gentrification

Best-known for his interactive performance art and visual art that have been featured in a range of galleries, art fairs and museums, Miami-based artist David Rohn has recently taken his vision to the streets. In his new series, Street Peeps, he focuses on raising awareness of the issue of homelessness. While in Miami, I had the opportunity to speak to him:

When did you begin this project– with its focus on wheatpasting images of  yourself in various disguises representing street peeps?

I started three months ago.

Had you ever gotten up on the streets before you began working on this project?

Back in the 90’s, I did a series of boys’ heads based on an image that I had seen. I got them up in Miami – mostly on lampposts – Downtown and on the beach. One even made it into the bathroom of the Perez Art Musem, back when it was the Miami Art Museum. I painted the heads in different colors mixing guache paint with wallpaper paste.

What inspired you to do so back then?

I’d seen graffiti and wheatpastes up in NY, and I wanted to be out there.

What spurred you to hit the streets this time around? 

Between 2008 and 2014, I was represented by a gallery in Miami. After that ended, I wanted a way to share my vision — and concerns — with others. Things had tapered off. Getting up in the public sphere seemed like the most sensible way to accomplish this.

And why this particular project?

I feel very strongly about homelessness. I’ve seen it explode in recent years. It is appalling! And the income disparity is continually increasing. I’ve been interested in these two issues for awhile.

Each of your portraits is another rendition of you as someone who is homeless!

Yes! I’ve been doing portraits of myself since 2008 as part of my performance art.

Who exactly are these characters you are portraying?

They are inspired by homeless folks and street people I see when I’m out on the streets. The ones who are the casualties of gentrification. This city is changing so rapidly.

And what about the characters with the masks? Who are they?

They represents the power structure. The eilite – those who control our economic assets. The developers who can easily evolve into a monsters.

What about your relationship with the homeless?

For awhile, I was bringing them sleeping bags and cots. But these days, I bring loaves of day-old bread and bottles of water. And socks – white socks and gray socks. They choose which ones they want. These items are what they seem to need and want the most.

And how has this project – getting your portraits out there in public space — impacted you?

It’s been very liberating! It’s fun! And I like the idea of short circuiting the gallery system.

What’s ahead?

Creating and getting up more images suggestive of the homelessness crisis.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky with photos by Lois Stavsky.

Special thanks to Andrew Ringler for introducing me to David.

{ 1 comment }

dorothy-gale- and-Zerk-oer-mural-art-nyc

A range of artworks and writings — by members of the Harlem Art Collective aka HART and the East Harlem community — on the theme No Rezoning, No Displacement, No Gentrification have made their way onto the Guerrilla Gallery on East 116th Street. The image pictured above — painted by Kristy McCarthy aka DGale and Zerk Oer — features a color-coded map with median prices of real estate sales and incomes of East Harlem residents, illustrating how increasingly difficult it is for working-class folks to afford to live in their own community. Several more images follow:

The following two images — featuring actual people who live in the neighborhood, including the homeless man who sleeps in front of the Guerrilla Gallery every night and the woman who sells tamales on the corner — were painted collaboratively by Rosi Mendoza, Maire Mendoza, Marisa Steffers, Harold Baines, Samuelson Mathew, O’Sheena Smith, Michael Mitchell, Amar Bennett, Shani Evans, Anni Merejo, Ralph Serrano, and Nathan Zeiden. The “Derecho A Techo” and “El Barrio No Se Vende” (further down below) signs were fashioned by Mi Casa No Es Su Casa: Illumination Against Gentrification.

serrano-street-art-east-harlem

The Trojan Horse — centerpiece of project

street-art-east-harlem

 Earlier on — Ralph Serrano at work

ralph-serrano-paints

Kristy McCarthy aka DGale prepares wall for public comments —

kristy-mccartney-east-harlem

The community contributes: a poem by the Poets of Course from Urban Innovations, assorted artwork, an article about the cost of keeping one person in prison for one year ($60,000 +), prints of paintings depicting the arrivals of Christopher Colombus and Hernán Cortéz and other depictions of colonizers “discovering” new lands.

East-Harlem-street-art-protest

 Adam Bomb with an announcement

adam-bomb-grafiti-nyc

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en-play-badge 2

{ 0 comments }

Esteban-del-Valle-looking-for-sediment-art-on-panel

Brooklyn-based artist Esteban del Valle has been busy! The culmination of seven months of travels throughout the United States, Displacing Waves, his upcoming exhibit, reflects on the artist’s role as a member of the “creative class” that creates new settlements, while displacing others. Esteban’s distinctly adroit mixed-media approach — blurring the lines between drawing and painting — brilliantly captures the anxiety, along with the comical irony, that the threat of gentrification poses to various communities, including the gentrifiers themselves.  Here is a sampling of Esteban’s painterly musings on contemporary colonialism that will be on exhibit at LA’s’ Superchief Gallery opening this coming Saturday.

Appetite, Acrylic ink and collage on panel, 9″ x 12″

Esteban-del-Valle-appetite-art-on-panel

Cocktails near the poor man’s riviera, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 48″ x 60″

Esteban-del-Valle-Esteban-del-Valle-Cocktails-near-the-poor-mans-riviera-art-on-canvas

We are running out of cities, Ink and collage on paper, 11″ x 8.5″

Esteban-del-Valle-running-out-of cities-ink-and-collage-on-paper

And the artist at work at Superchief Gallery as he readies for his West Coat exhibit

Esteban-del-Valle-process-superchief-LA

Opening this coming Saturday, January 9, at Superchief Gallery, 739 Kohler Street, in Los Angeles, Displacing Waves remains on view through January 31.

Note: Opening image is Looking for sediment, Acrylic ink and collage on panel, 8″x 10″

All photos courtesy the artist

{ 0 comments }