« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

February 2011

Is Exit Through The Gift Shop Real?

This is written by Jason Felch for the Oscar Magazine. Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop continues to entertain and mystify!

Banksy oscar Heading into Sunday's Academy Awards, Exit Through the Gift Shop is undoubtedly the most buzzed-about film in the documentary feature category. But the uncomfortable question persists: Is it real?

The movie is anchored by two of the least reliable narrators in memory: Banksy, the anonymous British street artist; and Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French émigré to Los Angeles whose obsessive filming happens to capture the world of high-concept graffiti. In alternating interviews, the two recount the rise of anti-establishment vandals into the upper echelons of the art world, where their work quickly became commodified.

The twist comes with Guetta's transformation from the movement's accidental video scribe into Mr. Brainwash, a street artist phenomenon whose 2008 coming-out party in Los Angeles made him an instant — if completely derivative — success, and whose art now sells in the six figures.


Update on Facebook Censorship Issue for Artists

John Wellington 2 John Wellington just emailed me with an update to his Facebook censorship issue. It has been picked up by the New York Times. According to the NYT, Facebook said that it made a mistake taking down images that were clearly art. John is quoted here in this short excerpt-

But a number of other figurative artists say they too have had their work removed by Facebook, and in some cases had their accounts blocked. They say they feel that Facebook is taking aim at their work and accuse it of censorship.

“It seems like they have really gone after artists,” said John Wellington, an artist in New York who is a graduate of the academy. “The images they are taking down are clearly paintings.” After one of his paintings was taken down recently, Mr. Wellington said he deleted from Facebook all the images that he had uploaded that showed a nipple, for fear that his account would be disabled.

Censorship on Facebook?

John Wellington 1 John Wellington 2 John Wellington is an accomplished artist whose work has been exhibited and collected internationally. I love his work and don't consider it  provocative. But there is sometimes nudity in his paintings. And it was his painting "Break Clean From the Past" that earned him the dubious distinction of being censored by Facebook.

What is pornography? If John's painting containing a bare chested woman is pornographic then is Manet's Naked Maja also pornographic? What about works by Piscasso? Da Vinci? Michelangelo? Definitions of pornography include those works "without redeeming social importance"... whatever that means... It has also been defined as "I don't know what it is but I know it when I see it". Obviously a foggy area but please facebook, can we use a little common sense here?

Here is John's recap:


 On Saturday evening - February 12 - I uploaded to facebook four images of my most recent painting.  On Sunday I received the first of two facebook warnings:


You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at 

The Facebook Team"

Facebook deleted the image.  Later that afternoon I received another email that the other image of my painting also violated the facebook Terms of Use and that I was banned from uploading images for a period of seven days.  Although they include an FAQ page there is actually no one to contact in this matter.  I immediately went through all the paintings I had uploaded over the past couple of years and deleted every image that displayed breasts as I did not want to provoke a permanent ban from facebook.  
After posting on facebook about violating their Terms of Use, my image and story was added to a blog on The New York Academy of Art website with their own experiences in this matter with other artists: http://newyorkacademyofart.blogspot.com/2011/01/facebook-curator-of-culture.html
I was also directed to a blog written by John Seed on The Huffington Post about another artist that had had his work deleted: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seed/when-is-a-nude-ok-on-face_b_586356.html  What is interesting is this post is that a facebook representative specifically differentiated paintings and sculptures from actual photographs which is inconsistent with their actions.  
John Seed wrote:
After hearing Sprick's story I contacted Facebook to find out more about their policy in regards to art and nudity. Simon Axten, a Facebook representative who responded to my questions, e-mailed me the following response:  "Our policy prohibits photos of actual nude people, not paintings or sculptures. We recognize that this policy might in some cases result in the removal of artistic works; however, it is designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users." 
Another blog by the artist Richard Scott wrote about his own experiences with facebook and an online show that he and other well known figurative artists curate:  http://artbabel.blogspot.com/2011/01/sublime-or-shameless-facebook-censors.html
It is an interesting story for me in that the question of what facebook is for and what is not for is still vague and ever changing.  Is it really the right venue to use for an artist wanting to reach out to a larger audience?  I have my art represented on my own site: johnwellington.com, as well as on myartspace.comsaatchionline.commyspace.comlinkedin.com and obsessionart.com.  All sites have their purposes and all have their pros and cons.  However, facebook for me has been a much more effective place to reach out and connect my work to galleries and collectors than a more art specific site like saatchionline.com for example.
That I was both "banned" and my works deleted on the same weekend that the Egyptian protestors triumphed with their "facebook revolution" is not without irony.  I realize that facebook was not created to  showcase the paintings of artists any more than it was to overthrow despots  - probably "overthrowyourdespot.com" would have been a more suitable site for the Egyptian people.   For better and for worse, facebook has become the dominant communication website - for networking, overthrowing dictators, finding what has happened to one's 8th grade crush, and for showcasing the arts.
When my ban is lifted I will re-upload my paintings but censor all offensive and potentially harmful anatomical areas so as to not violate facebook's Terms of Use (see image above). PS The painting enclosed is titled "Break Clean From the Past"  Oil on aluminum  27.5x48 inches

Banksy is in LA

Banksy in la Famous yet mysterious street artist Banksy is up for an Oscar for his film Exit Through the Gift Shop. But readers to my blog know that he is not invited to the Oscar ceremony. That will not stop Banksy who seems to be in LA as we speak.

There's nothing conventional about Exit Through the Gift Shop- and now that street artist-turned-director Banksy is in L.A., there's nothing conventional about the way he's leaving his mark.
A look at Banksy's stealthy arrival in town, and a slideshow of work from the year's most delightfully unpredictable nominee.   

Go Banksy!

NYC Department of Transportation Urban Art Program

Check it out and get involved:


Urban Art Program

About the Urban Art Program

The Urban Art Program is an initiative to invigorate the City's streetscapes with engaging temporary art installations. Part of the World Class Streets initiative, Urban Art seeks to create public art that helps to foster more vibrant and attractive streets and offer the public new ways to experience New York City's streetscapes.

DOT partners with community-based organizations to install temporary murals, sculpture, and other installations in plazas, and on medians, triangles, sidewalks, jersey barriers and construction fences. DOT also works with organizations and artists on temporary art projections and lighting projects in plazas and on bridges, viaducts, and archways, as well as performance art and musical and theatrical performances in DOT ferry terminals.

Taking part is simple. Download an application, fill it out and provide the required supporting materials. Applications will be reviewed by DOT and outside advisors following selection Criteria that includes: public safety, artistic merit, site suitability, organizational capacity, and artwork durability.

Organizations or organization-artist teams are invited to apply to one of the three Urban Art Program tracks:
Barrier Beautification

pARTners Initiative

DOT partners with not-for-profit organizations to commission new artwork for a DOT priority site or for a proposed site. Applicants are encouraged to select an artist prior to applying. DOT's Site Selection Tips (pdf) should guide applicants that wish to propose a site. All not-for-profits are eligible to receive up to $5,000 for priority and non-priority sites.
Download the current Site Priority List
View photos of past pARTners projects on DOT's Flickr page

DOT will help oversee artwork production, installation and de-installation. Applicants are responsible for artwork maintenance and site remediation. Projects may be installed for up to 11 months.

The deadline for the 2011–12 DOT pARTners' inititative will be announced in late spring 2011. Applicants will receive submission confirmation immediately by e-mail, and will be notified in writing within one month of the application commitee's decision.
Download the application form

pARTners Example Project: ARTfarm
An art and urban farming project, consisting of variously-sized planter boxes built from found objects, installed on 165th Street and Carroll Place, a step street in the Bronx.
Lead Partners: Architecture for Humanity Studio and Bronx Museum of the Arts
Artists: Valeria Bianco, Christian Gonsalves, Shagun Singh and Justin Taylor
Dates: summer 2010–summer 2011

Watts Tower in Los Angeles

This has been on my to-post list forever but now with the news that a new benefactor for the watts tower has come forward, I am posting it now.

In my mind, The Los Angeles Watts Towers in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles was one of the first modern street art mosaic works. Built by Simon Rodia, The Watts Towers consists of seventeen major sculptures constructed of structural steel and covered with mortar. When I went there many years ago it was just this great sculpture in the middle of a neighborhood. Now it appears to be a tourist destination with admission tours and everything. I support whatever keeps the Watts Tower going.

Watts tower

Banksy Will Not Be Allowed At The Oscars

Banksy oscars Even if his movie Exit Through the Gift Shop wins an Oscar, the elusive street artist Bansky will not be allowed to receive it onstage according to the Oscars in charge.

It is an outrage!

According to The National Post in Canada, one of the film's producers will accept on behalf of Banksy. In this way, the Oscar's can maintain decorum (if you can believe that they have decorum). According to the National Post, hope springs eternal for fans of Banksy that he will indeed make an appearance. Let's hope so!