.

How are you deciding which artists and/or galleries can participate? What is the need for secrecy? Is it to build hype?

There is what you would call a curated group of bigger name artists. Those whose involvement is contingent on not being named beforehand due to the nature of the festival. Those are ones I have reached out to because I believe in what they do. But I don’t just want this to be another “look at me and my friends” festival where some clique gets all of the say. I want anyone who can use a can to step up and take the risk and do it, to come out and make it happen collectively. So its open and dozens of artists have gotten in touch and will be coming out. Lots of them are regular names you know in the graffiti and street art world. Others I had never heard of but was excited to have them reach out. This is for everyone. Free admission, no fees, no sales. Just open public art.

The secrecy is more of a safety mechanism for those involved. This is for real. We don’t have permission to do this festival at all. We have chosen a spot that isn’t likely to anger the owners due to its location and current state, but because we have not asked anyone about doing this, nor applied for council permission both the location and lineup will not be public until the day of June 1st.

What do you hope to accomplish with Seize?

With anything like this there is an amount of risk. The risk is part of its truth in this case. What we hope to accomplish most is to bring amazing art to a huge amount of people, create a positive environment for creativity and give back to the public. But to do so without asking. Why should people have to ask to bring beauty into the world? Its grey enough living in any city, what harm is there in sharing a bit of colour?

For more on Seize, check their Facebook and Tumblr pages.

Weekend link-o-rama

LNY in Baltimore

Caroline and I were in Baltimore this week checking out Open Walls Baltimore. If you have the chance, definitely make a trip over there. Full posts about Baltimore coming soon. Point is, between Baltimore and moving this weekend, I’ve been lax this week. Things should return to normal on Wednesday or Thursday, but in the mean time, here’s what I’ve been meaning to post about:

Photo by RJ Rushmore

Street art stories – LNY in Baltimore

LNY was in Baltimore recently to check out Open Walls Baltimore (exactly what Caroline and I are doing right now actually). He had quite a time while there and put up a couple of very Baltimore-specific pieces. Here’s what he has to say:

So I got a story to tell you and some pics to share, see I ended up making these drawings in Baltimore by randomly running into this group of urban horseback riders galloping down an East Baltimore neighborhood while visiting Gaia and Nanook. It was Sunday so what would be better than to go on a horse ride right? So I took some pictures and then made some work to later find out that they are part of this old Baltimore tradition of Huckstering, basically going around in a horse drawn cart selling vegetables. These guys are also called Arabs, which comes from the term “street Arab” as in an abandoned kid who roams the slums, and I was lucky enough to find a stable in South West Baltimore where horses are bred and taken care of by the community. All of which blows my mind because these guys were so happy and excited about my posters as I was about meeting them and discovering this otherwise invisible history of a city I am completely alien to. As I was putting the work up I got a lot of feedback from the neighborhood and they read the images in so many different ways that I had never even considered; we talked about resilience, beauty, vision, excellence, dead space, gold, bling and the efforts of Sowebo to rejuvenate the neighborhood from the inside. I feel totally overwhelmed by the way the work was able to engage and be fulfilled by having this conversation with the neighborhood. All of this thanks to Martha Cooper who introduced me to Sowebo and has been constantly engaging and documenting the area, these are her pictures and a lil clip I took of the spot.

Photos by Martha Cooper

Interesni Kazki for Living Walls Concepts

Photo by Nathan Bolster

The Ukrainian duo Interesni Kazki are the latest artists to paint a wall in Atlanta with Living Walls for their Living Walls Concepts series. Neuzz is in town painting now, so expect to see something from him soon, but for now here’s what IK got up to…

Photo by Noah Orisich
Photo by Noah Orisich
Photo by Nathan Bolster. Click image to view large

Interesni Kazki are now at work on another mural in Mexico City.

Photos by Nathan Bolster and Noah Orisich