Monday, August 31, 2009

In The Headlines

Pretty quiet weekend around here. I filled the hours with books, tea, and running. Such is the way of things when you're back in small town mode. Can't complain though; I just watched Wendy and Lucy, so I'm absolutely grateful that I'm not living in my car/getting arrested for shoplifting/losing my dog. Also, jamming out to the new Gorilla vs. Bear playlist made for a good time. Now it's back to work, so peruse these headlines while I burn some toast.
Mark your calendars: Copyright’s first solo London show will soon be upon us. Check the Urban Angel site for all the details.

Today we welcome another friend into the fold. Meet Mark and his blog, PSP (Pilipina Street Plan) in the Primary Resources section.

Yoshitomo Nara is off the hook for scribbling on the NYC subway system earlier this year.

I’m digging this giant man-baby head in San Francisco. That's a lot of facial hair for an infant. What are they feeding that kid?

Toronto graff artist Smolik chats with the folks at Earwaks about Under Pressure’s graffiti convention.

Omino71 caught up with Mister G and turned the conversation into a blog post.

Melbourne’s streets are already covered with street art, but just wait until January. After the Don’t Ban The Can festival, I doubt there will be a blank square inch in the city.

Teaming up with Montana Colors North, San Fran’s 1AM Gallery proudly presents “Don’t Sweat the Technique: Ode to the Spraycan.” The exhibit opens on September 11 and serves as a warm-up for the Invitational Graffiti Battle finalists. (The final goes down in Oakland on October 10.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday ProFile: Tha Bum

Bum, vagrant, drifter, derelict: all these terms usually carry a negative connotation. Haters look down on the nomadic types. Tha Bum, however, willingly chose this moniker for his tagging alias. "My homie and I used to do a radio show called Two Bums and a Mike," he recalls, "so my name came from there. I'm also all about the urban street style, so it kinda fits together."
Repping the 562, Cali-based Tha Bum gets up all around the West coast. As a kid, his friends asked him to draw them pictures after class. "It was kind of like job training," he jokes. For the past five years, he's slapped his stickers in and around his home. To pay the bills, he dreams up graphics for a t-shirt and headwear company.
Tha Bum's drawings may be on tees, but his heart is in the streets. "Street art is all about getting up in the streets," he insists, "but it's much more than that. It's a style of art that is very distinctive and it's also a lifestyle." When it comes to getting up, Tha Bum is never scared. He only fears, he insists, "not pursuing my dreams."
Tagging can lead to some unfathomable adventures. "One time in Vegas," he explains, "a homeless man asked me for change. I said, 'For sure, if you hold up one of my stickers so I can take a flick.' He agreed, but then changed his mind and didn't want to give me my money back. We almost got into a fist fight, but I got my money back."
Street art is ephemeral, but Tha Bum hopes to leave his mark. "I'd like to work for myself eventually," he says. "I just want to make sure my work is around even after I die. Right now, I'm working on a few things for some clients and trying to finish up one of my own pieces." Don't be fooled, this Bum is no slacker. Be on the lookout for fresh pieces in your hood.
Thanks a bunch, man! For more photos or info, stop by his MySpace. Alright, it's the weekend. Time for some watermelon and sun on the porch.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 2009: Derek in Windham

This post combines two of my favorite things: people who contact me about the blog AND people who work in Connecticut. Derek, an artist from the Windham area, sent me a link and some info about his work. Derek's work is particularly encouraging given an unfortunate encounter today. I meant to photograph a local stencil at the high school, but I waited too long. Today, the piece was obstructed by a giant Krylon phallus. That's right, big spraypaint dick. Original. Derek's stickers give me hope that something's going on in my state. While I haven't seen a purple bunny in my neck of the woods, I'm definitely keeping my eyes peeled. He writes.
"I grew up a shy and quiet kid, drawing has always been my voice. It was the most comfortable way for me to everything in my head out and was always a great ice breaker for making some friends along the way."
"At a young age, I became obsessed with sci-fi and horror movies (Star Wars, Jaws, Godzilla). The impression those movies and comic books left on me shines through in my work today. I like to create from my imagination. Why paint or draw something that is sitting right in front of you or that you see in your everyday life? Create something from the deepest, darkest parts of your mind. Show people that you can think."
"I've been told by a few that my style is a cross between comic books and graffiti. I really don't think I have a particular style like most artists. When I see something another artist did that I admire, it sparks something in me and I create from that. If an artists does something I like, I'll take that and morph it with my style."
"The sad,purple bunny kinda became my mascot about a year ago. I thought it was a pretty simple and recognizable figure. He kinda represents how the majority of people are forced to put on a suit every day and endure an uncomfortable situation, whether it be a job they hate or just trying to fit in at school."
"I put together a sticker sheet on my deviantART page and asked kids to print'em and stick'em. Since then, I have received a few pictures of where they have been stuck. I have only seen one in a nearby town."

Thanks, Derek! I'm so pleased that you found me. Way to rep that CT scene! For more info on Derek, his paintings, or his bunnies, visit his blog or his deviantART page.

Also, Steve sent me this Swatch info to follow up on one of our posts. Apparently, you're entered to win a Billy the Artist watch (see below) if you follow Swatch US on Twitter. That's a lot easier than collecting box tops.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 2009: Kill Pixie + Cleon Peterson in Sydney

Today marks the start of another school year. Last year's seniors graduated to make space for a gaggle of incoming freshmen. I hope those grads enjoy college, because the real world is one giant booty slap. To kick off a new year, here's a post from Kill Pixie, a.k.a. Mark Whelan. He talks about his latest show back home in Sydney. He writes:

"Two of the world’s most exciting emerging artists - Australia’s Kill Pixie and the USA’s Cleon Peterson- come together in August for the much anticipated two-man show at Monster Children Gallery."
"Titled ‘The Mirror Stage’, the show commences on August 21 and will feature recent works by both of these sought after artists, who are all enjoying growing recognition and success."
"After starting out as a graffiti artist on the streets of Sydney, Kill Pixie (Mark Whalen) is now enjoying sold out shows around the world and is renowned internationally. In his highly collectable works, he combines delicate line work with extraordinary use of colour through ink, watercolour and acrylic. In Kill Pixie's meticulous work, the viewer senses the indomitable spirits of creativity, humor and resistance, and the power of adaptation. Currently based in LA, Kill Pixie has just ended a soldl-out show at Los Angeles’ Merry Karnowsky gallery. His work has featured in magazines and newspapers around the world from Vogue, ModArt, Artist Profile and Nylon to graphic art bibles Arkitip and Juxtapoz."
"Cleon Peterson is a Los Angles-based artist who has exhibited extensively across the northern hemisphere, including shows at iconic galleries such as Deitch Projects in New York, White Walls in San Francisco and New Image Art in Los Angeles. His paintings depict a world in chaos, where violence is the status quo and ethics have been abandoned in favor of what every individual believes they are entitled to. Characters are shown committing random acts of violence - clashing figures which symbolise a struggle between power and submission. Peterson was recently invited to collaborate with Shepard Fairey on the 2009 Saks Fifth Avenue Project in New York."
Sweet as, guys! Good luck with the show. For more info, visit Monster Children's website. Looks pretty hot; they've got a gallery, a magazine, and a shop filled with goodies. Ah, if only I were in Sydney. Okay, back to reality. Gotta go teach some kiddies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 2009: MC Deathbear in Ithaca

There's something about bears that intrigues people. In Grizzly Man, activist Timothy Treadwell lived with a group of black bears in the western United States. We name football teams after them, listen to their advice on preventing wildfires, and even mold chewy candies into bite-sized bear-shaped treats. In short, bears are badass.

MC Deathbear falls into this badass bear category. Between the stickers, stencils, cartoons, and tees, there's no medium too obscure for the Ithaca-based artist. The photos and clips in this post only scratch the surface of what Deathbear's got going on. He writes:

"I've been an artist my whole life, but I didn't really start cutting stencils and doing street art heavily until I saw a Banksy show in NYC. First, I'd just like to say I'm not a hater and I enjoy most of his art work, but the whole time I was looking at the show I was thinking to myself, 'I could do this....I know how he makes these....I could do this.'"

"From there, I started cutting and tagging stencils more. I mostly just make stencils of things that I like (Star Wars, bears and video games, ha.) I just make things that I think are cool... it really isn't much deeper then that."
"The Kimbo Slice Stencil and the MC DEATH BEAR logo are lazer cut out of plexiglass and are both 15x15. I tagged them last summer in Ithaca, NY."
"The other pieces are hand cut stencils sprayed on large stickers for easy tagging. After a close run-in, I got nervous running around with cans for a while...ha. These were also tagged in Ithaca, NY."
"Thank you so much for using my art work for your blog; I really appreciate it. Also there will be an MC DEATH BEAR t-shirt in the Domestic spring 2010 clothing line. When they come out in a couple of months, I'll let you know and try and get you a t-shirt!"

Awesome, Deathbear! I can totally picture this cartoon on Adult Swim next to Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Tom Goes to the Mayor. Anybody else in Ithaca want to comment on his stuff? I'm psyched about the tee shirts and will definitely rock one with pride. For more Deathbear photos, check out his blog.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Back! In The Headlines

I'm back! Did you miss me? After a week of swimming, biking, and eating fish, I've returned refreshed and ready to write more posts. No, I didn't bring you back a stuffed lobster or a corny tee shirt, but I did manage to whip up some headlines before I threw all my laundry in the washer.

First off, I’d like to draw your attention to the “Primary Sources” sidebar. We’ve got two new neighbors. Andrea says “hej” from Fubalu in Zurich while Emily says “what’s up?” from Madison Street Art. Definitely give these folks a shout and check out what they’re posting!

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is getting a facelift from graffiti artists with its “Rough Cut Nation” exhibit.

Manchester, Mass., residents said “no” to a proposed graffiti mural.

If you’ve looked at a light post on New York City’s Lower East Side, you’ve probably seen Jim Powers’s mosaics.

This blog contains some drive-by shots of street art in LA.

San Francisco’s Mission District is teeming with street art and artists; here's a sample.

Here’s Kurt Werner’s newest pseudo-3D piece in Bettona, Italy.

In this video clip, Billy the Artist gets excited about his new Swatch designs.

Hush has some sassy new projects online at Urban Angel.

UIC student Firas Alktaheeb created the Obama “Joker” posters, but his hands are clean of wheatpaste.

Michael De Feo recently returned from Hong Kong after “planting” a few pieces. View the end product at his website.

Rod McPhee implores Yorkshire graffiti powerwashers to give it a rest.

Even little kids can’t draw on Devon sidewalks anymore; their chalk scribbles are getting the scrub, too.

Art teacher Ian Sands and his students placed colorful critters around Apex, North Carolina, to brighten up the neighborhood.

San Francisco’s 1AM gallery offers stencil classes this Wednesday from 5:30-7 pm.

Shepard Fairey and Eastsider blogger Jesus Sanchez went head to head when Sanchez discovered that the artist covered the exterior of his gallery with anti-graffiti coating.

Princess Hijab’s posters are included in “The Seen and the Hidden: (Dis)-covering the Veil,” a show running through August 29 at New York City’s Austrian Cultural Forum.

Good question: If the NYPD is fining street artists and sending taggers to jail, should they be doing the same to companies putting up illegal ads on our walls?

Curbs and Stoops posted a write-up about Indonesian artist Arkiv last week.

Shell Sheddy’s photographs document New York’s graffiti scene in “Reading the Writing on the Wall.” The show runs through August 29 at the Tompkins Square Park Library Gallery.

Jon Burgerman’s visit to the U.S. was nothing but busy. He painted in BK, created some stickers for Japan, and opened his latest show (aptly titled ‘My American Summer’) at Giant Robot in L.E.S. New York City thanks you, Jon!

The graff and street art exhibit “State of the City” runs through September 20 at Rochester Contemporary. For more information, check the museum’s website.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday ProFile: Matt Langille + Vacation Time

I find the commercialization of street art so fascinating. Don’t get me wrong; you know where my preferences lie. But it blows my mind how some city kids with spray cans eventually led to Banksy’s multi-million dollar auction revenue. While street artists once worked solely in the street, now it’s a combination of collaborations. Galleries like Deitch Projects and Jonathan LeVine showcase street art indoors. Janet Bike Girl stencils and helps organize the Bicycle Film Festival. Kaws designs tee shirts for BAPE. Shepard Fairey makes posters for the president. It’s rare, but some street artists manage to transform their illicit passions into a career.
When I got an e-mail from Steve about Matt Langille, I wondered what my readers would think. While Matt has great respect for the graffiti world, he’s never worked in the street. “It’s probably because every time I step over a white line, I get arrested,” he adds. “I don’t have the best luck with NYC cops. I have spent a couple days in jail for hopping a turnstile.” With such crummy luck with the law, he channeled his creative juices elsewhere.
Matt knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist. He only had to look to his family for inspiration. His grandfather was a successful abstract artist, his older brother is a painter, and his mother dyes textiles. “I grew up drawing pirate ships with my grandfather,” he recalls. “Then I started blowing glass at eleven at an art camp called Buck’s Rock. I learned everything there like woodworking, printmaking, boutique, ceramics and glass blowing. The glass blowing really stuck with me so I ended up doing it through college, but I been doing artwork my whole life.”
While he doesn’t work on the street, Matt believes that his medium reaches a broad range of people. “A lot of people ask whether it’s selling out to put artwork on products,” he says. “Once something is sold on the shelf, you’re automatically considered a sell out. I think that’s crap. I think it’s a great way to have your artwork on all sorts of different people walking around. They’re like living canvases and other people get to experience the artwork that way.”
Matt’s latest project is a collaboration with Swatch. Back in the ‘80s, Keith Haring contributed some designs for the company’s campaign. Today, Matt’s colorful critters decorate three separate watchbands. “I haven’t seen anyone wearing my Swatches yet,” he says. “But I have a lot of clients in China that saw some big billboards with my name and watch design on them. My sister-in-law has seen my work on ads in the subway and on the streets in Barcelona.”

Whenever one project ends, Matt's already on to the next one. “I’ve got a lot of ideas,” he explains. “I’m working on a children’s book. I want to do a lot of stuff for home décor like wallpaper, interior design, and other stuff like that. I also want to do some stuff with Crayola, and maybe Sharpie. I want to collaborate with shoes maybe Nike or Converse.” While he may have big plans, Matt hasn’t allowed his success to inflate his ego. “I do a lot of cute and innocent looking work, but I’ve got a pretty filthy mouth and a huge sense of humor,” he says. “I’m just a fun guy who doesn’t take life too seriously.”

Matt’s story got me thinking. What kind of an impact is street art making on the art community? And what about the commercial community? What does it mean when advertising uses the same street tactics as artists? Can commercial art serving the same purpose as street artists? Can commercial art maintain ‘street’ sensibilities? I’d really love to get some feedback. This post is a bit out of the ordinary for me, so I’d love to hear what you guys have to say. After all, this blog is about our community! Right now, I’m heading out to Cape Cod for the week. Don’t cry, though. You can catch up on any posts you missed, take photos in your neighborhoods, and send me photos for when I get back. Have a great week and come back on August 24 for headlines, posts, and profiles. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August 2009: Nazzar in Bogotá

My friend Padric graduates in 2010, but he's already planning for the future. After spending a year abroad in Spain and Argentina, respectively, he still hasn't gotten the Spanish bug out of his system. One potential plan involves winning a Fulbright to Colombia. I couldn't agree more. With all the constant creativity bursting out of Bogotá, who wouldn't want to be there? Today, Dulce Hogar, a.k.a. Stinkfish, tells us about Argentine stencil artist Nazzar's upcoming exhibit. He writes:

“Memory Canalla presents Nazzar along with Bogotá’s Street Collective. The exhibit kicks off on August 13 at 6 p.m. at the Museo de Bogotá in Candelaria. For more info, visit the museum’s website.”
“Born in 1978 in Argentina’s Tucumán province, Nazzar was raised and trained in Buenos Aires. This stencil artist uses his discipline as a means of personal expression. He rephrases and uses public space in order to convey a message.”
“Through his stencils, he actively intervenes in the community. Nazzar is committed to his surroundings, seeking to generate reactions and promote greater social awareness. While he also dabbles in illustration, tattoos, music, and designs, he specializes in stencils.”
“In 2006, Nazzar participated in major international exhibitions. He displayed his work in French and Viennese galleries. You can also find his works published in stencil books in Argentina and France’s Stencil History X.”
“In addition to his Argentine projects, he’s also worked on the streets of Germany, England, France, and Brazil. Currently, he’s involved in numerous projects. Each piece focuses strongly on the idea of content. He strives to carefully produce works with substance so his paintings leave more than just a visual impact.”

Gracias, Dulce! Thanks for the update. Today, I need to start packing. Cape Cod is calling my name, but I promise a ProFile before I take a break. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August 2009: Ana Botella Crew in Madrid

When I was in Europe, I never made it to Madrid. Barcelona blew my mind with its beaches, paella, and street art. However, I'd love to take a trip to the Spanish capital. Daniel sent me a note about what Ana Botella Crew are working on; I'm quite intrigued. He writes:
“Ana Botella is the wife of the former Spanish President José María Aznar, the one who started the Iraq War alongside Bush and Blair. Currently, she is also in charge of the department of the environment in the City of Madrid. It´s quite ridiculous because her husband is one of the most prominent Spanish neocons arguing publicly that the weather change and the environmental crisis are not real. He has been organizing master lectures at universities talking about the weather change conspiracy and adding that it’s all a fake created by new communism! Ana Botella follows this trend, and at the local level has carried the disdain for environmental practices to her own department at City Hall. She’s expanded this repressive policies to include social and cultural practices.”
"She is also a member of the right religious organization called OPUS DEI (The right of the right in the Holy Fucking Catholic Church) And lastly, she said that GRAFFITI is not an ART, and that Madrid spends 6 millions per year erasing graffiti, demagogically concluding, ‘With this money, we could have built 6 hospitals.’” “’I´ll destroy GRAFFITI’", she added.'”
“For all these reasons, and as a reaction to the stupid letter that she sent to every Madrilian with her signature arguing, among her measures for ‘integral cleaning of the city,’ that all graffiti was going to be removed, we had the idea of doing this open action using her own medicine! In fact, with so many politicians proposing recently to use municipal money to hire forensic graphologist to identify taggers and other street artists, we thought it would be a nice touch to use her own signature in this project. That action became really popular in Spain and also in other countries. For instance The Independent of London talks about us.”
“Welcome to this International Stencil Conspiracy! In essence, we are an open, global, and street-art action that criticizes and mocks a prominent politician who prosecutes graffiti. She also holds other backward opinions and policy proposals (from anti-gay rights, to reverse sustainability and social exclusion, you name it...) In response, the open group encourages artists and sympathizers to stencil the globe with her own signature.”
“While it has a strong tongue in cheek component, I believe it also encourages the discussion of public space usage, the right to the city, and the role that art and open participation has to do as an active agent of change. The project has picked up quite a bit of traction, with interventions in Madrid. Several other Spanish cities, such as Cadiz or Cuenca, have picked up on our mission. We also reach out to places like Washington DC and are planning interventions across Latin America.”

Gracias, Daniel! Who knew Ana traveled so much? Seems like she's everywhere. Thanks for checking in and sharing this story. Keep me posted! For more Ana Botella photos, check their Flickr page.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 2009: xxCrew in Münster

Back in April, I celebrated our 100th post with some news about xxCrew. As you may recall, this German collective conceived of a unique way to spread their stickers around. Yesterday, Johannes sent me a note about their latest creative escapades. He writes:

"Hi, Meg! Our event is far away, but you might be interested."

"There's less than one week left until 'Verfolgungsjagd 2.0 (The Big Chase 2.0)' at The Cuba Nova in Münster, Germany. Starting with a discussion about art in public space, the show will offer a 50m long Carrera racetrack that is open for public use. This track will be surrounded by work from Happyill, xXcrew and others. There's a sound collage by DJ At, a subject-related projector-presentation, and lot more. The event features Büro für Kunstvermittlung, Ruppe Koselleck, Tobias Kunze, Quentin Tarantino, Steve McQueen, Sebastian Walther, Yushu Zopf, and many more!"
And, at our other exhibition is "Live-Graffiti! with the xxCrew and Sokar." It's happening on August 12 at 4 p.m. Stop by Raum für Kunst, Am Kamp 21, Kötterhagen 33098 Paderborn. Viele Grüße, Johannes."

Thanks so much, Johannes! I wish I were closer to Germany right now! For more on xxCrew, visit their website.

Monday, August 10, 2009

In The Headlines

Is this summer for real? I wear flannel shirts in the day time and sweatpants to bed. Dear Mother Nature, please step your game up. This is supposed to be the hottest season of the year. Even though it's been chilly, I'm still keeping busy with projects. Thanks to the New York Fashion District, I'm making blouses with African kente. I also need to build my coat rack out of skis and my skateboard headboard. Gotta squeeze it all in before vacation next week! While I hit the streets for a run, take a look through this massive pile of headlines.

Who knew rubber stamps could be so gangster? RYCA makes a mean portrait of Easy-E.

Romastreetfood interviewed URKA this past week.

Art Asylum Boston teamed up with the UK’s STATIC Collective for “Intergalatic Planetary,” a new set of prints.

Wish I hadn’t spent Saturday in class. If I’d been free, I totally would’ve checked out the Urban Art Street Festival in New London.

The Montanaro Contemporary Arts Collection proudly presents “Selections from the Dan Hopkins Collection.” Featuring pieces by Shepard Fairey, Doze Green, and Tomokazu Matsuyama, the exhibit brings a large body of work to Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Lady Pink and others speak out about women and graffiti.

The government rebuffed art students in Plymouth, England, as the city buffed their artwork.

Teens take their tagging skills to legal walls under the guidance of the TRACKS program in Claremont, Cali.

Now moms are reading about street art, too. Wild.

I’m obsessed with the SF Street art in Pixelvision and SFWeekly. Here’s this week’s update.

Brian Watson argues that street art is more than just vandalism; street pieces make you think.

“Mom and Popism,” an exhibit dedicated to local businesses and the street art that decorates them, opens this coming Saturday. If you’re in NYC, stop by from 12-4 at 210 Elizabeth Street. Thanks, Billi Kid!

Apparently, this interview will answer any question you’ve ever had about Bay Area street art.

Can anybody enlighten me about the Obama Joker posters?

Barry McGee and friends are set to shake up Rome’s art scene with “New York Minute,” a body of work from 60 Big Apple artists.

Glasgow’s Recoat Gallery celebrates its second birthday this month. Stop by and catch “Spin on This,” a collection of artwork inspired by the bicycle.

Michael De Feo is back from Hong Kong and has a new show at Toronto’s Angell Gallery. It’s open through August 29, so get on up there!