Graffiti and fine art meld in Saber’s new work at Opera Gallery


I checked out Saber’s show at Opera last Friday — the day after it opened — and it’s been on my mind since. There is a vigorous beauty here that reflects the artist’s talents, techniques and distinct sensibility. It also represents the fusion of graffiti — or calligraffiti — and fine art as its best. I love what has become his signature take on the American flag.

saber-colors into battle-JPG


The exhibit continues until May 11 at 115 Spring Street in SoHo.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Paul Insect brings his brilliance to NYC

Psychedelic saints

The first time I saw any artwork by UK’s Paul Insect was about six years ago on the Separation Wall in Bethlehem. I was instantly enthralled. Since then I’ve seen his art here in NYC printed on stickers and featured in a few group exhibits. But as RJ blogged earlier this week, Opera Gallery is currently presenting Paul Insect’s first solo exhibit in New York City. And it is ravishing — both aesthetically and conceptually. Meticulously crafted paintings, sculptures and installations on a range of themes — from the media and the environment to religion and identity — reflect the artist’s imaginative sensibility and astounding array of skills. Here are a few more images:

Anatomical silhouette
Clockwork America
Sculpture, close-up

The exhibit continues through December 21 at 115 Spring Street in SoHo.

Photos by Lenny Collado and Lois Stavsky

Paul Insect – “Out of Chaos”

“Butterfly Face Hoodie”

As a great follow-up to their Ron English show, the next show at Opera Gallery’s New York location is a solo show with Paul Insect. Out of Chaos is Paul’s first solo show in New York City, despite seriously great and equally successful solo shows in London and LA in the past. The show opens November 29th from 6-9pm. I’m going to miss it, but I have a good excuse: I don’t live in the state. If you do live in New York, you’d best be there.

I’m a fan of a lot of Paul’s work on the street and in the gallery (as are people like Damien Hirst and Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil Faile), so I’m excited that New York will finally be properly introduced to him (although he has had work in group shows at Opera Gallery in the past). Arrested Motion has photos from a studio visit with Paul Insect with more previews of what to expect at Out of Chaos. There are definitely a few pieces in the post on AM that could be mistaken for Banksy pieces or look heavily influenced by Banksy, but it’s worth noting that Paul Insect has some close ties to the Banksy camp and Opera says that Paul has been involved in “graphically developing [Banksy’s] work.” So, can you really blame a guy for making work that resembles the work of another person whose work he has helped to develop? While the Banksy-esque stuff isn’t usually my favorite of what he does, I’m also not going to call Paul Insect just another Banksy rip off artist either, because that’s not what Paul at all.

Photo courtesy of Opera Gallery

Ron English at Opera Gallery, show of the year?

So, I know that I haven’t seen too many shows in person this year, but of the ones I have, Ron English‘s Crucial Fiction show at Opera Gallery‘s New York location has to take the top slot. For most of the work in the show, Ron really does pop surrealism at it’s absolute best by creating pop-infuriated surreal scenes that draw you in and creep you out at the same time. The story behind Crucial Fiction is that the work is meant to be the result of a sort of dialog between Ron and his 8-year-old-self, the master now painting with impeccable technique what his childhood-self envisions. The paintings where this is most evident are some of the strongest pieces I’ve ever seen from Ron or any pop surrealist. Of the one piece in the show that was undoubtedly weak and out of place, all I’ll do is repeat what Caroline Caldwell once told me, “Glitter is the herpes of the art world.”

I’ve included a few photos here of some of my favorite pieces in Crucial Fiction, but Arrested Motion has a full set of photos from the show. Crucial Fiction is open now through November 29th, and it really is best experienced in person. And besides, I may not be the most trustworthy evaluator of the show since I went to the opening looking like this.

Continue reading “Ron English at Opera Gallery, show of the year?”

Hurricane Sandy delays The Art of Comedy murals and gallery openings

Ron English’s mural on Mulberry Street

Last week we announced The Art of Comedy, a series of art installations and murals with The New York Comedy Festival that Wayne Rada and I curated. The Art of Comedy also coincided with solo shows by all three of the artists involved: Ron English, gilf!, and Hanksy. Due to Hurricane Sandy, both the official unveiling of the murals that these artists have painted in Little Italy and their solo show openings have been delayed by a week. So, here’s what the calendar looks like now for The Art of Comedy and those gallery shows:

Also, in the past week, we’ve had interviews by Rhiannon Platt with gilf! and Hanksy, and Rhiannon also took some photos of Hanksy working on two of his three murals.

Photo by Wayne Rada

Ron English’s solo show “Crucial Fiction” opens on the 8th


Ron English‘s latest solo show opens this Thursday evening at Opera Gallery‘s NYC location in SoHo. The main theme of Crucial Fiction is an attempt by Ron to paint the sort of images that his 8-year-old self would dream up but couldn’t express with such technical excellence. From what I’ve seen, the results center on maddening scenes of Ron’s custom-toy dreamworlds, like the one above. And by “custom-toy,” I don’t just mean the stuff that he turns into vinyl gold with brands like Kidrobot but also the one-off creations and strange combinations he comes up with that look something like very advanced versions of Sid’s mutant toysToy Story.

Weather permitting, I’ll be coming up from Philadelphia for this show (as well as Hanksy and Gilf!’s openings the same night), so New Yorkers really have no excuse not to be there.

Of course, Ron also just painted a mural nearby on Mulberry Street for The Art of Comedy, a project with The New York Comedy Festival, Vandalog, Little Italy and Montana Cans.

Photo courtesy of Opera Gallery

Weekend link-o-rama

Rothko from beyond the grave by Freddy Sam

Not much to say this week except of course that I’m pumped for The Art of Comedy. Not too much news either, but some important stories…

Photo by Faith47 and via Wooster Collective

Logan Hicks at Opera Gallery Paris this week

Stencil pioneer Logan Hicks has a solo show opening this week at Opera Gallery‘s Paris location. The show opens on October 11th at 6:30pm, and runs through November 3rd.

As I mentioned back in July when Logan had a show in London, he’s been someone I admire as both an artist and a friend for many years, but with this show the Vandalog team got two more reasons to be especially excited: 1. One of the new pieces for this show is a portrait of Vandalog’s Caroline Caldwell. 2. That piece, along with portraits of Keith Schweitzer, Jordan Seiler and others is on anodized aluminum, which is my favorite kind of stencil-work from Logan. These pieces are basically solid pieces of aluminum that have been etched into chemically, if I half-remember the process correctly. Coincidentally, the first time one of Logan’s anodized aluminum pieces was shown was at Up Close and Personal, a show that Keith Schweitzer, Mike Glatzer and I curated.

Logan’s work really does need to be seen in person, so I highly recommend checking out this show in the flesh as soon as it’s open.

Photos courtesy of Logan Hicks and Opera Gallery

Weekend link-o-rama

LNY in Baltimore

Caroline and I were in Baltimore this week checking out Open Walls Baltimore. If you have the chance, definitely make a trip over there. Full posts about Baltimore coming soon. Point is, between Baltimore and moving this weekend, I’ve been lax this week. Things should return to normal on Wednesday or Thursday, but in the mean time, here’s what I’ve been meaning to post about:

Photo by RJ Rushmore

Aiko, Ron English, Faile, Logan Hicks, Judith Supine, London Police & more @ Opera Gallery’s “Making Faces”

We like the way NYC’s Opera Gallery  integrated some of the more established street artists with the likes of Chagall, Picasso and Matisse in their current exhibit featuring a remarkably diverse range of portraits. The exhibit continues through February 19 at 115 Spring Street.  Here are a few faces we captured when we stopped by this past week:

Ron English
Logan Hicks
Judith Supine
The London Police

Photos by Lois Stavsky & Tara Murray