Friday, December 29, 2017

Wynwood Walls 2017

On Monday I drove to Miami and spent the day in the Wynwood District, just north of
downtown, enjoying this year's Wynwood Murals.  Beginning in 2009, Tony Goldman, who
had bought much of the run-down former clothing district, decided to invite the best
graffiti artists in the world to come and decorate the walls of small factories and warehouses.
Artists arrive in early November so that they will have the murals completed in time
for Art Miami and Art Basel the first week of December.

To your right as you enter is the great Kenny Scharf mural of graffiti figures.
Kenny Scharf is a famous New York street artist who has repainted this mural several
times because it is so well-loved by visitors.  More than a million people now come
each year to enjoy the murals.

FUTURA.  "Modern Painting Wall."  This is across from Kenny Scharf's wall.
Futura is the pseudonym of Lenny McGurr born in 1955 in New York. Growing up on
 103rd Street in Brooklyn during the boom years of train bombing, McGurr was introduced
 to graffiti in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s while he was traveling to school. 
 He introduced abstraction into a previously letter-based art form by covering whole cars
 of the city’s subway trains with his expressive paintings.  Futura helped define the 
graffiti movement of the early 1970s by moving it away from lettering and towards the
 more painterly, abstract style. 

There are five courtyards in "Wynwood Walls."  The third wall in the first court is
Shepard Fairey's "Tribute to Tony."  Shepard is perhaps the most famous graffiti artist in
America.  On the left is Burmese opposition leader Aung San; on the right is Martin Luther 
King Jr.  In the center is Tony Goldman, developer and founder of Wynwood Walls with
arms open to welcome all the guest; he died in 2012.  It is about peaceful resistance,
climate change, and war and peace.

Shepard Fairey.  "Tribute to Tony."  There are a number of portraits, symbols, and different
languages in the mural.  There are references to climate change and war.

A lotus is a symbol of purity and perfection for many.  "OBEY" is a theme which
Shepard often uses.

As you move on to the second court, "The Bedouin" by Okuda from Spain greets you.
Almost all of the murals are made with spray paint cans, the preferred medium of
graffiti artists, because they have to work fast and move on before the police arrive.

On another wall of this court is the gigantic "Blue Face" by David Choe, a Korean-American
artist.  Visitors like to pose in front of the murals.

Usually, graffiti artists sign their names at the bottom right of their murals.

A third wall of the court is "Pow!  Wow!"  by Pro 176, a French street artist.
Most graffiti artists choose a nickname for themselves.

The fourth side of the square is the "Birdcage" by Pixel Pancho.

The third court has this brand new mural by Tristan Eaton of Los Angeles.

"The Couple" by INTI, a Chilean artist, has been here several years.

CRASH!  "Comic Characters." Another side of the court.

Opposite the "Comics" is "The Hunt" by South African artist, Faith XLVII.
A pride of lions attack a reindeer.

At one corner of the court is a gate leading out.  This is a new mural by 
Joe Lurat entitled "Wynwood Walls - The Boys."

If you walk through the doors, this is the opposite side.

And in this small outside court is an anamorphic image by Leon Keer, "The Polaroid
and Barbie."  The lower part of the polaroid is painted flat on the sidewalk, but gives the
illusion it is raised a foot and the paper bends.

The fourth court is very large and has many murals.  Ron English's "The Stag and Hulk Boy"
is several years old but very popular and serves as background for millions of photos
of visitors.

All along the street side is a long mural by the "London Police," actually two men
from Holland.

More of the fence mural by the "London Police."

The opposite side has a number of separate murals / paintings.
Alexis Diaz.  "The Mastodon"  is an old favorite.  Puerto Rico.

"The Ship with Neptune's Portrait Below."

Zawacki.  "Up Arrows."  This is a new mural.

Audrey Kawasaki.  "The Tibetan Princess."  The Ram / Aries is the sign of the
zodiac for strength and power, and it is the sign of the artist and the way
 she imagines a Tibetan princess.

Dasic Fernandez.   "Hummingbird and Inverse Paint Drops."  Chile / Brooklyn.

Tatiana Suarez.  "Eve and the Lizard."  Miami Street Artist.

"Boys Building an Elephant" by a Lithuanian street artist.

But one of the most important murals of this court is the very large and complex "RESIST"
by Lady Pink.  It is composed of the six letters of the word, painted in graffiti style, with
many images in each letter.   They are so interesting, I want to show several.
Lady Pink was born in Ecuador, but raised in NYC. In 1979 she started writing graffiti
 and soon was well known as the only female capable of competing with the boys in the
graffiti subculture. Pink painted subway trains from the years 1979-1985.

The letter "R" has the word, a woman's face, an artist painting, a welcome sign,
a Confederate flag, barbed wire, and more.

The letter "E" has a message of peace and hope and brotherhood, but also the
White House going up in flames and the Statue of Liberty sinking into the
hot lava of hell.

The first "S" is about women and power and how they are treated.

The "I" or perhaps "Ego" refers to a political figure standing amidst skulls and
the fires of hell.

The second "S" is a fantasy of Florida, disappearing polar bears, and air pollution.

The fifth court has one of the most popular murals, "The Fingers" by Cave, a German
street artist.   By overlapping hands, he communicates a strong message of unity and power
– leaving the viewer to visualize their own story. Having worked in over 20 countries,
he has literally left his fingerprints in each, continuously leaving bits and pieces
 of a language understood by all.

Case Maclaim – real name Andreas von Chrzanowski, born 1979 – started developing
 his technique in 1995 when he began using spray cans. The German born and raised artist
 is a founding member of the graffiti crew Ma’claim, which he founded along with
 fellow artists Akut and Rusk in 1999. The international group is considered pioneers of
photo-realistic art in the graffiti scene.

Hands can express power, vulnerability, anger, peace signs, movement or several emotions
at once. A hand held up with the palm facing you can mean stop. Turn it around and
it beckons the viewer on.

Cave.  "Fingers."  German.  Close-up.

 eL Seed  "Calligraphy Wall."  French Tunisian.
eL Seed had a mural here the past two years, but this one is completely new, and the
colors are very different from last year.   Arab calligraphy lends itself to
infinite variations and styles.

eL Seed.  "The Calligraphy Wall."  French Tunisian.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Art Miami Pt. 3

Irina Gonzalez.  "After the Rain."  Cuba.
Gonzalez paints great detail into her paintings, especially of
women's clothes.  They are fantasy or dream-like.  These paintings
were in the Cernuda Arts Gallery, the best for Latin American art,
and especially Cuban.  Their main gallery is in South Miami.

Irina Gonzalez.  "Evening Breeze."  Cuban
The elaborate dress and the cat are typical of Irina's works.

My favorite Cuban artist is Amelia Pelaez, who studied with a
stained glass artist, among other teachers.  She uses strong black
outlines like the leading of a stained glass window.  This work
is entitled "Vase on a Lace Tablecloth."

Amelia Pelaez.  "Bouquet on Table."  Cuban

Peter Anton.  "Delicacies."  This box is about five feet high and each piece of dandy
about eight inches long.  They are made of various materials.  He also makes donuts
and cupcakes and other sweets.

Mel Ramos.  "Chiquita Bananas."  U.S.  Pop Art

Three examples of abstract art.  On the left is a sculpture by the British artist, Barbara Hepworth;
in the enter is "Open in Ochre" by Robert Motherwell: and on the right is "Omega" by Larry Zox.

Larry Zox.  "Artine."  U.S.  Abstract / Hard Edge

John Chamberlain.  "Ethel."  U.S.  Auto parts.
John Chamberlain developed a style of sculpture using hoods and fenders from autos,
which he retrieved from junk yards.  He bent the pieces, shaped them, and painted them
into large sculptures meant for outdoors.

A. R. Penck is a very famous German artist who makes use of primitive-looking stick
figures to create scenes of ambiguity and often violence.

Anthony Caro is the Father of British Assemblage sculpture.  He takes found pieces of
metal and welds them into a visual calligraphy.  All young British sculptors follow him
in one way or another.

Michael West.  "Vietnam."  U.S.  Abstract Expressionism
After WW II, New York replaced Paris as the Capital of Arts, and Abstract Expressionism,
with its powerful strokes, highly individualistic approach, and very large size seemed to
epitomize what America was, in contrast to the delicacy of Neo-Classicism or
Impressionism in Europe.  In this case the artist is a woman, as many of these Ab-Exps
were.  But no one knew it.  When she signed her real name of "Corinne," critics and
collectors said the painting was too soft and feminine.  But when Corinne's lover,
the artist Arshile Gorky, suggested she use a man's name, she did, and immediately
the unwitting critics and collectors praised the work as "strong, masculine, and
vigorous."  Most people still do not know that "Michael West" was really "Corinne."

Michael Corinne West.  "Untitled."  U.S. Abstract Expressionism / Action painting.  1954

Cha Jong Rye.  "Expand."  Korea.
Cha is a woman, and she assembles many pieces of wood into a large sheet and then
 sands it by hand to create this amazing panel which looks like a folded piece of paper.

Gino Miles.  "Millenium."  U.S.
Gino creates this work by assembling many pieces of steel, welding them together, and
then applying the mirror stainless surface.  The piece is also perfectly balanced on a
small bolt and can easily be rotated.  It appears to change forms continually as it
moves.  I've met Gino, and he said it is OK to move the sculptures, so I did, to the 
horror and shock of many people walking around.  But it was fun.

Raymond Hendler.  "Hero on the Rocks."  1967

Raymond Hendler.  "Barbara's Way."  1969

Rafael Rangel.  "Cups" on left.  Rafael Barrios "Metamorfosis" in center.
The Barrios piece is actually a flat sheet of steel which has been cut and painted to
give the illusion of dropping back in space.  For sure.  I went and touched it and
got next to it and saw the back - it's perfectly flat.  He is one of the leading artists
in the Op Art or Retinal Art Field, most famous in Venezuela.

Rafael Barrios.  "Four Red Rectangles."  Venezuelan-American
This also is simply a flat piece of aluminum,which has been cut and painted
in an illusionistic fashion so that it looks like it is receding in space.
 But it is perfectly flat and hangs on the wall.  Op Art.

Ilya Bolotowsky.  "Four Works."  Russian-American.
Ilya was born in Russia, but lived most of his life in New York City, where he was one
of the leading Abstract artists.  This new style, which was first created and
developed in Russia and France, was brought to the U.S. by artists like Ilya.

Carl Holty.  "Untitled." 1955
Carl Holty was new to me, but it turns out he was a German-born American abstract painter,
who grew up and trained in Wisconsin - the first of Wisconsin's great artists (Georgia O'Keeffe
came later).  He was one of the founders of the American Abstract Artists Group, which
was the first group of Americans to work in the new style.  His works were forgotten
until recently, but are now being rediscovered and studied.

Carl Holty.  "Three Works."  1950s

Gene Davis.  "Pink and Green."
Davis didn't like all that slashing and dripping paint; he was interested in control and
rationality and obliterating his presence and strokes.

Adolph Gottlieb.  "Long-Time."  1962
Gottlieb was strongly influenced by Oriental religions and beliefs in duality.
Here the perfection and calmness of the circles contrasts with the clashing and
conflict of the forms below.

Alberto Cavalieri.  "Twisted Column."  Venezuela.  Stainless Steel.

Helen Frankenthaler.  "Background to the Moon."  1981     7 feet high
Frankenthaler was a leading members of the "Second Generation Abstract
Expressionists."  She belonged to "Lyrical Abstraction" or "Color Field Painting."
She painted BIG, no dainty little wall-pieces for her.  And she developed a
new technique of "soak and stain," in which she tilted her canvas against a table.
She then poured diluted pigment onto the canvas, so that it flowed down and
what happened was spontaneous, but also controlled, as she guided the pigment
with an ivory spatula.

For several years, Frankenthaler was married to Robert Motherwell, whose works are above.
Motherwell was very much a "Gestural" Abstract Expressionist, with powerful black
strokes of paint.  These are three works in a large series.

Robert Motherwell.  "I.H. Series."  No. 2  U.S.

Robert Motherwell.  "Untitled - For Jules Verne."  Abstract Expressionism.
Motherwell was extremely prolific and interested in the interplay of
art and music and literature and philosophy.  He did a whole series of works
actually incorporating pieces of music of the great masters, and another
series honoring and sometimes incorporating actual pages from literary
figures, likes Jules Verne.

Robert Motherwell.  "I.H.  Basque Series. V."  Abstract Expressionism

Jean Arp.  "Winged Entity."  Bronze
Jean/Hans Arp was Alsatian, so he sometimes used his French name and sometimes the 
German form.  Alsace is the territory along the Rhine with Germany on one side and France 
on the other, and they have traded ownership over the past two hundred  years.  Arp was
 one of the founders of abstract sculpture and working alongside the others in Paris
 in the early 20th century.  His works are organic, fluid, changing.

This is the booth for James Barron Gallery, which specializes in abstract art.
In front are five tall sculptures by Beverly Pepper, an American artist.

Lucio Fontana.  "Concetto Spazial/ Spatial Concept."  Italy.
Lucio Fontana, an Italian artist, one day slipped while painting, and his knife sliced
through the canvas he was working on.  He was amazed by the result.  For many years he
had been learning all the tricks of art schools to make a painting look like it had the depth 
of a room or the depth of a landscape, although it is all painted on a flat surface.  Now, he
had actually produced depth and space.  He loved it and continued working on this theme
for the rest of his life.

Brad Howe.  "Ochre and Cream."  Aluminum.
Brad's works are illustionistic; they seem to move in and out, opening and closing.

Yayoi Kusama.  "Pumpkin."  Japan
Yayoi Kusama is an 86 year old lady from Japan who paints, draws, and makes
ceramic pumpkins covered with dots.  She also makes entire rooms covered with
dots and mirrors, that you can walk through.  This drawing sold for $89,000.

Wolf Kahn.  "Fall Forest."  U.S.
Wolf Kahn paints mostly landscapes, which look slightly out of focus, but which have
wonderful colors and atmosphere.

Takesi Haguri.  "Modern Divine General" and "Chivalry."  Carved wood.  Japan.
Japanese Pop Art.

Jesus Rafael Soto.  "MHT 14."  Venezuela Op Art.
Soto is one of the leaders of the Op Art Movement in Venezuela
and has a world wide reputation.  The hanging wires "vibrate" against the painted
lines as viewers walk by.

"If It's Not Weird I'm Not Interested."

Matt Donovan.  "Green Honeycomb."  U.S.

Great time at Art Miami again!  Thanks.