Distort

Opening tomorrow, Thursday, September 19, at the elegant Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ is “Aerosol: Graffiti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now,”  the first U.S. museum exhibition to showcase contemporary urban artwork painted directly from floor to ceiling onto a museum’s gallery walls. While visiting the exhibition as its installation was near completion, I had the opportunity to speak to the legendary artist, curator and educator, Will “Kasso” Condry, who, along with Morris Museum Director of Exhibitions and Chief Curator Ronald T. Labaco, curated the landmark exhibition.

This is remarkable! It’s so great to see a museum as prestigious as the Morris Museum showcase aerosol art. In addition to its global impact, modern graffiti has had a huge influence on contemporary art that isn’t often acknowledged. How did you come to co-curate “Aerosol: Graffiti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now?”  It is looking wonderful — a perfect ode to my favorite art form!

The museum’s chief curator, Ronald T. Labaco, reached out to me earlier this year. He had been researching graffiti and street art in New Jersey and came upon my work in my native city, Trenton, and beyond. He also read about several of my projects in my current home, Middlebury, Vermont, where I’ve served as the Alexander Twilight Artist-in-Residence at Middlebury College. My wife, Jennifer Herrera Condry — an administrative genius — has been the perfect link between Ron and me.

Your artwork often reflects a strong social consciousness, particularly as it relates to community-building. Can you tell us something about the striking mural you chose to paint for “Aerosol: Graffiti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now?” 

Yes! It is a tribute to the late Jerry Gant, a beloved visual artist, poet, performance artist and educator, who strongly impacted his native city, Newark. Gant had worked on murals and sculptures throughout Newark and became identified with his spray-painted message, “Detox the Ghetto.” 

I love the way your mural, along with all the murals in this exhibition, seamlessly fuses into its surroundings. And the installation of tags and throw-ups further enhances the exhibition’s authentic flavor.

Painting directly onto the gallery walls was Ron’s concept, and we’ve all loved the experience.

There are so many talented artists in your native state, particularly in Trenton and Newark. How did you go about selecting which artists to feature in this exhibition?

I started with a list of 25 names. I consulted with Leon and then Demer. I was interested in featuring not just “names,” but those artists who have put in lots of work, even if they are not all that well-known. Most of the artists I selected I know personally. And I know that they are committed to their art form and are, also, accomplished and reliable.

You then narrowed your list down. Which artists are featured? While most are graffiti masters, there are several muralists, as well.

There is a total of 12 artists. In addition to me, the artists who participated in the exhibit are: 4sakn, Acet TM7, Dave “Mek One” Klama, Dean “Ras” Innocenzi, DemerockDistort, Elan, Felipe Prox One Rivas, Leon Rainbow, Jonathan Conner aka LANK and Maliq Griffin.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

The biggest challenge was getting the artists to check their email accounts! And, of course, getting everyone scheduled to paint — between their jobs and other commitments — was quite a challenge. Luckily, Ron and the museum staff were very supportive.

How do you feel about it all — now that it’s close to completion? 

I’m satisfied! Very happy, in fact! The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been overwhelmingly positive. And I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase talented artists who are underrepresented and under-appreciated in the “art world.”

What’s ahead?

The exhibition opens to the public on Thursday, September 19, and we will be celebrating its opening on Thursday, October 3.

6:00PM – 7:00PM Aerosol viewing and reception for museum members
7:00PM – 8:00PM
A conversation with the Aerosol artists (FREE for Museum Members, FREE with Museum Admission for non-members)
8:00PM – 9:00PM Aerosol remains open

And what about you? What’s ahead for you?

I’m about to start a tattoo apprenticeship. I’m continuing to develop my studio practice, and I will be working on a huge label-design project.

That all sounds great and congratulations on “Aerosol: Graffiti | Street Art | New Jersey | Now.” 

Featured images:

1.  Will “Kasso” Condry

2. Demer, to the left of Kasso

3. Distort

4. Leon Rainbow

5. 4sakn

Interview conducted and edited for brevity by Lois Stavsky; photos by Lois Stavsky.

Note: The Morris Museum is located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ. Check here for travel directions and information regarding hours and admission.

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Fusing his masterful fine art skills with his stylish street art sensibility, Jersey City-based  DISTORT recently fashioned a huge mural in neighboring Hoboken. Highlighting three women — referred to by Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla as some of Hoboken’s favorite daughters — it is a visual paean to the city’s past, present and future.

Featured above is  an image of the mural in progress — as photographed by Greg Pallante.  Dorothy McNeil, a prominent presence at Hoboken’s Club Zanzibar that showcased performances by popular African-American entertainers throughout the 1960s and 1970’s, is portrayed on the far left. With camera in hand is the noted documentary photographer Dorothea Lange, who was born in Hoboken in 1895. And pitching a bat is Hoboken native Maria Pepe, the first girl to play Little League baseball, whose legacy is ending the ban on girls in Little League baseball.  Several more images follow:

A close-up of the completed mural featuring Dorothea Lange and Maria Pepe

Maria Pepe addresses us all at mural unveiling

A wide view of the completed mural featuring two dock workers — on the right — referencing the city’s industrial history

Note: The mural was commissioned by Storage Deluxe with support from Golden Artist Colors and Jerry’s Artist Outlet in West Orange, NJ that donated the paint. Assisting  DISTORT was graphic designer Hiro Hubbard.

Photo credits: 1 Greg Pallante 2 & 3 Lois Stavsky & 4 Tim Hughes

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On view in Jersey City through June 16 is DISRUPTION, an exhibit of politically and socially charged artworks by a diverse group of NJ-based artists. While visiting the exhibit at Jersey City Theater Center‘s Merseles Studios last week, I spoke to its curator, Allison Remy Hall .

Can you tell us something about the title of the exhibit — DISRUPTION?

Yes! It is part of a larger series of events and performances presented by Jersey City Theater Center that focus on the theme of rapid change — from the environment and climate to industries and social systems — that has resulted in a sense of “disruption.”  Lucy Rovetto, Jersey City Theater Center‘s Visual Arts Coordinator, invited me to curate this exhibit.

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What has the theme of DISRUPTION come to mean to you — in the course of curating the exhibit?

I originally thought of it as a disruption of norms and expectations — as most prominently evidenced by the results of the November election. But I’ve since been thinking more about the moral and spiritual disruptions that characterize our present times as a result of these changes. We have come to value things solely by their material worth.

How did you get the word out to the artists whose works are on exhibit here? While I’m familiar with Distort, Mr Mustart and Sam Pullin from their work on the streets, others here are new to me.

I reached out directly to some artists whose work I know and like, and Jersey City Theater Center launched an open call.


Luis-Alves-collage

Did curating this exhibit exact any changes within you — how you, personally, think about these issues?

I feel now that what we are facing is bigger than just a political challenge. It’s not simply about left and right; it’s about right and wrong.

How have people responded to the exhibit?

They’ve responded really well.  It has brought people together and has started a conversation.

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How do you — as an artist and curator with a strong social consciousness — feel about the role of art in these challenging times?

Art allows us to reclaim the narrative.  It is a means for us to transmit a message: We are humans and this is how we are being affected. Art has an essential role in these times.

How can folks see the exhibit before it closes on June 16th?

They can email me at info@nosucharts.com. And ongoing events are posted here.

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Note:  Merseles Studios, a venue of Jersey City Theater Center, is located at 339-345 Newark Avenue, 2nd floor.

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Committed to using art to transform the ways that teens are prosecuted and sentenced in New York’s adult criminal justice system, Young New Yorkers’ fifth annual Silent Art Auction will fund its grassroots arts program for teens facing criminal charges as adults. Curated by Layqa Nuna Yawar and Ann Lewis, the fundraiser features works by over 80 artists. On Wednesday, May 10th, the Annual Silent Auction will take place from 7-10pm at 548 W. 28th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan. Its special honoree is the wonderfully gifted, Brooklyn-based actor and activist Michael K. Williams.  Among the artworks to be auctioned are several with a distinct political consciousness. Featured above is Icy and Sot, Stop Police Brutality, Spray paint on wood. Here are several more socially-engaged artworks to be auctioned:

Guerrilla Girls, What’s The Difference Between A Prisoner Of War And A Homeless Person?, Offset lithograph

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Jordan Seiler, Collisions – Bullseye, Inkjet 

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Kara Walker, Lost Mountain at Sunrise: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), Offset lithography and screenprint on Sommerset textured paper

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Distort, Estranged, Enamel and engraving on aluminum

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Nicholas Galanin,  The American Dream is Alie and Well, Archival Ultrachrome ink on Epson ultra smooth fine art paper

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And with the purchase of any artwork from Young New Yorkers, you will receive one of these Amplifier prints designed by Shepard Fairey 

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You can purchase tickers here for May 10th’s Silent Auction and bid on the artworks at Paddle8 here.

Images of artworks courtesy Young New Yorkers

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

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Currently on view at Jersey City’s Shuaspace is Street Level, an exhibit featuring works by a range of artists from Old School graffiti writers to contemporary muralists. While visiting the space this past Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak with its curator, Allison Remy Hall.

What a fun exhibit! It’s such a wonderful mix of styles and genres. How did it all come about? 

When the owners of Shuaspace, Joshua Bisset and Laura Quattrocch, met me at the previous show that I had curated, they invited me to curate in this space. I’d always wanted to curate a graffiti exhibit, and this seemed like the perfect venue and opportunity. I then contacted artists whom I knew, who put me in contact with other artists.

Allison-Remy-Hall-shuaspace-Street-level

Why graffiti? What draws you to graffiti?

I’ve always loved its aesthetic. I love its rawness and spontaneity.

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When and where were you first introduced to it?

My older siblings first introduced me to graffiti. I was about eight years old and living in New Haven at the time. Even as a child, I felt there was something bold and bad about it that appealed to me.

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What — would you say — is the mission of  Street Level?

It’s a celebration of the organic nature of neighborhoods. With gentrification so much of the aesthetics and social dynamics of neighborhoods have been lost.

distort-acro-graffiti-shuaspace

What was the experience of curating your first graffiti exhibit like?

It was wonderful! Everyone was so supportive and helpful and generous with their time. It was the most fun of any show I’ve curated!

Note: You can visit  Street Level, at Shuaspace this coming weekend from 1-6pm at 340 Summit Ave, a few blocks from Journal Square in Jersey City. You can also arrange a visit by contacting Alison at aremyh@gmail.com.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

1.  Ree and Snow, painted on gallery wall interspersed with black and white photographs

2. Curator Allison Remy Hall at gallery space

3. Distort and Acropainted on gallery wall interspersed with black and white photographs

4. Mr. Mustart

5. Sam Pullin aka Bedbugspainted on gallery wall interspersed with black and white photographs

Photographers on exhibit: Andrew Blumenthal, Miguel Peralta and Giovani Santoro

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No-Sleep-Aids-crew-graffiti

“There’s some amazing talent here,” commented a rather staid looking older man – dressed in a three-piece suit – as he saw me approaching the former Pep Boys shop in Downtown Jersey City. And, indeed, there is! Thanks to the efforts of the indefatigable Greg Edgell aka Green Villian and the dozens of artists who came together last week, the former shop now boasts some of the finest graffiti to be found anywhere.  Here is just a sampling:

Greg Lamarche aka SP.ONE

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Mr Mustart and Distort

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Mr Mustart and Era

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Mr Abillity and Chopla

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Pomer

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Distort and Mr Mustart

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Clarence Rich, Dzel and Nark

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Paws 21 — with Green Villain to the right

Paws-street-art-with-green-villain

The Pep Boys shop is located on 410 Marin Boulevard, a few blocks away from Newport Mall. Originally slated for demolition this past Friday, the building will remain for at least another month. We will be back!

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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I came upon Serringe’s artwork on the streets of Jersey City earlier this year. I soon discovered that he was the force behind Element Tree and dozens of first-rate videos. I was delighted to finally have the opportunity to meet up with him at his store in Weehawken — just minutes away from Manhattan.

Christian Serringe

Tell us something about Element Tree. When did it launch?

Element Tree started as a blog in 2009.  I grew up in Jersey City around a bunch of talented people, and I needed a platform to post their work and share it with others in hopes of promoting them and myself.  Artists like Snow, T.Dee, 4sakn, Loser, Then One, Mr. Mustart and Distort —  to name a few.  There are others, but these are some of the original artists I felt people should definitely know about if they already didn’t.

When did Element Tree become a store?

I rented the space in Weehawken in February 2012. If I can’t do graff 24/7, I want to be around it. I also like the idea of nurturing the culture and keeping it healthy, and this store gives me the platform to do that.

Serringe

What inspired you to start your own business?

I have a strong entrepreneurial streak. I don’t want people telling me who the “real artists” are. I want to help the people – whose work I love — make money.

Besides the first-rate art that you show here, you also sell art supplies. What do you see as the future of this space?

I will continue to provide affordable art for folks who love graffiti and street art. Not everyone can afford to spend $1500 on a canvas. And I’m interested in providing opportunities for artists — such as commissioned murals, design work for album covers and general creative direction. I see Element Tree as a house of creative energy and incubator for ideas.

Serringe

What initially spurred your interest in graffiti?

I was always into graffiti from the time I was six years old. My older brother was a writer for a short period of time in the 90’s, and he sparked my brain, along with all the other local writers that were doing their thing when I was a kid. If they could do it, so could I. When I was a young teenager, my mom became ill and begged me not to write graffiti on the streets. She believed in my art, though… so until I was 19 years old, I detached myself from graffiti out of respect for her. She passed in 2004 — and aside from the occasional tag, I know she would be proud of me.

Did you develop any other passions while growing up?

I grew up in 80’s and 90’s: DJs, producers, skateboarders, punk rockers were everywhere. I became interested in all kinds of creative expression, and I began to create home videos with friends as a way to explore filmmaking.  Within the past three years, I created 140 videos.

Mr Mustart

And you also paint in public spaces these days.  Since you began doing so, have you had any particularly memorable experiences?

Art Basel 2012. It was the first time I traveled to paint on a wall that was sponsored at a major art event like Basel.  Art Primo powered us with the paint and Element Tree’s Mr. Mustart and Distort showcased their talents for all who passed by. It was great experience to paint among people we respected.

Have you exhibited your work?

I’ve been in a handful of shows, but Mustart, Then One and Distort stay doing their thing, showcasing and exhibiting through Element Tree-based projects and also on an independent level.  We are currently working on setting up the first Element Tree official group show… so if you’re a gallery owner, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Distort

Any thoughts about the graffiti and street art divide?

Eventually they will meet. Street art is still a baby in relation to graffiti. There are many street artists I respect. Banksy is a genius! Other favorites include: Blek le Rat, Invader and Shepherd Fairey. Oh, and if you don’t know… check out LNY. I see good things in him.

How would you explain the reluctance of the art establishment to embrace graffiti and street art?

Most people don’t understand it, and if you don’t understand something, you don’t know how to deal with it.

Then-art-Element-Tree

What do you see the future of graffiti?

It can’t be stopped. And eventually, it will gain acceptance as a legitimate art form.

No doubt!

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky, photos 1,2 and 3 of Serrenge; photo 4, Mr. Mustart; photo 5, Distort and final image, Then One.

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Just over the river — about ten minutes away from Manhattan — a street art scene is flourishing in Jersey City. Here’s a sampling of what was seen yesterday:

Italian artist Pixel Pancho paints in celebration of the 23rd Annual Jersey City Artists Studio Tour

Pixel Pancho

LNY

LNY

 MOR on the exterior of Hudson County Art Supply

MOR

Dulk from Valencia, Spain

Dulk

NoseGo

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Nose Go

Mr. Mustart, Serringe, Distort and Then One

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S.A.G.E Collective, segment of huge mural

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Hawaiian native Ekundayo, close-up

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Photos by Lois Stavsky 

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