It was recently suggested that Vandalog doesn’t do any reporting or write much anymore, and that’s part of why we suck. It’s true that I haven’t been posting as much lately. In part, this is because I didn’t want to just regurgitate the same press releases and photos that all the other major street art blogs are also regurgitating. I only want to write something when I have something exclusive or something to add, which might not be every day. Plus, at the moment, my apartment has no internet connection, which makes things a bit difficult. That should be fixed soon, and posting will probably start to happen more regularly. As for reporting, if an ad agency wants to buy Vandalog and pay all of my bills for no apparent reason, I’d be happy to take your money and spend more time on “proper” reporting. In the mean time, here’s what I can say from Philadelphia with a day job and without a proper internet connection…
Saber and Zes recently painted a mural for Branded Arts in LA. It’s huge, and I really like it. I tend to find Saber’s work hit or miss, but I this one is a major success. I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about legal versus illegal work, illegal work versus the buff and graffiti versus street art. This mural addresses all of those topics on a grand scale.
Shok1‘s mural for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC is no more, things are a bit more complicated than that… Before Shok1 painted that spot, there was a really beautiful tag there by Serf. Over time, the rest of the wall got tagged up, and the singular tag was no longer looking so hot. Additionally, we at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC got permission to put a mural at that location. Shok1 was in town and we were itching to work with him, so he got the spot and painted a great piece. Before Shok1 painted though, I reached out to Serf to give him a heads up, and let him know that we would like to find a wall for him and Mint if he was interested in the idea. I don’t normally do that when we cover illegal graffiti with a mural, but I had a lot of love for this particular tag. That was in April. Recently, Shok1’s mural was tagged up, so we quickly buffed out the tag. It was clear that this mural’s life had ended and something new was in order. We called up Serf again, and arranged for Mint and Serf (aka Mirf) to paint something. Their idea was to create a wall that looked almost abstract but full of graffiti, like a bombed-out wall of an abandoned warehouse. It might not be clear to random passersby whether the work was legal or illegal. Kind of like the (slightly more controlled) shutters that SMART Crew painted recently as part of their installation in Chinatown, although Mirf were working on this idea before the Chinatown piece was completed. Turns out, some people don’t like murals that look like illegal graffiti, even if the wall was originally home to actually illegal graffiti that was going unbuffed. Neighborhood residents complained. We knew the mural would be temporary, as the property owner was about to install advertising on that wall, but we thought it would at least last more than 48 hours. Now, the wall has been buffed black and a street-level advertisement has been installed… It looks like this. Animal New York has more on the story. While I’m bummed to see both Shok1’s work and Mirf’s work gone already, that wall has been a learning experience and an interesting experiment of sorts for us at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC. There was illegal graffiti on the wall, then Shok1 painted a colorful mural. That was replaced by a legal mural that looked like illegal graffiti by the same same artists whose illegal graffiti had graced the wall previously without complaint, and suddenly residents had a serious problem with what they were seeing. The truth is that we at The L.I.S.A. Project NYC are often in close communication with property owners, realtors, building managers, restauranteurs and shop-owners when we put up murals, but rarely do we connect with a building’s residents. Usually, this isn’t a problem, and we have received a lot of positive feedback from residents even when they have not been consulted before a mural goes up, but occasionally we have problems like these. Should we slow down our process and always seek input from a building’s residents and nearby neighbors, or should we keep going as is, giving artists more freedom but always risking a negative reaction after the work is completed? A balance has to be struck, but I’m not sure exactly what that balance is. Every mural program and every mural site is unique, so there are no easy answers, but it’s something we have to continue to think about…
Mighty Mo, Rowdy, Gold Peg and Horror of Burning Candy have put together a show opening June 27th at the Leeds College of Art. Should be a good one, particularly since Mighty Mo’s work has gone in a very surprising and interesting sculptural direction over the last two years or so.
Two more upcoming shows of note are the Crash and Anthony Lister solo shows at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC.
The (unauthorized)Banksy retrospective on at the moment at Sotheby’s in London is well worth stopping by. Banksy’s comment on the exhibition (“As a kid I always dreamed of growing up to be a character in Robin Hood. I never realised I’d end up playing one of the gold coins.”) sounds about right though. It’s hard not to be taken aback by the prices at this exhibition, including almost £100,000 for a single print. And yes, that piece sold, as have others. So while prices may be high, it appears there is demand, even if the buyers aren’t always the most Banksy-literate bunch. One comment I overheard from a visitor to the exhibition is telling. But hey, for those of us who just want to look at some good artwork, it’s a solid show. There are pieces I don’t think I’d ever seen before, and many museum-worthy bits that I’m not sure when I’ll see again. For that reason, it’s worth stopping by. And hey, at least the works at Sotheby’s are (mostly) authenticated by Pest Control (someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think one or two of the test prints are without authentication…), and there are no street pieces. So if you are looking to spend a couple hundred grand on a Banksy at the moment, you could do worse than Sotheby’s, like this forgettable and unauthenticated maybe-formally a Banksy for $40,000+.
Max Rippon (aka Ripo) and Roa are currently showing at Stolenspace Gallery in London. Ripo’s show in the front room is solid, but I wish there were more works on paper, or works that are more physically complex. The real highlight from Ripo is this painting on handcut paper, but it’s the only piece like it in the show. The rest are canvases like this one with amalgamations of text in strips or slices of varying size. Nothing wrong with those, but I don’t think the fully showcase Ripo’s talent. Roa’s show is among the best I’ve seen from any street artist in a long while. At first glance, yes, it’s what you’d expect from Roa: Animals in black and white or in varying states of decay on wood, plus some moving parts that allow the viewer to change up the paintings a bit. Honestly, I went to the show to see Ripo’s work and see friends, not expecting to be too amazed with Roa’s work. It’s good and all, but I figured that I’d seen it 100 times before. I was wrong. Graffoto’s review and images (and Stolenspace’s images) provide some idea of what Roa did, but really you just have to walk through the show. I hope someone with a steadicam goes in and makes a beautiful video exploring the space. Still, I’ll try to explain… You can’t just look at the work in this show and call it a day. You have to walk around it and see it from every angle. One piece, London Mole Installation, is made up of four piece of wood, arranged like this with different images of a mole, each running across two of the wooden panels, so that as you walk around the piece, you effective get at least 8 significantly different compositions of the mole depending your angle. But that is just a warm up for Osborn Bat Installation, a 3-piece installation involving mirrors and painted wood panels. Each of the three pieces is interesting on its own and sort of a mini version of London Mole Installation, but then the three pieces also come together to form compositions depending on your angle. You might be reading this and think, “Well duh, you look at installation art from different angles and it looks different,” but this goes beyond that, because every angle you look at this work from actually feels like a complete and different composition. The piece is like a puzzle, except that each piece of the puzzle is interesting on its own too, and the puzzle fits together in a myriad of interesting ways. Really, you just have to walk through this thing. If you happen to be in London, do not miss this show. It proved to me that Roa is not just a guy who can simply by written off as painting the same animals over and over again in the same style. He’s much more than that.
It’s been a while since I did a link-o-rama, but I’m really behind right now and it seems the only way to catch up. I’ve been living in my wifi-less apartment, and I’m headed to London, so these few minutes I’m spending in a cafe may be my only chance for a while to write about a few things…
Caroline and I recently watched Sign Painters, a film about the art of sign painting. It’s available now on iTunes, and well worth checking out. I’m a sucker for films about art and documentaries about people who are obsessed with perfecting their craft, whatever that may be, and Sign Painters delivers on both counts.
Both the New York Times and Elle Magazine have recently had articles about women in street art and graffiti. Usually, these articles frustrate me. The Elle Magazine article is typical. The NYTimes article is one of the best I have read on this subject. I actually really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s just that it was well written, but I think there is more. Caroline put it really well to me. She describes the Elle Magazine article as describing these artists as women first and artists second, and the NYTimes article as describing them as artists who happen to be women. Elle Magazine focuses on the fact that they are women. The NYTimes actually talks about the amazing street art and murals being made by women.
Remi/Rough and John “Crash” Matos have collaborated on a series of paintings for an upcoming show a NYC’s Dorian Grey Gallery. The show, Flow, is a link between the very figurative and pop art styles of the earliest generations of graffiti artists and the very contemporary abstract graffiti movement. Crash, of course, represents that classic style. He was one of the artists bringing in pop art to the typographic roots of graffiti back when artists still painted the New York City subways. And Remi/Rough is one of the artists currently helping to continue graffiti’s transition from straight letters to wild style to complete abstraction. Both artists have pushed graffiti further, but in perhaps opposite (though complimentary) directions. I can think of few more interesting artistic pairings in graffiti, and I can’t wait to see more of Flow.
Flow opens January 16th and runs through February 23rd.
For the last week or so until today, we’ve been in the process changing Vandalog’s web hosts. No need to get into the technical details, but now the site should run more smoothly and with less downtime. Unfortunately it means that we haven’t been able to write anything new on the site since that process began (everything that’s gone online was pre-scheduled). So this is a mega-link-o-rama combining the usual weekend link-o-rama content with stuff that I could have written about last week even if I’d had the time.
Martha Cooper turned 70 this weekend, and the graffiti community came together at Bowery and Houston to give her a giant surprise birthday present (pictured above). How and Nosm told Cooper that they were planning to repaint their piece at Bowery and Houston and told her to come by at noon on Saturday, but they didn’t tell her how they were going to have to piece repainted. They brought together a bunch of new and old graffiti legends and painted a giant blockbuster tribute to Cooper. BSA has plenty more great photos of the piece in progress and a perfect shot of Cooper reacting to seeing the mural.
WK Interact’s pop-up show in NYC is absolutely fantastic, a must-see show. Think it this way: This show, as I understand it, is a retrospective but it’s made up of the work that WK had in his studio, not work borrowed or on the secondary market from collectors, so this is a lot of unsold work. And yet, the show is still one of the strongest I’ve seen from any artist in quite a while, and the work holds up just fine next to anything else by WK. Even the work that has been sitting in the WK’s studio for a few years is just masterpiece after masterpiece. Good stuff.
Mr. Brainwash has lost another lawsuit by a photographer upset with MBW’s appropriation. Basically, it boils down to MBW’s work being too similar to the original photograph, with no original contributions to the work by MBW.
It appears that Phil Frost hit a massive billboard in LA, and then the billboard was stolen. But the whole thing seems like a shady PR scam for Ace Gallery. Melrose&Fairfax has the full story, but one point they don’t make is that Ace Gallery has a history of controversy, so that makes me even more doubtful that this billboard and its theft are real. Also, let’s face it, there’s a good chance that the billboard is illegal anyway since this was in LA, so who cares if the ad was stolen off of the billboard?
While most of us in New York were sitting in our homes fearing the snowstorm, the Bronx Documentary Center gathered some of the city’s legendary writers and documentarians for a panel. One of a series of events, Steel Canvases brought together Bio and Nicer of Tats Cru, Henry Chalfant, Eric Deal, and Crash to discuss trains. Of particular interest is the groups discussion on the proliferation of imagery and styles pre-internet. Thanks to Ricky Flores, those of us who couldn’t make it for fear of snow or not can see an edited video of the panel’s highlights.
I discovered the East Village’s Dorian Grey Gallery last spring when it exhibited a wonderfully diverse selection of LA 11’s artwork. LA 11 is just one of many artists in Dorian Grey’s current exhibit, GroupeGRAFF, featuring work by an eclectic array of artists who have impacted — or certainly reflect — much of what has been happening on the streets during the past 30 years. Here are a few images from the exhibit:
Included too are works by: Aiko, ERO, Keith Haring, Jeff Henriquez, Mau Mau and others. Distinct pieces by Banksy and Swoon are also featured. A particular favorite — as it’s literally a piece of graffiti history — is a segment of a door from the legendary Mudd Club tagged by the likes of Keith Haring & Fab 5 Freddy:
An opening reception will be held tomorrow evening, April 28th, 5-8 pm. The exhibit continues through May 16th at 437 East 9th Street near Avenue A in Manhattan’s East Village.
Exciting week next week: Troy Lovegates and Labrona will be coming to Haverford to paint a mural here, so look forward to some pictures of that… If I find the charger for my camera. Also, I’ve taken the plunge and I’m finally on Instagram. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:
I’ve mentioned this before, but here’s a reminder that No Longer Empty is hosting a talk about the Fashion Moda this Sunday moderated by Joyce Manalo and including Stefan Eins, Lisa Kahane, Crash and Lee.
This week’s link-o-rama is a few days delayed. Parents were in town earlier this week and even came to an event some friends of mine organized at Haverford College: A talk by Jayson Musson (the artist who created and plays the character Hennessy Youngman). I don’t think my mom was amused. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:
RJ shared background info and some photos last week regarding This Side of Paradise,an extraordinary exhibition that opened this evening at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. Curated by Keith Schweitzer with No Longer Empty, it features the work of over two dozen artists who — working in a wide array of styles and media — have transformed an abandoned mansion into a fascinating aesthetic experience, embracing a range of social and cultural issues. Here are some photos captured at the opening that focus on those artists whose works have been surfacing on the streets of the Bronx for years:
Photos by Lenny Collado, Sara Mozeson and Lois Stavsky