A new exhibition in Williamsburg wants people to know that there’s more to street art than “selfie backdrops”– and it’s taking up a block-long, two-story loft to do so. Beyond the Streets is an exhibition on the history of street art, displaying works new, old and never-before-seen, by street artists and the fellow creatives who were inspired by them. Artists range from New York favorites like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fab 5 Freddy to anonymous and international stars like the Guerilla Girls and Felipe Pantone.
“It’s incredible to me how far that ⁅street art⁆ has come, how impactful it is across the world, how diverse and breathtaking the creativity is,” Beyond the Streets’ lead curator and art director Roger Gastman said at the exhibition’s press opening on Wednesday. “While it’s risen to incredible heights, it amazes me how much more can be done to educate audiences on the people, the movements, that make up the culture.”
Beyond the Streets debuted in Los Angeles last year with works by over 100 artists, receiving such rave reviews and so many attendees (over 60,000) that it had to extend its run by nearly two months. The New York edition features over 150 artists. Visitors can do everything from enter replicas of the 1980s record stores where street artists’ teeny-bopper fans thrived, or peruse the many 1980s knick knacks in multimedia artist Bill Barminski’s fully interactive “Living Room” exhibit, made of cardboard sculpture.
“I can’t really think of any ⁅art⁆ that was that interactive back then,” says Barminski, who began creating work while involved in the 1980s punk rock/skater scene in Austin. “Something I like is breaking down that relationship between the audience and the art. Like, no, you can sit in the chair if you want. You can pick all of this stuff up.”
Beyond the Streets isn’t limited to street artists’ work, either. It includes series on the photographers, musicians and creative institutions who chased that work, or made it mainstream. The loft features an Adidas Skateboard exhibit on Cey Adams, a visual artist who created the logo for the Beastie Boys and went on to become creative director of Def Jam Records. It also features work by Lady Pink, who went from being a pioneering woman in New York’s graffiti subculture of the 1980s to doing commissions for international galleries and brands like Lancome, Maybelline and Avon.
“Every artist should have the opportunity to use their work and profit from it and survive,” said Lady Pink. “This is the first time that artists are being looked at instead of advertising.”
The exhibit opens this Friday, June 21 at 11am. It will be open weekly, Wednesday through Sunday, from 11am-8pm. Tickets are $25 for adults (12 and older), $11 for children 6-11 and free for kids 5 and under.