In July, I traveled from Paris, with Nite Owl, to Lurcy-Lévis in the center of France to participate in Street Art City. Street Art City is a complex of buildings that were once some kind of training facility for the phone company (or something like that), and has long since been abandoned. About 3 years ago the new owners started inviting urban artists to come to the complex and make murals, do installations and create a room at hotel 128. Hotel 128 is an old dormitory type building containing 128 small individual rooms on 4 floors. Every room has been taken over by an artist. Below is mine.
I worked, as much as possible, with existing materials from the room. Shower doors, broken sinks, clusters of light bulbs. An important aspect for me was to reapply sections of the removed wallpaper over areas of the portraits. I didn’t want these to feel as though they had been installed, but rather that these images were always there, under that veneer of wallpaper. I wanted the images to feel as if they perhaps predated the buildings utilitarian phase and were now, after all these years, uncovered. That idea runs parallel to the idea of the salvage portraits. Presenting not an evolutionary change, but a regression. Presenting atavisms. Traits in people that had long been dormant, strands of DNA that still exist is us, but have become obsolete in a post modern civilization. Traits that still exist under the facade of civilized society, which can be reawakened, given an extreme environmental change.
On the radiator in the room I wrote “Entering a period of consequences” as a sort of warning about the fragility of all these structures we have grown dependent on.
It was an interesting week, surrounded by these images in this tiny room, in an abandoned building miles from anything.
Lurcy-Lévis is centered in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Getting cigarettes was a 90 minute walk round trip. Surrounded by Corn and Cows, an ironic place to showcase urban art. It offers many artists a place to work free from the distractions of ordinary life, urban life; it’s peaceful. That said, places like this scare me, rural places. I am not a country person. It’s too quiet, it gets too dark at night- it’s too summer-camp slasher movie for me. It took some acclamation on my part. But being outside of your comfort zone is always a good thing.
I got to spend some unrushed time with the homies Nite Owl and Rachel Riot. Also got to know a few solid guys from Barcelona Sebastien Waknine, Simón Vázquez and Zeso. Making art is obviously the reason I travel as much as I do. The thing I value the most about that travel is the people I meet, the stories they tell and these unlikely little places like Lurcy-Lévis that I would have never seen if I wasn’t making art
The second annual Carpe Diem took place this past Saturday. This year was about twice as big and about twice as dope. 19 artists working together in one space for one very long day. Inspiring, totally fun and exhausting. The work produced was simply incredible. It’s amazing what can happen in just one day. A total transformation. It’s my favorite event to curate and my favorite event to participate in.
Line-up: Brett Amory, Zoltron, Skinner, Jessica Hess, John Casey, Marcos LaFarga, Jet Martinez, Cannon Dill, Lauren YS, Max Kauffman, John Wentz, Eddie Colla, Ian Ross, Hueman, Nite Owl, Lisa Pisa, Chris Granillo, Reggie Warlock, Daryll Peirce and Cameron Thompson.
So let’s go back about 2 years…. My studio mate Ken Harman of Spoke Art gets an unsolicited email from an oil painting factory in China. The email explains how the factory is excellent in making reproductions of great works of art as well as portraits, landscapes, nudes etc. All at very reasonable prices.
I thought “shit, that would be a great show”. The idea was to have inexpensive copies of emerging contemporary artists and display them side by side. It calls into question so many things about our culture of individuality, the art world, marketplace and value. We had to do it. But we never did, UNTIL NOW!!!!
Our preoccupation with originality is filled with nuances and paradox. We assign market value to original art pieces for their scarcity, driven by the singular vision of the artist, yet we readily consume designer knock-offs from stores like Forever 21 and H&M, which make their profits from directly imitating the runway collections of Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace and Alexander Wang. Is fine art something that, too, can be imitated? The rising popularity of giclees, art toys and limited edition sculptures seems to say that the answer is yes for many consumers.
What place do imitations hold in the art market? How do we measure the value of creativity? Viewers are invited to ask themselves these questions when viewing the original works and their imitations in “Made in China.
Come see for yourself Nov. 8th 7-10 pm at Ian Ross Gallery 466 Brannan St. San Francisco, CA
Our buddy Night Owl invited D Young V and I to do a piece for this project over by The Cottonmill Studios in Oakland back in July. It was a good Friday followed by a free barbecue Saturday. The City of Oakland even kicked in a few bucks on supplies for this project (I’m not sure who arranged that) and I will always take city money cuz they ALWAYS take mine.
Our good friend Nite Owl got us involved with this project for Art Murmur Oakland. A 16×20 ft wall to do whatever the fuck we pleased with. D young V and I only had a couple of days to bang this out . I actually like short deadlines because it cuts through all the bullshit and indecision. You just get it done. Awesome group of artists too. Nite Owl, Filth and Grime, Aura, Roar, 7seas, croma, onedr, Lydia Emily etc….