David Choe-Dirty Hands

From 2000-2007, David Choe managed to have the course of his life filmed by friend and director Harry Kim in order to offer us this documentary, “Dirty Hands.”  The film sheds light on the course that led to the uprise of a maniac artist whose aggressive style was eventually adopted by art enthusiasts.  From being locked up in Los Angeles, where he grew up, to later overseas in Japan for accidentally beating up an undercover cop, each experience from his travels lent themselves to many forms of inspiration for his works.  The pictures used in this post are all screenshots from the film, the double-disc dropped last week and is now available to watch for free at Upper Playground.

Stairs That Speak -ESPO

Flights of Genius by Stephen Powers from Jun Lee on Vimeo.

“Flights of Genius” by Stephen “ESPO” Powers will be running on screen tomorrow at Josh Liner Gallery in NYC.  The project is being put together by Ogilvy & Mathers as an ode to their founder David Ogilvy.  Powers took over the agency’s headquarters, using his nostalgic style to don the walls of each stairwell landing with the many well-known sayings of Mr. Ogilvy. Above you can find Powers speaking over images of his past works, everyday inspiration, and a sneak peek of this very project.

The Devil Wears A Pink Suit by SABER

Excellent essay on street culture and how it interacts with commerce by SABER It is a response to the article “Radical Graffiti Chic,” a pointed attack on LA MOCA’s Art In The Streets Exhibit claiming

The inner city is not so protected. Art in the Streets will earn MOCA accolades from the already standard-free art world, but it will only increase the struggles of Los Angeles’s poor communities to enjoy a modicum of the security and order that the wealthy take for granted.   – Radical Graffit Chic

THE DEVIL WEARS A PINK SUIT by SABER (A Response to “Radical Graffiti Chic”)

After looking at the longest list of credentials of one person I’ve ever seen—Yale, University Of Cambridge, Stanford Law, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor of City Journal, recipient of 2005 Bradley Prize for Outstanding Intellectual Achievement, etc, etc—I came to the conclusion that approaching Heather Mac Donald’s fortified intellect would be the equivalent of challenging the IBM Chess Terminator: cold, calculating, and absent a pulse. I find it hard to believe that someone of such high stature would spend so much energy on something that seems trivial in comparison to her passion for deportation and torture. Yet she seems really upset at the idea of a museum honoring over forty years of development in Graffiti Art.

In her lengthy article “Radical Graffiti Chic,” she refers to artists as “vandal-anarchist wannabes” and attempts to highlight their hypocrisy. She names me personally in the article, stating that I am quick to sell out to any corporate sponsor: “Saber, who declares in an interview with the graffiti journal Arrested Motion that ‘there is no room for empathy when there is a motive for profit,’ has sold his designs to Levi’s, Hyundai, and Harley-Davidson.”

In trying to paint me as a hypocrite for capitalizing on my intellectual property, Heather does not take into account that I support my family through my art. I have painted everything from sets to faux finishing to gold leafing to put food on the table or to pay for health care bills, since insurance companies have refused to cover me due to a pre-existing condition (epilepsy). Heather, who is paid to write articles, should understand the process of making money for one’s creative output, and that this is not what I was referring to in the Arrested Motion quote. I was referring to health insurance companies taking away accessible facilities from sick people in order to save a buck at the expense of the patient’s life. To compare my art to the health insurance companies is ludicrous…. full essay  here.

“I Love My Bike” Book Release Party

Danielle and myself are in this book!

The Marc Jacobs location on Newbury Street in Boston will be playing host to the book release party for “I Love My Bike” later this week.  This project was brought to life by our friends, Matt Finkle and Brittain Sullivan, who visited various parts of the country to create this photo compilation book of bike lovers.   Support these guys and purchase your copy of “I Love My Bike” here.  For more information head over to www.ilovemybike.com and check out the video below to get the gist of how they went about gathering the stories and photographs behind this project.

Nike x FootLocker x Cool Kids

nike – bodega?

Footlocker’s new Nike ad features the Cool Kids, as well as appearances by Amar’e Stoudemire, DeSean Jackson, Chris Bosh, and Ken Griffey Jr. Does the setting seem like a hybrid of Johnny Cupcakes and Bodega?

Lot F Gallery Exhibit: Brother From Another Mother

“Local Boston artists, Dana Woulfe and Kenji Nakayama have long been collaborating in their South Boston studio and as members of the artist collaborative Project SF, but the duo’s counter balancing styles will be on full display in their first ever joint exhibition, showcasing collaborations and solo works at the Lot F Gallery, 145 Pearl St #4, Boston, MA. The show opens with a reception on Friday, April 8, 2011 from 7-11PM.

The two artists and Distillery studio mates who are also employed as Converse footwear designers, posses vastly divergent styles and have been experimenting for several years with large scale mixed media work that combines Woulfe’s wildly abstract, vibrant and at times chaotic landscapes with Nakayama’s incredibly detailed, precise and realistic cityscapes.

“We’re excited about this exhibit, said Woulfe. “It provides us with a backdrop for a large body of work that we’ve been developing over the past year and gives us a chance to showcase the juxtaposition of our different backgrounds and styles – mine which is influenced by abstractionism and graffiti and Kenji’s which comes from a more precise, stylized sign painting background.”

Artists’ Background

Woulfe is a founding member of Project SF, the Boston based artist collective that was originally conceived as a multi-disciplined graffiti/street art crew. Project SF is comprised of artists and designers based mainly in Boston and New York. The group organizes exhibitions and events in galleries, warehouses, lofts and alternative spaces from Montreal to Tokyo. Nakayama was asked to join the collective shortly after moving to the United States and the two have been collaborating and working together creatively and professionally ever since. Individually, their work has been shown at Woodward Gallery (NY), Carmichael Gallery (LA), Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (Sydney) , Massachusetts MOCA , Fourth Wall Project (BOS), Bodega (BOS), and in publications such as Juxtapoz, XL8R, IdN, HOW Journal, Graphotism, Clouded Thoughts, Sole Collector and the Boston Globe.

“Dana and I just think alike” commented Nakayama. “So it’s easy for us to make art together. He starts to paint something, then I come and do something over it and we just go back and forth like that until we feel like it’s finished. Our styles just work very well together and we have a good rhythm. We’re like brothers from another mother.”

About Kenji Nakayama

Kenji Nakayama was born in Japan and moved to Boston in 2004 to attend Butera School of Art with a focus on sign painting. Previously he had been an engineer at Toyota and from this technical background, Kenji brings a high degree of discipline and precision to his work. He layers incredibly intricate, hand-cut stencils to produce photo-realistic paintings on canvas, and adds dimension to the duo’s collaborations with hand painted pin striping.

About Dana Woulfe

Dana Woulfe grew up in Rhode Island where he learned art under the tutelage of his grandmother, Betty Jehan, a RISD graduate, professional illustrator and lifelong oil painter and watercolorist. He attended Mass College of Art where he got involved in graffiti in the mid 90’s. His style is influenced by his background in street art and his work uses aerosol, oil and layering techniques to create intricate textures.

The combination of these two styles will be on display in Brother From Another Mother and the result is surprisingly harmonious. The exhibit contains several large scale collaborations as well as smaller works and individual pieces. The opening reception is free and open to the public and both artists will be on hand. The show runs for one month and the gallery is open by appointment only.”

Opening Reception: Friday, April 8, 7-11pm – free and open to the public

Show Runs: April 8, 2011 – May 7, 2011
Lot F Gallery, 145 Pearl St #4, Boston, MA 02110

contact: James Wormser
617.620.8452

James@lotFgallery.com

www.lotFgallery.com

Gallery open by appointment only after opening

Legal Walls At FourthWall Project

By Appointment only (to limit the amount of spray in the space at one time). Email me for appointment.

Behind The Scenes With Gear Collective Showroom

BIKE CHECK 212 | 02 JARAH from cycleangelo on Vimeo.

HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY?

I am co-owner of a cycling inspired fashion showroom, Gear Collective. I like to think I make money by helping others reach the world with their creativity.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE ? KEY PIECES?

Tough one. I always think in the mens world because thats my work. For myself, I’d have to say Insight. They make the sickest dresses for girls like me who refuse to wear heels and always go for the sneakers with dress look.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A BRANDS YOU CONSIDER REPPING?

First, I have to love the product and the quality has to be on point. Then, its all about making sure that the brand can support the retailers with marketing initiatives, producing on time, and being prepared to support growth.

WHAT UNIFIES THE LINES YOU REP?

Every brand we work with have some form of cycling/ active lifestyle element. From the bike specific bags by Bruxe to the discrete details for cyclist in the visually contemporary exterior of Martin Clothing to the snug fit and wrap around style in Contego Eyewear.
We have a brand we just brought in that has lots more awesome cycling appeal. Stay tuned for that here:

http://gearcollectivenyc.com/_site/

WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE INDUSTRY?

My favorite part of the industry is the relationships I’ve made with buyers, co-workers, stylist, interns, etc. I feel that its unlike any other industry because we have a common tie not only in business but in our personal style and creative inspirations. I grew up in the fashion industry though so maybe thats why I see the industry as family.

WHICH TRENDS ARE GOOD /SUCK?

Oh don’t get me started… I’m a white tank and jeans kind of girl, but I’m a sucker for military inspired trends. I could really do without the style of dressing like your grandparents and the high waisted pants (especially in menswear….gross.)

WHAT’s UP WITH YOUR BIKE COLLECTION?

I have sold all but one, my purple Continuum Cycles custom 48cm track frame on Velocity deep V wheels with gatorskin tires (toughest for NYC streets), odyssey black widow cranks (VERY hard to find 150mm because im tiny), pink Chris King limited edition “pretty and strong” headset, Thompson X4 stem, and Lino bull horn bars. Can you tell I love my bike?

WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO EAT A TACO IN BROOKLYN? BEST PARTY?

Hands down it’s Taco Chulo in Williamsburg. I have no clue about parties. I consider riding my bike all night to be enough of a social life for me.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SHOP(S)?

Alter in Brooklyn, Chari and Co. NYC, and Standard in Atlanta

WHICH GOLDEN GIRL ARE YOU?

Sofia for sure! Quick witted, politically incorrect, fearless, and so little that people never expect what’s coming with her.

WHAT’S THE LAST TATTOO YOU GOT?

A week ago I had 3 hours done on my back. I have had a total of 47 hours on it now. We are re-doing whats already there because its been 9 years and then finishing it. In a couple months, it will be the longest project of my life finally completed thanks to Vinny Romanelli.

www.tattoosbyvinnny.com

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM GEAR COLLECTIVE IN 2011?

Expect awesome gear! I believe we will be workings with several innovative brands and introducing more bike specific wearables and soft goods. We have a Gear Collective artist project in the works also that I can’t wait to share more about!

IF A FALCON AND YOUR DOG GOT INTO A FIGHT, WHICH WOULD WIN AND WHY?

Little Dude would come out on top and I think he would win by sexually abusing the Falcon since his most favorite activity with any animal he sees is exactly that. His theme song, “Little Dude, you’re so rude” is very appropriate!

CIA Used Abstract Expressionism As Weapon In Cold War

Via The Independent UK
For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.

The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art – President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: “If that’s art, then I’m a Hottentot.” As for the artists themselves, many were ex- com- munists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive US government backing.

Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

The existence of this policy, rumoured and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America’s anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.

Initially, more open attempts were made to support the new American art. In 1947 the State Department organised and paid for a touring international exhibition entitled “Advancing American Art”, with the aim of rebutting Soviet suggestions that America was a cultural desert. But the show caused outrage at home, prompting Truman to make his Hottentot remark and one bitter congressman to declare: “I am just a dumb American who pays taxes for this kind of trash.” The tour had to be cancelled.

The US government now faced a dilemma. This philistinism, combined with Joseph McCarthy’s hysterical denunciations of all that was avant-garde or unorthodox, was deeply embarrassing. It discredited the idea that America was a sophisticated, culturally rich democracy. It also prevented the US government from consolidating the shift in cultural supremacy from Paris to New York since the 1930s. To resolve this dilemma, the CIA was brought in.

The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.

Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.

“Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I’d love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow!” he joked. “But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognised that Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.

“In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy- handedly was worth support one way or another.”

To pursue its underground interest in America’s lefty avant-garde, the CIA had to be sure its patronage could not be discovered. “Matters of this sort could only have been done at two or three removes,” Mr Jameson explained, “so that there wouldn’t be any question of having to clear Jackson Pollock, for example, or do anything that would involve these people in the organisation. And it couldn’t have been any closer, because most of them were people who had very little respect for the government, in particular, and certainly none for the CIA. If you had to use people who considered themselves one way or another to be closer to Moscow than to Washington, well, so much the better perhaps.”

This was the “long leash”. The centrepiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It was the beach-head from which culture could be defended against the attacks of Moscow and its “fellow travellers” in the West. At its height, it had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines, including Encounter.

The Congress for Cultural Freedom also gave the CIA the ideal front to promote its covert interest in Abstract Expressionism. It would be the official sponsor of touring exhibitions; its magazines would provide useful platforms for critics favourable to the new American painting; and no one, the artists included, would be any the wiser.

This organisation put together several exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the 1950s. One of the most significant, “The New American Painting”, visited every big European city in 1958-59. Other influential shows included “Modern Art in the United States” (1955) and “Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century” (1952).

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called “Mummy’s museum”, Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called “free enterprise painting”). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

The museum was also linked to the CIA by several other bridges. William Paley, the president of CBS broadcasting and a founding father of the CIA, sat on the members’ board of the museum’s International Programme. John Hay Whitney, who had served in the agency’s wartime predecessor, the OSS, was its chairman. And Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organisations Division, was executive secretary of the museum in 1949.

Now in his eighties, Mr Braden lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, in a house packed with Abstract Expressionist works and guarded by enormous Alsatians. He explained the purpose of the IOD.

“We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War.”

He confirmed that his division had acted secretly because of the public hostility to the avant-garde: “It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do – send art abroad, send symphonies abroad, publish magazines abroad. That’s one of the reasons it had to be done covertly. It had to be a secret. In order to encourage openness we had to be secret.”

If this meant playing pope to this century’s Michelangelos, well, all the better: “It takes a pope or somebody with a lot of money to recognise art and to support it,” Mr Braden said. “And after many centuries people say, ‘Oh look! the Sistine Chapel, the most beautiful creation on Earth!’ It’s a problem that civilisation has faced ever since the first artist and the first millionaire or pope who supported him. And yet if it hadn’t been for the multi-millionaires or the popes, we wouldn’t have had the art.”

Would Abstract Expressionism have been the dominant art movement of the post-war years without this patronage? The answer is probably yes. Equally, it would be wrong to suggest that when you look at an Abstract Expressionist painting you are being duped by the CIA.

But look where this art ended up: in the marble halls of banks, in airports, in city halls, boardrooms and great galleries. For the Cold Warriors who promoted them, these paintings were a logo, a signature for their culture and system which they wanted to display everywhere that counted. They succeeded.

* The full story of the CIA and modern art is told in ‘Hidden Hands’ on Channel 4 next Sunday at 8pm. The first programme in the series is screened tonight. Frances Stonor Saunders is writing a book on the cultural Cold War.

Covert Operation

In 1958 the touring exhibition “The New American Painting”, including works by Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell and others, was on show in Paris. The Tate Gallery was keen to have it next, but could not afford to bring it over. Late in the day, an American millionaire and art lover, Julius Fleischmann, stepped in with the cash and the show was brought to London.

The money that Fleischmann provided, however, was not his but the CIA’s. It came through a body called the Farfield Foundation, of which Fleischmann was president, but far from being a millionaire’s charitable arm, the foundation was a secret conduit for CIA funds.

So, unknown to the Tate, the public or the artists, the exhibition was transferred to London at American taxpayers’ expense to serve subtle Cold War propaganda purposes. A former CIA man, Tom Braden, described how such conduits as the Farfield Foundation were set up. “We would go to somebody in New York who was a well-known rich person and we would say, ‘We want to set up a foundation.’ We would tell him what we were trying to do and pledge him to secrecy, and he would say, ‘Of course I’ll do it,’ and then you would publish a letterhead and his name would be on it and there would be a foundation. It was really a pretty simple device.”

Julius Fleischmann was well placed for such a role. He sat on the board of the International Programme of the Museum of Modern Art in New York – as did several powerful figures close to the C

Caleb Neelon Interview

Caleb Neelon AKA Sonik.

Our friend Caleb is one of the most important North American Street Artists and Authors today. He is largely responsible for Os Gemeos breaking into the US via his writings in Juxtapoz, Editing at Swindle and his books. Author of Graffiti World , Graffiti Brasil, Book of Awesome, the children’s book Lilman Makes A Name For Himself and the upcoming History of American Graffiti.

Caleb speaks regularly at universities, international conferences and festivals, teaches in various capacities around the Boston area, and works in various capacities as a creative consultant, writer, and artist with various local and international corporations. He has a Masters’ in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also exhibits his artwork all over the world.

I asked him some questions……
HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY?

Mine is an income salad comprised of art, writing, and educational endeavors.

WHERE HAVE YOU PAINTED?

I’ve painted in a lot of places that everyone who does what I do have
painted, but my favorites have been off the beaten track. Half my
family is Nepalese, so I’ve painted in Kathmandu a bunch, and I love
that because I get to figure out how to make it work there with local
materials. This year was fun because I got to paint in Nicaragua,
China, and Spain – all very different experiences.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST PIECE OF GRAFFITI YOU SAW THAT INSPIRED YOU?

Childhood memory is notoriously unreliable, but I saw some pieces
around here in the middle 1980s, and I also went to New York.

WHAT WAS THE LAST PIECE OF GRAFFITI YOU SAW THAT INSPIRED YOU?

I met these guys AEC and Waone from Kiev, Ukraine, while I was in
Spain recently. They are doing amazing stuff.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE PEOPLE TO PAINT WITH?

I love painting with anyone who gets it that this is supposed to be fun.

ARE THERE ANY MEDIUMS YOU’D LIKE TO WORK WITH THAT YOU CURRENTLY DON’T?

Fundium.

WHAT’S WITH ALL THE KID’S STUFF & YOUR EDUCATION DEGREE?

Kids are awesome.

DO YOU HAVE ANY HEROES?

People who leave everything behind to come to this country in order to
make a better life for their families and children, and anyone who
fights to punch a hole in the big lie.

IF YOU FOUND OUT THAT ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS SOLD CRACK TO INFANTS FOR A LIVING, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I would show concern.

NAME 3 THINGS IN LIFE THAT ARE AWESOME.

Ellen, Ferdinand, and music.

FREESTYLE ABOUT LEAVES FOR 4 BARS NOW:

LEAVES
LEAVES
LEAVES
LEAVES

It’s for a hype man.

DO YOU THINK A BUFFALO CAN OUTRUN A MANATEE ON ROLLERSKATES ?

Verily.

ANY MESSAGE YOU WANT TO TEACH DA YOUTH?

It gets better.

Caleb is currently showing these paintings at the shop:


Untitled (hand, egg building, tree, on gold) 24″x24″, 2010, $2,000


Untitled (slanty building on copper) 10″x10″, 2010, $500


Untitled (egg building with leaves on copper) 12″x12″, 2010, $600

Untitled (boat in building on gold) 10″x10″, 2010, $500

Holla at me if you want to purchase.

Also Caleb loves the following things: