Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday ProFile: Señor X

Señor X’s pieces may be in the streets, but don’t call him a graffiti artist. “I prefer the term street art,” he says, “because it encompasses many things and more. I think it has more to do with what I do.” 
He’s been bombing streets in Spain and around the world for the past five years. During this time, he’s never experienced a negative reaction from the community. “One of the things that surprised me is that no one has told me what I’m doing is wrong,” he says. “I have seen older people and people from all sorts of social classes and none of them believe what I’m doing is vandalism. I think that the authorities should take note and do something about it.” 
However, Señor knows that not everyone views street art with such rose colored glasses. “On the one hand,” he says, “Street artists have a high aesthetic value that I see at any other level of conventional art. It’s a shame that you have to do it in hiding. On the other hand, there are people who bomb over everything they can: furniture, inhabited buildings, stone, windows, vans. I personally believe this activity harms the image of street art in the eyes of society.” 

To avoid tarnishing street art’s already disputable reputation, Señor avoids painting on new or clean buildings. “One rule I follow is to not harm anybody with what I do,” he adds. “I look for façades of ruined houses or walls beyond disrepair. I also take into account the visibility of the area.” Once he finds a suitable location, he spruces up the wall with stencils and wheatpastes of all kinds.

Señor X is driven to create art because of the joy he experiences when he finds a piece. “I love going down the street and suddenly stumbling upon a piece of street art,” he explains. “For a moment, I am happy. It breaks up the monotony of brick and concrete and makes you think or smile. The important thing is that you are not left feeling indifferent. I seem to succeed fairly well.” 
Señor X’s bombing style may seem haphazard, but his pieces are actually carefully planned. “The subjects are never random. They are things that have been maturing for some time until I am ready to go. I like the idea of interacting with the urban environment. Some of the locations are chosen in advance and ideas are designed specifically for that environment; some aren’t.” These ideas come to him in different ways. “Sometimes you have a small idea that is evolving and has turned into something completely different. Others look totally clear from the start. You’ll walk by a location and think of something that would be perfect there. It is usually in bed before sleep, where I get the best ideas.” 

Hopefully, those Stage 1 brainstorms will come through for Señor X because he has big plans for the rest of the year. “I have been invited to go to London to paint in a concert hall,” he says. “Its walls are decorated by different artists from time to time and I think I have an interesting idea.” In the future, he hopes that street art will continue to grow and flourish. “People need places to paint more freely within the city,” he insists, “but these places must be free, not assigned. Thus these spaces become dynamic and enrich the urban living environment. When issuing fines, the city should also distinguish between people who are doing something good for the city and those who are destroying it.” 

For more info, check out Señor's blog or his Flickr page. Gracias, Señor, and have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

March 2009: Buenos Aires with Cabaio

Right now, my friends Sena and Padric are both in Buenos Aires and loving it. While the seasons inch closer and closer to winter every day, I can’t say I haven’t considered it. Argentine artist Cabaio’s work is further reason to check the city out. Cabaio covers San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, with his own brand of stencil. He writes:  
“When the government of de la Rua fell in 2001, it was a time to say things; one way was via stencils. I worked in a restaurant and went to work late night, so I had time to paint the city.” 
“I lived in San Telmo, a district full of cultural assets. Together with my friends from Vomiting Attack, a collective of artists, we just started painting on the streets.” 

“We worked together for several years and did some shows, workshops, and performances. Today, I continue with my own project: trying to intervene space space with some sense while always using stencil.”  

“Sometimes I work in other neighborhoods such as Palermo, Colegiales, Villa Crespo. Sometimes, I am alone and sometimes I paint with colleagues who are interested in the action.” 
“At this moment, I am collaborating with Domingo Codes, an artist from Brazil. Two months ago, he traveled to Salvador, Bahia, on exchange with other artists and painted in that city.” 

Don't have much in the way of contact info for Cabaio, but if you Google his name and 'street art,' some photos pop up. If you want to know more, shoot me a note and I'll ask if I can pass his info along. Gracias, Cabaio!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back In Time: Barcelona With Chanoir and Friends

I've already shared my love for Barcelona on this page. It's time to hear from someone else about this beautiful city and its magnificent street art. Today, Parisian artist Nukod talks about his friend Chanoir's new street art documentary, Muros Libres. He writes:

“Between 2001 and 2004, Barcelona became the place to be for European graffiti. Some years later, we realized that the “Logo Art” Movement was born there. Spanish artist Pez as well as Colombian artist Chanoir are the representatives and founders of this movement.” 

 “Chanoir decided to film his artist friends Sixe, Pez, Dios, and Flying Fortress; these people mark the city with their fingerprints. Miss Van, Jon One, and Psy also contributed to the painting. Barcelona quickly became the hub for this new form of freedom of expression and originality.”  

“When post-graffiti was born, artists reappropriated the city in a rainbow of colors and shapes, creating a new urban community. In an age where families are broken and neighbors are strangers, post-graffiti goes beyond the canvas hanging in a museum to create a friendly public space. Everyone in the street can do this.” 
“In the end, the movement characterized a new symbiotic relationship between the city and its people. Unlike the Pop Art Movement, which multiplied the works for the individuals, post-graffiti creates a single work accessible by all.” 

“This DVD is a real-time document of the graffiti scene, which today leaves the streets to emerge in galleries and other auction houses. The film takes places during a privileged moment when street art was still tolerated by the authorities and before Barcelona, like other European cities, started to become 'clean and sanitized'.” 

Artists featured in the DVD include: Cha, Pez, Xupet, Sixe, Dios, Miss Van, Pone, Oyes, Zosen, Skum, Mister, Craneo, Flan, Flying Fortress, L’Atlas, Jon One, Poch, Psy, HNT, Roch, Pow, Stak, Krisprolls, Tanc, Paki, Kasper, Dasy, Miss Bull, 1980, and Slip Crew. Pick up a copy exclusively in Nukod’s store (11 rue de Paris 75010 Aqueduct) or  on the internet. Thanks so much, guys! Congratulations on a project well done. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 2009: Denver with Signtologist

Street artists may dabble in gallery shows, but Dunn, a.k.a Signtologist, takes actual pieces of the street indoors. Instead of canvas or paper, Signtologist paints hip-hop, sports, and other well-known icons on real street signs. How he gets his hands on said signs remains a mystery, but he draws inspiration from Denver, the Queen City of the Plains. Dunn writes:

“Dunn, a.k.a  The Signtologist, is an artist from the mile-high city of Denver. The name was coined by the famous MC Black Thought of the legendary hip hop group, The Roots.” 
“For the past four years, this ‘treetsignartist’ has blessed 120 artists, musicans, comedians, and athlethes with his unique paintings on street signs. Underground graffiti culture has reached a new elegance.” 
“Inspired by other artists like Justin Bua, Dunn, who also has a background in graphic design and animation, has given away 100 plus paintings on street signs, (stop signs, no parking, etc.) to people he most admires and respects in the art, music, athletic and entertainment communities.” 
“Some of his favorite paintings included his favorite local stars that represent Mile High City. These people include the Denver Nuggets' own Carmelo Anthony and several other local hip hop artists and groups. Not only does The Signtologist have artwork in three different countries, but he has also gone national with gifts to other entertainers like Dave Chappelle, Kanye West, John Legend, Blackalicious, and Slick Rick.” 
For updates on Dunn’s current projects and showings, there are many ways to contact him. Hit up his website, MySpace him, check his Flickr for photos, and get up to the minute news on his Twitter. Thanks so much, Dunn! 

Monday, May 25, 2009

In The Headlines

As you read this, I'm probably still on the beach. Thanks to Memorial Day and the wonders of Blogger post delay options, this post is less than live. However, I wouldn't miss an opportunity to serve you up a delicious helping of headlines.

Here's a video from Italian artist GEC.

Out in Colorado, the Durango Youth Coalition sponsored Arts Dawdle, an art festival filled with student art and a collaborative graffiti exhibit. 

“Post No Bills, Post Pretty Art” brings their wheatpastes to the streets of Edmonton, Toronto, and London, Canada. 

Chris Stain will be all up in Brooklyn’s business this summer. On June 19, he kicks off his series of legal murals at Ad Hoc Gallery with a block party. He’ll get Greenpoint’s India Street poppin’ with some fresh pieces and will be out and about during the summer months. 

Victor Ash recently hit up Bremen, Germany. Check his site for photos. 

Alan Hough of I Heart Street Art shares his thoughts on the street art vs. commercial advertising debate. 

In Berlin, foreign residents express their love for their adoptive city and how they learned to love street art. 

The International Meeting of Styles kicks off on June 6. Running from 3 pm to 4 am, the warehouse party promises to be wild. Get your tickets while they last. 

Mimi the Clown has new pieces up in Paris and Lille. 

Stinkfish’s show, “Memoria Canalla,” is still on at Museo de Bogotá in Colombia. If you’re in the area, catch it before it closes on June 6. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday ProFile: A.CE

A.CE’s wheatpastes represent the best of Saturday morning cartoons you once loved (and probably still do). Goofy, Donald Duck, and Tom of Tom and Jerry fame all feature prominently in his work. Mixing cartoon characters with commercial icons, A.CE creates social commentary that’s still suitable for all ages.  
Back in 1995, this Londoner started out as a tagger with many names. He responded to Ouzi, Evols, Acer, and Acme before becoming A.CE in 1998. “I would tag and do mini pieces on Royal Mail stickers,” he recalls. “Mostly, I would do stencils as kind of a nod to skate stickers and the other writers’ stickers I was seeing around the place.” When he became comfortable with the medium, Ace upped the ante and moved on to larger wheatpaste designs. 
Since his early tagging days, A.CE has pasted his signature designs around London for the past 10 years. However, he doesn’t keep track of where he pastes. “Documenting my work was never important to me,” he insists. “I like hitting up any new spot that I haven’t gotten up to be fore.” Instead, getting up for A.CE is all about placement. “Location is key if you want people to see your work,” he explains, “and you can usually get a good idea of how much longevity your piece will have there. Selecting a good spot in order to create a good juxtaposition with your work, like in an old weathered doorway, is always important to me. A piece can be ruined by putting it in a crap spot.” 
When A.CE goes out bombing, he says, “It’s just me, the bike, and a full bag! I don’t think there’s too much to gain from putting up work with someone else. It’s all over pretty quick and I don’t like to fight over spots!” On occasion, he and friend Bivouac tag team. “He’s a good mate and hugely talented,” he adds. “We were actually born on the same day. Brothers from different mothers!” 
Currently, A.CE can be found painting in the studio or “fucking about” on Photoshop. “I’m always trying to improve my output while making stuff that I like. Aesthetic is more important to me than any concept. It’s all about the process of printing stuff up and banging it out there.” 
Quality is important to A.CE; he doesn’t believe in churning out work. “Money and attention is responsible for taking a lot of the best street artists from us into the safety of the galleries,” he laments. “It is also attracting a lot of weak work by people chasing that same fame and fortune. Ultimately, you start seeing people doing this for the wrong reasons. In the future, I think street artists are going to need to adopt much more of a ‘graffiti writer’ mentality in order to survive out there.” 

All photos courtesy of A.CE. For more info, check out his MySpace.

Hope you all have a great weekend! In the States, I'll be celebrating Memorial Day on the beach for the first time this year. If the weather holds up, I might take the first plunge of the season. Enjoy the break and I'll catch you on Monday! NOTE: To all my Facebook/MySpace readers who link to my blog through those sites, I won't be posting a link on Monday. You're on your own for a second, but I'll be back to it on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

April 2009: London

When I visited London in April, I had to make a stop at The Tunnel. Located on Leake St. under the Waterloo station, the tunnel is a legal location for all thing street art. 
I snapped so many photos during this visit alone that I killed my camera's batteries. Fortunately, I reloaded it for Shoreditch, but that's a story for another time. 
Sorry for my lack of text today. I'm going through a bit of an unexpected personal crisis at the moment but I promise to make good on the Friday ProFile tomorrow. 
Take a look through these shots and see if any of them look familiar. (Rich Simmons, anyone? Thanks, obnoxious taggers, for marring his fresh piece.) See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

December 2008: Guatemala with Stinkfish

My friend Whitney spent a few months in Guatemala and loved the experience. She started out taking Spanish classes and supplemented her lessons with volunteering at a local school. Her stories and thoughts convinced me that I need to visit sometime in my life. As if I needed another reason, Colombian artist Stinkfish sent me photos and stories about his work. His stunning pieces make me want to hop a plane immediately. He writes:

“Stinkfish’s consciousness has not developed properly. It is difficult for him to control a rebellious behavior that will harm those around him and could be fatal for him. Drugs, promiscuous sex, visual vandalism and theft are examples of these rebellious and destructive behaviors. Stink, unlike other pre-school children, knows that stealing is immoral. However, it is not uncommon for one to steal even though he is taught that it is wrong.” 
“People steal things that they neither need nor want. Rather, they just steal for the thrill and feel different than when the things are provided. To steal is a kind of game where the participant develops his ability to avoid that surprise.” 
“Stealing is a way to boast in front of enemies. It may also be a way to win the repudiation of the gang to have something that nobody else has. Someone steals because nobody loves him. Getting things gives a sense of security. Every time you steal without anyone seeing, he is happy for having defied the established authority.” 
“People who steal are not necessarily doomed to a life of crime. But the constant theft, no matter the reason, can reveal a deep-seated emotional problem. The fact that scratching walls is illegal makes it attractive for Stinkfish’s rebellion against their guardians or anything that represents authority.” 

“Graffiti - stencil, poster, sticker, tagging, bombing - provide a feeling of wellbeing. Scratches caused a feeling of fitness for competition. Stinkfish prefers not to think about the damage that graffiti causes. When asked by painting on the street, he gives three reasons: boredom, external pressure and family problems.”

For more info, hop over to Stinkfish’s Flickr page. Later in the month, we’ll hear more from Stinkfish as he answers our interview questions. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 2009: New Zealand with The BMD

I spent a semester in New Zealand and absolutely fell in love with it. With the expensive and time-consuming flight, I don’t know when I’ll be able to return. However, contributions like this one from The BMD make me want to go back that much faster. BMD writes:  
“BMD has finally sorted our online ability for you. Sorry, we ain’t doing it for the digital or virtual world. A lot of times, we don’t get photos of our work. Fortunately, we e-mailed some through last night.” 

“We ain’t wordologistic masters

being we play in the visual of our environmental disaster

would lose the sane in streets so mundane

so into the game we entered mid o'height,

the entry was fashionably pronounced late.” 

“But that's the state when we begun,

and it's all through solid BMD fun,

do it 'cause we do, it happens and it's done,

anonymous there ain’t one,

there's two, and each shoe don't last

with the distance we've surpast.

The day depicts the vast display, many a way.

What’s drawn is drawn, BMD, we're like a fuckin’ plaster thorne,

morning of a new wave, no grave in sight,

it’s too late, we're tightly un-able to stop.

Sorry, cop!” 

“BMD's the city’s top new rash.

It’s all the hot girls we pash!

And survived the surprise bash,

no lies, no fame, BMD's just our name,

no spots untameable,

what we got's became ill fulltime,

no aim for the financial dime.” 

"Rhyme test, we're not proclaiming for the best,

we're just investing with the rest,

testing what's feasable,

metropoly's undiseasable pest,

streets art's protest on stereotypes,

in the dark or under lights, there we go,

with passive fights,

a rap we send,

it’s BMD, your laughing friend." 

“Somehow that evolved and a rap began. Enjoy! Thanks for running your page. It’s people like you that make the world shareable. BMD is your friend!”   

Thanks, BMD! For more info, check out their MySpace page.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In The Headlines

Congratulations to Wheaton’s Class of 2009. Thanks to them, this past weekend was completely ridiculous: glow stick bonanzas, late night cookie snack attacks, speeches, dancing, and maté, maté, maté. PLUS, I also got to pet a penguin yesterday. (Hopefully, I’ll post a photo when I have time). Although I have to go to back to work, let’s keep the weekend alive with these headlines.

If you’ve got an iPhone, make sure to
download this app. The Urban Art Guide pinpoints the piece and lead you right to the source.

Mimi the Clown, Miss Tic, and many other French street artists can be found in "La Nuit du Street Art", a show opening in Paris on May 25.

Bostonist speaks to Ron English about why the city hates street art (or maybe just Shepard Fairey). 

Take a deep breath: “Whole in the Wall: 1970 to Now” touches down in New York City from May 29-June 27. Featuring the work of 19 old-school graff artists, photographers, and street artists, the exhibit is the largest U.S. street art show to date. 

San Fran Weekly chats with the editors of I Heart Street Art and finds out why they love to create. 

Graffiti Argentina is currently available in Spain and England. Be sure to grab a copy and keep an eye out for Berlin and Paris releases coming soon! 

Last weekend, the best in street art from the UK and around the globe descended on Brighton for "The Beautiful and the Canned." Check the blog for photos, stories, and commentary.

The Weserburg Museum for Modern Art in Bremen, Germany, presents a collection of works by Victor Ash, Zezão, Swoon, and many others. The show runs from May 15-August 30. 

After he spoke to us, The Krah did an interview with a German publication. He also sent along a video of Athens Graffiti Invasion. Take a look. 

Dan Bergeron is a big deal now, but don’t forget about Richard Hambleton! 

As promised, Knitta descended on Brooklyn Heights and made its parking meters a little more huggable. 

Hopefully, no one jacks the new Faile prayer wheel in Williamsburg (who knows where the last one went). 

Remi Rough plans to kick off summer at London's Urban Angel Gallery on June 9. From 6-9 that night, he’ll be around to celebrate his solo show, "Lost Colours and Alibis."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday ProFile: 3E

Born in Cartago, Costa Rica, 3E began exploring his creativity from an early age. He recalls, “I always had artistic tendencies but always in a mischievous and troublemaker way. I liked playing with a lot of different materials like matchboxes, wood, sand. I remember there was a box at the top of a closet in my house which I liked to take down to inspect. Needless to say, the materials were never intact after passing through my hands.”

This creativity led to a career in graphic design. The color, shape, and layout of the design world meshed well with the graffiti he saw on the streets. After a while, he decided to try his hand at this new form of expression. “I think my style comes from my work as a designer,” he says. “Even though I have been in this for a short amount of time, I have begun to create a style that has a lot of details. I use a lot of rectilinear and small objects, stencils that are digitally created and mixed with analog traces, and patterns that can be combined in layers to get different results. I call this style Technograffiti; the more detail, the better.”

3E’s name has a variety of personal meanings. “It is a combination of the term ‘3D’. ‘3E’ sounds like “tree,” complete with its different branches. These branches resemble what I do in my different artistic outlets.” Armed with his name and his style, 3E hit the streets in mid-2007. “Painting is very liberating for me,” he explains. “I enjoy it and at the same time it gets me off the computer for a while. I like that people can see a work of art without having to pay to see it; it’s there and is anonymous to most people. Also, a lot more people will probably see it out on the street, which makes it more valuable.”

While 3E was nervous about outside criticism at the beginning, he never feared the long arm of the law. “I really do not think of bombing in terms of painting on government property,” he says, “which I think belongs to me in some way and which I am free to modify. I would much rather like to dedicate time to make street art that can create more social impact, something that will contribute to the community.” Although he’s been searched by police, he worries more about randoms than law enforcement interfering. “Early this year, an individual tried to stab me and take the camera I was using to film a friend bombing,” he recounts. “That day we got taken to jail – not our attacker but us. Evidently paint is a lethal weapon and graffiti still a taboo for some people.”

3E’s style may change, but his intent remains the same. “The message will depend a lot on the person observing,” he acknowledges. “But I suppose the most important point is that graffiti is art and it should be no less legitimate than a painting hanging in a gallery, which people doubt in no way and automatically anoint with status.” In the future, he plans to push the boundaries of traditional graffiti and to share it with more people. “I would like to create and offer a more technical style in graffiti by using a combination of tools and media,” he says. “Ultimately, I’d like graffiti to be accepted by the general community as a form of art and not a taboo equal to vandalism.” He adds, “I have no limits – if the Pope wants one of my graffiti I would gladly make one in Saint Peter’s Square at Piazza Pio XII in Vatican City.”

3E is not only a graphic designer or street artist. Since 2006, 3E has built a life for himself in Panama. When he’s not painting or designing, he spends time with his wife. He also plays keyboard in the band Einfall and messes around with ProTools to create his own tracks. In his spare time, he collects vintage stickers and reads about whatever subject piques his interest. To get away from it all, 3E skateboards. “I guess,” he smiles, “you could say I’m busy all the time.”

All images courtesy of 3E. For more information, check out his website.

Gracias, 3E! Good luck with those new projects. On Monday, I'll be sure to give a full report of my weekend. Apparently, I'm going to the aquarium to pet a penguin (my favorite animal of all time). Awesome! Have an excellent weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday.