The Underbelly Project caused a stir last week both because of its expansive murals and because of its politics. We’ve argued that Underbelly was a step backward for street art, and it appears some have agreed with us. The underground exhibition has been infiltrated, and the murals run over with spraypaint, Gothamist reports.
Unbeknown to the vast majority of New Yorkers, a street art project has quietly been taking place under the streets of our fair city, artist by artist and flashlight by flashlight. The Underbelly Project is a reaction against the overwhelming commercialization of street art. Project organizers Workhorse and PAC called the fad for ripping off street objects “commercialism at its worst.” To rectify this supposed “commercial” situation being faced by street artists, Underbelly “safeguards” street art’s “integrity” by placing it where only the select few can get at it: in an abandoned, unused subway stations somewhere underneath the teeming pavement.
Writing for Slate, critic Ben David investigates the possibility that Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop may have been a “poisoned valentine” to the global movement known as Street Art.
In my travels across New York City documenting street art and graffiti, I’m always excited when I stumble across full-blown illicit installations. While stenciling and wheatpasting continue to explode in popularity, it takes another level of commitment, chutzpah if you will, to pull off something more involved. Using salvaged or re-appropriated materials, NYC street artists are both piggybacking their pieces onto existing street furniture and brazenly installing work of their own.
Coming across a work by Gaia on the street is a special experience. His work is intelligent, emotional, well-executed, and informed by the wider world. He looks beyond pop culture, where most street art gets stuck. His linocut prints and drawings, often of animals, are beautifully rendered and react to the intensity of the urbanscape and its manmade fauna.
There is nothing more universal than nature, but the meaning of what constitutes the term may lead to disagreement. That perceptual ambiguity attracts Gaia, who navigates the boundary between nature and artifice carefully and with apparent ease. His latest artistic mash-up in Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill neighborhood, combines the myths of the Christian saint St. John the Baptist, the Babylonian general Holofernes, and a cock.
The unfortunately titled Skin Fruit has already opened on the platinum coast of downtown Manhattan, formerly known as the Bowery. And guess what, not everyone is happy.
Last weekend while avoiding the art fairs, I spotted a fantastic poster in Chelsea that lampooned the New Museum and its new found taste for caviar. I did some sleuthing and tracked down the creative geniuses behind the campaign and found out what they had to say.
The concept of artistic collaboration is slippery. New York Magazine’s 31st reason to love New York City in 2009 is “Because Our Street Art is Collaborative.” Maybe they don’t really understand the notion of collaboration.