New Documentary on Graff and Street Art Grrlz: “Street Heroines”

Because I’m a mother of a beautiful amazing brilliant small child, sometimes I miss the other stuff going on in life. But don’t get it twisted, I’m still down! 😉

Last night was one of those times, but luckily because Pau is painting at SUNY New Paltz this week (and on a panel today with me!), I got to experience the brilliance second hand.

Alexandra Henry screened her new documentary Street Heroines: “A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE COURAGE AND CREATIVITY OF FEMALE GRAFFITI AND STREET ARTISTS.”

Peep the trailer! Fall in love. Feel the energy around this movement to uplift women putting in the work. Donate Money.

Support Women in Street Art!

Go See City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection

About 3 weeks ago I was back in New York City for a handful of days, thoroughly enjoying the dark skies, slushy snow, and freezing wind. What can I say? I’m a winter baby. I had a short list of critical TO DO’s for my visit: 1. eat any and all Latin American food (things like tostones y arroz con habichuela don’t exist here in Abu Dhabi, neither do proper burritos); 2. eat all the pizza you can get your hands on; 3. eat a burger smothered in dill pickles; 4. stock up on all the things you take for granted (like unscented soap for sensitive skin); 5. walk through the village; 6. visit 5pointz and witness the disgraceful remains of the whitewashing; and finally, go see City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection. My priorities revolved around food and graffiti…but, considering where I was and what I do, that probably makes a lot of sense.

I didn’t know it, but I have been waiting for something like City as Canvas for almost four years.

I first learned about Wong—the East Village Chinese American artist/advocate/collector who died from AIDS related causes in 1999—in 2009. The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University hosted a panel discussion and organized an exhibition highlighting the cultural context of 80s and 90s NYC within which Wong and his friends lived and worked called Art, Archives, and Activism: Martin Wong’s Downtown Crossings. The exhibition was created with works drawn from the Fales library, memorabilia from friends (like Lee, Charlie Ahearn), Semaphore Gallery, and PPOW Gallery. Sitting on the panel, Lady Pink and Hugo Martinez described him and his commitment to their work and graffiti subculture in the 80s/90s culture wars and amidst yet another push for NYC’s “urban renewal.” I remember thinking how his apartment must have been an extraordinary place, an intimate, precious, and unique vault of moments in NYC graffiti’s early history. I wanted to see it ALL.

The works in City as Canvas are also from the 80s, but the 70s are present as well. Turns out, in 1993/1994 Wong donated the “treasure trove” that was his apartment to the City Museum; he had been collecting since 1982. Viewers can watch clips of Wong talking to friends on the phone about his decision; there is also a short video (by Ahearn) of writers like Lee and Daze talking about Wong, looking at the memorabilia, and explaining the context of the work. Described by Felicia Lee in the New York Times, as the “remnants of the schism between the outlaw art form and mainstream institutions,” on view are: blackbooks—so many blackbooks—encased in glass just asking to be thumbed through (that part is a tad torturous); giant pieces of scrap plywood painted by Futura 2000 and Zephyr; a bust of Jesus altered by LAII’s markings; a too cool wooden grid of tags collected by Wicked Gary; framed Martha Cooper originals, including the infamous Dondi photo; a video of painted trains passing by; and spray-painted jean jackets (this photoblog has a nice bit of images). For certain writers, you can see the original piece that you’ve only seen in books. You can also see really early sketches and works on canvas, where space, color, line, depth, and medium were being tested and innovated. It’s impossible to process everything at once. I gotta go back.

   New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix” placed City as Canvas right at the intersection of highbrow, lowbrow, brilliant, and despicable (technically in the highbrow and brilliant square)—a fitting spot for a show on graffiti art in a city that has always had a love/hate, consume/reject, celebrate/criminalize bipolar relationship with the movement.

Basically, my message here is simple: IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET, GO. You have until August. You can purchase the exhibition book at the museum gift shop along with all kinds of goodies, like this mug that I simply had to have.

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Support the important cultural work this show is doing for graffiti subculture, the writers, the aficionados, and the advocates. If you have not been to a museum since high school, or think all museums are places of “high art” snobbery…take thee to this exhibition. This is your history NYC; part of a movement born on your streets that speaks to those beyond those streets and thrives in cities around the world. Like Wong, we must recognize the worth in a genre of art making labeled criminal or aesthetically displeasing. In a capitalist world drowning in the proper, the conventional, the luxurious, and the mainstream (pop culture), we must support the despicable, the alternative, and the lowbrow popular cultures—the cultures of the people.

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“Tough as Nails,” Artwork from the Women of Few & Far Crew at APSF Gallery

For Immediate Release, Art Primo SF Gallery presents:

Tough as Nails: Artwork from the Women of Few & Far Crew

Opening Reception: Saturday, August 3rd 2013, 6-10pm @ 1124 Sutter st, San Francisco 94109

Exhibit: Aug 3rd – Sept 29th, 2013

Press Contact: Kelsey Lannin- gallery@ArtPrimoSF.com This is an all-ages event, open to the public.

Photo courtesy of Erin Ashford

Photo courtesy of Erin Ashford

About the Artists

Few & Far is a collective of highly creative female graffiti artists from around the world, working together to promote participation of women in typically male dominated sub-cultures. They travel the globe connecting women through artistic and social exchange, showcasing their art on walls and in the streets. “Tough as Nails” is a representation of their collective belief that all women should feel encouraged to do what they love, despite gender imbalances found throughout society.

About Art Primo SF Gallery

Art Primo SF Gallery works to showcase graffiti art in the gritty and subversive spirit out of which the subculture has grown. We strive to make artwork available both to serious collectors and the general public, with affordable pricing and public, all-age events. Our top priority is the preservation of anonymity for those artists working with us who wish to keep their identity private. Art Primo SF Gallery is attached to the Art Primo SF graffiti art supply store, offering the best selection of high quality street art supplies in the Bay Area.

For media inquiries and photo requests please email gallery@ArtPrimoSF.com

Art Primo SF Gallery

1124 Sutter St.

San Francisco, CA 94109 415.547.0087

ArtPrimoSF.com

Week 4 with Graf Grrlz on the Rise, sidewalk chalk extravaganza!

It’s hard to believe, but we are almost done with the program. *sigh*

Anywho, this week was all about crews: what they are and mean for graffiti writers, why writers form them, what their purpose is, and of course…the girls decided what their crew names would be. They learned about Maripussy (well, the older ones because having 2nd graders say “pussy” didn’t really seem right), the Stick Up Girls, Crazis, Turronas, PMS (provoked many giggles), Girls on Top, and Few and Far. We talked about how being in an all-female crew might make you feel more empowered to keep painting because you are part of a community, and also  how you could feel equally disempowered because women are often really hard on each other. We talked about the importance of having each others backs, finding out who someone is before believing a rumor you might hear about them, and the concept of strength in numbers. We also talked about how gender might influence aesthetic choices and value systems ( they learned this after I explained what “aesthetics” are..”oooh, like how you decide to dress”). When I asked them to brainstorm their own crew names, they came up with:

PBC: PINK A BOO CREW
PJC: PINK JAGUARS aka PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY CREW
SGD: SASSY GOLDEN DIVAS CREW
DTM: DOING THE MOST CREW (I’m a big fan of this one)
H2O: HAVE TO OVERCOME CREW
LIP: LADIES IN POWER CREW (and this one)
SSC: SWEET ‘N SOUR CREW

There are more groups that we didn’t get to see this week, but this is a great start. To prepare them for the field trip to Brisky Gallery in Wynwood, we had them use chalk on black construction paper. At times it felt like nails on a chalkboard, but I did my best to power through. Ha.

We visited Brisky Gallery to see the Few & Far production from 2012 Basel. After the Gallery Director, Luis Valle, gave us a tour of the show “Eternal Reflection” we headed to the backyard (BTW, go see this show!!). So finally, we had the chance to talk about graffiti art in front of a real live wall! Once the girls got over the grass being tall and the many little bugs, they focused on what was in front of them–a gorgeous production composed of 13 separate pieces, woven together through color and shape. I walked them through each piece, explaining a little bit about each artist–and I have to say, they are getting pretty good at reading the letters! *swells with pride*

And then we all realized it was like 95 degrees and we were slowly dying. So we went back in, took a mini break and then grabbed some sidewalk chalk and they went to town. We had made photocopies of parts of the wall so the girls could look at them and try to mimic the style of the character or the piece with sidewalk chalk. Then Luis told us that not only could we draw on the sidewalk but also on the building next door! Woot! Some of them were too hot to focus, but others…well, they had a BLAST!

“Wild Thing” Artwork by Sharon Lee de la Cruz aka MISS163 Opens Tonight!

If you’re in NYC tonight, swing through the opening at bOb!!

bOb Bar is pleased to present Wild Thing, an exhibition of work by graffiti artist MS163. Please join us for an opening reception on Wednesday, July 3rd to meet the artist and celebrate her work.

In MS163’s series Wild Thing, the fictional yet familiar character “Max” from Where the Wild Things Are (1963) performs the role of the iconic Ruby Bridges—a crucial player in the civil rights movement and desegregation in 1960s New Orleans. On the one hand, MS163 celebrates the centrality of women of color in national sociopolitical movements; on the other, she begs the spectator to consider how women of color are used by these same movements. Wild Thing asks: how was Ruby, at 6 years old, deployed as a symbol of femininity, fragility, and respectability for the betterment of the African American community?

Sharon Lee De La Cruz is a prolific artist and activist in New York City. She earned a BFA from The Cooper Union, is a Fulbright scholar, and is now an MA candidate in NYU’s ITP program. She has shown in numerous venues throughout the New York metropolitan area, notably during Armory Week 2012 at the Bronx River Arts Center. She has been awarded residencies at Wonder Women and 365 Days of Print. Additionally, De La Cruz has designed a limited edition perfume bottle for Calvin Klein’s CK One Shock Street Edition For Her.

http://www.unoseistres.com  | #miss163atbOb  | RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/528173020553056/

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My Thuggy Pony All-Grrlz Jam in the Bronx

When I went to bed last night I had no idea I’d be spending 8 hours in the pouring rain watching some of NYC’s illest graffiti women kill a wall in the Bronx. Granted, I knew they were painting since I helped organize it…but the non-stop-just-enough-to-soak-your-feet-throughout-the-day-misty sprinkly stuff—-that part was a surprise. And the wall is not finished because of it, but whatever. This is [legal] graffiti. It can be an extreme sport, haha. So weather be damned, PIXIE, CHOCK, ABBY, NEKS, QUEEN ANDREA, EROTICA, AND MS163 painted.

I took a LOT of photos. You can see some of them here.

Interview with Chock GOT

I have some EXCITING NEWS!!

The Girls on Top (the UK’s first all-female graffiti crew) are coming to NYC for group exhibition at bob bar this MAY (see bob bar page)!!! So, to hype you all up for the show, I thought I’d share an interview I did with Chock—one of the crew’s founders—in April. So, enjoy your reading and get to know the girls (or, ya know, one of them!) before they get here!! Hope to see you for the opening reception on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 7PM!!

Jess: How’d you choose “Chock” for a tagname? And what crews do you rep?

Chock: I chose it as I wanted a feminine name, but I really liked chocolate! I always used to paint the O as a heart. GOT THC BRS and United Artists thanks to Duster.

Jess: Care to share your 9-5?

Chock: I’m a full time artist. I teach workshops and paint commission mainly. I am also into public sculpture and hope to get that underway with regards to commissions this year. My workshops are in schools and other community centres.  My company is called Paint My Panda.

Jess: Writing for how long and how did you get started?

Chock: 15 years. I was a skater as a kid and always saw graff a lot didn’t think to do it until I went interailing with my boyfriend of the time and the whole continent was smashed! Thought I have to do some of that and got on with it at the age of 17 . ~I was a rubbish skater anyway.

Jess: When did you get down with GOT and how did it happen?

Chock: I started the crew with another girl (NED) in around 2000 cos we were both bored of being the only girls, it was just for fun and she stopped writing, I kept it on because it is boring being the only girl and most of the male writers I have met are not gentlemen!

Jess: What particular aesthetic do you bring to the table and how does that differ from the rest of the crew (if it does)?

Chock: My style is usually very bold and colourful. I lack on the finer details like Cry can bring with her portraits cos my eyesight is shit! I used to have to get people to tell me if anyone was coming in yards, I swear I see fuck all without my glasses! I like to paint cartoons and silly animals too and take pride in my letters. Sabe paints tattoo styles, luna is illustration, cry is photorealistic portraits and 80s style letters, pixie paints cartoony stuff, punish paints calligraphy styles and neo nita paints crazy neon monsters J

Jess: Do you think there is a relationship between hip hop and graffiti?

Chock: There is deffo a relationship. I love hip-hop music I also love loads of other music. We try to post dope females in art music and dance on our blog along with our own work.

Jess: What is hip hop?

Chock: A way of life, a subculture, a style of music, dance and art

Jess: What new trends or types of graffiti are you seeing?

Chock: Photorealism has been around for ages now over here, I see the fine art styles coming through more deffo in my work also as I did study it graduating in fine art sculpture in 2001.

Jess: What do you think about graffiti culture being online, does it change anything?

Chock: It helps people all over the world communicate, it’s a good thing but don’t put your train stuff up cos its hot! You can get famous quickly from all that but also get busted. Over here so many people go to prison for it and that type of stuff is used as evidence against them- don’t boast on the net! I spend a lot of time on here as I work as an artist as use it as a promotion tool, Facebook and other sites have helped me get work and be known for the projects I run over here.

Jess: Tell me what you know about women in graffiti history.

Chock: err…Barbara and eva 62, lady pink, mickey…Martha coopers pics… we are under represented in the main but maybe because we are unique. Not many girls can do what we do due to family pressures or no desire to get so dirty and poor!

Jess: Do you think graffiti reflects, represents or retools your identity in any way?

Chock: It rebuilt my identity, it allowed me to change things in my life, relationships, jobs, situations I didn’t like and create what I wanted to do and be and allowed me to surround myself with people who inspire me not drag me down.

Jess: Do you think of yourself (and your work with GOT) as feminist? What is feminism?

Chock: For me feminism is just belief in ones self. Not allowing shit you don’t like to happen to you and being proud of who you are as an individual.

Jess: What does the word “community” mean to you?

Chock: The people around me. I do lots of community work and charity painting projects. Everyone’s actions affect each other and it is important to engage with people around you to create a better future for everyone not just yourself. There are many people worse off than you.

Jess: Can you tell me the history of GOT (how has GOT changed over the years?, who are the members?, etc.).

Chock: GOT was started in 2000 by myself and NED in Manchester, we drifted apart as she stopped painting and I carried on in other crews in London. I got on the graff girls site [RIP GraffGirlz.com] and started meeting girl writers (akme, numi) to paint with again which was cool cos I really had been the only girl painting for time, there is no one in my area at all who does it! I met up with a mates girlfriend called mira we did some pieces and some bombing together and I put on a jam at stockwell, London in 2007 and put akit, luna, Claudia de sabe and lyns in the crew too; did more jams in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and have now got a nice 7 person line up of Chock, Luna, Sabe, Pixie, Punish, Cry and Neo Nita. The jams are a cool chance for us to get together and jam basically, its not a sexist thing cos we want some boys come down too but its mainly for us girls cos we need support we don’t get from lads. Not all of us have great boyfriends!

Jess: GOT is a “Female graffiti crew started in 2000 to help unite the females in graff world” according to Facebook…can you elaborate on what prompted this? What it means to you? Why it is important?

Chock: As I said its just about friendship really and a love of graff, life is dull on your own

Jess: Do you work collaboratively with other crews/collectives, magazines, or websites?

Chock: Not so much yet the crew is looking to do more of that this year and onwards really we have done a few bits with COP and put the jams on so we can all meet up with other girl writers but the scene is not massively strong over here still its very much in the minority, there are many female artists and illustrators but they don’t love the can so much.

 

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HomeGirls artworks by Abby online store is up!

I hope you’ll take the time to visit http://www.abbygraff.com and then buy a canvas or print for your collection, or for your favorite hip hop fanatic. Truly is money well spent.

HOMEGIRLS

artwork by Abby

A Queens, New York native, Abby is a visual artist with roots in the early ‘80s graffiti art scene at the geneses of New York’s Hip Hop movement. She attended the seminal High School of Art and Design in Manhattan from 1981 to 1984, where she was mentored by some of the most prolific and celebrated visual artists in urban and fine art such as Web One, Doze Green and Mare 139.

Abby was accepted to Parsons School of Design (New York)and attended from 1985-1987. Although she thrived academically, the financial strain was simply too much for her and her family, so she silently applied to Temple University’s Tyler School of Art (Elkins Park, PA and Philadelphia respectively). She graduated in 1991 with a BFA in graphic design with an emphasis on packaging.

In 1991, Abby returned to New York, started working for Arista Records and happily returned to painting legal walls with her crew. In 1992, as the design industry was quickly transitioning to computer-based design, she relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area where opportunities in Silicon Valley were abundant. There, she quickly became submerged in digital art, working for start-up ad agencies. Eventually, Abby earned coveted positions designing packaging and promotional work, most notably for Sega, Safeway Corporate Advertising, Concord Records and World Market.

Marriage and motherhood fostered a shift in Abby to work exclusively freelance, allowing her to remain present for her family and support her fine art. After 16 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, Abby relocated back to the East Coast where she could be closer to her roots.

Since 2008, Abby has been exhibited in ‘Heiroglyphics 3’ at the San Francisco African American Art and Culture Complex, ‘Queenz Arrive’ at McCaig-Welles NYC, and ‘TC5 Revolutions’ at Crewest LA.

In 2012, Abby lectured at Davidson College in North Carolina, on the topic of Stylemasters of Graffiti and her experiences as a female graffiti artist in her native culture and as a design professional.

April 2013 marks Abby’s solo exhibit ‘HomeGirls’ currently on display at bOb Bar NYC until May 19th, which depicts the places and mind-spaces the artist has called home. HomeGirls makes visual her journey as an African American woman, an original participant in a vibrant transnational arts movement, as she transitions from place to place (physically and emotionally) trying to find a balance between motherhood and career that won’t demand she sacrifice one for the other.

To Purchase Works from the show, please visit http://www.abbygraff.com !!

“Homegirls” artwork by Abby, opening next Wednesday!!

"Charlotte" by Abby TC5, on sale at bob bar NYC

“Charlotte” by Abby TC5, on sale at bob bar NYC

 

HOMEGIRLS artwork by ABBY

curated by Jessica N. Pabón

  

Opening Reception: Wednesday April 17th, 2013 6PM-9PM

 RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/299368726856841

bOb Bar is pleased to present the solo exhibition HOMEGIRLS, a collection of works that transform the cities Abby has called home into figurative representations. Abby uses traditional graffiti letter forms to illustrate metaphors and emotions—which are intimate, and sometimes universal in appeal—to push the boundaries of the genre. HOMEGIRLS features African American women whose cadence symbolizes the artist’s experiences living in cities like Philly, Oakland, and Queens. Please join us on Wednesday April 17th, 2013, from 6:00PM to 9:00PM, to meet the artist and celebrate her work.

A Queens, New York native, Abby is a visual artist with roots in the early 80’s graffiti art at the geneses of New York’s Hip Hop movement. She attended the seminal High School of Art and Design in Manhattan from 1981 to 1984, and has been a quiet, yet active, crew member of TPA, TC5, Rocstars, KAOS Inc, and TM7 for three decades. Her early work has been captured inSpraycan Art and Piecebook Reloaded. Her recent work has been exhibited in ‘Heiroglyphics 3’ at the San Francisco African American Art and Culture Complex, ‘Queens Arrive’ at McCaig-Welles NYC, and ‘TC5 Revolutions’ at Crewest LA.

 Exhibition Dates: April 17th—May 19th, 2013

For more information, please contact the curator: jnp250@nyu.edu

bOb Bar

235 Eldridge Street

New York, NY 10002

212-529-1807   www.bobbarnyc.com

 

Video Mania!!

Here are just a few of the videos in my bookmarks:

Mugre & Cerok “Lucha libre”

Anarkia Boladona “Piece of Mind”

Bisy

Boosted Films Claw Money

Claw and Miss17 Interview

Eney

Few & Far X Ironlak Road Trip Tour 2012

Few and Far Miami Art Basel Behind the Scenes with AGANA

Girl Power movie Trailer

Indie x Karmaloop TV

Injah Painting

Janinné Nuz

Lineas // ZuriK Graffiti

Maripussy Crew 5PTZ 5.28.2011

Miss Van Sao Paulo 2013 VNA

Miss17 Graffiti

MRS Graffaholiks

Nish Cash

Naska

SAX

Shape

Solitas

Turronas Crew

Xalapa Sede del FEMINEM

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