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the random files….a complete brainwashing

So, there was this “happening” last week, but first a little background. Many of you have probably seen the movie “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. If you haven’t and you have any interest at all in street art it is an intriguing piece and well worth your time.

Whether you believe it is a factual documentary or a fictional creation out of the mind of street artist, Banksy, it makes a “character” out of it’s leading man, Thierry Guetta, now forever known as Mr. Brainwash. Is he a figment of the imagination? Is he a creation? Is he a well thought out hoax on the art world and world at large? Who really knows, (well he and Banksy, Shepard Fairey and a few others have a clue) but in the end, does it matter? In one way or another he has put in his time, paid a few dues and still gets out there on the street. If his message is juvenile or derivative again, does it really matter. Art is subjective we all see what we want to see. Who becomes huge, who makes it and sees the big bucks, again, extremely fickle and based on so many factors there is no clear cut path to success. Does a piece make you feel something? Sometimes even the feeling of disgust is worthy of a moment of thought.

So with that, on to the present, Mr. Brainwash was in town last week and Century 21 became his palette, a tribute to 9-11 his goal. A goal he achieved albeit with the usual critics and naysayers in full force. I found out he was working after his first night. Went downtown during the day and saw that the image was incomplete and he had more work to do.

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So back downtown at midnight to see if we could catch the man in action.  The subway ride was interesting and I could write a whole post about Mr. Asscrackman and the other fellow citizens who obviously only come out at night, but that is for another day.   When we arrived we caught the installation team in full force.

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And the man himself, Mr. Brainwash, MBW on site.

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The paper panels waiting to be attached to the wall.

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A plan of the entire project was on view as a guide.

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And about Thierry himself; what a burst of pure positive energy, impossible to not feel his exuberance.  He believes in what he is doing, believes in his message and every fiber of his being projects that when you meet him in person.  We hung around for a couple of hours and watched him at work.  Always a cigarette in his hand and always in action, never still.

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Firefighters from out of state here for the 9-11 ceremonies stopped by at one point.

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At about 2 in the morning my need for bed took us home but we came back the next morning to see the finished piece.

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And luck would have it.. as we turned to leave I spotted the man himself.. no sleep, running on fumes and still willing to give a hug, a smile and mug for a shot or two.  So, real or fictional, schlock or DaVinci, I am on Brainwash’s team just for the sheer fun of it all.

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Read the other day that Thierry so loves New York he has decided to make it his home 6 months out of the year.  His goal? To buy a building in SoHo to use as a residence, studio and open art space.

My dream actually… To buy a big building live on the top floor and rent the lower floors out as studio live/work spaces for artists for little to no money as long as they do work with the community and keep my building covered with art… pipe dream, but hey, might as well put it out into the Universe, never know what could happen.

So next time then…

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a saturday or so – the 21st precinct

Life has been flying by lately and has been a tad bit complicated.  Went back to Santa Fe for a week but it was filled with the kind of every day, must do, mundane part of living a human life that when put on paper comes off irritating at best.  But the car did get an oil job somewhere in the middle of it all.

Back in NYC now and coming to grip with the speed of things.  So many things to see and do it feels like it all slips by slightly out of reach, but luckily sometimes you catch the end of the rope and the whip around is just enough to keep it all going.

Last weekend a show of shows opened at the 21 Precinct House in the Gramercy Park neighborhood.  Now beautiful tree lined streets and brownstones dominate the area.  But back in 1863 the precinct earned it reputation in a down and dirty neighborhood where gangs of thugs and ruffians ruled.

http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2011/09/1863-21st-precinct-station-house-no-327.html

The police were long gone by about 1914 but the building remained,  many uses later it is finally meeting the inevitable.  Unfortunately its plum location makes it an easy sacrifice to the glass and steel beast that is devouring NYC, swallowing entire neighborhoods at breakneck pace.

So,  we know the location, now the show.  What happens when you get together a group of over 60 street artists  including legends and talented younger artisans and give them four floors of an empty shell for a canvas.  Everything and more… and from this point onwards words just aren’t going to do much.  So, I am out of them….here is my take on what may be one of most photographed shows in NYC.. 😉

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So, next time then…

 

the random files – peace process

Street art can be about nothing in particular or it can pay homage to a cultural icon or idea.  For many the very reason to put it out on the street is the message,  reaching the masses, creating change.  It is not by accident that street art and politics intersected in a huge way with Shepherd Fairey’s iconic rendering of Barack Obama.  

One of the common themes: Peace

That elusive belief that humans will someday overcome their biological need to be on top and learn to live harmoniously.   Personally I think as long as the method of creating peace involves using death on any level it is just a pipe dream.  But I have to give credit to the people out there with a voice, or a brush.. or a spray can who will continue to fight for peace. (see,  there it is in a nutshell, we say “fight” for peace…)

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One of those artists is Case of the Ma’Claim Crew from Germany.  His hands raised in the universal gesture have been found on walls all over the world, including outside of the Ministry of the Interior in Cairo.

http://maclaim.blogspot.com/

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Commercial fashion statement?  Or true dream,  who knows.  

We lost one of the biggest voices in the dream this year.  Known on the street as JC2 or Army of One,  Jeff Campion saw the worst and still dreamed of peace.  I hope he has found his now.

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So, next time then…

the random files – street art

Tomorrow is a travel day.  I haven’t said that in a long, long time.  When I flew into NY right after Valentine’s Day,  I never dreamed it would be almost May before I made it back to Santa Fe.  It was a weird winter, a very weird winter.   By this time tomorrow I will be back in the desert for a couple of weeks.  A break from the city will be nice,  but it won’t be for long.  Hopefully there will be something to see along the way 🙂

But before all that I am launching a new series here on the blog.  I have a whole bunch of street art pieces from all my walks around the city and thought I would start sharing a few here on occasion.  So here is the first edition of hopefully many more.  If you know the artist and I don’t have it tagged,  please let me know.

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Next post comes from the west..  hope ya’ll come on back 

 

 

bushwick bound part II

The Bushwick Collective has grown by leaps and bounds in a very short time.  It was born out of one man’s attempt to find something to replace the graffiti he was constantly forced to cover on his family business. It has become a thriving street art gallery with painters coming from all over the world to transform its many walls.  

Street art is here to stay,  it has entered our mainstream lives just like rock music and blue jeans.  It is nice seeing it embraced to make a positive change in a community.  Greedy landowners, take notice…  5pointz will come back to haunt you.

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a family business.. a twenty-first century canvas

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/nyregion/a-son-of-bushwick-turns-the-neighborhood-into-a-gallery-for-street-art.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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A street artist must be willing to allow their work to fall prey to the elements, to become something different than sometimes intended and they must be willing to allow others to collaborate on their creations.  Because of this many pieces become their best selves as they fall victim to time. 

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When I photograph street art I always hope I do it justice.  I never want to steal their work but to  show it through another’s eyes and preserve it in time. At some point everyone should experience it in person.   The size and scale of some pieces add to the overall experience and are often an important element in the message the artist is trying to convey.  

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Every street promises a new discovery.  Since we visited last year so many more new pieces have appeared.  And still more to see on our walk so,  as with last time, 

to be continued…