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.
This year’s Nuart International Festival of Street Art in Stavanger, Norway focuses on artists from my home borough of Brooklyn. The list of participants is a veritable Who’s Who of New York street artists: Swoon, David Choe, Graffiti Research Lab, Brad Downey, Judith Supine, Leon Reid IV, Chris Stain, Logan Hicks, and Skewville. Anyone want to fly me to Norway between September 10th and October 11th??
In honor of the Brooklyn Special at Nuart, I thought I’d highlight some of the fantastic, past work of the involved artists. First up are Leon Reid IV and Brad Downey, the artists formerly known as Darius and Downey. If you’re not already familiar with their body of work, I can only recommend their entertaining 2008 book, The Adventures of Darius and Downey.
Brad Downey, 2006
I’m eagerly anticipating seeing photos of installations at the festival. For updates, follow Nuart on Twitter.
Judith Supine’s ballsy installation on top of the Williamsburg Bridge earlier this week got me thinking how far he’s come since I first started seeing his wheatpastes pop up in Brooklyn three years ago. While elements of what is now recognizable as his signature style are visible, it’s interesting to observe his experimentation. The images below document his development from April to September 2006:
It’s been a busy summer for New York City street art with new works by perennial favorites Judith Supine, Gaia, and Elbow-Toe, who just put up the first of what he promises will be a handful of new linocuts. After having taken a break to concentrate primarily on his paper collage portraits for this summer’s show at London’s Black Rat Press gallery, it’s nice to see him return to form.
As someone who follows both street art and graffiti with equal interest, I often find myself simultaneously amused yet frustrated by the narrow definitions members of each group employ to label and judge one another’s work. I realize people will have their hardened opinions about what is and isn’t graffiti — I’ll save the tired “art vs. vandalism” discussion for another post — but I personally don’t see things in such black and white terms. Regardless of what medium is used, I am interested in aesthetics: I appreciate the beauty of a skillfully crafted handstyle as much as a masterfully cut stencil.
That having been said, I increasingly find myself most excited by artists who function on the cusp of both the graffiti and street art worlds, artists who are equally accomplished and respected in both worlds and defy conventional classification. I’m sure I will be posting plenty of other examples in the coming months, but one such artist is Canadian artist Other, who recently came through New York.
Like his contemporary Labrona, Other is known for painting freight trains. From a 2008 interview: “Really the best part of my work is coming home with paint all over my clothes and a giant rip in my pants … a good cop chase and a good painting up somewhere on a train or a building … graffiti is the pinnacle … it is the freight hopping of art.“
From a stopover in Brooklyn last winter:
While it’s quite likely he graced some NYC freight cars with his black and white figures, he also put up some colorful, painted works on paper:
For more insight into the work of Other, read his answers to Posterchild’s questions from earlier this year.
As soon as I heard word that the Os Gemeos had been tapped by Deitch (home of the twin’s stellar exhibition in New York last summer) to paint a mural in place of the Keith Haring tribute, I knew I had to make my way down to the corner of Houston and the Bowery as soon as possible. This is the mural in progress near the end of the second day of painting. I suppose it will take several days to finish and – like the rest of the global street art community – I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation of seeing this completed!