“We don’t do reporting” link-o-rama

June 21st, 2014 | By | No Comments »
Unknown artist in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Unknown artist in Bushwick, Brooklyn

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.
  • Pure Evil is trying to do a piece of street art every day for a year. I know he’s not the first to do this kind of a marathon, but good on him for taking on the project.
  • 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.

Photo by Lois Stavsky


Category: Auctions, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Unplugged link-o-rama

June 5th, 2014 | By | 1 Comment »

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It’s been a while since I did a link-o-rama, but I’m really behind right now and it seems the only way to catch up. I’ve been living in my wifi-less apartment, and I’m headed to London, so these few minutes I’m spending in a cafe may be my only chance for a while to write about a few things…

Photo by mermaid99


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Tim Hans shoots… Dan Witz

March 31st, 2014 | By | No Comments »

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Dan Witz is one of the original New York street artists, with almost 35 years of experience getting up. He’s also one of my favorite realist painters and pranksters. If you want to see some of Dan’s work in person, he’s got a solo show opening this week at Jonathan Levine Gallery‘s 529 West 20th Street space in New York City. Tim Hans met Dan at his studio for the latest in our continuing series of photo-portraits of artists by Tim. I asked Dan a few questions over email.

RJ: What’s the best prank (involving art or not) that you’ve ever pulled?

Dan Witz: Hmm-best? Hard to say: I mean most of my street stuff over the past 35 years could be described as pranks. I wouldn’t want to single out a winner, but probably the one that consistently gets the most ‘likes’ out of all my one-off pieces would be the clown face house in Brooklyn.

RJ: How did your work with Amnesty International come about and what keeps you working with them?

DW: They got in touch with me. Or, actually, an ad agency that was handling them in Germany reached out to me. Like most street artists I get a lot of e-mail probes from marketing types eager to link their product or cause with urban art. It’s been pretty easy for me to avoid this because my stuff works much better if I keep my identity, or “brand” as much under the radar as possible. When Amnesty International got in touch though, I was so honored and such a long-time supporter of theirs that I was willing to consider it. And I’d already been working with figures trapped behind grates in my WHAT THE %$#@? (WTF) series, so advocating for illegally detained prisoners was an easy fit.

I am so incredibly glad I opened up to this. The 20 or so Wailing Wall pieces in Frankfurt became one of the peak experiences of my career. Oddly, even with all the media frenzy (and the accompanying police attention) there was no pressure on me to compromise my normally aggressive installation tactics (these days, to avoid easy theft I anchor my grate pieces into the wall, which involves serious industrial adhesives and a hammer drill). It turns out that Amnesty international, despite its mainstream respectability, is a surprisingly bad-ass organization. They recognized that my methods, although illegal, were the most effective way to galvanize public attention. If anything they even pushed me to go larger and bolder than I usually do. I date a huge growth in my street practice to that first Amnesty project.

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RJ: Whose artwork hangs in your home and why?

DW: There’s a rotating selection of friends’ work, a few copies of old master paintings I’ve done, (in gold frames, which really class the place up), and the usual magnetized refrigerator masterpieces from our two year old. I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying fooling around with the non-toxic kiddie art supplies. Don’t look for a new Crayola series from me or anything, but it’s reminded me how great it is to draw just for the fun of it

RJ: The kitschy artist Thomas Kinkade called himself a “painter of light,” but that description is probably more appropriate for you. What fascinates you about light in paintings?

DW: Didn’t that guy copyright or trademark the “Painter of Light” thing? And isn’t he like the best selling artist, ever? I’ve never seen one in real life but I bet they have a nice heartwarming glow. To be honest, not to put him down, but simulating light with oil paint isn’t really that hard to do. And yeah, like him (I’m guessing) I’ve never gotten over what a miracle it is. It’s magic. And addictive. Same for me with creating trompe l’oeil illusions of space. I never get sick of it. I guess I should be grateful to artists like Kinkade: if it wasn’t for them I might forget how easily these effects can turn into clichés.

RJ: What are you working on at the moment?

DW: As usual I’ve got a few projects simultaneously dead-lining in my studio. Right now, on easel one I’m preparing this summer’s street art; and easel two has my ongoing Mosh pit painting series. Most days I bounce back and forth—I get sick of one and take refuge in the other. But in a few weeks  I’ve got a show, NY Hardcore, opening at Jonathan Levine Gallery so we’re frantically varnishing and framing and e-mailing and packing. Fortunately my studio has a separate ‘dirty’ room in the garage downstairs so I can spray and do woodwork without endangering the artworks and my family’s health. But it’s out of control over here. Which used to be an unbearably stressful way to live, but I’ve gotten used to it, and sometimes (like now, answering these questions) I even get a brief moment to step back and appreciate how lucky I am to be so busy and have all this crazy shit going on.

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Photos by Tim Hans


Category: Featured Posts, Interview, Portraits by Tim Hans | Tags: , ,

Pose and Revok in NYC: on the Bowery, at Jonathan LeVine and in Bushwick, Brooklyn

July 19th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »
Pose and Revok on the famed Bowery and Houston wall

Pose and Revok on the famed Bowery and Houston wall

With their vigorous, brightly-hued fusion of pop imagery, comic art and graffiti elements, Pose and Revok, along with support from other MSK crew members, have fashioned — perhaps — the most dynamic mural to ever grace the famed Bowery and Houston wall. Along with their current exhibit, Uphill Both Ways at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, their artwork is a testament to graffiti’s ongoing evolution and vitality.

Pose, Fin 2, acrylic and spray paint on clayboard panel

Pose, Fin 2, acrylic and spray paint on clayboard panel

Pose, Dude2, acrylic and spray paint on clayboard panel

Pose, Dude 2, acrylic and spray paint on clayboard panel

Revok, 3652 Canfield, acrylic, enamel and found objects on panel

Revok, 3652 Canfield, acrylic, enamel and found objects on panel

Revok, 301 Petoskey, acrylic, enamel and found objects on panel

Revok, 301 Petoskey, acrylic, enamel and found objects on panel

And in their tribute to the legendary Nekst and to the true spirit of graffiti, the two have, also, left their mark on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn:

Revok tribute to Nekst

Revok tribute to Nekst

Pose tribute to Nekst

Pose tribute to Nekst

Photos by Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky


Category: Art News, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos | Tags: , , ,

Olek: Becoming One’s Art for “The End Is Far”

March 12th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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For Olek, the past year has seen endless legal battles in London, which led to a brief incarceration and house arrest. During this time, it must have seemed as if a long road was ahead of her. The majority of the work on display at her recently opened show at Jonathan Levine Gallery was made during this time in London, when the end was indeed far. However, don’t let the image of Olek crocheting away in a cell paint a disparate image of the installations that the artist created during this time in her life. The spectacle that one has come to expect from energetic and vibrant artist has only intensified. The speakers have been turned up to 11, if you will.

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The entrance to Olek’s work hinted at the pageantry that would unfold in her exhibition upstairs. Harkening to her court trail, the artist has used her recent text-based body of work to draw upon these experiences. An anonymous figure, perhaps representing the everywoman, carries a flag with the empowering phrase “nobody can hurt me without my permission.” The ominous tone set in the entryway distinctly contrasted the whimsical tone set by her performers in the gallery space. Read the rest of this article »


Category: Featured Posts, Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: ,

Weekend link-o-rama

February 23rd, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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As I tweeted the other day, my mind is kinda stuck on how much I wish the Parra show at Jonathan Levine Gallery opened today and not on Saturday so that I could go see it. So while I’ve been distracted by that point, here’s some of what I almost missed this week:

  • KATSU’s April Fools prank is a bit early, but still pretty funny.
  • The Outsiders / Lazarides has some really nice prints by Ron English. They are variations on his Figment image, aka Andy Warhol wig and a skull.
  • Barry McGee, Chris Johanson and Laurie Reid are showing together at City College and SF starting today.
  • Here’s a new piece from the always-interesting 0331c, but if you don’t know 0331c’s work, here’s an introduction.
  • Nice video of Eine updating one of his walls in London from saying PRO PRO PRO to PROTAGONIST. Interesting comment about street art being a thing that “looked like it would offer what graffiti promised but didn’t deliver.”
  • Nychos x Jeff Soto = Yes!
  • New work from Isaac Cordal.
  • Woah. Nice work from How and Nosm in San Fransisco.
  • Jonathan Jones is up to his old tricks of dissing Banksy to get more hits for his column, and I’m biting. He writes, “Banksy, as an artist, stops existing when there is no news about him.” Even if that is the case, is that the end of the world? Does that relegate Banksy to “art-lite”? No. Banksy is one of the most talked-about artists in the world. I would bet that the same criticism was leveled against Warhol, who I believe Jones likes. Banksy’s manipulation of the media, playing it like a damn violin sometimes, is some of his greatest artwork of all. He manipulates the media to spread a message. The best example of this was probably him going to Bethlehem to paint on the separation wall because he knew that the media would cover it. He was able to play the media to draw attention to an issue that he felt strongly about. Banksy’s paintings are sometimes great and sometimes not. But his ability to make people fascinated with him and his paintings is just as much of an art, and that shouldn’t discredit him.

Photo by Luna Park


Category: Art News, Auctions, Gallery/Museum Shows, Photos, Print Release, Random, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How and Nosm’s upcoming pop-up show in NYC

January 30th, 2013 | By | 1 Comment »

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How and Nosm have a show opening this week with Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC, but not at the gallery’s usual location. The duo’s Late Confessions show opens this Friday evening (7-9pm) at 557 W 23rd Street in Chelsea. Caroline and I stopped by the show over the weekend for a preview and were both very impressed. I’ll have to go back at some point to look at everything properly, but it seems to be some of the best work I’ve seen from How and Nosm to date.

Sometimes the extreme detail and intricate layering of complex visuals in How and Nosm’s artwork is a bit too much for me. I just can’t follow everything. In those cases, I feel like I’m seeing too much at once, and my brain just shuts down to the point where I see and understand nothing rather than at least part of the whole. I know that many people get a very different experience, and the qualities that I’m describing are exactly why they love How and Nosm’s work so much. Those fans need not worry. There’s plenty for them at Late Confessions. But for people like me who can reach a point of sensory overload with the complex pieces and long for something easier to follow, How and Nosm also have a good number of simpler-to-read works in the show. The artists took a risk with that decision. The simple works could have fallen flat and exposed a hollowness masked by the more complex works, but instead, I think the simpler works are some of the best paintings at Late Confessions. They are visually engaging on their own, and in a wider context, they helped me to better-understand the worlds that How and Nosm develop in their more chaotic paintings.

Late Confessions opens on February 1st from 7-9pm and runs through February 23rd at 557 W 23rd Street, New York City.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Levine Gallery


Category: Gallery/Museum Shows | Tags: ,

Weekend link-o-rama

January 6th, 2013 | By | No Comments »

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Okay Christmas and new years are over. Let’s get back to real life.

Photo by Jake Dobkin


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DALeast’s hauntingly beautiful creatures at Jonathan LeVine

December 12th, 2012 | By | No Comments »
Osteoplasty

Osteoplasty

Working with ink, acrylic and tea on canvas, South Africa-based artist DALeast has created a wondrous menagerie of hauntingly beautiful animals in Powder of Light, his first solo exhibit in NYC. The somewhat curious scientific titles of these pieces on exhibit at Jonathan LeVine add a material dimension to their spiritual essence. Here are a few more favorites:

Ombrophobia

Ombrophobia

Oneirophrenia

Oneirophrenia

Osmology II.

Osmology II.

Opacification

Opacification

Orthotonus

Orthotonus

The exhibit continues through December 29th at 529 W. 20th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea gallery district.

Photos by Lenny Collado


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Weekend link-o-rama

December 1st, 2012 | By | No Comments »

Anthony Lister in London

It’s almost December, and this December I’m going to be taking a bit of a holiday. For most of the month, Caroline Caldwell is going to be doing most of the writing for Vandalog, while I focus on another project. But, of course, the more important thing about it being almost December is that it means Basel Miami craziness is about to be upon us. Some artists are already in Miami (specifically Wynwood) and painting their murals. Not to piss all over that parade, but I’d like to quote Workhorse of The Underbelly Project. He once said to me, “It’s sorta sad that an entire district of 7-story-tall murals is becoming blasé, but it is.”

Photo by Alex Ellison


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