Book review: Billboard Bandits


Adam Clark’s Billboard Bandits: Outlaw Artists in the Sky, published this year, is 208 pages of photos, entry level information on graffiti culture (i.e. What are throw-ups, pieces, and billboard backs?), profiles and personal anecdotes in the vernacular of true writers (which includes explicit language).

The book is divided into two sections by graffiti and street art, with “Billboard bombing” representing the graffiti camp of billboard interference, which seems to be a bit looser in definition given that many of the pieces were not on the ads directly, but above, below, on the walls behind, or on the backs of billboards. The street art portion, entitled “Billboard Liberation”, is a lot more limited in coverage but profiles some street art favorites like Ron English and Billboard Liberation Front. Clark’s distinction between the two subcultures is a necessary one for this topic since the motivation behind hitting billboards is entirely different: graffiti artists use billboards as a highly-visible platforms to proliferate their names, whereas street artists tend to utilize the space to express ideas. The common thread between both is the drive to deemphasize, interfere with, or eliminate the ubiquitous power of adverts.


The content is fit for a niche audience of LA graffiti heads, with featured West Coast writers such as AM7 Crew, Augor MSK, Bleek CBS Mayhem, Fuct AL LGF, Jeloe US BKF CF, Naut One, Pharoe LCF SOB, Pysa MSK LTS, and Silencer. For those people who would truly appreciate seeing these artists, I think the content in this book would be better published in the form of a regularly-updated blog. Works on a billboard are typically short lived, so the book can show recent and past works by artists but can’t update readers on how long the pieces lasted which is one of the interesting part of ad disruptions.

You can get a copy of Billboard Bandits here.

Photos courtesy of Art Crimes: Graffiti News and Events

Weekend link-o-rama


It’s the weekend…

Photo by Jade

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?”

Wrap up: The Art of Comedy

gilf!. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.

Last weekend we finished up The Art of Comedy with The New York Comedy Festival, Little Italy, Ron English, Hanksy, and gilf! with a tour around New York’s Little Italy to see all the new work that Ron, Hanksy and gilf! have painted there. We were even joined by comedian Jim Gaffigan and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s what’s new on Mulberry Street:

Ron English. Photo by Luna Park.
Hanksy. Photo by Jake Dobkin.
gilf!. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.
gilf!. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.
Hanksy. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.
Hanksy. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.

Jim Gaffigan was so taken with Hanksy’s piece staring that the two had been tweeting back and forth and Jim took his kids to see the wall. Hanksy knew that Jim would also be coming by the art crawl, and so he came prepared with a painting to give to Jim…

Jim’s new painting, Hanksy, Caroline Hirsch, Jim Gaffigan, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, and Ralph Tramontana. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.
Ron English. Photo by Tali Blankfeld.

Photos by Tali Blankfeld, Luna Park, and Jake Dobkin

The Art of Comedy “Art Crawl” Saturday at noon


Come by NYC’s Little Italy tomorrow (Saturday the 10th) at noon for some food and street art at The Art of Comedy Art Crawl. We’ll be meeting at Caffe Roma on Mulberry and Broome and walking down to Sambuca’s Cafe by Mulberry and Canal. In between, we’ll be checking out all of the spots that gilf!, Hanksy, and Ron English recently painted along Mulberry as part of The New York Comedy Festival‘s art component, The Art of Comedy. Jim Gaffigan will be there to check out Hanksy’s piece depicting Jim at Mulberry and Grand, and Ron English will be putting a few finishing touches on his 30-foot-tall mural.

The event is free and open to anyone, but you can RSVP on Facebook.

Photo by Rhiannon Platt

Ron English’s Temper Tot in Little Italy

Photo by Wayne Rada

As Hurricane Sandy made its way towards New York City, Ron English and his assistant Beau Stanton worked feverishly to paint Ron’s first mural in Manhattan in about 25 years as part of The New York Comedy Festival and Vandalog’s The Art of Comedy. The Temper Tot is a character that Ron’s fans will be familiar with from past paintings, murals and an upcoming toy.

If you want to go see the mural for yourself, it’s on Mulberry Street between Canal and Hester in New York’s Little Italy. Or, stop by on Saturday at noon for The Art of Comedy‘s art crawl and we’ll be walking by all of the murals that Ron, Hanksy and gilf! have painted in Little Italy.

PS, thanks to Montana Cans for all the paint that made this wall possible.

Photo by Wayne Rada
Photo by Lois Stavsky. Click to view large.
Photo by Wayne Rada
Photo by Wayne Rada

Photos by Wayne Rada and Lois Stavksy

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

The Art of Comedy with Ron English, Gilf!, and Hanksy

From left to right: Hanksy, Ron English and Gilf!


The New York Comedy Festival, in association with Vandalog, Little Italy and Montana Cans, are bringing street art into this year’s New York Comedy Festival with The Art of Comedy. The Art of Comedy is a series of indoor and outdoor installations around Manhattan by some of New York’s funniest street artists: Ron English, Hanksy, and Gilf!. The installations include murals in Little Italy on Mulberry Street between Canal and Broome, and work inside of the historic comedy club Carolines on Broadway. I’m very excited to be a co-curator on this project alongside Wayne Rada. Caroline Hirsch, of Carolines on Broadway and creator of the New York Comedy Festival, says,”We’re always looking for new and creative ways in which humor is represented in art. These talented artists add a really unique element to this year’s festival, literally taking comedy to the streets.”

The installations inside of Carolines on Broadway by all three artists will be up from November 7th-11th, so if you’re going to check out The Wayans Brothers or maybe one of the other New York Comedy Festival shows at Carolines, be sure to have a look around the Carolines Lounge before you get seated for the show.

Over on Mulberry, the artists will be painting a mix of temporary and permanent murals. Ron’s mural is of particular note since it will be the first mural he has painted in Manhattan (excluding billboard takeovers) since 1987, and this one is going to be big enough that it may just be worth the wait. I’m also looking forward to seeing the election-themed work that Gifl! will put up and work by Hanksy starring some of the performers in this year’s New York Comedy Festival.

I hope you’ll join us on Saturday, November 3rd November 10th at noon on a short tour of the completed murals. We’ll be meeting at Caffe Roma (385 Broome Street).

The Art of Comedy and The New York Comedy Festival also line up nicely with solo shows from all three artists opening on November 1st November 10th. Ron’s show, Crucial Fiction, opens from 6-9pm at Opera Gallery NYC (115 Spring St) and runs through November 29th. Gilf! will be showing at Galerie Swanström (136 Sullivan Street, 3rd Floor) opening from 5-9pm. Hanksy’s show, Young Puns 2 – Now With More Pun, opens at Krause Gallery (149 Orchard Street) from 6-9pm and runs through November 28th.

As for the main events at the New York Comedy Festival, this year has some amazing headliners performing all over the city including Aziz Ansari, Bill Maher, Robin Williams and more. Personally, Caroline and I are going to try to catch Jim Gaffigan. The full schedule can be found here.

Photos courtesy of the artists

Nuart part 4: More outdoor work

Niels “Shoe” Meulman paints a mural within sight of a former bank. Photo by Ian Cox.

In part 4 of my series of posts about this year’s Nuart Festival (here are parts one, two, and three), I’ve finally gotten to the murals and more traditional street work of this year’s festival. This year, Nuart is responsible for new murals in Stavanger by Niels “Shoe” Meulman, Ron English, Dolk, How&Nosm, Mobstr and Eine.

Ron English. Photo by Ian Cox.
Mobstr. Photo by Ian Cox.

More after the jump… Continue reading “Nuart part 4: More outdoor work”