The Fountain Art Fair was parked at Pier 66 in Chelsea, floating on the water as if at any moment it could set sail for an undisclosed location. The odd cousin in the family of New York art fair week, Fountain is a quirk DIY vision of what’s happening in contemporary art today.
The Bushwick art community celebrated Beat Nite last Friday, and the all-night event was a great way to showcase all the good things going on in this burgeoning region of Brooklyn. Ten art spaces, ranging from more formal gallery spaces to converted living rooms, all stayed open late to welcome the roving bands of art fans interested in seeing a variety of visuals with a healthy mix of music, food and surprisingly mild weather.
Two European museum powerhouses, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, have signed an agreement to temporarily swap 236 art masterpieces in what it is an unprecedented exchange between two major art institutions.
The “Oficina de Gestion de Muros” (Walls Management Office) is an independent Spanish project that fills the empty spaces around the city of Madrid with art. WMO is putting the best street artists on the planet in touch with Madrid locals, neighbors, shopkeepers and businesses alike who have empty walls waiting to be filled with art. For their first project “Medianeras de Madrid”, or Joint Walls of Madrid, they worked with two amazing street artists: Blu and Sam3. Now, they are putting together a listing of artists to collaborate with other wall-owners. The person responsible for founding WMO is Remedios Vincent. I had a chat with Remedios to get to know a little more about this project.
Last Wednesday the Lesley Heller Workspace in the Lower East Side, opened The Bushwick Paintings, a new group of work by Deborah Brown. The gallery was packed, teeming with people and vibrant paintings.
Brown has been painting urbanscapes for quite some time. Fascinated by the world in which we live our everyday lives, she points out the poetic beauty of the ordinary; antennas, sneakers hanging on overhead wires, lamp posts, and fences are no longer invisible elements of the city, but the main characters in her scenes.
If the first traces of public visual expressions in the modern period didn’t have much of an artistic will, they definitively helped develop what urban art is today. They used a visual language that other artists picked up on as effective and unorthodox ways of communicating their message to society, without the need of established art circles or more formalized practices. But now I wanted to point out some early artists who feel more closer to our notion of what a street artist is. Individuals who were or still are consciously creating art work for the street.
Setting a time and a place for the birth of street or urban art is always a tricky question, as one could argue that its history is as old as humanity. Besides, it’s not that easy to find documentation about the development of street art and graffiti before the 1980s because of the way technology has transformed the way we study the past. Any episode before the advent of the internet or digital cameras isn’t as easy to track down, particularly in regards to underground scenes. Sure there’s the library but only academics, writers, and intellectuals tend to venture into the hallowed halls of learning to spend a whole day (or days) researching. Here are some precedents you may not know about.
Last Sunday’s BETA Spaces 2010 didn’t disappoint as we all got what we were looking for. Organized by the all-volunteer organization Arts In Bushwick, BETA Spaces (Bushwick Exhibition Triangle of Alternative Spaces) offered the public a big block party full of art. A truly overwhelming affair with more than 50 exhibitions spread out across galleries, studios, apartments, temporary locations, and any place else that could possibly contain art, it displayed the works of 400 artists in a fantastic collaboration between curators, artists, and art fans of all kind.