Drills, not guns, with Icy and Sot

Icy and Sot

Gotta love Icy and Sot. I was sad to hear that the above installation didn’t last very long, but even the attempt is pretty fantastic. And while Icy and Sot may have become known for their stencils, much of the duo’s best works aren’t stencils at all. There’s, of course, the balloons above, but there’s also performance, sculpture, and photography. And then there’s also this other recent piece, made with a drill:

Icy and Sot

Kudos to Icy and Sot. I would love to see more street artists really pissing people off with their work and messing with tools and materials.

Photos courtesy of Icy and Sot

Ad Takeovers: Learn from the best

Public Ad Campaign

Ever wondered how people like Abe Lincoln Jr., Joe Boruchow, or Icy & Sot install their artwork in bus shelters and phone booths? Next week, New Yorkers will have a chance to learn from the best. Public Ad Campaign is leading “a practical introduction” to ad takeovers at Mayday in Bushwick.

Led by Jordan Seiler and Thomas Dekeyser, the workshop will cover the history and philosophy of ad takeovers (the topic of Dekeyser’s PhD research), as well as the tools and techniques that Seiler has spent the last 15 years perfecting and sharing.

I’ve attended one of Jordan’s workshops before, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. It will be fun, and you’ll see just how easy ad takeovers can be. The more people who know how easy it is to open up ad kiosks, and have access to the tools to do it, the better.

The workshop is free to attend, but you have to register in advance.

Not a mural

Icy and Sot in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Icy and Sot.
Icy and Sot in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Icy and Sot.

Pow! Another mural. Wow! So beautiful. But those decorative canvases-on-walls by globe-trotting muralists have been clogging up all my feeds lately. They have their place, but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. For my small attempt to counter the barrage, here are a few pieces that I’ve come across lately that don’t fit that fly-in-fly-out festival paradigm.

First off, there’s Icy and Sot, who installed a series of ad busts during a recent visit to Los Angeles. Sometimes it feels like ad busts, explicitly political or not, are the only way that street art can still retain a spirit of resistance.

Icy and Sot in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Icy and Sot.
Icy and Sot in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Icy and Sot.

Here’s something I’m going to miss about Philly: Coming across Amy Orr‘s “graffiti totems,” collections of wire, beads, and miscellany that Orr attaches to metal signposts around town.

Graffiti Totem by Amy Orr. Photo by Brandi Fitzgerald.
Graffiti Totem by Amy Orr. Photo by Brandi Fitzgerald.
Graffiti Totem by Amy Orr. Photo by Amy Orr.
Graffiti Totem by Amy Orr. Photo by Amy Orr.

Pairing nicely with Orr, the boys at Brooklyn Street Art recently came across a series of miniature street pieces by Patrick Picou Harrington. For more photos and the full story on these beautiful little installations on electrical poles, check their blog.

Patrick Picou Harrington in Albany, NY. Photo by Jaime Rojo.
Patrick Picou Harrington in Albany, NY. Photo by Jaime Rojo.

Also at BSA, Vermibus has been in New York City to install a series of ad-takeovers for Fashion Week. I caught one of these on the street the other day, and they are definitely worth searching out in meatspace. Happy hunting.

Vermibus in NYC. Photo by Jaime Rojo.
Vermibus in NYC. Photo by Jaime Rojo.

Finally, this Toni Spyra piece in Vienna is some of my favorite site-specific pieces of street art in a while.

Toni Spyra in Vienna. Photo found on Ekosystem.
Toni Spyra in Vienna. Photo found on Ekosystem.

So there you have it. Not another mural.

Photos courtesy of Icy and Sot, Amy Orr, and by Brandi Fitzgerald, Amy Orr, and Jamie Rojo, and found on Ekosystem

The two sides of Nuart


This year was my third time visiting the Nuart Festival. I went first in 2009 as a tourist, returned in 2012 to participate in Nuart Plus (the conference portion of the festival) participant, and finally this year participated in and helped a bit to plan Nuart Plus. I have a lot of love for Nuart. For me, the three models of muralism festivals that I look to most often are Nuart, FAME and Living Walls. But, out of the three, Nuart has always confused me the most.

John Fekner

FAME is (or was, since it’s no longer active) perhaps the only no-holds-barred street art festival. It can be difficult to tell what’s been painted legally and what’s been painted illegally, and festival organizer Angelo Milano doesn’t hide his face. In the small town of Grottaglie, Italy, it would be easy for anyone to track down Milano and confront him about painting on their home. Still, Milano never seemed to care. He just wanted to invite amazing artists to town to paint walls and maybe make a print or two at his studio. Grottaglie now has one of the finest collections of murals, graffiti and street art in the world.

Living Walls is one of the most professional DIY outfits I’ve ever encountered. They are the model of a well-run muralism conference with next to no budget, sometimes stumbling but always trying to do something great for Atlanta. Living Walls has the uncanny ability to launch or at least predict the impending launch of a muralist’s career. They produce some blockbuster murals, but usually not from the artists you would expect.

Martin Whatson at Stavanger's Scandic Hotel. His art also decorates the inside of the hotel.
Martin Whatson (with BON and Alex Face) at Stavanger’s Scandic Hotel. Whatson’s art also decorates the inside of the hotel.

Nuart is a brilliant schizophrenic beast, oscillating between Martyn Reed’s seemingly dueling interests of creating a spectacle of corporate art and disrupting The Spectacle. That was more true than ever this year, with an artist line up including Martin Whatson, SpY, Tilt, Fra.Biancoshock and others. What I mean is, there are artists who were invited to paint murals that function as billboards for print releases and decor for posh hotels, and artists who are invited to install “interventions” (Nuart’s euphemism for illegal street art). Even Nuart Plus was split (and this is an idea I agreed to when we were planning the conference so if this is a problem, I’m as much at fault as anyone) into one day about “activism” and one day about “muralism.”

Maismenos’ intervention for an existing public sculpture

Sometimes, this schizophrenia results in beautiful things that few other festivals would be able to facilitate. Maismenos‘ mural, indoor work and outdoor interventions this year are a great example. Reed isn’t afraid to let artists get political, with their topic of choice typically being oil, since Nuart takes place in the oil city of Stavanger, Norway. And maybe he’s only able to get away with that because he also brings in artists like Tilt and Etam Cru.

Continue reading “The two sides of Nuart”

ÑEWMERICA: Birth of a Nation at Exit Room NY with LNY, Icy & Sot, ND’A, Mata Ruda and Sonni

LNY, El Prieto
LNY, El Prieto

Somewhat reminiscent of RAE’s remarkable recreation of an East Village bodega, Exit Room NY’s current exhibit, ÑEWMERICA: Birth of a Nation, focuses on the endangered bodega. In addition to a impressive installation recreating a bodega that is about to give way to a Bank of America, the exhibit features dozens of artworks by the members of the newly launched collective, ÑEWMERICA. Here’s a sampling:

Icy and Sot refashion bottles and cigarette boxes
Icy and Sot refashion bottles and cigarette boxes
Bodega exterior, collaborative installation
Bodega exterior, collaborative installation
Mata Ruda, The Passage to Cosmos
Mata Ruda, The Passage to Cosmos
Sonni, El Tio Colorido
Sonni, El Tio Colorido
LNY, When he dies, Judith will bury him in the Gucci store
LNY, When he dies, Judith will bury him in the Gucci store

The exhibit continues through this week at 270 Meserole Street in Bushwick; check the Exit Room NY Facebook page for hours.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Tim Hans shoots… Icy & Sot

Icy - Sot_TImHans

Last summer, Tim Hans and I visited a rooftop in Brooklyn. Tim was there to photograph (if I’m remember correctly) Vexta for his continuing series of photo-portraits of artists. But what we found there was a gathering of street artists all painting and having fun in this very unexpected location. The rooftop project was organized by Iranian stencil artists and brothers Icy & Sot, who have called New York City home for a couple of years now. Regular Vandalog readers will remember the fantastic new mural of theirs that I posted about in late December. I recently asked the brothers a few questions…

RJ: How are you both doing?

Icy & Sot: We are doing better, keeping ourselves busy with work.

RJ: It was inspiring to see your recent mural on the LES. What does that wall mean for you?

Icy & Sot: It’s simple, we hate guns, obviously for personal reasons plus all the related crimes we see in the news all the time. It’s just frustrating to see how easy is to get a gun in the US.

RJ: Why do you use stencils?

Icy & Sot: We started using stencils back in Iran because it was quickest way to share our vision with the people in the streets, and now we are in love with stencils.

RJ: So Tim and I came up to your roof one day last summer to find probably a dozen artists painting and hanging out. What was this rooftop project about?

Icy & Sot: We had access to a very big rooftop (connecting an entire block) at our house. First we did a piece and then we decide to tell our friends to come and paint and hang out. We love our friends from the art community and was great to include the works of about 30 artists from different parts of the world.

RJ: What’s next for Icy and Sot?

Icy & Sot: We are planning to go to Europe in the summer to work on some walls and show our work there. And we are working on curating a group show, showing the works of NY artists in Iran and our friends from Iran’s work here in NY.

Photo by Tim Hans

Street artists transform abandoned East Village building into dynamic canvas

Hanksy. Photo by Dani Reyes Mozeson.

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:

LNY (huge fragment on left) and Icy and Sot
LNY (huge fragment on left) and Icy and Sot
Alice Mizrachi
Alice Mizrachi. Photo by Dani Reyes Mozeson.
Magda Love
Magda Love and Edapt +
Hanksy and Mata Ruda
Hanksy and Mata Ruda. Photo by Dani Reyes Mozeson.
Col with Enzo Nio on extreme right
Col with Enzo Nio to the right. Photo by Lois Stavsky.
And a message from Gilf!
And a message from Gilf!. Photo by Dani Reyes Mozeson.

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson, City-as-School intern Eduardo Dibono and Lois Stavsky

Icy and Sot respond to tragedy with a new mural


Last month, the Brooklyn music scene was shaken by the murder of three Iranian musicians in an East Williamsburg apartment by a gunman who then committed suicide. The gunman, who used an assault rifle, was also an Iranian musician who had immigrated to NYC. The New York Times’ article on the whole tragedy is worth reading for the full story.

Iranian street artists and brothers Icy and Sot lived in the apartment where the murders took place. While they both survived, Sot was shot. Now, just a few weeks later, it appears Icy and Sot have taken to the streets to respond to the tragedy with the above mural, located on Allen Street near the corner of Allen and Stanton in NYC. While the artists have not made any explicit reference to the shooting in their posts online about the mural, the connection is clear.

Photo from Icy and Sot’s Facebook page

Welling Court Mural Project launches fourth year

Caleb Neelon & Katie Yamasaki, photo by Lois Stavsky
Caleb Neelon & Katie Yamasaki. Photo by Lois Stavsky.

For the fourth consecutive year Ad Hoc Art has brought dozens of artists to the Welling Court community in Astoria, Queens, transforming it into a first-rate open air museum. Here’s a small sampling of what could be seen this weekend:

Queen Andrea, photo Lois Stavsky
Queen Andrea. Photo Lois Stavsky.
Veng at work on collaborative mural with Chris, RWK. Photo by Tara Murray
Veng at work on collaborative mural with Chris, RWK. Photo by Tara Murray.
Kimyon Huggins. Photo by Lois Stavsky
Kimyon Huggins. Photo by Lois Stavsky.
Kosbe. Photo by Tara Murray
Kosbe. Photo by Tara Murray.
JC. Photo by Lois Stavsky
JC. Photo by Lois Stavsky.
Mata Ruda & N'DA. Photo by Lois Stavsky
Mata Ruda & ND’A. Photo by Lois Stavsky.
Icy & Sot. Photo by Lois Stavsky
Icy & Sot. Photo by Lois Stavsky.
El Kamino. Photo by Lois Stavsky
El Kamino. Photo by Lois Stavsky.

If you are anywhere near NYC, a visit to Welling Court is a must!  The diversity of the works and the responses of the local residents to them are astounding. And if you’d like to help fund this project, check this out.

Photos by Lois Stavsky and Tara Murray