It’s not about the money (well, actually…)

Escif. Photo by Escif

Escif painted that mural outside of Graffiti Gone Global’s Fresh Produce show in Miami last week. While Basel Miami and the associated events aren’t all about money, it’s certainly on everyone’s minds. That doesn’t mean that the shows were bad though. There was actually a lot of great art on display for those who took the time to look. Here are some of the indoor highlights (unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me besides my cameraphone, so I have to link to other peoples’ coverage of everything):

  • Amazingly, Sanrio’s Hello Kitty show was, by all accounts, actually pretty good. I stuck to my vow of not checking out the show myself (okay, actually, once I changed my mind and wanted to see it, the show was close both times I tried to stop by). Of course it looks like there was some crap and boring pandering to the brand, but there seem to be a few decent paintings in there too. Also, it was super crowded every time I walked by, so hopefully those visitors who were there for Sanrio’s show also saw some of the other great shows nearby.
  • Hi-Fructose and Arrested Motion have some good photo-summaries of the main fair, Basel Miami.
  • Retna‘s solo show, Silver Lining, at Primary Projects was his first show since being on the cover of Juxtapoz. After landing in Miami last Thursday evening, I went to straight from the airport to Primary Projects to catch the end of this opening. There was a little bit of something for everyone: installations, canvas, monotype prints, work on old doors and more. Oddly enough, it was the more refined work that didn’t appeal to me. For me, the canvases seemed to be lacking that spark that makes Retna’s work so amazing. Everything else was a real treat though. The watercolors and monotypes in particular were beautiful. This show is still running, so any Miami residents who haven’t seen it yet really should stop by. For the rest of the world Arrested Motion took photos.
  • Jonathan LeVine Gallery put on a solid group show. The standout piece was a new artwork by Judith Supine. Unfortunately, Hi-Fructose’s picture of the standout piece is blurry (the super-glossy varnish must have confused the camera) and the gallery’s photo doesn’t show the glossiness of the piece. HF have photos of the rest of the show though.
  • While it was technically mostly a mural project, I’m throwing Wynwood Walls into this post because the vibe was like a gallery show. Hrag and I are pretty much in agreement on this one. Although I’d give Logan Hicks’ mural more credit than Hrag.

Lastly, I want to mention New Image Art‘s pop-up show. There was some new artwork by Judith Supine, Os Gêmeos, Bast and others, as well as a bunch of photos by Neckface and his friends, which are 100x more interesting than I had expected them to be. Here are a few photos from that show:

Os Gêmeos
Judith Supine

This is probably most, if not all, if the coverage I’ll be giving to indoor things at Basel Miami, but I’ll be posting a lot more about the murals and other outdoor events in the coming days.

Photos by Escif and courtesy of New Image Art

Miami Madness

In a lot of ways, Hargo sums up Miami's art fair week

With so much of the art world migrating to Miami this week in a frenzy, there seem to be too many events and parties (and I promise not to blog about the parties in detail. This isn’t a gossip site) and exhibits and festivals and everything else to keep track of. Here’s a roundup of some of the things that I’m most interested in seeing (or not seeing).

Things that have already been mentioned on Vandalog:

And things that I haven’t already blogged about:

  • Elisa Carmichael has her list of Miami must-sees, which includes a Dan Witz book signing and a Trespass book signing with Marc and Sara from Wooster Collective and Carlo McCormick.
  • Sorry to bring this up, but Sanrio’s exhibition of Hello Kitty art is just annoying. They got some great artists like Jim Houser to paint Hello Kitty characters. I’ll be avoiding this show like the plague.
  • I mostly go for Ryan McGinness’ really abstract work and this isn’t that, but McGinness fans will probably want to check out his solo show.
  • Barry McGee will be showing work and signing books at Ratio 3’s book in Basel Miami.
  • Jonathan LeVine Gallery has a pop-up show as part of Wynwood Walls. Some of the artists include AJ Fosik, Judith Supine, Doze Green, Dan Witz and WK Interact.
  • FriendsWithYou are filling a park with giant blow-up sculptures.
  • Last year, OHWOW Gallery’s It Ain’t Fair show was one of the most interesting shows in Miami. Once again, they have a killer line up for the show including José Parlá, Rey Parlá (José’s brother who is, I believe, a filmmaker), KAWS, Phil Frost, Barry McGee and Neckface.
  • OHWOW Gallery are also opening a bookstore at The Standard Hotel in Miami.
  • New Image Art’s pop-up show includes Neckface, Judith Supine and Os Gêmeos. Probably going to be a must-see.
  • Tristan Eaton and his partners are launching Contra Projects with a wide-array of events this week including a tent/lounge space, a mural (by Mr. Jago, Tristan Eaton, Ron English and others) and a TrustoCorp carnival aka TrustoLand. More info on the Thunderdog blog.
  • Carmichael Gallery, Joshua Liner Gallery and others will have booths at SCOPE, and I think Maya Hayuk is painting a mural there, which should be awesome if I’m remembering that correctly.
  • And of course there’s all the fairs I haven’t mentioned, because there are just so many. So many. Too many. It’s gonna be art overload. But if I’ve missed anything that you think is particularly special, please leave a comment.

Photo by Hargo

Retna solo show next month at Primary Projects

As has been whispered around the blogosphere recently, Retna has a solo show coming up in Miami just a few weeks from now. The show, called Silver Lining, will be Retna’s first solo show since being on the cover of Juxtapoz earlier this year. Silver Lining is going to take place at Primary Projects, a new 4,500 square foot space run by the folks behind Primary Flight. It opens on Thursday, December 2nd and will include “paintings, drawings, an installation and an entirely new body of work” from Retna.

I just booked my flight to Miami and unfortunately I’m going to miss the opening, but this will be one of the first places that I stop by on Friday.

As you can see in the above invite though, I’ve got to make mention of something about Silver Lining which will be important for readers to remember whenever I blog about it: The show is being supported in part by The Rushmore Collection, which is basically my parents. While I’m not my parents and my parents aren’t Vandalog, I did talk with them over the phone twice in the past 24-hours and we are part of a family. My dad sparked my interest in art, but I probably introduced him to Retna’s artwork. Just something for readers to keep in mind when I write about this show.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Weekend link-o-rama

Some friends came over today and we had a bit of a photoshoot for the upcoming line of Vandalog t-shirts. More about that in the next few days. Here’s a teaser of the shirts. So next week is going to be an exciting one on Vandalog. In the mean time, here’s what I wish I’d spent more time covering (it’s kind of Swoon and Retna heavy this week though):

Vandalog Interviews – Retna

Photo by DoubleKf

One of the best examples of the grey area that I love between street art and graffiti is Retna. The artist that I most wanted to watch paint last year at Primary Flight was Retna. I remember seeing one of Retna’s faux-marble sculptures at Primary Flight’s Blue Print For Space show and thinking “Damn, he needs to do that in real marble and I’d want one in every room of my house.” One of the first pieces of graffiti that I saw upon arriving in Philadelphia last month was an piece by Retna. For the last year or so, Retna has secretly been climbing toward the top of my list of favorite artists. His art works equally well indoors or outdoors, alone or in collaborations. He deals with subject matter ranging from politics and spirituality to fashion and street culture, but he doesn’t feel all over the place because it’s all part of a continuing push to bring things to a new level.

Recently, Retna took some time to talk to us here at Vandalog for this exclusive interview. And if you enjoy this interview (and even if you don’t for some reason), I highly suggest that you check out the September issue of Juxtapoz where Jeffrey Deitch shares his thought on Retna (excerpted here) and Retna is interviewed in-depth.

This is the first in Vandalog’s series of interviews in anticipation of the Moniker International Art Fair. Retna’s work will be shown at the fair in New Image Art Gallery‘s booth. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be posting more interviews with a number of artists involved in Moniker.

How did you become interested in graffiti art?

My first encounter with graffiti was when I was a kid—I remember going out in my backyard and seeing a group of older guys hanging out on the roof a couple houses away writing gang blocks. At the age of 8, I was fascinated and already trying to imitate what they were doing. I was immediately attracted to the art form of graffiti and wanted to know how it was done, so I started practicing writing letters and eventually developing my own style.

How did your affiliation with MSK and AWR come about?

It begins and ends with my oldest group of friends.

Something that has always intrigued me about your work is its unique use of the Latin alphabet. Where did the idea to incorporate this technique in to your work originate? Was this style something you were already familiar with or did you have to learn it from scratch and adapt it?

The incorporation of text in my work is a direct result of my graffiti background. It’s become my way of bridging the gap between graffiti art and fine art. My style of writing is something that I have created and refined over the years by taking inspiration from various sources including Egyptian hieroglyphics, Old English calligraphy and traditional graffiti writing.

Photo by Lord Jim

When you’re creating a piece that incorporates this type of lettering how often are you actually creating an encoded message, rather then just using the font purely for aesthetics?

Although some may see the text as aesthetically pleasing and merely as symbols, I never write random letters. All my pieces can be decoded into full messages and words that translate into English or Spanish.

Photo by Revok
Photo by Revok

Creating murals by yourself or with others seems to play a very big part in what you do. One thing I’ve noticed is your consistency in collaborating with EL MAC. How did you guys meet and what is it that keeps bringing you back together for these awesome collabs?

Mac and I first met about ten years ago when we were painting side by side at an art event in Mexico and then we were reintroduced about five years ago—that’s when we completed our first collaborative mural. Our work garnered such a positive response that we realized that we had a strong synergy and we’ve been working together ever since.

Retna and El Mac. Photo by anarchosyn
Retna and El Mac. Photo by Hargo

How has L.A. Influenced your style since you were first introduced to the mural culture at an early age?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles so I grew up watching all the other great graffiti artists and muralists, and aspiring to be like them. I want to do the same for others—I want to create work that’s so awe-inspiring that it motivates others to get into art. I would love to be a footnote in someone else’s career and hear that they were inspired by something I created.

Lets talk a little about the latest installation you did over at the Rivera & Rivera Gallery, where you created a floor-to-ceiling installation piece. What was it like working on such a large scale?

I have worked on some large-scale murals before, so that was not a challenge for me. However what I did find challenging was, visualizing the piece on a three dimensional scale. The piece at Rivera & Rivera was the first time where I incorporated additional elements, like fabric, to my painting to create a truly interactive installation that fully engaged viewers.

Photo by Unurth

What was the inspiration behind the Desaturated exhibition? It seemed quite fashion orientated. Is this something you’ve become interested in as urban art and fashion seem to have merged together rather quickly.

I don’t think I’m into fashion all of a sudden because it has merged with urban art; I’ve always admired people who have dope style. That includes people from all over the world and their style, whether is unique to them or traditional according to their heritage—if it looks good, I’m going to like it. The same goes for the images of the Desaturated exhibition, I wasn’t as concerned with what they were wearing as much as I was about what the overall image looked like.

Photo courtesy of New Image Art Gallery

And finally, what does the future hold for RETNA? In regards to your work, new projects and any other personal aspirations you have in life. Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

I can’t say I know what the future holds. The only thing I am focused on right now is making new work and continuing to do what I do.

Be sure to check out more from Retna by visiting his official website here

Photos by Unurth, Hargo, anarchosyn, Revok, Lord Jim, DoubleKf and New Image Art Gallery

New RETNA & EL MAC Mural

Of Our Youth – RETNA • EL MAC from RVCA on Vimeo.

Mural giants RETNA and EL MAC recently teamed up for yet another epic creation, this time in Culver City. Their newest mural, titled “Of Our Youth”, can be seen on the side of Graphaids art supply store, on La Cienega between Jefferson and Washington.

The imagery and text used in this mural was inspired by their time spent at Skid Row, while painting their previous mural. The artists met a man by the name of Ralph Woodruff aka Chato and were inspired by this man’s past hardships, experiences and overall outlook on life. His ability to recognize his mistakes and atone for his sordid past was something that resonated with RETNA. The text which reads, “So today I’m trying to change a few things to rectify the situation of my past. So today I’m looking towards the future (of our youth highlighted)” is a quote taken from their conversation.

The Lost Ones in Mexico City

The Lost Ones is a group show opening this week at Fifty24MX, Upper Playground’s Mexico City gallery. The show is being curated by New Image Art Gallery‘s Marsea Goldberg and features some great street artists like Retna, Shepard Fairey, Judith Supine and Neck Face.  The Lost Ones opens on Friday. I wonder of Arrested Motion will have photographers there, because I certainly don’t know anybody who will be there taking photos and I’d like to see this once it’s open.

Retna installation for one night only in LA

Retna has a sick looking installation opening for one night only on July 29th in LA. Rivera & Rivera are saying goodbye to their current location in South Park by letting Retna paint the entire thing. This is definite something to see. Such a shame that the show is only on for one night. The gallery will be open on Thursday from 8-11pm. Remember to rsvp at by emailing

Here are a few teaser shots: