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Reading the Streets

Reading the Streets: 'Moving Murals' at City Lore

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 14 April 2014 14:01
Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, ‘Moving Murals,’ New York. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – Walking into City Lore’s new gallery space on East First Street was like walking into 1988.

There’s an entire wall covered in images of train cars covered in murals and tags, ranging from Warhol-like Campbell’s soup cans to men who resemble the Grinch, bubble letters and colorful (and off-color) names of all kinds. Another wall features portraits of the creators at work, with paint cans and backpacks, and occasionally, identity-covering bandanas and masks. I mention 1988, but that’s not to say it feels dated – not a bit. The photographs feel fresh, as if the trains are riding by in front of you, as if the riders are currently running through the tunnels and away from the law.

The exhibit, “Moving Murals: Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All-City Graffiti Archive,” showcases the important work of Chalfant and Cooper, photographers who have documented New York City’s graffiti scene since the late 1970s. Their pictures are not only impressive in their framing and content, but also in their ability to capture an art form that is inherently ephemeral. In many cases, the works Chalfant and Cooper captured were either tagged over by competing artists, or painted over by city officials in a campaign against vandalism.

To add context to the images, the show also offers an interactive component by Chalfrant, on an Ipad, where visitors can search an extensive online archive of even more pictures, essays and my favorite part, interviews with the graffiti writers featured on the gallery walls. They’re all great storytellers.

The show is the first for City Lore’s gallery. The organization has been chronicling New York’s grassroots cultures for 28 years, with countless exhibitions and public programs. It’s nice to see them get a space of their own. The “Moving Murals” exhibit runs through July 10. The City Lore Gallery is located at 56 E. First St. and open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, ‘Moving Murals,’ New York. Photo by Ilana Novick. Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, ‘Moving Murals,’ New York. Photo by Ilana Novick. Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, ‘Moving Murals,’ New York. Photo by Ilana Novick. Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper, ‘Moving Murals,’ New York. Photo by Ilana Novick.
Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 14:51
 

Reading the Streets: The Big Egg Hunt

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 07 April 2014 13:45

Irene Mamiye, The Big Egg Hunt, New York City, photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – Colorful eggs have mysteriously sprouted around New York City. I saw my first sitting innocently in the middle of the pedestrian plaza at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge at Delancey Street. It was the epitome of spring, and looked like it was covered in tulip petals, the curves separated by cool silver lines, painted by artist Irene Mamiye.

The next day I spotted another egg, inside Il Laboratorio Del Gelato on Houston. It was sprayed with metallic blue paint and in black, the tag of longtime Reading the Streets favorite COST.

In DUMBO, Curtis Kullig’s “Love Me” tag was sitting prettily against a bright yellow background. It was hard to say no.

Then, tucked away in the Elizabeth Street Garden, there was an egg with silver fangs, outlined in black for extra intimidation power. Painted on fangs of course, but it was a bit chilling to see a symbol of life and fertility with a dark side. Adding to the confusion, I initially thought the egg had wings, but on closer inspection, I’m pretty sure the egg is giving passers-by a thumbs-up. So not only is the egg evil, but it’s pretty happy about it. This one egg was designed by D*Face.

Where did these eggs come from? Was it part of a springtime gift from an alien race that happen to be fans of both dairy and fertility symbols, creating a new city, where pastels reign supreme, and everything is shiny, round, and vaguely sugary?

Sadly, no extra-terrestrials were involved. The eggs are part of “The Big Egg Hunt,” a citywide charity event sponsored by Faberge, and running until the end of April. The 275 eggs are designed by a different artists, are 2 1/2 feet tall, and equipped with technology, that, with the help of a smartphone app, will notify users if an egg is nearby. Once 10 users check in at a particular egg, it will appear on the app’s map.

The eggs will stay in their original locations through April 17, when they will be displayed at Rockefeller Center through April 25, while they’re auctioned off to benefit Elephant Family, a conservation charity, and Studio in a School, which gives public school students exposure to visual arts. Aside from the above street artist favorites, other designers include Jeff Koons, Ralph Lauren, Bruce Weber and Martha Stewart, among many others. Happy hunting!

 



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

 Irene Mamiye, The Big Egg Hunt, New York City, photo by Ilana Novick.

Cost, The Big Egg Hunt, New York City, photo by Elie via BoweryBoogie.com. 

D*Face, The Big Egg Hunt, New York City, photo by Daniel Albanese via TheDustyRebel.com. 

 Curtis Kulig, The Big Egg Hunt, New York City, photo by Daniel Albanese via TheDustyRebel.com.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 April 2014 14:08
 

Reading the Streets: Ben Frost and Cope 2

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 31 March 2014 12:28

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – The Bronx meets Australia at “Durability,” Cope2 and Ben Frost’s new exhibit now on view through April 20 at the Krause Gallery at 149 Orchard St., with eye-popping bubble tags, abstract pieces and colorful commercial parodies.

Cope2 provides the tags, with his name written in a classic bubble style, my favorite of which are red outlined in black, their imposing curviness now found more frequently on gallery walls than on the trains of yesterday where Cope2 aka Fernando Carlo began tagging in 1978. Sometimes his lettering is simple and direct, and sometimes more intricate, blending into its environment, whether a subway train, ad or gallery wall. More recently Cope2 has been experimenting with a more collage-like, abstract style, with a Lichtenstein-esque layer of tiny black dots overlaying spray paint, ink, enamel and paint.

Ben Frost is originally from Australia, but his slyly funny commercial parodies, poke fun at universal themes of advertising and culture. This includes a strung-out Goofy drawn on boxes of Valium (hey, it must be tiring being a Disney character), and reminded me of the commercial parody T-shirts my high school raver friends were fond of, the logos of companies like Fed-Ex and Tide transformed into references to music and drugs and the themes and Peace Love Unity and Respect (aka PLUR). The Ritalin box features two seemingly innocent children, with a small smear of red spray paint suggesting some kind of menace in their future.

The show is overall a good introduction to both, a bite-size sampler pack of their work that will hopefully encourage visitors to metaphorically buy the full-size bottle. Fortunately for art lovers however, a simple free Google search will do the trick.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

 Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Ben Frost, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. 

 Cope2, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Cope2, Krause Gallery, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. 

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 12:46
 

Reading the Streets: Ivan Navarro water towers of NYC

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 24 March 2014 12:41
Ivan Navarro, ‘This Land is Your Land, New York City.’ Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – Water towers are one of my favorite features of the New York City skyline, but trying to explain why sounds downright silly. I’m always thirsty and it reminds me of water? Maybe it’s just because I love the architecture of the buildings they’re on?

Chilean artist Ivan Navarro likes them too, but because he’s an artist and not a writer, he skipped clumsy explanations and showed his appreciation by building water towers of his own, on view through April 13 in a Madison Square Park exhibit, “This Land is Your Land.”

Coming out of the subway from 23rd Street, it appeared as if the towers were growing out of the lawn like wooden plants. It was a bit of a surprise to see structures I always look up at right at eye level, the skyline merging with the street. There are three towers, which you can walk under to see mirrors with infinitely repeating neon reflections. My favorite was of a ladder, which of course I wanted to climb.

Aside from the mirrors, Navarro’s towers are made of the same shapes and materials as the real thing, wooden huts with conical roofs, like crowns for buildings. Maybe this crown shape is the key to water towers appeal. They are useful structures, bringing much needed water to city buildings, but they’re also decorative, making the buildings look royal.

For more information on the artist an the exhibit, visit http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/art.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Ivan Navarro, ‘This Land is Your Land, New York City.’ Photo by Ilana Novick. Ivan Navarro, ‘This Land is Your Land, New York City.’ Photo by Ilana Novick.  Ivan Navarro, ‘This Land is Your Land, New York City.’ Photo by Ilana Novick. Ivan Navarro, ‘This Land is Your Land, New York City.’ Photo by Ilana Novick.
Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 13:14
 

Reading the Streets: Chicago artist Pose visits New York

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Written by ILANA NOVICK, Auction Central News International   
Monday, 17 March 2014 14:01
Pose on Lafayette Street, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

NEW YORK – Pose is based in Chicago, but during a recent New York trip for Armory Week, he found time (with some help from the L.I.S.A. Project and the Jonathan Levine Gallery) to grace Lafayette Street with his collage-like mural. Pose’s work incorporates elements of pop art and comic books, and experiments pounce patterns, one of the earliest forms of copying a design to a surface, created way before the stencil was even a glimmer in a graffiti artist’s eye.

In simpler terms, this latest work looks like someone took a sledgehammer to the world of Archie and Superman and reassembled it as a cubist painting. There are recognizable human body parts straight from said comic books. Bright lips open in extreme surprise, a tongue that looks as plush as an ottoman, pale hands, and even hair, but they’re assembled like a DJ remixes a song; polka dots where shoulders might be, purple against a yellow background, hair where you think eyes should be, a mouth open wide enough to dive into. Your eyes want it to focus into something whole, something they can grasp and label, but the various background elements would rather keep viewers guessing.

There’s also what looks like a pitchfork hovering in the background, creating a bit of menace around this colorful, psychedelic scene. I hope that’s not what’s causing the surprise.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
Pose on Lafayette Street, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. Pose on Lafayette Street, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick. Pose on Lafayette Street, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 March 2014 14:23
 
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