Banksy + 5: October 22nd

Banksy in Queens. Photo (which I've cropped) by carnagenyc.
Banksy in Queens. Photo (which I’ve cropped) by carnagenyc.

Great piece for Better Out Than In today, although as I imagine Banksy expected, the piece is already in the hands of someone else. According to my source who got up close to the piece, Banksy’s Sphinx sculpture is not entirely made of cinderblocks, but the main bust and possibly more of it is made of some sort of foam and then coated with a thin layer of concrete dust.

I was going to write all about how this piece is a fantastic continuation of Banksy fascination with crowd response, and how this piece is really not about how the piece looks, but whether or not people would steal chunks of it or the whole thing, paralleling the history of theft and preservation that plagues real Egyptian monuments. But then Hyperallergic did that really well. So please, do read their article on this piece.

And of course, the piece has already been removed from the site, although it’s unclear who these people are removing it.

Anyway, great piece.

Today’s + 5 includes Aiko, Harlequinade, Paul Richard, Spud and one unknown artist:

Aiko in Berlin. Photo by duncan c.
Aiko in Berlin. Photo by duncan c.
Harlequinade in San Francisco. Photo by DangerRanger.
Harlequinade in San Francisco. Photo by DangerRanger.
Paul Richard in NYC. Photo by Chris Christian.
Paul Richard in NYC. Photo by Chris Christian.
Spud at 5 Pointz in NYC. Photo by David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott.
Spud at 5 Pointz in NYC. Photo by David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott.
Unknown artist in Toronto. Photo by Mary Crandall.
Unknown artist in Toronto. Photo by Mary Crandall.

Photos by carnagenyc, duncan c, DangerRanger, Chris Christian, “David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott” and Mary Crandall

Harlequinade combines high and low tech


Harlequinade recently put up these four new wheatpastes in Philadelphia. At first, they may appear to be pretty standard, although nice, wheastpastes. Which, for Philly is something a bit special since there aren’t a lot of artists doing wheatpastes, but wouldn’t really be anything of concern to the rest of the world. Harlequinade is talented, but I don’t usually find his pieces to be absolutely mindblowing. But these four wheatpastes include small QR codes. Small being the operative word. I bet you didn’t even notice the QR codes in these pieces until now that I’ve pointed out that it exists and you’ve gone up and looked specifically for them.


QR codes are difficult to incorporate into street art and graffiti. Yes, these QR code stickers by KATSU were a bit clever, but typically, my thought is that just putting up a QR code is a waste of space. Most people don’t scan QR codes regularly, and they aren’t typically visually appealing. One previous exception to that was Josh Van Horne’s piece for Open Walls Baltimore. If you ignore the issue of the patchy white background (was that ever fixed?), the piece was great. The mural scanned like a QR code should and brought up a YouTube video relating to the mural, but even if you couldn’t scan it or didn’t want/know how to, the piece looked great. If it hadn’t been scanable, it would still be a solid mural. But generally what I’ve seen is more in line with what the Wall Hunters/Slumlord Watch “Slumlord Project” did. The QR codes there were somewhat useful (certainly more useful than just a link to the artist’s website or whatever else QR codes are generally used for when used in street art), but they sure didn’t improve the space visually.

And I ran into a piece yesterday in NYC that showed just how annoying QR codes can be. Apparently it’s by Pérola Bonfanti and Nicolina of The Free Art Society. I found that out because I went to their website which is listed on the piece THREE TIMES. It’s listed directly beneath the QR code. The QR code also goes to the site. And the little plastic-but-metallic-looking plaque that was next to the piece until my friend ripped it down for being stupid went to the site too. All of that isn’t great, but it also isn’t the end of the world. What is pretty lame is when sending viewers to artists’ website actually interferes with the artwork itself. These artists need a lesson from Harlequinade in how to cohesively integrate QR codes into their work. Anyway, please don’t use this as an excuse to get into these artists. I’m trying to point out how irritating, self-promotional and untalented they are. Back to the talented guy, Harlequinade…


Harlequinade’s QR codes are not visually intrusive. They pretty much blend into the piece. If you see one of these wheatpastes but you don’t notice the code or you do and you don’t scan it, no problem (or if the piece gets partially buffed or tagged over and the code is unreadable). You still get half of the piece and it can still be a positive experience. But if you do choose to scan the QR code, you get an extra bonus to the piece.


For the benefit of those who may come across these pieces in person, I’m not going to spoil the surprise and say exactly what these QR codes do. One of the things I really like about this piece is that you can’t experience it fully online, and the component that you can’t experience online is the high-tech component of the work.

Kudos to Harlequinade for using QR codes so well.

Photos by Harlequinade

Nether on Wall Hunters’ “Slumlord Project”

Mata Ruda’s piece on Broadway
Mata Ruda’s piece on Broadway. Photo courtesy of Wall Hunters.

Editor’s note: I tried to write about this fascinating project that just finished up in Baltimore, but for some reason I was unable. So, instead, I asked Nether to write about the project for Vandalog. Nether was one of the co-organizers, so instead of my guesswork and thoughts based on a few articles I had read, now we have a first-hand account of one of the more daring street art projects in recent memory: Wall Hunters’ “Slumlord Project”. – RJ Rushmore

Wall Hunters‘ “Slumlord Project” was a project that installed 17 pieces on dilapidated vacant houses that are owned by people we consider to be negligent property owners. The project was a collaborative venture between the newly-minted street artists’ nonprofit, Wall Hunters, and Slumlord Watch, a local blog that documents the city’s shameful and shockingly large stock of uninhabitable vacant homes. QR codes and text descriptions were pasted alongside the art. A cell phone app scan of these instantly unveiled ownership information on the guilty landowner by linking to the Baltimore Slumlord Watch website. The artists’ ephemeral work and the community reaction to it was recorded for a documentary being produced by the project’s third partners, filmmakers Tarek Turkey and Julia Pitch. The project’s goal was to catalyze a larger conversation on Baltimore’s vacancy issue–a conversation that includes the normally muted voices of those who live in the targeted neighborhoods, as well as politicians and the developers whose phone calls get answered by city hall.

The idea for the project was born about a year ago. At that time I was putting up wheatpastes on dilapidated, vacant houses. As I was researching specific properties I was hitting, I regularly came across the Baltimore Slumlord Watch blog run by the housing activist Carol Ott. Slumlord Watch is basically Wiki-leaks for Baltimore’s underfunded housing authority. As blog posts make clear, many of the blighted houses are owned by entities with the means to fix their crumbling properties–slumlords who blithely ignore the cost of their neglect on city communities. Since much of my work uses images to deal with the vacancy problem and Carol was battling the same issue, we decided to meet and try to do something that joined street art with housing activism. I began driving her around while she catalogued vacants and researched ownership, and I wheatpasted.

Continue reading “Nether on Wall Hunters’ “Slumlord Project””

NYC doors as canvases for unsanctioned artworks

Nether, DarkClouds and more
Nether, DarkClouds & more

Tags, throw-ups, paste-ups, stickers and a range of characters have all made their way to NYC doors, making them some of the most intriguing canvases in town. Here’s a sampling:

Harlequin -- in from Philly
Cost, Enx and RAE
Cost, Enx and RAE
Cash4, Smells Jellyfish & more
Cash4, Smells Jellyfish & more

Photos by Lenny Collado, Dani Mozeson and Lois Stavsky

Baltimore Slumlord Watch x public art

One of the most pivotal aspects of street art is the democratization of public space. Whether people choose to engage or not, graffiti and street art are a way of reminding the everyday pedestrian that they have the power to manipulate their environment (sometimes at a price). Many residents of Balitmore have had to accept dilapidated neighborhoods as their everyday quality of life. The structures around them are literally falling apart due to neglect from city government property owners and has resulted in a massive property-vacancy problem. If Broken Window Theory has anything to do with it, that  “If the city doesn’t care, why should I?” mentality has fostered one of the highest crime rates for any city in the country.

What does street art have to do with Baltimore’s structural issues and decline in living standards? Over a dozen street artists have taken on the task of bringing attention to these issues in a grassroots effort, through installing large pieces on some of the city’s dilapidated, vacant houses. NetherGaia, LNY, Noh J Coely, Mata Ruda, Nanook, Harlequinade and others have joined their forces as a non-profit organization called Wall Hunters have teamed up with Baltimore Slumlord Watch to put up large-scale murals on these eye-sore structures with QR codes alongside which informs viewers of who owns the vacant property. Simultaneously, they are creating a documentary with Nether and Carol Ott at the forefront, showing this massive issue corroding Baltimore and their relatively small effort to combat it. They’ve received a bit of funding to make their project possible but not enough, so they’ve created this Indiegogo campaign to bring it to fruition.

ND’A with Harlequinade


While Caroline was celebrating her birthday and I was setting myself up for a massive hangover, Harlequinade kindly showed our friend ND’A around Philadelphia. Here’s some of what they got up to…

ND’A at the Italian Market
ND’A and Harlequinade

Photos by ND’A

Preview: Paint It Now at Space 1026

OverKill Studio’s Paint It Now has finally come to Philadelphia. The traveling series of Paint It Now exhibitions have been in Boston and Brooklyn, and the latest iteration of Paint It Now is due to open this Friday at Space 1026. The idea behind this series of exhibitions is that a group of artists have to work somewhat together as they all paint a series of white walls with only black paint. This time around, some of the artists include Gaia, el Celso, Stickman, Nose Go, Harlequinade and Buildmore.

Paint It Now opens on Friday the 4th from 7-10pm and runs through May 25th.

I stopped by yesterday to see how the show was coming together. From what I saw, the show is going to be close to that perfect mix of familiar faces and fresh talent that so many group shows strive for but few achieve. Check out our exclusive preview after the jump… Continue reading “Preview: Paint It Now at Space 1026”

Philly’s Harlequinade

Gargoyle 1

Harlequinade has been putting up some beautiful wheatpastes in Philadephia. It’s always great to see a little something different like Harlequinade’s work in Philadelphia, where character-based stickers (fun as they are) seem to dominate the city.

Gargoyle 2
Harlequin Gates

Photos by Herlequinade