Weekend link-o-rama

Work in Guatemala by STRANGER

Well I’ve been back in London for about a week now, and I am beginning to understand why people think it’s so grey. When you live here, you get used to it, but wow I’ve only been away for a few months and already I think the constant greyness is annoying. Still, it’s good to be home. Here’s what the world has been up to while I’ve been watching it rain.

  • A group of artists protested the removal of Blu’s mural outside of MOCA this week by projecting images onto the buffed wall. Here’s a news story and a video.
  • José Parlá has a new book coming out and a solo show in New York next month. Arrested Motion has more info on both those things and the book is currently available online.
  • Dimitris Taxis does some great wheatpastes.
  • King Adz has put together a show opening this weekend in Ireland with Blek le Rat, Asbestos, Laser 3.14 and others.
  • Kyle Chayka went on a bit of a rant about Banksy’s possible Oscar nomination, but he makes some good points.
  • Also on the topic of Exit Through The Gift Shop, the NYTimes is reporting that a man who has come forward as an original editor of Mr. Brainwash’s film Life Remote Control wants some credit for making the film that eventually sort of morphed into Exit.
  • Carolina A. Miranda wrote the latest cover article for the magazine ARTnews about the future of street art and it moving away from figurative work. You can read the entire article online. On the one hand, a move away from pop-art and figurative art seems to be counter-productive to the “art for the people” ethos at the core of so much street art, but it’s also certainly easier to turn a pop-art image into a marketing campaign while an abstract painting may do a better job of brightening up a grey wall without the artist and the viewer immediately thinking of dollar signs. I think street artists will just have to be careful to not become so conceptual that the possibility for people to understand or appreciate the art on some level without an artist’s statement is lost.
  • Some graffiti writers are tagging up ancient rock art sites in Nevada.
  • Mat Gleason named Banksy and Shepard Fairey among the top overrated artists of the decade. Check out this video for why Gleason thinks that Shepard isn’t an artist!
  • A mural by Shepard Fairey was partially painted over in LA by some other artists/writers. No big deal right? Happens all the time, right? Wrong, apparently. The mural was painted over by another artist showing at a gallery nearby. According to JetSetGraffiti, the artist has since apologized and will be paying for Shepard to repair the wall with a new mural. Okay, so should that mural still be there untouched? Maybe. Sounds like the local neighborhood liked it. Can it suck when things get dissed or buffed or written over accidentally or whatever else? Yeah. Should the artist have to pay for damages? Hell no! That’s the sort of thing that happens when you get arrested by the police for graffiti or street art, not something that art lovers should impose upon each other. The mural didn’t last forever. That’s the nature of street art. It sucks sometimes and there are ways to deal with it, but don’t make the vandal pay for damages!
  • NBC has done a really disturbing promotion in NYC’s parks for their new superhero show. Publicadcampaign explains.

Photo by Not Another Street Artist

Brad Downey: An Honest Thief @ StolenSpace

On Sunday Graffoto posted their review of Brad Downey‘s current solo show at StolenSpace Gallery entitled “An Honest Thief”. Although I usually love and agree with NoLionsInEngland’s reviews, I have to go a slightly different direction this time.

Here’s an excerpt from thier review:

Ever been jealous of someone’s lateral vision, been envious of the gift of conceiving and executing simple, subverted variations to the street scenery around us? If you’re an ordinary guy and have come across Brad Downey’s street art – then the answer is probably yes and yes again.

However, have you ever been let down by your heroes or disappointed by the mediocre achievement of a show hyped up by your own expectation that the street work is somehow going to transpose to a white box gallery space? If you go to Brad Downey’s first solo UK show in Stolen Space, London, then again you may find yourself ticking yes several times.

I went into the show with absolutely no expectations. I had no idea what I was going to see. Of course Downey’s street work would be very hard to move into a gallery space, but I had seen him speak this summer at the Tate Modern, and he had shown some videos there which I’d liked.

Brad Downey The B in the Brad

When I arrived, the first thing that struck me was the large sculpture “The B in the Brad” which looks like a giant jack made of street signs. This piece is the centerpiece of the show, and although I could never imagine it in a house, it is an interesting project and a bit of a twist on Downey’s usual street sign work.

There were a few photographic prints of Downey’s outdoor work which show the before and after scenes. Most of these can also be found on his website, but it was nice to provide a context for the work. After all, Downey is best on the street, so why not show some of that.

Night Dicks

There were a few pieces of more gallery-suitable work as well.

The “Night Dick in Love” and “Night Dick on Limp” pieces are well crafted and made it smile. These sculptures also come with a dvd of a police violence.

Animals that Crossed

“Animals That Crossed” were probably my favorite physical works in the show. Normally I’m not a fan of fur, but I’ll make an exception here.

The real reason to visit “An Honest Thief” though are the videos. There are 4 videos of Downey’s work playing in the gallery, and these are what, in Vandalog’s Great in ’08 series, Asbestos said were so fantastic. My personal favorite has to be the video of Downey cutting out a giant heart shape from a red screen covering a building under construction. Brad ended up getting arrested and fined for that, but I suppose that’s part of street art.

Go down to StolenSpace Gallery before this show closes on the 8th, because while much of Brad’s work is online, who knows when you’ll be able to see his videos again. Plus, it’s always better to see work in person.

Keep an eye out on Vandalog later this week for my profile/interview with Brad Downey (right now I’ve got a physics exam to study for).

Great In ’08: Asbestos Says…

As part of Vandalog’s “Great in ’08” series, which will be running every day for the rest of the month. Check out previous posts here. Street artists from across the world have been given one post to give away to one artist who they feel has been doing great work recently. Today it’s Asbestos‘ turn.

Who is one artist doing really great work right now?

Asbestos: If you’re asking who I think is doing great work right now, it’s gotta be Brad Downey. He’s been doing some amazing street installations in Berlin and around Europe this year. His street magic series of films is well worth a look if you get a chance to see them (they’re not online, so you might have to find one of his screenings). There’s a playful, thoughtful and provocative intensity to his work that few other artists are achieving right now.

Traffic Jam for Berlin
Traffic Jam for Berlin

See more photos of Brad Downey‘s work after the jump… Continue reading “Great In ’08: Asbestos Says…”

Great In ’08: Ame72 Says…

As part of Vandalog’s “Great in ’08” series, which will be running every day for the rest of the month. Check out previous posts here. Street artists from across the world have been offered one post to give away to one artist who they feel has been doing great work recently. Today it’s Ame72‘s turn.

Who is one artist doing really great work right now?


Chess Thinking at the Old Truman Brewery. Photo from Asbestos
Chess Thinking at the Old Truman Brewery. Photo from Asbestos

See more photos of Asbestos’ work after the jump… or read an interview with Asbestos here. Continue reading “Great In ’08: Ame72 Says…”

Asbestos Boxing Club in Belfast

One of my favorite artists, Asbestos, had a show that opened last week in Belfast. It sounds like a really great show. Here’s some info on the show from Asbestos plus photos. I’ll post the video once it’s online. If you haven’t already read it, check out this profile/interview I did with Asbestos.

Everybody still talks about ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. But as I approached the Ligoniel Amateur Boxing Club in North Belfast on a cold November evening, I was at an advantage because I had no preconceived ideas as to whether the boxers were Protestant, Catholic or Hindu for that matter. I hadn’t even thought about asking before that night, and as my visit wore on, I started to assume from their names that they were catholic (Sean, Joe, Paddy). You see, there’s been so much conflict in Belfast over the last thirty or so years, that both communities have become isolated in their own suburbs. So for me, this boxing club in the suburbs in North Belfast and the men who give their time for free intrigued me.

I was introduced to this boxing club by the guys who run the Safehouse Gallery and on my way to Belfast on the train that day, the usual images and preconceptions of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland came to mind. But I wasn’t interested in adding to a landscape of film, painting and literature that couldn’t escape the images of violence and division from the past. It was my intention to create a body of work focusing on people who’re making a difference in their community despite all the shit that goes on around them.

I photographed the boxers training and sparring in Ligoniel Amateur Boxing Club (it’s been on the go since 1971 and has been funded by the boxers and the community around Ligoniel) late one Wednesday evening. Upon arriving I was welcomed in by Eddie, who stood in the doorway eclipsed in the stark boxing hall light, his hand, decked out in gold rings reached out to greet me and welcome me into a club he’s been volunteering in for over thirty years.

I got to know the guys from the club, each had a story, each had a reason to be drawn to boxing and the small club that was a home and a safe family. I came away from that club with a head full of stories and a meaningful idea for an exhibition in Belfast. My initial fear was that these guys would treat me with suspicion, but each was open and honest, happy to talk while I photographed.

The following day, I scoured the streets in different parts of Belfast for the signature yellow Ace Bates skips (he’s the king of the Belfast skip world). I hoped that they might contain the detritus of the city; wood, metal and any other objects that told the cities history for me to paint on. I pulled pieces from skips in the Holy Land, the Shankill Road, the Lisburn Road and the Falls,  then I hauled them home to the studio in Dublin to paint.

Back in Belfast on the night of the show, it was a very humbling experience for me to see each boxer come to see his portrait. It was singularly, the most rewarding and emotional moment in my entire art career. One boxer told me that it’s usually “generals or dead politicians that get their portraits painted, not amateur boxers from north Belfast”;. But to me, these guys are the heroes of the community, they’re the guys who keep the kids off the steets, training three nights a week, they’re the guys who get screamed at by their wives “for volunteering more time at the club than at home”. It was a privilege for me to spend time with and paint the portraits of these contemporary heroes.

Photos after the jump… Continue reading “Asbestos Boxing Club in Belfast”

Asbestos Boxing Club

Sorry for not posting this earlier, but if you’re in Belfast, Asbestos has a show going on based on portraits of men he met at the local boxing club.