Excellent Condition at 111 Minna

•June 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

111 Minna kept its gallery patrons sipping on fine alcoholic beverages, socializing amongst one another, and viewing art from local, and not so local, artists during the Excellent Condition show during the Month of May.

I shimmied and Harlem shook my way through the crowd to get a view of the art. There were art pieces of animals with glowing eyes, girls in hand-drawn black-and-white illustrations, shadowy figures positioned in photos that I swear must have been from World War II (sue me if I’m wrong), and even an alter of sorts for weed, yes, weed.

The beer I drank earlier was wearing thin and I needed to get to work. Low and behold my luck was bestowed upon me (I never use bestowed, but it sounds nice on paper). I ran into a few artists and two attendants whom all were not too shy to speak in front of the camera. Cody Cochrane, a North American artist, and Tim Schafer, a Bay Area artist, spoke about their art and why they do what they do. And two guests of Minna, Aaron Arabian and David Felice, gave their views of Minna and some of the artwork. So sit back and enjoy four minutes of funtastic fun at an art gallery that even you, yes you, should skip your way over to.


“Legal” Graffiti Around San Francisco

•May 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Yeah, so call me lazy, or call me a genius! Ok, maybe not a genius, but just a Santa of sorts, giving gifts to those who want to find legal graffiti, yet are too lazy to look for it for themselves. Like my timeline, this map is a working progress and as I continue to stumble upon more graffiti I will continue to add more points on my map. I hope this helps graffiti fiends with finding graff around the city. If not, I won’t hold it against you. I’ll just shed a few tears behind closed doors :(.

Graffiti Writing From the East Coast to the West Coast

•May 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The Bay Area graffiti scene has been regarded as the mecca of graffiti with artists from around the world coming to put fresh paint on the blank walls. But graffiti did not simply appear in the San Francisco out of the blue.  A long history of creating styles and learning from peers evolved the world of graffiti as we know it. After doing a little bit of research I have created a timeline of graffiti from its beginnings in the East Coast to its way into the Bay Area. I also document graffiti in the media. This timeline is a working progress and much more will be added very soon!

Yeah, Another Blog Post About Banksy in SF

•May 4, 2010 • 2 Comments
The street artist Banksy has been the talk of the town for the past week and low and behold, it seems like everybody wants a piece of that Banksy pie. Not only have bloggers been fresh on the trail of his recent art pieces seen throughout the city, but one particular street artist tried taking some of his shine. USA Today labeled him one of the most influential people of 2010. And did I mention that his film “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” was considered a possible film of the year? Good golly miss Molly (and I never use that saying) that seems like a lot to swallow within a week!

Several of Banksy’s pieces were discovered throughout San Francisco. A couple of them sprouted out in Chinatown, another one appeared on Haight Street, and another magically made its way to Alcatraz, mmhmm, you heard that right *snap.* Some argued that his San Francisco artwork was a publicity stunt for his recent film, while others think that his work may be done by the hand of assistants. Whether or not the pieces are Banksy originals, one particular artist named “Otter” tried stealing some of his spotlight.

Otter strategically planted images of the Otter Pop otter, along with a tagline of his name, on some of Banksy’s street art murals in Chinatown. How long did Otter’s piece last? Five hours. The owners of the shop, which Banksy paid fifty bucks to use as his blank canvas, painted over Otter’s attempt to get his fifteen minutes, I’m sorry, five hours of fame. But that did not stop Otter from hitting up another Banksy piece right above an H&R Home Furnishing rooftop. I loved Otter Pops when I was growing up, and I still do, but is this artist that desperate to get his or her name out there? Maybe Otters attempt to gain some attention was a cry to Banksy lovers that there are more street artists than Banksy. Who knows.

Is Banksy overrated? That is really the question for you to answer. Is he popular based on his anonymity? Is he popular because celebrities like Brad Pitt dig his style? Or is he popular because he is the best, hands down? I think Banksy’s work is over-hyped, but I am not taking away from the work he puts out. He makes political statements and continues to do so even with the amount of attention that comes along with it. Sure he makes a little bit of cash for his art, but why not get paid for something you’re good at? Even the joker knew that.

There are tons and tons of artists out there putting up amazing pieces of work like graff writer Reyes, or street artist Bigfoot, who don’t get the attention that Banksy gets because everyone drools over whatever he does. Sure Banksy makes bold moves such as his political statement in Disneyland, but is he really someone that deserves all of the attention? And what am I doing by writing yet another blog on an artist that has the blog world already exploding with people talking about the same stuff? Maybe this is my way venting out towards something that doesn’t need as much attention that it received, and still is receiving. I am in no way someone who enjoys drinking hatorade. Hell, I even supported Banksy’s film and I liked it. But the next time you take a stroll down the street and see a stenciled out rat, chilling on the side of the building ask yourself if it really is that big of a deal. Just a thought.

Banksy in SF(Photo: sfslim)

Fillmore art and music crawl

•April 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I stumbled across the first annual Fillmore art and music crawl this past week on April 23, 2010. There was music, art, clothing designers, and booze, yes, booze. Naturally, I drifted towards the general area where artists spray-painted mannequins. Another artist put up a really cool piece, depicting the event. Yeah, I know, this isn’t 100 percent graffiti, but bear with me people! Enjoy the video 🙂

Banksy: Exit through the gift shop

•April 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

There is much talk about Banky’s recently released film “Exit through the gift shop,” whether his main character Thierry Guetta, a middle-aged French videographer turned artist, is a real person or Banksy himself, mocking the modern street art culture. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. Otherwise, everything about the film is enjoyable to watch unwind.

The film takes us through Guetta’s obsession with cameras and how he filmed his life literally from dusk til dawn. Most observers would deem him crazy or even an idiot, and most did, but he continued filming with an obsession like no other. The phone was like an extended body part for him. But he needed more than filming random run-in’s with people. He needed “excitement.” His cousin “Invader,” who was a street artist that pasted Space Invader cutouts anywhere he could think of, helped feed his obsession.

He filmed everywhere his cousin went, meeting other street artists along the way. But Guetta got bored. He wanted someone who was not as easily accessible as his cousin. Low and behold came street artist Shepard Fairey, who is known for the infamous “Obey” stickers and images as large as billboards, that are posted all over the world. They went around the world, marking their territory as they went along. Guetta even helped Fairey on his late night Spidermanesque trips on rooftops and billboard signs.

Eventually, Guetta wanted more yet again. At this time the super-secretive unicorn of a street artist, Banksy’s popularity was at an all time high. He wanted to film alongside him. Through luck, he was able to stumble across Banksy through Fairey. To answer all of your thoughts, no, Banksy did not show his face nor did he use his real voice. Anyway, Guetta and Banksy went everywhere to film.

Hours and hours of footage later, Banksy forced Guetta to put together a documentary. The result: garbage. But like a kind-hearted mentor, Banksy encouraged Guetta to become an artist himself, something he was already getting into as he worked with more and more artists, and put together his own show. He learned their secrets. He knew where to go, what to do, and how to do it. But he missed one thing: Originality. But that still did not stop him from putting together an over-the-top, all out art show.

And what was this “street artist’s” name? Mr. Brainwash. Seriousness aside, I can make a whole blog on his name alone. But anyway, the argument becomes should I feel sad for the people who work under Guetta or do I feel sad for the gullible money-spending patrons who walk through the door? *Shrug.* His off the wall, horribly unoriginal art show was a success and it was all built from the hype Banksy and Fairey helped build for him online.

And Guetta ran with the idea and promoted more so than he worked on his “art.” Whether the even was real or not the result and build up equaled something that was entertaining throughout. So maybe the “crazy idiot” was really a mastermind after all, learning the tricks of the trade from the best and regurgitating it back to the public in order to exploit a subculture and make a quick buck.

So what does this film have to do with the graffiti culture? The graffiti culture is definitely an underground do-it-yourself scene and this movie showed pieces of it from the 30×40 feet paper images artists used to plaster onto buildings to the extreme lengths some take like climbing billboards late night to achieve their goal. But the film also makes you think whether street art is for money and acceptance or for self expression. It is hard to tell these days when artists are selling some of their artwork and making a decent living from it.

In the end the film was great. Definitely worth a watch. Though the film is not about Banksy, the main character in the film is interesting and well developed enough to watch and enjoy. And this is a side note, but I never even heard of a guy named Mr. Brainwash. Aweful name. Personally, I think Fembot is even cooler. Or so my mom thinks….Jeez.

Interview with Mr. Clean SF Mohammed Nuru

•April 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Mohammed Nuru

Mr. Clean SF

Gone are the days of Mr. Clean only being a balding man plastered on cleaning bottles used to scrub kitchen floors. The new millennium embraces the latest tidy man Deputy Director of Operations for the Department of Public Works Mohammed Nuru, also known as “Mr. Clean San Francisco.” His aim: to put a hurting on the dirt and grime in the streets of San Francisco.

What exactly does this mean for Nuru? Not only does he wish to keep city buildings and streets in tip top shape, plant trees, and scrub the urine-smelling streets down, but he wants to keep graffiti at a minimum.

Wait, did I just say graffiti? Indeed I did, but he has reason and even logical solutions to keep both property owners and graffiti writers with a smile on their faces.

Nuru, who also works as the chair of the graffiti advisory board, says the main issue with graffiti in San Francisco are tags. Not only does he see this problem on other people’s property, but he notices this occurring on murals that graffiti writers put their blood, sweat, and tears into. What does this cost the city? According to Nuru, cleaning graffiti costs San Francisco 20million big ones.

Yeah, it is a pretty penny to keep the city clean from graffiti, but Nuru does not take the easy way out and simply slap cuffs on graffiti-writing culprits. He cooperates with several creative outlets that promote creativity.

The San Francisco Art Commission, for example, matches graffiti writers with property owners. The artist and the property owner work out a deal that enables the artist to throw up a mural on the proprietor’s place of business. Nuru says there is a huge response from the art community. “The artists become big partners with city agencies,” says Nuru, who also adds that property owners have the ability to choose between specific graffiti writers in a portfolio if they would like to work with them.

Even with a creative outlet like the San Francisco Art Commission, the truth is, there are still writers that choose to break the rules. To curb that Nuru says SF has a database that keeps track of most tags that specific writers use. And if that writer happens to get caught he or she would be prosecuted for all tags he or she had done. Other than a database, Nuru says graffiti writers caught defacing property sometimes must spend time and do graffiti scrub downs themselves.

In the future, Nuru hopes to create a space for writers to periodically put their work up. He says he wants to hear what graffiti artists want and that this idea is in the works. He really wants the writers to determine what the rules should be for he is an artist himself and he appreciates art. “We are not trying to stop this type of art,” he says, “but we want to stop this defacing and vandalizing of people’s property.”

Maybe Nuru’s dream will come true, maybe it won’t. It’s hard to say. Just because skate parks exist does that mean suburban skaters will suddenly stop hopping fences and skating their high school? I think not. So will providing a space for graffiti writers stop them from defacing property owners storefronts? Maybe it will, but odds are there will be someone wanting to walk on the wild side and feel the rush of watching wet paint lightly cover the surface of a blank canvas.