Earlier this month, Caroline and I and some friends (guided by Rob Dunalewicz) visited the abandoned Atlanta Prison Farm, a prison that was in active use for a good chunk of the 20th century and it now mostly abandoned, save for the occasional police training exercise. Today, the prison is covered in street art and graffiti. For me, it was interesting to see old work by Never, from before he began to focus on his owl characters that you can see around Brooklyn today. What’s so cool for me about artists working in abandoned spaces is that there seems to be a freedom to a lot of the work that isn’t found in their work when they are working in public spaces or making work for sale. Here’s a sampling of what we saw:
For the last week or so until today, we’ve been in the process changing Vandalog’s web hosts. No need to get into the technical details, but now the site should run more smoothly and with less downtime. Unfortunately it means that we haven’t been able to write anything new on the site since that process began (everything that’s gone online was pre-scheduled). So this is a mega-link-o-rama combining the usual weekend link-o-rama content with stuff that I could have written about last week even if I’d had the time.
Martha Cooper turned 70 this weekend, and the graffiti community came together at Bowery and Houston to give her a giant surprise birthday present (pictured above). How and Nosm told Cooper that they were planning to repaint their piece at Bowery and Houston and told her to come by at noon on Saturday, but they didn’t tell her how they were going to have to piece repainted. They brought together a bunch of new and old graffiti legends and painted a giant blockbuster tribute to Cooper. BSA has plenty more great photos of the piece in progress and a perfect shot of Cooper reacting to seeing the mural.
WK Interact’s pop-up show in NYC is absolutely fantastic, a must-see show. Think it this way: This show, as I understand it, is a retrospective but it’s made up of the work that WK had in his studio, not work borrowed or on the secondary market from collectors, so this is a lot of unsold work. And yet, the show is still one of the strongest I’ve seen from any artist in quite a while, and the work holds up just fine next to anything else by WK. Even the work that has been sitting in the WK’s studio for a few years is just masterpiece after masterpiece. Good stuff.
Mr. Brainwash has lost another lawsuit by a photographer upset with MBW’s appropriation. Basically, it boils down to MBW’s work being too similar to the original photograph, with no original contributions to the work by MBW.
It appears that Phil Frost hit a massive billboard in LA, and then the billboard was stolen. But the whole thing seems like a shady PR scam for Ace Gallery. Melrose&Fairfax has the full story, but one point they don’t make is that Ace Gallery has a history of controversy, so that makes me even more doubtful that this billboard and its theft are real. Also, let’s face it, there’s a good chance that the billboard is illegal anyway since this was in LA, so who cares if the ad was stolen off of the billboard?
Overunder sent over these photos of his recent work out in Nevada. It’s always great to see what Overunder is up to out in a region which doesn’t get too much attention from sites like this one (PS, if you do street art in Nevada, or anywhere else for that matter, let us know! We like seeing new stuff in our inboxes).
Shepard Fairey released some prints using diamond dust, which is quite interesting. As the press release says, “Perhaps most famously used by Andy Warhol, who understood perfectly how to convey a message, Diamond Dust was used to add glamour, transforming ordinary images into coveted objects. The material aligns with Shepard’s work and interest in the seduction of advertising and consumerism. Diamond Dust, literally and metaphorically is superficial, applied to the surface of the print, the luminous effect is both beautiful and alluring.” But it’s one of those things that just gets me thinking about how the art world, much like capitalism, seems so good at absorbing critique and spitting at back out as product. People love the meaningless OBEY icon, so Shepard sells it. Shepard needs to make more product to continue selling to this market he has created, so he takes an old design (or a slight variant, I’m not positive), and adds meaningless diamond dust to it and sells it as something new. The best critiques participate in the system which they critique, but that’s a risky game to play. Of course, I say all this with a print by Shepard hanging on my wall.
OldWalls is a project where the photographer took photos of graffiti in the early 1990’s and recently returned to those spots to take the exact same shots, and then each matching photo is displayed next to its counterpart.
During the Art Basel Miami madness, OverUnder and ND’A painted this large wall in the neighborhood of Little Haiti, so this post is a bit late but we couldn’t let this collaboration slip by us. Everything about this mural is representative of something unique about OU and ND’A’s experience. The mural features padlocks since this wall was actually a chance find on the side of a hardware store while the two were looking for another wall. The mural is filled with Haitian imagery that the local people of Haitian descent might appreciate, like hibiscus flowers, arrows found on Haitian flag, and the Liberty Cap on the main figure.
The main figure is a man that the two met on their first day, who had been living under a bridge and who spoke highly of the effect street art has had on the area.
Labrona sent over some photos from his time in Miami last month, including some collaborations (with Omen and Five), work by his friends (Miss Me and Kin), and the latest En Masse wall. En Masse is a collaborative project based in Montreal where artists draw together in black and white, similar to the American project Paint It Now.
This week at Bushwick 5 Points the lyric and the comedic collided with the completion of walls by both LNY and Hanksy. Depicting Malik, a student of his in the Young New Yorker Program, LNY brought attention to a cause that he has focused on for the past several months. By depicting the student against the backdrop of the city, the artist gives a voice to the problematic nature of New York’s legal system in his wall.
Countering the stark color palette and serious tone of LNY’s work, Hanksy brought his typical pop sensibilities to this Bushwick neighborhood. For these walls, or doors rather, the artist used cultural icons Theodore of the Cosby Show and Thor to play on the surfaces that he was given to paint. By transforming Thor to Dhor and stenciling a Theodoor Huxtable, Hanksy brings his light-hearted nature to an area that was once notorious for its violent crimes.
Walking around in the abandoned areas of Baltimore gave me a peace of mind that the NYPD would never allow in New York. However, engaging life-long citizens of Baltimore about the graffiti surrounding them in the streets came with its own merits. The blending of New York and Baltimore-based artists that I saw in the the city’s innards was mirrored in its streets. With the, then recent, invasion of international artists for Open Walls Baltimore, the city had become a hub for any east coast street artist to visit. As long as you had friends in the area or on the roster, chances are you ended up there. Continue reading “Illegal Baltimore part three: The city’s streets”