Trespass: Uncommissioned Public Art

Updates from and letters to the editor

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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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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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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Behind the scenes


We finalized captions and credits for type-setting this week. Those of you who have worked on books before already know how tedious each step to print can be — we’re loving it with the extended info all together on the pages, finally!

The other great news is that Trespass will be released worldwide in six languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. It’s a milestone for the first printing of any title, and the official subtitle is A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art.

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It’s looking good

After the last two weeks in New York City to make final changes to Taschen’s Trespass dummy with the authors, and thanks to the designer Josh Baker, it’s looking better and better as we take the final steps to production.
The photo you see shows the unfinalized, drafted concept for the cover with Gordon Matta Clark’s Window Blowout from 1976. We hope that keeps you curious as much of the work in Trespass is to get past preconceived notions about the graffiti and Street Art, for fans and newcomers to the subject.
When I think about the work that goes into the organization and presentation of material to reflect a book’s contents — the way the sweeping variety of ideas and information interact — I think that’s what makes Trespass special, and unexpected. The collaborations certainly make the whole, and we couldn’t do with any less in bringing together this volume!
With 320 pages, and 32cm or 12.5in in height, it’s finally a good-sized book.

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Release Updated 2010

It’s a new year for Trespass, and I’m looking forward to review Taschen’s hard work on the layout and design this next week. We’re excited to see what they envision as the final look of the book, as it will reach you. We’re working for an updated data out of June 15th; book releases will follow with freight around the world to make for a busy fall as we continue to get a fresh way of seeing “uncommissioned public art” out there.
In the meantime, I had a chance to catch up with Illegal/Legal author Hans Winkler, who reminded me it’s good to have partners in crime; an interview I did with Martha Cooper in the art street journal on the mural projects in Miami was well-received; and in Los Angeles last week, I stopped by Mike Roman’s exhibit — he was one of the early stencil artists in New York influenced by the Latin American tradition in the eighties, who’s work appears in a Madonna video from then. Besides Mark Jenkins show to see, Miss Van has an show opening with Victor Castillo this weekend.
It seems everyone is getting busy to make it a good year!
More on the design to come. To inspire, I re-watched the incredible documentary Man on Wire about the tight-roper walker Philip Petite, who is included in Trespass. It connects many important themes such as bank robberies to think about.

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In Miami

Looking forward to being in Miami November 30 – December 7th to assist friends paint and document the Wynwood Walls mural project that opens with Art Basel Miami Beach on December 3rd. Please do drop me a line for Trespass updates in person if you’re there for the art fairs this year.

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November 2009

Apologies for not having posted an update sooner as we are still working out the book’s design, which is always a process, to balance the understanding on many levels — not just design, but also with editorial and production for the final presentation. Two years into its creation.
The release for Trespass was penned for this coming spring, and we will have more concrete date info for you as soon as it is confirmed with TASCHEN. Of course I hope the title will be even more necessary for “movement” then.
Thank you for looking out for the book. We are continuing to see it through its way to print, patiently!

In Los Angeles, a couple exciting art shows up with Dan Witz, WK Interact, Barry McGee and Phil Frost. And the film opening of The Yes Men Fix the World at the Hammer Museum, which was great to see an enthused older demographic at. Plus The Art Street Journal working on Issue 5. In New York soon pending schedule, and crossing my fingers for final short afterward by Michael Taussig, while looking forward to updates from Martha Cooper, Aiko Nakagawa, Duke Riley, Bruce High Quality Foundation, and Hans Winkler projects among other inspirations and love!

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