Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2008 and Summer 2007: Moscow and NYC with Loco Fox Army

No cutesy comments from me today. We're skipping the appetizer and heading straight to the main course. Hailing from Moscow, Russia, Loco Fox Army has a lot to say. He writes:

"My name is Loco Fox Army (I also write FearTheRipper). I’m from Moscow, Russia. I got obsessed with illegal graffiti since I first saw a Dirty Hands video in my childhood. For me, writing on illegal walls was and still is a serious source of adrenaline and also the way to get into a duel with the system and win. I’ve never been too interested in writing fonts. What really inspired me the most were characters. I tried to invent a cool character – simple as possible but original, stylish, and vivid. I wanted a character that could be painted around as throw-ups but that also could give me an opportunity for more complex pieces. And, last but not least, I needed a character that could express my own opinions and ideas. So Loco Fox was born."   
"I started writing Loco around 2005-2006, pasting stickers but mostly doing throw-ups. For me, throw-ups are the essence of illegal writing. To stay up, you have to do a lot of them in risky places, be quick, make’em look good, and be ready to come back and repeat because the city buffs everything in a moment. I’m pretty far from thinking about myself as “graffiti writer”, “artist” or any other cool names people like to call themselves. I’m the guy who draws Fox everywhere he goes and tries not to get caught." 
"From an early age, I was deeply involved in DIY hardcore/punk movement, anti-fascist action, and skinhead culture. (I do hope that the readers know that despite the ugly mass-media propaganda, real skinhead culture is strictly anti-racist and actually is a product of black and white unity, based on working class ethics and black music, such as ska and reggae). It’s a well known fact that today Russia has a serious problem with neo-Nazi movement, which is backed up by the authorities. Living in Russia, you can get crippled or killed just for the “wrong” accent or skin color. Neo-Nazi thugs often attack punk rock shows, because they see them as a threat to their sick propaganda. There is a real war going on in the Russian streets today, while the government and puppet mass media do its best to hide the facts." 

"That’s why Loco Fox Army always tries to express strong anti-fascist, anti-authority message and Loco Fox himself often appears as an anti-fascist skinhead. My friend sand I are also involved in a movement called G.W.A.R.P. – Graffiti Writers Against Racial Prejudice." 

"Loco Fox Army tries to support anti-fascist movement and DIY culture by any possible means. For example, in 2006 I was asked to create a cover for an international punk/hardcore compilation called Planet Of Friends. The compilation was a benefit for Alem Assefa, a guy who was beaten into a coma by Neo-Nazis for being black. All the proceeds from the record went to support him and his family. In the summer of 2008, Loco Fox Army created a logo and a flyer design for Courage Fest, the first big open-air anti-fascist hardcore festival in Moscow."  

"Loco Fox Soldiers can be seen not only in Russia and the former Soviet Union. In the summer of 2007, I made a short trip to New York where I tried to hit everything I could reach. My friends from Big Apple say that some of the Loco Fox Soldiers are still up. A short video about this tour can be seen here."  

"My plans for the near future? I'll continue supporting my culture and spitting in the faces of fascist authority. Ultimately, I'll go on a world tour." 

All photos courtesy of Loco Fox Army. For more information, check his MySpace or his new website.

Thanks so much, Loco! And to all my Russian readers, благодарю вас за вашу поддержку! Tomorrow's post is guaranteed to blow your mind, so get ready. (Hint: check your calendars).

Monday, March 30, 2009

In The Headlines

Before the headlines, it's time for a little show and tell. A small scale "What Did You Do Over Summer Vacation," if you will. This past weekend was filled with walks, art, and stale cupcakes. I returned to Old Wheats to visit, but the seniors were engrossed in work and there weren't many social activities going on. Therefore, Adam and I holed up in his art studio where he attacked his senior project and I messed around with my skateboards for five hours. The result? My Turkish board! Taking a traditional Turkish tile pattern, I modified it slightly and covered my board with marker. Definitely an awesome time! (Sorry about the poor photo quality; this is what happens when you shoot at 7 am in your kitchen while making eggs).

But you didn't come here to see my doodles. You're here for the news! I understand completely. No more procrastination; here's the real deal.

The LA Times reviews Shepard Fairey's showcase at the ICA. Little behind the power curve, guys.

High school kids from Washington created street installations that seem a little too real.

Checking in from San Francisco, here's yet another contribution to the street art vs. vandalism debate.

Thanks to Remi for sending this one in. He and eleven other artists customized Gibson guitars for a charity auction benefitting Brazilian children. For more info, check out the website for Force of the Street.

On Examiner.com, Chicago checks in with photos from its Berywyn Red Line stop.

While K-Guy's mattresses are long gone, check out his website and the Tate Modern's map of Madrid-based artists. (Hint: Mo, this is totally what we're doing when I visit).

Toronto councilmen, street artists, and curators gather to discuss street art at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Chaka, one of LA's most infamous taggers, crawls out of the woodwork this month to display his newest work...in a gallery?

A New Jersey artist comes clean about plastering Jesus on a Lunt's Corner wall.

This reminds me of when my cousin saw Jeff Koons's work at Versailles. Le Grand Palais in Paris currently houses photos of graffiti from around the world. The exhibit closes on April 26, so catch it while you can.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday ProFiles: Inkfetish

London-based artist Tom Blackford’s characters must feature prominently in the nightmares of children everywhere. Smoking more crack than hookah, the Cheshire Cat dares unsuspecting kiddies to pull his tail. A slimy baby-snatcher licks infants like Popsicles. Disgruntled Grouchy Smurf eyes his latest catch with disdain. (Judging by his grimace, that red critter is slightly less than smurftastic). Mixing classic characters with original creations, Blackford’s paintings haunt viewers long after they pass them by.  
Blackford, also known as Inkfetish, cites an early obsession with comic books as his first artistic project. “When I was four or five, I started a comic that I worked on for about two years!” he recalls. “I'd spend hours a day on it in my own little world. I'm pretty much doing the same thing now.” Combining his comic background and an appreciation for tattoo art, Blackford began signing his tags as “Inkfetish”. While he’s grown and progressed as an artist, he tries to maintain his childhood love of art. “I think as a child you find everything wondrous,” he suggests. “I've tried to hold onto that feeling or at least try and go back there when starting a new painting.” 
“Getting into graffiti/street art/whatever label you want to put on my work was a natural process,” he says. “I started out playing around with graffiti in my teens. Then in my early 20’s, I met people that really inspired me to start realising my illustrations on a bigger scale.” Although he often works alone, Blackford spent time with members of TMP (The Master Plan) from 2005-2007. “It was more of a group of individuals I was hanging out with around that time rather than a graffiti crew seeking world domination,” he insists. “We travelled the UK a little bit and banged out a few really cool walls during that time. I’ve got to mention Ebzke.  Had he not noticed what I was doing then I wouldn't have met half the cool artists I know now.” 
Diving in head first, Blackford’s self-proclaimed “blind confidence” dispelled any initial fears. Arrests didn’t deter him, although he insists his tactics have changed since his early bombing days. “My current work is all legitimate and pre-planned,” he explains. “I painting a mural at Barcelona's Bread and Butter Festival was a great adventure. It was the first time I'd been flown overseas because of what I do.” While there’s no distinct message behind his pieces, Blackford says, “I just want to reach the public with my work, whether they like it or not. I'd like people to stop and look...if they like it, great.” 
More recently, Blackford has transitioned indoors to incorporate more gallery pieces. “My style’s recently become a little less dark in its subject matter,” he explains. “Maybe I'm feeling less 'angsty' these days. The work's definitely becoming more personal which I feel is important rather than just being an image I think 'looks cool'.”  

After years of painting as a side project, Blackford quit his day job and became a full-time artist. “If I'm able to keep this full-time artist gig going, I'll be happy,” he says. “Artistically, I don't tend to look back to much as I'm always thinking about the next piece. I have a few projects in store including my first solo show later in the year but I don't like to talk too much about stuff until it’s done and dusted.” 
While he remains mum about his future plans, Blackford has lots to say about the future of street art. London is over saturated at the moment,” he insists. “Anything painted/pasted in the street is regarded as significant regardless of artistic merit. People are so caught up in the hype of it all right now it doesn't seem to matter. That's just my subjective opinion, though; being creative in any shape or form is always better than sitting on the sofa all day. The buff is pretty hard in London right now with the Olympics on the menu so now is not a great time.” 

London may frantically scrub out street pieces, but there are countless artists waiting in the alleys to repaint them. “Street art/graffiti will always be present in some form or another,” he adds. “To contribute to your environment is a very deep-seated natural urge for a lot of people.” 

All photos courtesy of Tom Blackford. For more information, take a peek at his web site over at www.inkfetish.co.uk

Thanks so much, Tom! Really great stuff. I love the extra creepy quality to these shots. 

Quick note: Mr. Noface would like to me to make a correction. On his post, the first photo is not of his own work but instead is of an artist unknown to him. He admires this artist's work and would love to be in touch. If the work is yours, shout him out! That's all for now. I hope you have the best of weekends and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 2009: Mephisto Jones

I shuffled things around to squeeze this post in by the end of the week. Here's a note from New Zealand artist Mephisto Jones. While he's working on a post about his street stuff, he shot me a note about some new prints and an upcoming show. He writes:

"I seem to be pumping out the prints lately. I guess it's getting me warmed up for my Gorker Gallery solo exhibition this coming June. Plus, a print-run here and there is a good way for me to make my work available at a nice price. Go on, have a nosey... "
"OWLWOOD #1 - 'Eastwoods' : I'm experimenting with buyer color-preference with this one. Sometimes people like an image, but aren't so hot on the coloring. This time around, you can have 'Eastwoods' in your colors of choice. Tailor-made! 300 GSM Edition of 50. 10" x 14.5" - $70 AUD (add shipping). Purchase inquiries: contact me at mephistojones42@gmail.com." 
"'Gassius Clay' : This print is limited to an edition of 20 only. 24" x 10.5" - Aerosol stencil print on 300 GSM on Dutch etching stock. $120 AUD (add shipping). This print is available exclusively at http://www.freshlybakedgallery.com."
"'The Visitor' : Edition of 50. Aerosol stencil print on 300 GSM on Dutch etching stock. 11.5" x 16". $50 AUD (add shipping). Purchase inquiries: contact me at mephistojones24@gmail.com.
"'Zero Point Particles' : This print is limited to an edition of 20 only. 26.4" x 18.5" - Aerosol stencil print on 300 GSM on Dutch etching stock. $150 AUD (add shipping). This print is available exclusively at http://www.freshlybakedgallery.com."

"There are plenty more on the horizon. I'll be launching a bunch of new silkscreen prints and also some t-shirts in April. A brand spanking new website is on the way, too. The dot-co-dot-nz site has served me well for the past couple of years, but now it needs to be put out of its misery. Get ready for www.mephistojones.net. Nothing there yet, but check back soon!"

"Enjoy the images and hit me up if you're interested in acquiring one. For Gassius Clay and Zero Point Particles, please refer to FreshlyBakedGallery.com."

"Peace, waves, and particles to you and yours."  

Thanks, Mephisto! I do love a good update. Check back tomorrow for the Friday ProFile. Enjoy the spring weather today!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 2007: Barcelona

Barcelona makes me want to learn Spanish.
With its sprawling beaches, wild nightlife and breathtaking architecture, I feel like I could retire there if only I knew the language. My lack of Spanish combined with my inability to read a map made for an interesting beginning to my three day visit. 
Anyone who knows me can attest to my nonexistent sense of direction. Don’t elect me to be co-pilot or to ride shotgun. I will undoubtedly mangle even the simplest instructions, sending you farther away from your desired destination. As a rule, taking my advice and doing the exact opposite of what I say will get you there on time. 
However, I was traveling solo in Barcelona. Stepping off the overnight train from Paris, I opened my map and set out to find my hostel. Maybe I was holding the map upside down. Maybe it was an outdated copy from 1948. At any rate, I have no idea where I went that day. For four hours, I wandered small neighborhoods with unmarked streets in a sleepy part of town. When I finally made it to Las Ramblas, I was exhausted, dehydrated, and ravenous.
In spite of my circuitous route, my roundabout journey yielded some excellent street art. I loved the bright colors of these pieces; I felt like they reflected the sunny and welcoming vibe of the city. Big names like Above and Pez painted alongside artists I didn’t recognize, making for an interesting collection of photographs. While I didn't know anyone in Barcelona that first day, the city's street art never allowed me to feel lonely.
Also, thanks to Rio and Paul, two awesome Germans who helped with my street art hunt. Rio’s description of Berlin’s scene (combined with Yas’s photos) inspired my upcoming side trip. Fabulous! 

Tomorrow, we'll get the scoop on an Australian artist's new collection of prints. Definitely worth a look-see. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 2009: Hawaii with Mr. Noface

Hanging out in the Pacific, Hawaii is the youngest state in the union. Separated from the mainland, Hawaiian society existed long before European explorers set foot in the New World. With their own religion, social hierarchy, and government, Hawaiians disliked the idea of American annexation and fought to keep their independence. Today, Hawaii remains glorified by mainlanders, viewed as a tropical oasis instead of just another state. In spite of his peaceful surroundings, Mr. Noface has a message for Washington, D.C., and anyone else who will listen. He writes:
“The objective of my art is to show the government’s real side, to make fun of it, and to tell the truth about the people hiding behind desks calling the shots.” 
“My style resembles propaganda. I love telling the truth or showing some government official being bad or funny. I love making people laugh.”
“There are only two reasons why I do this art. First and foremost, I do it to show the truth about the government and the police. Secondly, I love the rush I get from putting up art and getting away with it. No one knows who I am! It’s just a big thing of mine to stay underground but to still be up there.” 
“I picked the black and white gas mask theme because I think seeing an image of a gas mask just looking over a freeway wall makes people stop and think. What would you do if you saw a big poster of a gasmask just overlooking a main road? Wouldn’t you stop and look?”  

Thanks, Noface! Keep repping Hawaii and spreading your message.

In other news, YZ sent me this awesome link of her latest project. This film is comprised of thirty-something posters pasted all around Paris. She writes:

"Miriam Makeba, singer and anti-apartheid activist, widely known as 'Mama Africa,' was exiled from her home of South Africa for her revolutionary words and songs, but was widely respected for speaking - and singing - the truth about racism."

Also, Michael De Feo, the hardest working man in street art, has yet another show opening. Toronto's Angell Gallery presents Works on Paper, a collection featuring work by De Feo and other artists such as  Kim Dorland, Brendan Flanagan, and Jeremy Chance. Catch the opening reception on Saturday, April 4, from 12 pm to 5 pm. If you can't make it, just stop by before it closes on April 25. 

Thanks and I'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, March 23, 2009

In The Headlines

Nothing recharges my batteries like getting out of here. Last weekend, I hit up Boston, but this weekend was all about my first love, New York. Things that blew my mind: almond milk, sipping 40s by the water while filming Vic’s project, Holga camera photos, Two Boots pizza, Cut Copy with Matt and Kim, ridiculous after parties with hilarious people watching and photograph opportunities, meeting up with my favorite Canadian and her #1 Swede. Amazing! While I try to readjust to another monotonous work week, keep the weekend alive with the headlines.


Bringing her work indoors, South African graffiti artist Motel7 displays her work in Cape Town’s 34 Long Street Gallery. 

New York’s RAW Gallery presents a collection of work from hometown favorite TMNK. 

Columnist Tom Dyckhoff is skeptical of Brit Insurance Design of the Year winner Shepard Fairey. 

Here’s a beautiful collection of street art photos from São Paolo. Rob, please post some more! 

Who’s hacking these signs? A Poster Boy protégé with a nerdy tech streak? 

San Franciscoist ponders the merits of punishing graff with jail time. 

Chicago’s Guardian Angels physically fight graffiti at all costs. 

Last week in Brooklyn, graffiti artists and cops discussed their conflicting viewpoints.

That's all for today. Check back tomorrow for our first post of the week...I'm still mulling over which city it's going to feature, but I'll make it good. Thanks!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday ProFiles: YZ

In the streets of Brazzaville, Congolese boys stop and lock eyes with the giant stoic face watching from the wall. Bangladeshi men pause and look at the camera, oblivious to the visage looming behind them. Commuters in Bamako, Mali, pass by the face as they traverse the city. No matter where you are, YZ is watching. 

Today, YZ works with paint and film, but her earliest creative inklings involved clay. “My parents were potters,” she explains. “I use to hang out in my mother’s workshop doing things with the clay. I still have a few things from my childhood; I really like a little house that I made.” 

YZ and fellow artist Missill started the Open Your Eyes Project in 2003 to highlight otherwise invisible people and places. “YZ, pronounced ‘Eyes’, was inspired by my name, Yseult, and is also linked to the Open Your Eyes Project. When painting portraits, I try to make the eyes very striking in order to catch people’s interest in the street. I try to make the character come alive through their eyes.” 
Since the inception of the Project, YZ’s style has evolved. “It is more minimalist and mature now,” she remarks. “It has a more conceptual meaning today than before and I have a more personal way of creating my artwork, too.” While her style has changed, her fervent desire to communicate with others never wavered. “I want people to be touched by the faces I paint, to feel the emotion each character has to offer, and to relate to those faces,” she insists.  “I want them to remember what they saw. I want them to feel the way I feel when I am actually painting those faces. I want them to be more attentive to their environment.”   
While she doesn’t play favorites, YZ adds that Berlin and New York are excellent bombing locations. “Berlin is still a city under construction,” she says. “There are walls that are just waiting to be bombed. The street art scene is very active and fresh. New York is also one of my favorites. When you get to paint on a rooftop, it can be amazing. I remember painting in Brooklyn on a rooftop and having a beautiful view of a Manhattan sunset.” While she calls the suburbs of Paris home, YZ loves being on the move. “Street art is a good way to visit a city and get in places you would normally never go or meet people you’d otherwise never meet. It’s also a good way to reclaim the space we live in and interact directly with the people.” 
Spreading from the Congo and Mali, to Hong Kong, Germany, and New York, YZ says, “Any place where I’ve painted has been a great experience. Each place has been different and unforgettable: the reaction of the people in Bamako, the size of the painting in Berlin, the location in New York, or the history and impact of Brazzaville.” 

While she’s never participated in a crew, she has collaborated with other French stencil artists. “Being part of a crew can be very motivational,” she insists, “but it can slow you down and encroach on your freedom to do things with whomever you want.” Although flying solo doesn’t have the security benefits of a crew, YZ is fearless. “I’ve never felt unsafe,” she confesses. “But today I ask for permission if I want to do a large-scale painting. I also paint during the daytime as if I am authorized to do so. I don’t want to feel like a vandal out there, so I don't act like am.”

YZ isn’t content to rest on her laurels. When she’s not bombing, she creates documentaries and video art of urban environments. In the future, she’d like to combine her varied interests into a large-scale piece. “I would like to have a real exchange between the mediums of video, street art and music,” she explains. “I want to develop a project as strong as Open Your Eyes and paint in many cities worldwide. Right now I am working on the Project using many different materials like paper, glue, wallpaper, Poska pens, spray paint, earth, and leaves. I also have other ideas in the works.” Planning trips to Bucharest while compiling stills of her paintings into animating films, YZ manages to experiment in spite of her busy schedule. Catch a glimpse of her work in a metropolitan area near you

All photos courtesy of YZ. For more information, visit her website at http://open.your.eyes.free.fr/.

Thanks, YZ! I'm looking forward to catching your stuff in the near future. Today, I'll start looking at the post line-up for next week, so send me your work if you want to be a part of it! After work today, I'm off to New York for a Cut Copy show, roaming the streets, and catching up with a pack of my favorite ladies. Have a great weekend and meet back here on Monday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 2009: Auckland and Melbourne with Seek

In 2006, I went to New Zealand and it changed my life. The landscape, the culture, the people: everything was fabulous. I watched the Tri Nations rugby final in Auckland, wandered through art galleries in Wellington, and rode from Christchurch to Queenstown on the back of a motorcycle. During this trip, I also started to snap street art photos on a regular basis. While the 18 hour plane ride puts a damper on impromptu visits, I hope to return someday to reunite with Megs, Mitch, Maz, and the rest of my former crew.

On that return trip, I'll be on the lookout for work by Seek, a Kiwi artist based in Auckland who's painting all over the South Pacific. He writes:

"I paint because I love it; I need to paint. If I wasn't doing something semi-creative, getting fiddly with my hands, drawing or making a mess on a wall, I don't know where I'd be right now. Maybe I’d be in a vegetative state. I know it sounds stereotypical, but art fuels my soul! Art makes me who I am and keeps me going."

"I’ve exhibited my work throughout New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.A. In 2008, I was a special guest at Kuala Lumpur's Meeting of Styles. In 2007, as part of the Vultures of Culture Collective (comprised of Kidd Creyola, Piss and myself), we won the People’s Choice Award for painting a mural within the Auckland Art Gallery.

My style is something that's naturally developed and has grown with me as long as I can remember. I'm a bit of a people watcher and am intrigued by the mysterious characters that lurk throughout our cities. My friends and family also come through in my work.  

My latest travel ventures inspired my recent works: the crazy antics you get up to exploring a new nation, exposing yourself to other cultures, and understanding their ways of life."  
"'East to West' was the first mural I painted in New Zealand after a three month trip through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia.  Amazing countries, incredible food! The people are something else as well: genuine, good, beautiful people!" 
“The next image is titled 'The Elephant King'. I got a little crafty with the old jigsaw and a couple of cans of paint. This little baby elephant stands about 1.5m high, and hangs out in random gardens. Cutouts are always good fun. I like the act of creating an image that stands on its own, almost as if it has jumped off a wall.”   
"I created this piece for The Nameless Skate Deck Show II in Auckland, NZ." 
"The next image is a wall I painted in Melbourne, Australia, along with Melbourne artist Adnate, Drew, a Malaysian writer currently living in Melbourne, and Perth artist Kidzoom. It was a fun jam and an amazing opportunity to paint with those guys. I went for a twisted zombie angels and demons approach for this one."  
"The last image was a lonesome mission in my hometown. Here’s the king of the mountain, watching over all of us. Our good friends at the council rolled out this guy within 24 hours! Glad I got a good snap of that one!"

 "Cheers for the opportunity to be on your blog! Keep up the mad work!"

All images courtesy of Seek. Want to see more? Check out his MySpace.

Thanks, Seek! And to all my Kiwis (at home or abroad), thank you so much for reading and spread the word! Get ready for a big Friday post tomorrow...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 2009: Santiago with KELP

Once I learn Spanish, I'm going to Chile. With my French background, I'm useless in a Spanish-speaking country. When I went to Barcelona, I was so embarrassed that I preferred miming everything to speaking English. I am jealous of my Spanish-speaking friends who study abroad in places like Argentina and Guatemala. South American countries have always intrigued me, and Chile is definitely at the top of my list. Today's post comes all the way from Santiago. Chilean artist KELP shares his work and a few words with us. He writes:

"KELP.cl is shorthand for: culture of the wall. Strictly speaking, it is the portal that shows how the words ‘graffiti’ 

and ‘design’ come together. By mixing graffiti and design, KELP illustrates new opportunities and innovative products and services." 

"With a presence in over 15 countries and a desire to explore, KELP.cl promotes the work of plastic art and graffiti from the disciplinary perspective of design."  "This perspective allows us to focus mainly on the innovative and transgression of the best examples from sources that are found in Latin America, Europe and the USA.""This is your portal, so you can build learn, explore, and enjoy innovation in the world where graffiti meets design. To painting!"

For more information visit, http://www.kelp.cl/. 

Gracias, Kelp! I like your old-school piece style mixed with bold colors and fresh graphics. Y a todos mis lectores de habla hispana, gracias por su apoyo; se lo agradezco mucho!  Tomorrow's post takes us to one my favorite islands in the Pacific. Get ready!