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”

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.

Sculptor John Ahearn’s Life Casting at Welling Court

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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.

Public works of Ahearn and his frequent collaborator, Rigoberto Torres, can still be seen around the South Bronx and in Socrates Sculpture Park.

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

 

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

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(photo by Becki Fuller)

 

 

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

Noh J’s Suicidal Tendencies

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Noh J Coley’s newest installation – appropriately titled Suicidal Tendencies – is weird and dark. In a good way.
Strange times we’re living in.

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The Brooklyn Griffin

Brooklyn Griffin (photo by Luna Park)
Brooklyn Griffin (photo by Luna Park)

Despite having been caught “graffittiing” and arrested for criminal trespassing during their first attempt, two visiting artists triumphed and successfully installed a large wooden sculpture on a rooftop in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. According to the New York Times, “The two men, who make art under the names of Jimmy Bumble and Leonard White, traveled to the United States from London as part an art collective called Giant Robots that constructs walking, talking robots made almost entirely from found objects.” I regret to report this robot neither walks nor talks.

Brooklyn Griffin (photo by Luna Park)
Brooklyn Griffin (photo by Luna Park)
Brooklyn Griffin (photo by Luna Park)
Brooklyn Griffin (photo by Luna Park)

Specter-cular!

One might say that Specter is on a real roll these days, with multiple new shopping cart sculptures appearing recently around the Williamsburg & Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn. First came the mysterious white tower under the BQE, and now it’s the Home Depot cart filled with milky white bottles, eternally entrenched in a block of cement. I here that there are more to be found, so keep an eye peeled for rogue shopping carts in the area!

Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)
Specter (photo by Luna Park)

Specter Towers Below the BQE

In what sounds like a plot line from an early James Bond film, Specter has returned from Russia and installed a mysterious white tower of carts and crates in Brooklyn. Color the locals profoundly confused – in a span of but a few minutes, I was asked whether I was responsible and what it meant.

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towering under the bqe

More JJ Veronis for the Andy Kessler Foundation

JJ Veronis for Andy Kessler (photo by Luna Park)
JJ Veronis for Andy Kessler (photo by Luna Park)

Hot on the heels of Becki spotting a new piece in Brooklyn, I came across another new JJ Veronis piece in Manhattan yesterday. This is one of several tribute pieces to draw attention to the Andy Kessler Foundation.

New Andy Kessler Tribute Piece from JJ Veronis

JJ Veronis for Andy Kessler (photo by Becki Fuller)
JJ Veronis for Andy Kessler (photo by Becki Fuller)

Andy Kessler Foundation