Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 2009: "Whole in the Wall" at Helenbeck Gallery

On Tuesday, I took a break from my job (applying for jobs) to stroll over to the Helenbeck Gallery.

Located on W. 35th St. near 10th Ave., the gallery's currently showing "Whole in the Wall," an exhibit dedicated to the best of American and European street art and graffiti. I still find it hilarious that galleries have shows for street art when all the work is on canvas, but that is a conversation for another time.

This spacious warehouse was packed with paintings, prints, and photos spanning nearly three decades. Martha Cooper's photos of fresh-faced Lady Pink decorated the room dividers while Blek Le Rat's trademark rodents held their ground next to Daze's loopy tags. Tagging into the growing toy industry associated with urban art, Frederic Plateus's Technicolor 3-D explosives provided a playful take on the term 'bomb.'
One of my favorite artists represented was Ikon. In "BBoys Ik-Men," the painting pictured above, sullen Wolverines and Storms pout with defiantly crossed arms. Upstairs, "Good Morning, Kids" is anything but G-rated. Ernie brandishes an AK-47 and Rubbie Duck stands ready to shank with a knife in his beak. His bright palate and cheeky take on pop icons definitely won me over.
It's impossible to capture the energy of a street piece in a gallery setting, but I appreciated the show for what it was. My only criticism involved organization. If I were curating, I would've organized the pieces chronologically. Jumping from JonOne to Nunca made the show feel a bit choppy. I would've liked to see some logical progression in the set-up. However, I did enjoy the quirky juxtaposition of antiques and graff on the second floor. Huge paintings by Sharp and other artists decorated a room filled with 18th century giltwood furniture and velvet curtains. When I arrived, Sharp himself sat at an antique desk, doodling new tags as Run-DMC blasted from the boom box.
This exhibit only runs until June 27th, so pop over quickly before it's gone. The Helenbeck is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. For more information, check their website.

When I post tomorrow, I'll be in DC. Let me know if there's anything I should check out while I'm there!

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