Beginning today and running through October 10, the One Art Space gallery in Tribeca will be holding an exhibit titled Attack the Block – “a concise survey of contemporary street art in America.” With many of the featured artists having already had their work exhibited in museums and galleries like MoMA, the Whitney and the Brooklyn Museum, the show is what Daniel Giella, owner of One Art Space, describes as an “all-star game” of the street art world. But is the show also an oxymoron?
“It’s really more fine art by artists otherwise known as ‘street artists,'” clarified Alex Emmart, founder of the former Mighty Tanaka gallery and one of the curators involved in Attack the Block. “You can’t take something that’s inherently for the streets and put it in a gallery — it’s a temporary art form that people can interact with, which is the most important thing about street art. Street art, for lack of a better term, is how these artists got their break.”
It’s with this distinction in mind that fine art dealer Damien Roman came up with the idea for Attack the Block in the first place. Roman believes that by featuring up-and-comers such as Houston-based 2:12 alongside established artists such as Swoon, Shepard Fairey and Ron English, he’s continuing a tradition previously established by curator Jeffrey Deitch. “After Basquiat and Haring, there was a large gap in time before Deitch picked up the mantle and said, ‘I’m going to start representing street artists, give them a gallery and a space, so they can create their work safely and expand upon what they were doing’.”
Giving these artists room to “expand,” Attack the Block seeks to demonstrate Deitch’s vision, a particularly fine example of which can be found in the work of LA-based artist Tim Conlon. In the early ’90s, Conlon was part of the first wave of artists to begin “bombing” trains back in his hometown of Washington, DC. For Attack the Block, Conlon has taken a literal approach to translating his work for the fine art world, swapping track for gallery, but keeping train. In this way, Conlon perfectly represents the collision of these two worlds.
In the wake of the recent LoMan Arts festival, street art in New York seems to be finally receiving it’s due recognition, an unsurprising fact for Roman. “There’s not one set template that describes street art, this right here just shows the range and depth of this whole movement.” To see what exactly Roman’s on about, click through the pictures below.
Correction: The original version of this post was revised to correct the name and hometown of Tim Conlon.