Graffiti: art or vandalism? For some there’s an absolute answer to that question, but for most there’s room for debate. In New York City, police chief Bill Bratton calls graffiti “the first sign of urban decay,” while work from Banksy (and sometimes lesser-known street artists) fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at New York auctions.
Detroit became the latest city to grapple with this question in an official capacity, with city council members previewing ordinances designed to cut back on blight that have brought a somewhat philosophical question into sharp legal focus: How do you distinguish between blight and art in a city renowned (or reviled) for both?
INSA, as the undercover street artist is cryptically known, is the net generation’s equivalent of the legendary graffiti artist Banksy. While INSA’s doodles also dapple the walls of buildings in London as well as around the world, the artist creates GIFs—or “GIF-ITIs” as he calls them—based on photographs of his own graffiti paintings.
5 Pointz, the Long Island City, Queens graffiti mecca, might not have been lucrative enough for developer G&M Realty to keep on its property, but it sure makes for a nifty marketing ploy to attract potential renters to its soon-to-be constructed pair of residential towers. Jerry and David Wolkoff, the father-and-son owners of G&M, filed an application last spring to trademark the street art name for the new development.
Demolition of the graffiti mecca known as “5Pointz” in Long Island City, Queens has become a flashpoint in New York City development. The iconic arts institution was literally whitewashed by the developer last spring and has since been turned to rubble to make way for two rental towers. As the controversial project continues in Queens, the destruction of another world-renowned graffiti forum, just a few miles away in the South Bronx, has gone largely unnoticed.
An abandoned, decaying Miami stadium that once hosted the likes of Gloria Estefan, Elvis Presley, and Richard Nixon may finally be coming back to life. Since AN visited the 6,566-seat Marine Stadium last year there is new momentum to revitalize the iconic venue. And just as graffiti symbolized the stadium’s decline, street art could help secure its future.
A new, mid-rise, rental building on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn looks like many of the new, mid-rise, rental buildings in the borough—at least from the front. The GF55-designed building’s brick and glass facade is fairly nondescript, but around the corner, on the building’s eastern flank, a new 45-foot-wide, 75-foot-tall mural could become one of the most iconic—certainly the most Instagrammed—pieces of public art in the neighborhood.
An art installation along Philadelphia’s Northeast Amtrak corridor is adding some color to the travel experience for 34,000 daily riders. Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has been commissioned by the city’s Mural Arts Program to transform seven sites alongside the tracks with vibrant (and environmentally friendly) coats of paint: Orange and white streak across a warehouse, green and white do the same on an abandoned brick structure, and hot pink cover brush and boulders.
Since long before Adolf Loos published his seminal Principles of Cladding, architects have pondered the relationship between the surfaces of our environment and the secrets that lie beneath them. With his new installation at the Rokko Meets Art festival in Japan, street artist Jun Kitagawa has playfully un-zipped our curiosity.
Finally. Los Angeles’ City Council on Wednesday passed a new mural ordinance, legalizing murals on private buildings after a decade of banning them. Of course would-be public artists still have to go through an extensive permitting process, and pay a$60 fee, but if they’re persistent they can finally go crazy. That is, as long as their murals don’t contain commercial messages.
“It’s a big victory and we’re thrilled,” said Isabel Rojas-Williams, executive director of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. The group has been protecting the city’s murals and muralists since 1987. “Despite the recent restrictions, the city has remained one of the country’s mural capitals.”
Don’t believe us? Behold a selection below of our favorite (finally-sanctioned) murals from around the City of Angels, courtesy of the Mural Conservancy. They range from political to historical to street art / graffiti, to, well…the undefinable. Read More
As children love to imagine, what if we actually built our cities out of Legos? A bridge in Wuppertal, Germany, a city of 350,000 to the northeast of Cologne, offers one vision of what that city might look like. Street artist Martin Heuwold, or as he tags, MEGX, created the grand illusion last fall when he painted a dingy concrete span in the bright hues of every architect’s favorite toys.
The city appears to be banking on the High Line Effect. Faced with the prospect of a declining population, Wuppertal has been looking for ideas to reinvigorate the city and increase residents’ quality of life. The Lego Bridge is part of a 10-mile pedestrian and cycle path called Wuppertal Bewegung e.V. being built through the city on what was once the Wuppertal Northern Railway. Plans are also on the boards for a heritage trolley to run atop the viaduct. [H/T Colossal.]
EVOL: Repeat Offender
Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 West 20th Street, 9th floor
Through May 5
While his artwork might be hanging on the walls of a gallery in Chelsea, Berlin-based street artist Evol adds a distinct element of urban grit to his used-cardboard and spray-paint stencil works now on display as part of his Repeat Offender exhibition. The incredibly detailed views capture the abandonment of low-income German neighborhoods, using the texture of the cardboard base to enhance the paintings’ architectural qualities. “Clean surfaces don’t speak to me, so recording these marks is a process of visually remembering the charm of a place that will soon be painted over,” Evol said in a statement. Besides his cardboard paintings, Evol is also showing paintings on metal and photographs on his 2009 installation from a slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany.
Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils, sculpts architecture. Using mallets, picks, and jackhammers, Vhils chips away layers of plaster to create large murals in relief. His series of wall etchings called Scratching the Surface appears around the world from Moscow to Italy to the United States. Via Today and Tomorrow.