The city of Vitry-sur-Seine lies within the southeastern suburbs of Paris. Historically, this commune has been home to a large, diverse immigrant population, a background that contributed to Vitry being on the forefront in the development of the French hip hop movement in the 80s. For some time now, the city has supported a cultural policy of bringing art to all, for example, opening it’s Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne in 2005. The city has actively embraced public arts programs, installing contemporary sculptures throughout public spaces as well as supporting large-scale mural projects. Thanks to initiatives by artists such as C215, Vitry’s walls bear the work of an international roster of street artists such as Nunca, Nychos, Roa and Ethos to name but a few. I spent an afternoon in Vitry earlier this summer and only caught a fraction of the many murals on display.
Missing artist attributions welcome in the comments.
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.
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.
“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!
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!!
Back in 2005, as I was just delving into the world of NYC street art, the artist Celso and his partner-in-crime C-Monster invited me for a studio vist to their Manhattan loft. Even though we had never met before, their warm and welcoming manner endeared them to me immediately and we have been friends ever since. Over the years, our paths have crossed at countless art openings and happenings. I have enjoyed Celso’s evolution as an artist – both on and off the streets – and have gained a great appreciation for his willingness to experiment with new materials to push himself forward. Armed with a quick wit, an appreciation for the absurd, and an irreverent intelligence, the inimitable C-Monster has conquered a corner of the art blogosphere and made herself indispensable. All this is to say I’m very happy to support Celso and C-Monster’s next big, collaborative adventure: a public art installation for the Museo Convento de Santo Domingo y Qorikancha in Peru. Please consider joining me in making a donation via their project’s Kickstarter.
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!
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.
And as luck would have it, by the time the installation was complete, the sun came out!
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.
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!!
On Saturday, June 25th, members of New York City’s rich and varied street art & graffiti community came together with the equally diverse community of Welling Court in Queens for the 2nd Annual Welling Court Mural Project and block party. Curated by Ad Hoc Art’s dynamic duo of Alison & Garrison Buxton, this year’s crew of legendary and groundbreaking artists represented over 50 years of activity. However, for me, the highest of the highlights came courtesy of the acclaimed sculptor and public artist, John Ahearn. Though he may be best know by many for his “repetitive life casting” of real people in his South Bronx neighborhood, Ahearn has been bringing his artistic works to communities around the world – as well as galleries and museums – since the early 1980’s. And this weekend those of us at Welling Court were treated to a live casting of one fortunate (and apparently not-at-all claustrophobic) young girl named Karlee. Surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd of party goers, Ahearn and his assistant engaged us us all in his casting process, from start to finish.
It was back in early 2007 when I first laid eyes on Leon Reid IV (aka Darius Jones of Darius and Downey). He was giving a talk on on street art at The Pure Project and I was greatly impressed by the lengths that this unassuming guy wearing a cardigan and a bow tie was going to in order to bring his unique combination of humor, wit and artistic talent to the public. The idea that someone would have the audacity to dress up like a contractor and install his work in broad daylight was pretty crazy to me, but that was exactly what he was doing. Four years later, Reid is no longer busy outsmarting police but instead has a steady output of legal and commissioned public works as well as his first solo show “A Decade of Public Art” opening at Pandemic Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday night.
The show is a real insight into the artist’s process, exhibiting many of his sketches, models, and photographs dating back to his graffiti days as VERBS and of his installations from around the world. And be sure to look up before entering the gallery – otherwise you might miss his site specific installation for Pandemic Gallery!
As big fans of Leon Reid IV’s public art (see previous posts on his work here), the Street Spot couldn’t be more excited about his latest, most ambitious project … all the more so because it brings him back to Brooklyn. We can’t go into any details just yet as Leon is still in the process of raising the necessary funds and support to make this happen, but we promise it will be project of landmark proportions. Intrigued? Visit A Spider Lurks in Brooklyn to see what others have to say. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out Leon’s new and improved website.
Thanks to some outraged citizens who took matters in their own, very capable hands, the illegal billboard that had briefly covered this beautiful Conor Harrington mural in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District was swiftly removed. Although the newly opened High Line Park brought about the predictable whitewashing of all graffiti on adjacent buildings, I was very pleased to see that not yet all vistas are given over to corporate sponsorship.