ALL BIG LETTERS Opens in Haverford, PA

January 30th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Photo by Caleb Eckert

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, head out on to the burbs for ALL BIG LETTERS at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, probably my most ambitious curatorial project to date. The exhibition features specially-commissioned work from CURVE, FAUST, EKG, Egg Shell Stickers, and Evan Roth, plus contributions from dozens more artists and photographers.

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

ALL BIG LETTERS investigates the tools and strategies of graffiti writers. My hope is that visitors can walk into the show with next to zero knowledge of graffiti, and leave with the ability to see a tag on the street and roughly understand how it came be there and why it looks the way it does. Was it made with spray or a marker or something else? Is the style something city-specific, like a wicked? Why did the writer choose that spot? How did they get there? How long did it take to paint? Curve’s installation in particular functions as both an artwork and a teaching tool. A similar thread runs throughout the exhibit, like in Evan Roth’s Graffiti Taxonomy series, which highlights 140 S’s from each many different tags, all written with a variety of different styles and tools.

Photo by Caleb Eckert

For people already immersed in the culture of writing, ALL BIG LETTERS is a different take than your typical graffiti group show. This is not tags or throw-ups on canvas. Rather, it’s a show for the graffiti nerds who understand that style is an important part of writing, but it is just one element, and it serves a particular purpose. A collection of homemade tools from MOMO, stikman, Fumakaka Crew, Biancoshock (yes, I know that a handful of the artists in the show fall more towards the street art spectrum, but I swear they fit in), plus commercial graffiti products, is paired with a series of photos by Martha Cooper of writers and street artists that highlight their tools.

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

From a new diagram by EKG to photos by Luna Park and Steve Weinik (among others) to an investigation into the development of BLADE’s style over time to never-before-scene work by Adam VOID, ALL BIG LETTERS covers a lot of ground that is all-too-often ignored in more commercial settings, and I would like to think that it’s a pretty unique exhibition. On opening night, a handful of Philly writers all told me a similar story: I came out to support a friend in another group exhibition, but this is unlike any graffiti show I’ve ever seen.

So, if you want to see an exhibition about graffiti that’s truly different, an exhibition where the whole of graffiti is acknowledged (the repetition, the drive for fame, the performance, the risk, the competition, the hacking…), I hope you’ll stop by ALL BIG LETTERS. It’s open through March 3rd.

ALL BIG LETTERS is open at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery through March 3rd. Contributors include Adam VOID, Aric Kurzman, BLADE, Biancoshock, CURVE, DB Burkeman, Egg Shell Stickers, EKG, Evan Roth, FAUST, Fumakaka Crew, Jordan Seiler, Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer, Lee George Quinones, Loiq, Martha Cooper, MOMO, NTEL, Smart Crew, Steve Weinik, stikman, and more. Learn more, and read essays related to the exhibition by RJ Rushmore and Carlo McCormick, here.

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

Photos by Caleb Eckert and Kendall Whitehouse


Category: Art News, Gallery/Museum Shows, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A deep dive with NTEL

January 20th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

NTEL in Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik.

NTEL is one of my favorite Philly graffiti writers. From stickers to throw-ups and extinguisher tags to beautiful pieces, plus sculpture and other methods of getting up, is one of the most versatile and unique writers in the city. That’s why I’m so excited to include his work in ALL BIG LETTERS, which opens today at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in Haverford, PA. NTEL also has a solo show coming up next week at the Deep Space gallery in Jersey City, NJ. With these two shows approaching, NTEL and I thought that it would be the perfect time to chat about art, politics, philosophy, and his unique approach to graffiti. Enjoy!

RJ: Does the title WORLD WAR FREE, or the upside-down flag on the flyer, have anything to do with the fact that the show opens just one week after Trump’s inauguration?

NTEL: Unfortunately, it was not a conscious pre-conceived link to Trump’s inauguration, specifically. It was just a perfect little accident, which sadly would have been just as relevant regardless of who ‘won’ the election. The title, upside-down flag, the color palette of the works, and the Philosophies behind them reflect a variety of issues, locally and globally, that add up to the senseless actions like, electing a racist, ignorant, short-tempered, bully/pussy, sexist, greedy, scared, Narcissist into one of the most powerful positions in the World. The absolute worst part of it is that we as a People, are the ones who hold the most blame. Americans should feel even more responsible, because Amerikkka is often the original engineer of the lifestyle trends, violence, and legislatures that become so popular, World-wide. We let them get away with their Black Coffee Briefings, and never hold them accountable when they breach the laws of Man, Morals, or ‘God’. We allow them to frighten, confuse, exhaust, and overwhelm us into accepting The Christie’s and The Trump’s of our Society. We literally and figuratively buy into what they’re selling from the Capital to Corporations, which only encourages their behavior. It’s all of our faults.

The title, WORLD WAR FREE, is an evolution of WORLD WAR THREE. It is the next stage. WWIII has been going on for years, ‘informally’ through globalization and exploitation of the World’s peoples and resources from biased, mis-used politics, greed, ‘smaller’ wars, injustices, and disregard for Culture. Even though there have been no declarations, or structured movements, or open references to a WWIII – proper, the actions of our policy and product makers over the past few decades have had the same effect. Global Alliances. Social and Economic Abnormalities. Destruction. Hatred.

Read the rest of this article »


Category: Interview, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , ,

ALL BIG LETTERS: Exhibiting graffiti tools and strategy

January 6th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Philadelphia graffiti. Photo by Steve Weinik/@steveweinik.

On January 20th, I hope you’ll join me in Haverford, PA for ALL BIG LETTERS, an exhibition I’ve curated at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, just a few minutes outside of Philadelphia.

ALL BIG LETTERS includes art, photos, tools, and ephemera from Adam VOID, Aric Kurzman, BLADE, Biancoshock, CURVE, DB Burkeman, Egg Shell Stickers, EKG, Evan Roth, FAUST, Fumakaka Crew, Jordan Seiler, Katherine “Luna Park” Lorimer, Lee George Quinones, Loiq, Martha Cooper, MOMONTEL, Smart Crew, Steve Weinik, stikman, and more.

Generally speaking, when galleries try to bring graffiti indoors, the focus is on style. Those shows portray graffiti writers as designers, illustrators, the new pop-artists and calligraphers… Headlines along the lines of “Can you believe what he does with a spray can? Now you can buy it on canvas!” still seem all too common. But style is just one component of graffiti. Or maybe the shows focus on writers who have gotten up a lot, trying to capitalize on their fame. Or, as in the case of someone like Barry McGee or Boris Tellegen, the art is (largely) removed from graffiti, a separate practice.

For ALL BIG LETTERS, I took a different approach. To write graffiti is, at its most pure, the performance of an illegal act; the performance is as important as the product. The best graffiti is also strategic. It relies on a combination of repetition, longevity, visibility, degree of difficulty, novelty, and style. ALL BIG LETTERS explores all of those strategies, and the tools writers use to realize them.

Because of the show’s angle and some deep digging over the last year, it’s full of surprises. New work from FAUST, Curve, NTEL, and EKG, never-before-seen photos of two Philadelphia graffiti legends at work (you’ll have to come to the show to find out who), homemade graffiti tools dating back as early as the 1960’s, and more.

ALL BIG LETTERS opens January 20th (4:30-7:30pm) at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery in Haverford, PA. The exhibition runs through March 3rd.

On a personal note, I worked at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery for just about my entire time as a student at Haverford College. It’s humbling to be invited back to exhibit at the space where I learned so much, and where we exhibited the work of so many amazing artists and curators (Hank Willis Thomas, Natasha Logan, the Dufala Brothers, Sam Durant, Pete Brook, Raymond Pettibon, Christine Sun Kim…). I can’t say thank you enough to everyone at Haverford for this opportunity.

Photo by Steve Weinik


Category: Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

52 weeks of ad takeovers in NYC

January 6th, 2017 | By | No Comments »

Admittedly, things have been a bit quiet on the blog lately. Not very many posts on Vandalog, and you may be wondering what’s up, but we’ve been staying busy on a few major projects behind the scenes. This week, we’re excited to share to share one of those projects with you: Art in Ad Places (AiAP), an entire year of ad takeovers in NYC.

Co-curated by Vandalog contributor Caroline Caldwell and I, AiAP is a 52-week public art campaign replacing NYC advertisements with artwork. AiAP launched on Thursday with artwork by Adam Wallacavage and an article on Hyperallergic. Every week, starting this week and continuing for a full year, the AiAP team will install a new artwork by a different artist at a payphone in New York City. AiAP is an active and artistic response to the unending proliferation of outdoor advertising in New York City and elsewhere.

AiAP was inspired by a specific instance of an especially body-shaming billboard that we walked by almost every day this past spring, a general dislike of outdoor advertising (consuming advertising is unhealthy, and with outdoor advertising, there’s no way to opt-out, except to remove it), and a desire to see a different kind of ad-takeover campaign. Rather than putting up a lot of ads in one day, AiAP will be sustained over a year, one artist at a time, with each artist giving their reason for participating.

We kicked off AiAP with an installation by Adam Wallacavage. The poster, part of Wallacavage’s Shipwrecks of Unicorn Beach series, can be found in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Further AiAP installations will come from artists from all over the country and who work in a variety of mediums. Artists will be announced each week on Instagram as their posters are installed, with the full line up only being revealed at the culmination of the exhibition.

To keep up to date with AiAP and learn more, check the website, follow the campaign on Instagram and Facebook, and sign up for the AiAP email list.

Photos by Luna Park


Category: Featured Posts, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , ,

Photos About Buff at Tendertrap

July 29th, 2016 | By | No Comments »

Photos About Buff

Next week, I’ll be exhibiting some photos at Tender Trap in Brooklyn as part of Andrew H. Shirley’s #frontallabotomy series. When Andrew asked me to take part, I had no idea what I’d show. Eventually, I realized I’ve taken a bunch of photos of buff, or of artists making work that responds to the buff, and that seemed like a funny thing to have a show about. And now we have Photos About Buff. So come by Tender Trap on August 3rd to have some drinks, enjoy some music, and maybe even check out some of these odd photos.


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows, Vandalog Projects

Catch RJ at The Art Conference

July 1st, 2016 | By | No Comments »

RJ Rushmore

Later this month, catch me at The Art Conference, a new arts festival in London. I’m excited to be speaking alongside some amazing artists, including Jordan Seiler, Dan Witz, Tinsel Edwards, and Lucy McLauchlan. I’ll be there to speak about what street art can be when it goes beyond decoration.

The Art Conference will take place July 23 and 24th, and includes a ticketed conference portion and a free exhibition component. Friday the 8th is the last day to pick up early bird tickets to the conference, so don’t delay if you want a deal. For more about the speakers, schedule, and tickets, check The Art Conference’s website.

Speaking of Dan Witz, he’s got a Kickstarter campaign going for an upcoming series of street pieces, which he hopes to install inside London’s iconic red telephone booths.


Category: Festivals, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , ,

NDA’s “Minor Anniversary” at LMNL Gallery

January 21st, 2016 | By | No Comments »
NDA wheatpaste in Philadelphia

NDA wheatpaste in Philadelphia

Around this time last year, Philadelphia got great news with NDA moved to town. He very quickly became one of the most noticeable street artists on Philly’s walls. Now, we’re celebrating NDA’s first year in the city with a show at LMNL Gallery. Minor Anniversary opens February 5th. The show is NDA’s diary of the friendly faces, characters, and environments he has come across since coming to Philadelphia.

It’s particularly exciting for me to be working on this show. I’ve worked with NDA before through The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, and been a fan of his work for years. However, until recently I was mostly observing from afar through Instagram or blogs. When NDA moved to Philly, I was finally able to catch his work in person. Maybe I’m a bit biased, but I think the energy of Philly’s street art community shifted when NDA arrived. Over the last year, I’ve seen more wheatpastes than ever, often by NDA or people he gets up with.

And if you really can’t wait for Minor Anniversary to see new work from NDA, he’s also a part of the upcoming #StreetsDeptTurns5 show at Paradigm Gallery + Studio, one of my favorite Philly galleries. #StreetsDeptTurns5 is curated by Conrad Benner of the blog StreetsDept, a stellar blog of Philadelphia street art, and also features Joe Boruchow, NoseGo, and others.

Minor Anniversary opens February 5th at LMNL Gallery in Philadelphia.

lmnl_flyer_NDA

Photo by RJ Rushmore


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

A closer look at the Amazon Street Art Project

December 11th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

asap

This week, Amazon launched the Amazon Street Art Project, which features new limited edition artwork from stikman, Faith47, AIKO, Gaia, Logan Hicks, Ganzeer, and Ron English. Each piece in the project is only an edition of 50, so be sure to have a look before they’re all sold out. Since I curated the series, I thought it would be good spend some time looking at what makes each piece in the collection special.

stikman’s print based on a series from 2008 that he’s revamped to turn into his very first screenprint. What I love about Overture is the illusion of 3 layers that stikman created out of the two black and green layers, simply by printing black layer (both the musical score and the stikman figure’s shadow) on top of the green layer.

Faith47

Faith47 really came up with something irresistible by printing silver ink on black paper for her etching, The Psychic Power of Animals. There’s also a must-see video of the etching being produced.

3

With AIKO’s Bunny, we started with a straightforward concept: A print of Aiko’s classic Bunny icon. Then, AIKO decided to go overboard in the best way possible, adding layers and layers of hand-painted customization to every print.

Gaia’s screenprint makes great use of half-tones, something I’ve often seen go poorly with other artists. Usually, you see artists using half-tones to skimp on adding what should be another layer of color to their print, but Gaia uses them masterfully for Amani, adding essential detail and depth to his work.

Logan Hicks’ Wasted Lives is the main reason I keep having to avoid calling this a print series. Wasted Lives is not a print. It’s a completely hand-painted edition. Using his pioneering stencil techniques, Hicks created an edition of 50 original works on paper.

You really have to get in close to appreciate the full beauty of Ganzeer’s After the Starstuff. Yes, the image itself, of the Earth from space and then close-ups on a pile of man-made trash, is powerful, but Ganzeer took this to another level by making this a letterpress print and using handmade hemp paper.

And finally, Ron English’s Monarch Elephant, because if I was going to be working with one of the world’s largest retailers to bring art to a huge new audience, I also needed someone to slip in a cheeky celebration of “the art of evolution.”

Photos courtesy of Amazon.com


Category: Print Release, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Amazon.com’s Street Art Project, curated by Vandalog

November 29th, 2015 | By | 1 Comment »

asap

In December, an eclectic set of seven prints and editioned works from some of the world’s most interesting street artists will go for sale on… Amazon.com. Starting December 7th and available for one week only, Amazon.com will be offering new works by Ron English, stikman, Faith47, Gaia, AIKO, Logan Hicks, and Ganzeer. There are three screenprints, one etching, one letterpress, one done entirely with spraypaint and stencils, and one hand-finished giclée. Each artist’s piece is an edition of 50, and the prices range from $200-550. If a lot of the artists in the line up look familiar to regular readers of Vandalog, that’s because I curated the collection.

"After the Starstuff" (detail) by Ganzeer

“After the Starstuff” (detail) by Ganzeer

This is the first time that Amazon has worked with a curator to arrange a series of new works specifically for them. When I was brought into the mix, the idea was pretty open-ended: A series of prints by seven street artists to be released in December. With that in mind, I wanted to capture a small slice of the variety that exists within street art, to show how street art resists being defined by a single style or medium. That’s how we wound up with a collection that ranges from Ganzeer’s subtly dark letterpress print to AIKO’s bold pop art utilizing screenprinting and spaypaint.

"Bunny" (detail) by AIKO

“Bunny” (detail) by AIKO

I think, and I hope you’ll agree, that we’ve put together a suite of seven extraordinary pieces by a broad sampling of some of street art’s finest. You can preview the entire Amazon Street Art Project on Amazon.com. The works will be available online starting December 7th.

Photos courtesy of Amazon.com


Category: Featured Posts, Print Release, Vandalog Projects | Tags: , , , , , , ,

“Common Thread,” a stikman solo show opening soon in Philly

February 25th, 2015 | By | No Comments »

sm-common

Today I’m very pleased to announce Common Thread, a solo show from stikman. It opens March 6th at Philadelphia’s LMNL Gallery, where I’ve been curating shows for the last six months or so.

I love working with stikman because his work just brings people so much damn joy. If you’ve been in Philadelphia long enough, or Boston, or New York, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, or Toronto, or any of a hundred small towns across the United States and Canada, you might know stikman. You just might not know that you know him. One of the most elusive and prolific street artists in America, one of the last truly anonymous street artists, stikman has been putting a smile on people’s faces with his street art for over 20 years.

The late DJ John Peel’s favorite band was The Fall, and he once described them by saying, “They are always different, they are always the same,” and I cannot think of a better way to describe stikman or the works in Common Thread.

For months, stikman has been experimenting with the latest evolution to his character, and he has developed what he calls “thread paintings” for the way the paint looks like masses of thread thrown on the ground or stretched out like webbing. Already, there’s variation among the pieces, as the technique is used on different surfaces and in different ways. With Common Thread, stikman will be showing this new body of work for the first time.

The show also will also feature a digital installation: A new series of stikman’s spy-cam-like photographs. The installation will also highlight how street art, and stikman’s work in particular, is simultaneously always different and always the same. One of the highlights of …in the house…, the last show I worked on with stikman, was a photo installation. It was definitely the most commented-on piece. I suspect this digital photo installation will be similarly popular and surprising, but that’s all I’ll say about it for now. If you’re curious, you’ll just have to come to the show to see it for yourself.

Common Thread opens at LMNL Gallery (1526 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia) on March 6th with a First Friday launch from 6-9pm. The exhibition will remain on view through March 27th by appointment.

Photo courtesy of LMNL Gallery


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