Deathdays aren’t usually cause for celebration, but in the case of Christopher Wallace– better known as Biggie Smalls– it only makes sense to organize an art show dedicated to the late rapper around the afterlife. Without it, 20 Big Years would have denied the necromancy that runs throughout the life work of Notorious B.I.G. (his mere two studio albums are a clear sign that his life was cut too short), and that has come to define his persona after death. Even if all these ghosts still give his fans the willies. As one visitor, pointing to an altered version of Barron Claiborne’s famous photo of Biggie wearing a crown, said to her friend: “That one with the skull–it’s so morbid, but so deep.” (The friend agreed.)
BYO Art for International Women’s Day
Opening Wednesday March 8 at The Living Gallery, 9 pm. One night only.
If you’re a woman creator, walk yourself over to The Living Gallery this Wednesday for the International Women’s Day edition of their recurring BYO Art exhibition. The idea behind BYO Art is simple: just bring your art to the gallery and set it up. If there are any interested buyers present, you’ll get the full amount without the gallery taking a percentage. Since the art present will be contingent on who arrives with stuff they’ve made, there’s really no telling of what you’ll see. It could be something amazing.
This BYO Art is for women artists only in honor of Women’s Day, and will also host a variety of live music and poetry performances starting at 10 pm, including a short set by my band Squidssidy, so come say hi. Anyone can come, of course, despite the creators being only women. The event requests a $5 suggested donation that will go toward the Bushwick Exchange Zine, a publication dedicated to sharing free resources in and around Bushwick.
Long before Gordon Gekko’s bimbo cousin was inaugurated in January (no doubt aided by doing the best impression of Ronald Reagan he could muster), trend pieces had picked up a scent that hinted which way the wind was blowing. It had notes of burnt hair and overcooked mini vegetables on the nose, followed by white wine spritzer, and finished with a robust whiff of Misty Slim Lights and the lingering, chemically after-stank of cheap knockoff perfumes like “If you like Giorgio you’ll love PRIMO!” Then, the elections made it official: the ’80s are back, baby.
It might have smelled delicious, but the Decade of Greed wasn’t exactly a superbly excellent time for everyone involved. But for all the negi vibes–magnified in New York City by an extreme wealth gap– the ’80s produced some truly inspiring art, and the best of it came from a thriving, vibrant underground. During this time, graffiti reached its “golden age,” as a recent photography exhibition, Henry Chalfant: 1980, reminded us, and it wasn’t long before graf became a worldwide cultural phenomenon.
The last time I saw a bunch of RAE BK‘s work all in one place was in 2015, just after the street artist and Brooklyn-native had opened his guerrilla-style solo exhibition in Chinatown. But the show wasn’t held at a gallery, instead RAE’s site-specific installation was housed inside a dingy old basement, accessible only by way of an unmarked, totally unassuming rust-red metal door adjacent to a bustling produce market. Even then, I was so jaded that I couldn’t allow myself to believe that this was a real basement with real dirt and dust everywhere. But actually it wasn’t just a fancy pop-up rental space with a stage-grit makeover, nor was it an attempt by some developer to “activate” a particular corner before the building was torn down. As RAE told me, the basement was simply on loan from a recently-retired butcher with whom he had a “tentative relationship,” and the show, called Trunk Work, was one of those rare art happenings that was both real and strange.
Since Thursday, the white walls at Eric Firestone Gallery have been wholly devoted to just a small portion of Henry Chalfant’s archive of “subway photographs.” Henry Chalfant: 1980 focuses on a year in which graffiti was still regarded as subversive and dangerous. At the same time, street art was at its most vibrant and anarchic. The work offers not only a trip back to the “golden age of graffiti,” but a thorough “visual anthropology,” as Chalfant describes it– a studied view of street culture back when it actually came from the streets.
Oh Trump! The presidential hopeful continues to be a never-ending repository of hilarity, amazement, disgust, and abject terror. His bravado, swagger, and blatant disregard for those pesky things called facts have attracted millions of voters, but have repelled many others. We’ve seen more than enough of that doughy orange face and wispy hair to last most of us a lifetime, but a group called Indecline– what most outlets are reporting as an “anarchist collective” but don’t seem to embody those ideals at all– decided to take it one step further yesterday when the installed a naked Donald Trump statue at Union Square.
Soaring temperatures, brunch plans, hangovers of various kinds, cute outfits, and sundry pictures of food and iced beverages: if you had an awesome weekend but didn’t Instagram it for the world to see, then did it really happen? The way we see it– pics or it didn’t happen.
After a false start three weeks ago, street artist Logan Hicks is ready to give his Bowery Graffiti Wall mural another shot. The stencil mural, entitled Story of My Life, was supposed to go up the last week of July, but was scrapped after the wood panels that held the canvas shifted positions overnight, ruining the half-finished piece. Keep Reading »
Jim Power, working out his makeshift studio at the 6th Street Community Center, is busy getting ready to leave his mark on the new Astor Place Plaza, using the same creations he’s been planting around the East Village for the last 30 years: mosaics. With the help of his assistant, Julie Powell, he’s scraping, chiseling, and tiling new poles. The product of all this work is something that he and the rest of the East Village are quite used to seeing at this point, so much so that Power’s earned the nickname “Mosaic Man” for the dozens of colorful, chipped tile pieces he’s congealed together, then cemented onto light posts over the years.
Whatever medium you work in, it’s hard to be an artist. Barely anyone pays attention to anything you do, so keeping self-motivated can be tricky when you’re consistently weary from day jobs, keeping track of your 1099s and W9s, and closing down that bar you performed at to ensure you grip that sparse handful of wrinkly cash you so rightfully deserve. In the midst of all this noise, it’s easy for all those half-baked ideas to slip into some dark, far-away box at the back of your mind, and potentially never see the light of day.
Luckily, there are some folks out there who are willing to nudge you in the direction of productivity. Here are two upcoming opportunities to inspire artists, both visual and performance types, to get out there and do their thing.
Sometimes it can get a little old going to the same bars, galleries, shows, knowing the kind of stuff you’ll see there. So, shake it up with…
A live band at karaoke:
Saturday, July 30 at Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side. Doors at 8pm, music at 9pm. $10. More info here.
Karaoke is always a fun choice (I’m aware many would disagree) but karaoke backing tracks can often be in weird keys and sound like an early 2000s MIDI version of the song you actually wanted to sing. That’s all about to change with Be Yourself Karaoke, a live band that specifically plays ’90s/early 2000s emo and pop-punk songs with audience members as the lead singer. The setlist of songs to choose from is much less overwhelming than those huge karaoke binders and includes hits from Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, Say Anything, Good Charlotte, and more. Yes, that means you too can relive that dream of bopping around your bedroom yelling to MCR while wearing too much eyeliner, only this time you’ll have a microphone and a stage.
Earlier this year, when the East Village’s beloved Stage Restaurant closed in the wake of a dispute with its landlord Icon Realty Management, Brooklyn-based artist Gilf! plastered the diner’s former home with caution tape reading “Gentrification in Progress.” It wasn’t the first time one of the company’s properties was the site of artistic protest: Karen Platt, a resident of an Icon-owned building on East 5th Street, has been known to chalk up the sidewalk with messages like “Enough Is Enough,” and over July 4th weekend, someone spray-painted a message on the sidewalk in front of the now for-rent Stage space that advised, “DO NOT RENT HERE. DO NOT BUY HERE. BOYCOTT IN EFFECT.”