Street Art

The Performant: Alley up!

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Clarion Alley Block Party still standing strong

It’s an age-old paradox of urban living that no matter how much there is to do and see it’s a) impossible to experience it all and b) so easy to take it all for granted. And it’s really not such a stretch to figure out that the more we take for granted the more chance there is that one day those things we love will disappear.

Of course a certain amount of flux is healthy, and part of what makes a city vibrant is that it’s a place where new ideas and new energies take root and flourish far more readily than in more insular, more homogenous spaces. And for every street corner band that’s moved indoors, every homey café long gone, every poetry brawl, punk rock peepshow, robot sex symposium, marching band parade, and nomadic dance party that have dropped off the radar, there’s bound to be a new crew of upstart art-agonists rising up to fill the empty spaces, it’s just finding the will or time to seek them out that can be daunting. They’re worth the effort. But sometimes we don’t want to have to put in so much effort.

Like comfort food for the underground, some perennial events are still staking out the remnants of, if not the long-distant past, at least the 90s, where the foundations for much of what is now taken for granted were formed. The Clarion Alley Block Party is one such remnant, and still going strong, as Saturday’s event proved.

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Walls of the Internet

From back alleys to Facebook walls: the street art-tech connection is heating up -- and changing SF's street scene

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caitlin@sfbg.com

STREET SEEN The mural was neatly rendered in aerosol, with an expert's eye for color. It read "Facebook." Surrounding text bubbles proclaimed "poke," "write on your wall," and "I'll find something to put here" to the denizens of Sixth Street.

Tech-based graffiti? If you're up on the Bay Area art scene, the juxtaposition won't come as any surprise — the companies building the Internet have emerged as major supporters of professional street art.Read more »

1AM Gallery's street art app debuts

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I keep my iPhone slow with all the street art shots I forever shoot and store with it. Where will these photos go, this endless documentation of my surrounds? Sure, every once in awhile they'll pour out into a best-of compilation for the paper, but most of the time they're just there, staring me in the face, daring me to trap my friends into a mandatory slideshow session. "Dude, you gotta check this one out! It's... oh, um, it's like in that one alley behind that fancy hat factory?"Read more »

Bay Area muralists trek to Bogotá and Cape Town in the name of water rights

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See video

The Bay is blessed with street artists who take seriously the responsibility that comes with painting on a surface thousands of people will see every day on their way to work and school. See: the Estria Foundation, which was started by graff legend Estria Miyashiro and just released this video of the group's latest trip to Bogotá, Colombia as part of its #WaterWrites mural program.

Stop by Bissap Baobab on Thu/7 for a dinner presentation on the group's trip to Bogotá and recent voyage to Cape Town, where it completed another mural that examined the issue of water rights.

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Guerrero gallery bites Zero Graffiti convention

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"The difference between art and vandalism is permission." So said Dwight Waldo, retired San Bernadino cop, at the Zero Graffiti convention earlier this month in San Francisco. The event drew law enforcement officials from multiple countries, convening them for lectures on graffiti prevention, on street art's connection to gangs and hate speech, and on ways to apprehend graffiti artists ("the Internet" figured prominently here, judging from the talks I managed to catch during the convention's public portion.) In his talk, Waldo prided himself on shutting down a graffiti-inspired legal art show because it was being organized by an illegal graffiti artist. 

But it would appear that the art community isn't satisfied with allowing those that hold the anti-graffiti wipes to be the arbiters of taste. The folks at Guerrero Gallery have branded their show opening Sat/2 with Zero Graffiti's imagery to put scrutiny on San Francisco and other cities' efforts to repress graffiti. Read more »

Are your friends criminals?

Things get weird at the Zero Graffiti International Conference

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STREET SEEN Nearing the climax of her presentation at last week's Zero Graffiti International Conference, Vancouver PD's graffiti-fighting specialist Valerie Spicer despaired over graffiti's affects on its perpetrators.

"He didn't die because of graffiti," she said sadly, a deceased Canadian graffiti artist's childhood photo on the PowerPoint screen behind her. "But I'm quite sure that the behaviors he learned in the subculture didn't help him confront the man who stabbed and killed him."Read more »

The Haight Street Banksy rat is looking for a good home

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Kerfuffle attended the publication of my Street Seen column on the reappropriated Banksy street art that popped up at Context art fair during Art Basel week in Miami last month.

Hamptons gallerist Stephen Keszler wrote to tell me that my account of him taking two of the pieces from Palestine and affixing $400,000 price tags to the them was so boring that it made him fall asleep in the bathtub (probably just part of growing old, darling.)

But I also received an interesting communique from a man who claimed responsibility for getting the Banksy rat originally painted on Haight Street's Red Victorian hotel and cafe to Miami. He says it needs a home. Read more »

Art Basel diary: The other side of the causeway, street art, Art Asia

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Read part one of Caitlin Donohue's Art Basel diary: South Beach here

It would be a mistake to characterize the Art-Basel-that's-not-in-South-Beach parts of Miami as containing more DIY/indie/anti-consumerist detritus than Art Deco land during the arty wheeling and dealing that occured last week (transactions worth, the Miami New Times helpfully noted, approximately the GDP of Guyana.)

Not-South-Beach, after all, included the Design District, where my camera memorably died for the last time during our Florida adventure as I was photographing an exhibit entitled "Architecture For Dogs."  Read more »

Looking up: Apex One's Mid-Market rooftop street art gallery

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I was a little devastated when I found that the owner of Ricardo "Apex" Richey's Market and Sixth Street studio -- where he painted his canvases of street art abstractions -- had sold the building to a new owner intent on converting the raw space to tech offices. What of the Asian-run garment factories, the rickety elevators? And what, more importantly, of the rooftop that Apex had the run of, where he'd let his street art friends paint huge burners? Over the years, the space had converted into a guestbook of sorts, with murals done by Mona Caron, Neon, Chez. Read more »

All reflected

Street artist Apex's new show — and departure from the Mid-Market area — is a sign of the times

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caitlin@sfbg.com

VISUAL ARTS Glossy and matte stripes alternate across the walls and floor of the 941 Geary gallery in the Tenderloin, occasionally illuminated by striking reflections from the exhibition's 10 hanging canvases. These are perfectly symmetrical morphs of traditional letter-form graffiti, each done in Easter-ready pastels, save for a black-and-white tag that takes up one enormous gallery wall.Read more »