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“This Way”: New Print Release by Ella & Pitr

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Ella & Pitr is a French artist duo from Saint Etienne that has attained a near-legendary status in the world of street art over the past decade. Their creative and poetic repertoire transcends the world’s reality through a variety of giant characters and in-situ scenography. Their art draws from rigorous and impeccable technique, both on the streets – via trompe l’oeil, massive installations and urban hijackings – to within their studio with a skill set as rich as their imagination. The duo sees no limits on the use of surface for their monumental sized interventions: from cities’ walls and rooftops to airports’ runways, from countryside grass fields to snow covered mountains. They have painted everywhere and beyond, from Chili to Hong Kong, from Portugal to Canada…

Street Art Anarchy will exhibit the exclusive new print release “This Way” by Ella & Pitr on Thursday March 12th in our Paris space (41 rue de Verneuil 75007 Paris / 6:30-8:30 pm)and release the complete series on streetartanarchy.com on Friday March 13th.

“This Way” by Ella & Pitr
A series of 13 heavily hand finished prints on paper
100 x 70 cm / 39.3 x 27.6 in.

$910

 

New York’s Street Art: An interview with the author of Outdoor Gallery, selected for Best Art Books of 2014

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The Huffington Post released its selection of the Best Art Books of 2014 last week. Readers may have noticed a pattern: the two street art books featured in this year’s list are both about the New York street art scene: Outdoor Gallery by Yoav Litvin, a book on the “leading figures in NYC’s graffiti and street art scene” [Huffington Post]  and the 2013 story of Banksy in New York by Ray Mock.

Through his personal relationships and friendships with many key actors and artists involved in the New York street art scene, Yoav Litvin was able to put together an insider’s literary gem standing out from most of the street art books that you usually find at your bookstore. Outdoor Gallery documents the New York street art scene, artist by artist, via the author’s own street photography and direct interviews, questioning each one on their perceptions, process, influences and how they envision the future of their art.

The curation of artists featured in the book is a close as it gets to a true contemporary experience of New York’s street art: presenting 46 of the most active “illegal” New York artists, including some of our favorites “vandals” such as  ASVP,  Sheryo, The Yok, Robots Will Kill and Icy & Sot. The photographic documentation presents both legal and unsanctioned works found around the five boroughs of New York.

Icy and Sot photographed by Yoav Litvin

Street Art by Icy and Sot photographed by Yoav Litvin

Street Art Anarchy had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Yoav Litvin to discuss the story behind the success of this first book an what’s happening in New York’s street art scene.

Street Art Anarchy: How long did it take you to put it all together from the initial concept?
Yoav Litvin: Just a bit over 2 years.

SAA: How has your perception and understanding of Street Art evolved throughout the years?
YL: I love the way street art blends and communicates with the surrounding communities and streets. I’m constantly amazed by the creativity of so many artists. I am also grateful for their generosity in taking the time, risk and effort to make art on the street for public consumption.
Street art attracts people from all rungs of life: I’ve met street art fans who in their lives are corporate lawyers, doctors, scientists (such as myself), teachers, cops, you name it! And people of all ages too, from teenagers to retired folks. The creative and unpretentious nature of street art speaks to a common humanity in all of us.

SAA: Unlike more “classical” street art book, you bring forward a fresh new selection of some of the most active urban artists hitting the streets of New York City over the recent years. What made you decide to focus the book on these “new” artists?
YL: As a documenter, I tried to stay as unbiased as possible when deciding on the lineup for Outdoor Gallery. Meaning, I let the streets dictate my choice, not personal alliances, or other political considerations. I approached the artists whose work I encountered most while walking through NYC. Pure and simple.

Street Art wheatpaste by ASVP photographed by Yoav Litvin

Street Art wheatpaste by ASVP photographed by Yoav Litvin

SAA: Through the artists’ interviews in Outdoor Gallery, you recurrently question each artists about their views on Street Art, New York and the Future. What do you make of so many different views from artists being part of the same Art Movement? and what would be your own answer to these questions?
YL: On Street Art? I see street art as a nonviolent and creative form of rebellion. I feel it unapologetically challenges conventions in society in general and in the art establishment in particular. In its core it is grounded, generous and unpretentious, and I appreciate that.

SAA: On personal art?
YL: My own art is documentation. I’m a scientist and use my training in experimentation, planning/executing ideas, thinking outside the box, writing/editing and collecting data to create. This includes photography, text editing and design. On Outdoor Gallery I worked with a fantastic graphic designer, Steven Mosier, who helped me bring my vision of the book to life. I feel documentation is an emerging art form, especially with the popularity of social media and photo sharing apps like Instagram.

Street Art by Sheryo and The Yok photographed by Yoav Litvin

Street Art by Sheryo and The Yok photographed by Yoav Litvin

SAA: On NYC?
YL: I grew up here in the 80s. I remember riding the subways when they were bombed with tags, looking at pieces as the trains went by etc. New York City attracts the best of the best in all fields. It has so much character and history, and is the birthplace of modern graffiti. Because of NYC’s history, character and beauty, street art and graffiti are all the more impressive and relevant here.
On the future: I plan to continue to contribute to this movement as much as I can. I feel that my style is evolving and I am always looking to collaborate with both established and up-and-coming artists on challenging projects in the future. At the moment I got several projects in the works, but I’m not ready to share details quite yet.

SAA: And on your techniques and influences?
YL: I use my Nikon and Lumix cameras for photography. They are not top of the line cameras that cost thousands of dollars, but they have more than enough features for my purposes. I believe what makes a great photographer is not the equipment (which helps of course), but the technique and most importantly the passion s/he feels toward the subject matter.
Otherwise it’s just a matter of doing appropriate research, respecting the art and artists and working professionally and collaboratively to create documents that convey the spirit of our times, while subtly communicating my own personal narrative.

Graffiti by Cope2 photographed by Yoav Litvin

Graffiti by Cope2 photographed by Yoav Litvin

When i conducted the interviews, I asked many different questions, and noticed an incredible diversity of answers that affected my choice of editing and design: In Outdoor Gallery I present the interviews in a very clean and identical way for each artist, as a means to bring out that richness. The diversity in message, technique and the artists’ motivation is what makes Graffiti/Street art so exciting for me. This movement is like an evolving organism and nobody knows how it will develop!

SAA: What are some of the most memorable challenges you faced in putting together Outdoor Gallery?
YL: There were many challenges throughout the process. To begin with, collecting materials: documenting and interviewing 46 artists is not easy! Once all were pleased with the materials, I worked with a graphic designer to bring my vision to life. Finding and securing my dream publisher, Gingko Press, was no easy task either. Then, once that was secured, for the release of the book I produced and curated a show that included all artists in the book. I had 250 books available at the show – which sold out), screening of movies by Dega Films, a DJ, collaborative mural at the entrance and many more highlights.

Outdoor Gallery” Official Links:
Get the book Here
The book’s Facebook Here
The book’s author Instagram Here

A mini video retrospective of the artistic adventures of Sheryo & The Yok

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The psychedelic street art duo Sheryo & The Yok  are some of the most active artists in the urban art scene. Never resting, always painting bigger and bigger, they’ve just returned from Miami Art Basel 2014 – where they were invited to paint two massive murals in Wynwood for the Miami Ad School. And yet, as most artists lay down their cans for the winter, these two love cats are keeping their shorts on, now headed toward the warm winters of the Southern hemisphere for a winter “spray-cation” throughout Oceania and Asia.

And if that wasn’t enough, their artistic minds also go into a bit of film-making, as they regularly record, edit and upload fresh footage from their adventures from all corners of the world – posted on The Yok’s video channel.

Here’s a selection of some of our favorite street art videos by Sheryo & The Yok:

Hitting trains in Europe with the 3rd Crew:

Exploring the techniques and influences of Batik art in Indonesia:

Hitting the surf town of Puerto Escondido in Mexico:

Painting throughout the ghost factories of Detroit:

An interview with graffiti artist Askew on his work, technique and evolution

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Story by Matt Litwack, Photos by Askew

Askew & Magee in London, 2014

Askew and Magee in London, 2014

Hailing from the one of the farthest corners of the earth, New Zealand based artist Askew TMD has taken a long, somewhat unconventional path in the world of street art and mural painting. With strong roots in traditional graffiti aesthetics, he has made a rapid transition into full-scale abstract and portrait works, displaying his versatility and forward thinking not only as an artist but someone in touch with the general human condition.

With well over two decades of experience writing, Askew has traveled and painted extensively all throughout the globe, collaborating on walls with some of today’s most prominent graffiti artists throughout Europe, North America, and Oceania. His vibrant use of color, and distinct painting techniques help separate his work from many of his peers in the graffiti community.

While not exclusively geared in this direction, much of Askew’s recent works draw influence from the unique cultural elements that play a vital role in the social dynamics that have shaped contemporary life in the Pacific Islands. We sat down with Askew to discuss the evolution of his artistic motivations, and how he hopes to share a greater message with people through his murals.

Graffiti mural by Askew, 2014

Graffiti mural by Askew, 2014

Matt Litwack: How do feel living in such an isolated part of the planet affected your creative development over the years? Would you say being from New Zealand has made it more difficult to emerge as an artist?
Askew: This has affected me in so many ways, in fact it’s possibly one of the biggest driving factors in how I approached everything from first getting my name out there to what I’m dealing with conceptually in my studio paintings today. I’ve called it the gift and the curse before, so many plus sides to being from and based out here but there are definitely some hurdles too. A plus side is the unique mix of cultures here in my city and that has shaped so much of who I am and what is important to me. The main barriers of being based in an isolated place are purely economic and perhaps opportunity based but even those are due to economic factors in all truth.

ML: You have now made a seemingly smooth transition from traditional graffiti to fine art and larger scale public works. Was this progression natural, or one you had to really reassess before embarking on?
A: In retrospect it has been a fairly quick transition but it never felt entirely smooth. I’ve had to really approach both the large mural and studio works from a very different place compared to what was typically driving my graffiti. I’m not feeling the same sense of competition or urgency with this stuff, it has to mature the right way, ideas have to be researched, sink in and develop. I’m not feeling that FOMO I used to get in graffiti where I felt left out whenever anyone else did something I envied or wished I had done first. This is much more personal in the sense that I’m learning so much as I read more, travel more and connect with people. It’s a reflection of that experience. Graffiti has become more of a release, something I do for fun, for social reasons and also to honor my friends that have passed away.

ML: The use of ”astro” caps really adds a ton of depth to your work and displays a strong graffiti aesthetic that is not overbearing. What was the trial and error process like that led you to popularizing this technique over the years?
A: I actually use astro’s for everything, even my skinny line work. It’s a versatile cap and to me I gravitated to using it so much because it’s like the spray equivalent of a brush – you can give so much expression to a line in one go without faking it. I was always longing for that in my pieces, I don’t know if I’ve always pulled it off but that was often the motivation. Something I always liked about that cap was the ability to create lines that felt like they were in 3D space, that could wrap around a form or move toward or away from the viewer.

ML: How do you choose your subjects for the portraits you paint? Are they politically or socially motivated? What has made you want to explore non-traditional color pallets with these photo realistic works?
A: My subjects are almost always people from the Pacific region, mostly the South Pacific but not exclusively. They are all people who are connected by this regions incredible history. I chose this subject matter because it’s so familiar to me but I still have so much I want and have to learn and so the people and places have become the vehicle to guide me through these stories and the issues that are important. The low laying pacific island nations are truly at the very frontline of a lot of global issues and people don’t realise. If you spend time in places like for example Samoa you will see the impact of climate change and globalisation. It’s very complex and even though there are trade compromises the governments of these nations make to create better infrastructure and health care for example, the damage to reef systems by way of water acidification from rising water temperatures, and increasingly pollution from foreign entities working within their waters, the growing inequality as the young and able gravitate from villages to urban centres or abroad for work all threaten their cultural autonomy and way of life. I have a lot more to say on these issues and next year it will be much stronger in my work.

ML: Do you see your work as something able to impact local communities? What do you hope individuals can take away from your murals?
A: I think on the immediate level, locally, yes it has a positive effect in the community. What I hope is I can garner more attention, awareness and understanding internationally to the various pacific cultures and the issues pertaining to them. What has been happening organically is people all over the world have found some sort of resonance in this work – in reaction to my show in LA, a lot of people referred to my paintings as ‘afrocentric’ when they posted them to instagram or on blogs etc, which was interesting because that wasn’t my intention. What was cool about that was they drew me to see the similarity in colour palette’s, symbolism and iconography that spans across so many cultures. This reminded me that ultimately that the concerns transcend just being ‘exclusively pacific’ – they are ‘human’ concerns.

Mural by Askew in Glasgow, Scotland

ML: Above and beyond everything, what would you say graffiti has taught you most about life?
A: Graffiti taught me a lot about the worst and best in myself and others. It has been an amazing vehicle in finding and defining myself, particularly in my teens and twenty’s. Graffiti most certainly taught me how ridiculous the human fixation with material things is. It’s been a great vehicle for me to travel, bond and experience a side of the world a lot of people haven’t which is awesome. I also think graffiti can be a hindrance to your development as an artist (if that becomes a goal for you) as you get older and you have to begin to let go of it on some level. Not like give it up but just be mature about it, not be overly nostalgic or bitter. I’ve encountered a really strong sense of entitlement within some people who don’t have anything else in their life to pursue. It’s a bit of that washed up star quarterback type mentality and it can be kind of sad.

Askew’s blog: http://askewone.tumblr.com
Askew’s Instagram: @askewone

Urban Interventions at the 2014 ‘Nuit Blanche’ in Paris

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Story & Photos by Caroline Saurel

Borondo in front of his Paris mural painted for Nuit Blanche

Borondo in front of his Paris mural painted for Nuit Blanche

For more than 10 years, Nuit Blanche has been a parisian rendez-vous for the contemporary art lovers, and one of the most popular event of the French capital. But from now, it ought to become a new way to discover street art too. Nuit Blanche takes place during a Saturday night of October. The aim is to offer original productions created for this night in the streets of Paris. Usually, one can discover and sometimes be part of the works (based on light projections, art installations or video screening) during this night only. As a matter of fact, monuments, public transports, restaurants or museums are adapting themselves to Nuit Blanche’s context and public.

Intervention by French artists BRUSK

Intervention by French artist BRUSK

This year, thanks to José-Manuel Gonçalvès, the new director of the event, works from street artists were considered  among the more interesting contemporary art works presented during that incredible arty night. The paradoxical point is that some of the street art works created for Nuit Blanche, such as Borondo’s, Yz’s or Tristan Eaton’s murals rue du Chevaleret,  are going to stay quite a long time on the walls. Even some of Mark Jenkins’s installations are still in the streets several weeks after! Among the short-lived works of Nuit Blanche, usually made for one night, some of the street art ones do represent the timelessness of Art.

Installation by Mark Jenkins

Installation by Mark Jenkins

This particular event manages to offer a new point of view on street art works: first, it contributes to link more closely street art and contemporary art, as it can be seen during the FIAC too (the International Contemporary Art Fair that takes place in Paris each fall) because this year, this art fair is introducing street art works too in the new event called “OFFicielle”. Secondly, street art can  be considered at the same time as an art deeply rooted in the urban environment because one can admire the productions from the street, from a bridge, from the elevated subway or from a building, but that can also be specifically understood by the people as an art that could be found in a museum or a gallery, but is not.

Eventually, Nuit Blanche proves once more, that both Street and Art belong to the people, and it is always more conspicuous in a long-time revolutionary place such as the city of  Paris. Remember that Le Louvre was first a castle for the king of France, before it became one of the most famous museums in the world during the French Revolution. It seems that the American muralist Tristan Eaton, invited for Nuit Blanche, made that link between street art and revolution, but also between street art and the whole history of art  while in Paris: he decided to  paint  a huge Napoleon, paying tribute to David’s painting  located in… the Louvre museum! What did he write on the large wall he had to paint? “The revolution will be trivialized”…

Intervention by Swoon

Intervention by Swoon

 

Mural by L'Atlas

Mural by L’Atlas

Dan23

Dan23 at la Halle Freyssinet

Street artists for Nuit Blanche 2014: Swoon, Mark Jenkins, Borondo, Brusk, Jef Aerosol, Yz, Tristan Eaton, Rouge, Jacques Villeglé, Spy, L’Atlas, Jan Vormann, Mademoiselle Maurice, Florian Marco, Dan 23.

“Beneath the Streets”: Graffiti artists explore the art of New York City’s subway tunnels in new book

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Going underground has a special significance for urban artists Matt Litwack and JURNE, who recently published “Beneath The Streets: the Hidden Relics of New York’s Subway System” with Gingko Press. Through their original photography and map archives collected over a decade, their book tells the story of an unseen world : the unauthorized exploration of New York City’s subway tunnels. 

Because the underground subway system has mostly remained untouched since it was built, which predates the emergence of graffiti art in New York, these tunnels have become the mecca of some of the world’s most hardcore graffiti artists and urban explorers. Underneath the city sidewalk, lies beneath the streets the largest art “museum” in the world,  displaying the most extensive historic and original graffiti art collection there is.

The book extends far beyond documentation. It is assembled as a hybrid form of narrative-photo-documentation taking you on a journey to their “great escape”, entering the underground, stumbling upon pieces of city history, avoiding trains and no-clearance tracks, with interviews and anecdotes as each photo immerses you further into a real experience of beauty and danger.

To learn more about their experience from going in the tunnels for years and how they created this book,  Street Art Anarchy had the privilege of interviewing the authors of Beneath The Streets, Matt Litwack and JURNE:

Street Art Anarchy: Why do Graffiti artists go in the tunnels? What attracts them to paint there?

Matt Litwack: Graffiti artists have been going in subway tunnels since the dawn of graffiti writing in New York City over 40 years ago.  Initially this was done to paint actual trains kept in tunnels overnight.  As time progressed, graffiti artists began systematically painting the walls in the tunnels as another method of bombing.  I think people are attracted to these environments because of the sheer danger and exclusiveness of the underground.  Its one thing to paint a piece on a wall or rooftop, it is another to venture underground and have to compete with live third rails, speeding trains and the utter filth and chaos of the transit system in order to get your name up.  Being underground really is a surreal experience that is hard to fully capture with words.  The solitude, and utter danger meshed with the tranquility and silence of the tunnels makes for a one of a kind experience, especially in a city like New York where noise, and human activity is the norm.

JURNE: Writers are drawn to tunnels because of their secludedness. The tunnel environment is totally unique. It’s one of the few places in a city where you can hear and listen to the people and machinery of the environment, yet you’re completely isolated. You are literally right beneath everyone.

Photo: Courtesy of JURNE

SAA: How many times have you been in there?

ML: I personally have been in the tunnels too many times to count.  I think it would be fair to say that I have ventured underground close to 200 times in my life.

J: Many more than I can count.

SAA: What are the risks of going in there?

J: I think the biggest and the most obvious risk is safety. The tunnel environment is extremely dangerous, and totally unforgiving. Beyond safety, it is illegal. 

ML: Well one of the obvious risks is death.  Subway trains weigh over 40 tons and can travel at speeds up to 55 miles per hour.  It is an extremely dangerous place and one bad decision can end your life in a heartbeat.  If you do not know what you are doing, or are not with someone who does, it can be very easy to get yourself into a situation where you will become trapped and die underground.  In addition to this, going underground into tunnels is also illegal, so you have to be alert and aware of that as well when exploring the transit system.  I do not know if it is the most extreme form of urban exploration, but I would say it is certainly up there. 

Photo: Courtesy of JURNE

SAA: What motivated you to put this book together?

J: The book is the first of its kind: it catalogs both the graffiti within the New York City subway tile network, and the environment of the tunnels. Being that it’s a novel contribution to graffiti culture and history, both Matt and I felt a responsibility to document, interview and then compile and layout material for the project in a way that does justice to both the history of the NYC tunnel graffiti writing and the subway tunnel infrastructure.

ML: The motivation for me dates back to my formative years as a graffiti writer growing up in Brooklyn.  As much as graffiti throughout the city influenced me greatly, it was the graffiti in the tunnels that had an almost magical element to it.  With a great appreciation for the history of the subway, as well as having a background in anthropology it seemed like a perfect fit to create a work on the tunnels that helped break down graffiti writer’s experiences underground through a sociological perspective while still paying homage to the history and architectural design of the underbelly of New York.
As we set out to make the book we did not fully know where it would take us.  We did have a long list of locations we wished to document.  JURNE had the role of capturing more of the atmospheric shots, and I took on the task of photographing the graffiti underground.  It was a real team effort.  I should also note that along with Anthony Arias, who did the layout for the book and everyone at Gingko Press we were able to put together a product that is hopefully as visually pleasing as well as it is educational.  

SAA: How did you pick the photos to be included?

ML: Picking the right photos to include was a very lengthy process.  As we began to amass a great deal of photography, JURNE and I started to see that an actual story of one entering and eventually leaving the tunnels could be told.  Once we felt that we were in a good place with the amount of photos we had, we began to categorize them in context to the story of the underground.  We literally printed everything out and laid the pages out on the floor of JURNE’s studio, and moved the pages around like a jigsaw puzzle until we felt that the book had a legit feel and flow to it.  We tried to include as much relevant graffiti as possible, while blending the atmospheric shots to give the reader a true sense of what it is like to explore these locations. 

Photo: Courtesy of JURNE

SAA: How long did it take to put together all the photos?

J: The project took about four years to do if you were in total all of the time together,  but we were not able to work on the project in a consecutive fashion. Compiling a book and doing the layout with our friend Anthony Arias, it was an arduous task. We spent a long time cataloging the photographs we had and then selecting the best ones that fit within different categories that we felt we needed to cover in the book.  We had 5 to 6 different categories that we fit photographs and material into. We worked on this project during the last decade. We had a lot of material to work with when we began the process of laying the book out, and we used about 20% of our material in the final book.

SAA: What is the most challenging aspects of the tunnels for a photographer? and for a graffiti artist? Is there still graffiti being done in the tunnels?

ML: I would say the most challenging factors underground would be competing with the trains.  Luckily through years of recognizance work, I kind of knew many places we could set up equipment without having to directly deal with being in the path of the train.  In addition to this, the unexpected element of track maintenance being done by workers in the middle of the night can easily ruin your plans of going underground.  I would say these same issues hold true for graffiti artists looking to go in the tunnels and write graffiti.  There is still graffiti being written underground, although perhaps not with the same vigor and systematic approach that you saw during the 90s and early part of the millennium.

J: One of the most challenging aspects of documenting the subway tunnel environment was shooting in focus. I had to come up with ways to take well-exposed and focused shots in a very timely manner. Obviously, we couldn’t spend hours and hours down there trying to take perfect photo. Because it is so dark in the tunnels, it is a real challenge to figure out how to take quality photos expediently; without taking shot after shot until you get the right one. So learning how to do that, and what kind of shots looked right and captured the environment in it’s truest form was a challenge. It’s hard to really capture how it feels to be down, deep inside one of these tunnels
For a graffiti artist, similar challenges exist: how to do what you do quickly, and have it look right. Coming from that background, the challenge of shooting this environment had it’s new nuances, but I was accustomed to the feeling of ‘time’ being the biggest factor in the outcome of the quality of the resulting work, from my history as a writer.

Photo: Courtesy of JURNE

SAA: What is the relationship between Graffiti and NYC Tunnels? How has it evolved? Where do you see it going?

ML: Well at first graffiti in tunnels was merely done by writers painting trains in layups where train cars were held overnight.  They would tags the walls to test out their paint, or to let other writers know that was where they painted trains.  As years passed and graffiti was removed from trains, writers began painting underground, and hitting spots that one could see from a passing train.  Many writers, most notably the writer REVS who painted his autobiography in the tunnels began to paint all out pieces with bucket paint and rollers.  Graffiti in the tunnels is very much dictated by the environment itself, and often times a writer must sacrifice a certain aesthetic quality of a piece in order to paint on the filthy, steel dust covered walls of the transit system.

J: Graffiti art has been synonymous with New York City subway tunnels since the birth of modern graffiti, or shortly thereafter. Writers were hip to the fact that trains were laid up in tiles and this was an ideal environment to paint graffiti on them in. Graffiti writers have been lurking around in and painting in the New York City subway tunnels for over 40 years.
It’s more and more difficult to gain access to these kind of places because of our society’s increasing fixation on security and monitoring public spaces. I don’t see that trend going away.

 

Risk9 on the L line

Photo: Courtesy of RISK9

 

SAA: Do you think the tunnels helped write graffiti history or did graffiti help write the tunnels’ history?

ML: That is an interesting question.  I think the tunnels helped to write the history of graffiti in NYC.  For the most part, graffiti underground is preserved and has acted as a time capsule.  If one knows where to look they can find relics that are over 40 years old.  As the city continues to become more and more gentrified, I think it is great that these treasures from the graffiti of yesteryear are hidden inside the tunnels.    

J: I think that it’s both. Underground layups, subterranean places where trains are stored,  played a key role in the history of New York City graffiti. If I had to guess I’d say thousands of graffiti pieces have been painted on New York  city subway trains while they were inside of the tunnels. Likewise graffiti is a very interesting and important aspect of the history of the New York City and it’s transit system, including the subway tunnels. Graffiti has become a global phenomenon, all of which emanated out of New York City. The fact that this all began on moving canvases carrying thousands and thousands of New York City residents is incredible. The remote environment of the New York City subway tunnels, and the fact that trains are stored inside of them played a key role in the development of this phenomenon.

 

“Beneath The Streets” Official Links:
Get the book Here
The book’s Facebook Here
The book’s Instagram Here

“Wild In The Streets” guerrilla release parties from a box-truck fitted with a projector in New York City

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DEGA Films is proud to announce the release of the final two episodes of their street art documentary series, Wild In The Streets (W.I.T.S.). These two episodes, featuring NYC-based artists Royce and Elle, will be shown during some guerrilla screenings from the DEGA Mobile Unit on Saturday, September 27 with support from Breaker Films and at the site of Ron English’s famed “Temper Tot” mural in Little Italy on Sunday, September 28. These screenings will show every episode of the series, including the two newest installments.

On Saturday 9/27, the DEGA Mobile Unit – essentially a box-truck fitted with a projector — will be traveling around New York City and projecting the W.I.T.S. episodes at locations to be announced via the DEGA Instagram account (@dega_films). The first location will be announced around 7pm that day, and the first screening will begin around 8:30pm. The locations, while still unannounced, will likely be in the Brooklyn neighborhoods Bushwick, Williamsburg and DUMBO. The W.I.T.S. Sticker Machine will also be present here. These screenings are sponsored by DEGA Films and Breaker Films.

The final screening of the weekend will take place in the parking lot containing Ron English’s “Temper Tot” mural at 118 Mulberry St. (between Canal & Hester). The event will be pre-announced and will run from 8pm to 11:30-12pm, with screenings beginning around 9pm. Pizza will be provided by Il Piccolo Bufalo while supplies last. The W.I.T.S. Sticker Machine will be at this screening as well. This screening is also sponsored by DEGA Films and Breaker Films.

Wild In The Streets is a six-part documentary series shot over two years in New York City. Each episode portrays a single artist (or in one case a duo) and their work, both in process and on the streets themselves, as well as shots of the work existing on its own after the fact. The goal of the series is to give the viewer a general glimpse of how the artists work in their environment and their works themselves from a first- person point of view. Each episode is started with and capped off by a steadicam shot that gives the viewer a first-person look at the artist putting up their (mostly) illegal works.

A focal point of the series is that these artists utilize a wide array of materials to create their artwork, from hand painted wheat-pastes to clay sculptures, spray paint and marker tags, fire extinguisher paintings, street sign replacements and anything in between. The series is comprised of episodes featuring Jilly Ballistic, Enzo & Nio, NDA, Mr. Toll, Elle and Royce, and will be released in full on September 26 on www.canyoudega.com.

DEGA is a creative collective specializing in cinematography and visual art based in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, though all of its founding members are originally from Atlanta, GA. The group started in 2012 over a mutual love and respect for street art, and they set out to document the rich artistic environment surrounding them in Brooklyn through film (thanks in part to their successful Kickstarter campaign). Its members are professional filmmakers by trade, but it’s their understanding of the inner workings of the street art world that allows them to properly portray it in their films.

Interview: Artists join forces with Calle 13 to create an on-going social media project

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Story & Interview by Alexandra Henry

‘The Multiviral Art Project’ video has been floating around the social media stratosphere in recent weeks with very recognizable artists making cameos. International talents INTI, Alexis Diaz, Ever, Fintan Magee, Dominique Falla, Liniers, Imarginal, Miguel Luciano, Yasmina Jacinto, MataRuda, L N Y, Decertor, Elliot Tupac, and Rabindranat Diaz Cardosa are seen in the video painting murals or creating art in their own distinctive styles. However while each artist is in a different part of the world throughout the video, they all have one thing in common. They have incorporated the word ‘multiviral’ into their pieces. What does this mean? What are we being told?

“Our wish is to encourage artists to create live installations that can pop up anywhere, any day, at any time, always in flux,
and inspire and stimulate the creation of new art experiences” – Calle 13


We had to get to the bottom of this so naturally we busted out our smartphones to become Inspector Gadget, looking up hashtags on Instagram, scanning Twitter for trending words, and checking our favorite artist’s Facebook page looking for clues. Maybe not in that order. Finally, we discovered an interesting connection. Turns out, Grammy award winning Puerto Rican rap duo, Calle 13, is behind the ‘multiviralyzing art project’ and this is just the beginning. Aside from being the name of their latest studio album, the band’s René Pérez Joglar (“Residente”) and Eduardo Cabra Martínez (“Visitante”), say “Multiviral’ is a word that raises issue with how we are fed and how we share information. While their songs have historically addressed many shortcomings in society and they are known for being politically outspoken, their artistic endeavors lay beyond music. Their connection to the street runs deep and by joining forces with other artist who work in different mediums Calle 13 is bringing attention to the transformative power of art, as can be seen by what’s been happening recently in San Juan and all around the world.

Along the back streets of Santurce (Puerto Rico) – a working class neighborhood on the rise just south of famous Old San Juan, art galleries have surfaced and festivals have bloomed over the past three years. Coffee shops have opened and inadvertently become meeting points for members of the creative community. Larger than life murals by Jaz, ROA, Axel Void, INTI, David Zayas, Vero Rivera, La Pandilla (Alexis Diaz & Juan Fernandez) speckle the sides of dated office buildings and walls throughout the area.

René a.k.a. Residente: Calle 13's lead signer and song writer

René a.k.a. Residente: Calle 13’s lead signer and song writer

Word of mouth, enhanced by Instagram, has likely played a role in bringing more awareness to the change going on and has helped build Santurce’s reputation as a place to be if you are a street artist. If you are like me, and see your favorite street artist or fellow street art documenter relaxing and hanging out in an area known to be dangerous or just not known at all, you instantly form new opinions about that area or city and want to go discover it yourself. If you then notice more artists flocking to the same area, you might call that a form of movement. This is exactly what is happening in Santurce and Calle 13 has noticed as well.

We caught up with René (a.k.a. Residente; lead signer and song writer) to talk more about their ‘Multiviralyzing Art’ project, the Puerto Rican street art scene and how art brings awareness to global movements that have been bolstered by various forms of social media, in essence making them viral.

Street Art Anarchy: What exactly is “Multiviral” and what does Calle 13 expect to achieve?
René: Well it started out with one or two artists that started out painting a wall using the word ‘Multiviral,’ which means the same in Spanish and English (something becoming viral across multiple platforms). And then I thought that maybe I can call another artist and that artist could call another artist and then it became viral in a way. And now we have 15 artists working using the same word but in different parts of the world.

SAA: So it’s already started spreading in a sense. How would you define ‘Multiviral’?
R: ‘Multiviral’ is about how things become viral. These days, for example, if you have something going on socially in Spain, the people in South America or even here in the US can understand what’s happening there and they can show their support by sharing the information. And I believe the same things happens in art. That’s the way Occupy Wall Street started out: influenced by the 15 M movement in Spain and then that became Occupy Wall Street in the US and then became 132 in Mexico. So we are living in a viral kind of environment now and information is spreading super fast. This is why I chose to work with that word and these artists as well.

SAA: You are a trained fine artist who has made a career out of music. How do the two overlap? Have you ever worked in the street?
R: I used to study animation and I was more into drawing. I did 2D and then learned 3D. I studied a little bit of film and did a little mixed media. I used to do installations too in school – I studied sculpture for 8 years, so maybe I will start working on something new now … after the Calle 13 tour. But I‘ve never worked in the street.

Mural by Argentinian artist Ever for the Multiviral project

Mural by Argentinian artist Ever for the Multiviral project

SAA: Do you think the popularity of street art is helping transform the social media spectrum or that social media is helping promote art & the community?
R: Social media is transforming everything, not only art. Music as well, which is a type of art. It’s even changing the government. We saw what happened in Egypt because of the social media being used as a tool. And as an artists you can use it to make art and to connect with people. Like we did with artist Dominque Falla from Australia for example. She didn’t know anyone but was involved with the ‘multiviralyzing’ project and collaborated with everyone. So in a way social media is a great tool to unite people; but you have to know how to use it.

SAA: What’s happening in the neighborhood of Santurce right now with the resurgence of street art….it seems like it has become a street artist’s haven with the emergence of multiple art festivals?
R: There is a big movement of art going on right now in Puerto Rico. I am not sure if you know Alexis Bousquet, founder of Santurce Es Ley. He is a friend of ours and he was actually here for our concert in New York, working on some projects. There are things happening in Puerto Rico and I think the economic problems there, socially speaking, it’s bad for the people, but for art in a certain way it’s good. Like in Spain, the last time I was there I saw a lot of movements and the art scene growing bigger, at least socially. The students were more aware of things because of necessity (and lack of jobs). You need things so you start to invent them and create and find inspiration. So PR is passing through a lot of economic problems, there are no jobs, lots of unemployment. And also in school, there is a lot of need in the school system. But that’s helping art in a way. The artists are creating more in order to express their frustration. The past government was pretty bad with supporting the arts there but at least this current one is more open. And now you see events like Santurce Es Ley, more exhibitions, and even artists performing in the streets. It’s because the current mayor is a little more open. But I think the main problems (the economy, violence and lack of access to good education) in a way are inspiring a lot of artists to create. And this leads to transformation.

Mural by Chilean artist INTI in Spain for the Multiviral project

Mural by Chilean artist INTI in Spain for the Multiviral project

SAA: What is your goal with the Multiviral project? Is it something organic?
R: I see it as an organic project. But it also has a goal. Next year we’d like to have an exhibit to show all the artworks and sell it. The proceeds would go to the artists and a percentage for the art school we are building called ‘Todo Se Mueve.’ So that’s one of the goals. And the other goal is to have more artists participate in this show or the next one. So that’s the idea, to have an exhibit in New York, not necessarily in a gallery, perhaps in a warehouse setting.

SAA: ‘Todo Se Mueve’ sounds like a great initiative. Where is the school going to be?
R: It’s going to be an art school in La Perla, a barrio in Old San Juan, in front of the beach. It’s very beautiful place, but very dangerous. That school is a project that we are starting now. We have to build the whole thing and the reason that it’s taking me more time, is because I don’t want to use the help of the government in terms of money. I want to do it myself and I want it to be public and for free, but I have to pay the teachers so I am developing that strategy right now.

SAA: You mentioned that you want the ‘multiviralyzing art project’ to include more artists from around the world. Any in particular?
R: I know some artists who I’d like to collaborate with. They aren’t all muralist but they are super well known. I have a friend who knows Vik Muniz from Brazil… I think I can meet with Vik via a friend who told me about him. Maybe we can do something, because his art also has a social focus. I have another friend who is a musician and he told me about the photographer JR, so he said I can meet with him. When I am done touring in December I can start meeting with artists in January. But for now I have to perform!

Calle 13 finishes up their 2014 ‘Multiviral’ music tour this December. Then they will gear up for next year’s live art exposition in New York to feature artists from around the world who will either donate their pieces or a percentage of the price tag to ‘Todo Se Mueve.’ The band is open to any proposals by independent artists who are interested in joining the ‘Multiviral’ initiative and who strive to redefine originality through creative interaction.

“Everything to Say and No Time to Say It”: The Marilyn Monroe Series by Rene Gagnon

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EXCLUSIVE  The Marilyn Monroe Series: Everything to Say and No Time to Say It

In 2013, Street Art Anarchy had the privilege of being the first gallery allowed in 20+ years in the studio of Rene Gagnon. The artist had then completed the last painting of a series of eight major artworks that grasp the beautiful and tragic life of Hollywood cult icon Marilyn Monroe. These artworks were painted over a period of three years (2011-2013) and have never been shown to anyone outside of Gagnon’s studio. Available September 17th  on Gallery Works and via private inquiries only.

 

“Everything to Say and No Time to Say It #1”
Mixed media on canvas
66 x 66 in / 167.6 x 167.6 cm
Price & Details: Available upon request

 

“Everything to Say and No Time to Say It #3”
Mixed media on canvas
66 x 66 in / 167.6 x 167.6 cm
Price & Details: Available upon request

 

“Everything to Say and No Time to Say It #6”
Mixed media on canvas
66 x 66 in / 167.6 x 167.6 cm
Price & Details: Available upon request

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Exclusive Studio Releases

These are the last two original works on canvas from the “It’s All in the Hair” series by Rene Gagnon,
available online under the Series & Prints section:

“It’s All in the Hair”
Mixed media on canvas, number 10/20
20 x 20 in. / 50.8 x 50.8 cm, signed and numbered
Price: $1100

“It’s All in the Hair”
Mixed media on canvas, number 11/20
20 x 20 in. / 50.8 x 50.8 cm, signed and numbered
Price: $1100

ASVP New Releases for Street Art Anarchy

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Street Art Anarchy is pleased to present ASVP: one of New York’s most dynamic street art duos. This release offers our collectors the opportunity to acquire a variety of exclusive pieces retracing their unique artistic skills and evolution.

“If you live in a thriving metropolis– New York, London or Hong Kong – then you’ve probably stumbled across the work of ASVP. This street art duo is known for eye-catching posters influenced by comic books, Mad Men-era advertising and even Lady Gaga.” (cf. The Downtown Traveler)

Not everyone seems to realize that almost all of our imagery is completely hand drawn,” Brooklyn-based street art duo ASVP tell ANIMAL. “That’s something that is a real integral part of our work. A lot of the pieces are based on the textures we noticed after putting our work out on the street. There is sort of this symbiotic relationship between the wall and the poster. The wall actually winds up eating, eroding, and ultimately absorbing the poster. So the entire rotting process and the concept of whether the wall brings more to the work than actually the work brings to the wall is an interesting thing. So often the works ends up looking better a month later, 2 months later, 8 months later, after it’s been rained on rotting, more interesting than the original poster ever was. It’s about the texture, the graphic that is in the foreground is being eaten by the background.”

 

Gallery Works:

“Find Wildness”
Mixed media on paper (hand painting, brush and screen-printing)
30 x 44 in (36 x 50 in. framed)
Price & Details: Available upon request

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“China Cheerleader”
Mixed media on paper (hand painting, brush and screen-printing)
30 x 44 in (36 x 50 in. framed)
Price & Details: Available upon request

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“Car N. 2, Dark Silver”
Mixed media on canvas
36 x 50 in. / 91.4 x 127cm
Price & Details: Available upon request

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Unique Works (Under $1,000):

Every piece was hand-pulled by the artist and all have hand brush and spray painted backgrounds making them totally unique. Because of the extensive layering work we did, many of the pieces have heavy background texture and actually look and feel more like paintings than screen prints.” – ASVP

“Car Number 2”
Mixed media on paper (hand painted, brushed and screen-printing)
22 x 30 in. / 55.9 x 76.2cm, signed

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Mixed Media Multiples (Available under Series & Prints):

“Keep This Coupon”
Multi-layer hand pulled screenprint with custom inks
22 x 30 in. / 55.9 x 76.2cm.
Signed and numbered edition of 5 only

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“Sociability Girl”
Hand brushed and spray painted background with hand pulled screen-print
22 x 30 in. / 55.9 x 76.2cm.
Signed and numbered edition of 4 only

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“You and Me”
Hand brushed and spray painted background with hand pulled screenprint
22 x 30 in. / 55.9 x 76.2cm.
Signed and numbered edition of 5 only