Today is the South Carolina Republican primary. So, of course, the political activist wing of the street art community is out in full force tackling the tough issues. Just kidding. But Hanksy and his Dump Across America team are driving across South Carolina trolling Trump and his fans with a suite of signs, banners, buttons, silly jumpsuits.
Dump Across America is a self-described “grassroots (bowel) movement.” According to Hanksy, “At this juncture, we have no other motives that fall outside of our ‘anybody but Trump’ approach. He’s a xenophobic reality TV star who is overly concerned with building a wall of mythical proportions. It’s not politics, it’s common sense.” Fair enough. Dump Across America may be the least controversial political movement in American history. Any yet… Trump is actually leading in the polls in South Carolina.
In addition to placing the anti-Trump lawn signs, Dump Across America attended two Trump rallies in South Carolina. They were spit at, threatened, and even kicked out of a rally in Myrtle Beach in the middle of The Donald’s speech. One particularly memorable rally interaction: according to Hanksy, “One woman pointed out her belief that wealth equaled intelligence, and the fact that we aren’t billionaires meant we were dumb f*cks.”
To catch the most up-to-date Dump Across America antics, follow Hanksynyc on Snapchat. To join the movement yourself, download Hanksy’s artwork from the Dump Across America website.
This past fall, moderately anonymous street artist and pun extraordinaire Hanksy did something pretty surprising by launching a sort of online travel show on YouTube, sponsored for some reason by The Hundreds and Squarespace. The show’s original name was Trivial Pursuits, but even its final title of Surplus Candy (a nod to his last surprising project) is a nod to the equal parts awesome and patronizing theme of the show: Exploring the “trivial” cities of North America (read: Everything except New York City or Los Angeles) in search of what makes their art scenes amazing and unique.
With every episode, Hanksy gets to know a new city by meeting with local artists and art-supporters. By the end of each episode, Hanksy is so pumped on each city that it almost sounds like he’s going to move there. But alas, Hanksy remains a transplant in New York City, chasing his dreams in the Big Apple. And that’s my main frustration with Surplus Candy, an otherwise great series. It’s just a bit difficult to believe that any of the cities in Surplus Candy are quite as great as Hanksy says they are, or that it’s true that great art can thrive in a “surplus city,” when the show is hosted by a man who moved from Chicago to New York City. But okay, the host isn’t perfect, but damn he’s a lot better than you might expect…
I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a Hanksy fan, and Hanksy’s not ashamed to say that his art isn’t the most serious or sublime thing in the world. As the theme song to Surplus Candy goes, “From east to west he’s got the smarts, when jokes are dicks and laughs are farts.” So how can Hanksy host a travel show? Actually, quite well. Yes, there are silly puns and probably a few fart jokes, but Surplus Candy is no Borat. In each city, Hanksy talks to all the right people and gives them a real chance to celebrate their city, plus he slips in some serious commentary about issues like gentrification and the commodification of street art along the way. As someone who used a host a web series about street art (yes, really) and considered hosting a street art-centric travel show, I’m confident that Hanksy has done a better job than I did.
There’s one point that comes up again and again in Surplus Candy that I particularly loved. As you watch each episode, you’ll begin to notice how Hanksy embraces the notion that every city has a unique kind of street art because of its unique architecture and design or regulations governing art outdoors. As much as people complain that graffiti and street art styles have become globalized, and they have to a large extent, Hanksy shows how every city has a unique environment, lending itself to different kinds of interventions. That’s something that a lot of people don’t realize, and it comes across beautifully in Surplus Candy as Hanksy celebrates the unique opportunities and pitfalls of each city he visits.
Plus, in a few episodes, Hanksy touches on points that relate to my recent post about “open walls.” Yes, Montreal has a street art festival, Chicago has Pawn Works organizing murals, and in Portland there is an official process permitting murals, but Montreal criminalizes the work of the same artists being celebrated at its festival, it’s illegal to purchase spraypaint in Chicago, and the mural permitting process in Portland seems ineffective and slow. So I enjoyed that.
I’ll say it again: Surplus Candy is not Borat. It’s a genuine guy trying to highlight other genuine people in North American cities that don’t always get enough shine, and he happens to be doing it through a character known for dick jokes.
Over the summer, TurtleCaps, an artist originally from Queen, New York but now based in Montreal, organized a massive transformation of an abandoned building in the center of Montreal. “Cabane à Sucre” (“sugar shack”) was an open-air street art gallery. At the beginning, the goal was to produce something that would be set apart from other street art events in Montreal but inspired by (as at hinted in the title of the project) Hanksy’s “Surplus Candy”. Originally, the project was meant to be low-key. It was done in a private courtyard without permission. Midway thru, TurtleCaps realized that the project was the perfect platform to give visibility to some artists that get shut out of galleries and festivals because, “they are not considered cool or famous enough.”
In mid-August he called his close friends up and invited them to paint a dilapidated building hidden in the heart of the city, just for fun. As rumors of the project spread, more and more artists stopped by to join in. According to TurtleCaps, “It was incredible. Credit goes to everyone who took time and money out of their busy schedules to bring this building back to life before its inevitable demise to gentrification.”
That’s how 45 street artists and graffiti writers, but also illustrators and fine artists, collaborated over a 12 days span… doing their art in a 3 level courtyard. “I’ve made some good friends in Montreal, so a cool part of this is throwing these multiple artists that may not know each other, into the same space. To have a fine art painter rocking a wall next to a street bomber and they’re both having a good time, well that’s what it’s all about.”
Of course this is not the first time artists have taken over an abandoned building. The difference here is that TurtleCaps brought in a variety of artists, some that have nothing to do with street art and were painting on walls for the first time. Whether you paint full buildings, are famous in LA or known in Europe, if your work was lacking passion, the “unknown” artist right next was going to show you up. All-stars, ego nor press meant anything for those 12 days in the courtyard. It was just about the art, not fame or money, and that may be why it was such a success.
When I asked Jason Botkin about “Cabane à sucre”, he said, “I consider it a very special project. Its impact on Montreal’s underground art community (including a vastly diverse pool of voices) may not be understood for some time yet to come. I love how it’s drawn so many together, in a very personal and somewhat private way. Above all, I’m impressed by the efforts of TurtleCap to make this an amazing experience for all involved, in a spirit of extreme generosity and inclusiveness. I’m very touch and inspired by this project that he so clearly poured his heart into!”
According to Kevin Ledo, “Cabane à Sucre was a great excuse for me to jam in the same space as a whole bunch of amazing Montreal artists, doing their stuff without restriction. Graff writers, street artists, illustrators, and fine artists, side by side, the result is glorious!”
For Laurence Vallières, “TurtleCaps’ Cabane à Sucre is a group of friends who came together to talk, eat, drink a beer and paint! I ended up there by chance, one evening of ultimate creation. I borrowed a brush and some colors and set to work. I met new people and shared my artistic visions. Some were painting on a wall for the first time. TurtleCaps chose the artists based on his friendship more than his artistic tastes, and the result is impressive. There is nothing more communal and underground than that.”
Alex Produkt shares the same feeling. “It was a fun opportunity to paint in a cool hidden courtyard and hang out with a bunch of other Montreal street artists in close quarters, drinking, eating, painting, laughing together.”
Lilyluciole has a very personal vision and interesting analysis on the project. “I agree with the approach of TurtleCaps and I think some of the press has misunderstood it. Highlighting the exclusive featured works by announcing that you will never see this show was bad information from some journalists. Instead, we must speak of the desire of the organizer to create a unitary project. I wanted to join this idea. I think it was generous to offer this possibility of collaboration to artists who do not often or never get to meet. There were graffiti, street artists, sticker addicts and even artists who have never painted outside. This attitude goes against the trend of some Montreal’s people who create divisions such as those between graffiti and street artists. That makes no sense. In fact, I think it’s totally out as this art expression does not require contempt or violence. I hope other initiatives such as this one will continue to emerge in various forms.”
Artists involved: Adida Fallen Angel, Alex Produkt, Alysha Farling, Andy Dass, Anna Van Stuijvenberg, Antoine Tava, Axe Lamine, Bonar, Citizen, EtherTFB, FiftyTwoHZ, Futur Lasor Now, Fred Caron, Grazyna Adamska-Jarecka, HoarKor, Homsik, IAmBatman, Il Flatcha, Jason Botkin, Jonathan Himsworth, Kevin Ledo, Kizmet, Labrona, Laurence Vallières, Lilyluciole, Lina Kretzschmar, MAbstrakt, Mc Baldassari, MissMe, Ms. Teri, Okies, Pascale Lamoureux-Miron, Philippe Mastrocola, Stela, TurtleCaps, Tyler Rauman, Valerie Bastille, WaxHead, X-Ray, and EnMasse featuring Cheryl Voisine, Cyndie Belhumeur, Jeremy Shantz, Julien Deragon, Laurence Sabourin and Raphaël Bard.
Over three dozen artists were busy last week transforming an abandoned East Village building into an explosively expressive canvas. Conceived and coordinated by Hansky, the venture culminated in a one-night showing, “Surplus Candy,” that rivaled the best gallery exhibits in town. Here are a few more images:
Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson, City-as-School intern Eduardo Dibono and Lois Stavsky
Being the lighthearted soul that they are, Hanksy went out earlier this week to spread a little Thanksgiving cheer, but not without a signature pun in hand. With a holiday that begs for a Tom Hanks pun, the artist brought his work to the streets of Bushwick.
Last weekend we finished up The Art of Comedy with The New York Comedy Festival, Little Italy, Ron English, Hanksy, and gilf! with a tour around New York’s Little Italy to see all the new work that Ron, Hanksy and gilf! have painted there. We were even joined by comedian Jim Gaffigan and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s what’s new on Mulberry Street:
Jim Gaffigan was so taken with Hanksy’s piece staring that the two had been tweeting back and forth and Jim took his kids to see the wall. Hanksy knew that Jim would also be coming by the art crawl, and so he came prepared with a painting to give to Jim…
Come by NYC’s Little Italy tomorrow (Saturday the 10th) at noon for some food and street art at The Art of Comedy Art Crawl. We’ll be meeting at Caffe Roma on Mulberry and Broome and walking down to Sambuca’s Cafe by Mulberry and Canal. In between, we’ll be checking out all of the spots that gilf!, Hanksy, and Ron English recently painted along Mulberry as part of The New York Comedy Festival‘s art component, The Art of Comedy. Jim Gaffigan will be there to check out Hanksy’s piece depicting Jim at Mulberry and Grand, and Ron English will be putting a few finishing touches on his 30-foot-tall mural.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, both gilf! and Hanksy returned to Little Italy to find parts of their walls for The Art of Comedy damaged and in need for repair. Pieces of the artist’s wheatpaste had been ripped in the storm and another artist had also added some work of their own to the street artist’s wheatpastes. Wedged between two of the final pieces in the panel, a stick figure girl had been draw in peach chalk on the wall beside the word “poop.”
Through the magic of Twitter, Hanksy confirmed that comedian Jim Gaffigan had in fact taken a stroll in the neighborhood past the wall recently. When paying a visit, his children decided to try their hand at some of their own childstyle street art.
Before the artist began buffing the wall I took a picture of the character that Gaffigan’s kids collaborative work next to Hanksy. Working from this photograph, Hanksy recreated the young artist’s drawing on mural, this time making it permanent through spray paint. The stencil is intended to be given to his daughter with the note “for the world’s youngest street artist.”
In addition to repairing existing walls, Hanksy also comepleted the final piece in his series for the New York Comedy Festival. Taking the imagery back to its roots, the artist chose to stencil an “OG Hanksy Rat” between two Italian restaurants. With handwriting similar to that of Gaffigan’s daughter, Hanksy doused the freshly primed space with red paint, bringing a more literal meaning to the saying “caught red handed.”