Trespass: Uncommissioned Public Art

Updates from and letters to the editor

The Art of the Prank & The Antics Roadshow

I loved getting this video link from the Art of the Prank site run by Joey Skaggs: Banksy’s Prank TV Special: The Antics Roadshow.
It was a pleasure to meet Joey at the Trespass book launch in New York — he had just the kind of bright eyes and youthful energy as the other pranksters featured in Banksy’s Antics Roadshow, which aired in the UK on Saturday. The video will make your day, just like the Art Threat post from last year on the Top 9 Political Art Projects of 2010. And how exciting that Banksy is continuing to use film to inspire; making positive connections between actions and today’s unrest.

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“when obey does not mean conform”

The interview I did with Shepard Fairey for Untitled Magazine it out on newstands and by subscription. You can read the full text here.
The issue’s theme is fame, and there’s also a timely interview with Noam Chomsky on “the myth of the american dream”.

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Don’t miss ‘Art in the Streets’ in LA!

Giant throw-up by Barry McGee and Josh Lazcano on the Geffen at MOCA

Don’t miss the Art in the Streets exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, which is up for just two more weeks, until Monday, August 8th. After seeing an advance PDF of the Trespass book, MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch recruited me to help coordinate the show, an epic collaborative effort between curators, artists, lenders, and museum staff that has commanded our attention for the better part of the past year. The exhibition has brought wild style graffiti other street art forms including cholo graffiti, skateboarding and even car muraling to an unprecedented museum audience as anti-authoritarian public expressions — the creative power of which I love seeing all together! In addition to the 45,000-sq ft exhibition, associate curators Roger Gastman, Aaron Rose, and I worked on producing the accompanying book  Art in the Streets in record time (thanks to the impeccable work of editor Nikki Columbus!) that showcases the work of such influential artists as Jamie Reid from the UK — especially exciting for me as Carlo and I had tried unsuccessfully to include examples of his work into the Trespass book. It was also wonderful to meet ROA from Belgium and witness firsthand the magic of his city animals, and Robbie Conal from Los Angeles, who inspires with political guerrilla poster campaigns. All in all, it was an incredible experience working from within an institution that has no doubt set an example, and to see that there really is a community of people  involved and interested in street art — we meet again and again! While we hope the show travels to New York and Europe and maybe even South America, do what you can not to miss the full and original version in Los Angeles.

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‘Street Art Stories’ Panel | Sat, Aug 13th, 3PM

Looking forward to speak at this event presented by Steven and Jaime from Brooklyn Street Art. Please RSVP to address in flyer if you can make it, and do say hello.

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San Francisco book signing, Thurs, Feb 17, 7PM

Forgive the cliche “time has really flown by” but it really has as I’ve been working as a coordinator for the upcoming Art in the Streets show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Until that exhibition opens in April, the event I’m looking forward to most is the Trespass book signing in San Francisco hosted by the Billboard Liberation Front. It’s coming up on Thursday, February 17th at 7pm at the legendary City Lights book store (the crucible for the Beat scene). I’ll be driving up from Los Angeles, and looking forward to the chance to talk about how the book came to be. One of the points I wanted to bring up again was that “uncommissioned public art” was the book’s original title, and that is important because it reflects better than urban the proposal that street art and graffiti are a part of a larger artistic impulse to create outside the establishment. Instead of force-feeding with a definite idea what is good or in this case what is most popular for a commercial product, we featured many relatively unknown, brilliant artist and projects — I hope the experience with the book is somewhat private in so much that allows you to come to your own conclusions. I loved the comment by one artist that she didn’t want to be pigeon-holed and that’s what she liked about Trespass. It’s a long history, and we are all players so long as we keep our eyes open, which brings me back to the art of making books!

Click here for the City Lights website

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Los Angeles Launch & Signing

Indeed, the second official Trespass book launch and signing is coming to Los Angeles this Wednesday, November 17th at the TASCHEN store in Beverly Hills from 7-9pm. We’re looking forward to good company and a great party, and we would be thrilled if you could make it!

Please click on the invite for more info including the RSVP details.

“Trespass launch” tag spotted in Gurdon, Arkansas over the weekend, from our friends Bill Daniel and buZ blurr!

Meanwhile I’m enjoying reading reviews about the book and hope to post more comments on those in the next entry…

I was happy to have Carlo, Marc and Sara in LA this time, and Susan Michals kindly wrote about the project on the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy, including a snapshot of Skullphone’s memorable greeting.
Special thanks to artists Ron English, Chaz Bojorquez, Craig R. Stecyk III, Anthony Friedkin, Joey Krebbs, Cayetano Ferrer, Scott Oster, and everyone who came out for the evening!

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Book Launch & Signing photos

New York City, September 29th, Wednesday

Crowd at the Taschen store in Soho, Photos: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Carlo McCormick & Tristan + Ethel Seno — signing books

Marc + Samantha & Sara Schiller, Photos: Martha Cooper

With photographer Franc Palaia + with artist Lee Quinones

Downstairs at the Taschen store, Photos: Scott Beale | Mike Brown

Spencer Tunick + Jack Napier of the BLF, who flew out from San Francisco

Gabriel Specter page + Alexandre Orion from Brazil, Photos: Martha Cooper

After party at MEET with guest artists who came from all over to be there

Ron English + Carlo McCormick & Joey Skaggs

These are just a selection from Scott Beale, Martha Cooper, and Mike Brown as the last thing I was thinking of that night was photos! It was really wonderful to see and meet so many Trespass contributors there, like a breath of air while trying to get from one side of the store to the other — Ken Hiratsuka, Alex Grey, Duke Riley, Krink, Aiko, Dan Witz, Becky Howland, Andy Bichlbaum, Steve Lambert, WK, Supakitch, Vomito Attack from Argentina, and Evereman from Atlanta; Henry Chalfant, Charlie Ahearn, Eric Haze … The Taschen report said 600 people came through during the evening and 203 books were sold. Thank you for the support, comments, and for all your good wishes. A special shout out to Lisa Kahane, Ann Messner, Anton van Dalen, Janette Beckman, Anthony Friedkin, Antonio Amendola, Alan Moore, Tony Serra, Hans Winkler and Mami Sato. Looking forward to another chance to celebrate, and now that the books are shipping, hope you’ve received your copies?

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September Release Info

The Trespass books are currently making their way via freight-ship from China to distribution centers literally around the world. Coming back to Los Angeles after traveling, it’s wonderful to hear that booksellers’ responses have been so positive, and Trespass will finally be in stores in September. I do hope the title blows minds with its unusual associations and that it brings generations together.
For those who are waiting to buy a copy, it’s a good idea to pre-order online as the price is incredible, and there’s a very good chance the first edition will sell out quickly. The official U.S. release is scheduled in New York City on September 29th, and others will follow from there. Let us know if you have specific interests so we can keep you updated on events. The book is coming out in different languages depending on where you are — English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
Traveling reminded me of that, how great Taschen’s reach is as not everyone speaks English, and perhaps the world isn’t as global as we think if cultures are defined by the information they have. In any case, it was great to be in the Copenhagen train station, Denmark, and think of Adams & Itso’s having lived underground there. That’s one of the works featured in Trespass.
With good summer vibes, I’m excited to see Carlo, the book’s writer, in LA next week.

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Teaser 7

We collected so much material in researching Trespass that we weren’t able to include all the photos and references in the book. Following is a selection. Of those we couldn’t get in, my favorite is Akay’s project in which the artist, Made and Kidpele collected secrets from people and engraved them around Stockholm — on street signs, subway trash cans, and even park benches. The series pushes the limit of Street Art by being permanent, and it goes beautifully with the theme of making visible what is otherwise unseen.

Akay, Made, Kidpele, Secrets, Stockhom, 2009
Akay, Made & Kidpele, Stockholm, 2009

Nicaragua, 1980s Photo by Susan Meiselas
Political Stencils, Nicaragua, 1980s, Photo by Susan Meiselas

Avant, "Drive-In Show", Soho, New York, 1984
Avant, “Drive-In Show”, Soho, New York, 1984

New York City abandoned pier for artists
David Wojnorowicz and Keith Haring in Piers, New York, 1980s
Photo by Timothy Greathouse

The last two photos are from New York City in the 1980s — the Avant group painted a parking lot in Soho in the “Drive-in Show”, a direct placement of art outside the gallery complete with a list of titles and prices painted on the parking booth. Also during this time, Trespass artists such as David Wojnarowicz and Vito Acconci brought art to the abandoned Hudson piers in creating alternative spaces.
While graffiti and Street Art have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, history shows us that it’s not entirely new. I still sorely miss photos of graffiti by King Mob in 1970s London, and hope to bring more images and histories together in the follow-up title to Trespass.

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May 2010

It’s much easier to fight for a vision when there are others who share it. Now that Trespass is ready for print and will be coming off presses in China next month, and then freighted around the world to warehouses for distribution, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the process. First I have to say that it’s wonderful that Taschen’s sales team is excited about the title as they are on the front lines now to get it into stores for you — which is significant as it took nearly a year for the publisher to commit to the title when we started*. So, with regard to our intentions, I feel we have already achieved something in communicating our ideas. One of those goals was certainly to bring the material to new audiences that may not have given a second thought to graffiti and Street Art, and perhaps even dismissed it as child’s play. We knew that there was a historical precedent for Trespass, which we weren’t seeing put together in a comprehensive way in other books on the subject, which would be difficult in any case with the differences in medium, internal divisions like graffiti’s beatings vs the success of Street Art — and because these public expressions are very much connected to local communities. What grounded us, besides our belief that it was necessary to connect the dots and bridge the various drives informing the movement, was the research, risks, and the conversations we invested in to keep the discourse active and as open as we could. I am most happy that with patience and craft, the creative direction wasn’t compromised. There are a lot of really beautiful ideas in Trespass. And I believe that change, regardless of the inevitable resistance to it, happens first in people’s minds. I also believe that “uncommissioned public art” reflects a change in society, rather than being top-down, is influenced better from ground-up, and it is the work of so many individuals that pave the way.

*Full story to come.

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