It’s hard to not come back to Labrona‘s art. Not only because he is one of my favorite street artists ever, but also because he is one of those who continues to create the same way he has created since the beginning, year after year, for him, on the streets, on trains, with his friends. He continues to work and keeps up his generosity, without paying mind to changes that have disrupted the street art movement lately. For this, he should have the respect of all. Most importantly, he cherishes time spent creating with friends, because to create in the streets is also for him a real opportunity to share a good time with good friends. All the following pieces were done during last summer and fall, in Montreal and Toronto by Labrona with Troy Lovegates, Gawd, Monosourcil, Kim, Kat, Produkt and Mathieu Connery.
“Travel broadens the mind.” Well I really hope that’s true! I had the chance to spend a few days in the Bay area, which gave me another opportunity to continue my favorite activity: urban exploration. As a European, it’s a bit risky to show my own vision of America’s urban environment, and express feelings that could be misunderstood. This time, I had the chance to be guided through San Francisco and Oakland by one of the most talented Canadian street artists, Troy Lovegates, based in San Francisco for the last 2 years, and so have my point of view challenged by an insider of the Bay Area art scene. We left SF for Oakland, went through West Oakland, playground of graffiti writers, reached downtown, with its big murals, passed by Athen B. gallery (where Lovegates was showing in a collaborative group exhibition with Zio Zegler, Jaz and EverSiempre), and ended up in Chinatown. I unfortunately do not have photos of Lovegates’ pieces, as his street art pieces are usually buffed or cleaned super fast. And he still has not had the opportunity to legally paint a wall in the Bay area. But he does not despair! Lovegates had to wait years before getting a wall in Montreal, and finally managed to paint2 murals very late after he left Montreal for Toronto…
Speaking of the Mural Arts Program, I am really pleased to say that we now have a major Shepard Fairey mural in Philadelphia. Find me some day and ask me the whole story of this mural, but let’s just say it’s complicated and thank goodness for Roland at Domani Developers for getting us a wall at the last minute.
We also have a new much more politically-charged mural from Shepard Fairey through The L.I.S.A. Project NYC, and while I’m sure the process for that was also quite complicated, my friend Wayne took care of that and all I had to do was pitch Shepard on the idea of a big wall in NYC and the property owner on the idea of a Shepard Fairey mural on his building (neither of which were too difficult). I’m absolutely honored to have played even my small role in each of these murals. It was my first time working with Shepard, and it was a pleasure.
Two real kings of NYC graffiti, Blade and Freedom, have shows open now at the Seventh Letter flagship store in LA. Blade is an undisputed subway king who also pushed graffiti forward as an art-form, a rare combination. Freedom is a personal favorite of mine (his piece in my black book is a real prized possession) for combining pop art, an ability to paint very well, comics, and graffiti in an intelligent way without too much of an ego. I’m sad to be missing both of these shows, but I hope LA will give them the love they deserve.
Hi-Fructose posted some interesting GIFs by Zolloc, but the best part of the post is the first sentence: “While GIFs have yet to find an established place in the art world, they’re fascinating because they have the potential to go beyond the frozen image in two dimensions.” Of course, Hi-Fructose is part of the art world, so just having them post Zolloc’s GIFs counts for something. Hi-Fructose seems to be saying (albeit hesitantly) that GIFs being in their corner of the art world, which is great. That’s not a bad corner to be in, and it’s a hell of a lot better than nowhere. So, why be hesitant? If the work is fascinating, embrace it.
Oh Olek, always the best of intentions, but the results are not so great…
Smart Crew have teamed up with Beriah Wall on a series of cool collaborations. Does anyone else see this as further evidence of Smart Crew growing up, aka transitioning from a crew producing illegal graffiti into a brand or collective that does legal (and sometimes commercial) work referencing illegal graffiti? Nothing wrong with that. I’m just noting the transition.
Hyperallergic has been covering artist reactions to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Public performances in Philadelphia (by Keith Wallace) and New York City (by Whitney V. Hunter) exemplify to the unsurprising obliviousness to the situation or at least lack of caring that so many people openly display (for more, see Kara Walker at Domino). It’s amazing to see these two striking performances go widely ignored while it’s mostly prettybutemptymurals that go viral. Is that the state of street art and muralism today? I hope not. And of course, maybe what makes those performances so jarring online is that they were ignored on the street.
I have tried to resit the allure of Pejac’s work for a while, but no more. Yes, some of the jokes are cheap and feel twice-told, exactly the sort of easy made-to-go-viral work that I am complaining about in the previous paragraph, but Pejac is painting them really well, and they consistently catch my attention. As much as I would like to write him off as a Banksy-ripoff who even came to that idea a few years too late, I can’t do so any longer. The work is actually quite good. Have a look for yourself.
Last week I was in Atlanta for the Living Walls Conference. A great time was had by all. I was there to speak with Living Walls co-founder Monica Campana and Juxtapoz editor Austin McManus about the evolution of street art and graffiti over the past five or so year, and Vandalog contributing writer Caroline Caldwell was there to paint a mural. Atlanta got some real gems this year, including new work by Moneyless, Troy Lovegates and Xuan Alyfe in collaboration with Trek Matthews. Juxtapoz hasextensivecoverage. Congratulations to Living Walls on a truly impressive 5th anniversary event.
This coming week I’ll be in Norway for Nuart and Nuart Plus. The artist lineup features some of my personal favorites, including John Fekner, SpY and Fra.Biancoshock. I love Nuart because it’s a festival that always strikes a balance between the best of the best artists painting epic murals on the “street art festival circuit,” and the oft-under-publicized but highly-political activist artists intervening in public space. Putting these artists in the same festival strengthens the work of everyone there, and reminds us that murals can serve many different purposes. I’ll be speaking at Nuart Plus on behalf of the Mural Arts Program in a few capacities. I’ll be moderating a panel about activism in art, presenting couple of short films during Brooklyn Street Art’s film night, sitting on a panel about contemporary muralism and giving a talk about how government-sanctioned art and muralism can be used to promote positive social change. There will be a lot of great speakers at Nuart Plus this year though. Brooklyn Street Art has the whole line up for the festival and the conference.
If you’re in Atlanta, I hope you’ll come out and support, not just because I would love to see a packed house for the panel that I’m on (although that would be nice), but because I love Living Walls and Living Walls has made me love Atlanta. This is going to be a great conference.
Last December, during the famous Art Basel Miami Beach 2013, Troy Lovegates (aka Other) did a stunning mural in Wynwood. Beautiful, always. Rather than describe it or try to explain Troy Lovegates‘ work, I invite everybody to check out the video, and to listen to his own words….Beautiful, always.
Once again, I’m much more a fan of the audio description of this latest Banksy piece than the work itself, which may be the point or maybe I’m just taking Banksy too seriously (as the audio description for this piece suggests). Luna Park came across this piece on Wednesday before it was announced on the Better Out Than In site this morning. It was confirmed last night when a description of it became available on the Better Out Than In audio guide 800-number (1-800-656-4271-2#). Hat tip to Ryan Oakes for alerting me to the audio description. Now, you can listen to it over the phone or on Banksy’s website.
And now for our +5, five other photos of street art by artists other than Banksy that were uploaded to Flickr yesterday. Today there’s work by Poster Boy, DabsMyla, Troy Lovegates, Tomo and one unknown artist:
This link-o-rama is super helpful for me, because all week I’ve been working on my upcoming ebook instead of blogging. Hopefully the ebook will be out in November… Anyways, links:
I love that this show at LeQuiVive Gallery reframes a certain kind of work that often gets lumped in with street art or urban art as Neu Folk Revival, which describes the work much better than calling it street art or urban art or low-brow art. Some real talent in this show: Doodles, Troy Lovegates, Cannon Dill, ghostpatrol, Zio Ziegler, Daryll Peirce, Justin Lovato… It opens next month.
This piece by Part2ism needs to be seen. And look closely. That’s not just paint on the wall. Very interesting. I am glad to see Part2ism on the streets again, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Once again, he has shown that he is ahead of the rest of us. This piece doesn’t look like graffiti. It doesn’t look like street art. It looks like art on the street, and that’s much too rare.Swampy has relaunched his website and posted a video diary sort of thing. I’m very curious what people think about it. Have a look and let me know.Check out this concept from Jadikan-LP: Art that only exists within Google Maps. Click the link. Explore the room. I normally hate lightpainting or “light graffiti,” but I absolutely love this piece. As far as I’m concerned, the internet is a public space and Jadikan-LP has invaded it with artwork, so this project is street art.
CDH wrote a really fascinating article in Art Monthly Australia about the commodification of street art. While I don’t agree with him entirely, I think it’s a must-read because at least it sparks some thoughts. It’s one of the best-written critiques I’ve read of the capitalistic nature of contemporary street art. Over on Invurt, they have posted CDH’s article as well as a response by E.L.K. (who CDH calls out in his critique). In his article, CDH called out E.L.K. for using stencils with so many layers that the work isn’t really street anymore, since stencils were initially used for being quick and a piece with 20 layers isn’t going to be quick. It’s just going to look technically interesting. Well, E.L.K. shot back in his response and made himself look like an idiot and seemingly declaring that all conceptual street art and graffiti is crap. There were arguments he could have made to defend complex stenciling or critique other points of CDH’s article, but instead E.L.K. mostly just attacked CDH as an artist. Anyway, definitely read both the original article and the response over at Invurt. The comments on the response are interesting as well.
While Labrona and Troy Lovegates (aka Other) were working on some beautiful murals in Montreal this summer, they found time to escape into the lowlands of the city, to continue to express their art, night and day, despite being exhausted by all the work they were doing on their own murals! (See the mural of Troy Lovegates here, and the one Labrona is now working on at the end of this post.) It’s always amazing to be in front of a mural painted by these incredible artists, but the pleasure is the same when you are front of an illegal piece in the street. Can you feel the sweet sensations of the summer? Anyway, I do! Meanwhile, Labrona took some breaks alone and with Alex Produkt and Troy Lovegates went out on some solo missions too… a great summer for all of them, actually.
Detail of the mural Labrona is actually doing with MU in Montreal (a large ceiling in 2 parts)
When I started to hunt Montreal illegal street art, it appeared to me that a city is not static as usual people can think it. When you look closer, you can observe the walls change by the art that sticks on them. I was able to see the evolution of the streets and in the same time I saw ordinary places becoming amazing spots. When an artist, or a group of artists take over a wall, a door, and make it themselves, they give a soul to the city. Below you will see the transformation of some pieces whether completed or fixed. Interestingly, from a collective action or an individual one, it results that the urban environment is likely to be changed and magnified. The walls are for everyone but some of them exclusively belong to some artists. Hope they stay like this!