Reid & Seslow Launch Technophemera Project

Leon Reid IV & Ryan Seslow with their casts (photo by Luna Park)
Leon Reid IV & Ryan Seslow with their casts (photo by Luna Park)

I recently ran into artists Leon Reid IV and Ryan Seslow installing newly cast pieces from their collaborative project Technophemera at Welling Court. Curious to learn more, I asked them a few questions about the genesis of the project.

LP: How did this collaboration come about?

LR: The collaboration came about in an organic way. Ryan reached out to me around 2012 by inviting me to speak as a guest lecturer during his “History and Emergence of Street Art & Graffiti” course at LIU Post. From there we connected on alot of conceptual levels and decided to work collaboratively in some capacity. As with many collaborations, the concept for a work isn’t finalized in the beginning of the relationship, but rather over the course of many conversations and exchanges.

LP: What are you saying about art and technology with this installation?

LR: Previous to our meeting, Ryan had already begun casting old computer hardware in concrete – suggesting a fossilization process. After seeing these, I decided to bring my installation background to the table and came up with the idea that the hardware casts should be buried in an excavation site to create the illusion of ancient history.

The central theme behind the project is that technology is invented at such a rapid pace that devices even 5 years old may as well be treated as fossils.

Leon Reid IV & Ryan Seslow's technophemera casts (photo by Luna Park)
Leon Reid IV & Ryan Seslow’s technophemera casts (photo by Luna Park)

RS: I coined the term “technophemera” in late 2011 when I started placing casts in and around the NYC area. I leave them in public places free for people to take and/or become aware of their presence and displacement. The displacement is both obvious and also contextual. It questions they way we dispose of old technologies and hardware as well as our personal relationships to those devices and who we are becoming over time through this new consciousness. I still continue to leave various casts in and around and have also expanded to other objects like old aerosol cans – this gets a bit more specific, as it speaks directly to graffiti artists, how everything changes and evolves, with us or without us. We must choose who we are in relationship to those changes to maintain authenticity.

Leon Reid IV & Ryan Seslow's technophemera casts (photo by Luna Park)
Leon Reid IV & Ryan Seslow’s technophemera casts (photo by Luna Park)

Leon and Ryan are hoping to realize a collaborative installation of Technophemera on the LIU Post campus in connection with the Steinberg Museum of Art at Hillwood starting this fall. For more information, please visit http://www.leonthe4th.com/technophemera/1.html.

UPDATE: A Kickstarter has been launched to support the initiative as well: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/leonreid/technophemera.

Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” Unveiled in Park Slope

Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)

Since completing a successful Kickstarter campaign back in early March, public artist Leon Reid IV has been hard at work fabricating the miniature lending library and public art installation known as “The Hundred Story House“. Inspired by a similar community book sharing installation producer Julia Marchesi witnessed in Berlin and modeled after the brownstone homes which line the streets of Park Slope, Leon’s latest installation was unveiled in the neighborhood’s JJ Byrne Park in front of The Old Stone House this past weekend.

Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” opens in JJ Byrne Park (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)

Brooklynites of all ages enjoyed interacting with the house, opening the windows to deposit their own books on the shelves inside and exchanging them for new ones. Books ran the full gamut of reading levels and genres, with everything from Captain Underpants (a book popular for obvious reasons) to Fight Club and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

A father helps his son to some books (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
Who can resist a free book? (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
Local children show off their favorite books (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
It’s family time at Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Quality reading time in the park (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV lends a helping hand at his opening for “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV and filmmaker Julia Marchesi, his producer for “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV, Public Artist and Published Author (Photo by Luna Park © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
Judy Blume has still got it! Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
Even babies love “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)

“The Hundred Story House” will be on display through the end of October, so take this opportunity to indulge your love of reading while watching adorable and excited children who are just discovering theirs!

Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)
Leon Reid IV’s “The Hundred Story House” (Photo by Luna Park, © Leon Reid IV)
A miniature Mr. and Mrs. Reid oversee “The Hundred Story House” (photo by Becki Fuller, © Leon Reid IV)

In the Studio with Leon Reid IV

Draft P (all photos by Luna Park)

Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with Leon Reid IV in his studio. He’s in the midst of fabricating his 100 Story House, which he hopes to install in a Brooklyn park sometime later this summer. Before I left, Leon made a get-well piece for my partner, Peter, who recently broke his hip. Here’s how he made it, from start to finish. Thanks, Leon!!

Leon starts cutting out the P with a torch.
Sparks fly as the flame cuts through metal.
With a well-practiced hand, Leon expertly completes the first cuts.
The outline of the P takes shape.
Leon applies a final burst of heat to cut out the center of the P.
The molten center of the P glows from the heat.
The hot P is dunked into a bucket of cold water.
Slag has formed along the edge of the P.
Leon chisels the slag off the back of the P.
Any remaining rough edges are polished off with a grinder.
Leon cuts a base for the P with an angle grinder.
Leon employs a MIG welder to fuse the P onto the base.
One last tack and the weld is complete.
The P takes a final, cooling dip in water.
Leon and the finished P!
Yo, P, feel better soon!

Back the Hundred Story House

As a librarian, I couldn’t be more excited about Leon Reid IV’s latest project together with filmmaker Julia Marchesi. The Hundred Story House is designed to be a open bookshelf in a sculpture of a typical Brooklyn brownstone that will be installed within a city park. Based on the take-a-book/leave-a-book concept, the community is encouraged to get together and share books. At a time when public spending on both libraries and the arts are under threat, it is all the more important to support efforts to bring positive and uplifting elements into people’s lives. The 100 Story House brings two of my favorite things together: public art and public libraries. Do the right thing. And read more books!

Fleur D’acier #2 (2002-2011)

Fleur D'Acier #2 (Flower Of Steel #2) by Leon Reid IV (photo by Luna Park)

That street art doesn’t last forever is in the nature of the art form. I would even go so far as to say that it being ephemeral is a large part of street art’s appeal. All the more reason to appreciate it – come tomorrow, it could be gone. But every now and then, a piece slips under the radar and, remarkably, survives. One such survivor was Leon Reid’s Fleur D’acier #2 (Flower of Steel #2), which he’d installed in 2002. I’d noticed it had disappeared at some point in recent months and this past weekend I found myself in the unhappy position of breaking the news to Leon. This morning he emailed me his thoughts on the demise of this piece, which I’m happy to share with you below.

From Leon:

“Walking through Williamsburg the other day, I explained to Luna Park that my street work in New York City lasted far longer than my street work in London. Never in New York had I seen one of my sculptures removed within the same day and hour of installation; London changed that for me (see The Kiss). During my stay in the British capital (2003-04), I installed work throughout the streets and watched in horror as piece after piece was removed – quickly and without a trace. As an example of New York’s graffiti and street art tolerance, I cited one of my most enduring works, Fleur D’acier #2.

ME: “My flower over there wouldn’t last two seconds if it was installed it in London.”
LUNA: “Awww man! I was sad to see that one go!”
ME: “What?”
LUNA: “Yeah.. I thought you knew…it was taken down about a month ago.”

When I installed Fleur D’acier #2 in the Fall of 2002, New York City had recently observed 9/11’s first anniversary, Brooklyn was still largely avoided by artists and tourists, neither venturing further East than the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and I had just celebrated my 23rd birthday, heartbroken over being dumped by my first love.

At the intersection of Broadway and Rodney St. in Brooklyn, there is a large stretch of concrete in the shape of a triangle. The space is a vacuum by New York standards; no news boxes, street signs, adverts, vagrants or vendors of any kind. Above are the elevated subway tracks along Broadway, the J/M/Z trains race overhead, below is the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway humming with auto traffic. I installed the flower in the middle of the concrete triangle, so that pedestrians could appreciate it from all angles. I assumed the flower would be removed within days, my assumption proved wrong for nine years.

Nine years is a time span not uncommon for permanent public sculpture, yet it is truly rare for a street art sculpture to last that amount of time. I never took this fact for granted. Every week, month, year that I approached the flower from Broadway, I would get a tingling sensation in my stomach just before. Once I saw the top of the flower bulb, the tingling was replaced with warmth.

Of the three steel flowers I installed in New York between 2002-03, (hence Fleur D‘acier #2), #2 was exceptional. Not only was it the largest – height about 6 ft 2 in – but I injected far more nuance and complexity into the form than the others. I had the time and the motive; newly graduated from college, single, and looking for work and love in all the wrong places.

Soon after, Brad Downey showed a picture of the flower to REVS. The man reportedly gave two words in response: “That’s tough.” Others used the flower for their own interventions. Swoon told me that she observed an old lady dropping a circle of bread crumbs around the flower. She watched the lady watching the birds fly to the flower, fly away, and back again in some kind of rhythmic ceremony. This would happen every week or so and explained the crumbs scattered at the base. At one point, somebody spray painted the flower red and yellow apparently attempting to give color to the then rusted surface.

Over the years, I used the flower perhaps for more selfish reasons, occasionally showing it to a potential girlfriends – it often worked! – I took my wife to see it during the courting stages. Some reasons were not so selfish. This summer I “showed” the flower to a blind woman from France, I lead her hand toward the base and stood by while she appreciated the steel details – bottom to top – through touch.

While the flower was up, hundreds of thousand, maybe millions of people passed by it. A percentage of those people saw it, and a percentage of those people saw it and had thoughts about it. I am deeply interested in collecting those thoughts, from the surrounding community and beyond. I believe your thoughts about Fleur D’acier #2 will help current and future scholarship about the subject of graffiti and street art. If anyone is interested please send an e-mail to: leon@leonthe4th.com. Your remarks are greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Leon”

Leon Reid IV’s Tourist-in-Chief Realized!

Leon Reid IV's Tourist in Chief (all photos by Luna Park)

The Street Spot got up at the crack of dawn this morning to document public artist Leon Reid IV installing his Tourist-in-Chief piece in Union Square as part of this year’s Art in Odd Places festival. Leon fought the good fight down to the wire and only yesterday finally secured a permit from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. With the help of an expertly piloted articulating boom lift, the temporary installation of a hat, camera, bags, and subway map onto the statue of George Washington went off without a hitch.

Leon installing first the camera...
... then the I Heart NY hat.
What's a good tourist without some shopping bags?
And for the final touch, a subway map.

And as luck would have it, by the time the installation was complete, the sun came out!

Tourist-in-Chief with the Empire State Building over his shoulder.
Tourist-in-Chief
A beaming Leon Reid IV in front of his work.

A steady stream of curious passersby stopped and took in George Washington’s altered appearance with smiles all around.

It is a testament to the power of public art that a large crowd had amassed in front of the statue at Union Square by noon … well, that would be the case in an ideal world… but as it turned out, the SlutWalk NYC protest was kicking up its high heels and demanding an end to violence against women. Admittedly an odd coincidence, but isn’t that just another day in New York City? All joking aside, it’s good to see people on the streets, demanding their rights.

Tourist-in-Chief meets SlutWalkNYC

The Tourist-in-Chief is only up until 7:00pm tonight, so stop by if you can. And, congratulations, Leon and Caroline, for making this happen!!

Support Leon Reid’s “Tourist-in-Chief”

Leon Reid & Posterboy Showpaper Box (photo by Luna Park)

It should come as no great surprise that The Street Spot loves the sculptural installation work of Leon Reid. I think he has managed to strike a good balance in remaining true to his roots while navigating the bureaucratic hurdles that come with installing Public Art. He has chosen a typically ambitious project to realize during this October’s annual Art in Odd Places festival. Continuing along the lines of his True Yank installation around Abraham Lincoln in Manchester, England from two years ago, he plans to make a humorous, temporary transformation of a statue of George Washington in Union Square Park. Please consider making a small donation to help Leon make the Tourist-in-Chief a reality.

Brooklyn Madness: Crest Fest 2011 and Northside

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Olek (photo by Becki Fuller)

It was a busy weekend here in Williamsburg & Greenpoint, with the opening of the Crest Hardware Art Show (C.H.A.S.), Northside Open Studios, and the India Street Art Festival. Highlights included the Brooklyn Street Art curated Skewville mural “Last Exit to Skewville”, Jon Burgarman’s “Racing Lines”, Veng’s reworking of the “Welcome to Greenpoint” mural, and Olek’s crocheted performers.

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Olek (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Olek (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Jon Burgerman (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Jon Burgerman (photo by Becki Fuller)


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The handsome and charming Jaime Rojo of Brooklyn Street Art is a lovely accent to Jon Burgerman’s work (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Aakash Nilhalani (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Aakash Nilhalani (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Aakash Nilhalani (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Chris Stain (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Veng RWK (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Zachary Armstrong, You Byun, and Jon Burgerman (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Mike Graves (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Mike Graves (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Olek (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Olek (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Haze (photo by Becki Fuller)


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Leon Reid IV (photo by Becki Fuller)


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el Celso and FDLM (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Skewville (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Skewville (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Skewville (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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Veng RWK, Skewville, Chris Stain and Logan Hicks (photo by Becki Fuller)

 

 

Bushwick Art Park

Bushwick Art Park: El Celso (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Skewville x El Celso x Sweet Toof (photo by Luna Park)

Some images from yesterday’s Bushwick Art Park at Factory Fresh: featuring sculptural pieces by Skewville, El Celso, Sweet Toof, Leon Reid IV, Infinity, Specter, and others & with a block-long mural by Veng.

Bushwick Art Park: Infinity (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Infinity x Veng RWK (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Skewville (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Skewville (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Leon Reid IV (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Leon Reid IV (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Skewville x El Celso (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Skewville x El Celso x Sweet Toof (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Veng RWK x Leon Reid IV  (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Veng RWK x Leon Reid IV (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Veng RWK (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Veng RWK (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Veng RWK x Leon Reid IV (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Veng RWK x Leon Reid IV (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Bushwick Art Park: Specter (photo by Luna Park)

Skewville Goes Greener


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photo by Becki Fuller


No matter which side of this picket fence in Bushwick you are standing on, Skewville wants you to know that the other side “ain’t greenr”…

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photo by Becki Fuller


…but in just a couple of weeks one side will become a lot more beautiful when Skewville, Trust Art and Ali Ha of Factory Fresh come together for the Bushwick Art Park project. For one day (and in conjunction with Bushwick Open Studios), this artistic power trio will transform an underused and garbage-strewn street into a community sculpture park, featuring the work of Leon Reid IV, Specter, and Skewville. There will also be a brand new mural painted for the event, as well as local vendors and a corresponding group show inside of neighboring Factory Fresh Gallery.

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photo by Becki Fuller

Bushwick Art Park

Saturday, June 4th from 1-7pm

Vandervoort Place, between Flushing Ave and Thames St