Gallery/Street, Public/Private, Archival/Ephemeral: Shin Shin’s Seed Pods

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am particularly interested in art that oscillates between studio and street, high and “low,” and public and private. I find Shin Shin’s work brilliant for this reason: she creates works in ephemeral materials for the street and archival materials for the gallery, all the while documenting the works’ changes and existence in high-resolution photography. Her gallery work is inspired by her street art, and vice versa, and her practice is an interesting cyclical process that considers longevity, ownership, and ephemerality.

At the Satellite Show this fall, I showed two Seed Pod works by Shin Shin. These pieces are printed on archival cotton rag in limited editions of ten. They perfectly held their own on the gallery wall and sold quickly.

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However, this is not the only life these images have had. This spring, the artist printed these designs on a thin newsprint and hung them with wheat paste around Soho. They became embedded in the urban decay at the same time their archival counterparts sat comfortably in a white-walled gallery.

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Yesterday, while walking on Thompson Street, I saw the vestiges of one of these pieces. Torn on the sides and bottom, it seems that people have tried, unsuccessfully, to steal the work, to make this inherently public installation a private one. By using newsprint, the artist prevents this, and instead the damaged and weakened work is left to dissolve quietly. It’s still beautiful – the power of decay and change is never lost on a city like New York – and it becomes a conversation about fragility and ephemerality.

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I think an image that can withstand different settings, different purposes, and the ravages of time is the most wonderful kind of art.

9 Delivery Trucks and a Banksy Waterfall: Street Art on Wheels in NYC

During Banksy’s NYC residence last fall, I went in search of his “Mobile Waterfall”: a rainforest-like vista constructed inside a standard white delivery truck that moved around the city. To finally find the piece parked on a small street in Soho was a breath of fresh air:

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Banksy’s “Waterfall” is not the only truck-based art to grace our city. Over the past few months, as we’ve emerged from a terrible winter and into a sticky summer, I’ve increasingly noticed the decorated delivery trucks that speed through NY, serving as little bursts of color and energy in the urban landscape. While these trucks are more about graffiti and less about conceptual art, en masse they form a worthy body of visual culture. Here are 9 of my recent favorites (spotted in Manhattan and Brooklyn over the past few months):

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Images from the Satellite Show

Last week was a wild one for the New York art scene due to Frieze, the Outsider Art Fair, and the many events that pop up around those institutions. I participated in the Satellite Show, which focused on hanging outsider, insider, modern, contemporary, and street art together using visual and thematic connections (without regard for traditional labels).

This was the inaugural Satellite Show, and based on the response we received, we will undoubtedly organize more “Satellite” events in the future. We were mentioned in Hyperallergic (thanks to critic Edward M. Gomez) and the New York Times, and had a steady stream of visitors throughout the weekend.

Below are some photos from our opening party (courtesy James Forsyth). Enjoy!

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Seeing Communities, and Making Art, Through Objects of Everyday Life

This week, I gave a lecture at Temple University on Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, and Southern Vernacular Art, so I’ve been thinking about different ways of including everyday objects in artwork. One of the most distinctive elements of Southern Vernacular material is that artists employ the detritus of their communities, reusing garbage and forgotten objects in interesting ways. Instead of drawing or painting the homesteads and industries around Birmingham, Alabama, (and Atlanta, Georgia), Dial and Holley have depicted them through the region’s material culture.

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Thornton Dial / Memory of the Ladies That Gave Us the Good Life / 2004 / Tin, carpet, wood, glove, washbasin, scrub brush, yard ornament, motor oil bottle, paint brush, clothing, wire, enamel, and spray paint on wood / 98.5 x 82 x 10.5 inches / Image courtesy Souls Grown Deep Foundation

While walking the High Line earlier this week, I stumbled upon a piece that employs objects commonly seen in New York City. Artist Josh Kline has capitalized on the cultural meanings of purchased, recognizable things to highlight inherent vices within NYC life. Rather than repurposing objects that provide a sense of everyday life, as Dial and Holley have, Kline is using objects as a parody of themselves and of big city culture.

The strength of Kline’s Skittles (2014) is its slow reveal. Upon approaching the work, it seems to be an advertisement for the  juice bars that have become pervasive in Manhattan.

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On closer inspection, the subversive humor of his project comes out (in the form of ingredient lists):

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While Kline’s work lacks the nuance, sophistication, and power of much Southern Vernacular material, it provides a humorous, welcomed moment in a public Manhattan space. It implores city dwellers to take the trappings of modern life a little less seriously.