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April 2012

Stalking the Wild Photographer by Sheila Paige

Stalking the Wild Photographer by Sheila Paige

On Safari with Charlene Weisler in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, January 20, 2011.

The activity is illegal. Artists must be furtive, stealthy. Their signatures are spoor. The works are perishable. A wall becomes a palimpsest. Rain, snow, wind, rival writings and drawings take their toll of “street art”.

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High rents and new construction --gentrification and destruction of walls, buildings – destroy its environment.

A golden age, according to some, bloomed in the 70’s and 80’s in NYC; Charlene points out that around the year 2,000 international exposure greatly amplified the reputation of “street art”.

You can’t really collect it, mount it, or frame it. But you can photograph it.

IMG_2122 It’s cold. We hunt with our cameras, icy to the fingers. Williamsburg streets are scant of coffee shops and largely deserted except for intermittent cars and guys doing construction.

Most tasteful are the pre-prepared images copied and pasted.

More scarifying are the aerosol and painted images. These are writ large, spilled over from comics and commercial imagery. They could be intended as satire but are so intentionally blatant and overpowering that they are hard to read as such.

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First point of interest: Is this stuff art? Is it vandalism or desirable decoration? Should it be considered as the society pages of the street -- the most ephemeral of newspaper sections?

If a street artist gains gallery representation, is he or she still a “street artist”? “Street art” would seem to be necessarily locked onto the walls and surfaces of public streets, vulnerable to weather, gentrification, and whim – not a gallery product. (Yet this is America where everyone hopes to become rich and famous, so perhaps the word “artist” is a synonym for saleable?)

2nd point of interest: the photographer. She is safari tracker/guide, aesthetic arbiter, and impresario. Her art is a photograph. If she documents “street art”, purposively framing it in novel and serendipitous combinations, is the art now hers? Does her work reveal what people walking by a wall loaded with “street art” would miss otherwise?

IMG_2168 Is she Marcel Duchamp saying “I am re-framing this situation and I will sign it like a painting and frame it and now you are free to pay for it and enjoy its “je ne sais quoi” in the privacy of your home”?

Surely, photography is the only sensible way to collect this art?

If the lens steals the soul of “street art”, so what? The soul is endangered.

 


Best Movie Tattoos

Flavorpill has posted an interesting list of the best cinematic tattoos. Think Jack Straw in Pirates, the knuckle tattoos of Harry Powell’s Love and Hate, Night of the Hunter and the fantastic Dragon tattoo from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Here is the intro. Click on the link above for them all.

When presenting a character in a film, directors and costume designers think very carefully about every last detail: what color shirt, what brand of shoes, how mussed the hair. Maybe this is why some of the coolest and most apt tattoos we’ve ever seen have popped up in movies, from the original knuckle tattoos to this year’s hottest movie sensation (hint: dragons). From the silly to the terrifying, the ominous to the controversial, click through to see our ten favorite tattoos on film, and since we know there are hundreds of great ones out there, be sure to let us know if we’ve missed any of your own favorites in the comments.

Tattoo illustrated man Tattoo illustrated man


post-it art

 

Post it art

How about creating art in the workplace? Here is a tale about the creativity of some French workers who design mosaics by using post-it notes.

 

A handful of workers in Ubisoft's Paris offices have sparked a "world war" in Post-It note mosaics. It all started on a sunny day last May when Thibault Lhuillier, Emilie Cozette and a few others "started goofing around with Post-It notes. In the space of about 15 minutes, they managed to stick a pretty good likeness of a character from the Space Invaders videogame ... to a window of their headquarters" near Paris. Their impetus, says Thibault, was the sour economy. "We had to do something to change the mood and get out of the grayness," he says.

Within days, workers in a nearby office building "one-upped Ubisoft with a more elaborate Post-it Pac-Man on its own windows."

Team Ubisoft fired back with "an even more ambitious collage," triggering Post-It note creations from workers from several other offices.

As the battle escalated, the "designs grew ever more complex." Not to be outdone, Ubisoft unleashed "a three story Post-it collage of Ezio, a character from Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed videogame. It required 8,000 Post-it notes and the efforts of some 450 Ubisoft employees."

All 50 of Ubisoft's windows are now covered in Post-It notes, and the "war" has spread around the world. In Germany, Apple store employees famously created a Post-it note portrait of Steve Jobs shortly after his passing last October.

3M, makers of Post-it notes, is not directly supporting the craze, although years ago it sponsored a fashion show "featuring clothes made entirely out of Post-it notes." 3M's Charlate Coudeyras says the artwork "resonates with the values of the brand." Some, however, say that the Post-it wars are a distraction and bad for worker productivity. Thibault Lhuillier says that just isn't so: "If our work wasn't done yet, we did it," he says. "Besides, companies spend a lot of money to promote team-building. This costs a lot less."

Thanks to Coll News' Tim Manners for the story.


Trash Talk - Running Until May 3

Trash talkSpattered Columns, an exhibition space operated by the non-profit organization Art Connects New York (ACNY), is pleased to announce the opening of "Trash Talk" on April 11, 2012. Curated by Lisa Dahl, this group exhibition features the work of artists who elevate mundane garbage to fine art.

 

Although there is a long precedent of artists using found objects to create, garbage and art are still usually placed at opposite ends of the spectrum. The former is deemed disposable and worthless, the latter lauded as unique and precious. The Trash Talk artists utilize the very history of their chosen medium to tap into the associations we bring to such products and packaging. The resulting art is not merely about the hot topic of recycling, but rather provides a new level of consideration. Using items as diverse as steel drums, plastic containers, cardboard, old shoes, and even food, a wondrous alchemy is achieved as familiar substances transform into something unexpected. The work is often beautiful and elegant; humorous and thoughtful; but all of it is trash.

 

Participating artists include Scott Andresen, Lisa Dahl, Ghost of a Dream, Ruth Hardinger, Gregg Hill, Sara Hubbs, Vandana Jain, Nathaniel Lieb, Shari Mendelson, Jimmy Miracle, Tattfoo Tan, and Ian Trask. The opening of "Trash Talk" is from 6pm-8pm Wednesday, April 11th at Spattered Columns, 491 Broadway, 5th Floor, NYC. The exhibition is open Monday-Friday, noon-6pm, and runs until May 3rd.

 

For more information on "Trash Talk" at Spattered Columns, please visit www.artconnectsnewyork.org or contact Stephanie Lindquist at stephaniel@artconnectsnewyork.org.


Best Subways For Street Art Spotting

 

Jilly Ballistic subway graff

Time Out New York just ran a great guide to the best subways for street art spotting. I would say things change on an hourly basis but I like the concept of street art in the subway.

 

Here is an excerpt from the article. Please let me know if you can recommend any more places.

When the MTA Arts for Transit program (mta.info/mta/aft) began commissioning public art in the subway system more than 25 years ago, graffiti and street artists were already adorning the platforms and trains with their own brand of creative expression. Blogger Jowy Romano (subwayartblog.com) has been photographing unofficial subway art for the last three years. For him, the illegal work carries the essence and personality of the city. “Subway art is a big part of what makes New York New York,” he says. “We have a healthy disregard for the rules and feel some ownership over the subways.”

Because street art and graffiti are short-lived, the best place to view good pieces is online. But if you want to try hunting for them in the flesh, paste-up artist Jilly Ballistic (flickr.com/photos/jillyballistic) suggests strap-hangers pay attention to the seats and advertisements inside carriages. In addition, Romano recommends certain hot spots where fresh work can often be seen on platforms or in tunnels:

Bowery
Manhattan’s infamous skid row was collecting graffiti long before street art became cool. According to Romano, the station is a hub for graffiti writers, including Jim Joe (twitter.com/jim_joe), who is active all over the Lower East Side. Jim Joe admits that this is his favorite station “’cause no one’s there except bums sleeping with dirt feet.” We’ll assume he’s there at odd hours ’cause we’ve certainly never seen this station empty. Subway: J, Z to Bowery

Montrose Ave, Morgan Ave and Jefferson Ave, Brooklyn
Romano says the cut-and-paste method popularized by the Poster Boy collective (flickr.com/photos/26296445@N05) is concentrated around these consecutive L train stops. “You can see a lot of modified posters and ads in these stations because tons of artists and anarchists live in the lofts in that area.” Subway: L to Montrose Ave, Morgan Ave or Jefferson St

J train between Essex St and Marcy Ave
The Brooklyn-bound J train passes through a well-graffitied tunnel just before the Williamsburg Bridge. “The art is really colorful, and there’s enough light to see it by,” says Romano. “It’s a canvas for a lot of known graffiti writers like Bak, Vil and Shift.” There’s lots of art along the rest of the route, too; keep your eyes trained on the roll-down gates of shops around the Myrtle Ave stop. Subway: J to Marcy Ave

1 train between Times Sq and South Ferry
In the 1990s, Manhattan graffiti artist Revs (along with partner in crime Cost) was one of the most well-known and prolific writers in the city. While most of his work could be seen above ground, in the mid ’90s he did an extensive series of diarylike writings on numbered “pages” in subway tunnels throughout Manhattan. This stretch of train line once had a continuous series of pages; keep a lookout during delays or when traveling slowly. One of the more visible ones has a yellow background and can be seen out of the left-hand windows on the northbound train as it leaves 23rd Street. Subway: 1 to South Ferry or 42nd St–Times Sq

See more in This Week in New York