Ranging from meticulously-crafted drawings to bold paintings, the artworks on exhibit at NYC’s Dorian Grey Gallery are a homage to Mexican street art. A number of artists who were in town for the exhibit also hit the streets, as well. Here’s a sampling of both:
12 Mexican Street Artists continues through June 15th at 437 East 9th Street in Manhattan’s East Village. Additional murals — by the artists on exhibit at Dorian Grey Gallery — can be found on the corner of DeKalb and Spencer in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
The world of street art has changed dramatically in the past decade, so much so that there is a rigid culture of how to do street art, where to do it, and how it is organized. Some tradition remains of clandestine artistry and evasive messages found plastered in urban centers all throughout the world, but we have culminated a new practice of presenting street art in a more organized, institutionalized form: the street art festival.
This somewhat new phenomena in the movement of street art has exposed new audiences to this form of expression and many that had previously associated graffiti, street art, public art with illegality and rebellion, are currently beginning to see some street artists as artist with merit, some admiration, who are worth the visibility of the streets. I believe this shift in public opinion about street art arrives with the creation of street art festivals popping up in every hemisphere. Street art festivals appeal to cities because it beautifies them and a city that takes part in any dialogue that involves art, culture and discursive action is a city that is partaking in modernity and resourcefulness (another word that I am using to substitute the otherwise very well known systems of capitalism and neoliberalism…) Before you assume that I am against street art festivals or that they serve to sell an idea of art that is very far removed from the origins of what street artists intended to do in the 70s in subway trains, I confirm that I see a lot of positive shifts when cities participate in street art festivals. Maybe I am biased after working for a non profit that puts together a yearly conference and concepts throughout the year, but I can assure anyone and be a witness to the progressive changes that art can bring to a community that has traditionally separated art from public knowledge and participation. Elitist practices are shaken up when a group of young dreamers get together and create more noise in the art community than their local modern art museum, this seems to be important and a pretty damn good use of grass roots tactics and a flavor of elusiveness (cause let’s face it, street art festivals don’t satisfy everyone and we gotta work with some mastery of vagueness to put up murals that scream cultural codes that are otherwise ignored.)
Based on my experience it has not been easy to participate in festivals, it is the hardest job you can think of in the art world. Little to no pay, blow up mattresses (if we are lucky), sleep deprivation, and nasty weather, but it is the best experience I have been a part of. But it never occurred to me, despite all the roadblocks and sweat, blood and tears, just how plausible it is to program and direct a successful festival in the United States, I could not imagine with honesty and certainty how different it is in other places…
That is until I spoke with Entes &Pesimo last year when they began planning Latir Latino. It appeared difficult to me mainly because some of the decisions that we took when organizing the conference, could not happen in places like Lima. Decisions like rejecting corporate sponsorships or work with big brands to aid our mission are some that are limiting when working in different societies with more restricting economic options. So okay, means are tougher to come by, donations (and its culture) are hard to make when people have barely anything to get by and disposable income does not exist… These were the tactics I was familiar with and none of those worked for Entes & Pesimo, but they successfully launched Latir Latino, along with a documentary.
This year, the pair launched Latido Americano and in order to avoid some of the corporate aspects of a festival, they decided to work with the city of Lima and its downtown municipality to create murals in the heart of the city. Their intent to create a festival in Lima, in South America, focused on creating a new wave of movement that comes from within, creating from the periphery that is South America, and to maintain more influence in the many faces of street art and the festivals that usually occur in the United States and Europe. Since then, many other festivals have taken place and many more are in the works… So I decided to give a special focus to this new wave of Latin American street art festivals, they are occurring at an incredible speed and I promise to keep you all up to date…
I want to share with you the first installment of this series that will show the happenings in South America, while also introducing new contexts from where these festivals are held. This will be a space to discuss and watch all the creativity and formation of a new influence in street art: Latin America.
As the walls continue to speak in the Santurce district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, they have begun to attract increasing attention and admiration from passersby. We even noticed a group of students speaking with Mexican artist, Neuzz. Here are a few images of works in progress by: Sego, also from Mexico, Rimx & the Puerto Rican El Coro collective, Ever from Argentina, and Neuzz from the Carribean’s first international urban arts festival:
From April 29th to May 6th, Mexico’s capital city was hit with some paint, color and talent. The good news is that Mexico’s All City Canvas had a fantastic line up, who appear to have done fantastic work. Artists participating included Roa, Escif, Herakut, Sego, Interesni Kazki, Vhils, Saner and El Mac. The bad news is that unless you were one of the lucky few who were able to see it in person, the rest of us had to bare with the insta-nostalgia, lo-fi photo processing of Instagram since this was primarily how images of the murals were being released online. Interestingly enough, Gonzalo Alvarez, one of the project’s creators, acknowledged that “many artists in Mexico have no money to travel to other countries, and many of their influences come from the pictures they see on the Internet.” All City Canvas’ PR people could be commended for adhering to Alvarez’s philosophy and releasing the images where the masses seem to be (namely Instagram). But to broadcast art to its global audience through heavy photo filters is kind of like putting ketchup on a steak. Perhaps this argument is irrelevant if the intended audience was the Mexican youth who were able to witness street art in person instead of online. That was the philosophy, right? Quality photos had eventually been released. I suppose I am a bit apprehensive to see Instagram used as a marketing device for art or as my only means of seeing a piece. But that is a total digression from what this post should be focused on.
All City Canvas was awesome. Take a look at these almost completely unedited photos. Or go to Mexico City.
In conjunction with the festical, gallery Fifty24MX in Mexico City is exhibiting a number of the artists participating in All City Canvas in a show entitled “Piezas“. The show opened on May 10th and will be running until May 27th, featuring work by Aryz, El Mac, Interesni Kazki, Roa, Saner and Sego. Check out photos of the exhibition here.
Roa recently took a trip to Mexico where he got up to a lot of painting, including collaborations with Saner and Sego. Lots more images (including some animals that Roa had not painted before) over on Ekosystem.