My first encounter with the Brewster Projects was in June of 2012. In the middle of a sunny afternoon, the heat was relentless. The sun bleached, weed filled center circle drive stood out in harsh contrast to the dark empty windowed towers looming around in a group. On my first trip to Detroit at the time, I was too intimidated to venture any further than the ground level perimeter of the site. I had been told it was a sketchy neighborhood and that there was security. I never saw any and there were no fences, so I took pics of Flying Fortress and Nychos hitting up the bottoms of the towers.
In the summer of 2012 the European graffiti crew JBCB (Juke Box Cow Boys) were in town along with other international artists involved with the Detroit Beautification Project.
By the time I got to Detroit there were only 4 remaining of the big, 15-story towers. There used to be 6, but 2 were torn down in 2003. The towers were called the Frederick Douglas Apartments and were built in the 40s and 50s. This was the housing project where singer Diana Ross grew up and where, in the rec center, boxer Joe Lewis trained. The projects are right across the freeway from Ford Field and downtown Detroit. There were other low rise apartment houses there too, but they have been removed in pieces over the years.
I moved to the Detroit area in the fall of 2013 and made it back to the Brewster towers in October of 2013 determined to check out the inside. On that trip I made it to the top of one tower. In the 15 months since I’d last been there, tons of graffiti had been added to the towers. The bottoms were now grilled with tags, throws and pieces. More noticeably, 3 epic 15-story top to bottom rollers had been executed. In addition, Gats, Feral Child, and Ghost Owl had done rollers at the top of another tower, prominently placed and visible to highway traffic heading south into downtown Detroit. As I climbed I noticed preparations for demolition, but didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. There had been ongoing delays and interruptions in the effort to complete the removal of the projects.
Earlier this month, Caroline and I and some friends (guided by Rob Dunalewicz) visited the abandoned Atlanta Prison Farm, a prison that was in active use for a good chunk of the 20th century and it now mostly abandoned, save for the occasional police training exercise. Today, the prison is covered in street art and graffiti. For me, it was interesting to see old work by Never, from before he began to focus on his owl characters that you can see around Brooklyn today. What’s so cool for me about artists working in abandoned spaces is that there seems to be a freedom to a lot of the work that isn’t found in their work when they are working in public spaces or making work for sale. Here’s a sampling of what we saw:
Feral Child, Cannon Dill, and Zio Ziegler have been working together recently on some walls in Oakland and San Fransisco, California. The three of them seem to make a great combo, and I don’t think I’d seen Cannon Dill’s work before, so I’m glad Feral Child has introduced me to the work of such a skillful painter. Definitely make sure to check out all of these walls in large by clicking on the image.
In the first of hopefully a prolific series of exhibitions, Brooklyn Street Art presents Geometricks, curated by street artist and art historian Hellbent. Rather than simply pairing random street artists together, as many exhibitions do, Geometricks attempts to delineate a movement that is currently at play within the scene. Artists scattered around the world have started creating pieces whose focus is abstract geometry. Featuring the work of Augustine Kofie, Chor Boogie, Drew Tyndell, Feral Child, Hellbent, Jaye Moon, Maya Hayuk, MOMO, OLEK, OverUnder, and See One, the show reaches to several cities to gather artists from different ends of the geometric(k) spectrum.
The different ends of this spectrum include artists who both directly and indirectly create work from rigid forms. With the paintings of featured artists Maya Hayuk and Augustine Kofie, the thematic connection to their imagery is blatant, though stunning nonetheless. It was, however, the installation pieces of Olek and Jaye Moon that I found to be most engaging in the space. The dimensionality inherent in the way that they create their pieces added a layer to their importance in a show centered on shape.
It is important to note that in addition to the work seen above, Hellbent has featured a wall specifically for a student’s budget. Many artists, such as Jaye Moon (featured above), See One, and Feral Child, have created smaller interpretations of their larger gallery pieces and have been priced at under $200.
Geometricks will have a public opening tonight from 6pm to 8pm at Gallery Brooklyn and will run from September 22 to October 28. Free shuttle service will be provided from the Carroll Street F/G station to the gallery as well as from the after party back to the station.
Endless Canvas’ Special Delivery warehouse show looks like it’s got some cool work from Swampy, GATS, Feral Child and others, but really it’s clear that photos do not do the show justice and that you had to be there.
Brooklyn Street Art are going to be organizing a series of shows at Brooklyn’s new gallery, Gallery Brooklyn. Vandal or Visionary Series has kind of a cool concept, where BSA will pick a different artist to curate each show in the series. The first show in the series is GEOMETRICKS, curated by Hellbent. The artists in the show are Augustine Kofie, Chor Boogie, Drew Tyndell, Feral Child, Hellbent, Jaye Moon, Maya Hayuk, MOMO, OLEK, Overunder and See One, so between that line up and the name of the show, it’s probably pretty clear that GEOMETRICKS is about work by people in the street art community who are leaving lettering and pop art behind and including somewhat abstract shapes and patterns in their work, kind of like a street-art friendly version of graffuturism.
In addition to a great line up of artists, the thing I’m most excited about with this show is that their will be one wall of the show devoted to inexpensive and discounted works for students only. The Young Collectors Wall will only have work by the GEOMETRICKS artists priced under $200, and you’ll have to show a valid student ID to purchase any of the pieces. I have to applaud BSA for this idea. It’s rare that a gallery will have quality artwork or art products available at prices that are reasonable for students. So students, get to the show early, because I’m betting that these works will be gone quickly. You might get a real steal and suddenly have the best-decorated room in your dorm.
Here’s a little invite from BSA:
You are cordially invited to have a blast in Red Hook Brooklyn with BSA Saturday Sept 22nd, where we’ll present amazing new gallery works from 11 of the best Street Artists doing abstract GEOMETRICKS on the street right now, musical jams from John Breiner, and a special Young Collectors Wall where a limited number of works by the artists in the show will be on sale under $200 for students with a current valid school ID. After GEOMETRICKS walk a few blocks to party with us at Brooklyn Crab and take the free shuttle bus back to the subway when it’s all over. It’s a cool September night in Red Hook that you don’t want to miss!
The show opens September 22nd from 6-9pm and runs through October 28th at Gallery Brooklyn (351 Van Brunt St, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY).
Young New York: A Silent Art Auction & Fundraiser is an fundraising initiative for the Young New Yorkers (YNY) program, which aids and raises awareness for teens who have been legally classified “adults” and thrown into New York State’s adult criminal justice system.
Happy almost Halloween. It’s been a week of wasted energy, or so it seems. A potential legal wall that I was organizing has fallen through for the time being, but hopefully things are just delayed rather than cancelled. Here’s some of what I should have posted about this week:
Reported, this sculpture at Occupy London was made and left there by Banksy, but that claim is unconfirmed by Banksy so far. Nonetheless, Zeus added this modification to the piece. And Above has also made some work in solidarity with the Occupy movement. Similarly to K-Guy’s work at Occupy London, I’m conflicted here. On the one hand, it’s great when artists who know how to get headlines do so in solidarity with a political movement of sorts, but on the other hand these artists are of course latching on to the movement and associating themselves with it in a way that they know will get headlines and potentially help them sell some paintings. Of course the same could be said of many of the celebrity speakers who have been generally well-received at Occupy events. So there’s that dilemma to think about.
Last time I was in NYC, I saw this billboard for Hennessy cognac with designs by Kaws. Just interesting to see the flip from a decade ago when Kaws would have modified that billboard illegal to insert his work onto it in an effort to associate with the Hennessy brand, and now Hennessy pays Kaws to associate with their brand. Also, this new Kaws/Snoopy toy goes on sale today on Kaws’ website. Okay, one last bit of Kaws news: I love this new painting by him.
It seems that police pressure in Portland has resulted in The Railyard gallery being evicted from their location. The Railyard opened earlier this summer with an installation-based show where dozens of artists (including Swampy, Feral Child and Gats) painted on the walls of the space. Portland police claim that the gallery is responsible, through that show, for bringing artists to Portland who then painted street art and graffiti illegally while they were in town. On the one hand, this whole thing is ridiculous: The Railyard is not responsible for what artists do in their spare time, and the work that The Railyard is responsible for was painted legally (and looks pretty good too). On the other hand, I’m surprised that more police around the world don’t try this tactic. Probably because a. it’s a difficult case to prove and b. it makes the police look like uncultured jerks. Shutting down art galleries isn’t exactly a popular move. Although in this case, it sounds like the police just used intimidation rather than actually pressing charges, so there’s really nothing that would have to be proven in court.
Get the full details on this series of events here and here.
Best of luck to The Railyard. Hopefully they can move to a new space where the police will leave them alone.