In recent years, the Woodward Gallery has showcased some of New York’s most talented street & graffiti artists. This Saturday, I will be excited to attend the opening of my good friend Royce Bannon’s first curatorial effort for the gallery, “Rather Unique”. The show features artists Cassius Fouler, Celso, Chris RWK, Cope2, Darkcloud, Indie184, infinity, KA, Keely, Kenji Nakayama, Kosbe, Matt Siren, Moody, Nose Go, Royce B, Russell King, UR New York, Veng, and Wrona. Most of the artists included live and work in NYC and their work has been visible on the streets here for years if not decades. With this lineup, there is little doubt that this should be a fun night filled with good people and good art.
If you ever find yourself wondering what the British born/Brooklyn based artist Jon Burgerman is up to, you are asking the wrong question. The real question should be what ISN’T he up to? In the last year alone, he has released a puzzle poster, a limited edition t-shirt for Azita, silk screens for 1xRun and Random Number, designed a Bathtime Favourites Tin for Lush, installed a flower bed outside of the Nottingham Castle Museum, penned the soon-to-be-released book “My American Summer”, released a CD and music video with his band Anxieteam…and that’s not even touching on his various projects, commissions, installations, performances, residencies and exhibitions throughout the world! Ahhhh, I need a nap just from writing about his life! I guess that may be why he occasionally shows up around town in various states of undress.
Even before meeting him it was easy to see why Burgerman is such a popular artist. His “doodling” often showcases his great sense of humor and enjoyment of the world, with all
the meals it has to offer. After meeting him it was easy to see how he maintains the viewer’s initial interest and has turned it into quite the rabid following: aside from said sense of humor, Burgerman is not someone who is afraid to experiment with his style, even if it risks alienating fans who want to see him produce variations of the same work over and over again.
During our studio visit, it was exciting to see how he experiments with different materials, colors, shapes, form, technique and scale. For some artists, once they have found success, it can be especially intimidating to mess with what can be viewed as a “winning formula”. It was interesting to hear Jon talk about his work and what appears to be a compulsion to continue moving artistically in order to keep his work interesting to himself.
And clearly, whatever he is doing is working. Burgerman currently has two street installations on display here in NYC: his own rendition of the Garden of Eden in the courtyard of Factory Fresh in Brooklyn and Groundbreak in Manhattan, along side artists Abe Lincoln Jr. and Ellis G. He is also set to head out to two European exhibitions later this month: Heitsch Galerie in Munich, opening on the 13th and Galerie Issue in Paris, opening on the 28th. While in Europe, Burgerman and his musical collaborator Jim Avignon will also be performing as Anxieteam in London and his hometown of Nottingham.
I hope that you all enjoyed this look into Jon Burgerman’s studio as much as I did! And if you need another fix before the next time we see him, just step into the Burgerplex.
This Friday, December 9th, Luna and I will be participating in the Robots Will Kill and Friends show at Mighty Tanaka. All artists in the show have collaborated or been involved with RWK during the 10 years that it has existed, which pretty much guarantees an eclectic mix of styles and a fun opening. It also marks the second anniversary of Mighty Tanaka, as well as being the second show in their new space, so come out and wish the guys a Happy Birthday!
In the final days leading up to Art Basel Miami, the New York graffiti & street art duo UR New York (aka Ski and 2ESAE, aka Fernando Romero and Michael Baca) are busy putting the final touches on their extensive first solo exhibition “Breaking & Entering”. The full range and abilities of the artists will be on display, with everything from t-shirts & stickers to canvases, limited edition mini-trucks & shadow box diarmas. And while no one who is familiar with the work of UR New York would be surprised to hear that they are showing in Miami, many will be a little shocked to learn just how “Breaking & Entering” came about. Never ones to sit around and wait for anything to come to them, Ski & 2ESAE took matters into their own hands when they decided to become some of the first artists to find a space & finance their own show in the Wynwood District during Art Basel. And where true talent and ingenuity goes, a sponsor is bound to follow: Pop International Galleries was soon on board and rest is history…in the making.
Before UR New York left for Miami, I stopped by their studio to see what they were up to and to preview some of their work for “Breaking & Entering”. The duo has really gone to the next level with these pieces, using clean, polished layers and vibrant colors to create texture & bring life to each piece. Ever present is their unique perspective on urban life and the positivity and strength that has taken them to where they are today. This is one show that is bound to be talked about for years to come, as others come to learn that sometimes breaking in is the best way to get what is yours!
UR NEW YORK ALONGSIDE POP INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES PRESENT:
“BREAKING & ENTERING”
A SOLO EXHIBITION FEATURING WORKS BY:
SKI & 2ESAE (UR NEW YORK)
MIAMI ART BASEL 2011
2412 North Miami Avenue
DEC 1ST OPENING RSVP ONLY
Send Email to:
This Saturday, November 19th, join Pandemic Gallery in welcoming some of my favorite artists for the opening of “Paperboys” featuring Labrona (Montreal), OverUnder (Reno), and ND’A (Brooklyn). Based on my preview of their work last night, this show is shaping up in a way that will please their current fans as well as winning them over some new ones.
Each artist is known for their free and spontaneous styles when painting outdoors, where you may wander upon ND’A’s large, cartoonish murals in Bushwick or catch one of Labrona’s Mona Lisa-esque portraits and OverUnder’s birds as they fly by you on the side of a Trans American freight. Yet it is when these friends put their paint to paper & canvas that they have the luxury of time to fully develop and explore the themes and influences that have launched their work to international notoriety. For Paperboys, Labrona experiments with new spray painting techniques and layering to achieve looks that transmute between impressionistic, almost abstract forms to his colorfully combined take on surreal realism. In OverUnder’s gouache on butcher paper paintings, he invites the viewer on a tour of his favorite painting spots as he re-visits & re-creates a year spent in almost perpetual motion. ND’A works with bold black lines and sloppy, joyful fills to playfully analyze and critique his transition from street artist into a gallery ready painter. Though their mediums, styles and influences may differ, this trio of artists is brought together by an enduring love for creating art for art’s sake that has propelled them into a shared lifestyle of artistic freedom, transcending the limitations of lives more ordinary.
featuring the artwork of:
OVERUNDER / LABRONA / ND’A
Opening Reception: Saturday, Nov. 19th 7-11pm
show runs through Sun. Dec. 11th
37 Broadway (between Wythe and Kent)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Sadly, I won’t be making it back to Mexico for el Día de los Muertos this year, but celebrating from home just got a little bit easier with the addition of Too Fly’s new mural to my favorite local Mexican restaurant. Dolk’s piece was nice while it lasted, but lately that wall has definitely been in need of a make-over. Suddenly my Pollo Al Mole Poblano and $3 happy hour margaritas just got a whole lot more festive!
Dan Witz, street art’s reigning king of optical trickery, has been quietly adding to his Early Sunday Morning and Japes series around New York and beyond. If there is anything that you need to worry about with Dan, it’s certainly not over his lack of ideas…or talent…or work ethic. So, basically, don’t worry about Dan Witz – just enjoy his work (if you can spot it)!
Pandemic Gallery is getting a head start on the Halloween festivities with the opening of Wrona’s “Pretty Horrible” tonight, from 7-11pm. The dead-eyed glare of Wrona’s zombie stickers have been haunting the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn for the last decade, terrorizing hoards of drunken hipsters as they stumble home after a long night of drinking. And as usual, his gallery work never fails to impress, with his combined use of old school comic book drawing techniques with his polished painting style. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the thrills and chills that will be on display for all to fear tonight:
Pandemic Gallery Presents:
A demonic solo exhibition
Opening Sat. Oct. 15th
Opening Reception 7 – 11pm
show runs through 11/6/11
NohJ Coley continues with his seemingly ceaseless drive to bring his work to the streets, from Los Angeles for BSA’s “Street Art Saved My Life”, to Brooklyn, then off to Albany for the Living Walls Festival, and finally back to Brooklyn once again. His latest large-scale works of latex on craft paper appear to be exploring family issues and dynamics, from home life to the obligatory family vacation.
This coming weekend, Pantheon Projects will be at the New York Art Book Fair with their Feral Diagram poster and the catalog from their Pantheon: A History of Art From The Streets of NYC exhibition. To many of us here in New York, this is a very special catalog (which really turned into more of a book!) that many of us from all across the five boroughs came together to work on and complete. The catalog’s content is not just limited to some of the most talented and prolific street & graffiti artists in NYC’s history, but it also includes photography and interviews from the well-respected writers & photographers from blogs such as Brooklyn Street Art, Vandalog, Streetsy, and us here at The Street Spot (to name just a few!).
Over the next few days, The Street Spot would like to give you a taste of what can be found in the catalog by sharing some of the photographs and excerpts from interviews that we contributed to it. So, hot on the tail of his recent profile in The New York Times, we will start with Chris Pape aka Freedom.
Becki Fuller: Can you give us a brief description of your background?
FREEDOM: I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the ’60s and ’70s and had a chance to witness the birth of the subway graffiti movement on the 1 line. I was 10 years old in 1970, which is when I started taking notes. My parents had great faith in our judgment (my brother and me) and our ability to navigate the city streets and they let us off the leash pretty early. By 1974 I started writing GEN 2, which was short for GENESIS 2. I did a few pieces and tagged the park a lot, but it was mostly a pedestrian career. I quit in the fall of ’75 when I entered Music and Art High School. I left home when I was seventeen and began seeing the world as an adult, which meant that a graffiti career seemed attainable. When I was eighteen, I resumed writing with the name FREEDOM.
BF: You are probably best known for your work in the “Freedom Tunnel,” the Amtrak tunnel running underneath Manhattan’s Riverside Park. What was it that drew you to that spot and for how many years did you continue to paint there?
FREEDOM: I started in the tunnel in 1980 with a portrait of the Mona Lisa, it was painted under a grating that cast a giant frame of light on the wall, that’s what caught my eye. I had no intention of going back and certainly couldn’t have predicted a fifteen-year run, but that’s how it went.
CHRIS 217 helped me early on just by being there, years later SMITH and I collaborated on two paintings. The reality was that I needed a place to fail and the side of a number 1 train was just too public, and I did fail in the tunnel. I’m proud of that, artists are supposed to fail.
BF: Your paintings include black and silver recreations of historic masterpieces, a self-portrait, and the mural that acts as the centerpiece There’s No Way Like The American Way (aka The Coca-Cola Mural). How did you choose your subject matter?
FREEDOM: I had no game plan going into the tunnel. I’d get an idea at 3:00 AM and be in there as dawn broke with my ladder and paint. If I had really thought it out, I think the whole thing would be more cohesive. The Buy American mural was really the epilogue for the tunnel and featured panels that reflected my time spent there. The self-portrait was a throw away, I did a quick sketch of my leather jacket and penciled in the spray can head – one of the easiest paintings I’ve done.
BF: What was your relationship like with the homeless population that once lived in the tunnel? I found it interesting when you told me that your recreation of Goya’s Third of May, 1808 was meant to be viewed by the light of the flame that a former resident has used to cook with. Were there other ways in which they inspired or influenced you?
FREEDOM: The homeless moved in around 1986, they were more curious about my work and why I did what I did. They impacted my work by giving me an audience, and I had to have a little more respect for their environment. There were a few years where I barely painted, choosing instead to document their lives in drawings and paintings. During that time I got to know them very well and sadly watched as more than a handful died.
BF: Who were your writing partners and what crews have you been down with over the years? Who would you consider to be a mentor/mentors of yours?
FREEDOM: My original partners were my brother Vince and another Westsider who wrote OPIE. When I came back to write in 1979, CHRIS 217 was my partner. Mentors were so important! My brother showed me the ropes early on, then I met STAN 153 and ALI at NOGA and they loved that I could draw. I learned so much through osmosis just watching those guys.
BF: In the past, you’ve referenced Richard Goldstein’s feature “The Graffiti ‘Hit’ Parade,” which was published in New York Magazine in March of 1973, as being a major influence not just on you, but on many writers of your generation. What do you think that it was about this article that resonated with you and so many others in the way that it did?
FREEDOM: Prior to that article graffiti had no payoff. Most of the writers featured in that article didn’t know how the media worked; it seemed like such a mysterious process. Now, post-article, you could believe if you were a famous writer you were going to have your picture taken and put in a magazine. The ultimate fame.