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December 2013

Digital Graffiti Annual Festival in Florida

Okay I will start out by saying that I don't think street art should be mainstreamed. I think it will lose its edge when the art form is appropriated by developers and for-profit  special interest groups. (Though I temper my opinions when there is a good way for artists to be rightly compensated for their work whether selling directly to the public or through some business venture.)

Further, I am not that keen to have street art used as an upscale party novelty to try lend cred to the 1%'ers sense of style. So it is with some reluctance that I post information on the annual Digital Graffit Festival in Alys Florida.

According to the Long Long Honeymoon blog, "Digital Graffiti is billed as the world’s first projection art festival. The event takes place once a year in the town of Alys (pronounced “Alice”) Beach, Florida. Alys Beach is a ridiculously expensive planned community on Florida’s increasingly famous Scenic Highway 30A. Imagine a little Gulf Coast utopia with style and architecture inspired by Bermuda and Antigua, Guatemala.

The idea behind the Digital Graffiti festival is simple and brilliant. The white walls of Alys Beach are a blank canvas. One night per year, that canvas is thoroughly “painted” with a smorgasbord of digital art. The actual artwork of Digital Graffiti varies, but most of it is of an abstract nature. It’s a menagerie of flashing light and vibrant color.

The heart of Digital Graffiti is in the Caliza Pool area. The swimming pool in Alys Beach is rumored to have cost more than $15 million to build. Whatever the cost, it’s a rather fantastical place to hold a party. And in this corner of Alys Beach, that’s what Digital Graffiti becomes."

I will let you judge for yourself. Comments welcomed and debate encouraged.....


My Arm The Comic - Comic Strip Via Tattoo

My-Arm-The-Comic-4-350x226Artist and illustrator Patrick Yurick got a tattoo of blank comic frames on the inside of his forearm and then fills them in with a different story each day. He then takes a photo of each comic and posts them on his website, My Arm The Comic. Yurick is an artist, educator, and entrepreneur. You can find out more about his work on his website The HeadComic.

I think the pressure to come up with comic ideas would be too intense for me!

 


Graffiti In The Living Room - A Tipping Point?

With a mixture of delight and concern, I note the recent article in the Wall Street journal about people with very large living spaces who are hiring street artists to paint murals on their walls.

One the one hand I love their support of the artists and their love of the art form. Bravo! On the other hand, I wonder if the domesictation of street art will dull its edginess and vitality. I suppose we will see. But in the meantime, I am thrilled that there are those art lovers who see street art as a desirable and beautiful art form that it is. Support Street Art and Street Artists!

 

Here are the highlights:

Graffiti in the Living Room

Street Art, Once Seen as Gritty—and Illegal—Is Selling for Top Dollar to Fearless Homeowners

Graffiti is coming in off the streets and into the house.

"Five years ago, it was all about graffiti in the galleries. Now, it's about showcasing it in your home," says Gabriel Specter, a 35-year-old Brooklyn street artist who for the past 16 years has had both private and corporate clients. He typically charges between $10,000 and $30,000 for smaller works and as much as $100,000 for larger projects, he says.

The medium is particularly hot now thanks to artists such as Banksy, the pseudonymous U.K. painter whose works most recently appeared on the streets of New York. In February, a Banksy mural, "Slave Labour," originally painted on the wall of a London retail store, sold at a private London auction in June for $1.1 million.

But while the work of famous names can sell for millions, the average homeowner can buy similar art for about $40,000 or less.

Deana Dyal, 42, a stay-at-home mom in Los Gatos, Calif., was looking for a creative way to decorate her living room when her interior designer suggested a graffiti wall. Ms. Dyal had her doubts.

"I couldn't immediately picture it at first," she says. Her home is an 8,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bathroom Spanish Colonial that mixes modern furniture with Mexican heirlooms.

Deana Dyal hired artist Aaron De La Cruz to paint a mural on the wall of her 8,000-square-foot California home. Drew Kelly for The Wall Street Journal

The graffiti mural in Ms. Dyal's home. Drew Kelly for The Wall Street Journal

She decided to meet an artist, Aaron De La Cruz, at a restaurant to discuss a potential project. "The restaurant had some of his work on display and suddenly it clicked. It was tribal, adventurous," she says. "It was everything I was looking for. It fit."

Mr. De La Cruz, 33, is known in the San Francisco Bay area for his geometric designs. In Ms. Dyal's house, he painted a floor-to-ceiling mural of repeating patterns that covers an entire wall of the living room. Ms. Dyal declined to disclose the cost.

The 9-by-30-foot mural is done in shades of blue with scattered red accents to complement her collection of Day of the Dead figurines. Above the mural, about 6 feet of wall has been painted to look textured and worn, with thick layers of peeling paint. It was designed to make the room look like it had been repeatedly painted over the years.

Being able to snag a top graffiti artist has become a status symbol. "We deal with a lot of celebrity clients and a lot of hedge-fund guys who want to say they have an Alec Monopoly or a Banksy in their living room," said Avery Andon, who owns Andon Artists in New York. He represents a number of street artists, including Alec Monopoly, an unidentified American whose work typically shows the mustachioed, top-hat-wearing, board-game character.

"It's like looking at a Mercedes and knowing it's a Mercedes, except it has this gritty, insider edge," Mr. Andon says.

He says one Manhattan hedge-fund manager commissioned an Alec Monopoly homage to Patrick Bateman of "American Psycho" in his bedroom. The 4-by-5-foot piece cost $25,000.

Full House: Brian Edelman fills his home with graffiti-inspired art. His kitchen has a commissioned Alec Monopoly, while a TV screen shows a Banksy. Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Edelman hangs a drawing by Sonja Komljenovic over his sofa. Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal

Brian Edelman, chief executive at Rain, a digital-advertising agency, commissioned Alec Monopoly to paint a graffiti-inspired game board onto his kitchen counter and to spray-paint Monopoly Man onto a pocket door in his loft in New York's West Village. Mr. Edelman, 32, says he is a friend of the artist and received a discount for the work. Mr. Andon estimates the projects would retail for about $35,000.

"I'm not an expert on graffiti artists, I just like that style," Mr. Edelman says. "It's modern, it's different. I like colors in art and design, and was naturally drawn to some of this street-style work."

The market for high-end graffiti and street art attracts buyers world-wide who collect it in the form of sculptures, canvas paintings and commissions, says John Woodward, owner of a street-art gallery in Lower Manhattan. He says the difference between street art and graffiti is that street art is considered an elevated, mixed-media extension of traditional graffiti, and is usually created for exhibition or sale. Graffiti is raw, illegal street tagging done by artists who remain anonymous for their protection.

Andres Galvan, a Los Angeles interior designer, recalls the first time a client requested street art. "They started talking about Banksy," he says, "and I was instantly excited."

He says the client, based in London, bought a Banksy to display alongside an existing collection of works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. "I thought, 'How amazing that we're hanging street art next to Dali.'"

Write to Megan Buerger at megan.buerger@wsj.com


Hybrid Sneakers

Wassink-model-3-625x418A great pair of shoes has become the ultimate fashion statement. People will go to great lengths for limited edition kicks, custom shoes, and one-of-a-kind “statements for your feet.” So, it should be no surprise that Sander Wassink’s reconstructed, hybrid shoes are turning some heads.

Sander Wassink is an artist/designer that uses discarded and left over materials for his projects in an attempt to reimagine a new purpose for an existing commodity. To this end, his reconstructed hybrid shoes envision a life for designer knockoffs by using bits and pieces from many different pairs to make something new.


Gallery Owner Stages Art Exhibit in Her Ear

SolaArtist Joe Sola will exhibit his microscopic paintings inside of gallerist Tif Sigfrids’ ear, placing the six tiny oil portraits in her ear canal gap while seated at a desk in the middle of an empty space.“Portraits: An Exhibition in Tif Sigfrids’ Ear” places the focus on the gallerist, namely that visitors should (metaphorically) look inside the mind of the gallerist in order to see the art.

Sola is known for his atypical approach to his profession. In 2005 his Studio Visit project saw him jump out of a second-story studio unexpectedly during a meeting, only to gage the audience’s reactions, thus creating on-the-spot art. This theme of pushing the body to its limits is seen, in many different adaptations, in the majority of his works.

Soa explains, ‘I like this idea of [it being] inward-looking. It’s as if you have to look into the head (mind) of the gallerist to see/experience the art.’

The project is being exhibited at Sigrids’ new gallery in Hollywood showing from October 12th -November 9th.

Joe Sola // Tif Sigrids


Canvas of Concrete on the Golan Heights

 

Golan heights artThe beautiful thing about street art is that it can crop up anywhere - in the fanciest places to the more dire and destroyed of world corners. This is why the street artist working near the Golan Heights are to be especially noted. The NYT reported on their work:

Graffiti painter known as Col Wallnuts likes to use exploding bursts of color, hiding the abstract letters that form his tag, or street name, so only he can find them. Last week, he applied his paint on concrete canvases that had themselves been exploded, often amid the sound of bombs detonating not far away in the Syrian civil war.

 

 

 

Col (pronounced Kole), who is 36 and lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, was one of more than a dozen international street painters who spent several days recently leaving their unlikely marks here on the edge of the 1.8-mile-wide demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria.

 

They came with Artists 4 Israel, a New York group whose strong pro-Israeli stance has brought it much controversy. But none of these spray painters — from Britain, the Czech Republic and Hawaii, among other places — had been to Israel before, and most said they were not sure what to think about the situation on either side of the contested border.

 

 

 

Since the onset of the Syrian uprising, the Israeli military has beefed up its presence in preparation for a possible spillover of the violence, and the longstanding quiet is now constantly threatened by the raging civil war next door: Mortar rounds and rockets have fallen here 60 times in the past year, according to the Israeli military, which fired back 10 times.

 

 

 

This was the violent backdrop to the makeshift graffiti studio for the members of the group, who came armed with $12,000 of spray paint, underwritten by an alumni group of Birthright Israel, which provides free trips to Israel for young Jews.

 

They splashed some anodyne slogans like “Art Over War” and “Get Lost a Lot — Find Yourself” on the drab detritus, along with a few Jewish stars. The Czech painter, Dmitrij Proskein, who calls himself Chemis because his graffiti began with doodles in a too-easy high school chemistry class, made a few murals, including one of a haunting little girl holding a stethoscope to a bullet-ridden wall at the base.

 

Mostly, though, they made their mysterious tags — Gypsy, Norm, Aroe, Merk — on what was left from long-ago battles: the bombed-out base, a sprawling set of barracks, a small Syrian tank by the side of the road.

 

“That’s what graffiti artists do, they write their names,” explained Craig Dershowitz, the founder of Artists 4 Israel, whose copious tattoos include one of the ardent Zionist Zeev Jabotinsky. “The statement is simply: We’re here. If it’s a no man’s land for everyone else, then we might as well claim it for art.”

 

Artists 4 Israel previously painted bomb shelters in the Israeli border town of Sderot, a frequent target of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, and last year caught flak for a West Village mural about gay rights in the Middle East. The group promoted the Golan tour as its “most dangerous mission yet.”

 

 

Most of the group’s time, and paint, was spent at the military and intelligence base, a huge two-story structure that a local tour guide said was built by the Soviet Union in the 1950s. The guide, Chen Kristal, said it had been the headquarters for the Syrian top brass, and that the famous Israeli spy Eli Cohen, who was eventually hanged in Damascus, had also been stationed there.

 

It is a graffiti painter’s dream, with an L-shaped retaining wall around an endless series of empty rooms, some with plants sprouting inside. Here, too, generations of amateurs had left an anthropological treasure map: “Carol + Barak” in Hebrew, “Death to betrayers of the country” in Arabic, Beatles songs — “All You Need Is Love,” “With a Little Help From My Friends” — in English.

 

Chemis climbed what was left of a spiral staircase and set to work on a startling religious icon, a halo of gold around the head and a can of gold spray paint in hand. “That’s his religion,” Mr. Dershowitz explained. “He cares about art.”

 

The Golan tourism officials who had assisted with the trip were peeved that the group ignored their admonition not to paint inside the building, but a United Nations patrol car rolled through without complaint. And Zion Cohen, who comes to the base every other day to shoot arrows from a bow at a target he set up 50 yards away along the now-Technicolor retaining wall, pronounced the work “marvelous.”

 

“It’s coloring the shooting,” said Mr. Cohen, 61. “It’s covering all the bullets from 40 years ago.” (Actually, Aroe purposefully painted as though behind the bullet holes, to honor history rather than obscure it.)

 

Up on the roof, an Arab-Israeli couple celebrating a birthday sipped tea from a thermos, as Mr. Kristal, the guide, identified points of interest: the United Nations checkpoint and fence splitting the area of separation; a smaller fence with yellow flags marking mines; the ghost village of Old Quneitra; an Israeli flag over a grape orchard. And a fresh landmark: “Syria’s Business,” one of the graffiti painters had scrawled up there.

 

Col, who has a day job in advertising for Ralph Lauren and has L-O-V-E and H-O-P-E tattooed on his knuckles, was in his element.“I like painting in destroyed places,” he said. “If you asked anybody if they want to be here, they’d say no. For artists, it’s very inviting. The explosion of colors really adds to, technically, what’s happened to the building.”

 

 

 


Brooklyn Street Art Newsletter for the Week

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Images Of The Week: 12.08.13Editorz2013-12-08 04:08

  Here is our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Ainac, Bask, Bishop203, CB23, Finbarr DAC, Hot Tea, Jilly Ballistic, Labrona, Leghead, Medico, Nester, Nico, Poop Culture, Sidi Abdul Khaalig, Starfightera, and Tony DePew. Top Image >> Finbarr DAC and Starfightera collaboration tribute to Lou Reed/Nico/The Velvet Underground/Andy Warhol. (photo © Jaime Rojo) […]

Women Rock Wynwood Walls at Miami Art Basel 2013Editorz2013-12-07 05:30

An international team of heavy hitting women in Street Art are the centerpiece of the Wynwood District this weekend as Jeffrey Deitch returns to Miami to co-curate Women on the Walls. Reprising a more central role for Wynwood Walls that he played when Tony Goldman first established this outdoor mural playground, Deitch says he is […]

BSA Film Friday: 12.06.13Editorz2013-12-06 04:24

  Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities. Now screening : 1. BROKEN FINGAZ “La Fabrica” 2. Half Way To Nowhere with Risk, Insa, Meggs, Echo and Steve Martinez 3. RONE Paints a Baby Grand in Miami for Basel 2013 BSA Special Feature: BROKEN FINGAZ “La Fabrica” […]

TIKA Extends Tongues and Ponders Oncoming Zürich WinterEditorz2013-12-05 13:58

A fine artist who likes drawing and wood burning, TIKA also does her share of aerosol and stylized typography and characters across concrete bricks, along train tracks, and on the occasional van just for fun. This year has installed new works in Zürich, Berlin, Basel, Küsnacht, Cologne, and Bangkok, where she’ll have a solo show […]

Street Art in Honolulu as Pow! Wow! Hawaii Enters Fifth YearEditorz2013-12-04 04:29

Before the year wraps we wanted to take a look at images from Pow! Wow! Hawaii as it enters its fifth year with a collection of images recently captured in Honolulu where it happens. Begun by founder Jasper Wong in Hong Kong, Pow! Wow! Hawaii is a non-profit gathering in his hometown that he co-produces […]

Quoz Arts Festival in Dubai Keeps the Street Art TidyEditorz2013-12-03 04:22

A lot of the art world and its accompanying commerce has turned its attention to Dubai in the last decade, and not surprisingly, an element of graffiti and Street Art has made it there also – just not on the actual street. Not painted directly onto buildings but painted onto placards that are mounted on […]

Hot Tea Brings Back Dondi on the Trains, If Only For a Minute (VIDEO)Editorz2013-12-02 05:01

Conceptual Piece Lifts a Toast to “The Style Master General” “Every time a subway passes through the station, it is as if Dondi’s work is back on the trains,” Hot Tea says as he describes his new work of yarn. The renowned New York graffiti artist was immortalized straddling between two trains in a photo […]

Images Of The Week: 12.01.13Editorz2013-12-01 04:59

  It’s December yo! The tree is getting lit this week for the tourists and New York art folk are headed to Miami for the ever-more-air-kissed Basel. We’re still recovering from Thanksgivikkuh and looking on the street to find the latest pieces that went up before winter descended.  Right now we’re tallying up the list […]

Anthony Lister Paints a Lamborghini in PerthEditorz2013-12-01 00:21

Just for Saturday fun- take a look a the new painted Italian Lamborghini from Anthony Lister. Publicity photo of the new paint job Anthony Lister did on this Lamborghini (© Troy Barbagallo) “The LP 550-2 was transformed into a massive, moving piece of Lister artwork to raise funds for ToyBox International, a charity dedicated to raising […]

BSA Film Friday 11.29.13Editorz2013-11-29 04:29

  Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities. Now screening : 1. SOFLES — LIMITLESS 2. GAIA in Rome 3. OLEK Underwater Treasures 4. Heavy Metal Progeny on the Streets 5. The Lurkers Do Sarajevo 6. Portrait of the artist Franck Duval/FKDL 7. Chatroullette Version of Miley […]

Happy Thanksgiving from BSA With LoveEditorz2013-11-28 04:40

Our very best to you and your loved ones for a Happy Thanksgiving. And for some of you we wish a Happy Thanksgivikkuh! Hugo Rojas. Moss Turkey in Dumbo. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA Gets Up With New Animals In TowEditorz2013-11-27 04:02

BSA travels with ROA to Austria, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the US. Today we visit with Street Artist, urban naturalist, and globe trotter ROA to see what walls he has been climbing since we last checked in with him and his traveling curious circus of animals. Alternating between the cuddly […]

A Freddy Mercury Tribute in RomeEditorz2013-11-26 05:16

Italian artist John Mayho has been on BSA a couple of times over the years with his commentary about the MOB and a tribute to John Lennon. This weekend he was thinking about another western pop idol when he did his own tribute to Freddie Mercury – exactly 22 years after he passed.  The powerfully […]

Word To Mother in the Tenderloin in San FranciscoEditorz2013-11-25 05:02

In San Francisco for his solo gallery show that is running until December 7, the Street Artist/graffiti artist/fine artist named Word To Mother had some time to hit a truck or two and a roll down gate in the Tenderloin. Word To Mother. San Francisco, CA. (photo © Brock Brake) Photographer Brock Brake caught him […]

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The New York Times Rejects A Banksy Editorial

Blocked-wideFrom the newspaper who has been accused of shaping rather than reporting the news, it should be noted that the New York Times refused to print an editorial by Banksy when he was here in NYC this past October. Here are the facts:

The New York Times rejected an opinion piece by British graffiti artist Banksy, the artist said in a post over the weekend. In response, his latest contribution to the streets of New York City is a simple line of text: "This Site Contains Blocked Messages," written on a wall on Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

"Today’s piece was going to be an op-ed column in the New York Times," Banksy wrote on his site. "But they declined to publish what I supplied. Which was this..."

Banksy, who is in the middle of a month-long residency in New York City, wrote an opinion piece decrying the "shyscraper" One World Trade Center built at the site where the twin towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. 

"Nobody comes to New York to bathe in your well-mannered common sense. We're here for the spirit and audacity. Of which One World Trade has none," Banksy said in the piece posted on his site.

New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy confirmed to the New York Post that they rejected the piece because they couldn't reach an agreement with Banksy on the piece or the artwork.

“We couldn’t agree on either the piece or the art, so we did reject it,” Murphy told the post. “What he has posted on his site is not exactly the same as what he submitted.”

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After 5 Pointz et al, Where Next?

Legal SIDE-articleLarge-v2The New York Times ponders the future of sanctioned New York City street art. Here is a recent article:

The masked artist hovering over the Bronx sidewalk is but a phantom. The cinder block wall on West Farms Road near East 172nd Street, which for years was a gallery of graffiti murals, is gone, too. It has been replaced by a blue wooden barrier festooned with demolition permits and a sign hawking “CHEAP DIVORCE.”

In January, construction is set to begin here for 237 units of about 1,300 apartments at modest prices in what is a marginal industrial area in West Farms. The demolition eventually will go one block west to Boone Avenue, whose warehouses and garages have long been a world-famous showcase for artists such as Cope, the Royal Kingbee and Skeme.

The gradual loss of these walls, like last week’s sudden whitewashing of 5Pointz in Queens, has street artists wondering where they — especially younger, less established artists — will be able to paint. For J. J. Ramirez, an “original school writer” whose tag, Mico, covered subway cars and walls starting in the late 1960s, the implications are clear.

“The whole thing boils down to class warfare,” Mr. Ramirez said. “People all over the world are wondering why they did that to 5Pointz. My answer is, why not? Do we really think some landlord is going to give a damn about the culture of the working class? This was an art form invented by the children of the working class, not children with last names like Trump or Rockefeller.”

When he said as much on Facebook last week, the responses were immediate and passionate: Who asked permission to do graffiti in the old days?

“The writers’ community is concerned,” said Carolina Diaz, an artist who works under the name Erotica67. “A lot of the writers say they won’t have the freedom to express themselves. People might take art into their own hands, like it was back in the ’80s.”

Ms. Diaz and her husband have been regulars along the Boone Avenue strip, which has been a stop for the global graffiti showcase known as Meeting of Styles. Not just anyone can paint there (though local taggers sometimes dash in and paint over an established artist). For years, the muralists were given permission by a business owner on the block.

Recently, a huge new mural was painted there by Skeme, featuring a B-boy with angel wings and a halo, surrounded by pieces painted by Dero and others. Up and down the block, walls and gates are adorned with colorful, curvy pieces by Cope.

The murals are the only warm touch on an otherwise bleak stretch tucked between the Sheridan Expressway and townhouses that rose from the rubble of 1980s abandonment. Recent zoning changes paved the way for a large residential development planned by Signature Urban Properties. While the plans were met with some grumbling about losing the open-air gallery, Gifford Miller, the former City Council speaker and a principal in Signature, said the Bronx had more pressing needs.

“We have a lot of respect for the artwork,” he said. “But we believe the community feels strongly that affordable housing is critically important and will hopefully make this area safer, too.”

Alfred Bennett, the Royal Kingbee, understands those needs. And though he makes his living doing artistic and commercial work, he says the dwindling number of walls will push younger artists to the streets. Already, the blue barrier that circles the lot on West Farms Road has been hit by local taggers.

“I guess Hunts Point is going to get saturated next,” he said. “There’s a lot of walls there.”

That worries Wilfredo Feliciano, known as Bio, whose Tats Cru rules Hunts Point. Not just anyone can go into their turf, just as they would not paint somewhere else without letting the local artists know.

For years they painted murals on the Lower East Side, paying building owners up to $1,000 to paint ads and personal pieces. But over the last 10 years, he said, he has gone from 15 walls to only one, as most were replaced by upscale housing, restaurants or billboards.

“There are hardly any spots left in the city for graffiti writers,” Mr. Feliciano, 47, said. “It’s going to mean that everybody’s going to be fighting for space. And you know what happens if they don’t have space to express themselves.”

Granted, he and his friends have a canvas nearby. Behind their studio is a full-size plywood replica of a 1980s subway car, which they cover regularly with intricate pieces and figures.

“We’ve been reduced to painting at the office,” Mr. Feliciano joked. “We can’t go painting trains at our age. At least this is easier in the backyard. And it has that shape we enjoyed in our youth.”