This work from Aakash Nihalani was done during Nuart earlier this fall, and I love it. It’s simple and site specific. Remember, always practice good placement. If you do that, you don’t have to paint 7 stories tall just to catch people’s attention.
There are a bunch of shows open now or opening in the next month that I’d like to mention, but there are only so many hours in the day. So here’s a bit of a round-up:
Détournement: Signs of the Times is a group show that just opened at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC. It was curated by the legendary Carlo McCormick and features artists who “subvert consensus visual language so as to turn the expressions of capitalist culture against themselves.” Some of those artists in Détournement are Aiko, David Wojnarowicz, Ripo, Posterboy, Ron English, Shepard Fairey + Jamie Reid, Steve Powers, TrustoCorp and Zevs.
Chris Stain and Joe Iurato are showing together for a two-man show at NYC’s Mighty Tanaka. The show opens on Friday. These are two great and underrated stencil artists. I highly recommend checking out this show, particularly given the superb quality of Stain’s recent indoor work.
Sweet Toof has a solo show opening this week at High Roller Society a pop-up space in Hackney Wick, London.
Contemporary Wing’s (Washington, DC) latest group show, opening on the 16th, is an exhibit of secondary market work, but there should some nice stuff, including work by Shepard Fairey, WK Interact, Gaia, Faile and Blek le Rat. I must admit that I’ve included a piece in this show, but I’m not going to say which one (so if you want to help me out, just buy the entire show…).
So here’s the deal. Complex asked Vandalog founder-leader RJ Rushmore to create a list for them, “50 Greatest Street Artists Right Now,” and that list came out this month. When I saw it I was surprised. Out of 50 names, the only women to make the cut were Faith47 and Swoon (and a few who make art with male partners).
Yes, I know that any person who makes up a list like that would come up with a different list. But the intro to the list read, “Public art has a whole new set of powerful voices. We’re celebrating those.” And 48 of the 50 entries on a list designed to celebrate powerful new voices were men’s voices. That’s not a lot of diversity. It’s not even a little diversity. I called out RJ for his selections, via Twitter.
We volleyed some names back and forth but ultimately my argument was not with his exclusion of any particular artist. In exchanges with RJ and others, the questions came up–as they tend to when women are breaking into boys’ clubs (politics, business, race-car driving, etc.): Should there be a separate list for women? (No.) Should there be a quota for women even if they’re “not as talented” as men? (No, but, false question.)
If I were RJ and knew the work of as many street artists as he does, I would start with my favorites, and probably run out of room just listing those artists. So I wouldn’t have to go looking under rocks to find artists I had never heard of before. If I were RJ, I might think that if there were any women (or men) doing truly great work, I would have heard about them by now. Except that’s not necessarily true, especially with women. For instance, RJ mentioned a few female artists he considered…but he didn’t put them on the list.
Consider that the most powerful and the most personal work is not necessarily going to resonate as strongly once it crosses gender lines, which is not a minor point. For instance, RJ said he’s not a fan of Olek. And I’m not a fan of Lush. And that’s how it works: women don’t end up on too many “greatest” lists, if the guys are the gatekeepers. And if they’re not on the lists, how does anyone hear about them? It’s a little like the axiom about getting a job: you can’t get hired till you have experience, but if you can’t get hired, where do you get experience?
The work they are making reflects their communities, it beautifies blighted areas, it makes us laugh, it breaks down gender barriers and smashes stereotypes and speaks out on behalf of women and children and parents and humanity. It is sensual and funny and simple and complex and symbolic and speaks of rights and wrongs and freedom. And these women have these strong, powerful, fierce, witty voices that we all need to hear. Why? Because they make images to express what we as viewers can’t articulate until we see their work. And then as it pierces our hearts and minds we say, simply: yes, that is exactly how I feel, too. But this is not because they are women. It is because they are artists.
The Boneyard Project at the Pima Art & Space Museum in Tucson looks absolutely fantastic. Saner, Faile, Bast, Aiko, Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton, Nunca, Futura, Retna and many other artists have been brought together by Eric Firestone Gallery to paint old airplanes and airplane parts. Of course, the full-sized planes look to be the most impressive parts of the show. Just imagine watching Nunca’s plane, shown above, landing at your local airport. The Boneyard Project is on display at the museum through May 31st. For more photos of the show, check Arrested Motion and TheFlopBox
There are so many interesting shows opening in the next week or two that I thought I’d just throw them all together into one post. Here’s what I think looks worth checking out:
Yesterday, the Museum of Sex in New York opened a show that sounds absolutely awesome called F*ck Art. It’s on through June 10th and features artwork by Aiko, El Celso, Lush, Mode2, Cassius Fouler, Miss Van and many more.
Love & Hate is a group show opening at StolenSpace this week and runs through March 4th. D*face, Dan Witz, Ronzo, Word to Mother, Jeff Soto, Eine, Charles Krafft and others are included.
Another collaborative group show will be in Da Mental Vaporz‘ (Bom.k, Blo, Brusk, Dran, Gris1, ISO, Jaw, Kan, and Sowat) show at Melbourne. That show, Le Venin, will be at RTIST Gallery from February 16th through March 4th.
All Talk at Pandemic Gallery will include Aakash Nihalani, Cassius Fouler, Gabriel Specter, Jesus Saves, NohJColey and others and runs from February 17th through March 11th.
We like the way NYC’s Opera Gallery integrated some of the more established street artists with the likes of Chagall, Picasso and Matisse in their current exhibit featuring a remarkably diverse range of portraits. The exhibit continues through February 19 at 115 Spring Street. Here are a few faces we captured when we stopped by this past week:
This week the Occupy Wall Street live streams have been very effective at distracting me from Vandalog, which I’m not too upset about. The violent and suppressive eviction of Occupy Wall Street is certainly more important that the latest swindle that some art gallery is trying to pull. Nonetheless, I have been paying attention even if I haven’t been writing, so here’s what’s been going on in the street art world this week:
This Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, Todd James and Steve Powers are showing their work from their installation Street from the Art in the Streets show at MOCA in LA earlier this year. Other members of Powers’ ICY Signs studio will also be showing their work.
Swoon musical project in New Orleans, Dithyrambalina, is coming along. Artists involved in the collaborative installation are performing a show called The Music Box on November 19th and December 10th. Here’s a trailer, which includes some of their October 22nd performance. Beautiful work, but I’m sure it’s something that really needs to be seen in person.
UPDATE – LOCATION CHANGE: The Underbelly Show has moved to 78 NW 25th Street in Wynwood, Miami to accommodate the large scale of the artwork in this show.
The Underbelly Project is back. Last year, I posteda lotabout the project where 103 artists from around the world secretly painted an abandoned/half-completed New York City subway station. After that initial burst of press here and around the web, The Underbelly Project organizers stayed silent. With only occasional vague tweets from a mysterious twitter account and the appearance on Amazon of an upcoming book about the project. Yesterday though, The Underbelly Project announced that they will be participating in this year’s Basel Miami Week madness with a pop-up gallery in South BeachWynwood.
The organizers of The Underbelly Project and The Underbelly Show, Workhorse and PAC, have this to say about the show:
Workhorse: The New York Underbelly was an important chapter for us, but the story hadn’t been comprehensively told. The Underbelly Miami show gives us a chance to present the broad scope of documentation – Videos, photos, time-lapses and first hand accounts. The project is about more than just artwork. This show gives us a chance to show the people and the environment behind the artwork.
PAC: While the experience each artist had in their expedition underground can never be captured, it is my hope that this show will highlight some of the trials and tribulations associated with urban art taking place in the remote corners of our cities. Too often the practice of making art in unconventional venues remains shrouded in mystery and I hope this exhibition will shine a faint light on those artists who risk their safety to find alternative ways to create and be a part of the cities they live in.
35 of the 103 artists from The Underbelly Project will be exhibiting art in The Underbelly Show, plus video and still footage of the artists at work in the tunnel. Here’s the full line-up: Faile, Dabs & Myla, TrustoCorp, Aiko, Rone, Revok, Ron English, Jeff Soto, Mark Jenkins, Anthony Lister, Logan Hicks, Lucy McLauchlan, M-City, Kid Zoom, Haze, Saber, Meggs, Jim & Tina Darling, The London Police, Sheone, Skewville, Jeff Stark, Jordan Seiler, Jason Eppink and I AM, Dan Witz, Specter, Ripo, MoMo, Remi/Rough, Stormie Mills, Swoon, Know Hope, Skullphone, L’Atlas, Roa, Surge, Gaia, Michael De Feo, Joe Iurato, Love Me, Adam 5100, and Chris Stain.
For this show, the space will be transformed into an environment imitating the tunnel where The Underbelly Project took place, right down to playing sounds recorded in the station while The Underbelly Project was happening.
If you absolutely cannot wait until February to get We Own The Night, the book documenting The Underbelly Project, a limited number will be available at The Underbelly Show in a box set with 9 photographic prints and the book all contained in a handcrafted oak box. Additionally, you will be able to your book signed by the artists participating in The Underbelly Show.
The Underbelly Show will take place at 2200 Collins Avenue, South Beach, Miami78 NW 25th Street, Wynwood, Miami. There will be a private opening on November 30th, and the space will be open to the general public December 2nd-5th, with a general opening on the 2nd from 8-10pm.