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.
I was told yesterday by local superhero @MagnusApollo that the government of Rochester truly believes that its community really loves driving everywhere. While the locals might protest to this idea and insist they would prefer a more congruent and efficient system of transportation, I just ignore everyone and walk. I began yesterday by not heeding my own advice, and taking a “quick jaunt” over to Faith47’s amazing new mural in downtown Rochester.
Faith47 is a person whom I look up to both artistically and personally. I consider her and her husband DALeast to be close friends and anytime I can get some quality time with their respective brains I dive right in. Faith’s wall came together almost in the blink of an eye, and it is stunning. The wall itself and the bridge above are some of the most beautifully aged textures I have ever seen, and somehow Faith made them even more amazing. Her mural, “sic semper erat, et sic semper erit” or “Thus has it always been, and thus shall it ever be” is a beautiful mural left for the people of Rochester, and based on the number of dramatic 90 degree head turns I saw yesterday I think they like it already.
My next move was to go see Faith’s other half DALeast get started on his mural (final shots coming soon). I took the advice of a local who said, “sure you can walk there, it’s pretty close!” It was not pretty close, but hey I can always stand to lose a little off the hammy thighs. When I arrived at Dal’s wall he was just about to start his outline, which was an amazing thing for me to watch. In all the times I have got to hang with Dal I never have gotten to see him paint. I was interested in the process that eventually leads to his amazing 3-D design. Much like a lot of painters, Dal starts with basic lines to get his spacing and placement right. Simplistic, well thought out, and an almost ninja like efficiency define the start of Dal’s murals. Again my presence was not helping the progress of Mr. East’s wall so after getting some much needed life advice and votes of confidence from the man I decided to press on.
The rest of my day consisted of me being passed around the Wall\Therapy crew like the proverbial doobie. Making friends is one of my specialties and I have met some really great souls already in my two days here. The staffing for this great festival has been super on point, extremely welcoming, and more organized then I could have imagined! Highlights from the afternoon and evening include checking out the progress of Gaia’ mural (pictures coming soon), seeing Adam Francy’s wall, meeting Mr. Prvrt and seeing his two animal murals, getting some stickers tagged for my 228 collections, and of course the soon to be infamous #LiftFlood #LiftProblems surrounding Chris Stain’s mural. Just a piece of advice, if you think you flooded your lift’s engine, make sure you actually have the gas turned on, it really helps starting the engine.
Note: This article is the second in a three part series that discusses how three artists dealt with the topic of histories within their Bushwick Collective murals. Check out part 1 here.
Long time collaborators and friends Chris Stain and Billy Mode bring a personal history to each mural they create. Through the years, this partnership has lead to a fast, seamless work ethic. From watching the creation of their wall for Open Walls Baltimore in 24 hours to their latest creation at the Bushwick Collective, which took about a week despite weather conditions, the duo always work in a manner that is astounding in imagery and efficiency. When the two artists find time to break from their schedules of school, family, or skateboarding to take on a new project, it is known that it will be nothing less than awe inspiring. On a series of ladders and forklifts, Chris and Billy become like a structured ballet as they weave around each other, never interrupting the other’s flow except to make the odd joke.
While the artists have great personal history, their imagery deals with their hopes for the future. Billy Mode’s text speaks to this message, telling the youth of the neighborhood that the future is theirs to invent. In addition to the this literal embodiment is a figuritive explanation as two children embrace, sharing their love for each other and the future. These girls represent those who will shape the world’s future, the youth of today. Through a combination of metaphors, Billy Mode and Chris Stain hope to give hope to adolescents, whose creations could one day be seen on the walls of Bushwick.
Logan Hicks has organized an online auction to benefit the PTA at his son Sailor’s school, PS 132 in Brooklyn. Toe The Line includes contributions from Joe Iurato, Swoon, Shepard Fairey, Chris Stain, Dabs and Myla, How and Nosm, Eric Haze, Faile, and others. Logan’s girlfriend and Sailor’s mother Kristen Zarcadoolas is the PTA president of PS 132, and they organized the auction after after yet another funding cut at the school.
“There is a lack of resources at every level within the public school system and I want to do all that I can to ensure that my son has a proper education,” says Hicks. “There is a moral responsibility to do everything possible to help support the public education.”
Ollystudio’s book Stencil Republic does not attempt to remind readers of how awesome Blek and Banksy are, or of the importance of John Fekner. Rather, Stencil Republic highlights some of the current favorite stencil street artists (such as A10ne, Run Don’t Walk, Sten & Lex, A*C Alto Contraste, Sr. X, Chris Stain, and more) as it attempts to embrace and delineate the scene as it stands today. As Aiko explains in her intro, stencils have become such a widely embraced tool of expression that many stencil-artists are a flash in the pan, with few maintaining a lasting presence in the scene. Rather than heralding the history-makers, Stencil Republic focuses on the top stencil-cutters of the moment, resulting in a refreshing mixture of strong work by well-known and not-so-well-known stencil artists.
One of the more outstanding and controversial aspects of this book is that, with each introduction to an artist, readers are presented with a laser cut stencil of the artist’s design. While the quality of these stencils are impressive, and in my opinion, what sets this book above others of its kind, I can imagine some contention arising in response to giving the public twenty replica stencils by artists who are potentially still putting up these same works. In a way this controversy is reminiscent of Tox’s court case, where his key defense was the fact that anyone could replicate his tag. By agreeing to participate in Ollystudio’s book, have the artists in Stencil Republic signed on to a sort of vandal-insurance should they ever get caught putting up work illegally?
As I showed some friends this book, I inquired as to whether they, as both the audience of the work and as potential participants in it’s distribution, felt that the artists’ “credit” was being challenged, or thought that “credit” even mattered at all. It seemed that the grassroots understanding of street art was that its intent is to beautify an environment or to spread an idea but not necessarily to proliferate an identity, in contrast to graffiti. In this sense, this book should help to spread street art. But again, this question of identity vs. credit came up, seeing as this was something that each artist who participated in this book needed to consider before agreeing to relinquish the right to recreate and distribute their work to the public. I’m curious if “credit” mattered to them; whether they thought that the public would still know the design was theirs, and whether the person who physically puts a piece up is actually significant to the piece itself. Take the “OBEY” campaign for example: though it started as the individual efforts of Shepard Fairey, the ubiquity of the Andre the Giant icon grew to outstanding proportions when the task of getting the image up was taken over by any willing participant.
I am not bringing up these questions as a criticism of the quality of Ollystudio’s product. Actually, these dilemmas would not exist if these stencils were not so exquisitely cut. I would recommend purchasing this book for a few reasons: 1. It’s a good conversation piece on appropriation of art; 2. You really should get to know these current artists – they’re talented; 3. It is a splendid reminder that vandalizing is fun (but don’t do that -blah blah- legal disclaimer).
Well, the big story this week was of course Hyuro’s wall under threat in Atlanta, but a lot more has been happening elsewhere on the web, plus I missed a week of link-o-rama when I was in Atlanta myself, so here’s what I’ve got to share:
Living Walls mentioned in the New York Times last week, but not because of Hyuro’s mural or even in the arts section. For some reason, some narrative was created about Living Walls relating to the recession. Well, whatever. I guess it’s a hook, and strange press is better than no press.
Everyone’s been quoting this Steve Powers interview where he says “Most Street art isn’t art and it isn’t street.” He’s such a provocateur (read: guy well-respected enough that the world allows him to be an asshole). Actually though, as annoying as the guy can be, he’s right. Particularly that most street art isn’t art. A lot of it is great graphic design or illustration or signpainting. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a misnomer that confuses a lot of people.
Hate President Bush? You’ll probably love this book.
As recently as June both artists worked within eyeshot of one another for the Welling Court mural project. With this familiarity, visitors may think that they’ve seen every iteration of the Stain/Iurato pairing. However, both artists have gone above and beyond the labor required for a typical gallery show and the results are astounding.
On the surface, Chris Stain and Joe Iurato appear to be tied together because of their stylistic choices. Both typically work in minimalistic color palettes, with the occasional pop of color thrown in for good measure. Both depict relatively realistic portraiture.
However, when put side by side in a gallery instead of spread out over blocks, it is the outstanding differences of these artists that makes the work of Iurato and Stain that makes viewers’ knees buckle in awe. Stain is known for depicting the everyday man. Drawing upon his working class background, whether it is a former student of his or someone else from his life, the artist renders portraits of people that are highly relatable.
In contrast, Iurato takes what would look like your average person walking on the street and adds hints of the divine. Many of the pieces that the artist created for Deep In The Cut show his hooded modern day saints, emblazoned with halos. By placing modern day saints in conversation with working class hero, Mighty Tanaka has created a dialogue that has to be seen for the full impact to come across. As with many ethereal things, words cannot do it justice.
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…).
All too often, I get the same basic press release in my inbox. It reads something like this:
Dear Arrested Motion editor,
Gallery X, the hippest gallery in the USA even though you’ve never heard of us before, is super excited about their upcoming show Lame Pun for a Name, a group show featuring prints from the world’s most exciting street artists. We have 15 artists you’ve never heard of or have heard of but don’t care about who we think are making a real splash and 2 artists you’ve heard of but whose prints we found on eBay for the purpose of including them in this show. Oh, and yes, we have a Banksy print! This is sure to be the best show ever in the history of the world even though we only just discovered that street art is a thing after my mom told me about this movie called Exit Through the Gift Shop.
I hope you’ll post about our show. An inconvenient to download and use pdf file is attached.
Because of emails like that, my tolerance for group shows of prints is pretty low these days. I pretty much write them off as ignorable when I hear about them, even when I like some of the artists in the show. Well, I’m extremely thankful that two of my friends dragged me to New York’s Hendershot Gallery last week after I had written off their latest group print show, (Re)Print.
(Re)Print features ASVP, Clown Soldier, Chris Stain, Troy Lovegates, Labrona, Judith Supine and others. It achieves that combination of well-known and extremely talented but up-and-coming artists that nearly every group show strives for but few manage to pull off. If you’re looking for work by artists who don’t get the attention they deserve, (Re)Print is the place to see a whole lot of them. In particular, the new prints by Chris Stain and collages by Clown Soldier are a real treat.
Here are a few bits from the show, but if you’re in New York at all this summer, definitely try to make it over to Hendershot Gallery to see the entire show. (Re)Print is open through August 15th.
While Caroline and I visited Baltimore with the goal of seeing Open Walls Baltimore, but we also got a bit of a taste for the larger street art and graffiti scene there, including a lot of work that has been done without permission. We even went out with a few local writers (Avoid, Fisho and Mountain) to watch them paint. Here are some of my favorite pieces that we came across in Baltimore that are not murals, including a few of photos have been posted on Vandalog previously.