Reverse graffiti by Paul Curtis

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The British artist Paul Curtis, who goes by the street art name “Moose,” creates a different type of graffiti: some call it “reverse graffiti,” but he likes to call it “clean tagging” or “grime writing.” What he does is scrub and clean dirty walls in a way that an image results from his cleaning. So in truth he’s not defacing anything, he’s just selectively restoring the surface to its original state. The artist further explained his work this way: “I replaced the criminal element of graffiti with a positive process. Cleaning or restoring a surface, rather than spraying and damaging it. This harmless act of self-expression is still treated the same way. I think that should be embarrassing for the authorities. It’s like arresting someone for writing in the sand with a stick.” For more on Paul Curtis, check out his website here.

Paul Curtis makes reverse graffiti by cleaning walls

Urban artists from Europe and the UK at the Woolff Gallery

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The Woolff Gallery in London is opening an exhibition tonight titled “Urban Art,” featuring the work of Andrew McAttee, Static, Pam Glew, Pure Evil, Zaira and Bustart, Max Zorn, and Heidler & Heeps. Below are two examples of work from the show, including a portrait of Andy Warhol by Static and a scene depicting street art by Zaira and Bustart. The show remains open to the public through June 12th.

Woolff Gallery is located at 89 Charlotte Street in London, and you can learn more about their exhibitions and artists at their website here.

art work at the Woolff Gallery in London

2015 DC Jazz Fest

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I’m wondering if I can find a way down to Washington D.C. next month, as it sounds like the 2015 DC Jazz Fest is going to be a great series of concerts. Two concerts in particular really grab my attention: The Bad Plus, with special guest Joshua Redman, will be playing on June 12th at 8:30pm, and Snarky Puppy will be playing two shows, one on June 15th at 8:00pm and again on June 16th at 8:00pm.

Those are just the two bands that interest me the most, but the DC Jazz Fest is loaded with a lot of performers – check out their website for the full lineup and schedule.

The Bad Plus, Joshua Redman, and Snarky Puppy play a jazz festival in Washington D.C.

The issue of scale in art

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I saw this sticker art graffiti piece (below at top) somewhere in NYC, and it kind of reminded me of an abstract expressionist piece, and Robert Motherwell in particular. But whereas Motherwell’s paintings were often quite big, as you can see from the 2nd image (below at bottom), this sticker art piece was probably only around 2 by 4 inches in size … but don’t you think it would be cool to see this graffiti piece scaled up on canvas like a Motherwell? I think it would work quite well as a large-scale painting.

abstract expressionist graffiti
Sticker art graffiti at top; painting by Robert Motherwell below.

Hank Aaron, Football Helmets, and Jean-Michel Basquiat

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I’ve been a big fan of the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat for at least 20 years, and had never seen this football helmet piece before today. Looking at it, one can take it at face value and say that it’s pretty straightforward, he simply took a crusty old football helmet and wrote the name “Aaron” on the front, and then drew a picture of his iconic crown above it. But there’s more going on here: it’s suggested that “Aaron” refers to Hank Aaron, so why did he write a baseball player’s name on a football helmet? And if you look at the side of the helmet, you can see it’s an old St. Louis Rams helmet, but he painted it silver with a black stripe down the middle, referencing the look of the Oakland Raiders’ helmets. And considering the Raiders are often stereotyped as “outlaw” characters (think Al Davis, Kenny Stabler, Lester Hayes, etc.), did Basquiat consider Hank Aaron as some type of outlaw figure? A visually-simple piece like this actually triggers quite a few topics to consider …

Jean Michel Basquiat makes a Hank Aaron Oakland Raiders football helmet

Identifying a street art skull

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I like the trio of characters in this photograph of sticker art graffiti seen in Bushwick (Brooklyn) … we’ve got the matriarch overlooking her ballcap-wearing human skull and animal skull … but then I wondered, what type of animal skull is that? Scroll down for more …

street art with stickers seen in Brooklyn

My first thought was that maybe I could ID the animal skull by looking at some of Irving Penn’s photographs from his “Cranium Architecture” series. My guess was that this sticker art piece was based on a tiger skull, but in looking at some of Penn’s images, of which you can see two examples below, reveals that the presence of large front fangs extends to a number of different animals, as this hyena and lion show. So then I did a search specifically for “tiger skulls,” and found several pictures which almost look like they could have been used as direct inspiration for our sticker art piece … scroll down to see the matches that I found. Mystery of the animal skull solved.

Hyena and lion skull photographs by Irving Penn

sticker art graffiti matched up with images of tiger skulls

The Soup Can Boys, Warhol and Banksy

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We all know about Andy Warhol’s famous series of Campbell’s Soup Can paintings and prints, one of which is shown below left. But did you know that Banksy also did some soup can art works? His “Tesco Value” soup cans can be seen below right. If you’re not familiar with Tesco, it’s a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer. I can’t say that either image gets me too excited from an art perspective.

screenprints of soup cans by Andy Warhol and Banksy

Hot Wheels Still Life

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I just happened upon this crushed Hot Wheels car on the edge of my driveway upon my return from my daily dog walk. I’m not sure where it came from, since there are no kids of Hot Wheels-enthusiast age on our end of the street. But there was something about the state of it being crushed that seemed visually interesting, so I picked it up and brought it in, thinking I’d photograph it and see what came of it. I kind of like how the sense of scale gets a bit vague when photographed against a white surface and with no context. But it also seems to be begging for a story, so check back soon for our next idea of creating a story to accompany the image.

found hot wheels car which is crushed