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Risk Recieves Lifetime Achievement Award

‘An Addiction I Could Never Shake’: Street Art Pioneer Risk on How He Brought Graffiti From the Street to the Gallery

RISK-2-1024x683To write his first bit of graffiti, a young Kelly Graval didn’t travel very far. He staked out his high school until it was dark, before jumping the fence with four cans of red and white spray paint. On a wall, he painted “a big piece” that simply read “SURF,” a nod to his hobby.

“It was terrible,” he said of his debut as a graffitist—though by the next day, the work managed to draw the attention and admiration of his classmates, most of whom, back in the early ‘80s in Los Angeles, had yet to encounter any form of graffiti.

From there, Graval’s canvases would only grow larger and farther as his adventures in graffiti took him to train yards and freeways across L.A. His legend would develop alongside his tag, Risk, an apt moniker that captured the rebellion and peril inherent in graffiti writing, and that, yes, he borrowed from the board game.

For Risk, it made sense that he should persist in writing and tagging the city. “You have the art form and you have the strategic form,” he told Artnet News of graffiti. “It’s just an addiction that I could never shake.”

Decades on, his endurance is paying off. Recognized as a pioneer in the West Coast graffiti scene, Risk has seen his work included in exhibitions from “Art in the Streets” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles to “Beyond the Streets” in Los Angeles and New York. His recent forays into fine art and sculpture, too, have fetched prices upwards of $200,000.

Over Art Wynwood weekend which was from February 16 through 19, Risk will be collecting the fair’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award for continuing to “innovate and shape contemporary art through his work.” His sculptures will feature within the fair, which is presented by Art Miami, and his graffiti art will take up an entire mural that flanks the entrance.

Certainly, the honor is “mind-blowing,” he said, but it’s also been gratifying to watch what once was deemed vandalism enter the art conversation.

“My whole life I wanted graffiti art to be a mainstream art form—to just be considered a genre of art. I wanted to see this art form be in galleries and museums, and celebrated around the world,” he said. “And now it is.”

Read the full article here.

Fill Empty Storefronts with Local Art - A Great Idea

Monica-Banks-in-Window-768x1024With all of the empty storefronts, local administrators on Long Island have a great idea - require empty storefront owners to use their space to showcase local artists. And it looks to be a win-win. This from Artnet --

Landlords in a Tony Hamptons Town Must Fill Their Empty Storefronts With Works by Local Artists—Or Else Pay a Fine

Southampton's mayor proposed the initiative, which is now a law, last summer.

It’s not uncommon for storefronts to remain empty during the colder months in Southampton, the quiet eastern Long Island village overrun by beach-bound New Yorkers every summer. But the pandemic has exacerbated the issue, leaving its commercial streets looking like ghost-town versions of their former selves. 

Now, the village is turning to local artists to breathe a little life into these tenantless properties. 

Last year, Southampton mayor Jesse Warren introduced the Storefront Art Project, an initiative requiring landlords to fill storefront spaces that have been empty for more than a month with creations from community artists, or else be slapped with a $1,000 to $2,500 fine. The idea was signed into village code in July, and its impact is starting to be felt on the streets now. 

Artworks can’t be offensive or overtly political, according to the law, and must be approved by the village administrator or come via sponsorship from the Southampton Arts Center or Southampton Artists Association. (The town encourages artists to go through these organizations for support—financial and logistical—in realizing potential projects.)

A grace period for landlords extends through next month, after which fines will be doled out to nonparticipants. But Mayor Warren doesn’t anticipate many of those.

“Our goal is to partner with the landlords, not to fine them. We want to them succeed so we’ve been pretty lenient with the enforcement,” he tells Artnet News over the phone. “We’ve received mostly positive comments. If anything, people are calling us up and saying, ‘Enforce the law more!’”

Among the first fruits of the initiative was a pair of wavelike assemblages made from coat hangers, price tags, and aluminum can tabs by local artist Alice Hope, which went up in the window of what used to be a Chico’s clothing retailer last November. Following that came an installation of photographs by Kerry Sharkey Miller hung in a former J. Crew earlier this month. 

“The community has been very enthusiastic about the project,” says Amy Kirwin, artistic director of the Southampton Art Center, which sponsored both artworks. “The installations are providing a safe way for people to enjoy art during these challenging times, and it also benefits local businesses by driving more traffic into the village.”

“Of course the ideal situation would be for all of the shops to be rented, but this is a wonderful alternative in the colder months,” she adds.

Kirwin says three other installations are in the works, one of which—a suite of ceramics resembling baked goods by artist Monica Banks—will be revealed in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, there’s a stack of additional proposals still to sort through as more windows become available. 

The artists behind these projects were paid, via honorarium, by the Art Center, but the law doesn’t require landlords to pay installation artists. For most participants, the appeal will come in the form of free exposure—and from that, hopefully, sales.

On this point, Mayor Warren says he encourages landlords to take a note from some of the village’s newest inhabitants—art businesses like Hauser & Wirth, Phillips, and others that have recently opened up Long Island outposts—and market their artists’ work, the way a gallery might. They can even take a cut of potential sales, he says.

As of last week, some 75 storefronts on Southampton’s two biggest commercial stretches, Jobs Lane and Main Street, remained empty, according to the Washington Post

Washington DC's New Graffiti Museum

Kelsey Ables writes for the Washington Post of the new Graffiti Museum in Washington DC:

At the new 14th Street Graffiti Museum, opening Oct. 3 near 14th and Crittenden streets NW, the only way to look at the graffiti, in some spots, is to look, gallery-style: letter by letter, line by line, stroke by stroke. Tucked behind Stein’s Cafe Raw Bar and a boarded-up pizzeria — and barricaded, on the outside, by a tall iron fence — the museum occupies an open-air courtyard previously used to store trash bins. Graffiti lines two exterior walls, and the fence, which runs along Crittenden and a nearby alley, hugs the museum’s facade so tightly that as you walk along the outside, the letters take up your full field of vision. Up close, you can see how seamlessly the artist Jah blends one shade into another to make heavy, 3-D forms; how Denso traces letters with a painterly, dripping white; how Grave’s letters deconstruct into tumbling abstract forms, falling in and out of legibility. With the letters towering over your head, you can sense what it must be like to write them: the thrill of shouting from the walls of a gray city in bubbly purples and pinks.

In a town teeming with museums that tend to be grand and formal, the Graffiti Museum is neither. From the sidewalk, it looks a little too modest to own the title “museum.” But step inside its unassuming walls — covered with work by foundational D.C. writers, as graffiti artists are called — and you’ll find a history that couldn’t be told more honestly anywhere else.

In recent years, graffiti has moved into the mainstream: Graffiti-inspired paintings auction for millions; popular brands sell apparel emblazoned with signature tags; institutions as polished as the Museum of Modern Art display street art. Along the way, graffiti has moved further from the communities — often poor or otherwise marginalized — that pioneered it.

Grave at work.
Grave at work. (Nick Moreland)
SMK. (Nick Moreland)

For an art form that was nurtured in the streets and is apathetic about (if not antagonistic to) institutional prestige, the 14th Street Graffiti Museum, with its humble digs, feels true to graffiti’s under-the-radar, after-midnight origins. Under the guidance of curator and artist Cory Stowers and his encyclopedic knowledge of local writers, the space gives graffiti the respect and attention of a museum, without uprooting it from its context.

Stowers hopes the museum will bring foot traffic to local businesses in an area that has been hit hard by the pandemic and the temporary closure of Metro’s nearby bus garage for renovation. The term “museum” is meant as part of the appeal. “It gives it a certain cachet,” says Stowers. “We could have painted this anywhere and just not put a title on it, and most people would not care, but because I called it a museum, people care.In designing the space, Stowers leaned into the weighty title. The outer wall highlights active graffiti artists from his Double Down Kings crew. The inner wall — over a backdrop painted with images of such graffiti paraphernalia as black books and markers — chronicles a history of D.C. graffiti in which legendary writer Cool “Disco” Dan, depicted in a vibrant mural, is the cornerstone.

Erick B. Ricks’s mural of Cool “Disco” Dan.
Erick B. Ricks’s mural of Cool “Disco” Dan. (Nick Moreland)

Danny Hogg, who died in 2017, was notoriously elusive, his simple tag, scrawled in plain letters, nearly ubiquitous. On the walls of go-go venues, and surfaces high and low along the Red line, he shouted for attention. In person, he was said to be quiet, even awkward. In the mural by Erick B. Ricks, the myth and the man merge. Ricks casts Hogg in deep purple and sublime orange, arms outspread, and with two halos — one gold and the other patterned with the D.C. flag — circling his head. He looks Christlike.

The man in the mural seems to gaze toward a tag by R.E. Randy, D.C.’s first graffiti “king,” according to Hogg, and one of Hogg’s biggest influences. Stowers refers to the tag, which features the logo of go-go band Rare Essence, as the “most D.C. thing in the space.”

For Stowers, the museum is as much an opportunity to honor Hogg as a chance to widen public discourse about graffiti. Hogg straddled the two major graffiti movements in D.C.: the go-go style — defined by simple lettering that would appear outside music venues — and the more stylized New York graffiti that began to appear in D.C. along with the rise of the District’s straight edge and hardcore punk movements.

“There are not really broader conversations, outside of ‘Disco’ Dan, about old-school graffiti and why it’s important, but we are trying to change that,” says Stowers. “Artists in the culture in the late ’80s early ’90s — like SMK and SEK — really paved the way for what we are doing today. They should not be relegated to footnotes.”

Murals that are part of the 14th Street Graffiti Museum.
Murals that are part of the 14th Street Graffiti Museum. (Nick Moreland)

The artists known as SMK and SEK, and other members of the Fierce Fighter Crew (or FFC), which Dan would ultimately join, fill the wall with his mural. Throughout the space you can see how graffiti has evolved, from the austere letters of R.E. Randy and graffiti “queen” known as Lisa of the World to SMK’s colorful, New York-inspired work. One of the first artists to incorporate mural elements, Mesk, whose “Power to Love” piece is featured on the courtyard’s back wall, laid the foundation for the younger artists featured on the exterior walls of the museum.

Connecting the dots between the plain scrawl of Cool “Disco” Dan and today’s loud, three-dimensional graffiti writing might seem overly generous. But even if the style is different, the endeavor is the same: to reclaim a piece of urban space and declare defiantly, simply, purely — maybe even profoundly — “I am here.”


If you go

14th Street Graffiti Museum

14th and Crittenden streets NW.

Hours: Open daily, beginning Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Admission: Free.

The Street Museum of Art

The street museum of artCheck out the Street Museum of Art which is an international celebration of graffiti and street art.


City streets have become gallery walls for this urban museum.
Admission is always free and the hours are limitless.
SMoA is the first public art project to adopt the guerrilla tactics of street art & graffiti culture in a program of illegally curated exhibitions.


The Street Museum of Art (SMoA) is the defining museum in street art, graffiti and contemporary muralism. SMoA supports and promotes public work within its original context like no other museum can: bringing vital conversations about these artists and their work to the street for a new level of appreciation and awareness. SMoA celebrates its ephemeral ethos from paste up to decay. This international project champions all things local by highlighting the diverse artists, styles and techniques found in each city that's reached by our program of traveling, illegal exhibitions.

Founded in 2012 around the streets of Brooklyn, The Street Museum of Art’s guerrilla curating initiatives re-evaluate the current model for contemporary art museums by exploring the unique relationship these artists share with their urban environments.

Welcome the Museum of Graffiti in Miami!

This is one of the best reasons to go to Miami - the new Museum of Graffiti:

Museum of graffitiThe world's first museum exclusively dedicated to the evolution of the graffiti art form.

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s in large cities all over the United States, children invented a new art form that started with writing their names on walls in their neighborhoods. Local governments launched cleaning campaigns and mandated that young writers be arrested for their vandalism, but the movement could not be stopped. Unrelenting young people forged ahead at a feverish pace with creative innovations and inspired generations of new practitioners.

In no time, the wall writings quickly developed to become more elaborate and decorative. Taking on unique and distinguishable signifiers like arrows, crowns and other innovations through design and color, this became the blueprint for tags, throw-ups, masterpieces, and the elaborate works seen today.

Fifty years later, the Museum of Graffiti was formed to preserve graffiti’s history and celebrate its emergence in design, fashion, advertising, and galleries. The Museum experience includes an indoor exhibition space, eleven exterior murals, a fine art gallery, and a world-class gift shop stocked with limited edition merchandise and exclusive items from the world’s most talented graffiti artists.


11am ‒ 7pm
Closed Tuesdays

Hours subject to change for holidays and special events.


Adults: $16 + tax/fees
Children under 13: Free



The Plastic Bag Store

As of March 1 in NY, plastic bags are banned in all stores. Part art installation and part political commentary, TImes Square is hosting the Plastic Bag Store running from March 18-April 12, 2020 at 20 Times Square at 47th and 7th Avenue. There are even performances twice a day. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11a to 6p.

Times Square Arts is proud to present The Plastic Bag Store, a public art installation and immersive theater piece by artist and director Robin Frohardt employing humor, craft, and a critical lens to our culture of consumption and convenience — specifically, the enduring effects of our single-use plastics.

Free and open to the public, The Plastic Bag Store will occupy 20 Times Square, where shelves will be stocked with thousands of original, hand-sculpted items — produce and meat, dry goods and toiletries, cakes and sushi rolls —  all made from discarded, single-use plastics in an endless flux of packaging. At night, the store transforms into an immersive, dynamic set for free performances where hidden worlds and inventive puppetry tell the darkly comedic, sometimes tender story of how the overabundance of plastic waste we leave behind might be misinterpreted by future generations.

Street Art Themed Art Fair Coming to Brooklyn Next Spring

Has Street Art gone mainstream? I am finding more and more art fairs including street art and more street art themed fairs popping up. I am both elated and concerned. How about you?


A Street Art Fair Is Coming to Brooklyn for Frieze Week This Spring

Moniker International Art—the eight-year-old UK fair devoted to urban and street art—is coming to New York this spring. It is the latest addition to the bustling Frieze-anchored fair lineup in early May.

Moniker’s inaugural New York edition will take place at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse in Brooklyn from May 3-6. Roughly two dozen exhibitors will set up shop in 10,000 square feet of waterfront space. The complete list has not yet been announced, but so far, exhibitors include StolenSpace Gallery and Curious Duke Gallery of London and Station 16 Gallery of Montreal.

Moniker’s director Tina Ziegler says the expansion to New York follows marked growth of the London fair. Since it was founded in 2010, she says, the fair has doubled the number of exhibitors and tripled the size of its exhibition space.

“It started as an art fair championing urban art but since then, we’ve embraced a lot more of what’s happening across the board with street art and graffiti art. The movement is expanding and is much more widely accepted as a serious art form,” Ziegler told artnet News.

Image courtesy Erwin Bernal via Flickr.

Image courtesy Erwin Bernal via Flickr.

Ziegler says global expansion was a priority when she took the reins as director last year. “The obvious choice was New York. Street art and and graffiti as we know it today can be linked back to Brooklyn and New York’s subway graffiti so it just seems like a natural home to come to,” she notes.

Finding a location, however, was far from simple. After a trip to New York and heavy research, the team settled on the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse, which is most often used as a music venue. “We need space to experiment,” Ziegler says. She was also encouraged by the growing popularity of the Greenpoint to Manhattan ferry, which makes the warehouse more easily accessible. (Plus, Frieze Week visitors are already accustomed to taking a boat to an art fair.)

Each year Moniker focuses on a different theme, and the New York edition will present interactive installations inspired by a fun fair or what the US calls a carnival. “We’re presenting carnival themes that touch on many subcultures within the urban art movement, so it also includes the political realm, and looking at the influence of comic book culture and Surrealism [on the fun fair],” Ziegler says.

Of the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse, Ziegler says: “When I walked into that terminal, it had all the characteristics of the first venue in London where we launched…. It was a little bit rough around the edges but it’s got a lot of historical character. We really felt at home.”

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Urban Art Fair June 30-July 3, 2017

IMG_3757It takes a bit of guts to schedule an art fair for the July 4 holiday weekend in NYC so it is worth attending the Urban Art Fair this weekend to show support for the galleries that took that chance. Located at 50 Varick street in Manhattan just south of Canal Street, it has three floors of urban art represented by a range of galleries - many from France as I found out.






Top floor 7 is fashion - Urban Influence - and floors 6 and 5 are galleries.

IMG_3754Not all Urban Art is Street Art but even those pieces that I would not consider street art were well situated in this show. Among my favorites is LA2's work at the Dorien Grey Projects.  LA2 is the tag name of Angel Ortiz who worked closely with Keith Haring. Also IMG_3756IMG_3756check out Green Flowers Art who offers works by Quik and collaborative works with Quik and REVOLT. 





Henry Chalfant's 1980 subway car photos were also a highlight for me. They were displayed on a side hallway on the 5th floor - a must see. (Although I could not find the gallery associated with the work to inquire about pricing.)

IMG_3764IMG_3765The fair is on now through Sunday July 3, 2017 and opens at 11a each day. Check it out.

Tel Israel’s first street-art gallery

Israel has opened the Street Art Gallery in the heart of Tel Aviv’s Florentine back-alley graffiti scene.  Its first exhibition entitled “Temporary Crew” showcased 13 artists with names such as Know Hope, Wonky and Signor Gi.  The gallery plans to offer street art tours of the area.

All City Art Gallery and Pediatric Clinic Join Forces in Manhattan

All CityAll City, a graffiti art gallery and pediatric clinic, is located in the former Claremont Theater, a 22,500-square-foot landmark in Manhattanville. The organization’s executive directors, Hugo Martinez, a gallery owner, and Dr. Juan Tapia, a pediatrician, worked with Kaptein Roodnat, a Dutch architectural studio, on the $2.4 million renovation, whose design alludes to a town square and streets: the natural habitat of graffiti. (“All city” is the phrase graffiti artists use when they have painted all five boroughs of New York, including the rooftops, Mr. Martinez said.) The waiting area, above, includes gray cushions wrapped in colorful canvas straps. If visitors “don’t want to sit upright, they can sit any way they like,” said Marleen Kaptein, one of the architects. The first show, “Free Radicals,” is up through March. Framed art sells for $250 to $8,000; cotton-blend rugs start at $1,200. 3332 Broadway (West 135th Street). Information: 212-619-2149; Instagram:­ @martinezgallery.