Valentine’s Day tops my list of saccharine Hallmark holidays that suck. When my good friend EKG shared his plans to put on a dark, Valentine’s Eve extravaganza, I knew his idea would resonate with many people:
“The EKG♥NYC exhibition installation is a silhouette of an abstraction of our cityscape constructed of everyday objects painted black and orange: a metaphor for human resonance manifested on the corporeal plane and the wafting misty sparking static of the Aetherial Semiotosphere that electrifies the space between the physical and the mental, consisting of an aspirational architecture of spires and grids; a wireframe conglomeration of modular three-dimensional schematics; an energizing iconographic display of orange resonance, wraiths, chimeras, apparitions, projections, illuminations, emanations, vibrations, palpitations, oscillations, transmissions, frequencies, broadcasts, signals, ripples, waves, pulses, blips; an uplifting experience broadcast through radars, tridents, buttons, balloons, stickers, t-shirts, zines, prints, patches, flags, drawings, paintings.”
Sound designer Jefferson Wells will also strike some chords at the opening. Come for the mutant cityscape, stay for the dronecore – it promises to be a very metal way to ring in the weekend.
( ( ( EKG ♥ NYC ) ) )
An All Hallows’ Valentine’s Eve Celebration of Misfit Love, Mutant Science and Aesthetic Rebellion.
Opening: Friday, February 13, 6-10pm
Viewing hours: February 14 & 15, 12-6pm. February 16-28 by appointment.
Location: Skewville Laboratories, 35-18 37th Street (btwn 36th & 35th Aves), Long Island City, Queens, NYC.
Transit: R/M trains to “Steinway” stop; or N/Q trains to “36th Avenue” stop.
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
It’s hard for me to believe, but it was only a year and a half ago when the stencil work of New Jersey based artist Joe Iurato first caught my eye. It was a portrait the he had painted of skateboarding legend Mark Gonzales, which is cool in and of itself. But it was the quality of the artistry and the fact that this was such a talented local guy that I had never heard of before that really piqued my interest. And I was apparently not the only one taking notice, because shortly after that, Joe’s work was showing up everywhere: from the Ad Hoc curated Willoughby Windows, to the Eames Inspiration display at Barney’s, Beacon’s Electric Windows, and Art Basel in Miami (to name just a few!). It would seem to be a meteoric rise for this artist, though as many of us know, success rarely comes without experiencing some falls, bumps and bruises first.
And it is exactly these aspects of his life that Iurato explores in his upcoming solo show “Fall and Rise” at DC’s Art Whino Gallery. While he was preparing for this show, I proved just how highly I regard Joe’s work by braving the crazed mobs at the Port Authority and enduring the eight minute train ride to his studio in New Jersey (I kid, I kid). Aside from getting a sneak preview of the show, I also got to watch Joe at work and he kindly answered a few of my questions to share with the readers of The Street Spot.
Joe Iurato in his studio (photo by Becki Fuller)
Becki Fuller: Your art has a very personal quality to it. How do you feel that your themes and artistic directions are influenced by your environment and your every day life?
Joe Iurato: My work has always been very personal. With it, I explore things that have made the greatest impacts on me emotionally – people, places, world issues, states of mind – and let them out of my head at the exact moment I feel them pressing. It’s more about delving into and crystallizing the chapters of my own life than it is about creating a fictitious world around somebody else’s. I don’t want to live in a fantasy. I want to better understand who I am and why things happen the way they do in this world.
That’s why the themes and general direction of my work is constantly changing. The way I see it, no day is ever a carbon copy of the day before. And if you compile all of the days that make up the years in a lifetime, you’ll wind up with a formidable collection of ups and downs, open questions and closed chapters. My work reflects that idea. Being a person who creates art as both a means of finding and expressing himself, I can’t just sit in one pocket and paint the same things over and over again – even if what I was previously doing really “worked” in the eyes of my peers. I might stay in one frame of mind for a while, but eventually I’ll have to move on.
BF: When I first saw some of the new work that you are doing with shadow boxes, I thought that the entire piece was a stencil. But upon closer inspection it became clear that the background was actually a photograph. Can you tell us a little about your use of photography? What kind of camera were you using and what is your printing process?
JI: Stencils, for the most part, are born from photographs. They may vary stylistically, but they almost always begin with a photograph. I’ve had this idea for a while, where I’d take the stencil and place it back into its origins – basically merge the two mediums, which are so closely related, and see how they can play off each other. I’ve always liked when a piece of art can tell a story. And I think that by integrating these photographs, I can tell a story in a sense and also make a greater emotional connection with the audience. I mean, ultimately that’s the plan. I’m still in early stages with this, but I’m happy with the foundation that’s been built so far.
I shoot with a cheap plastic camera called a Holga. It takes medium format film and it costs about 25 bucks. It costs more to develop 2 rolls of film than it does to buy the camera actually. But what I love about this camera is its unpredictability. It’s plastic. Its lens is plastic. The shutter operates with a small metal spring. It leaks light in places that’ll completely overexpose the film if you don’t use black electrical tape on the seams. You can have the most perfect fucking shot set up, but you also have to keep in mind there’s a good chance this camera’s going to blow it. But when it doesn’t, the images are nothing less than hauntingly beautiful.
As for the process, I want to keep the images grainy, grungy and textural, just as the film is, so I don’t do any digital manipulating to them. The more imperfect they are, the better I feel about them. I don’t think they’d work well with the stencils if the images were clean, crisp and vibrant. I print them out on a large laser printer and mount them on archival foam core with a hot mounting press. These become the backgrounds for the new pieces I’ve been doing.
BF: I love the 3-D effect that you are working with right now. Where did the idea come from to build the three dimensional shadow boxes?
JI: Thank you. You know, it started while I was experimenting painting on glass. I wanted to create some sort of dimension. So I began working with glass shadow boxes, or display cases, painting on the front of the glass and then collaging and painting inside the box. But the problem was I’d shatter more transporting them than I’d get to show. So I decided to stop working with the glass and instead float cutouts within the shadow box.
What I’m doing now is I build the frame around the background photograph, which has already been mounted and hot pressed onto the archival foam core. Then I affix the stencil cutout within the scene, sans glass front. I’m basically creating dioramas.
BF: You use the number :01 essentially as your signature. What is that in reference to and what does it mean to you?
JI: In 2008 I was let go from a job during a really critical time in my life and it just completely sent me into a downward spiral. I couldn’t find another decent job, I had a family to take care of, we were completely broke, and I was just bitter. I’d been making art all along to combat the depression I was feeling, something I’d done my whole life. And there was this instant when I just sort of stopped sulking and decided I was going to pick myself up and make shit work. I promised myself I’d start moving forward again, doing all that I love, and never turn back. For me, that was huge. By nature I’m a really, really pessimistic person, so to turn a bad situation around and be as positive as I was being was really something big for me. That’s when I began using :01.
It means one second. It only takes a second to decide you’re going to move forward regardless of the challenges and obstacles that life throws at you. I began writing it to remind myself of that promise I made. But then I also hoped it would inspire others to do the same.
BF: You seem to be having a very busy summer. Aside from the birth of your second child (congratulations!) and preparing for your upcoming solo show at Art Whino in DC, you participated in the Welling Court mural project, released a print in collaboration with The Poster Cause Project to benefit disaster relief in Japan, painted a NBA backboard for the Art of Basketball, and collaborated with the NJ graph legend SNOW, for an episode of Element-Tree’s “Yard Work” Series. Do you have any other upcoming shows or projects in the works?
JI: Yes, thank you, the highlight of my summer for sure was the arrival of my second kid, Maddox. He’s two months old today, and he’s awesome. As for the art, I’ve had a great summer so far collaborating with good friends, getting involved in some amazing projects and, fortunately, I’m keeping that ball rolling. After the Art Whino show, I’ll be preparing to go to Albany for the Living Walls conference in September. Then I have a solo show at Kondoit, a new gallery in Wynwood, Miami in October. I’ve got a few fun projects and commissions lined up for November, and then I plan on heading back to Art Basel Miami in December. After that, who knows….but right now I’m just thankful to have these opportunities on the horizon.
“Fall and Rise” the solo show of Joe Iurato
Opens on Saturday, Aug 20th, from 8-11pm
Art Whino Gallery
120 American Way
National Harbor, MD 20745
Last spring London’s Sweet Toof came through New York just long enough to paint a few roof tops & murals and to charm just about everyone and anyone who he met. This spring he’s back again, with the promise of more painting, more charming, and his first New York solo exhibition at the Bushwick gallery Factory Fresh.
Dark Horse, which opens this Friday, will showcase Sweet Toof’s more classical painting chops in works heavily influenced by the Vanitas paintings of sixteenth century Europe, Mexican Day of the Dead iconography, Subway Art, and the underground comics of Vaughn Bodé. All made complete, of course, with plenty of his signature ‘gummy chompers’!
Sweet Toof presents Dark Horse
Opening April 29th, 7-10pm
On view till May 22nd, Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday from 1-7pm
at Factory Fresh
1053 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237
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!
Veng isn’t the only member of Robots Will Kill presenting a solo show this week – Chris’ show Small Change opens at Orlando’s Steadfast this Wednesday from 8 to 11pm. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out – details and a few teaser images below.