Fueled by their love of art and their passion to promote the art they love, Brian Jerkface and Iman Johnson are busy curating some of NYC’s coolest art events. On a recent visit to their current art show at NoBar at 608 Nostrand Ave. in Brooklyn, we had the opportunity learn a bit about the two talented young men and their upcoming projects.
How did this all begin?
Brian: We both love street art and we wanted to share our love with others in alternative settings. It’s great fun, and it’s also a way to help artists, particularly those who work in public spaces, make a living. Only by selling their art can they continue to pursue their passion.
Do you have a formal art education?
Iman: I attended Cooper Union. My degree is in architecture.
Brian: I studied painting and graphic design at the School of Visual Arts.
Have you any favorite artists?
Iman: My all-time favorite artist is the British painter Francis Bacon. I also love Lebbeus Woods, a conceptual architect, who was one of my teachers at Cooper Union. And I love what See One is doing on the streets.
Brian: I love the Cubist style of the Spanish painter Juan Gris. He’s a definite influence on my work. Among those artists who work on the streets, I have many favorites. Among them are: NoseGo, Phetus and Bishop.
What attracted you to street art and graffiti?
Brian: I grew up listening to hip-hop, and I fell in love with graffiti. When I was about 16, I picked up a spray-can. I was also into skateboarding.
Iman: Yes, it was the entire culture that drew us in.
What do you see as the future of street art?
Brian: As it continues to make its mark in both sanctioned and unsanctioned spaces, I see it as getting better and better all the time.
Iman: Yes, it seems to be in an ideal place right now. While becoming more acceptable, it’s still on the edge and is almost certain to remain so. Most of it will continue to push against authority.
Your current art exhibit here at NoBar is wonderful. What is the appeal of this particular setting?
Brian: It’s a wonderful spot, and the neighborhood is easily accessible. We love the mix of people it attracts, and it is street art-friendly. It allows us to feature live painting at our openings – something we both love.
What’s ahead? Any other exhibits coming up at NoBar?
Brian: Yes. Cosbe will be painting live here for our next exhibit on Friday, March 29. And Deps is among the artists we are featuring in our show opening April 26.
That sounds great! What about other venues? Anything else coming up elsewhere?
Brian: We are in the process of curating a skate deck exhibit featuring dozens of artists – including Bishop, Phetus and Col Wallnuts – that will open on April 20th at the Loom Gallery on Flushing Avenue in Bushwick.
Iman: And we have a number of events coming up in Studio J, our Long Island City space – including a group show, a solo show by Phetus and a kids’ class in street art.
Wow! So much happening! How do you get the word out?
Brian: We get the news of our events out on Instagram and Facebook. We also hand out flyers.
Good luck! We are looking forward to your next event!
Photo of Phetus close-up by Lois Stavsky; Jerkface images courtesy of POPUP X NYC