Even Romantics Love Violence


A manic excitement came from Hellbent as he opened the door to his studio, his first visit in nearly two weeks. Strands of tape wafted in the breeze created as the artist circled the narrow room. The lace-patterned strips dangle, waiting for their newly reimagined purpose, as a part of the Mix Tape series. Leftover from masking his other series, cleverly titled Demos, this formerly discarded tool becomes repurposed. These two bodies of work combine to form Mighty Tanaka’s upcoming exhibition, Even Romantics Love Violence, opening tonight from 6pm – 9pm.


Hellbent continues tracing his way around the periphery of his space, as if following a track, and sharing his inspiration along the path. In the same breath, I am told about David Wojnarowicz stenciling through the 80’s before being launched into a discussion about graffuturism and post-graffiti art. With an education in art history, Hellbent rattles off influences with the intensity of someone who devours the visual culture in which they are surrounded. This excitement for art animates the room, bringing dimensionality to the flat plains in his panels.


The exuberance that Hellbent exhibits in his studio weaves itself though the neons and lace that connote his style. Once the backdrop for characters, his patterns have come to the foreground in the past year, most notably in the artist’s largest wall to date, a collaboration with See One in Bushwick. Here, the delicate details that were once behind bold graphics, such as Freud’s jawbone, now stand alone adjacent to See One’s shards, which dance lightly across the surface. Even Romantics Love Violence marks an several important transitions in Hellbent’s evolution; while the artist’s geometric interpretation has appeared in the public sphere in multiple locations, Mighty Tanaka is the first to give this work a solo exhibition.


The second shift in the artist’s body of work comes through the repurposing of masking tape, where patterns emerge from the overspray found used to mask his lace stencils. Using liquid glass, board, and tape, the Mix Tape series becomes a tongue-in-cheek poke at these materials. Just as the artist consumes the visual history with which he is surrounded, each part of his process has been utilized for these series. Through his varied means of creation, the two play off of one another as the light pieces of tape become encased between layers of board and glass. In contrast, the Demos sufrace remain untouched, thus retaining the delicate texture of lace.


The energy comes to a close with the studio visit as the florescent layers of tape, glass, and wood are stacked together. The pieces are placed on a shelf and the light is turned off.

For many artists, their work is a manifestation of themselves, be it politically engaging, thoughtful, or comedic. In the case of Hellbent, the care taken to thoughtfully plan out the arrangement of lace combined with the energy of neon spray paint speaks to these sensibilities.




Even Romantics Love Violence opens Friday, May 10th, from 6pm – 9pm at Mighty Tanaka (111 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY).

Photos by Rhiannon Platt

Tony DePew, Toofly & Quelbeast in “Vis-á-Vis” at Mighty Tanaka

Tony Depew, Rebecca Weinberg, Acrylic on Canvas
Tony Depew, Rebecca Weinberg, Acrylic on Canvas

The vitality and intrigue that Tony DePew, Toofly and Quelbeast have brought to the streets are wonderfully captured in a series of portraits on exhibit in Vis-á-Vis, a handsome show over at Mighty Tanaka in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Here are a few more from over a dozen striking images on exhibit:

Tony DePew, Rebecca Weinberg, Stained Glass Panel
Tony DePew, Rebecca Weinberg, Stained Glass Panel
Toofly, What We Love We Grow To Resemble, Acrylic on Cardboard
Toofly, What We Love We Grow To Resemble, Acrylic on Cardboard
Quelbeast, The Alcoholic (Selfish Portrait Series), Acrylic on Canvas
Quelbeast, The Alcoholic (Selfish Portrait Series), Acrylic on Canvas

Vis-á-Vis remains on exhibit at 111 Front Street in Brooklyn through February 8th.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

“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

Weekend link-o-rama


It’s time to talk about what other people have been talking about:

Photo by GoddoG

Veng’s Stylish Birds @ Brooklyn’s Mighty Tanaka

A huge fan of Veng’s larger-than-life signature character that surfaces frequently throughout NYC and beyond, I was delighted to discover another side of his talents in his small, delicately-rendered birds — largely fashioned with watercolor and ink on paper — at Mighty Tanaka.  Here are a few more images:

The exhibit, The Birds and the Bees, also featuring work by Gigi Chen, continues through May 4th at 111 Front Street in Brooklyn’s DUMBO district.

Photos by Tara Murray & Lois Stavsky

Weekend link-o-rama

Specter for Open Walls Baltimore

This week’s link-o-rama is a few days delayed. Parents were in town earlier this week and even came to an event some friends of mine organized at Haverford College: A talk by Jayson Musson (the artist who created and plays the character Hennessy Youngman). I don’t think my mom was amused. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Photos by Martha Cooper

JMR & See One Bring Color & Motion to Brooklyn’s DUMBO

See One

There hasn’t been much new on the streets of Brooklyn’s DUMBO for awhile now. I’m not quite sure why, and I miss the art that used to surface regularly on DUMBO’s public spaces. But Mighty Tanaka’s current exhibit “Color & Motion” featuring the energetic, brightly hued works of New York City artists JMR and See One was worth our visit to this Brooklyn district.

See One
See One

The exhibit continues through next Friday, April 6th @ 111 Front Street.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Preview: Fountain Art Fair NY 2012

Swoon will be showing at KESTING / RAY's booth

It’s art-fair week in New York. Of course there’s The Armory Show, The Volta Show and SCOPE, but the fair that Vandalog readers are going to love is the Fountain New York Art Fair. That’s where the street artists are showing. 5 Pointz Art Space, KESTING / RAY, Mighty Tanaka, Station 16 and The Marketplace Gallery will all be there, plus GILF and Fab5 Freddy will be there independent of any gallery. Fountain runs Friday through Sunday, with musical performances on Friday night and Saturday night. I’ve been to Fountain’s fair in Miami twice, and each time it has been something a bit different from the standard art fair whateverness. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ve heard that some Vandalog favorites will be working on indoor murals for the fair.

Photo courtesy of KESTING / Ray

Adam Void, Curtis Readel, Alice Mizrachi, ELLE and John Breiner in “Lost & Found” @ DUMBO’s Mighty Tanaka

We made it over to Brooklyn’s Mighty Tanaka last week to check out its first exhibit of the new year: Lost & Found.  Featuring the artwork of Adam Void, Curtis Readel, Alice Mizrachi, ELLE and John Breiner, the exhibit features an intriguing array of work in diverse media created largely from found objects. Here are a few images:

Adam Void, Baltimore Sunset, found objects on wood panel
Curtis Readel, Towering Stud, shredded US currency collage
Alice Mizrachi, close-up of Luna, huge installation of acrylic on found wood & metal panels
ELLE, Raven Got Your Tongue, acrylic w/oil paint & wheat paste on found table
John Breiner, Brubreck vs Brubeck, acrylic ink and etching on found book cover

The exhibit continues through February 5 at Mighty Tanaka’s new space @ 111 Front Street in Brooklyn’s DUMBO district.

Photos by Tara Murray & Lois Stavsky