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April 2011

Wasteland The Movie

Wasteland 2 I just saw a great documentary movie about the artist Vik Muniz who creates work out of garbage. It is called Waste Land and it is about a major project he undertook in Rio with the catadores who pick through garbage looking for recyclable materials.

Here is all the information you need. Now go out and rent the film:

Filmed over nearly three years, Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker (DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, BLINDSIGHT and COUNTDOWN TO ZERO) and co-directors João Jardim and Karen Harley have great access to the entire process and, in the end, offer stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.

Vik Muniz was born into a working-class family in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1961. As a young man he was shot in the leg whilst trying to break up a fight. He received compensation for his injuries and used this money to fund a trip to New York City, where he has lived and worked since the late 1980s. He began his career as a sculptor but gradually became more interested in photographic reproductions of his work, eventually turning his attention exclusively to photography. He incorporates a multiplicity of unlikely materials into this photographic process. Often working in series, Vik has used dirt, diamonds, sugar, string, chocolate syrup and garbage to create bold, witty and often deceiving images drawn from the pages of photojournalism and art history. His work has been met with both commercial success and critical acclaim, and has been exhibited worldwide. His solo show at MAM in Rio de Janeiro was second only to Picasso in attendance records; it was here that Vik first exhibited his “Pictures of Garbage Series” in Brazil.

Street Art and Graffiti Celebrated in LA Museum Show

Moca Has street art become mainstream'? I wonder since the LA museum of contemporary art (MOCA) decided to launch 'Art in the Streets' last week. Any kind of major museum show shows an overall acceptance of an art form. So that is why I think that street art and graffiti have become fashionable and accepted. And add to that the fact that anybody who is anybody collects it.

The result? There is decidedly less street art on the street and more in the galleries and auction houses. I applaud the monetization for the artists but at what overall cost to the art form as subversive and excitingly illegal? Time will tell.

Here is the exhibit blurb from the MOCA website:

Art in the Streets is the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art. Curated by MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch and Associate Curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose, the exhibition will trace the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s to the global movement it has become today, concentrating on key cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Sao Paulo, where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved. The exhibition will feature paintings, mixed media sculptures, and interactive installations by 50 of the most dynamic artists and will emphasize Los Angeles's role in the evolution of graffiti and street art, with special sections dedicated to seminal local movements such as cholo graffiti and Dogtown skateboard culture. A comprehensive timeline illustrated with artwork, photos, video, and ephemera will provide a historical context for the work.

American Folk Art Graffiti Show in June 2011

Street Art and "Outsider" Art is coming inside. One of my favorite street artists Judith Supine currently has a gallery show in LA and the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA is showing Art of the Street. And coming in June, the New York based Museum of American Folk Art is offering graffiti based art that will also have representation in the Venice Biennale. Read more:

This June, the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) will have its premiere exhibition at the Venice Biennale, showcasing the work of eight contemporary, self-taught African-American artist—including old school graffiti legends Blade, Daze, Quik, and Sharp. This is the first time the Museum will be presenting this kind of work, as the exhibition is an exploration of the work of contemporary African-American self-taught artists. Paired with four African-American artists from outside New York, this exhibition explores issues of race and class in the American art world. Who becomes a self-taught artist (commonly known as the folk or outsider artist) is often determined by these two factors.

AFAM has partnered with Benetton to host this exhibition as one of the official collateral events of the Biennale at the historic Fondaco dei Tedeschi, right next to the Bridge of Sighs, on the Grand Canal. This exhibition will mark the very first time contemporary self-taught artists will be shown at the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition will showcase the work of:

  • Graffiti’s old masters Steven Ogburn (a.k.a. Blade), Chris Ellis (a.k.a. Daze), Lin Felton (a.k.a. Quik), and Aaron Goodstone (a.k.a. Sharp) will represent different aspects of the urban vernacular of this art form.  (On a side note, all of these artists will be exhibiting in “Art in the Streets” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA).
  • Lonnie Holley, Gregory Warmack (a.k.a. Mr. Imagination), Charlie Lucas (a.k.a. Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson represent the virtuosity of African American Contemporary Outsider artists.

Each will execute an original site-specific installation for the Fondaco dei Tedeschi.  In pairing these two distinctive yet complementary approaches to art making and using the building’s architecture as inspiration for the work itself, this exhibition tells a great American story to an international audience.  

A Bench Made Out of Metrocards

This bench is made out of New York City Metrocards and if you are a savvy New Yorker, you may find that some of these cards have value on them so the bench may be worth more than you think!

This in from TreeHugger:

In New York's subways, you see a lot of discarded Metrocards. It's sad, not only because most people drop them on the floor rather than in a trash can, but because the cards are rechargeable, and there's no good reason to dispose of them in the first place. But NYC-based artist and designer Stephen Shaheen has come up with a unique way to recycle old cards, or at least 5,000 of them: he's made a one of a kind bench.


Defaced Blog

Oh yeah - I've got lots of these types of photos and I love seeing them on the street and in the subway. This blog called Defaced - A Photo Blog About Ruining Other People's Stuff Because It's Funny captures and preserves all the random graffiti on advertisements and billboards that poke fun, create pathos or just interest the average passer by. 

According to the Thrillist, categories of defacement include:

Thrillist - Defaced
Ads: The most fleshed-out group, offerings range from a sad looking woman on a MoMA film poster declaring "MTA sucks", to an Ed Hardy model exclaiming "Eric I broke my d*ck", to a Johnny Depp poster advocating "Pubic Enemas", which frankly would make anyone a Public Enemy.
Thrillist - Defaced
Money: Mainly Lincoln in various incarnations (zombie Abe demanding "BRAINS", the sign-throwing prez of the United States of Shocker), plus a few outliers, including four different bills with cross-dressing prez's titled "Golden Girls", so...Chester Bea Arthur?
Thrillist - Defaced
Signs and Public Space: A listing of major global cities where Budapest's renamed itself "Bootyfest"; a billboard warning "Every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with a mustache"; and a from-scratch sign on a fence declaring "Your a pineapple Ed and u know it", though it seems like the person who made it is actually the prickly one.
As for me, I have been photographing the work of someone who write "moustasche" over the upper lip of every advertising face. But that is for another post.......

Trucking Art to the Masses

Pallette Who says that art can only be found in galleries and museums? Not so. In fact there is a group of artists that are literally schlepping art to the masses via trucks. Big trucks. And I say "Let's roll!".

Frankly the gallery system is not working for most artists.. or gallery owners for that matter. Old fashioned galleries where the artist shows for representation (usually for a 50 / 50 split) and does not have to pay to show are struggling and cannot afford to take a chance on as of yet undiscovered emerging artists with no established following.

So there are a crop of new types of galleries that charge artists to exhibit and offer really no more than a space and street presence. This may work for some artists but does not usually result in much publicity or sales since these new gallery owners often do not have deep client lists. And so, the poor artist, made even poorer by the fact that not only do they pay for supplies and their time, is stuck trying to figure out what to do.

Enter "art trucks". Here is the recap from Cool News. I am tired of ranting.

May you continue to roll oh wonderful Art Truck.

"This conversation we're hoping to start is not about art but through art," says Dorothy Dunn in a New York Times piece by Randy Kennedy. The conversation starter, in this case, is a caravan of six 18-wheeler trucks that will transport a gallery of art, film, music, poetry and performance to cities, hamlets and burgs across America next year. Dorothy is the program director for the project, called "America: Now and Here," which was conceived by Eric Fischl, a painter.

Eric thinks America has suffered something of an identity crisis in the years since Nine-Eleven, and believes that artists may be able to help remedy that. He admits that most people don't usually turn to artists for answers. Both he and his collaborators also make clear "that their tour is not about trying to show up anyone else's idea of art, or to instruct people who live outside the major art centers about the merits of big-city contemporary culture." Rather, it's meant to give people "ways to think about America other than those offered by the media and pop culture."

As playwright Marsha Norman puts it, "As much as we love Brian Williams, I don't think he can tell us in the same way as a painter or a poet what it really feels like to live in Iowa." The participating artists are said to relish the idea of reaching people "outside museums and galleries and commercial theaters." Eric thinks that "when these trucks come to town and unfold, people are going to be totally curious about what's inside them, in the same way they are when the circus or Nascar comes to town." The show "will begin with a nonvehicular preview" in Kansas City, Mo., Detroit and Chicago before hitting the road in the fall of 2012.

The Bomb Shelter in Washington Square Park

Wsp bomb shelter If you were in the vicinity of Washington Square Park in New York City at the end of March, you might have found an unusual street art initiative. A bomb shelter was erected and decorated by prominant New York City street artists and a bit of street theater was added. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on March 28, 2011, people were asked to sprint inside the shelter from 20 yards away in under 15 seconds to simulate the experience as felt by those living in Israel who are subject to Palestinian rocket barrages and bombings.

Matt Mindell, Executive Director of the Jewish Enrichment center, explained that the shelter was there to encourage "empathy for those living in fear in Israel…to get people to relate to them on a human level, politics aside." Most of the graffiti artists weren't Jewish, they just wanted to add color and a human touch to the drabness of the shelters.

Read more at The Gothamist, Animal New York and Fresh Paint NY blogs. 

Improv Everywhere

Part street theater, part happening (to those of us who remember happenings...) Improv Everywhere creates theater in unexpected places. Here is there latest announcement. Be in it or experience it from the sidelines -


In case you didn't figure it out, Friday's Jar Jar Subway Car video was
our annual April Fool's Day hoax.  The three guys who "attacked" our agent
were all friends of ours.  Everything was completely staged, and everyone
on the train was told what was going on beforehand.  Check out how we put
it all together in this new behind-the-scenes video:



4/12 – University of Southern California
4/21 – SUNY Geneseo
4/22 – Clarkson Universit
4/26 – Milwaukee, WI
4/27 – Oshkosh, WI

For more info see: http://improveverywhere.com/tour/


We're looking to cast some New York-based Improv Everywhere Agents in a
very specific role for an upcoming project.  We need people who live in
the New York area, can participate in a mission on a weekday afternoon,
and are: over 16 years old, under 5'6", and between 100 and 120 pounds.
If you meet this description and are interested, please fill out the form
at the link below.


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