Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday ProFile: Imminent Disaster

In the late 1800s, the Victorian Era represented a long period of prosperity and the rise of the middle class. With rapid industrialization, urban areas swelled and slum areas developed. Imminent Disaster’s linoleum prints ironically represent a prosperous period against the backdrop of our own era’s economic difficulties. Posted up in the back alleys of Brooklyn, these ruffled beauties contrast sharply with the ragged walls they decorate.
Imminent Disaster began her wheatpasting missions back in 2006 with a series culture jamming local chain storefronts. Since then, she’s roamed the country and the world leaving a trail of wheatpastes in her wake. “I've put up my stuff all over,” she says, “but unfortunately the stuff that gets the most hype has to be in a big city with a graff/street art scene. I hitchhiked across the country and put stuff up in Georgia, rural Illinois, South Florida, and Staten Island. I took wheatpastes with me to Peru and Chile. Those moments off the beaten path are probably the most important and the least recorded.”
While she enjoys the vibe of group efforts, most of Imminent Disaster's projects are completed solo. "Real collaborations are hard to come by," she admits. "I love organizing mural painting projects, but that's collective energy more so than collaboration. Most of my real work is done on my own terms."
Working off-canvas has its own share of environmental and occupational risks. "There's a quarry in upstate New York with several semi-submerged buildings," she recalls. "I tore a ligament in a my knee jumping off a cliff, then hobbled over to one of the buildings to paint until the sun went down. I would go back over to finish that piece any day." Law enforcement also makes her work difficult. However, a little quick thinking can get her out of an jam. "Once the cops rolled up, and I convinced them I was supposed to be there," she laughs. "I showed them the piece, and they sat and watched for 15 minutes or so while I put it up."

“Refuge,” her joint show with Armsrock, opens at Thinkspace in LA on March 12. While the road was long, Imminent Disaster finally feels like she's arrived on the scene. "I'm synthesizing everything I am inspired by into my own voice," she insists. "It's taken a while to go from copying and appropriation to real transformation, but I think I'm finally there."

Thanks so much! For more wheatpaste documentation, take a look at her Flickr. That's all for now! If you're in the CT area and are free on Saturday night, there's going to be a cool show at The Warehouse: Teeth Mountain, D. Gookin, and some other cats that I'm going to listen to this week. Should be good stuff! Perhaps I'll see you there...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

January 2010: My Mistake, Grito

So, sometimes I get stupid. I read too quickly and don't realize my errors until it's too late. (Such are the problems that come with working full time and blogging on the side). At any rate, this morning's post was a bust. Instead of posting on this Grito, the original images accompanying the text were of Grito de Rabia. My sincere apologies to both artists. From now on, I promise not to write posts late at night. Please forgive me!

“I started painting several years ago with friends by Xapuzas. I started with graffiti icons and gradually evolved. Nowadays my pieces stray far from their origins.”

“One of the characteristics of painting on the street is the freedom, in the sense that you're not restricted by the measurements of a canvas. The wall is the space and the limits are simply physical. By painting with rollers and extenders, you can multiply your potential radius tenfold. Expanding physical limits allows me to paint large areas quickly. The bad part is that you need a shower after each time you paint!”
“I like painting large concrete surfaces. I like to paint in he city but police have a zero tolerance graffiti policy, so sometimes it’s not possible and I have to seek alternatives. Factories are a good spot, but really any major walls are good.”
“One day when I was painting, I found the skeleton of a whale in an abandoned house. Strangely enough, the house was far from the coast, but it smelled of the sea.”

“We are preparing some new videos with the crew and some guest stars. You will get an update soon.”

Gracias, Grito, and lo siento for the error! For more photos, visit his website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

January 2010: Left Hand Rotation in Madrid

I'm not a fan of personal practical jokes, but I love it when someone modifies cityscapes in a clever way. Madrid-based group Left Hand Rotation shares my admiration for witty urban interventions. Armed with a plethora of mediums and materials, they shake up Spanish city life on a regular basis. They write:
“We’ve been doing street art for about 12 years but we’ve worked under the name Left Hand Rotation for four. We started in the world of stencils, but over time we have evolved into something less aesthetic and more subtle: facilities and street actions, elements of everyday life taken out of context, changing the meaning and making it something provocative or critical.”
"We have a core of two to three people, but the group grows according to the project's needs."
"Urban actions, which we call ‘art misdemeanors, are only one of many things we do. We also work in video, sound, performance and installations. While we don’t always use the street as support, we love using the streets because you can interact with many elements and other people. Plus the visibility it brings is great. We do not consider our style to be well-defined as we like to question everything that we have previously developed.”
“In any case, our actions often have a large dose of wry, black humor, so we always have fun doing it. One of our latest projects involved some 36 people in the mountains. We tried to simulate the arrival of globalization in a rural setting with McDonald's or cow pastures stores and fashion in poultry houses and stables. We have also tested
theories about drift and ambulation which, fleeing the urban flows, lead us to the peripheries cities. In those places, seemingly nothing happens but it can lead to actions, as we learned in ‘Madrid, Closed For Vacation.’

"Right now we are working on a project called ‘Moss Media. It’s based on the legend of a people: Bejar and his legend of the Moss Men. We try to elevate the status of this element of folklore by brining these characters into the city. We are also developing a new urban action based on the copyright symbol.”

Gracias, guys! For more clever culture-jamming, visit their Flickr.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

January 2010: Mean Marek in Berlin

One of my friends just returned from Berlin and I can't stop dreaming about my trip last year. The city just has the best vibe; with so much art going on, you really can't go wrong. Today, Mean Marek pays a visit and lets us in on his street art past. He writes:
"I started tagging in 1995, but graffiti really became serious to me in 2000. Five years later after getting busted, I focused on stickers and paste-ups. That´s what I mostly do now. 2010 is a year of jubilees for me."
"I love to work with people, but mostly it´s Kola and Momo from the nARTur-Group. When I´m in Berlin I usually go out on a paste mission with my buddy Azione. But I also enjoy doing stuff with me, myself and I."
"My style? I don´t know if it´s mine. I like working in mostly chilly spots... abandoned, empty, left, dead spaces."
"Right now, I'm working on my portfolio for the academy of fine arts, a fanzine covering art and skateboarding, and some posters for my 'IGNORE THIS EGOTRIP!'project."
Danke, Mean Marek! (And thanks to Stofflowsky for the photos). For more collective updates, visit their new blog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In The Headlines

I'm back, my loves! Last week was fantastic, but I'm glad to be back with you guys. The news over the wire was a bit quiet last week but there's a lot coming up. I sent some stickers in for Sticker Phiends and I'm brainstorming ideas for various Papergirl projects across the globe. Spring 2010 will be fantastic! Here are the headlines for the week.
Looking for a place to send all your stickers and artwork? Send it to Madone over at Sticker Phiends III in Phoenix, Arizona. All submissions must arrive by March 15, so shoot him an e-mail for details.

A trio of street artists spearheaded Melbourne’s Oh Really Gallery to prove that going inside doesn’t mean selling out.

NY Arts profiled Gaia and Lady Aiko.

Curbs and Stoops interviewed Oaxaca-based collective Lapiztola.

Chicago can’t decide if it’s happy or pissed about a recent piece in the Gold Coast.

TakaHashki Naoko takes her cardboard messages indoors in London.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday ProFile: Buff Diss

"Caution" and "No admittance" signs don't deter Buff Diss from creating street art. Instead, he view such statements as open invitations to work. Unlike many of his Melbourne contemporaries, Buff bucks the trend and uses masking tape, not spray paint, as his medium of choice. "I first started using masking tape in the street about five years ago," he says. "It was by accident, so it wasn't exactly a decisive step away from graffiti." Perplexing police and passersby with his unique ephemeral pieces, Buff messes with with people's heads while he modifies the city.
When it comes to picking locations, Buff gravitates towards abandoned spaces. "Usually, I like to work on dead buildings," he insists. "There's always just so much to work with and explore. Plus you get the time to work real detail or thought into a piece. But pieces in the street or on the tracks are more fun by far." While he occasionally collaborates with friends like Captain Benzo, Buff typically works alone. "Either on the street or indoors, it's an addictive process," he adds.
Some might find tape limiting, but Buff Diss digs the challenge. "I just make it up as I go along," he says. "I think the main reason I keep using tape is the lack of precident. There aren't any old men waving sticks and talking about how I should do it. I feel free to play around."

Sometimes, working with tape doesn't work out the way Buff plans. "I was traveling through France and stopped in a little town by the coast," he recalls. "I spotted these two huge wheat silos on the way and gave them a half-assed look over. After a few casks of France's finest, I made my way out to the massive silos....they were about 30 ft across. I shimmied up a pipe and used all my tape on a huge 'Buff' and 'Diss' buster. Very happy with the night's efforts, I trekked my girlfriend out the next day for photos only to be greeted by two blindingly bright steel silos and a 20 ft invisible roll tape piece; hadn't thought of the glare factor. She was highly impressed."

Currently, Buff's unpacking and adjusting to life in Berlin. "Now that I can focus purely on my art, I'm keen to see how far I can push tape," he says. "I'm also going to work on a series as opposed to the singular pieces I've done so far. Expect bigger, better, and a lot of shockers."

Thanks, Buff! For more photos and updates, stop by his Flickr. That's all for now! I'm flying back from New Orleans today and will report from home on Monday. Enjoy the weekend and I'll see you then!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

January 2010: Max Blackmore in Brunswick

Instead of modifying the environment to fit his wheatpastes, Australian artist Max Blackmore blends his figures into the world around them. Everywhere you turn, his truncated torsos and legs pop out of windows, hurdle fences, and hide behind billboards. He shares his photos and a little text about what's to come. He writes:
”I started doing street art a few years ago now…I think.”
”I live and work in Brunswick, Melbourne. Yeah, I generally stick to Brunny.”
”Most of the time, I work alone but friends are usually keen to help out.”
”I developed my style at my one year of university, I guess. It was a really awesome project where we had to draw a hundred face referencing illustrations, and one of them was a two-headed fox on a tricycle.”

”My favorite place to paint is probably my studio. Once when I was out painting with a mate, we got chased.”

“I’m currently working on setting up a gallery for my folks here in Brunswick. It should be up and running by February/March.”

Cheers, Max! For more cheeky pics, take a look at his website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

November 2009: Teoz in Rome

Stickers are a prime form of street art because you can spread them like a virus. Send them through the mail or slap them around the city: either way, you can get wherever you go. Italian artist Teoz has mastered the art of the sticker and poster. Today, he shares a bit of his background and where he's going from here. He writes:
“I started doing street art around 2 years ago thanks to my friend. I was about 18/19 years old. I live and study in Rome. I paste most of my posters here, but every time I travel, I always carry with me some posters. It’s the first thing to pack!”
”For now, I work alone, but I welcome collaborations with other people. I think it is a way to grow and expand their knowledge. I usually paint here at home, but I hope to soon have my studio for create big posters!”
”I do not have a well-defined style and am constantly searching. I like to experiment with new methods, new techniques, and new tools. I think pasting in itself is an experience full of excitement and adrenaline!”
Presently, I am devoting little time to this passion because of university commitments (I study graphic design), but when the summer comes, expect more!”
Grazie, Teoz! For more stickers and posters, check out his Flickr.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

November 2009: Shida in Berlin

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all! To celebrate this obese Tuesday, we're going down under to meet Shida, an Australian artist with a flare for spray can art. While he loves home in Byron Bay, he's traveled across the globe leaving a trail of characters in his wake. He writes:
”I was inspired to try street art after traveling around Europe with my family in 2005. At first, I was drawn to stencils but soon moved to more illustrative work.”
”In the past, I have always found graffiti a very social lifestyle. You can learn a lot from working with other people and be motivated to produce more art to compete with counterparts. Unfortunately, many of my friends have recently lost interest in art and I find it difficult to find people who share my ideas and level of motivation when it comes to graffiti. While going solo can sometimes be lonely, I feel a heightened connection to the city and enjoy the time to think.”
”I try to develop various styles that will work for different mediums. Creating my work comes naturally. What I usually try to do is paint things I thought were really cool as a child (and still do) like crazy animals, Pokemon, knights and that type of fantasy stuff.”
”I often imagine places to paint that are relaxed and highly visible: where you can have a conversation with passers-by, where you can have a spliff, a beer, and generally have a good time. However, in my city this is completely impossible. I dream of a brighter more liberal future.”
”I’m the craziest thing that happens while I’m out painting. Seriously, I’m a mad man.”

”I’m currently working on large scale posters and trying to make more cash from my art so that I can travel again as soon as possible.”

Thanks, Shida! For more photos, take a peek at his Flickr.

Monday, February 15, 2010

In The Headlines

As you read this, I'm probably asleep on my friend Whitney's floor in New Orleans. Thanks to CheapoAir and some quick thinking (on the parts of other people, not my own), I'm down in The Big Easy witnessing Mardi Gras this week. However, my annual break usually happens in April, so I made sure to post in advance before I left. No worries; you'll still get the news even when I'm not at home! Enjoy the headlines while I play dress up.

Jef Aerosol's solo exhibit, "All Shook Up," runs through February 21 at Brooklyn's Ad Hoc Gallery. Video courtesy of Charles le Brigand.

Amsterdam based Handiedan created a series of prints for the indoor months.

San Francisco artists try to replace graffiti with murals in their city.

Mr. Dheo's new website is up and running.

Remi/Rough's Haitian benefit show, "Au Secours", kicks off on February 21. All proceeds go to Britain's Disaster Emergency Committee.

Street art isn't meant to last forever; just ask Banksy.

Michael De Feo and his daughter created a special collection to benefit Haitian earthquake victims. Check out the show on February 17 at Envoy Enterprises.

In Belfast, the Winter Base street art festival runs from February 20-21. Best of all? It's free.

In Rome, Jessica Stewart and Silvia Bagnacani introduce their latest show, "Rising Love." The exhibit opens February 18 and runs through February 27.

Chris Stain's latest prints are available now on his website.

Miss Bugs regularly posts new photos on Flickr; check it for updates.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday ProFile: Tomo

Last year, Remi/Rough gave an interview for the Tate Modern’s street art exhibition that touched on graffiti’s arrival in the United Kingdom. He mentioned break dancers, hip hop culture, and (of course)Subway Art. Once the medium arrived in England, writers added their own touches to create unique styles. Tomo’s arrival on the scene parallels Remi’s experience. “I’ve always liked scribbling on things,” he confesses. “As a teen, I would walk around town tagging up at night, going to hip hop nights, and watching Wild Style.” After working as a glass collector in local night clubs, he’d take off and paint in old tunnels or bridges before heading home.
“It wasn’t like I was particularly great as a traditional graffer,” Tomo admits. “Besides, I always had other creative ideas floating around in my head.” For a while, he took a break from the scene before he schemed up new ways to hit the streets. “I reached a point where I felt the need to evolve,” he explains. “I was drawing and painting as myself by day. By night, I donned a pseudonym and crept into the shadows. After some contemplation, I ditched the double personality and unified these two lifestyles.”
Tomo started with stickers and worked his way up. As his stickers became more intricate, he turned them into posters. “The poster is such an accessible medium unlike tagging,” he argues. “It can be used to cover a whole neighborhood quite efficiently. Years ago, I had earned a bit of money by flyposting for local bands and club promoters, so this seemed like a fitting progression.” Unlike his early graffiti days, Tomo feels like he hit his stride with street art. “I really felt like this was my time,” he insists. “I was in the right place. Here were dozens of artists demonstrating some really different and creative ways of getting up. It would’ve been nearly impossible to be unaffected by all that.”
Although he possesses graphic design sensibilities, Tomo prefers the path of greatest resistance as opposed to making easy cash. “I became disillusioned with graphic design, which for a large part is just used to sell shit people don’t need and make uncool companies look cool,” he says. “I didn’t exactly choose the most profitable of paths, but it’s not like I care much for that anyway. Whenever I haven’t been able to afford the right materials, I would often take to improvising in one way or another. Over time, this recycling ethic has become a prominent feature and much more important to my work than merely saving money. Transforming waste into art is a kind of alchemy.”
Sometimes, things get wild in the street. After one of his friends died, Tomo and an accomplice hit the road and tagged the deceased’s name everywhere. "It started in a quiet fashion," he recalls. "We'd just paint on roadsides next to other hitchhiker graffiti, service stations, toilets and the like. Eventually, we got to Berlin and felt the need to bring things up a few notches in order to give a proper tribute. We took turns rolling out massive letters. As we were leaving through a gap in a fence, the security guard was right there in front of him. We walked right past him and he gave us this completely shocked 'Oh dear, I'm not doing my job!' look. We gave him a nod and replied with a 'Yes, you're completely right and now you're too late' look. It was magic."
In the future, expect to see more projects with a creative twist from Tomo. "My next project is going to heavily involve the work of the security firm I run," he hints. "We're called Tomo Securities. Our favorite colors are black and yellow. We like to hold it down with a bit more style than your usual security firms and we're coming soon to a neighbourhood near you."

Thanks, Tomo! For more updates, check his website regularly. That's all for now! I'm off to New Orleans for Mardi Gras on Sunday, so I'll report from the Deep South all next week. Have a good one!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

January 2010: Just Do It, Miss Kaplan! in Tel Aviv

Inspired by the streets, Miss Kaplan uses everything from ribbon to flowers to rework urban landscapes. Scroll through her photos and you'll find her clever takes on city streets. Armed with her camera, she captures the sights of Tel Aviv. She writes:
"I started doing street art about a year ago. I am located in Tel Aviv, Israel.""The ribbon project was made a few month ago. I had the idea and just decided to do it. I actually had some more sentences I wanted to write; I might still do it. I wrote these sentences in three different locations. (It was hard to find them.) I took an assistant with me but did everything on my own. She helped me carry the cameras and of course, I needed the company. You know: working hours in the middle of the night can be not so nice sometimes. It took me a while to find the right places. I needed a specific fence, the kind you see in the pics. Others were not good enough and it's not so simple to sew. I needed an interesting spot to take the pics and a place I could work peacefully."
The first day was actually funny and sad. I started sewing the sentence and it took me about four to five hours. After I finished it, a big track came with huge white plastic fences. The driver said he had to cover the fence for advertisement. I couldn’t believe it. I was working so hard and now he was gonna cover it… so it was a lost work. But I learned a lot from that night."
"It was good because I had a spelling mistake, but still it was hard to believe that of all the places in the world and of all the fences in the world, he had to cover my fence. On other nights, you just meet really strange people at these hours. When I was working next to the beach, one crazy guy kept on bothering us. The day after, I came to take some more pics and someone had torn down the sentence. I don’t know if it was him."
"Now I am working on my 'Colleagues' creatures. I take hibiscus flowers and plant them in urban bushes. Sometimes I take the ribbons with me and just make a heart wherever I go. It depends on my mood. But now I am mostly taking pics: street photography, backyards, etc. But of course, I have some new ideas to make some other street art work. Every time I walk along the street, I feel like doing it. I am sure it's gonna happen one of these days…"

Thank you, Miss Kaplan! For more of her fantastic photos, take a long look through her Flickr.