Last December, during the famous Art Basel Miami Beach 2013, Troy Lovegates (aka Other) did a stunning mural in Wynwood. Beautiful, always. Rather than describe it or try to explain Troy Lovegates‘ work, I invite everybody to check out the video, and to listen to his own words….Beautiful, always.
Spaik got an early start on his mural for Street Skills in Colombia. The mural is part of the third edition of Street Skills, a festival aimed to gather street artists and graffiti writers to showcase their works in various cities throughout Colombia.
Street Skills will be taking place in 3 different Colombian cities throughout the month of November. Invited artists include Does (Brazil), Lelin (Brazil), Lola (Brazil), El Pez (Spain), Cix (Mexico), Olfer (Peru).
Just because Colossal Media paints murals based on designs by people like KAWS and Faile doesn’t mean there should be any love for them. They paint advertisements. That is their business. If they paint some murals on the side, that doesn’t excuse billboards invading public space. Unless you think BP sponsoring art exhibits excuses oil spills and pollution…
Also what’s up with KAWS’ work being used for a mural (I hesitate to say he did a mural, since it appears all he did was license his imagery)? He’s spent the better part of this site’s existence distancing himself from street art and graffiti and his public art has consisted of sculptures and flyposted advertisements (if you consider that public art).
Maybe I’ll be able to ask KAWS about all this myself soon, since presumably he’ll be in Philadelphia for his show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Arrested Motion has a bit of a preview, but I think the link really worth checking is PAFA’s website (and this archived version of the same page from mid-August) because of this section of the show description which has since been removed: “Placing KAWS’ sculptural works throughout PAFA’s historic galleries will further the ‘graffiti effect,'” and the edit of (emphasis added) “KAWS grew up in Jersey City, where he emerged as a graffiti artist in the early 1990s.” to “KAWS grew up in Jersey City, where he emerged as an artist in the early 1990s.” So that’s interesting.
FAME Festival is no more, although ad hoc projects will continue to be organized in the town of Grottaglie, Italy by festival organizer Angelo Milano. It’s definitely sad news, but Angelo is always ahead of the times. Maybe this glut of street art festivals is just too much. Maybe it’s time for something different. Let’s hope Angelo figures it out. I can’t wait to see what he tries next.
Editor’s note: I tried to write about this fascinating project that just finished up in Baltimore, but for some reason I was unable. So, instead, I asked Nether to write about the project for Vandalog. Nether was one of the co-organizers, so instead of my guesswork and thoughts based on a few articles I had read, now we have a first-hand account of one of the more daring street art projects in recent memory: Wall Hunters’ “Slumlord Project”. – RJ Rushmore
Wall Hunters‘ “Slumlord Project” was a project that installed 17 pieces on dilapidated vacant houses that are owned by people we consider to be negligent property owners. The project was a collaborative venture between the newly-minted street artists’ nonprofit, Wall Hunters, and Slumlord Watch, a local blog that documents the city’s shameful and shockingly large stock of uninhabitable vacant homes. QR codes and text descriptions were pasted alongside the art. A cell phone app scan of these instantly unveiled ownership information on the guilty landowner by linking to the Baltimore Slumlord Watch website. The artists’ ephemeral work and the community reaction to it was recorded for a documentary being produced by the project’s third partners, filmmakers Tarek Turkey and Julia Pitch. The project’s goal was to catalyze a larger conversation on Baltimore’s vacancy issue–a conversation that includes the normally muted voices of those who live in the targeted neighborhoods, as well as politicians and the developers whose phone calls get answered by city hall.
The idea for the project was born about a year ago. At that time I was putting up wheatpastes on dilapidated, vacant houses. As I was researching specific properties I was hitting, I regularly came across the Baltimore Slumlord Watch blog run by the housing activist Carol Ott. Slumlord Watch is basically Wiki-leaks for Baltimore’s underfunded housing authority. As blog posts make clear, many of the blighted houses are owned by entities with the means to fix their crumbling properties–slumlords who blithely ignore the cost of their neglect on city communities. Since much of my work uses images to deal with the vacancy problem and Carol was battling the same issue, we decided to meet and try to do something that joined street art with housing activism. I began driving her around while she catalogued vacants and researched ownership, and I wheatpasted.
Last June, the first edition of MURAL festival took place on boulevard Saint-Laurent, in the heart of Montreal. Beside this official and stunning event (covered here, here and here), a group of women street artists created a non-event, called Off-MuralES, all based on illegal artistic actions. The collective was created by Lilyluciole, Zola, Stela, Wall of femmes, Harpy and Camille Larrivée, and joined by 52HZ and Zuzu. When I asked Lilyluciole to explain me the logic of this Off, this is what she told me:
“Regarding Off-muralES, it is composed only of women street artists. However, the initial motivations for participating in this group are different for each of us. We share the same values: anti-racism, anti-corporatism and feminism. I think we all try to assert our presence as women artists in the streets of Montreal while remaining as independent as possible. Regarding illegal street art, yes we claim this expression over all. In addition, the Off-muralES was created in reaction to MURAL Festival to offer an alternative vision of street art closest to social realities in which most of us live.”
Here are some illegal street art works from some of the collective’s members, Lilyluciole, Stela, 52Hz and Zola. You can now follow their work and action here.
Sweet Toof is understandably upset that a recent mural project in Hackney, where he and the rest of the Burning Candy crew painted some of their best illegal street art and graffiti, intentionally avoided including local artists. You’ve gotta love this quote from Sarah Weir, who heads the charity that commissioned the new murals: “We unashamedly wanted to showcase the best international artists and transform this part of the canal into a destination for street art.” That might be the dumbest thing I’ve read all summer, except for course for arguments defending the NSA or calling for Edward Snowden to return to the USA. First of all, murals (while interesting) emulate street art and graffiti, but there is a distinct difference between legal murals by street artists and illegal street art by the same artists. I’m sure that on Vandalog I have referred to murals as street art for the sake of simplicity, but not in a context like this where the difference between murals and street art is actually quite important. Hackney Wick’s canal already is a destination for street art, in large part due to the work of Gold Peg, Sweet Toof and the other members of Burning Candy. Weir is trying to turn it into a destination for murals, most likely at the expense of street art and graffiti if the intense pre-Olympics graffiti removal efforts in the area are anything to go by. Mural projects and festival are awesome, but they are not the same thing as illegal street art or graffiti.
Israel Hernandez, an 18-year-old Miami graffiti writer, was killed this week when he was tazered by police. They were chasing him after catching him writing in an abandoned building. CNN’s coverage of Hernandez’ death was surprisingly fair. Their piece was framed as the tragedy that is clearly is, rather than a piece demonizing Hernandez for his artwork like you might expect from some mainstream media.
[In] the field of street art which has become a main “attraction” for the last decade, we have been experiencing the proliferation by corporate logic and the state in an “antagonistic” policy, while independent voices are either kept in silence, or subjugated.
Most recently the Αthens School of Fine Arts (state University) in collaboration with municipality of Nikea and private galleries organized a “crisis” street art festival entitled “CRISIS?WHAT CRISIS?”, from which Greek artivists were of course excluded. The organizers invited 20 European artists to create works for the festival. The formal argument of the Αthens School of Fine Arts to exclude local artists was that graffiti and street art in Athens are mostly anonymous and of dubious artistic value. The attempt to commodify art in the public sphere and the “politicized” orientated one, is more than obvious.
In addition to that a festival’s spokesman stated that the goal of the imported artists is to start a discourse with the local ones. Of course no discourse can occur on the basis of exclusion.
There are some amazing street art festivals around the world, but there’s something to be said for the argument that festivals and murals are antithetical to street art and graffiti. I imagine there is more to the story here than just Bleeps’ critique (although I can’t find much about the festival online), but I think Bleeps makes a valid point. Maybe next year Bleeps will be invited to take part in the festival, but I hope he declines the invitation. After all, capitalism is absolutely brilliant at co-opting it’s critics. As @JonHanna recently tweeted, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they make you a brand, then they win.”
This year’s Wall\Therapy festival is winding down in Rochester, NY, so let’s have a look at the finished work (although a few were already covered by Daniel’s posts). There are a few really killer pieces, including this piece by Ever that I haven’t seen professional photos of yet, and some legal work along abandoned train tracks which is really interesting, but I’m not sure about this spot that looks like a little hall-of-fame setup. Those are valuable to have, but I personally wouldn’t put one in a mural festival these days. Still, plenty of good work all around, and I love that there are way more old-school writers at Wall\Therapy than just about any other mural festival I’ve ever seen besides perhaps a Meeting of Styles event. Conor Harrington knocked it out of the park, and Jessie and Katey did a simple but really effective piece.
The “Fresh Flâneurs” show in Bari, Italy recently added new murals to the city by half a dozen talented artists, but the walls are at risk of being buffed by the city because they have begun to cause some controversy. Although some informal polling by the local newspaper shows that citizens of Bari are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the work, there is still some resistance. Essentially, it seems to come down to regulations about changing building facades for the sake of historical preservation, which some people are saying apply even if the building is not historic.
I’m really excited that Vittorio Parisi of Bari’s Doppelgaenger Gallery saw what was happening nearby at FAME Festival and brought it some of it to Bari. The murals by Sten&Lex, El Tono and others are all really strong pieces, and it would be a shame to seem them go. If you’re in Bari, you can still check out these works in person for the time being, but here they are for the rest of us (hopefully this isn’t how the citizens of Bari will have to be looking at the works soon):