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.
Sweet Toof is understandably upset that a recent mural project in Hackney, where he and the rest of the Burning Candy crew painted some of their best illegal street art and graffiti, intentionally avoided including local artists. You’ve gotta love this quote from Sarah Weir, who heads the charity that commissioned the new murals: “We unashamedly wanted to showcase the best international artists and transform this part of the canal into a destination for street art.” That might be the dumbest thing I’ve read all summer, except for course for arguments defending the NSA or calling for Edward Snowden to return to the USA. First of all, murals (while interesting) emulate street art and graffiti, but there is a distinct difference between legal murals by street artists and illegal street art by the same artists. I’m sure that on Vandalog I have referred to murals as street art for the sake of simplicity, but not in a context like this where the difference between murals and street art is actually quite important. Hackney Wick’s canal already is a destination for street art, in large part due to the work of Gold Peg, Sweet Toof and the other members of Burning Candy. Weir is trying to turn it into a destination for murals, most likely at the expense of street art and graffiti if the intense pre-Olympics graffiti removal efforts in the area are anything to go by. Mural projects and festival are awesome, but they are not the same thing as illegal street art or graffiti.
Israel Hernandez, an 18-year-old Miami graffiti writer, was killed this week when he was tazered by police. They were chasing him after catching him writing in an abandoned building. CNN’s coverage of Hernandez’ death was surprisingly fair. Their piece was framed as the tragedy that is clearly is, rather than a piece demonizing Hernandez for his artwork like you might expect from some mainstream media.
Had a quick holiday in New York City combined with a nasty cold to delay posting this link-o-rama, but I’m back so here we go…
Dave aka nolionsinengland has been a friend and also one of my favorite street art/graffiti photographers for many years now. I’m very excited to see that he’s now offering street art tours of London in addition to his street art photography workshops. There aren’t too many people who can take me on a graffiti or street art tour of London, but Dave has shown me around before and he still schools me every time we meet up. This guy knows his stuff, and regular reads of this site have seen his photos on here for years. I haven’t taken this tour of course, but from every experience I’ve had with Dave over the past 5 or so years, I cannot recommend him highly enough.
Banksy’s No Ball Games street piece in London has been removed from the wall and is due to be sold next year. The profits from the sale will be going to charity, but I’m curious if that means the profits for person who owns the wall, or if the group organizing the removal and sale are also forgoing any profits. The company that removed this wall is the same one that managed the sale of Banksy’s Slave Labour street piece earlier this year.
Faile are on the cover of the latest issue of Very Nearly Almost, so there will be launch events in both NYC and London. The NYC launch is July 31st at Reed Projects and the London launch will be 8th August at Lazarides.
Remi/Rough recently put together a book of sketches that you can read online. Most artists who have met me know that I’m always carrying around a blackbook, and that I love to collect sketches, so this project of Remi’s was a real joy for me. It’s really fascinating to see what’s going on behind the scenes with this work.
Caroline and I went to this show in Brooklyn on Saturday night. I was really impressed with EKG’s drawings. A few of them definitely reminded me of Rammellzee. Col’s screenprints on wood were also interesting as a change of pace for someone who I’ve always known as a master with spray can.
A young Canadian Instagram user was arrested for a photo she posted of a piece of street art because they thought she made the piece. Well, if I ever go to Montreal, I guess I should be careful about what I post to my Instagram.
Lush also has a show opening in NYC this weekend. His will be a show of drawings at Klughaus Gallery. It opens on August 25th from 6-10pm. Lush’s show are practically a place to expect surprises, so best get their opening night before a blog like this one ruins the shock value for you on Sunday. If you do miss opening night, the show runs through September 7th.
aMBUSH Gallery in Sydney, Australia has a big group show coming up with 67 artists including Anthony Lister, Askew, Does, Numskull, Vexta and The Yok. For Black and White All In Between, all the artists have painted on canvases of uniform sized and only used black ink. The show opens on August 31st from 6-9pm.
Gold Peg’s Release The Wolves go-karting project in South London will have a gran-prix expo on September 1st. It’s gonna be some crazy and fun stuff. And art too, but I think that’s secondary.
Shepard Fairey is finally showing those paintings he did for Neil Young’s latest album. The few pieces I’ve seen photos of are impressive. Americana opens at Perry Rubenstein Gallery (which recently moved to LA) on August 25th from 7-10pm.
Finally, this last one is a mural festival, and it promises to be a big one… This year’s Urban Forms festival in Lodz, Poland includes Os Gemeos, Aryz, Inti, Otecki, Lump and Shida. Certainly the most-anticipated work of Urban Forms is the promised collaborative mural between Os Gemeos and Aryz. The events run from August 24th through September 30th and will bring the total number of murals organized in Lodz by the Urban Forms Foundation to 22. I can’t wait to see the photos of these pieces.
One of the best things that street art can do, which doesn’t happen often, is that it can truly engage with people and inspire them. There are two whimsical projects potentially happening this summer which, while not traditional street art, come from that same place. And they need some support or else they might not happen.
First, there is Release the Wolves, a go-karting project by Gold Peg and Pelucas. These two artists are trying to build a go-kart track and go-karts with local kids in South London. They need another £6,500 to make the project a reality. When I was living in London, Gold Peg was one of my favorite local street artists/graffiti writers, and this project fits her to a T. I remember the opening night of The Thousands, a show that I curated back in 2009, where Gold Peg decided that, rather than put a painting in the show like the rest of the Burning Candy crew (in addition to the mural that they painted), she wanted to give out ice cream at an ice cream stand. And so she made a custom ice cream stand and had her friends serve everyone ice cream. It was probably the most popular part of the show, until the ice cream ran out. That was great fun and a bit whimsical, but it was for a crowd of Shoreditch hipsters like myself. With Release the Wolves, Gold Peg is taking that same spirit of fun and exuberance and bringing it to kids who probably didn’t show up for ice cream at The Thousands. I hope she can pull this project off. To help make Release the Wolves happen, you can pledge your support here.
And then there is the latest installment in the Swimming Cities project, which is probably best-known as that crazy series of junk boat projects that Swoon had a hand in. While Swoon is no longer at the helm, Swimming Cities has continued. This year, the group is hoping to float down the Ohio River. The Swimming Cities team is hoping to raise about $20,000 in the next 15 days. It’s a lot, but Swimming Cities is quite a project. I was fortunate enough to ride on one of the Swimming Cities vessels in Venice a few years back. It was the experience of a lifetime, and even just seeing the performance that took place on the boats was spectacular. I cannot say enough good things about this project. I hope that they reach their funding goal and send out some positive energy all along the Ohio River. You can help Swimming Cities here.
Well, it’s been quite a week for me at least. Here’s what I wasn’t posting about while I was busy breaking up fights…
Tox has been jailed for an absolutely insane sentence of 27 months for writing graffiti. There are not words the express who screwed up that sentence is. The British Transport Police claim Tox’s graffiti caused passenger delays, but sending him to jail for 27 months just costs taxpayers a boatload of money. Graffiti writers should receive sentences of community service and/or fines. Not jail time.
So, I like to procrastinate. This week, I didn’t get to post everything I wanted to here because I was catching up on homework. I spent 12 hours on trains and buses last weekend, and didn’t get a single piece of homework done. Because of that, I haven’t been able to write about everything awesome in street art this week, but other people did:
The Ma’Claim crew (Rusk, Tasso, Case and Akut) are in LA right now painting. Haven’t seen any pictures yet though. And if you’re in LA, they’ve be doing some live painting followed by a talk on Saturday. Sour Harvest has the details on all that.
Steph mentioned that Ron English has a massive show on in NYC right now called Status Factory, but I just want to remind everyone to check out the sculptures from that show. For me, some of the most interesting work Ron has done indoors. And to check out the entire show, of course Arrested Motion has the photos you want.
Jenny Holzer (one of the original street artists from way before I was born) has made some sneakers with Keds to support The Whitney. They’re out of a lot of sizes on the Keds website, but Bloomingdales.com seems to have a slightly better selection. Still, both sites are out of low-top black ones in my size, so if anybody has that in a 9, let me know.
Sickboy and Shepard both have some new books (actually Shepard’s is an updated version of his recent Arktip magazine). Shepard’s looks nice and I like Sickboy, but I’m not sure I need a whole book from him just yet.
Quel Beast has his first solo show coming up on October 9th. Andrew Michael Ford is putting the show on at King’s Country Bar in Brooklyn. Should definitely be worth checking out. It’s always interesting to see how street artists bring their work indoors for the first time.
Nolionsinengland has photographed two awesome rollers: Mighty Mo & Gold Peg right next to Village Underground and Type with a sort of ESPO tribute roller I guess.
There are a few little bits to mention today about my friends in Burning Candy. The crew have been keeping pretty busy lately.
The above wall (thanks to Tek33 for putting me up) is the latest in at least 3 large walls painted in London by members of BC in the last month or so. Nolionsinengland has photographed the othertwo.
Important note: I worked at High Roller Society for one day last week, but it’s not a regular job or something I expect to repeat since I’m moving soon. The crew’s Candy Shop show at High Roller Society kicks ass. It’s a small space, but Burning Candy have really made full use of the gallery. The installation is really fun to explore. There are so many little bits that it’s unlikely anybody noticed every minor detail that the crew had put into the assemblage of paintings, stickers, sculptures, drawings and found objects. There are photos on High Roller Society’s flickr, but I think that this weekend was the show’s last and it is now closed. But double check with HRS I guess, because I could be wrong.