Hot Girls and Hot Dogs: Monologues From Jon Burgerman


Upon entering the studio of illustrator Jon Burgerman, you are transported to a space entirely devoted to a world of extreme sights and sounds that connate the artist’s work. Contrasted by the days of rain surrounding New York, the shuffles of crowds and warm hues shone through the bleak emptiness outside. Holding cups of English Breakfast tea, coming from his native country, we spent a few drenched mornings discussing the observations that have led to this body of pieces, produced for Hot Girls and Hot Dogs, opening tonight at 17 Frost Street.


From the warmth of the tea to the sound of the weather outside, the layered lines seen in his more complicated pieces are echoed in the sensorial experience that was visiting his space. As he opened up an oversized canvas in his studio, the end hitting the ground, and Jon a hapless face reminiscent of a befuddled cartoon character. He eventually gives up, retreating to a larger space to properly lay down the monochromatic painting before placing it back against the wall. While his pieces contain a frenetic, hectic energy, his studio remains dutifully organized, as various types of paint and mediums of art are placed in sperate bins.


A series of onomatopoeias emerge from Jon as his internal monologue is enacted for props he produces from past shows. Cardboard cartoons, two-page illustrations, and Vine provide movement to how he invisions characters prior to putting pen to paper. As the pages flipped in the sketchbook, an illustration of a dog bites into a cupcake, Jon mimicking the exaggerated effect heard on Nickelodeon. The bustling imagery that populates the artist’s larger paintings is reproduced on a smaller scale through the immediacy of these works. A tertiary focus, these simple ten second animations represent the individual parts that make up his more complex compositions.



The central focus of his exhibition, and this visit, was a new series of mixed-media pieces being produced for Hot Girls and Hot Dogs. Ranging from simple 8 1/2″ by 11″ studies to canvas spanning several feet, Jon draws viewers in with what he believes to be the two subjects most enticing, attractive women accompanied by man’s best friend. Being from England, and thus an outsider, the artist draws combinations of girls and dogs from a removed perspective. Termed his “pastoral pictorials,” each piece is an expression of how he interprets American culture during his time in New York. Having previously tackled the true New York experience, pizza, with an exhibition in New Jersey last year, the subject has since shifted to the city’s quintessential obsession with pooches.


Illustrating a variety of real-world scenes, the artist shows owners who dutifully clean up after their pets, while others not so much. Alongside the swooping abstracted curves of hot women walking their hot dogs, the artist created a series of quick, messy portraits, which focus solely on women in movement. At first these illustrations convey a haphazard sense of color and movement of line; backgrounds are sketched in to suggest a bobbed haircut, sunset hues move through the arms of several figures, undefined by outlines. By giving defining some aspects of each figure with a watery fluidity and others with hard, contrasting colors, Jon draws viewers to these intimate pieces with through these small contradictions. One final layer is added to the portraits as Haring t-shirts, patterns, and miniature tattoos are dotted throughout. By forcing viewers to closely examine the details of these sketches, the artist gives viewers insight into the processes behind his more elaborate canvases.




The individual animals, patterns, and women from his studies congest in these larger pieces in the same way that sidewalk traffic stops to a halt around New York’s tourist destinations. The viewer can almost feel the internal tension of being surrounded by crowds of unmoving people in the summer heat. Each of these more complex compositions was given ample room at the 17 Frost space to breathe and allow visitors to stand and examine the different kinds of hot subjects permeating the works. After spending some time attempting to see the individual parts of the paintings rather than the sum of the parts, I began to experience what I can only describe as the How and Nosm effect. When visiting the duo’s solo show in New York several months ago, RJ expressed his fatigue over trying to examine the pieces to the point of his brain shutting down. With the work of How and Nosm, the paired down color palette and crisp lines aid in the processing of imagery for some viewers, in contrast to Jon’s unlimited realm of colors and movement. I simply could not imagine viewers could disassemble and process these overlapping compositions, let alone what mind could create such complexities.


By placing sketches alongside mixed media paintings that spanned several feet, viewers can comprehend the gradual that led to the ability to illustrate dozens of figures in scenes that span several feet. When asking Jon about these steps, he echoed the sentiments of spoken word poets saying, “these are a monologue. You just get up there and give it a shot.” In describing his body of work with this terminology, a theme was illuminated that transcended Hot Girls and Hot Dogs and transcended to describe Jon as a person. Throughout the two-day interview with the artist, I was transported into his realm of imagination. From the moment I stepped across the threshold of his building Krink markers began to make fart noises as the artist described the first layer of his paintings beginning with a simple line. Jalapeños with sombreros and cupcake eating dogs echoed the same strange sounds. In bringing his illustrations to life before my eyes, Jon was openly and honestly himself, a trait that is a rare occurrence in New York’s world of facades. His approach to art making, of giving it your best one shot, applied to my interactions with Jon as he crossed his eyes for pictures, added audio to his illustrations, and made me laugh.


Hot Girls and Hot Dogs opens tonight at 17 Frost Street, Williamsburg, NY from 7pm-10pm.

The artist has crafted an area for your dogs adorned with banners made by Skewville for your VIP (very important pooches). Please be sure to come along and bring your pet dog because the artist will be drawing small portraits to remind you just how important your pooch is.


Photos by Rhiannon Platt

Pipe Dreams: Coded Meanings and Cartoons


Pipe Dreams marks not only Sheryo and the Yok’s first exhibition together in the United States, but also a departure from what viewers have come to expect from the duo. As of late, the artists have been defined by their use of a red, black, and white palette to portray unique vision of reality. However, don’t be concerned that these changes mean that the work is missing the cartoonish, pop imagery seen in past pieces. The pizza, drugs, and other wild things are still present, just reimagined.


During their travels to through South East Asia, from Sheryo’s native Singapore to Vietnam, the artists began to infuse their work with the surrounding culture. Now, geishas and dragons have become central characters alongside smoking pizzas and skateboards. While visiting Vietnam, the artists took advantage of the opportunity to begin painting pottery, starting with vases and later expanding in the States to plates. Initially, the work appears a light air blue, mimicking the smoke emanating from elongated cigarette holders. After three coats, the plates begin to don the cobalt blue associated with Eastern ceramics.


Beyond these surface appearances, this influence extends to deeper meanings, including numerology. During the studio visit, patterns of 4 (4, 8, 12) began to emerge within the bodies of work, however intentional or not. Sheryo was quick to speak about the auspicious meanings of the numbers 4 and 8 in Chinese, representing wealth and death respectively. Other coded beliefs trace their way through the different media in the exhibition, including the Illuminati. The all-seeing-eye positioned atop a pyramid has become a widely recognized symbol for the alleged secret society. Through these allegorical codes, an air of mysticism is hidden within their playful cartoons. Continue reading “Pipe Dreams: Coded Meanings and Cartoons”

Inside Beau Stanton’s Cabinet of Curiosities

During the Renaissance, a cabinet of curiosities collected works of art, historical relics, and other artifacts in a room, or cabinet, for display. Through not only his style, but in the way that he inhabits his space, Beau Stanton harkens upon these old world ideas. Inspired by objects he finds exploring abandoned buildings, the shelves of his studio embody this Renaissance display technique. Photographs, bottles, and broken mechanisms touch upon Stanton’s affinity for craftsmanship of days gone by.

Deeply rooted in art historical tradition, the artist’s inspiration board gives direct insight into types of craft work that are replicated within his paintings. In addition to his collection of antiquities, stained glass windows from the same era act as additional visual inspiration. The stained glass forms that are displayed in the vaulted windows of Renaissance churches can be seen strategically flanking, or more often than not covering, the bodies of the women the artist chooses to portray. However, Stanton is well versed in the use of patterns throughout art history, not limiting his influences to a specific time or movement. The work of turn of the century artists such as Gustav Klimt and art deco furnishings can also be seen as driving forces behind his pieces.

It is not only the decorative flourishes of 19th century furnishings, but also the craftsmanship behind each piece that speaks to his aesthetics. With the smallest of brushes, Stanton replicates the minute details of the masters of carpentry and glass that he so admires. It is not only by drawing upon these visual elements that Beau Stanton stand apart from other contemporary artists, but also through the emulation of a work ethic that is sadly waning in our current mass production culture.

Photos by Rhiannon Platt

Preview/studio visit: Lush’s London warehouse show

Lush is just about to sell out all over again with a massive warehouse show in London. This will be Lush’s first solo show in Europe. You Become What You Hate opens on July 5th at 6pm at a location near Hackney Wick Station. And you may want to think about showing up early because the first 25 people to arrive will each be given a special gift. You can register at Lush’s website to get a message when the exact location is announced.

Check out more photos from Lush’s studio after the jump…

Continue reading “Preview/studio visit: Lush’s London warehouse show”

Weekend link-o-rama


So I’m about to get on a flight to Philadelphia, which means that there could be power outages as soon as tomorrow night and I’ll be offline for a few days. So if Vandalog doesn’t update, that’s why. This week has been all about good walls for me, and so that’s what almost this entire link-o-rama is about as well:

Photo by Monotremu

A studio visit with Gabriel Specter

Here’s a guest post from Caroline, who will hopefully be taking some more photos for Vandalog – RJ

I had the pleasure of visiting the studio of Brooklyn based artist Gabriel Specter recently. Getting to see how these notoriously massive pieces come together exposed the incredible amount of detail in each of his pieces. What’s more is that these intricate, hand-painted giants take a beating from whatever the weather can bring, and last not nearly as long as us viewers might like. But at the rate Specter’s been getting up (internationally at that), with gallery shows, and an increasingly large following on the web, ephemerality has nothing on him.

Speaking with Specter, it’s clear that the detail is very obviously not just in the aesthetics of the finish product. Every piece he showed me came with a captivating explanation.

Specter has been really busy these pasts few months, from his Things Change solo show in Paris, his Repeat Offender show at Pawnworks in Chicago, and he’s hoping to do more city commissioned mural work in the near future, which is essentially doing the same thing he’s been doing, but maybe a little bigger since he’ll have the city’s written permission.

While he’s not planning any solo shows for the near future, we’re gonna be seeing a lot of fresh stuff from Specter indoors and on the streets soon. Catch him in the up coming group shows Crown Heights Gold opening July 28th (6pm – 8pm) @ Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn, NY,  as well as Street Art Saved My Life @ C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice(LA),California on August 12. This September, Specter will be traveling to Tajikistan to put up new work.

Photos by Caroline Caldwell

A visit with Clownsoldier

A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to stop by Clownsoldier‘s studio in New York. After his participation in Up Close and Personal, I realized that Clownsoldier is much more than another artist putting up a logo. Once I saw how much more he did besides the Clownsoldier logo wheatpaste, I had to stop by the studio to check out what he’s been up to. I was not disappointed. His collages, prints and paintings have a unique funkiness to them and I hope to see a lot more…

That painting is 100% handpainted CMYK half-tones

A Clownsoldier ready for pasting

And here’s a little comic Clownsoldier made about how he got started doing street art…

Photos by RJ Rushmore except for “The Adventures of Clownsoldier and Gaia,” courtesy of Clownsoldier

Ugly Kid-Gumo Brings Concrete Chips of Paris Walls to NYC

When I last visited the Dorian Grey Gallery, a relatively new space in NYC’s East Village that has already featured solo shows by such artists as Crash and LA II, I was drawn to a few images — almost hidden from view — lying on a desk.  I discovered that they are the work of the Parisian street artist, Ugly Kid-Gumo. Working in a New York studio with chips of concrete from the walls of Paris, Gumo has been fashioning some riveting portraits.  They will be featured, along with other recent work, in the upcoming Kid-Gumo solo exhibit,  “Oz, Nothing Makes Sense.” Curated by Marianne Nems, it is scheduled to open on June 23 at the Dorian Grey Gallery, 437 East 9th Street.

Photo by Lois Stavsky


Ugly Kid-Gumo's NYC Studio, photo courtesy of Marianne Nems

Studio visit with John Fekner and Don Leicht

Back in July (and actually again in August), I had the pleasure of visiting the studio that John Fekner and Don Leicht share. John and Don are two artists from one of the earliest generations of street art. John made his first piece of street art in the late 1960’s, and really got involved in the late 1970’s as one of the pioneers of text art and stencil art. Don is probably best-known as the original space invader. In the early 1980’s, Don was spray painting stenciled space invader characters around New York City and making space invader sculptures.

Detailed view

For me, the best part of visiting the studio is that Don and John still own what is perhaps their most important and powerful indoor work. Your Space Has Been Invaded. Our Children are Fighting a Terrible War. Whole Families are being led to the Battlescreen was made in 1982, and it takes pride of place in the studio. With this artwork, the duo actually predicted something that has since become very true: Soldiers are being trained by video games (although the effectiveness of that training may be in doubt).

I feel like an idiot for not getting a detailed shot of the wooden and metal space invaders on this wall. Don’s invader sculptures have some beautiful details.

Canvases by Don

Many of their paintings are on a pretty large scale; there are probably a few stacks of these canvases (mostly by Don, a few collaborations) 10 deep around the studio.

John told a funny story about the above piece. At one point, he was putting up stencils that said things like NY+DK or DK, so when DKNY was launched, friends called to ask if John had started a fashion line!

These little Pac Man ghosts were some of my favorite pieces in the studio. At first they look like cute little characters, but then you realize that the word “WAR” is written on them all, and the reality of the art sinks in.

The painting on the left says "The Loss of Life is Meaning Less"
Techno Plaques by John

The Techno Plaques are collages made of CDs.

Detail of a Techno Plaque

The studio visit was a really amazing experience, but John’s place in art history comes from his street art. At some point, I’m sure I’ll do a post here with a “best-of” selection from John’s amazing career, but for now, you can check out his website. After seeing the studio, John actually took me to see some of his street art. Throughout his art career, John has been painting at a park in New York that he has nicknamed Itchycoo Park. It was the site of his earliest street art and he curated an outdoor show there in 1978 with artist like Gordon Matta-Clark. I wanted to see one of the birthplaces of street art, so I was excited to visit the park, but John surprised me when we arrived by showing me some of his more recent stencils at the site!

Back in 1983, John painted the word “Memory” on a handball court at the same site, now he’s come back to reflect.

I cannot thank Don Leicht and John Fekner enough for the opportunity to see their studio. They are two of the original street artists, and with street art reaching such popularity these days, it’s important to not forget where it started.