I’m not sure if it’s because it’s Fashion Week here in NYC, or because the fall season has begun bringing with it a new crop of looks, or maybe I just hadn’t strolled down Madison Avenue in a while but, when I did yesterday afternoon I was really struck by all the store windows, both in their content and their display design. Barney’s had a series of rotating photos by Bruce Weber titled L.A. Stories; another store whose name escapes me was setting up neon signage along with what seemed to be an outdoor runway, but the windows that stopped me in my tracks were those of Hermès. The mannequin heads were these spectacular sculptures which at first glance looked like blocks of painted wood, but as I got closer I realized that they were actually books. Books! Rolled, fanned, stacked, bent, not only were the mannequin heads stunning (possibly the most fabulous part of the general fabulosity), but the backdrops as well were intricate tableaus created using the edges of books, painted in colors and stripes, in some cases just as multicolor striped motif backdrop while in others 2-dimensional mythical gods. I went in to ask who the artist was and should have recognized the name right away, having posted NYC-born and based artist Nick Georgiou’s work before. Seeing them in person, however, is even more impressive. Kudos to whoever thought to give the job to Georgiou, and of course kudos to the artist himself for making an impressive splash on Upper Mad, specifically at the corner of 62nd Street.
Category Archives: Street Art
Pizza in the Wild: Jonpaul Douglass
Daniela shared this Instagram photo series with me last week and it’s right up our alley, both because they’re absurd—starting with the title—and because they’re pizza-related, two things we really enjoy. Pizza in the Wild series I and II by Los Angeles-based photographer Jonpaul Douglass were inspired by pizza graffiti which led him to photograph a bunch of Little Caesar’s pizza pies in unusual locations and situations throughout LA. Some hang off ledges, others are thrown/placed on animals, cars, street signs and the like, and still others become one with nature. If you’re feeling badly for the pizzas that appear in the shots, don’t; none were harmed in the making of the series and apparently some were even eaten! A very wise man, for sure.
The Water Tank Project: Word Above the Street
Look up New York! The Water Tank Project has started to roll out…or maybe “wrap around” would be more accurate. I first learned of Word Above the Street’s project roughly one year ago, but was happy to hear yesterday, via an interview on wnyc, that this is actually taking place right now. Filmmaker Mary Jordan, the creative and driving force behind the project, was working on a documentary in Ethiopia in 2007 when she fell gravely ill due to contaminated water. It was the women in the village she was in who nursed her back to health. In return, they asked that she let people know of the global water crisis when she returned to the U.S. Jordan founded Word Above the Street and set out to fulfill her promise through a citywide exhibit on the very icons that proudly contain our own fortunate and excellent water supply. Over 100 water tanks will be wrapped with art by acclaimed artists (such as John Baldessari, Jeff Koons, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy), street artists (including Icy & Sot, Barry McGee, and Fab 5 Freddy), emerging artists, and even NYC public school students. The first one, by Laurie Simmons (top photo), went up two weeks ago on 29th Street near the High Line, and another one (I couldn’t find the artist, but third photo down) on West 25th Street.
Tanks in all five boroughs will be included and, in addition to the art above, action will be taken on the ground through educational programs, tours, and a symposium dedicated to global water issues. So, keep your head up and eyes peeled for the next 3 months if in NYC. Or, if not, you can always follow them on twitter or instagram for the latest updates. Water above all!
Photos & images courtesy of The Water Tank Project
Ryan McGinness: Signs
I noticed a few of these in Nolita the other day and then again yesterday right around Astor Place. I wondered what they were about and have since learned that it’s a public art project titled Signs by artist/designer Ryan McGinness fabricated and installed by NYC Department of Transportation (DOT). Apparently there are fifty in all of these vinyl on aluminum signs and, so far, they seem to mostly be downtown. McGinness has sketches of all fifty on his website accompanied by brief, somewhat whimsical/enigmatic descriptions. I couldn’t find more information, such as how the DOT went along with this, but I’m a fan of anything that makes you stop on the busy streets of NYC and ponder. If you’re in the city, keep your eyes open for more of these. They’re scheduled to be up through August.
Top photo: Ryan McGinness; 2nd photo down: Animal; following three photos: DustyRebel.
Stik: Stick Figure Street Art
When it comes to street art, it doesn’t get much cuter than Stik. The British graffiti artist based in London paints mouthless and noseless stick figure characters on walls, doors, water towers, and more, that despite their minimalistic quality exude warmth and charm. Sometimes in groups holding hands (see the two water towers we’re acquainted with in the East Village and Bushwick), and other times alone, these not-so-little guys are usually painted in black and white against solid bright colored backgrounds. In addition to his unauthorized work, the somewhat private Stik, who has been homeless at times, works with many charitable and human rights organizations. See? That good heartedness shines through in his art. Stik’s work can be seen in Europe, NYC, and even the Middle East and Japan. We are fortunate to have two of his works right in our neighborhood.
You can see more of his work here and an interview below:
All images courtesy of Stik except bottom left: Geof Hargadon via Brooklyn Street Art, and bottom right: Paul Whitehouse via Huffington Post London.
Shadowing: Jonathan Chomko & Matthew Rosier
I get a particular thrill out of exploring and discovering things on my own, by chance. I’m not a big fan of GPS and forever get annoyed at the level of detail on Mapquest or Google maps when trying to get directions. For me, part of the fun is making the effort to figure it out myself and the mistakes I may make in doing so are part of the adventure. So it’s not surprising that I like the concept behind Watershed’s Playable City Award in Bristol. In their second year, The Playable City Award aims at getting people to use technology to capture that element of surprise/fun and adventure instead of using it to solely engineer our lives. They invite entrants from all over the world to submit ideas that use technology to create playful interactions connecting the people of the city and helping them engage with their surroundings in unexpected ways.
This year’s award of 30,000 pounds was presented to New York-based interactive designer Jonathan Chomko and Treviso-based architect/designer Matthew Rosier for their interactive light installation titled Shadowing. Using infrared tracking and triggered projections, the shadow of a previous passerby will be replayed to the next person who walks under a modified streetlight. The creators are hoping for a playful experience, though there is potential for a little creepiness, too, but they are working on ideas to avoid that as well as many more features before Shadowing is unveiled to the public on September 10, 2014.
I suppose you could say that by posting this I’ve spoiled the element of discovery and surprise, and you’d probably be correct. Sorry. Quick…stop reading! But, if your memory is as bad as mine, even if you happen to be one of the few people reading this who will be in Bristol come September, the odds of remembering this as you pass under a streetlight are quite slim.
If you’re not one to care about spoilers, you can see Chomko and Rosier’s animated prototype below.
Mentalgassi & Mundano: Pimp My Carroça
The German street art trio Mentalgassi (previously here) joined forces with Mundano in São Paulo, Brazil, to create this clever series of characters donning their customized trash backpacks for Pimp My Carroça, an environmental and cultural group that aims to add a little color and humor to the importance of recycling and not littering. The message is particularly on point with the hoards of tourists in town for the World Cup, leaving a trail of garbage behind.
Sambre: Escalier de Secours & More
Inspired by the half-timbered houses and architecture of Orleans, France, French artist Sambre (previously here) whose signature style involves using recovered wood in a variety of impressive installations, is in the process of building his latest work titled Escalier de Secours (Fire Escape in English) in the center of the Church of St. Peter the Puellier in Mairie d’Orleans. The exhibit officially opened at the end of May, though the enormous staircase was not yet completed, this completely intentional, inviting guests to experience the process. Sambre’s majestic and almost disproportionately large staircase offers discovery through ascension; new perspectives on the Church’s space and architecture. The artist doesn’t impose a single path, but invites visitors to make a choice among multiple possible routes, like the path of life chosen by man. It is also an invitation to come see, hear, and touch the work that is being built.
This intervention comes only two months after his last piece along the Seine in Paris (see bottom two photos), once again utilizing discarded materials instead of spray paint to create his sculptural street art. And shortly before that piece, he collaborated with Teurk and Run on OKube (see two photos on middle right side) for the Inuit Festival in Cergy.
So far, 2014 has been a very prolific year. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with this second half. Escalier de Secours will be up through July 13, 2014, if you happen to be in France this summer… lucky you.
Photos courtesy of Sambre & The Mouarf
Concrete Poetry: Karl Holmqvist
The past few weeks I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the West Village and occasionally found myself on streets I hadn’t visited in a while. One of these was Leroy Street over by Washington where I came across three typographic murals, or, more accurately, concrete poetry, on the exterior of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise Gallery. It’s hard to explain the happy feeling playful or stylish or clever typography instills in me. That might be because it’s not really logical, it’s just an emotion. It goes as far back as my childhood when the IBM logo or the Design Research logo (and store in general) had a similar effect on me. Even the subway graffiti, not the black tags all over the interior of the cars that created a gloomy feel, but the occasional spectacular tag on the outside of a train car, large, colorful, and with dimension, would inspire me to run home and title my French homework “FRENCH” in block letters or bubble type, much to the dismay of my teacher who probably could have done without the header altogether but, at a minimum, I’m sure would have preferred it read “FRANCAIS”.
Anyway, back to the Concrete Poetry. Defined as “poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on,” another term for it is Visual Poetry. After a little research I discovered that these street pieces were created by Swedish artist Karl Holmqvist who is known for his text-based works, poetry, and readings. I don’t claim to know what these mean, but I enjoyed them and the surprise of turning a corner and seeing them there. Make of them what you will.
Cash Cow Piñata at NYCxDesign: Sebastian Errazuriz
Chilean artist/designer Sebastian Errazuriz (previously here, here, & here) has taken the birthday piñata of his youth and put a spin on it for this year’s NYCxDesign Festival. His monumental Golden Calf, or Cash Cow, will provocatively serve multiple purposes: a symbol of celebration; a symbol of capitalism; and as a symbol of “anti-capitalistic” greed. At the end of the festival, guests will be invited to smash the symbol of capitalism to smithereens. The oversized piñata will be filled with over 1000 dollar bills that will tumble out once the beating is successful. The irony that Errazuriz anticipates is the moment when the anti-capitalist rage in the piñata bashers turns into greed as the very same crowd ends up running for the cash themselves, stuffing their pockets with the bills. “I’d like to see people rolling on the ground and fighting for dollars,” he said. Wouldn’t it be nice if he were wrong.
Errazuriz’s golden calf will be on view at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn until May 20th at which point mayhem should ensue at 5pm.
Top photo: NY Daily News. All others: courtesy of the artist.
BoaMistura: Pensar/Sentir (Think/Feel)
A recent project at the University of Isthmus in Panama City by one of my favorite Spanish art collectives, Boa Mistura (previously), engaged the architecture and industrial design students. Invited to give a two-week workshop, the artists worked with the students to create a design using their signature anamorphic style which was then executed by the students. Seeing the university as a Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge) they created a type mural on the side of one of the campus buildings that reads pensar (think) from one angle, and sentir (feel) from another; two key elements in obtaining knowledge.
All images courtesy of BoaMistura
Fra.Biancoshock: Ephemeral Experiences
Milan-born and based street artist Fra.Biancoshock created his own artistic avant-garde which he labeled “Ephemeralism”. A combination of classic conceptual and performance art, Epheralism is a movement in which work is produced to exist briefly in space but limitlessly in time. Fra.Biancoshock’s works have been realized in Italy, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Malaysia and Singapore. I’ve kept the titles since in many cases they really add to the work. You can see more of his work here.
The Big Egg Hunt NYC
Reminiscent of the summer of 2000 when The Cow Parade hit the streets of NYC—we were huge fans, having set out on the mission to find all the cows and photograph ourselves with our favorites, pre-social media era, just for our own pleasure…imagine that!— this April the city has kicked off The Big Egg Hunt NY with close to 300 eggs “hidden” around town that Fabergé commissioned artists, designers, and architects to paint, or create their own, all in the name of charity. The participants are an impressive bunch, from artists such as Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, to architects Zaha Hadid and Morphosis, to graphic designer Debbie Millman, fashion designers including Cynthia Rowley and Diane Von Furstenberg, and, of course, street artists: Dain, Cost, Faust and plenty more. Unlike the cows at the beginning of the century, the eggs can be tracked via smartphone app that will notify a person if they’re near an egg and will place it on a map once it’s been discovered (and checked in) by ten people. It seems many of the street art eggs are located downtown, other eggs are exhibited in Grand Central, Rockefeller Center and Columbus Circle (there are a whole bunch more photos here.) But those are just a few eggsamples… there are lots more to find all across the boroughs, so get cracking! Well, you know what I mean. You have until April 17th. After that they’ll be exhibited at Rockefeller Center through the 25th and then auctioned off. Anyone can bid via the website and there are also more affordable mini versions available in the site’s shop.
Photos courtesy of The Big Egg Hunt NY & facebook page; danap07’s instagram; and complex.
Hense: Murals and Paintings
Recently, I ran across more of Hense’s (previously here) beautiful exterior murals. Originally recognized as a graffiti artist, Hense (aka Alex Brewer) moved into granted and commissioned public art, mostly in his native town of Atlanta but, more recently in other cities as well, from Detroit to Richmond, Chicago to Lima, Peru. These spectacularly colorful and cheerful abstract murals could brighten the gloomiest of neighborhoods or the most abandoned of buildings. I love them all. But, even if you don’t have a wall or building to cover, the good news is he paints canvases too. You can see more of Hense’s exteriors here and paintings over here.
Hypertube: PKMN & Taller de Casqueria
Earlier this year, Madrid launched an innovative project that seeks to “redecorate” lower income neighborhoods of the city with contemporary art interventions, both in the form of sculpture/structure as well as murals. Starting in Tetouan, the initiative to improve the urban landscape has been quite successful and is continuing on into other neighborhoods: first Usera, then Villaverde in the southside of the capital. One such project is Hypertube, a collaboration between PKMN Architects and Taller de Casqueria. The playful looking structure is made up of six precast reinforced concrete tubes two meters in diameter and two and a half meters in length. These dimensions make it possible for anyone to stand inside, from child to adult. Its objective: a “gathering place for neighbors and passers-by.”
Photos: r2hox’s flickr; marta nimeva; & intermdiae
via abc via lagaleriademagdelena
South African street artist r1 sees the street as an open canvas and thus uses it accordingly, creating urban interventions and sculpture mostly using found materials, reappropriating them into the cityscape. His latest work is titled Yield, based on the commonly seen street sign. Starting by setting a street pole into the sidewalk, r1 continued with 100 yield signs, fitting them in a design on the wall behind it. Commissioned by the City of Johannesburg as part of its upgrade program, the intent being to encourage its citizens to engage more actively with the city’s life and creative activities. The significance of the yield sign is found in the word’s two meanings: to “give way, concede” to others, as well as “to produce.” As r1 states:
“This tension between being productive and giving way exist in every city, and bustling Johannesburg is a good example of it. This piece illustrates that these two seemingly opposite forces are in fact symbiotic; both embodied in the symbol of the yield sign.”
You can see a video of the installation below, and much more of r1’s interesting work here.
All photos courtesy of the artist.
Street Artist Portraits: Guille Lasarte
I like this concept: projecting street artists’ work onto them and photographing their portraits is what photographer Guille Lasarte did here. Street artists in this series include members of Demolition Crew, Jos, Duarte Brito from Unimotion, Mr. Isaac, Hugo Ferracci, and Cintia Lopes. Another concept I like: Book a Street Artist.
Both via Panta
LATA 65: Lara Seixo Rodrigues – WOOL
This is such a great project. LATA 65 is a simple concept: organize street art workshops for the elderly. Over the course of a few days, seniors learn about street art, graffiti and its history, as well as several techniques such as stenciling, then they take their newly acquired skills to the street, ultimately awakening the creative spirit. The clever minds behind the project are Lara Seixo Rodrigues of WOOL Urban Arts Festival and Fernando Mendes of Cowork Lisboa. The presently Lisbon-based project believes that retirement should not equal an intellectually passive lifestyle, and having fun is critical at any age. Even if these elderly street artists don’t get their shot at the Houston Bowery Wall, they definitely look like they’re having fun. Mission accomplished.