STREET now open! Chicago | Los Angeles | Miami | New York | San Francisco | Santa Fe
Amsterdam | Berlin | Brussels | London | Paris | São Paulo | Toronto | China | India | Worldwide
 
Street
 
20140319213958-ybarra-large

Exposing Visual Rhymes: An Interview with Mario Ybarra Jr.
by Abraham Ritchie


This interview was originally published way back on ArtSlant Chicago, in May, 2008, on the occasion of  Mario Ybarra Jr.'s exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The LA-based artist is known for his installations drawing from pop and street culture, including a recent solo show examining the mythos of Scarface at LA's Honor Fraser Gallery. Right now his work can be found on a billboard in Mobile, AL, part of Los Angeles Nomadic Division's Manifest Destiny Project.

Mario Ybarra, Jr. is a LA-based visual and performance artist who has created room-sized installations all over the world and most recently right here in Chicago for the Art Institute of Chicago. This year Ybarra was also selected to participate in the Whitney Biennial. Beneath Ybarra's friendly demeanor lies a keen observer who is quick to expose visual rhymes in seemingly unrelated sources and to expand and build upon those connections until a cohesion is reached, or as he might say, a story. Ybarra graciously met with ArtSlant's Abraham Ritchie while putting the finishing touches on his installation at the Art Institute. Ever the raconteur, Ybarra talked about his native LA, baseball and King Arthur. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.


 

Abraham Richie: I think a lot of Chicagoans, and everyone, might want to know what the connection is between Southern Los Angeles, Catalina Island and Wrigley Field? It’s kind of funny to think that Wrigley Field had a “secret brother” or something like that on the West Coast, because I am not sure that many people remember or know about this other Wrigley Field.

Mario Ybarra, Jr.: Well that’s where this whole project started for me. About a year ago Lisa Dorin, the Assistant Curator in the Contemporary Art Department, asked me if I wanted to come up with a proposal to do a Focus project here at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I said I would think about it a little bit. The way that I try to work is that I try to make some kind of relationship between a personal experience, or my personal understanding or knowledge and the place that I show. I don’t like the idea of coming in and claiming an expertise on a place that I know nothing about. I’ve found that doing something that starts in the realm of the personal and then taking it out to another place and trying to make relationships between those two places is the most successful tactic for me. . . I try to make bridges, so to speak.

As a kid we would take trips out to Catalina Island, which is part of the Channel Islands, about 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. I remember part of the tour was the local history. They’d always tell us that William Wrigley, Jr. owned Catalina Island and he had famous movie stars of the time going out there, like Clark Gable. His Chicago Cubs would go out and have their spring training there. The main town there is called Avalon and it gets its name from [Wrigley’s] niece, who told [Wrigley] to name it that after the Avalon of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and those stories. So it has this mythological side of it too. It has real histories, the local histories, of it being owned by Wrigley, and it has this mythological history through the King Arthur association. My studio back in LA is on Avalon Boulevard and they named [the street] that because that’s where the boats used to take people out to Avalon Harbor on the island. I started doing research about that, I’m like a de facto historian, and I found that Wrigley, along with owning the island, owned this other Wrigley Field that was in South Central Los Angeles on Avalon and 66th street. So we had the Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, my studio on Avalon, this field that Wrigley owned was also on Avalon, I just kept following the line. I thought I could take this story from Avalon, to Avalon Boulevard, to my studio, to Avalon were the stadium was, to all the way down Highway 66 to Chicago and the Art Institute.

I’m figuring out ways to make these relationships between historical figures like William Wrigley, who was important to historical cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, and bring these stories together somehow, make bridges between the stories. Between what I know and my experiences and the places that I go.

AR: Sports are the site of an obvious physical conflict and throughout the exhibit are interesting juxtapositions: the Mexican flag and the U.S. flag, the sword and the baseball bat, the fist of the Revolution and an image of a capitalist’s private island. The history of the island reflects conflict as well, in the seventies it was occupied by the Brown Berets. How are sports, especially baseball, viewed both literally and metaphorically for this project, and the issues it raises?

MY: Well I have always thought of the history of baseball as particularly related to the United States. It’s billed as “the American Game;” it’s not really played around the world at all other than some Latin American countries, like the Dominican Republic where all these new players are coming from and where young people are specifically groomed to be ball players. But in relation to the United States, and this comes from the different things that I have watched or read, the developments of social movements in the United States almost always came ten years later than in the ball game itself. Baseball has been very slow to change, and it hasn’t changed really over the few centuries its been played here. But it still has these kind of leading edges. Let’s take for example the story of integration and civil rights. Jackie Robinson starts playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950's and certain places, like schools, weren’t integrated until the early sixties or late sixties. Baseball reflects a little bit in advance the kind of social movements that will happen in the United States.

Another thing that I think is very interesting in terms of conflict and it being a spectator sport, even though there are rival teams and most big cities have their own team, [there is a sense of unity]. Before professional baseball, each little town would have a team, even though there was a sense of rivalry or competition, the people were brought together as spectators to cheer on their team. So even though there was a site of conflict, it wasn’t like it was Rome and gladiators were getting fed to lions [laughter]. There is a sense of sportsmanship [. . .]

Related to issues of capitalism and revolution, or acts of civil disobedience, there is a sense of teams. I play off that with the posters, we have here a baseball with two bats crossed, but instead of a regular team you have the Brown Beret guys who tried to occupy the island in 1972 so they’re like “the team.” The idea of “the team” is important too and the metaphor of a team. The idea that everyone has their positions but also act as a unit is very important and is a metaphor for myself.


AR: The idea of teams is also apparent in this wall of flags you have installed. What are the flags we have here?

MY: This is the state of Illinois’ flag. The flags are also stadium-esque, they always have them. The other thing, again about making relationships, is this is the state of Illinois’ flag, which has an eagle perched on a rock holding a shield and in his mouth is a banner. I thought that is very interesting, because over here is the Mexican flag, and again we have the eagle, this time perched on the cactus, and the snake in his mouth pretty much mimics the banner in the Illinois flag. Those kinds of aesthetic relationships and symbolic choices are very interesting.


AR: Even looking at the Illinois flag, that’s more of an Aztec style eagle than a typical American-style eagle.

MY: Yeah. Those are the kinds of things I noticed in my visits to Chicago to prepare for this show, last year and earlier this year. I started seeing these kinds of relationships, like the Illinois flag’s similarity to the flag of Mexico.

This row of flags will start off with the U.S. flag, the state of Illinois flag, Chicago flag, Los Angeles flag, state of California flag, and the Mexican flag. We have these different relationships between these two places starting with the cities and then going to the states. We have the state of Mexico flag, even though California is not part of Mexico, it used to be part of Mexico, but it’s related to the histories that we have here. Catalina Island was occupied by the Brown Berets because in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which separated the Southwest from Mexico after the Mexican-American War, the island wasn’t specifically mentioned. This is why the Brown Berets tried to occupy it.

There are interrelationships between the two places [Chicago and LA]. I thought that was another kind of metaphor for the show, in terms of Wrigley being this character and starting with him, saying no man is an island, or no city, or no country or land is an island. They’re all in relationship, in context, to their neighbors. Imagine if we thought that we could do everything, under our own power, we’d get ourselves in trouble. We can talk about it in relationship to land, in relationship to people. Or no island is a man, we could even switch it.

I wanted to draw these kinds of relationships together, one between Los Angeles and Chicago, two between Mexico and the States, three between baseball and mythology. Different symbolic orders, things like ships or bubble gum.

 

ArtSlant would like to thank Mario Ybarra, Jr., Jenny Gheith and Lisa Dorin for their assistance in making this interview possible. Additional thanks to the Anna Helwing Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago

- Abraham Ritchie

 

(Top image: Mario Ybarra Jr, Manifest Destiny Project billboard, 2014; Courtesy of LAND. All other images are installation views of Take Me Out. . . No Man Is an Island, 2008; Courtesy of the Artist)

 

 

 



Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 3/19 | tags: q&a Throwback

Related articles:



20140720144740-1
Zezão
Zipper Galeria
Rua Estados Unidos, 1494 , 01427-001 São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
June 14, 2014 - August 2, 2014


Opposite Parts of the Same Whole
by Vivian Mocellin


Zezão may not have patented his blue like Yves Klein did, but to anyone who has wandered around the streets of São Paulo, the Zezão blue is unmistakable in both its nuance, purpose and language. Made manually, his light blue is consistently used to color his flops – the name he has given to the arabesque drawings which are a kind of stylization of his signature, deriving from letters distorted so intensely that they started looking abstract. What few people realize is that these now iconic images are reminiscent of the times when Zezão was strongly involved with the pixação* movement. He was already a recognized pixador when he came across a documentary on Basquiat, which awakened his desire to start experimenting with abstraction. The flops represent then a shift in his production.

Zezão, exhibition view; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

 

This new attitude caused estrangement to other pixadores and it was this incomprehension and the desire to experiment that led him to the undergrounds of the city where he found space and freedom to develop his new language. Against the predominant discourse, Zezão himself never put street art and graffiti in contradiction though, for him, both deal with the idea of transgression, and his biggest transgression might have been precisely attempting to blur the separation between these two movements. His flops may be seen as a synthesis between the typography and graphism of the pixação and the aesthetic and appeal of street art.

Choosing a color to identify his work was an influence of the graffiti duo “Os Gemeos”, who have consistently used yellow and red to mark their production. For Zezão, blue was a desire to convey peace, hope and possibility in the abandoned and degraded city spaces where the flops were painted. Placing his works in these locations has also set him even more apart from other graffiti and street artists who commonly choose places of high visibility for their works. By throwing color and art into the marginal spaces, he gave his work a socio-political dimension calling attention to urban issues such as abandonment, urban decay, violence, pollution and poverty.

Zezão, exhibition view; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

 

Decay, violence, and poverty are part of Zezão’s everyday, after he set up a studio in the heart of an area known as Cracolândia – a district located downtown next to historical buildings and museums, but considered the crack capital of Brazil with hundreds of drug addicts wandering around. Called “Overground Art Studio Gallery”, the space is part of the revitalization wave which is taking over São Paulo’s center. It serves as a studio for Zezão but also as a space for collaborations and for introducing emerging street artists, such as Indio, a former homeless man who was called to help on the cleaning of the place and surprised everyone with his artistic vein.

But Zezão’s flops also inhabit other spaces. At Zipper Gallery, in a noble area of São Paulo, the light blue graffiti of his entrance piece contrasts with the bright yellow of the building façade and invites the passersby to come in. The gallery’s location and its ascetic ambience are radically different from the context where his graffiti first proliferated – in potholes, manholes and sewers. And to differentiate it from the work that he still does on the streets he calls all objects done in the context of exhibitions or enclosed space: fine art.

Zezão, exhibition view; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

 

Most of the pieces on show at Zipper are site-specific assemblages built with materials harvested in dumpsters, such as old pieces of wood, frames and urban road signs. They are put together directly on the white wall in an instinctive process which dispensed any previous design, and with the exception of one, all of them have a flop graffitied over. These pieces seem to be informed by the aesthetic language of the Brazilian favelas, the gambiarra, which can be loosely translated as “to make do” or “quick-fix”. Outside of favelas, this aesthetic has been also informing a great deal of Brazilian contemporary art production, becoming pervasive in the Brazilian imagination and quotidian, even.

In the realm of the fine arts Zezão has also found space to experiment and develop other languages. In the opposite side of the exhibition room, we find another assemblage, also made of repurposed wood but in direct contrast with the previous pieces. This time the wood was completely standardized, sanded and painted black, completed with black tape applied directly on the wall. No flops grafittied, just black wood and tape spreading on the white wall. The image that emerges seems to represent a metropolis, its skyline and also its subterranean connections. When seen from distance it forms such a schematic image, a graphical abstraction.

Zezão, Exhibition View; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

 

The curatorial text suggests that these seemingly conflicting depictions represent the city seen from near and from far. Close are the favelas: their disorder, their creative chaos and abundance. Far is the geometry, sobriety and functionality of the metropolitan city. None of these depictions is completely accurate, but none can be said inaccurate either. They are like opposite parts of the same whole, contradictory and complementary at the same time. They live in intense dialogue and tension with each other, and it is just when put in perspective together that one can make sense of both, and thus make sense of the city they portray. Nobody better than Zezão, who lives these two facets of the city so intensely, to put them in perspective for us and make us walk out of the gallery with a renewed view of São Paulo.

 

* Pixação is a form of graffiti tagging native to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, consisting in wall writings made of tar, and is distinctive for its cryptic style and unique typography.

Zezão, Exhibition View; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

Zezão, Exhibition View; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

Zezão, sem título, acrylic on wood, 70 x 100 x 4 cm, 2013; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

Zezão, untitled, acrylic on wood, 155 x 260 x 12 cm, 2014; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria

 

—Vivian Mocellin

 

(Image on top: Zezão, Exhibition View; Courtesy of The Artist and Zipper Galeria)



Posted by Vivian Mocellin on 7/20

Related articles:



20140818153809-osgemeos_-_exhibiti_19c8b2b
OsGemeos
Galeria Fortes Vilaça
Rua Fradique Coutinho, 1500, Vila Madalena, 05416-001 São Paulo, Brazil
June 29, 2014 - August 16, 2014


Give in to the Dream: OSGEMEOS Moon Opera
by Vivian Mocellin


The new project of OSGEMEOS in the Fortes Vilaça Gallery in São Paulo is an experience of vertigo that leads directly to the unconscious. Entering the first room of the exhibition one is faced with dozens of their iconic yellow people – their signature image – plus a variety of other characters, spread through countless paintings, sculptures and installations, assembled next to each other to form an immersive environment. In the center of the room a vortex made out of doors of all sizes seems to pull all these characters along with the viewers into the dream-like universe created by the duo. The vortex epitomizes precisely the moment in which we are about to fall asleep and fall into unconsciousness, with the doors representing a passage to other dimensions.

The doors and windows always present in their works are also a point of contact and a connection between seemingly disconnected pieces. Even though each artwork contains a story and is a world in itself, small doors and windows sometimes denote a passage and an entrance into the world represented in the next painting, each work containing the key to open the door and understand the next work. “Everything is connected”, they say, leaving clues all the way along, giving the public a sensation that there is an erratic underlying narrative being drawn in front of our eyes. The public can identify references to Brazil’s folk art and northeastern culture, but are still unable to identify the story, or stories, being told.

The overwhelming profusion of colors, shapes and pictorial styles makes the attempt to understand this narrative an exhausting task though. Soon enough, the observer is compelled to give up on any effort of rationalizing or interpreting and we surrender to their surreal landscapes and recurrent imagery. By then we start noticing the dreamy sensuality of the characters with fluid contours including some nude female figures, which stand out in the middle of the predominantly masculine yellow characters. Despite the nudity and sensuality they also preserve an air of innocence, that permeates the entire current production of the artists.

Passing through a small door in the corner of the first room, we enter another space where we find the big surprise of the show: a giant 3D kinetic sculpture in form of a zoetrope, which gives life and motion to the OG iconography. Surrounded by ocean and moonlight the installation features a soundtrack composed in partnership with Ben Mor and DJ Zegon. The result is striking and absorbing. Our minds take a little while to believe the reality our eyes are recording. Looking at the piece for the two minutes it is in motion, one feels like being on the other side of the vortex represented in first installation and inside of an oneiric dimension where the surreal becomes tangible.

Leaving this space still slightly unsettled the public is presented with another installation reproducing a child’s bedroom whose walls consist of a video. This interactive installation allows the viewers to deviate the patterns of its itinerary interfering in the way the artist’s images seem to be drifting in the screen.

Far away from the urban chaos that marked their first years of production, Moon Opera seems to further consolidate the unique aesthetic language for which the duo are recognized worldwide. The migration of OSGEMEOS’ work to traditional exhibition spaces has allowed them to experiment with new supports, material and techniques and create environments where people could penetrate their works – and minds.

Even though they continue to use spray paint, their work can hardly be defined as street art these days. The work of OSGEMEOS is now better understood in relation to other artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Jean Tinguely and even Frida Kahlo (as the official press release points out). Their magic realism, the excessiveness and obsessive recurrence of their iconography recreates a distinctive universe of that of the streets, a sensual, kaleidoscopic universe that appeals to all sorts of publics, especially to those who lost their capacity to be carried away by imagination. Like it or not, it is impossible to leave the Moon Opera without being taken by it all – if even for a brief minute or two.

Pictures and videos of the exhibition can be seen on their official Instagram and Facebook pages.

—Vivian Mocellin

 

(All Images: OsGemeos, Exhibition view, 2014; © Photo: Eduardo Ortega / Courtesy Galpão Fortes Vilaça)



Posted by Vivian Mocellin on 8/18 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140726171150-img_48022
Jesús Benítez
FIFTY24SF Gallery
218 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
July 11, 2014 - August 31, 2014


Last Day: Thésis, Jesús Benítez
by Eva Recinos


A woman stands nonchalantly amongst creatures that look like a crocodile with giant teeth and a grasshopper with two heads. The other critters around her are less easily explained. One stands on its hind legs and seems to sport a flower with one eye as a head. This is the world of Mexican illustrator and muralist Jesús Benítez. Taking inspiration from science fiction — and the work of Moebius and Roger Dean — Benítez crafts scenes that explore the possibilities of a strange future. In this new world, all boundaries are broken down within humanity, technology and nature. “Thésis” is the artist’s first solo show in North America and showcases the artist’s strange vision. Benítez works in everything from painting to sculptures to murals. No matter the medium, the artist’s dystopian visions are thrilling yet disconcerting. If the future is anything like Benítez creates it, it will look imaginatively created even while it feels dangerous and mysterious.

For any inquiries, email gallery@fifty24sf.com.

—Eva Recinos

 

(All images: Jesús Benítez; Courtesy of the Artist and FIFTY24SF Gallery)

 

 

 



Posted by Eva Recinos on 7/26

Related articles:



20140728172607-guerreroinstall_v4
Group Exhibition
Guerrero Gallery
1401 Thomas Avenue , San Francisco, California 94124
July 26, 2014 - August 23, 2014


Feels Like Home: Andres Guerrero Opens His Home as Art Gallery
by Eva Recinos


In a residential neighborhood on a particularly sunny day in Bayview, you wouldn’t suspect that 1401 Thomas Ave was hosting an art opening. The one telltale sign: a bouncer at the door who asks for your name before you walk in. As he marks your name off, you walk up a staircase and find yourself in what looks like someone’s home.

In fact, the space belongs to Andres Guerrero and he’s invited quite a few art lovers to walk through his rooms. The space definitely feels like a home—on a wall near works by Cleon Peterson, you can spot a framed photo of Andres with two people who look like his parents. In one room, he sits in his office while his sister walks in with a little boy in her arms. The whole space feels welcoming even while at first it might seem strange to walk through bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room to see art. Guests take photos not only of the art but the city views from some of the home’s corners. People relax on couches in the living room and browse the price list that sits on a coffee table across from a record player.

Installation view; © Photo by R.D.

 

The gallery’s current show “At Home With…” brings together an eclectic group of artists. It includes work from Victor Reyes, Cleon Peterson, Ken Davis, Shepard Fairey, Ben Venom, Richard Colman and more. The works span mediums from sculpture and painting to wool. Displaying these in a home lends an interesting twist—four silkscreen and mixed media collage pieces by Shepard Fairey, for example, feel like they belong right where they hang over Andres’ record player.

While some of the works stick to the artists’ usual themes, some of them comment on creating a sense of home and the things we do in private. Erin M. Riley’s wool and cotton Nudes 16 perfectly depicts the selfie phenomena. A girl holds up her phone as she shows off her body in a tight dress; in the background you can spot her laundry hamper and messily made bed. Rendered in wool and cotton, the piece feels like a paradox: Riley depicts a modern technological habit through a craft that dates back to a time before smartphones. A shiny metal work by Steve Powers shows what looks like a pillow emblazoned with the words "Home at Last." Most of the attendees of that night could relate to that unique sentiment of finally arriving within that space they call their own; this artwork will eventually find another home besides that of Andres. Yet this piece, like many others, brings up the question of what exactly "home" means.

Cleon Peterson, Brinksman (Red), Acrylic on wood, 9.5in x 12.5in, 2014; Courtesy of Cleon Peterson and Guerrero Gallery

 

In the meantime, the people mingling around the space seemed to feel quite at home. Other works—like an Andrew Schoultz piece in his distinct style—didn’t appear on the price list, perhaps actually belonging in this space as their permanent home.

Andres explained that he wanted to bring an art scene back to the Bayview area and chose to open up his home to display art. It’s a concept that many San Francisco artists are adopting as they deal with rising rents. If art shows can’t happen in a gallery, there’s no reason not to stage them somewhere else. Artist evictions and redevelopment will continue to alter the artistic landscape of the city. But Guerrero Gallery proves that one positive result is seeing art in alternative spaces. The gallery isn’t the first or last of these spaces but it definitely proves that a home can serve as a gallery and a gallery can feel like home.

 

—Eva Recinos

 

(Image on top: Installation view;© Photo by R.D.)



Posted by Eva Recinos on 7/28 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140805130739-kamea
Defer, Kamea
1AM Gallery
1000 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
August 7, 2014 - August 29, 2014


Fresh from Hawaii: Defer and Kamea's Paradise Lost at 1AM Galler
by Eva Recinos


Taking inspiration from the canonical epic poem, "Paradise Lost" will present the work of Kamea Hadar and Defer. The artists currently live and work in Hawaii and echo the themes of “Paradise Lost” by depicting this current-day paradise in unexpected ways. Kamea's work alters the typical image of a beautiful woman with a flower in her hair; in one of his pieces, a girl looks out calmly at the viewer while a Hawaiian flower on her hair burns in orange and red flames. Defer's works show his talent for calligraphy; the shapes in his compositions almost resemble graffiti letters but seem to swirl into different shapes altogether.

Defer, Spiritual Dialect; Courtesy of the Artist and 1AM Gallery

 

While participating in POW! WOW! Hawaii this year, the artists worked on a mural together which sparked a longer creative collaboration. This show marks part of a series of projects the artists are taking on together. Some of the pieces in the show will merge the artists' styles. One work in progress shows a girl in profile looking at something the viewer can't see; Defer's characteristic forms cover the side of her face. The artists play off each other's colors with Defer's swirling forms echoing the brown in the girl's eyes. Keep an eye out for two large-scale murals in the city as well. “Paradise Lost” is sure to display the artists' individual talent as well as their unique collaborative pieces.


Kamea Hadar & Defer, Lei Hinahina; Courtesy of the Artists and 1AM Gallery
 
Kamea Hadar, Lei Ahi (Fire Lei); Courtesy of the Artists and 1AM Gallery
 
Kamea Hadar & Defer, Ulawena (glowing red as from fire); Courtesy of the Artists and 1AM Gallery
 
Kamea Hadar, Nalowale (lost_vanished); Courtesy of the Artists and 1AM Gallery
 
Kamea Hadar & Defer, Kaulana Na Pua; Courtesy of the Artists and 1AM Gallery

 

—Eva Recinos

 

[Image on top: Kamea Hadar, Palekaiko (Paradise); Courtesy of the Artist and 1AM Gallery]



Posted by Eva Recinos on 8/5 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140729113549-bpc_still_3

Animation Time: An Interview with Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios
by Matthew Keeshin


Cartoons aren’t just for kids and Frederator Studios founder Fred Seibert knows that for sure. Like a mad scientist, Seibert shaped the DNA of cartoons today. From assisting the launch of MTV to developing a short film program at Hanna-Barbera, the producer is as culturally savvy as he is dedicated to the art of animation. Today the studio has produced 16 series and over 200 animated short films that have launched shows including The Fairly OddParents, Fanboy & Chum Chum, and Adventure Time. 

The animators at Frederator Studios continue the tradition of animation with dynamic characters and visionary worlds. Pulling the curtain back behind the great and powerful animator is not disappointing: animation is as imaginative as ever. As the studio prepares to launch their next cartoon Bee & Puppycat in the fall, Frederator’s fingerprints continue to be on the new generation of animation.

                                                                 

What inspired you to go into animation?

I loved cartoons as a kid, and it never occurred to me that actual human beings had anything to do with making cartoons because I was raised by two pharmacists. And when I got into television and radio in the late seventies - early eighties, I was asked by various bosses to do various animations for the things that I worked on. Whether it was commercials for radio stations or identification packages for cable networks. I slowly started meeting people in animation and liking them. I am a curious sort and just started finding out more and more about what they did. Years later, when someone asked me to run an animation studio, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it worked out really well!

What qualities do you look for in an animator or a show when you discover a project you want to produce? 

In the show, it’s a really simple thing: I am looking for characters that I fall in love with.

What you do describe as a good character you want to hang out with?

I just knew when I saw Bugs Bunny as a kid I wanted to hang out with him again or Huckleberry Hound, who was a really big star in my childhood era. Or frankly the Flintstones: Fred Flintstone was kind of everybody’s dad or uncle or neighbor or cousin, so I recognized those characters.

Do you see that lineage of cartoon history, like Hanna-Barbera and Looney Tunes, continued by your cartoons?

I think one of the things that is true about the era that we live in is that everyone has seen everything. I told Pendleton Ward once that I thought his show was the first show that I had seen that was more influenced by the pre-Looney Tunes era than post-; he just looked at me quizzically. The fact that he uses styles more akin to the Fleischer Brothers than Looney Tunes, I think he is just a product of the culture he is living in.

Can you speak to how creating shows online has impacted your process as a producer?

Like starting in maybe 2005, the whole notion that making a film already was cheaper due to new computer technologies, and you could do it on your own for a much lower price. But what really became enabled in the 2005 period is that with an email address you could distribute your film for no cost; barriers that forced people to work with bigger companies started to go away. The traditional system wasn’t the only option. It’s unleashed a new golden age of animation. I think we are at a place where no longer is someone’s creative vision being filtered through a series of executives whose job it is to divide the tea leaves of the audience. It is solely up to the filmmaker and what they want to do. They are taking their bet that the audience will agree with them. It’s just unleashed creative filmmaking that can cross the art and commercial worlds. There’s no barrier between you and your audience. 

Any upcoming projects you are excited about?

I think the most exciting one is Natasha Allegri’s Bee & Puppycat. Natasha is probably more influenced by anime than American cartoons and that speaks to an audience that has been in a lot of ways disenfranchised in the animation mainstream over the last hundred years. She’s really something and all signs are thumbs up on it.

 

Matthew Keeshin

 

(All images: Courtesy Bee & Puppycat)



Posted by Matthew Keeshin on 7/29 | tags: q&a

Related articles:



20140807071131-run_vodnjan_wall_total_oo

Objects in Motion: An Interview with RUN
by Devon Caranicas


As his name might suggest, the Italian born, London based street artist Run draws inspiration from dynamism in the human form. The suggestion of movement and rhythm is evident in his large-scale depictions of bodies. Heavily informed by the aesthetics of the early 20th century avant garde, Run’s iconic, cubist inspired figurative paintings of expressive faces, precise hands and pointed feet have been painted on exterior walls and gallery halls everywhere from Europe to Asia. In honor of his latest exhibition, Dancer Master, at East London’s Hang Up Gallery, I spoke with the Run via email to discuss his practice, influences and future plans.


Run, ALT!rove Festival Dettaglio; Courtesy of the artist


Can you speak a bit about your art training and the beginnings of your street art career?

I was in art school until I was 18 and the only things I learned are: 1. Everything we find around us has been drawn before it was made. 2. To make a straight line you have to hold your breath while you hold the pencil.

I consider myself a self-taught artist but the street has been my window into the world and acted as my studio. Being forced to approach people to ask for a space to paint has forced me to be a more open person. I prefer private owners and my anti-academic soul has always kept me away from institutions. I don't need them to paint in public spaces, and I'd like to keep my anarchic side alive as long as I can.  

What are some of the most memorable public spaces you've ever worked in?

In Shenzhen, China I was doing something new for the population, and that was amazing: to see the curiosity and amazement of the people.

But even in London I have had some of my most memorable moments working outdoors. In 2007 I did my first “illegal” artwork on a busy street. It was a Sunday morning and I remember I was "invisible" to many people but interesting to others.

Run, Neon Light; Courtesy of the artist

 

Who or what are your influences right now?

Futurism, constructivism and cubism. I love imperial art from many different stages of history. I come from a school of artisans and craft makers so I can't conceive how some artists don't make their own artwork. I truly believe that an artist should be 100% involved in the creation and manufacturing of the artwork. I also love African art. I love when a medium has got history in itself. In relation to street art, I favor walls that have been given a texture [through] time and weather.

Run, Street art; Courtesy of the artist

 

How would you describe the street art scene in London?

If I have to be totally honest, London is probably one of the worst cities for street art in the world. London's classical architecture does not lend itself to my type of artwork. I need wide surfaces that are flat and smooth. But it is good for the art market, for galleries and for exposure, and in these big world capitals you learn to be sharp and to find your own path quickly.

If you consider the fact that street art started in London, you can see that every style has adapted to the environment. If you go in Buenos Aires, for example, the space is endless and the facades are tall and all white, painted matte or unfinished concrete. The reality is that for the best realization of wall painting, street artists need concrete – not bricks!

Run, What shall we dance about; Courtesy of the artist

 

I guess this is also a reason for doing work on canvas, you can completely control the dimensions, textures and life span of the work. Can you speak a bit your current exhibition Dancer Master on view at Hang Up Gallery (London), and the relationship between movement and the static image?

Dance is a movement and mutation of objects in motion. In my images the audience can't see what movement is after the static image, so the picture leaves the audience with the duty of having to imagine or to invent the following fraction of time. Time and space are unchangeable rules.

Courtesy Run

 

What other projects are you currently working on?

I am making a monograph with a London publisher that will show my sketchbook and mural work that will be ready in 2015. It is the most important dream coming to reality, and is exciting because nothing lasts longer than a book printed on paper.

Courtesy Run

Courtesy Run

Courtesy Run

Run, Angel; Courtesy of the artist

 

—Devon Caranicas

 

(Image on top: Courtesy Run)



Posted by Devon Caranicas on 8/7 | tags: q&a

Related articles:



20140819040908-photo_4

Weird guys with severed heads: an interview with PANG
by Charlotte Jansen


Your background is in Fine Art – how have you developed your style back in London and how has it changed?

I studied classical oil painting in Italy for four years and I came back to London around seven years ago. I have always moved around in my work and gone through phases, and Italy in a way felt like another artistic experiment, but the technique we learnt in the studio was from the 19th century, and the sheer discipline of it was a big shock when I first arrived. I had never spent more than one day on a piece let alone three weeks. But I soon got into it. It provided me with a thorough training, and we started by drawing casts of Greek and Roman statues, then moving to real people, then from charcoals to oil paint.

When I came back to London I found it harder than I had before to make hard, sharp lines, to create graphic images but also include midtones and shading, and the balance is something I still struggle with at times. I look at Picasso's etchings and he really had that balance. Nearly all of my work is figurative but I often use landscapes or interiors to exaggerate perspective, and faces are a huge part of my work, and that definitely stems from my training in Italy. But stylistically the classical painting and my illustration could not be more different so in terms of development, it seems to jump around rather than evolve coherently.

How and when did you decide to start doing your work out on the street?

I've always loved the look of old rough walls and especially entire derelict buildings, but somehow it never occurred to me to paint outside until it was suggested to me by another artist, Float. I knew I liked street art and paintings on the side of buildings but I knew nothing about it. She encouraged me to start doing stuff outside and it suddenly seemed absurd I hadn't done that before. So I started to. That was about just over a year ago. I started mainly around Hackney Road which has a few good back streets. Brick Lane too, where I discovered most of the art I now feel so familiar with.

At first it was just a few squiggles and drawings but it became addictive because I was discovering all the other street art at the same time and there was so much to take in and so many different forms. I loved it! Paste-ups, stencils, spray-paintings, brush paintings, sculpture...Ridiculous not to have noticed it all before.

You’re very prolific in Hackney Wick (where I happen to live, though I’ve never caught you painting!). When do you usually do your pieces?

I guess I usually paint in the week days during the daytime but it really depends, weekends are also a good time (although there are more people about which is a bit difficult). I used to only work at night but that was when I did stuff around Hackney Road and Brick Lane and they were smaller drawings, or paste ups, and since I knew very little about it and the practice of it I assumed the only way I could do it was at 3am...

Can you talk a little about the recent exhibition in London?

I collaborated with Sophie Mason and Benjamin Murphy, and we came up with "Morella"; the exhibition was named after a creepy E.A.Poe story. It was one giant floor to ceiling mural in black and white. The months leading up to it were surreal because the three of us we were in one room together, hour after hour, day after day, painting onto every inch of the walls with our tiny brushes. The room is hidden away behind a shoe shop that has just opened in Shoreditch. We wanted to create an atmosphere based on the idea of an obsessive person or artist in their own environment, so the first thing we painted onto the walls was more space, we painted more rooms into it and lined out as many walls as possible within the actual walls.

This way we were able to hang the works "into" the mural and create more perspective.

Everything in that room was black and white. We painted the floor and ceiling black and kept the walls white with all the drawings over it in black, and all the pieces we created to hang in the space were black and white. I liked the idea of the room being like one gigantic and slightly crooked drawing. We got weirder and weirder throughout, not just in our drawings. By the end we had such weird things painted on the walls and in some of our pieces we worried slightly about any children coming to our opening night… Luckily though a lot of things went unnoticed!

Almost everything was created in that room, very little was done in our own studios, we wanted to collaborate on every single piece as well as the mural itself. Most things were started only to be finished by someone else, and we had complete freedom to paint over each other's work if something didn't sit right or if someone else's idea barged in. In the end it was an amazing experience; I've never collaborated to that extent with any other artist.

You’re one of only a few women working currently in London in this vein, but your style is quite masculine, at least thematically… Do you feel at all you have something to prove (being both a woman, and not starting out as a graffiti writer) or does the anonymity of the whole process give you some freedom? Is it even an advantage being a woman in a male-dominated field?

To be honest, I couldn't possibly make my art more "feminine" or ethereal if I tried. In terms of proving myself, since I started out not knowing much at all about street art or the artists, I didn't really have much perception of them; I couldn't imagine what they looked like let alone whether it was an advantage or disadvantage to be a woman in this world. My art has always been the way it is, at least in its androgyny. I don't think it makes much difference to be female, does it? Having said that, I love the fact that people think I'm a man when they see my work! It's funny.

Not coming from a graffiti background, do you feel there’s a divide between writers/street artists?

Maybe. I don't think it's a malicious divide but maybe there is a slight gap between the two cultures.

Who are the characters you paint?

I have no idea. Just weird guys with severed heads. I prefer painting figuratively, it comes more naturally to me. Actually the content does change from time to time. It used to be cowboys but they come up less nowadays. I don't know why I never paint women, but I suspect it's because I don't know how to draw long hair. I guess that explains the lack of clothing on my characters too!

You’ve collaborated with Millo – how did that come about? Any other collabs you’ve particularly enjoyed?

Benjamin Murphy introduced me to Millo when he was at Ben's studio once. We then all went to Ibiza together for a week to take part in a charity event. We managed to paint around the town a few times and found an abandoned amphitheatre and hotel to paint in. The piece in Shoreditch came about because Millo didn't have time to finish it, so Ben asked me if I wanted to. I've collabed many times with fellow PMT crew members Seeds One, Himbad and Saki and Bitches. There have been a few massive paint sessions with up to 20 artists which have been great too! Float is another artist I've collaborated with quite a few times.

I’ve noticed some pieces on wood placed around – what’s your thinking behind these?

Do you mean the ones around Hackney Wick? They are pieces of wood I find around. Then I draw on them and leave them around outside. I guess it's with the idea of Free Art Friday in mind but I don't know if I've ever actually managed to do it on a Friday!

Have you started to paint on the streets elsewhere?

If I go abroad I definitely try and paint if I can. In Paris I've done some stuff, in Rome also a few small pieces and in Palermo a month ago I painted as much as I possibly could. Which was easy because the people there tend to govern themselves so permission was never an issue. I would just ask the nearest person to the wall I wanted to paint and no one ever said no. Plus, tons of beautiful and derelict walls and buildings. My dream city...

How do you earn a living from what you do?

I get commissions. It's usually oil paintings, collage, illustration or drawings I am asked to do. Occasionally I get album cover / flyer / wedding invitation type commissions too. The oil paintings take the longest. My most challenging commission this year was of three kids standing in front of their own favourite street art in Vienna. I had one vision of it but something completely different came out, so I battled with it big time. Normally I have a vague vision, which will spur me on, which might only arrive seconds before my pen touches paper, but it usually works out roughly the way I saw it in my head. With this painting, I had imagined it painted in a classical style but depicting an urban scene. It did not emerge like that at all, and I had to accept it eventually. But it did annoy me.

What’s next for you?

I'm preparing for a solo exhibition towards the end of the year. I'm drawing onto wood panels with colouring pencils and fine liner pens. I'm pushing myself to be as detailed as I possibly can. I'm looking at a lot of ancient art, mainly Japanese but also Egyptian, Aztec and Indian. I'm also painting any wall I can get my mitts on. At least once or twice a week I end up painting outside somewhere.

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(All images: Courtesy of the artist.)



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 8/19 | tags: q&a

Related articles:



20140710092742-2
Alex Pardee
Fifty24PDX Gallery
23 NW 5th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209
June 5, 2014 - August 2, 2014


Alex Pardee's Bunnywith at FIFTY24PDX
by ArtSlant STREET


Today is the last day to see Alex Pardee's show up at Upper Playground in Portland, featuring his bizarre "Bunnywith" character. There seems to be no limit to Pardee's imagination when it comes to Bunnywith, from Bunnywith Magical Ability to Vomit Bees to Bunnywith Pterodactyl Dick. The prints at FIFTY24PDX is part of a series of 116 Bunnywith prints, the entirety of which you can view, and order, here: http://www.pacificnorthfresh.com/collections/pardee-bunnywith

 

Upper Playground Portland is yet again excited to announce the transformation of the FIFTY24PDX GALLERY into “a shrine of demented imagery fresh from the mind of artist Alex Pardee.” This year, the artist himself will be present for the opening, along with over a hundred of his new “Bunnywith” prints.

For the fourth year running, the ZEROFRIENDS Pop-Up shop will reside in the gallery through the month of July, and will feature the shirts, prints, toys, and other merchandise from the ZEROFRIENDS collective.

Alex Pardee has produced a wide range of works as an artist, writer, and apparel designer. His distinc- tive art has been featured in exhibitions throughout America and abroad in both solo and group shows. Alex is a pioneer in trans-media artistry, bringing his unique style and aesthetic to a variety of plat- forms, including numerous creative director credits for music, animation, and film projects.

(text source: Fifty24PDX Gallery)

Alex PardeeBunnywith Big Eye, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Fifty24PDX Gallery

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Magical Ability to Vomit Bees, 10 x 8, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Fifty24PDX Gallery

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Portal, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Fifty24PDX Gallery

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Precious, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith An After Life, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Wick,  5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

Alex Pardee,  Bunnywith His Biggest Fan, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Spider Legs, 8 x 10, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Commentary, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

Alex Pardee, Bunnywith No Cell Phone, 5 x 7, Giclee Print; Courtesy of the Artist and Pacific Northfresh

 

For further information...(ArtSlant Profile) (Artist's Website)

 

(Image on top: Alex Pardee, Bunnywith Symbiotic Hair, Giclee Print, 10 x 8; Courtesy of the Artist and Fifty24PDX Gallery)



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 7/10 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140819221002-ahol-photoshoot

Miami’s Ahol Sniffs Glue Sues American Eagle Outfitters for Copyright Infringement
by Monica Torres


Graffiti art that graces city walls stands resolutely apart from other forms of art: it can’t be purchased, owned and moved into a gallery or private home like a canvased painting (usually). As part of a city’s public landscape, graffiti art belongs to everybody and nobody – just like the streets they adorn. But, many images sketched along the walls of neighborhoods, such as Miami’s Wynwood area, are original creations, conceived by some of the world’s most prominent artists like Shepard Fairey, Retna, Anthony Lister – and locals like Ahol Sniffs Glue. Although the paintings are for public pleasure, it is clear they do belong to someone, for they are signed with claim of their originator. Having an elementary understanding of American copyright laws, unspoken street laws and, well, basic decency, it is common sense that reproducing one of these works to promote a private enterprise without asking the artist (its true owner) for permission is just wrong. 

So how is it that a corporate giant, who one assumes has intelligent people running its advertising campaigns, didn’t exhibit such common sense? Last March, American Eagle Outfitters came to Wynwood to shoot a campaign for their summer clothing line. The teen atelier took photographs of models along the world-famous art-filled concrete landscape.

But the company went too far. They took one particular mural – “Ocean Glass” by local Cuban-American street artist Ahol Sniffs Glue – and used it to promote their brand, without consulting him first. Ahol’s characteristic sleepy eyeball design was used in advertisements on the company’s website, social media pages, billboards, and store displays. Moreover, the clothing conglomerate hired “artists” to “recreate” Ahol’s mural on an eight-foot store display in Medellin, Colombia. The imitators marked a sloppy reproduction of “Ocean Glass” with the corporation’s signature black eagle, claiming ownership over Ahol’s optic, azure design.

So, Ahol Sniffs Glue, a.k.a David Anasagasti, is now suing American Eagle Outfitters for copyright infringement, and rightly so. By splashing their label across the artist’s signature work, AEO has “essentially incorporated Mr. Anasagasti’s artwork into [their] own brand identity,” the lawsuit alleges. The suit seeks not only monetary compensation for the works that have been used, but also a permanent injunction that would prohibit the company from using photos or likenesses of the work in the future. To corporations like American Eagle Outfitters, perhaps it will set a precedent and ensure that artists like Ahol Sniffs Glue are protected from this kind of inexcusable theft.

 

—Monica Torres

 

(All images: Courtesy of the author)



Posted by Monica Torres on 8/19 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140730155850-stitch_web_pose_wataah_cropped-28488236

WAT-AAH! Better Habits Through Branding
by Allyson Parker


On February 20, 2014, WAT-AAH water bottles launched their Taking Back the Streets campaign in an effort to convince kids that drinking water can in fact be “cool”. Endorsed by First Lady Michelle Obama and her Partnership for a Healthier America initiative, WAT-AAH launched to a fanfare of parental approval at the New Museum in New York City. For its inaugural exhibition the water bottle company organized a group show featuring the work of 13 prominent street artists—including Kenny Scharf, Maya Hayuk, Swoon and Lady Aiko—just a handful of the artists putting their seal of approval on the company.  

Each featured artist designs a Limited Edition label spanning 3 water bottles as a complete series. The bottles will serve as collectables (imagine baseball cards or POGS for us millenials out there) and with 27 street artists currently involved, there are a total of 81 unique works of art to be collected once the product-line hits store shelves this fall. In tandem, each artist develops a corresponding work on canvas for the blue-chip collectors out there, several of which have already been exhibited at WAT-AAH gallery shows across the US. The heath and lifestyle brand has also hit the streets in both New York City and Chicago displaying the work of renowned street artists as public mural installations with unique renditions centered around the same hydro-inspired theme.  

At its core street art is an inherently proletarian art form, displaying messages that sometimes skirt the line between narrative and advertisement. With injections of strategic marketing, street art proponents have begun to embrace the modern formula of hyper-commercialization. With self-made creatives discovered from the bottom of a YouTube channel or independently launched artists pioneering media attention via their Instagram feeds, artists-as-celebrities have now become the targets of icon based branding.  

With a product as simple as water, the WAT-AAH brand has banded artist and celebrity alike and assumed the responsibility of tackling the national pandemic of childhood obesity in the United States, an issue so prevalent that parents, school districts and even the White House have committed to challenging its trajectory. If education is the foundation of wisdom, then art is the foundation of beauty and by merging the two, maybe attention can be drawn to causes that can instigate real change for future generations. WAT-AAH aptly demonstrates just one possible solution needed—and the streets are just the pulpits to preach from.  

 

—Allyson Parker

 

(All images: Courtesy wat-aah blogspot)



Posted by Allyson Parker on 7/30 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140819222042-pose_honey_l
Group Exhibition
Jonathan LeVine Gallery - 557C West 23rd
557C West 23rd Street , New York, NY 10011
August 6, 2014 - August 23, 2014


It's a Cruel Cruel Summer at Jonathan LeVine Gallery
by Matthew Keeshin


People say galleries get slow in the summer in New York, but there is nothing lacklustre or mundane about the group exhibition Cruel Summer at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Curated by collector and graffiti historian Roger Gastman, the exhibition’s title is derived from the popular song featured in the original Karate Kid film by Bananarama. The music video portrays the three female band members causing trouble and dancing throughout New York City – including a Dukes of Hazard-esque car chase that involves throwing bananas at the police. Overall the show is inspired by that summer of 1984 – Gastman also mentions the first Macintosh personal computer and the Olympics as influences. With this exhibition, he successfully captures that same energy he felt in 1984. Featuring the work of over 20 international artists, the exhibition brings together all the excitement and colors of that summer, without looking dated.

Dabs Myla, Orange Blossom, acrylic on cradled wood panel; Courtesy of the Artist and Jonathan LeVine Gallery

 

The exhibition fills up both of Jonathan LeVine’s gallery locations. In particular, the 23rd Street gallery features large-scale installations by Dabs Myla, a married artist duo. Originally from Melbourne, the couple’s work narrates their life together. The installation is an assortment of walls painted by the artists and the various works together tell a story: paintings feature their signature style and reveal their inspirations and love for traveling, graffiti, and food: translating on the various chosen canvases as dancing hotdogs, cartoon cigarettes and other personified animals. It’s like reading a comic book but instead of frames, the characters jump from painting to vases and onto the walls of the gallery. The couple’s collaborative style contrasts nicely with mixed-media collages by Shepard Fairey and drawings by Parisian artist Horfe, who also derives inspiration from animations, with quite different but equally dynamic results.

Installation view, Courtesy of Jonathan LeVine Gallery

 

Many of the artists in the exhibition grew up in the 1980's or 1990's, while others were already writing graffiti – such as the legendary Blade and Eric Haze. Niagara’s femme fatales speak to the chaos caused in the video of Bananarama, running amok in New York. The exhibition connects thus two generations of graffiti writers and street artists. Encompassing sculpture, textiles, illustration, and collage, it also reveals the many different practices that continue to expand the definition of street art. In the 20th Street gallery, the Ben Venom hand-made quilt, entitled All The Aces, welcomes visitors when they first step into the space. Using recycled fabric, the typically delicate art of quilt making is juxtaposed with a roaring tiger head centered in a spider web. Decorated with knives, dice, severed hands, and even a grenade, the quilt is one great example of what Jonathan LeVine Gallery does best: it’s all in the surprise elements.

Cruel Summer is a moment to explore how an era informed, influenced and produced these artists and how it continues to inspire their practices today.

Installation view, Courtesy of Jonathan LeVine Gallery

 

 

—Matthew Keeshin

 

(Image on top: Pose, Honey, acrylic, spray paint and paper on Clayboard panel, 48 x 36 inches (121.92 x 91.44 cm))



Posted by Matthew Keeshin on 8/13 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140817110817-p1050600

5Pointz Demolition to Begin: Another Nail in the Coffin of NYC
by Howie Stier


Demolition may commence any day on New York City’s 5 Pointz, the sprawling concrete structures occupying an entire city block famously polychromed by an array of styles that over the past ten years made it one of the most recognized graffiti landmarks in the world.

Owner of the Long Island City, Queens site David Wolkoff had the art painted over last November in preparation for tearing down the former warehouse that had housed art studios at below market rates. Wolkoff  was granted a special permit to develop two luxury hi-rise apartment towers, allowing him to bypass existing zoning regulations in the once working class industrial neighborhood. Both towers will exceed 40 stories in height and will contain a combined one thousand luxury apartments as well as 50,000 square feet of retail space.

A lawsuit seeking damages for destroyed artwork has been filed by a collective of graffiti writers, and response by the developer’s proposed artist work and display spaces in the new development remains uncertain. What does remain clear? Yet another unique culture-making resource has been lost forever, distancing New York ever further from its post-war art capital status and propelling a future when that city will be nothing but an unlivable playground for the world’s wealthiest. 

—Howie Stier

 

(All images: 5Pointz in September, 2011. Photos by Natalie Hegert)



Posted by Howie Stier on 8/17 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140723045935-marine-stadium1

The Miami Marine Stadium Mural Project: Using Street Art for Architectural Change
by Lori Zimmer


The long abandoned Miami Marine Stadium in Key Biscayne has been a favorite hot spot for local and international street artists since it closed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Because of the ever-changing murals, the site has become an unexpected open-air gallery, adding incredible color to the secluded inlet once used for speed boat racing. Recognizing this renewed interest, the city of Miami, along with the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium and the National Trust, are planning to revamp the stadium back into use within five years. But before the stadium is restored and a lush new park is created, the site will be home to the ARTHistory Mural Project, a rotating exhibition of invited street artists, curated by one of their own: stencil artist Logan Hicks.

The Marine Stadium, which was built by Cuban architect Hilario Candela in 1963 is a very special place for viewing art. Perched directly on the warm waters of Biscayne Bay, the stadium is a place of serenity: small boats and dolphins regularly pass by, the Miami skyline glitters in the background, and the overhanging roof of the stadium casts an unusually cool shade that provides relief from the hot Miami sun. Away from the city, the stadium is like a mirage, splattered with vibrant colors of graffiti artists, murals and tags covering just about every surface in site. These pieces, done by countless graffiti artists, inspired the idea to bring a curated roster of artists to paint together, and become inspired themselves.

On June 28th, curator Logan Hicks’ first vision for the inspiring architectural structure took place with a live painting session by nine world-renowned street artists: Doze Green, RONE, Elbow Toe, RISK, Joe Iurato, Ian Kuali’i, Abstrakt, Luis Berros and Evoca1. Each artist chose a spot among the massive concrete walls to create a site-specific work over the course of two days, which will be transformed into a line of prints for the ArtHistory Mural Project. The prints sales will directly benefit the revamping of the stadium, and also be on display in a print show at Miami’s Gregg Shienbaum Gallery in September.

Originally from New York, Rock Steady Crew’s Doze Green fuses his iconic free-flowing lines, figurative abstraction and ancestral references in his piece with a bold Miami sunset, ocean and shore, which contrasts in solid, simplistic forms. Green’s protégé, Ian Kuali’i, translated his years of study under his master into delicate cut paper, creating a mural that is fit for a canvas. Leaving circles of the pieces that were painted before him, Kuali’i hand cut two delicate subtractive pieces depicting detailed skulls. Carefully wheatpasted to the concrete wall, the colors from the previous mural are revealed, paying tribute to those who have painted there before. Brooklyn’s Elbow Toe created a small render of a figure wading in water, paying tribute to the hurricane that dehabilitated the stadium. RONE was flown in from Melbourne to create one of his photorealistic faces, clad in blue to harmonize with the sea and endless blue sky. Out of LA, RISK continues to push the evolution of graffiti, calling Mark Rothko to mind with his vibrant color fields made with spray paint.  Local Miami artist Luis Berro’s lush mural pays tribute to the sweet smelling orange trees found all over the region, and local Abstrakt’s boldly colored paint-splotched eyes give the stadium a anthropomorphic quality, watching you as you explore her. The third Miami artist, Evoca1, uses delicate chiaroscuro to create a piece symbolizing man versus beast. Stencil artist Joe Iurato created a small mural collaboration of his stenciled figures along with pattern by Logan Hicks, as well as small wooden cut outs of these figures placed around the stadium.

The incredible ARTHistory Mural Project shows the influence that street art has on culture today, holding the power to reawaken interest in a forgotten architectural gem simply by calling attention to its beauty. The murals by Doze Green, RONE, Elbow Toe, RISK, Ian Kuali’i, Joe Iurato, Abstrakt, Luis Berros and Evoca1 will remain until September 19th, when Ron English, The London Police, Crash, Logan Hicks and Tristan Eaton will return to create a new set of murals.

Prints of the murals can be found here http://arthistory2014.com

 

—Lori Zimmer

 

(All images: Courtesy of Logan Hicks)



Posted by Lori Zimmer on 7/23 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140805142605-20140705_144513_resized

Thrashbird: Inside Hollywood
by Howie Stier


The corner of Hollywood and St. Andrews Place, which lies in the environs that inspired Charles Bukowski and retains vestiges of the boozy, broken-pavement working class milieu the poet embraced, isn’t popular with tourists. Not like the storied intersection at Vine Street is, a mile or so west on the boulevard. But there’s a longstanding garbage-heaped lot here bounded by an expanse of plywood partitions, which has long been popular with street artists, and it’s now slated for a hotel project.

Swept up in a welter of commercial construction along this eastern stretch of Hollywood Boulevard which developers aim to remake into a vision of old Hollywood, one that gleams as when movie mogul Louis B. Meyer was headquartered here, what is arguably the most popular street art wall in Los Angeles faces the end of its days.

When Los Angeles Neighborhood Council member Christian Beck gets up in the morning he moves to his bedroom window perched a floor above a liquor shop (one favored by Bukowski) and looks out at the length of wall bracing the empty lot with the expectancy of any visitor to a world class museum, as on any given day LA's subculture of street artists and graffiti writers have added something new. “Some of it is spectacular and I can’t think of another wall like it,” says Beck who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Los Angeles city streets from years as a limo driver. “This went up on June 6, D-Day, it’s just amazing,” he adds, pointing out a piece easily missed, a sketch-book sized collage of World War II imagery, mounted under Plexiglass unsigned and overwhelmed by the monolithic wall.

Clued in as he is in being an advocate for the neighbourhood, Beck explains there may be some time before work begins on the hotel – it’s yet to pass before the LA city council Planning and Land Use Management Committee – but he’s resigned that the project will permanently ruin his view. In the meantime, he has been photographically documenting each new artwork. He watches too as the wall is regularly rolled-out battleship gray, painted over by the Hollywood Beautification Team, a platoon of low-level offenders – Metro hoppers, convicted vandals – working off fines. And this municipal policy proves folly, as a continually restored fresh canvas draws street artists in. But walls on derelict real estate throughout Hollywood get the beautification treatment, and Beck can’t single out what else could attract artists. 

The piece currently up presents the spectacle of illegal street art evolving into extravagance. Some fifty feet of an accretion of stencils, photo art, wheat paste ups and pops of color applied with paint. Taken in sections it appears to be the work of different hands, but from afar, the whole composition is cohesive, of a fabric, and paradoxically mimics the streetscape it faces, the gritty boulevard of shouted multilingual arguments, resplendent with orange-tipped syringes, the glittering glass of emptied vodka bottles. While Banksy’s graphic gags are ubiquitous on the street, this artist has made what is tired new again, by eschewing obvious visual jokes and presenting a sincere rehashing of modernist sensibilities. It is signed Thrashbird.

“I hit the wall because it’s always been an artist wall, it’s established – and the cops leave you alone there,” says Thrashbird, whom, following a flurry of texts and emails, I’ve met up with on a sidewalk in North East LA. “People look at that wall. Like you looked at it and found me.”

At first glance evoking a tall, lankier Keanu Reeves, Thrashbird, 32, speaks in rushed clips about his work, punctuating thoughts with punches to my shoulder. “It’s called American Gluttony and I painted it on the fourth of July,” he says of the Hollywood Boulevard work, explaining his intent was to make the work noticeable to drivers in traffic. “It’s my largest piece, I haven’t done something like this un-commissioned.” A similarly scaled work of his on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica was sponsored (that was legal, and paint was supplied by a non-profit group), “But I’m not opposed to dropping a little stencil on the sidewalk – on your computer screen it’s as big as a mural.”

Originally from San Diego and a former pro-snowboarder, he came to Holywood to act and model. In 2010 he first applied paint to a wall starting an infatuation with street art making, inspired, like so many, by Banksy, as well as the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and John Baldessari. When I offer he’s made a Rauschenberg, he enthusiastically says, “I’ve heard that, but don’t know him – my knowledge of art history isn’t that healthy.”

Thrashbird’s recent output – two solo gallery shows upcoming and ambitious studio projects in the works – correlates with overcoming a substance addiction. Which one? “You name it. Put it in front of me and I’d do it. And wouldn’t stop.” After a relative sponsored a successful bout of rehab, he has transformed, and Thrashbird now voices a clarity of vision, speaking of a purpose that propels his work and has changed his connection to the world. “I stopped putting pressure on myself to succeed and just did the work. And things – good things – are happening”

 

—Howie Stier

 

(All images: Courtesy of the author)



Posted by Howie Stier on 8/5 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140721184908-jim_houser_saint
Group Exhibition
StolenSpace Gallery
17 Osborn Street, London E1 6TD, United Kingdom
July 11, 2014 - August 3, 2014


Vice & Virtue: Stolenspace's Summer Show
by Laura Havlin


Internationally recognisable heavyweights sit alongside new names-to-watch at Stolenspace’s Saints & Sinner’s-themed group show

Centring a group show around the seemingly polar opposites of vice and virtue, saints and sinners, the summer group show at Stolenspace near London’s Brick Lane area actually makes the point that the two notions: a) come loaded with religious, particularly Catholic, connotations, with Catholic iconography and angelic beings motifs that are repeatedly employed; and b) that, in fact being  a saint or a sinner may actually be two sides to the same coin, as explored by Alessia Iannetti's dark and troubled-looking angelic beauty in Just One Kiss, or Asha Zero’s GHS, a hand-painted work so finely detailed it looks like a photo collage sticking together human body parts to make up a new whole. Elsewhere in the show, Alex Yanes’ Desaturated Totem sculpture is a delirious, cartoonish take on the ancient religious imagery, while Beau Stanton’s Relic is a darkly comic take on the Catholic saint and martyr portrait style, with the subject a sinister skeleton.

Pixel Pancho, 'Liberum Arbitrium Hominus Mendacium Sine Libertate Donata Fortes Viros' Optio II,  Acrylic on wood, 100 x 70 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

 

Saints & Sinners is at Stolenspace gallery until August 3rd, and includes work from Broken Fingaz, C215, Charles Krafft, Joram Roukes, Pixel Pancho, Reka, Snik, Sylvia Ji, The London Police, Usugrow and many more.

Vinnie Nylon, 'Smurfette David',  Acrylic on marine ply framed in vintage frame, 60 x 45 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

Alessia Iannetti, 'Just One Kiss', Graphite, water colour and ink on wood, 30 x 30 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

C215, 'Peace', Stencil and spray paint on canvas, tray framed, 60 x 80 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

Curtis Kulig, 'LAFAYETTE LONDON V',  Ink on paper, float mounted, box framed, 57 x 75.5 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

Ryan Callanan, 'Saint Nozzle',  Chrome Edition of 5, Framed AP, 42 cm x 54 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

Shida, 'The Succubi Ascend', Acrylic on board, tray framed, 39 x 28 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

Asha Zero, 'GHX',  Acrylic on board,  60 x 45 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

Kip (Broken Fingaz), 'Assemble/Dismantle', Silkscreen and water colours on paper, framed 51.5 x 42 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery

 

—Laura Havlin

 

(Image on top: Jim Houser, 'SNT', Acrylic & collage on panel, 20.3 x 20.3 cm; Courtesy of the Artist and StolenSpace Gallery)

 



Posted by Laura Havlin on 7/21 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140728063242-thumb
Fintan Magee, Askew One
RexRomae
July 24, 2014 - July 30, 2014


Final Days: Oceanic
by ArtSlant STREET


The latest intermittent gallery to tap into London’s burgeoning commercialised urban scene is the initiative of a self-styled Parisian power couple who also run the somewhat controversial Street Art News. Oceanic is a two artist show of works by Askew One and Fintan Magee, both originally from Australasia, and the characteristics of the Pacific region are the connecting premise for this new week long show. New works, an editioned collaborative print and new murals are on show inside a beautiful space in the heart of the East End (where else).

 

(Image on top: Courtesy RexRomae)



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 7/27 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140730173231-haring-by-alo
Alo
Saatchi Gallery
Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London SW3 4SQ, United Kingdom
July 29, 2014 - August 18, 2014


ALO: Hail to the Loser, on now at Saatchi Gallery's Print Space
by Charlotte Jansen


Opening this week is a 50-piece exhibition by Italian street artist Alo.

Presented at the Saatchi’s gallery’s dedicated print space (a small, windowless room on the lower ground floor), the show is packed with all-new works, mostly originals on found wood – a significant undertaking for an emerging artist working solo – though piled up their individual effect becomes diluted by repetition.

Auto-didact Alo came to East London’s fertile streets a few years ago leaving his blocky, graphic characters painted in acrylic in bright primary colours to the hordes of passing Street Art Tour audiences that swell the area every day. Following a short hiatus from the close-knit scene, the artist has returned to the UK with a huge body of work and a fervent step into the art world ‘proper’ at one of the city’s premier galleries for emerging art.

Since the show in Saatchi’s main galleries truly blows, this perhaps makes a visit to Sloane Square more worthwhile.

http://www.saatchistore.com/74-alo

Alo, Untitled, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas frame , 25 x 30 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Alo, Untitled, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas frame , 30 x 40 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Alo, Lady + Golem, Acrylic and mixed media on found wood , 47 x 85 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Alo, Sun, Acrylic and mixed media on cork board , 40 x 60 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Alo, Half green beggar, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas art board , 60 x 60 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Alo, Stilnox, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas frame , 25 x 30 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

Alo, Yellow Girl, Acrylic and mixed media on found wood , 61 x 121 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery

 

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(Image on top: Alo, Haring, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas frame , 20 x 20 cm; © Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery)



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 7/30 | tags: news

Related articles:



20140811153109-000016200001
SICKBOY
The Outsiders London
8 Greek Street , London W1D 4DG, United Kingdom
July 25, 2014 - August 30, 2014


The Sickboy Effect
by Charlotte Jansen


Down a street off Soho Square a booze-soaked, rambunctious crowd piled out on the street. It was one of those rare summer evenings in London – somewhere between sweaty and balmy. Squeeze past the well-pruned bloggers, pogonophiles and the members of the banksy-forum cult, into the airless gallery, where the hundred-odd guests had impregnated the air with the scent of their sweaty-balmy bodies.

This is the Sickboy effect – bringing a bit of griminess and a glaze of stickiness to make everything a little surreal. The added odourous dimension was an apt accompaniment to the upstairs gallery, a series of toxic cosmopop canvases, weirdo worlds that seem less ‘abstract’ (as they’re described in the press release), more literal realizations of a demented universe that has imploded inside a pyschedelically-charged brain.

Downstairs, the coffin motif Sickboy is known for continues in 3D, as an installation, a kind of comic underworld that recalls a 50s fairground – with levitating characters, smiling hearts and arrows – and an Alice-in-Wonderlandesque hole, twinkling with lights that seem to lead to a secret chamber. Tempted to climb inside, the security promptly remarks – “there’s nothing in there”.

Sickboy comes from the ‘90s wave of prolific graffiti writers turned artists from the UK’s alt-culture capital Bristol (he even appears in Banksy’s film Exit Through the Gift Shop). A painter who dabbles in many media (except stencils) Sickboy is an influential subculture creator: he was reportedly the first artist to make his tag a logo, an act which made an important alignment between graffiti and other design practices. Though his significance perhaps resonates more with those inside the culture, the artist’s logo-tag can now fetch up to £50,000 in the commercial market. In the mid 2000’s the artist relocated to London, where he set about painting the now saturated streets of the East End.

In the lead up to his big gig at Lazarides, Sickboy buried five of his coffin treasure chests around London, then announced their locations with an aerial map for the freaks and fans to go and dig up. The PR stunt draws a faint parallel with the work of his Bristolian peer Banksy – though their aesthetics are wildly removed from one another – it’s not only about putting art on the street, it’s about infiltrating the public, getting inside the streets, as it were. One of the coffins is also on display on the ground floor, packed with the kind of merchandise that is synonymous with graffiti – sticker packs, patches and prints. Sickboy’s irreverant attitude symbolised in this maudlin consumer treasure hunt – the coffin filled with its very ephemeral contents – makes him a very British artist. You leave the show uplifed by its pervasive sense of irony at the futility of it all.

—Charlotte Jansen

 

(All Images: SICKBOY; Courtesy of the artist and The Outsiders)



Posted by Charlotte Jansen on 8/11 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140807094243-signpainters_jeffcanham

Hand-Painted Signature: Sign Painters Review
by Matthew Keeshin


It’s not common to see a sign painting shop anymore, but across the country sign painters continue to work and make hand-painted signs in the age of information. Sign Painters, directed by Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, is a documentary comprised of interviews and footage of this surviving profession. As technological developments occur in graphic design and advertising, there are those that maintain their artisan traditions while educating a new generation. The film makes it clear that although the profession has had trouble competing with vinyl signs and the computer, there still is a desire to have an authentic fingerprint on a storefront, not just something disposable.

Josh Luke; Courtesy of the artist

 

In a way, sign painting acts as a median between advertising and graphic design; the film doesn’t necessarily state that the profession is an art itself. Some veteran sign painters consider it an art while others see it as a job with strict guidelines. The documentary makes these stories heard and that is in essence the most important aspect. The documentary is really an oral history narrated by the range of young and old professionals, comprised of interviews and footage of sign painters working on projects. Watching the sign painters at work on buildings, cars, and storefronts are as visually informative as the actual interviews. The documentary honestly portrays the profession; the financial struggles are very real. However as some veterans describe it, they didn’t get into the business for the money. Creative types often are content doing what they love, and there is a lot of passion to keep this profession alive. 

It’s hard not to compare the final product to street art or graffiti. From Nevada to New York, these sign painters each have a regional signature. The “tags” are business logos but each sign painter has their own style and application of the methods with materials like One Shot paint or gold leaf. Although there are foundations to the profession, the difference between a California sign painter and one from Minnesota is evident. These worlds intersect when the film crew visits Syracuse, New York where artist Stephen Powers, a.k.a. ESPO, is working on his Love Letter to Syracuse project for the city. For this project, Powers painted phrases onto various decaying bridges around the city. Powers describes his process as “an adult version of what graffiti is to me.” He continues to tell the filmmakers that in his approach, he is looking at his practice like a sign painter.

Mike Meyer; Courtesy of the artist

 

One of the most interesting moments in the documentary occurred when Mark Oatis, a very respected sign painter, discusses the group he and several others founded known as the Letterheads. Similar to an art movement, the Letterheads gathered together to share trade secrets and learn new methods. In this way, the film reveals the communication between all these sign painters and their efforts to maintain these traditions. The documentary savors these moments and acts like an archive for the next generation to learn from these masters of sign painting.


 

—Matthew Keeshin

 

(Image on top: Jeff Canham; Courtesy of the artist)



Posted by Matthew Keeshin on 8/7 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140303002605-installation_view2
Group Exhibition
MU | Witte Dame
Emmasingel 20 , 5611 AZ Eindhoven, Netherlands
November 13, 2013 - January 26, 2014


F.A.T. Lab, F.A.T. GOLD Europe: Five Years of Free Art & Technology
by Andrea Alessi


I crouched down, picked up a marker, and tried to remember the illegible scribble that used to be my “tag”: a gesture of sharp points and steady curves punctuated by a strategic line slashed through the whole inscription. In high school I would trace it onto book covers and notepads and think I was cool. It came to me eventually, the first delivery unsteady as I carefully considered which shapes fit where; in a second, more successful attempt, I let my arm do the work, confidently forging my mark in muscle memory.

 

 

Yours truly, tagging the graffiti wall, F.A.T. GOLD Europe; Photo: Ben Harvey.


I was in Eindhoven attending the Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab’s exhibition F.A.T. GOLD Europe at MU, which ended in January. The show, which also took place in April last year at Eyebeam in New York, was a sort of five-year anniversary round up of the Internet collective’s practice. (F.A.T. Lab has now entered its seventh year, but the originally scheduled retrospective was put on hiatus in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.) But back to the incident at hand. Why, at an exhibition dedicated to a network ostensibly operating online, was I contributing my meager tag to a sanctioned graffiti wall?

 
F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi.

 

The connection isn’t so far fetched. Some of F.A.T. Lab’s twenty-five members—an international network of artists, engineers, scientists, lawyers, and musicians—are themselves graffiti artists. Their core values, which include “spreading open source and free ideals into popular culture” through DIY entrepreneurship, open source, and activism, have more than a few intersections with street art. On the one hand, art on the Internet can be viewed through a street lens: it can bypass normal distribution channels, appealing directly to viewers. Turning the comparison on its head, street art can be seen as a form of “hack”—an unendorsed appropriation of space, medium, or idea.

Evan Roth, Ideas Worth Spreading (TED Talks), at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

In his recent book, Viral Art, Vandalog blogger RJ Rushmore looks at how the future of street art, with its focus on “unmediated distribution,” might find a natural home in the digital domain. He uses the term “Viral Art” to describe both shareable and invasive online practices that have an affinity, if not a direct evolutionary line, to street art (n.b. “Viral” here implies a level of approachability that excludes some older forms of Internet Art. The pioneering duo JODI, for example, have a great exhibition at Showroom MAMA in Rotterdam right now that isn’t particularly accessible or viral). F.A.T. Lab’s projects don’t always fall within the categories Rushmore outlines either—viewers may seek out content rather than encounter it serendipitously—yet they do open onto notions of self-dissemination, egalitarianism, activism, and anonymity. In fact, there are examples at MU of some of the very works discussed in Rushmore’s text—namely, Ideas Worth Spreading, a mock-up TED Talk stage where visitors can record images of their own “talk” to share online, and 40,000 GML Tags, a massive screen showcasing graffiti gestures in GML, or Graffiti Markup Language, “a file format designed to be a universal structure for storing digitized graffiti motion data.”

Geraldine Juarez, Kopyfamo', watermark on mirror, at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

Some F.A.T. Lab projects exist in the real world, others are strictly manifest online, and many straddle the two—that is, projects shaped in the real world and shared online. The MU exhibition, curated by Lindsay Howard, highlighted them all, offering documentation, online viewing stations, and even physical objects and artworks. Where F.A.T. GOLD differed from the typical exhibition was that most works were not autonomous objects, but rather reproducible examples of a wider practice. Motivated viewers could (and can) recreate many of these works on the web or at home*, and the materials for some projects, like an Obama PRISM mask, were even available at the exhibition.

F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view with Free Universal Construction Kit, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

Good fun is always on the menu: in F.A.T. GOLD there was a sub-genre of works touting the douchiness of Google Glass and its adopters, and a presentation of Greg Leuch’s viral Add-on Shaved Bieber, which censors all mentions of Justin Bieber online (earning Leuch more than a little hate mail from teenage fans). But some of the best and most shareable projects are greater than their capacity for the lulz. The Free Universal Construction Kit is a set of adapters that makes ten brands of children’s construction sets, like Lego and K’Nex, interoperable. It’s eminently cool/novel/clever, but it also visualizes the ways in which childhood playthings ostensibly meant to spark creativity are limited by proprietary measures. The F.U.C.K. undermines these protective implements, removing barriers to cross-trademark creativity. The exhibition featured a complete set of adapters, a construction/play station, and a 3D printer that staff members kindly set to printing new pieces whenever visitors turned up. (3D models of the adapters in .STL format are available online for free download.)

Tobias Leingruber, Facebook Identity Card, video presentation of ARTE Creative, Social ID Bureau, 2012, portrait of Mark Zuckerberg, at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

F.A.T. Lab’s perspective seems carefully poised between an irreverent techno-optimism (“look at these cool things we can do!”) and deep skepticism at the ways in which technologies can be regulated, marketed, and used for power and control. Given these positions, in which use of certain technologies seems self-evident, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has access to the distributional paradigm shift that is the digital domain. Rushmore’s account also overstates viral art’s present accessibility: an encounter with this type of work is more likely to be spread within specific enclaves of Internet activity, with limiting factors being not geography, but usage. The case for “unmediated” distribution is further undermined by the cryptic algorithms used by Facebook and Google for post placement and search results—the very systems F.A.T. Lab exploits when images of their fake TED Talks turn up in search results. In a destabilizing twist, F.A.T. Lab often coopts the very technologies and systems it protests (or defends).

Tobias Leingruber, Skatekeyboard, keyboard attached to skateboard deck, at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

In a way, that’s why it was such a treat to see some of F.A.T. Lab’s works in physical form, Away From Keyboard as it were. F.A.T. GOLD did a great job of making works and ideas accessible to people who might not be tech-savvy or know what terms like “net neutrality” and “Open Web” mean. Or those who aren’t necessarily ready to accept or understand this sort of practice as “art.” The exhibition was forward looking, but also rooted in the past and present—a thought-provoking bridge between time, technologies, and disciplines. Be it in a subway tunnel or on a homepage, a mark on the wall is a sign of presence; it can be a declaration of ego, of resistance. Or like my clumsy signature, it can be an affirmation, a “Like” or an “upvote”: I was here, with so many others, and I want to be counted.

Becky SternKnitted Compubody Interface (knit one yourself!), at MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; © Photo: Andrea Alessi

 

*The MU exhibition ended on January 26th, but interested readers can see the projects online or in the new F.A.T. Manual (available for purchase or free download), released on the occasion of the exhibition and the collective’s five-year anniversary.

 

—Andrea Alessi

 F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi
 
Image on top: F.A.T. GOLD Europe, installation view, MU | De Witte Dame, Eindhoven; Photo: Andrea Alessi.]

 

 

 



Posted by Andrea Alessi on 3/2 | tags: Street Critique

Related articles:



20140717093244-dsc00343
ChinaCat663
Chicago Truborn
1418 W Division St, Chicago, Illinois 60642
June 21, 2014 - August 1, 2014


Last Day of the ChinaCat663 Show at Chicago Truborn
by ArtSlant STREET


If you haven't already, you should check out Chinacat663's show at Chicago Truborn, closing this weekend.These are some truly surreal, often disturbing images, rendered with a deft hand. Can't stop looking at them really...

 

ChinaCat663, Installation view; Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Truborn

 

More on ChinaCat663:

Chinacat studied Illustration for two years at the Fashion Institution of Technology in NYC and later moved to Rockford, Illinois.  In 2010, Chinacat attended Rockford University and discovered her passions for printmaking. She currently resides in Rockford where she continues to create new works to perfect her art.

From the artist: "Other than self-expression, I use art to pamper my subconscious by letting it roam freely, and an outlet for emotions I feel that are better illustrated as images than described in any form of language. I also use some of my art as a game I play with myself or the viewers, by embedding it with either details that require a second look, or meanings and stories that require explanations from me. At the end of the day, I’m just doing what I know best and creating whatever makes me happy."

(text source: Chicago Truborn)

ChinaCat663, The Bird and the Bee, Acrylic on canvas, Custom frame by Bob Blosser; Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Truborn

ChinaCat663, Pandora Twins, Acrylic and spray-paint on canvas, Custom spiked frame by Alexandria Mae Hedman and handcut stencil work by Dan Moorman; Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Truborn

 ChinaCat663, In Krampus we Trust, colored pencil, ink and watercolor, framed; Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Truborn

ChinaCat663; Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Truborn

 

For further information...(ArtSlant Profile) (Artist's Website)

 

(Image on top: ChinaCat663; Courtesy of the artist and Chicago Truborn)



Posted by ArtSlant STREET on 7/17 | tags: news

Related articles:



Print print this page

Copyright © 2006-2013 by ArtSlant, Inc. All images and content remain the © of their rightful owners.