Art – Substance = ?

Alec Monopoly. Photo by savagecats.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Nico Glaude, who will hopefully be contributing more to Vandalog in the future. – RJ Rushmore

RJ tweeted this a few days ago “Alec Monopoly is in the latest issue of @JuxtapozMag. Seriously? Come on Evan. I know you’re better than that!” Which got me thinking; what exactly is going on to the state of street art culture? For those that don’t know, Alec Monopoly is a street artist who “lightly” appropriates the Mr. Monopoly character in the streets, sometimes he’s playing a keyboard or even playing the turntables. His interior work follows the same guidelines of appropriation; Mr. Monopoly on canvas either pasted with monopoly money or news paper articles related to the economic state of the U.S. The point of it all? Maybe there is none.

Alec Monopoly
Alec Monopoly. Photo by Birdman.

Meaningless art is something that will always plagued the art world, and most definitely plays it’s part in the streets. Yes there will forever be the debate of subjectivity, but let’s just be closed minded for a minute and examine things. What’s make Alec’s art pointless? The lack of effort in it all, the irony of taking on the economic state as a message, yet selling his art for thousands upon thousands of dollars. There’s no sense of real purpose or substance in his work, no evolution. If you take a minute to think about it, the same can be said about countless other “artists” who are getting rewarded even though they’re in a constant state of mediocrity.

Love Me x Vans Sk8-Hi Slim. Photo courtesy of Vans.

Another case of substance abuse can be latched on to Curtis Kulig’s overly redundant “Love Me” campaign. It’s grown from a simple tag to becoming nothing more than a brand. In terms of marketing, it’s pretty genius, but at what point does it not become art anymore? Like with Alec’s work, Kulig’s work doesn’t evolve, what once had some substance, is now replaced with something that is lost in the world of pure redundancy. “Love Me” is now found on tee-shirts, skateboards, and sneakers. The slogan has become meaningless because the message is gone. It’s now become simply a marketing tool. Maybe, that’s all it ever was.

Love Me collection from Smashbox. Photo courtesy of Smashbox.
Love Me collection from Smashbox. Photo courtesy of Smashbox.

The point to all of this? Well just like Alec’s and Kulig’s art, maybe there is none. Yes meaningless art will forever be inescapable, this article won’t change that, and as I mentioned Alec and Kulig are only two cases of many. But we, as a culture, need stop validating such pointless attempts at attention, and realize that it is simply that, artists trying to get noticed by pawning off pretentious, uninspiring and empty art.  This fact will be true until the end of time, but we need to stop letting artists off so easy, stop granting them a “Get out of jail free” card, and make them realize that in order to gain our attention,they need to start making art that isn’t so meaningless.

Photos by savagecats and Birdman and courtesy of Vans and Smashbox

Where to look at SCOPE Miami

Maya Hayuk, who will show at New Image Art Gallery's booth

The SCOPE art fair’s Miami iteration should, as always, have a few booths of interest to Vandalog readers to year. SCOPE opens on the 29th and runs through December 4th. Make sure to stop by these booths: Mallick Williams for Skullphone and Love Me/Curtis Kulig; Jonathan LeVine Gallery for Olek, WK Interact and Aakash Nihilani; Dorian Grey Gallery for Richard Hambleton (and maybe LAII); and New Image Art Gallery for Maya Hayuk and Retna. Of course, all those galleries will be exhibiting other artists as well, those are just some highlights. And there should be plenty of else of interesting. For the last two years, SCOPE has been where I’ve seen some of the most interesting indoor art in Miami.

Maya Hayuk, who will show at New Image Art Gallery's booth

Photos courtesy of New Image Art Gallery

Underbelly resurfaces: The Underbelly Show

Surge, Gaia, Stormie, Remi/Rough and in The Underbelly Project

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 posted a lot about 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 Beach Wynwood.

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, Miami 78 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.

Photo by RJ Rushmore

Skullphone & Curtis Kulig @ Mallick Williams & Co

Lenny Collado, who has been documenting graffiti — and more recently street art — with me this past year, made it over to Mallick Williams this evening for the opening of Scripture, featuring new works by Skullphone and Curtis Kulig. Especially impressive is Skullphone’s use of digital media and its haunting effect:

And Curtis Kulig’s iconic “love me” seems to work in any media on any surface anywhere — both inside and outside the gallery:

Close-up of huge piece
On 11th Ave. near Mallick Williams & Co
Photos by Lenny Collado

Mallick Williams & Co. to Feature New Works by Skullphone and Curtis Kulig

Since visiting its wonderful HUELESS exhibit back in the spring, Mallick Williams & Co. has become one of my favorite Chelsea galleries. I’m looking forward to its upcoming exhibit SCRIPTURE featuring new works by Skullphone and Curtis Kulig, two artists who continue to maintain a strong presence in the streets of NYC.  It opens next Thursday, October 6, from 6-9 @ 150 11th Avenue.

"Prada" from Skullphone's new series of crosses
Curtis Kulig's iconic "Love Me" on canvas
Images courtesy of Mallick Williams & Co

Anonymous Gallery at Wooster Street Social Club

Ron English, for his recent show at Lazarides in London

Anonymous Gallery, the mostly New York-based pop up gallery, has put together a show that will open later this week at the Wooster Street Social Club, aka the site of the show NY Ink. Flash includes original artwork as well as designs by those same artists that people can get put on them by the tattoo artists at Wooster Street Social Club. Flash opens on September 17th, runs through October 29th,  and includes Anthony Lister, Curtis Kulig (aka Love Me), Dan Witz, Eric White, Greg Lamarche, Kenji Hirata, Kenzo Minami, James Jean, Logan Hicks, Nick Walker, Ron English, Shelter Serra and Tristan Eaton.

Photo by RJ Rushmore

Street Art Pop Up Store in LA

Bomit is putting together a pop up shop in LA and it opens next week. The Street Art Pop Up Store sounds pretty cool. A lot of galleries like to say “Look. We’re not a ‘street art gallery.’ We just show lots of artists who happen to work outdoors. But really we show ‘contemporary art.'” Well this shop says “Screw that! We only show street artists.” Only artists who put hard work into getting up outdoors will be shown in the store. I think that’s fantastic.

Some of the artists in the shop will include Gaia, Dickchicken, Ludo, Love Me, Sweet Toof and Bigfoot.

The store organizers are looking for help putting the store together, so if you have any cool art trinkets that you’d like to donate to the store like stickers, shirts, toys or whatever else, they’ll take it.

The Street Art Pop Up Store will open on March 4th in LA. Keep an eye on their website for more info on the location.