Tonight is opening night for Calligraffiti: 1984-2013 at the Leila Heller Gallery. The show is interesting for two reasons:
It examines connections between graffiti and calligraphy at a fancy gallery. Seriously though, this should be really fascinating. There will be work by El Seed, L’ATLAS, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, LA2, ROSTARR, Niels “Shoe” Meulman, Ramellzee and many more artists (including many with no history on the street or with graffiti, but rather with feet firmly rooted in more traditional modern and contemporary art).
It marks the return of Jeffrey Deitch to New York City, basically. He didn’t curate the show, but he did curate a version of the show at the same gallery back in 1984, and the New York Times reports “Mr. Deitch served as Ms. Heller’s sounding board” for this version of the show. Deitch recently resigned as Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles after growing the museum’s endowment from under $10 million to almost $100 million, although it seems as though he is staying on at the museum just a little while longer, through the completion of that goal of reaching a $100 million endowment and the process of finding a new Director.
L’Atlas typically works with black and white in his abstract, geometric typography, which is commonly his own name. At first glance, it looks like he has abandoned these trademarks in his new work. However, his new use of color has worked to encrypt his signature in more complex patterns.
Personally, I think his style works best at its simplest, black and white. I’m a very big fan of L’Atlas, particularly his lettering, so I’m interested in others think of this new direction.
The Underbelly Show may be the new kid on the block during Miami Art Basel, but it has arrived as a force to be reckoned with. It will featuring brand new work from over 30 artists who participated in the New York and Paris Underbelly Projects, as well as a host of other installations and events. This is not just another gallery show during a busy week. It’s an experience. Starting with the RSVP-only opening party on Tuesday, Thursday will see a Secret Wars battle, Friday the space opens to the general public and includes the launch of a limited edition version of The Underbelly Project’s book We Own the Night, which won’t be on sale in stores until next year. And that’s just the stuff I can tell you about. I can’t even guess at what else the Underbelly crew have got planned, but this is definitely the one must-see thing in Miami this week.
While setting up the show at the original location on Collins Avenue this week, the team realized the amount of art and their vision was too big for that space, so they moved to a warehouse in Wynwood at 78 NW 25th Street.
In a rare statement, the usually silent Workhorse told Vandalog:
The scope of the Underbelly Miami show grew larger than we had expected. Originally our idea for the location in South Beach was to showcase selected works in a high traffic area so as many people could see it as possible. As the works started to come in, we realized that we were going to run out of wall space. One of the Swoon pieces is 21 feet wide by 13 feet tall. The L’atlas piece is nearly 12 feet tall. We have over 70 pieces of work and most all of them are 4×6 feet and larger. The work is massive. So we began to look for additional space and realized it was best to move the show to Wynwood so that we could feature the works without being crowded and crammed onto the walls.
UPDATE – LOCATION CHANGE: The Underbelly Show has moved to 78 NW 25th Street in Wynwood, Miami to accommodate the large scale of the artwork in this show.
The Underbelly Project is back. Last year, I posteda lotabout the project where 103 artists from around the world secretly painted an abandoned/half-completed New York City subway station. After that initial burst of press here and around the web, The Underbelly Project organizers stayed silent. With only occasional vague tweets from a mysterious twitter account and the appearance on Amazon of an upcoming book about the project. Yesterday though, The Underbelly Project announced that they will be participating in this year’s Basel Miami Week madness with a pop-up gallery in South BeachWynwood.
The organizers of The Underbelly Project and The Underbelly Show, Workhorse and PAC, have this to say about the show:
Workhorse: The New York Underbelly was an important chapter for us, but the story hadn’t been comprehensively told. The Underbelly Miami show gives us a chance to present the broad scope of documentation – Videos, photos, time-lapses and first hand accounts. The project is about more than just artwork. This show gives us a chance to show the people and the environment behind the artwork.
PAC: While the experience each artist had in their expedition underground can never be captured, it is my hope that this show will highlight some of the trials and tribulations associated with urban art taking place in the remote corners of our cities. Too often the practice of making art in unconventional venues remains shrouded in mystery and I hope this exhibition will shine a faint light on those artists who risk their safety to find alternative ways to create and be a part of the cities they live in.
35 of the 103 artists from The Underbelly Project will be exhibiting art in The Underbelly Show, plus video and still footage of the artists at work in the tunnel. Here’s the full line-up: Faile, Dabs & Myla, TrustoCorp, Aiko, Rone, Revok, Ron English, Jeff Soto, Mark Jenkins, Anthony Lister, Logan Hicks, Lucy McLauchlan, M-City, Kid Zoom, Haze, Saber, Meggs, Jim & Tina Darling, The London Police, Sheone, Skewville, Jeff Stark, Jordan Seiler, Jason Eppink and I AM, Dan Witz, Specter, Ripo, MoMo, Remi/Rough, Stormie Mills, Swoon, Know Hope, Skullphone, L’Atlas, Roa, Surge, Gaia, Michael De Feo, Joe Iurato, Love Me, Adam 5100, and Chris Stain.
For this show, the space will be transformed into an environment imitating the tunnel where The Underbelly Project took place, right down to playing sounds recorded in the station while The Underbelly Project was happening.
If you absolutely cannot wait until February to get We Own The Night, the book documenting The Underbelly Project, a limited number will be available at The Underbelly Show in a box set with 9 photographic prints and the book all contained in a handcrafted oak box. Additionally, you will be able to your book signed by the artists participating in The Underbelly Show.
The Underbelly Show will take place at 2200 Collins Avenue, South Beach, Miami78 NW 25th Street, Wynwood, Miami. There will be a private opening on November 30th, and the space will be open to the general public December 2nd-5th, with a general opening on the 2nd from 8-10pm.
This summer, I sat in a massive pitch-black room and muttered “Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit…” over and over again. I couldn’t stop repeating “Holy shit” for maybe for five minutes. I’d been anticipating this moment for nearly a year. I was somewhere underneath New York City. I was waiting to be shown The Underbelly Project. Technically, I was there to take photos, but really I didn’t care at all if images came out or not. Really, I just wanted to see firsthand what was going on 4-stories below the streets of New York City.
Imagine Cans Festival, FAME Festival or Primary Flight: Some of street art and graffiti’s best artists all painting one spot. That’s kind of like The Underbelly Project. Except that The Underbelly Project took place in complete secrecy, in a mysterious location and without any authorization. Over the past year, The Underbelly Project has brought more than 100 artists to an abandoned and half-finished New York City subway station. Each artist was given one night to paint something.
Workhorse and PAC, the project’s organizers, have put countless hours into their ghost subway station, and now they’re finally ready to unveil it to the world, sort of (more on that later). So I guess that’s why I was in that dark room, sitting in silence, waiting for them to give me a flashlight. I’m still not sure why I’d been extended the invitation to see the station firsthand, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity. The Underbelly Project is going to be part of street art history.
Eventually, Workhorse and PAC came over to where I was sitting and lent me a flashlight. I stood up, already coated in dust and probably dirtier than I’ve ever been, and got a full tour of the station. I’m not somebody who is good at estimating the size of a space, but The Underbelly Project took place in a space that was meant to be a subway station, so I guess it was the size of a subway station with a few tracks. The station is like a concrete cavern: random holes who-knows how deep into the ground, dust thick like a layer of dirt, leaky ceilings and hidden rooms. Except the whole station is covered in art. Think of FAME Festival’s abandoned monastery transplanted to beneath New York City. I’m not an urban explorer, so I had no idea that there are abandoned subway stations throughout New York, but The Underbelly Project seems like just about the best possible use of one.
Of course, having been down there myself, I’m going to be prone to hyperbole. Even at it’s simplest, even if The Underbelly Project is “just another mural project,” it’s a story that the artists can tell for years, and it may even be evidence that street art isn’t so far gone and corporate as some people have suggested.
The list of artists who painted for The Underbelly Project goes on and on, but here are just a few:
On my visit, The Underbelly Project wasn’t finished. In fact, somebody was painting there that night. Nonetheless, the space was already substantially painted and postered. I spent that night wandering around the tunnels, taking photos and getting lost (and also scared – Damn you Mark Jenkins! You can’t put a sculpture like that at the end of a darkened hall. I thought it was a person!).
And what now? The walls have all been painted and the artists have moved on to new projects. When the last artist finished painting the last wall, Workhorse and PAC made access to The Underbelly Project nearly impossible by removing the entrance. Even if any of us wanted to go back (and I do), even if we could remember how to get there (and I don’t), we can’t. Nobody can. For now, The Underbelly Project has become a time capsule of street art, somewhere in the depths of New York City.
Brad Downey once explained to me why he thought Damien Hirst’s diamond skull is interesting. It had something to do with what people would think of the skull in 1000 years, when its original meaning has been lost to time. That’s when the skull is going to become a true icon and object with immense power. In some ways, The Underbelly Project is like Hirst’s skull, without the price tag. One day, decades from now hopefully, somebody may rediscover that old subway station and have no idea what they’re looking at. Hopefully, they’ll just feel that it’s something incredibly special.
My French is pretty terrible (just got back from France, realized I couldn’t say much more than ‘merci’ after 9 months not taking the language at school), but what this video is still pretty cool, and I Love Graffiti was able to help sort out with the details about Le Tag.
Le Tag is an exhibit in Paris of graffti by 150 writers. It is currated by French architect Alain-Dominique Gallizia.
Artists in the exhibit include (and I can’t believe this first one) Taki 183, Seen, Doze Green, Phase2, and L’Atlas.
I know that in some ways Taki 183 is just one guy that the New York Times picked up on as an early tagger, but the article featuring him inspired so many people to start tagging, and he was one of the first to really get their name throughout New York City. I didn’t even realize he was still writing his name. The last I’d seen of Taki 183 was in Bomb It the movie, and he didn’t seem too interested in graffiti. Even though it’s “just a tag” and I really like Seen and some of the other artists in this show, Taki 183’s stuff is my personal highlight of Le Tag.
1. Cosmic by L’Atlas: This print has made me love L’Atlas. A. It looks great, and B. It’s priced very well. It’s two prints actually, one black on white, and one white on black. Edition of just 25 each for $120.
2. Winter 08 by Dalek: Again, not just one print, but three. There is Winter 08 (pictured below), with an edition of 200 for $75, and Pink Heads and Green Heads, editions of 150 each for $50. I can’t figure out why they are $25 less than Winter 08 for a smaller edition, but why complain? They all look great.
3. The Year of The Super Rat Nation by Miss Bugs: By far the best piece I’ve seen from Miss Bugs. An edition of only 30, priced at £135. In order to give anybody a fair shot at this print, Miss Bugs is using the FairQ system, so you have to register in advance (before 7pm PST today) to buy the print.