Sunday, December 30, 2012

The State of Things: The Urban Art Market

Written by Samantha Tutone

Art has been considered one of the most intelligent investments anyone can make. Unlike other investments, such as automobiles or real estate, the value of art does not depreciate over time. Let’s say a developer builds a four-story home directly in the way of the ocean view from your multi-million dollar house, and voilá, there goes half the value of your investment. The art market has been steadily growing for years. It’s rapid expansion into a global market, with new fresh art investors, collectors, and the introduction of new artistic styles, has caused a huge boom. Is this a positive thing in the long run? Well, that is a question that has yet to be answered.

In 2007 the art market hit an all time high. Urban art made an explosive entrance onto the global scene, with headliners like graffiti artist Banksy. The turn around sale of prints were absurdly fast, doubling and tripling the price of pieces overnight. Young collectors and those who purchase art purely for speculation jumped onto the urban art market without too much thought; following the trend. Not long after the flood of urban art, the inflated prices on the art market, art investors were not willing to pay the astronomical prices. The subsequent financial collapse of the art market is no big secret. Fear of such an event occurring again in the contemporary and urban art market has caused some investors and collectors to be apprehensive about future purchases.

It is difficult to assess the state of the art market. Sale made by private art investors, collectors, and galleries are just that: private. Transactions are not subject to the public record like auction houses are. Without knowing what artworks are selling for across the entire board, any evaluations on the health of the art market are purely estimates. The urban and lowbrow market is even harder to pin down. Most urban art that is for sale at auction are several years old, with an established value based on the success of the artist over those years since the work was created. However, many urban pieces are not sold this way. Urban art is typically sold in local galleries and through private sales, with most collections being several months old, instead of years.

The state of the urban art market has been steady. Private sales, while information is limited, seem to be rising again. Art lovers and collectors continue to purchase urban and street art regardless of the auction house value. As far as fears about another global art market crash? The circumstances in which the market boomed are no longer a factor, making it unlikely that any kind of serious crash to reoccur.

To see what is fresh in the local urban and lowbrow art market visit Thumbprint Gallery, on Kline Street in La Jolla. More about the artists and art featured at the gallery can be found on the Thumbprint Gallery website. The gallery is open 12-4pm Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Origami and Lace: Finding a Place on the Streets

Written By: Carly Deblock

The words street art and graffiti generally conjure up ideas of men armed with spray cans, tags and stencils. There is a new scene on the streets. In recent years, the number of female street artists has been on the rise and they bring with them game-changing concepts and materials. One wouldn’t necessarily expect the use of lace and paper to be considered unconventional; origami and lace were both being created in the 15th to 17th centuries. In the world of street art, the use of origami and lace is pioneering to new levels. Spray paint has become the standard in urban art and these innovative women are changing that standard.
Lace Graffiti by Mademoiselle Maurice

The discussion of gender is quickly being silenced as the addition of texture, originality and impermanence gives the artwork a well-deserved place on the streets. The dialogue between the art and the environment changes with each piece, dependent on the surroundings or artwork itself. The evanescent qualities create an intense appreciation for the craft and for the meanings the art encompasses. The conventional spray paint methods are being taken to the next level with lace stencils, or without spray paint at all.
Artist Mademoiselle Maurice is one of the most influential artists contributing to urban art community in Paris. She creates her short-lived graffiti with delicate origami, ribbons and handmade lace. After living in Japan for a year, Maurice returned to France with a newly developed love for origami. She began constructing origami art pieces in vibrant colors and eventually yearned to display her talents in a larger scale. Her uplifting origami installations create a fragile gradient of hues that stretch across barren walls and seem to expand in front of the viewers eyes. The contrast between the colors and the dull grey walls captures the eyes of passersby and the work transforms the city into a outdoor art gallery.

NeSpoon is another urban artist who is breaking the stereotypes within graffiti, working with lace. She uses her positve artistic energy to create urban art with traditionally old fashioned lace, referring to her own work as “jewelry of the public space”. Her goal to “dress up the city” is fulfilled through creation of enlarged lace patterns spray painted on walls and buildings. NeSpoon also works with textile lace to interweave her ephemeral work into the atmosphere. She is constantly creating complex cobwebs of yarn and lace in unexpected locations around Europe. The ancient craft of lace is then transformed into stunning and contemporary works of art.
Origami Graffiti

As more urban installations appear in cities around the world, the more people are observing these new trends. Origami, lace, ribbons and yarn are just a few of the innovative materials being used on the streets. A significant increase of women are moving their art to the streets, where the graffiti has been a male-dominated territory. Whether these artists are holding a can of spray paint or a handful of lace and yarn, these women are contributing to the urban art community in profound ways.

At the Thumbprint Gallery, the current artist on display, Jack Stricker, intelligently incorporates lace as a stencil for his artwork. More about the artists and their art can be found on the Thumbprint Gallery website. Located at 920 Kline St. #104 in La Jolla, San Diego, the gallery exhibits contemporary, urban, lowbrow, and graffiti art from local artists. Thumbprint Gallery is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12-4pm.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Matisse: Wild Joy

Written by Charity Vincent

Henri Matisse was one of the most influential artists in the formation of modern arts. Matisse was a French painter, draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor in the early Modern era of art. The artist’s unique style and innovative ideals earned him an eternal place in art history. Matisse’s style can arguably be broken into three key elements: arbitrary color, fluid contours, and “wild” subject matter. “Wild” can be unpacked to mean gestural, free, erotic, light, happy, and overall inappropriate content for his era.
The Dance (First Version) by Matisse

Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France. Matisse was born into the wealthy household of a merchant, where he was brought up sternly yet lovingly.  Matisse’s father supplied him with prime education and law school in Paris. However, by the time Matisse finished with his training in 1888, he was dissatisfied with his field. The artist claimed he developed his eye for color from his mother, and rightfully so, because it was his mother who introduced him to painting in 1889. His mother had brought him color paints in hopes it would cheer up Matisse as he recovered from illness. Matisse started with still lives and became immediately consumed with an intense love for painting.

Not long after starting his artistic career, Henry Matisse became a forerunner in the Fauvism movement. The Fauvists believed in freedom and nature.  Fauvist work contained loose lines, brash brush strokes, strong colors, and blunt distortion of space. Fauvists were more concerned with the pleasures of life and innate desires, than structural and representational concepts. In their attempts to portray life as nature, the Fauvists drew a lot of influences from African sculpture, which is abstract, stylized, and geometric in style. This look was seen as primitive and savage during that time. The Fauvists called themselves les Fauves, or “the wild beasts.” Matisse, along with André Derain, led the Fauvist movement forward by creating numerous paintings containing all of these Fauve elements.
Le Bonheur de Vivre (The Joy of Life) by Matisse
Arguably, Matisse’s most known and celebrated painting is The Joy of Life, painted in 1905. This painting is a depiction of numerous nudes dancing, lounging, and exchanging intimacies. All the figures interact harmoniously with the others, as well as the trees, even though the space is a bit crowded with people and shrubbery. The bodies of the subjects are elongated, fluid, and graceful and become unanimous with nature itself. The colors are arbitrarily decided upon, yet all fade into each other with luminescent beauty. The perspective of the painting causes the audience to feel as if they are spying on an erotic natural process from nature itself, the leaves and branches framing the scene. Matisse is quite known for his simplified, yet fluid nudes.  The Joy of Life is a quintessential example of both Matisse’s style and chosen subject matter.

There are many more examples of modern and contemporary art at Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla. The gallery features local artists as well as artists from around the country. The gallery is open to the public Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm-4pm and is located at 920 Kline St. #104 in La Jolla, San Diego.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tagging the Sky: The Boneyard Project

Written by Michael Ashman
When it comes to spreading their name on the streets, graffiti artists often go beyond buildings and signs in search of buses, trucks, and trains to be used as moving billboards. But there’s one mode of transportation they rarely take on: airplanes. After all, how can the artwork on planes be seen if it is mostly above the clouds?

To solve this problem, Eric Firestone, the owner of Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton, New York, decided he would have to bring the planes down to earth. With the help of arts writer and curator Carlo McCormick, he gathered a group of graffiti artists to paint “dead planes” at the famous Tucson, Arizona airplane “bone yards.” The result is “The Boneyard Project: A Return Trip,” a combination of Contemporary art with the unconventional surface of decaying planes. More than 30 graffiti artists worked on old U.S. Air Force airplanes giving the dead planes a rejuvenating facelift. The military aspect of some of these planes also recalls the history of modern air warfare. After serving their purpose and left to rot in an old part of the base, these once deadly airplanes are now repurposed with a more peaceful activity in mind. For instance, a broken-down DC3 was chosen by the Brazilian graffiti artist Nunca, who transformed the dead plane into a beautiful eagle with men holding onto its back. Other painted planes inform us of positive and negative associations each artist has with war.

This was not the first time Firestone used old aircraft as eccentric canvases for art. “The Boneyard Project: A Return Trip” is the follow-up to his first project called “Nose Job.” His first trip to the Boneyard in 2010 yielded him with several nose cone art pieces from the discarded dead planes. The exhibition showed off a revival of images such as, pin-up girls, tattoos, and war slogans, painted on old fighter jet and bomber cones by the soldiers. Inspired by this old art form that was used to humanize these machines, participating artists, including Shepard Fairey, Lee Quinoes, and Akio, re-imagined the nose cones and other plane parts to give them a modern update.

Phoenix of Metal by 'HOW & NOSM

The culmination of the project was the exhibition in January 2012 at The Pima Air & Space Museum titled “Round Trip: Art from The Boneyard Project.” This exhibit features works from “Nose Job” and new selections from “The Boneyard Project: A Return Trip.” The painted planes on display highlight the personal reactions of the artists about the harsh history of war. The largest air & space museum has a great significance being close the “bone yards” where Firestone and McCormick first founded the project. Going beyond the streets into the desert to find a new and interesting objects to paint proved to be successful for these artists. 

To learn more about local graffiti artists check out Thumbprint Gallery located in La Jolla, San Diego. Many of artists featured at Thumbprint Gallery have been influenced by the graffiti art scene. They also have prints and stickers for sale at the gallery's online store.