In an internet-age twist on Steve Powers’ famous ESPO shutters, Spain’s MVIN has painted a massive piece across 99 shutters in Barcelona. Like Powers, it appears that MVIN painted his shutters in broad daylight with a high-vis vest, acting like the buff man. And individually, each shutter does look more or less like a half-finished buff job. Collectively though (and with the help of the 100th shutter, a camera)…
For those in Barcelona who want to visit some of these shutters in person, here’s a map.
Finally, here’s a video of the piece coming together:
In the spring of 2014, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program installed psychylustro, a multi-site artwork by Katharina Grosse, across sections of the Northeast Rail Corridor in Philadelphia. Grosse treated walls, warehouses, and even trees as her canvas. psychylustro‘s bold colors and brush strokes certainly changed the scenery for Amtrak commuters, and Hyperallergic described the work as “a mysterious, puzzling, and surprising presence.” But psychylustro was also an intervention at a site usually controlled by graffiti writers.
There was graffiti along the rail corridor before Mural Arts and Grosse got to work, and it’s no secret that psychylustro was tagged and bombed. For six months, Mural Arts regularly revisited the walls to apply fresh coats of neon paint. And then… they stopped, leaving psychylustro to the elements, the writers, and the buff.
Although psychylustro did cover notable graffiti (including works by Retna, Nekst, Skrew, Curve, and Ntel), it also presented an opportunity: Before installation began, Mural Arts invited Martha Cooper to document the graffiti at the sites where psychylustro was going to be. And recently, a little over a year after Mural Arts stopped maintaining psychylustro, they sent photographer Steve Weinik to revisit the installation. The result is a likely unparalleled documentation of graffiti along the Philadelphia section of the Northeast Rail Corridor in 2014 and 2015.
One nice perk of working at Mural Arts is that I have access to those photos. Since I’m about to leave Mural Arts for New York City, it seems like the perfect time to show the evolution of the psychylustro walls, from the graffiti captured by Martha through to how they look today. The photo captions are incomplete, but hopefully useful nonetheless (thanks to NTEL and Air Rat for help with captions). Enjoy!
Apologies that this particular link-o-rama is full of self-promotion and conflicts of interesting, but I do think these are all interesting projects and I hope you do too:
It takes a lot to get my excited about a mural festival, but this year’s Wall\Therapy in Rochester, NY looks great. It’s difficult to put on a mural festival. One short cut is to work with obvious artists. Your festival will look like 50 other festivals, but the walls will probably seem impressive. Wall\Therapy has not gone that route. This year in particular, they put together a surprising and diverse line up to create an arguably cohesive body of new work, and the quality of the murals is still strong pretty much across the board. Check out Brooklyn Street Art’s photos and review for the full story.
From the selections I’ve read, I’m still not sure how I feel about the book What Do One Million Ja Tags Signify? by Dumar Novy, but a philosophy book centered on the work of a prolific graffiti writer seems like something that should at least catch the interest of Vandalog readers.
Shepard Fairey’s latest print about corporate greed and campaign finance reform is about to drop. It’s a nice print, and I’m always glad to see Shepard tackling this important but not particularly sexy topic. Plus, the profits from this print go to two great organizations fighting for campaign finance reform. I’ll just note that Shepard is working on a couple of projects right now for my employer, but campaign finance reform and political corruption really are topics that I care a lot about.
Speaking of my employer, I recently got to work on a really fun project with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Ben Eine. Back in June, Eine came to Philly for a few days and painted almost 40 of his classic shutter letters. Philly now has a complete Eine alphabet, and then some. Eine’s work can be found throughout the city, but the shutters are definitely clustered in South Philly around Southeast by Southeast, a community center and art space for the neighborhood’s large Southeast Asian refugee community. Brooklyn Street Art has more on this project.
And one more Mural Arts project to mention: JR recently installed a huge mural right in the heart of Philadelphia as part of Open Source, our public art exhibition curated by Pedro Alonzo. The mural is a portrait of Ibrahim Shah, a local food truck chef who came to Philadelphia from Pakistan about a year ago. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a great profile on Ibrahim. I love how this mural looms large on the side of one of the biggest buildings right in the center of Philly, but isn’t actually that visible from the ground except from a few choice locations. Sounds like that could be a problem, I know, but the mural actually pops out from behind buildings in the most surprising places, and catching a glimpse of it winds up being a thrill, a bit of hide and seek. Plus, that game plays into the meaning of the mural, which is about how immigrants are a big part of our cities, but aren’t always celebrated or allowed to be made visible.
Okay, actually, Mural Arts has something coming up with Steve Powers too, but hopefully it will last longer than these signs in NYC! No surprise, a great series of street signs by Powers, installed legally as part of a project with the NYC Department of Transportation, seem to be being ripped down and stolen by greedy collectors or maybe thieves hoping to make a buck. It’s no surprise, but it is still disappointing.
If you’re in New York City, do not miss Faile’s exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s on now, and visiting is a really exciting experience. Vandalog contributing writer Caroline Caldwell currently works as an assistant at Faile’s studio, but even hearing bits and pieces from her as things were coming together did not prepare me for the awesomeness that is Savage/Sacred Young Minds. Without a doubt, the highlight of the exhibition is the latest and (I think) largest iteration of Faile and Bast’s Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, with custom foosball, pinball, and of course video games. It’s just an unabashedly fun experience. Arrested Motion has photos of much of the exhibition.
UPDATE 2: Steve Powers has posted his reaction to this whole situation. Definitely read the whole thing. Very reasonable and wise position overall, and while I appreciate Steve’s perspective which is obviously important to this issue, I disagree with him on one major point: He seems to undervalue the love that Fishtown residents and visitors have for his mural. He sees everything as ephemeral, and so it is, but we can still mourn the loss of an artwork, particularly when it is so well-loved and it is lost (at least until repaired) in such a disappointing manner. But this is something Steve and I have disagreed about before and I’m sure will disagree about in the future…
UPDATE: Leah Kauffman has confirmed that Lee Mayjahs did make a comment on PhillyMag.com as “Dumb Buffer,” and also conducted a brief interview with him.
In 2012, Steve Powers painted a mural for Kurt Vile in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Fishtown. A photo of the mural eventually became the album art for Kurt Vile’s Walking on a Pretty Daze. This week in Philadelphia, a vigilante buffman took it upon himself to paint over part of that mural, and only stopping once he was caught in the act by Instagram user @dasheikee. According to @dasheikee, the buffman did not have the property owner’s permission and was not employed by the city, but he decided to paint over the mural because “He claimed it attracted graffiti to the neighborhood!”
The claim about this mural attracting graffiti is a bit silly in my opinion. Fishtown is basically like Philadelphia’s Williamsburg or Bushwick, so that would be like saying that eliminating The Bushwick Collective would end graffiti in Bushwick. Graffiti was there before The Bushwick Collective and it will be there afterwards, because of the people who like to live or spend time in Bushwick. Besides, many people in Fishtown appreciate street art, graffiti and murals. I have to assume that the location of the mural was selected because Powers and Vile thought that the existing residents would like piece, and they do. If anything, if this wall weren’t going to be repaired, the mediocre buff job would probably have led to illegal graffiti being painted right there. As it was, nobody was going to paint over Steve’s work.
I’ll admit that when this mural first went up, I wasn’t a huge fan. I saw it primarily as an advertisement masquerading as a mural, but the fact is that the mural has become an iconic addition to Fishtown, so even I’m disappointed to see this happen. Luckily, plans are already in the works to repair (and update) the wall.
It’s cool to see how a community rallied, largely online, to protect this mural and mourn its partial destruction. There is a very obvious irony in this whole situation that a bunch of fans of street art and graffiti suggesting that the police be called over someone illegally painting a wall, but as Jane Golden of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Programcommented, “I think the big point here is that it’s really sad to lose a work of art.”
It’s been a while since I did a link-o-rama, but I’m really behind right now and it seems the only way to catch up. I’ve been living in my wifi-less apartment, and I’m headed to London, so these few minutes I’m spending in a cafe may be my only chance for a while to write about a few things…
Caroline and I recently watched Sign Painters, a film about the art of sign painting. It’s available now on iTunes, and well worth checking out. I’m a sucker for films about art and documentaries about people who are obsessed with perfecting their craft, whatever that may be, and Sign Painters delivers on both counts.
Both the New York Times and Elle Magazine have recently had articles about women in street art and graffiti. Usually, these articles frustrate me. The Elle Magazine article is typical. The NYTimes article is one of the best I have read on this subject. I actually really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s just that it was well written, but I think there is more. Caroline put it really well to me. She describes the Elle Magazine article as describing these artists as women first and artists second, and the NYTimes article as describing them as artists who happen to be women. Elle Magazine focuses on the fact that they are women. The NYTimes actually talks about the amazing street art and murals being made by women.
V1 Gallery in Denmark celebrates its 10th year with Tonight We Won’t Be Bored; a massive show of 100 new works by artists like André, Kenny Scharff, Futura, Faile, Lydia Fong (aka Barry McGee), Barbara Kruger, Shepard Fairey, Steve Powers, Todd James, Andrew Schoultz, Thomas Campbell, Erik Parker, André, Neckface, Eine, Wes Lang, Clayton Brothers, and many others. The show opened on November 30th and runs through January 12th.
The Copenhagen gallery got its start in 2002, in a space which had formerly been used as a bakery. With their first exhibition being with Faile, they got the ball rolling pretty quick. By 2007 they moved to a larger space and later started curating shows and participating in art fairs around the world.
For most of last week, I was in Stavanger, Norway for the 2012 Nuart Festival. Naturally, even though I was there in part as press, I spent very little time on my computer and didn’t do any blogging. So, expect a full post or two about Nuart later this week, but for now here’s what I missed writing about while I was away: