Love it or leave it, NIGO's LA branch of the legendary Tokyo streetwear brand BAPE (aka: A Bathing Ape)—the brand that launched a thousand imitators—opened for business on Melrose Ave this Thursday nite with a star-studded media frenzy of a debut party. Two years too late? Yep, but remember this is LA, Ed Hardy and Crooks & Castles are still "cool" brands here. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
In case you've been living in Hollywood with your eyes closed for the past week, Supertouch's own Jersey Boy/master billboard liberator RON ENGLISH has been here bombing up the Lost Angles with a new array of his own trademark brand of Popaganda imagery right under your nose. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
The high-heeled obsessed English street artist known as INSA made his presence known in the land of brown ale...
Hit mute immediately to kill the annoying house music that accompanies this time-lapse video of an hour in the life of BANKSY's recent Tesco mural on Essex Road, Islington, where an incredible array of tourists, locals, and random lookie-loos stop in a sixty minute span to take in, pose with, and ponder the meaning of the artist's critique of one of the UK's biggest retail chains. With this kind of public support, it seems Sir Banks would be hard-pressed to get arrested these days...
Somehow, against all odds, SIR BANKSY just keeps going bigger and never gets caught. His newest piece which debuted this week in London—a three-story parody on London's closed caption TV network that constantly surveys the city's residents as they go about their daily lives—was erected ADJACENT to one of the cameras in question, and still he roams free...
From the DAILY MAIL:
"Banksy pulled off an audacious stunt to produce what is believed to be his biggest work yet in central London. The secretive graffiti artist managed to erect three storeys of scaffolding behind a security fence despite being watched by a CCTV camera. Then, during darkness and hidden behind a sheet of polythene, he painted this comment on 'Big Brother' society. (read more)"
Following our earlier report on Supertouch breaking the news that SKULLPHONE had hacked his way into the Clear Channel network to post his iconic skull image onto the network's LA digital billboard network illegally, WIRED MAGAZINE has reported that it was all a hoax, and that Skullphone actually paid for the ads:
FROM WIRED MAGAZINE:
"The Los Angeles street artist known as Skullphone managed to get his iconic skull-holding-a-cell phone image to display on 10 prominent digital billboards throughout Los Angeles last week Ã¢â‚¬â€ leading some blogs to report that he'd hacked into the signs. Alas, Clear Channel Outdoors, which owns the billboards, says no. "He paid to get it up," says spokeswoman Jennifer Gery. "It only ran for two days." Update: Clear Channel's Tony Alwin is unhappy about the hacking rumors. "The advertisement was bought under the assumption that it was art that was in an art show," he says. "Any claims about hacking into our systems is false. It's a lie, even."
And while we at Supertouch know how to read between the lines (Skullphone's hack represents the first big breach of the system in what's certain to become a regular occurrence), Supertouch ally and PAPER MAGAZINE publisher DAVID HERSHKOVITS met up with Skullphone himself late last week to have a few words about the situation:
FROM DAVID HERSHKOVITS/PAPER MAGAZINE:
Finally caught up with Skullphone and had a quick conversation about the brouhaha that's been stirred up by his tag popping up on 10 digital billboards around LA. Skullphone would neither confirm nor deny Wired's report that the billboard time was purchased from Clear Channel. The firestorm began when the story was originally reported on Supertouch. I had reported that sources had told me that it was indeed a hack. Here are some sound bites from my conversation with Skullphone:
"The art of hacking I know nothing about. What is hacking? What is art?"
"People thought Bob Dylan sold out when he went electric. I guess people weren't ready for it."
"To me it's American art. The (now digital) billboard on the side of the highway."
"'Skullphone digital billboards.' It was a logical fit."
"Once again, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a matter of semantics. What does it mean to hack the system? Is getting people to think for themselves hacking?"
"Skullphone has a right to be there."
Right now the enigma that is known only as SKULLPHONE is easily Clear Channel Communications' greatest enemy in SoCal since he hijacked 10 of the advertising giant's most prominent digital billboards around LA in Hollywood, Westwood, and the art hotspot of Culver City. Hacking into the billboard's computer network today, our boy positioned his trademark skullphone imagery in between the array of flashing movie, TV, and auto company ads that make up the normal paid advertising barrage on the giant illuminated monitors. Keep an eye out for more photos to come throughout the day...
Photos by Curtis Kulig
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We're up in Portland this week to take in the NORTH AMERICAN HANDMADE BICYCLE SHOW that kicks off this weekend, but it was at the opening of the Jose Cabaco-curated "TEAMS OF PORTLAND" art show in the world headquarters of legendary advertising agency WIEDEN + KENNEDY last nite that first blood was drawn. Featuring custom-made setups from 10 local cycling teams and bike builders, the show featured an incredibly diverse array of two-wheeled offerings, from straight hand built performance machines to freak flag art pieces where function took a backseat to form (or a distinct lack thereof). The city's hipsters turned out in droves, mingled alongside cycling royalty including pro cyclist Barbara Howe, Maurice Tierney from Dirt Rag Magazine, and Raleigh's Reed Pike, and made a hell of a lot of free beer disappear real quick. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
From the blog of Supertouch ally and PAPER MAGAZINE publisher DAVID HERSHKOVITZ comes this insightful update care of one SETH TILLETT on the recently uncovered and much buzzed-about mural purportedly painted by Futura 200, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab 5 Freddy and other late-'80s legends in a newly-renovated NYC building. Much speculation (read: hype) has been swirling about the exact origin of the piece, which was originally painted on a wall in the former apartment of art critic EDIT DEAK and uncovered late last year as the building was being converted to a condo development. READ ON:
THE EMPEROR HAS NO GRAFFITI
"WRITERS OF THE LOST ARK"
Is anyone really interested in the 'mystery' behind this ugly and hilarious artifact? Because there's no mystery at all. Everyone who scrawled on it is alive and well and willing to talk - but few of us are (or ever were) graffiti artists. The 80's were an era of 'fake it till you make it', so we might give 1 or 2 poseurs a pass here, but the only legitimate exception on the '151 Wooster Street Mural' is Lenny (futura 2000), who got up (note the clean background) well before any of us came over to Edit Deak's and pretended to be 'writers' for an evening or two.
If a legend exists concerning this mess it is one that's been actively hyped by a number of respectable people, no doubt with the best of intentions. Since hype is the dope of today, we might forgive a group halucination, at first. But I know that an email naming each artist and spilling the beans on Jean-Michel's perfect absence was forwarded to Lisa Denisson at the Gugenheim well in time to head off the howlers that are now everywhere in print. What hapened to those beans? And what do we actually have here? Fragment's of a lost Basquiat? Francesco Clemente's only graffiti? The birth of Graffiti itself? Why not the lost Amber Room of Catherine the Great? Certainly the truth will devalue this treasure.
For one thing, Basquiat never touched it. Though he was partially present when it 'happened' over one or two smashed soirÃƒÂ©es, he wouldn't have laid a finger on any wall in that period. By then he was making 'art' exclusively, and he drew furiously with colored pens on paper, on the floor, ignoring us all. Anything that looks like his letters (and nothing does) was written by Chris Parker, including Bug Out!, Wild Style!, Nesto! (after my pen-name 'S.Neto'), Oh Fab!, and plenty more. In fact 'Little Crispy' created 60 percent of this relic at least. Nobody in their right mind will take credit for the huge and hideous FRED, not even Fab 5. The DJ Johnny Dynel sprayed a giant chicken pox version of his name weeks later, and he's been unfairly blamed for the hideous table and lamp, the only 'piece' whose authorship is in doubt. Even the tiny RAM was not writen by the great RamelZee but by myself, 'representing' a master whose hand was sorely missed that night. Yes, Fred Braithwaite dropped a bomb and a plane, literally and figuratively, on the whole thing because that's what he does, boost himself big time, and we loved him for it, then as now. The rest of us were just immitating our aquaintances and getting wrecked. The black spray attempt at true 'wild style' was an awful group 'toy', duly bombed over by Chris, who went on to counterfeit 'Fabulous 5' over Edit's birthday hat. The pencil scrawling of hearts with bullet holes is again mine and I would never admit to it, but I feel I have to defend Fred from the vile accusation that it is his. Francesco Clemente never breathed on this plaster as was reported in New York Magazine. In short, little history is here beyond a record of Edit's genius for attracting anyone who showed exuberance, and maybe the quality of the drugs we had that week (so, so, judging by the crappy art).
But will this storied 'artifiction' now stand in for actual grafitti history? Could this afterbirth in fact pass as a 'seminal oeuvre' and show up in a museum? Not if we intervene. Why bother? Why spoil such a happy jam for everyone? Because it is lame to say this wall was the birthplace of anything, much less 'all that remains of a great period'. Only an interested party would make such a claim, and only someone blinded by enthusiasm would endorse it. Certainly it will bring ridicule to any institution that shows it as such. The great 'writers' like SEEN, Dash, TAKI, Phase 2, Julio, Stay High, Zeph... had nothing to do with this and had in fact been writing for a decade by then, on trains, where grafitti happens, and not on art critic's walls. They'll have the artifacts worth showing. I realize that those 'sites' are not framed by a loft development so who would spend six figures on their rescue? Perhaps a museum with a reputation for historical integrity and impecable provenance? It would be alot cheaper than buying the 151 Wooster Street Mural. Meanwhile the exact value of this masterpiece will rely, as ever, on the authentication of experts, experts whose pronouncements take wing when they are unencumbered by facts. On the rare occasion when we can balast these flights of fancy, we should. It is a salutory excrcise, beside being a pure goof, to see our respected historians revealed as occasional clowns. On the other hand it's no joke to read Hal Meltzer baldly state that Basquiat's tags 'Wild Style!' Dead or Alive' and Bug Out!' were done in his classic hot pink...etc ". Jean never wrote anything like those words, not anywhere, ever, and I don't recall him using that color either. So who cares? And who benefits? Are the interested parties so hard to find? Once again. No mystery at all.