Logan Hicks and Joe Iurato to curate the first urban art museum

Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks, co-curators of The Mana Museum of Urban Arts.
Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks, co-curators of The Mana Museum of Urban Arts.

Very exciting news for the worlds of street art and graffiti: Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary will be opening the world’s only urban art museum later this year. As much as I detest the term “urban art,” I’ll excuse Mana on this one because there is no good term for a museum that will include both street art and graffiti. So, The Mana Museum of Urban Arts it is. If this sounds familiar, it should, because Mana Contemporary announced plans for a street art museum in January, but at that point, details have been skint. Now, we know the museum’s curators, and they provide some major reassurance that Mana Contemporary will be doing this right.

I love the museum’s curators: Logan Hicks and Joe Iurato. Logan has been a friend since before Vandalog started, and he’s been one of my most valued guides to the art world and life in general. More importantly, he’s an underrated curator who is in the perfect place (at least within the street art world) to curate this museum. Logan actually introduced me to Joe’s art a few years ago. Both are hard-working guys with a great respect for street and and graffiti. I’m sure they will do a great job with this project.

The Mana Museum of Urban Arts opens this September in a 100,000-square-foot former ice factory in Jersey City, NJ.

From the press release:

The Mana Museum of Urban Arts’ mission includes: showcasing contemporary street artists from around the world through rotating interior exhibitions, large-scale exterior murals, and through an artist billboard; documenting and preserving historically significant works with a permanent collection and media center; educational outreach; and fostering creativity and community among artists through workshops, artist studios, and public works.

Of course, there’s the question of whether such a museum should even exist, maybe it signals the death of “urban art.” I like Mana Contemporary Eugene Lemay’s response to that question in an interview with Hrag Vartanian at Hyperallergic:

This sounds to me like a question coming from a place of fear. The idea is not to institutionalize the artwork, but to create a platform for learning about its rich history, increase accessibility, and build a gathering place.

Sounds good to me. I’m all for an institution making sure that the increasingly complex history of street art and graffiti are preserved. And definitely check out that entire interview. Lemay also says that there will be a free wall area where anyone can paint.

Congrats to Mana Contemporary, Logan Hicks and Joe Iurato. This could be something pretty amazing and important. See you in September!

Future site of The Mana Museum of Urban Arts (check the old KAWS roller)
Future site of The Mana Museum of Urban Arts (check the old KAWS rollers)

Photos by Logan Hicks

Toe The Line for PS 132

Joe Iurato

Logan Hicks has organized an online auction to benefit the PTA at his son Sailor’s school, PS 132 in Brooklyn. Toe The Line includes contributions from Joe Iurato, Swoon,  Shepard Fairey, Chris Stain, Dabs and Myla, How and Nosm, Eric Haze, Faile, and others. Logan’s girlfriend and Sailor’s mother Kristen Zarcadoolas is the PTA president of PS 132, and they organized the auction after after yet another funding cut at the school.

“There is a lack of resources at every level within the public school system and I want to do all that I can to ensure that my son has a proper education,” says Hicks. “There is a moral responsibility to do everything possible to help support the public education.”

The auction went live just a few hours ago. You can see all the works and bid here.



Photos courtesy of Logan Hicks

Joe Iurato at Bushwick Five Points

Never Let Go
Never Let Go

Joe Iurato brought his splendid skills earlier today to Bushwick Five Points. Here are a few more images:

Joe Iurato at work
Joe Iurato at work on image of his son
Dedicated to Jo Montchausse, professional French climber
Dedicated to Jo Montchausse, professional French climber
Hanging onto LNY's moon -- with Gilf! and Alice Mizrachi
Hanging onto LNY’s moon — with Gilf! and Alice Mizrachi

Photos by Lenny Collado and Tara Murray

Living Walls curates walls at Miami Art Basel

In collaboration with Fountain Art Fair and Samson Contompasis’ The Marketplace Gallery, the people of Living Walls have been given 175 ft. of wall space to divvy out amongst artists at Fountain. From December 6 to the 9th, 22 street artists including Rone, LNY, Trek Mathews, Jaz, Ever, Dal East, Faith47, Pixel Pancho, Never 2501, Joe Iurato and more will be painting Fountain’s outdoor courtyard.

The rise in success of Living Walls over the last 3 years has been fascinating to watch. This is their second year at Miami Basel but their first year there curating walls. Indoors they’ll have a booth, showing the works of a few international artists like La Pandilla, Interesni Kazki, and some of the artists listed above, as well as a few Atlanta favorites. Definitely looking forward to seeing their contribution.

Video courtesy of Living Walls

“Deep In The Cut” at Mighty Tanaka

Joe Iurato for Welling Court

Deep In The Cut, the two-man show with Joe Iurato and Chris Stain, opened last week at Mighty Tanaka in Brooklyn. It runs through September 7th.

As recently as June both artists worked within eyeshot of one another for the Welling Court mural project. With this familiarity, visitors may think that they’ve seen every iteration of the Stain/Iurato pairing. However, both artists have gone above and beyond the labor required for a typical gallery show and the results are astounding.

Chris Stain and Billy Mode at Welling Court

On the surface, Chris Stain and Joe Iurato appear to be tied together because of their stylistic choices. Both typically work in minimalistic color palettes, with the occasional pop of color thrown in for good measure. Both depict relatively realistic portraiture.

Chris Stain

However, when put side by side in a gallery instead of spread out over blocks, it is the outstanding differences of these artists that makes the work of Iurato and Stain that makes viewers’ knees buckle in awe. Stain is known for depicting the everyday man. Drawing upon his working class background, whether it is a former student of his or someone else from his life, the artist renders portraits of people that are highly relatable.

Joe Iurato

In contrast, Iurato takes what would look like your average person walking on the street and adds hints of the divine. Many of the pieces that the artist created for Deep In The Cut show his hooded modern day saints, emblazoned with halos. By placing modern day saints in conversation with working class hero, Mighty Tanaka has created a dialogue that has to be seen for the full impact to come across. As with many ethereal things, words cannot do it justice.

Photos by Rhiannon Platt

Going to the gallery

There are a bunch of shows open now or opening in the next month that I’d like to mention, but there are only so many hours in the day. So here’s a bit of a round-up:

  • Détournement: Signs of the Times is a group show that just opened at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC. It was curated by the legendary Carlo McCormick and features artists who “subvert consensus visual language so as to turn the expressions of capitalist culture against themselves.” Some of those artists in Détournement are Aiko, David Wojnarowicz, Ripo, Posterboy, Ron English, Shepard Fairey + Jamie Reid, Steve Powers, TrustoCorp and Zevs.
  • Chris Stain and Joe Iurato are showing together for a two-man show at NYC’s Mighty Tanaka. The show opens on Friday. These are two great and underrated stencil artists. I highly recommend checking out this show, particularly given the superb quality of Stain’s recent indoor work.
  • Sweet Toof has a solo show opening this week at High Roller Society a pop-up space in Hackney Wick, London.
  • Contemporary Wing’s (Washington, DC) latest group show, opening on the 16th, is an exhibit of secondary market work, but there should some nice stuff, including work by Shepard Fairey, WK Interact, Gaia, Faile and Blek le Rat. I must admit that I’ve included a piece in this show, but I’m not going to say which one (so if you want to help me out, just buy the entire show…).
  • Finally, Dabs and Myla have curated a show at LA’s Thinkspace Gallery which will open September 1st. In addition to their own paintings and installations, the show features 32 of their friends, plus a solo show in Thinkspace’s project room by Surge MDR. Those shows open September 1st.

Photo by Susan NYC

Williamsburg murals


Gilf recently organized a legal spot for seven artists, including some of my favorites, at 229 North 10th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here are the finished results:

Sofia Maldonado
Joe Iurato
Icy and Sot

Photos by Gilf

Weekend link-o-rama

Mural by Eduardo Kobra. Photo by Lord Jim.

Let’s do this:

Photo by Lord Jim