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The Best Street Art in Athens, Greece

One of the oldest cities in the world, full of history and the cradle of democracy and culture.

This is Athens. The ancient’s ‘glorious city’. And at the same time, a contemporary city that assimilates cultural trends and adapts them to its own character. It goes without saying that the modern urban religion of graffiti and street art is part of this: tags, throw-ups, wild style graffiti, political activist stencils, stickers, paste-ups and public art murals created for festivals and other projects. So if you love art and street culture, you’ll love discovering this lesser-known side of Athens.

Every neighborhood has a different story to tell.

 Keramikos & Gazi  Exarhia
 Metaxourgio  Piraeus
 Omonia  Rentis
 Psirri  The School of Fine Arts
 Monastiraki  The Polytechnic campus

Ra Paulette's Hand-Carved Caves

As showcased in Atlas Obscura, these amazing cave carvings are unusual and creative. But they are also closed to the public...

One man has carved a number of natural New Mexico caves into psychedelic sandstone temples. 

For over 25 years, New Mexico artist Ra Paulette has been creating natural crevasses in the New Mexico wilderness and painstakingly chiseling, digging, and carving intricate underground wonderlands.

In 14 different caves in the desert just north of Santa Fe, Paulette has created an underground fantasy world using nothing but the power of his own hands. Sometimes using preexisting crevasses and sometimes simply tunneling into the soft sandstone cliffs, the artist creates singular subterranean spaces to which he ascribes a sort of spiritual power.

No two of Paulette’s caves are alike, some featuring undersized doors or skylights that let the sun in, while others include benches carved right into the wall or deep niches for flickering candles. The walls of the caves are also decorated with carved designs ranging from flowers to abstract suns to purely emotive design flourishes; all look as though they formed naturally because they are etched into the cave walls themselves.

Paulette considers his creations more of a hobby or public service than a money-making venture and generally just leaves the caves to be discovered by others when he is finished. He hopes that those that come after him can discover some peace or epiphany in his chambers. Paulette finds his joy in creating things, not necessarily the things’ finished states.

Know Before You Go

Most of the caves now sit on private property, and because of past issues with trespassers, the owners have closed the caves to the public.


The Benefits of Looking at Art

 
IMG_3824I knew that when I look at art I feel good - or at least better. Now there is a study proving that out.

Robert Lederman sent me this interesting article which I also think should include street art. What better way to feel the positive effects of art as you walk down the street and see an amazing mural.
 
Past research has shown that looking at art, whether in a museum, gallery, or home, can benefit your mental health. And now, a recent study suggests that the positive effect holds true for viewing art online as well. The study, from the University of Vienna’s Arts and Research on Transformation of Individuals and Society, concluded that just one or two minutes of exposure to online art improved participants’ mood, anxiety, loneliness, and overall well-being.
 
“The results of this paper suggest that online cultural engagement, including but not limited to fine art, does seem to be a viable tool to support individuals’ mood, anxiety, loneliness, and well-being especially when such content is beautiful, meaningful, and inspires positive cognitive-emotional states in the viewer,” the authors wrote. If you are looking to tap into the mental health benefits of art from your own home, there are plenty of options to explore — we suggest starting with Smithsonian’s roundup of the best virtual exhibitions from 2020.
 
Art photo by Charlene Weisler

Street Art in Support of Ukraine

From the Huffington Post -

The Stunning And Heartbreaking Street Art Painted In Solidarity With Ukraine

Ukraine street art-1Walls around the world are being transformed into tributes to Ukraine amid Russia's invasion.

Street artists around the world are spraying in solidarity with Ukraine.

Many artists have painted poignant pieces highlighting Ukrainians’ struggles amid the Russian invasion, while others call out Russian President Vladimir Putin over the globally condemned attack.

“It was the least I could do apart from sending financial support,” the artist known as WOSKerski, who painted the tribute below in London, told HuffPost.

“As an artist, I have a voice that can influence people and a moral obligation to act against injustice and support people who need it,” WOSKerski said. “I am aware that the online support is probably meaningless, but I hope that perhaps it did help someone.”

Jenks, a street artist in Llanelli, Wales, who acknowledged that Ukrainians likely “never have heard of” his hometown, said he painted his “Pray for Ukraine” piece below “in the hope that if they saw the image painted thousands of miles away, they would not feel isolated and know people are on their side during this terrible time for them.”

Have you seen some similar street art? Or can you help us further identify the artists or locations of the pieces we have in the list? Email your images and information to lee.moran@huffpost.com or send a direct message via Instagram.


25 Places Reborn Through Graffiti

In this list offered on Atlas Obscura, there are 25 international places that have been reborn through street art and graffiti.

Notice that New York City is not listed. And yet this city had what would arguably be the pinnacle of street art revitalization. That was 5Pointz, an industrial square block dedicated to artists around the world. Destroyed in 2014 it is now the site of two vampire towers of glass, isolation and ugliness that the developers have the temerity to name "5Pointz".

IMG_1266

Abandoned or forgotten places can become otherworldly canvases.

There are endless stretches of abandoned structures scattered around the world, many forlorn and destined to be reclaimed by nature—eventually. In the meantime, many abandoned factories, alleys, hotels, and more have been transformed into living canvases. With every brushstroke and release of spray paint, these places, some officially sanctioned, others not so much, get some injection of new life, as art museums without the white walls. 

Just outside Las Vegas is a former shopping outlet that has been reimagined as a modern art gallery. Due to financial issues, the Primm Outlets were forced to close their doors, until a new owner stepped in with a new approach. Artists were invited to decorate the walls and remaining storefronts of the now Prizm Outlet, and it’s seen more visitors than ever before. In Stockholm, an abandoned industrial village is now one of Europe’s largest graffiti exhibits. Each spring, graffiti writers and mural artists across Sweden descend on what’s known as the Snösätra Wall of Fame to refresh the artwork and craft new pieces. From an abandoned sniper post to an alley that is the largest outdoor art gallery in the Northwest United States, these are 25 of our favorite places reborn from the end of a nozzle. 

Check it out here.


Painting on Trash to Reveal Nature

Here is a fascinating art project by artist Mariah Reading as reported in Atlas Obscura.

MReading_Flipping Out

Mariah Reading uses unique canvases for her paintings. When the nomadic park ranger and frequent artist-in-residence finds lost objects and trash while adventuring in state and national parks across America, she paints the surrounding landscape on the item, highlighting waste and showcasing the beauty of the protected areas. She has captured the morning light flooding through the gaps between redwood trees at Big Sur on a lost Croc, mimicked the steep cliffs of Channel Islands National Park on a flipper, and—on a forgotten helmet—depicted riotously colorful fall leaves wreathing the banks of a placid lake in Acadia National Park.

When she’s done painting, she photographs her art in front of the landscape that inspired it. Often, it’s hard to tell where reality ends and the painting begins. Reading’s series is a project several years in the making. While she was studying visual arts at Bowdoin College, she took a mold-making class that required students to cook up large vats of concrete and rubber to create molds. The installations they’d in term craft, ended up generating vast amounts of waste: Each brush that touched the rubber needed to be tossed, as the material couldn’t be washed down the drain.


The Pandemic Has Brought Us Some Amazing Street Art

IMG_6470I have seen evidence of this on the streets of NYC but this article in OZY sums it up nicely --

Street Art

Empty city streets served as the perfect canvas for many artists during the pandemic while galleries were shuttered. Some, such as Steve Derrick in New York, painted paeans to frontline workers. Others used their art to mock politicians or simply to lighten the general mood. U.K.-based street artist John D’oh used a Bristol wall to paint an image mocking former U.S. President Donald Trump’s comment about injecting disinfectant to stop COVID-19, while Australian street artist LUSHSUX depicted Chinese President Xi Jinping in a hazmat suit saying: “Nothing to see. Carry on.” Dominican Republic-based Jesus Cruz Artiles, also known as Eme Freethinker, painted a picture of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings cradling a roll of toilet paper and saying, “My Precious!” In Atlanta, artists such as Fabian Williams made huge face masks from white vinyl sheets and used them to cover murals of icons like Martin Luther King Jr. in an awareness-raising campaign for the Black community.


India's Beautiful and Amazing Truck Art

I have seen these fabulous trucks myself while traveling in India in 2013. Here are some of my photos IMG_2030 IMG_2030

 

HyperAllergic's recent post on these trucks gave me added insight into why. Here is a short excerpt and you can read the full article here.

In India, trucks play a pivotal role in transporting heavy-duty goods, journeying for endless kilometers across the country. Most drivers are on the road for weeks, sometimes months at a stretch, living a nomadic life and often sleeping and eating in their vehicles. Their trucks become their travel companions and their homes, and the drivers go to great lengths to beautify them. They work closely with truck artists, describing the illustrations they would like to see.

“A good artist should have a steady hand and an intuitive understanding of color-pairing,” said Raj Dongre, in Hindi, over the phone. He has been embellishing trucks with his designs for over three decades. Before the country was engulfed by the pandemic, he worked in a truck-building workshop in Nagpur. In the summer heat, wearing scruffy clothes, he would dip his brush in colors of indigo and green, and glide it across the truck’s sturdy body, defining the fine feather wisps of a peacock. His hands moved with adept flourish, while songs from old Bollywood films played on his mobile phone.

A superstitious totem often seen on the bumpers is the nazar battu: the mug of a sharp-toothed demon with matted hair, believed to ward off the evil eye. Graffitied catchphrases like “Horn OK Please” and “Use Dipper at Night” (the latter encourages other drivers to dim their headlights at dusk) are now an inextricable part of the truck nomenclature. 

To preserve and promote the country’s ephemeral art tradition, Bawa launched All India Permit (AIP) in 2018, an art project which collaborates with local truck artists. AIP supplies them with Cold Rolled steel sheets on which they paint their vibrant creations. In turn, these pieces become one-of-a-kind collectors’ items, available for sale. A sizable portion of the proceeds goes to the artists, providing them with financial sustenance, particularly during the ongoing quarantine period. AIP’s online platform showcases the artworks, while educating visitors of the art form’s cultural relevance.

“Unfortunately, I think this might be the last generation of truck artists,” speculated Bawa. “Many want their children to work in air-conditioned offices, not on rough highways. Also, there is [financial] uncertainty in this field.” While both Ahmad and Dongre don’t want their kids to inherit their profession, they believe that truck art will never peter out. “Otherwise,” Dongre mused, “the Indian highways will be gloomy and bare forever.” 

 


The Keith Haring Altarpiece

Add this to the list of Hidden Things in New York. There is a beautiful altarpiece in the Church of St John the Divine in New York City by Keith Haring. It is a triptych in the manner of Eastern Orthodox Christianity incised in clay and then cast in silver alloy. I can't think of any other religious piece by this artist but there is another cast of this specific piece located in St Eustache in Paris. The work was completed in 1990 a few weeks before Haring died of AIDS.

Keith haring altarpiece