Street Art: Ever More Legit, Collectible and Pricey!

Street Art: Ever More Legit, Collectible and Pricey!

Selfie with Martha Cooper at the Bowery Mural Wall. Artist Lakwena in background

 

Street art (or now increasingly called Urban Art) has been my passion for years and it’s beyond weird for me to think about how elevated it’s become.

  • Huge article in the Financial Times (paywall) this past week about the Jean-Michel Basquiat show opening at the Barbican. And, of course, the FT is only writing about it because Basquiat is currently the top-selling contemporary artist at auction ($110 million for a street artist!).
  • But the most amazing thing this week was that I finally got to meet Martha Cooper, one of my heroes.
  • For those of you who don’t know Martha, she is the most famous documentarian of the graffiti/street art scene – in the world! She got her start photographing the New York City graffiti scene in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • I was so thunderstruck, I took her photo but forgot to ask if I could take a selfie with her. Ten blocks later, I ran back and she was still there, shooting Lakwena, the British street artist currently doing a new Bowery Mural. Fortunately, Martha agreed to the selfie.
  • And now that I have finally met her, I see her around the neighborhood all the time! Funny how that works.

Read on below for highlights about the business of street art from the Financial Times – they provide great perspective on what has made this art genre so major.

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Saturated Color Is Having a Moment Thanks To Instagram

Saturated Color Is Having a Moment Thanks To Instagram

Street Art by Broken Fingaz for Life Is Beautiful Photo Credit: Jo Russ

 

Vivid and intense color is popping up all over the place these days. Have you noticed?

  • I have to thank my friend Jo Russ for putting it on my radar when she posted this amazing pic of the street art going up for Life Is Beautiful in downtown Las Vegas (above)
  • The very next pic on my Instagram that day was by photographer Paul Watson (see in Travel below). Those two random pics shot a day, and a world apart, got me thinking about what was driving this trend to bolder and brighter colors

First and foremost, it has to do with Instagram. We’re all documenting everything we experience and the more colorful the posts, the more “likes” we get. I’ve written previously about restaurants hiring designers specifically to make themselves more instagram-worthy.

Second, the resurgence of all things 90’s in fashion and design is adding a more colorful palette to our daily lives. The 90’s may also explain all the lavender and violet we’re seeing.

See below for the top Instagram categories driving this trend.

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Street Art: Saving Retail One Mural at a Time

Street Art: Saving Retail One Mural at a Time

 

My most outstanding discovery while in LA (not new, but new to me) was the RETNA-covered complex of buildings in DTLA at 7th and Alameda (former American Apparel factories). I drove past them on my way to the opening of the new ICA LA Museum. All I could think about while at the ICA opening was how I could make my way back to the RETNAS. Amazing work.

  • The buildings (dating from 1917) are being converted into a shopping and office campus with 100 shops and 15 new restaurants called ROW DTLA (great link, check it out if real estate and/or retail is your thing!!).
  • Owner Atlas Capital Group will convert the remaining 1.3 million feet of industrial space upstairs, originally designed by architect John Parkinson (known for Union Station, City Hall, and the Coliseum), into creative offices and lofts.
  • Architect for the conversion is wHY out of Culver City (has become the go-to for creative repurposing, also did the Marciano Foundation Building)
  • Smorgasburg LA (from Brooklyn) is set up there on Sundays.

When it comes to more traditional shopping, the liveliest retail corridor in LA is Venice’s Abbot Kinney. And once again, part of what makes it so dynamic is the profusion of commissioned street art found on store exteriors, restaurants, galleries, houses and fences all around the area.

Also noticed lots of witty signage around town (favorite may have been Alfred Tea’s “Can’t We All Just Get Oolong!” (pic below).

Another new discovery was Platform Mall in Culver City with its “Technicolor Ooze” mural by Jen Stark. The mall has a NYC/Brooklyn vibe with stores by Cynthia Rowley, bird, Sweetgreen, and Soulcycle.

See below for photos (along with artist info where available).

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LA is All About the Most Gorgeous Succulents, Cacti and Greenery

LA is All About the Most Gorgeous Succulents, Cacti and Greenery

Desert Gardens at Huntington Library in Pasadena

 

My trip to LA started last Sunday, on a sweltering hot day, with a visit to the Huntington Desert Gardens, one of the largest succulent collections in the world. Absolutely spectacular.

It also set the visual tone for this trip. Restaurants, retailers, hotels – all using greenery to great effect.

Bottom line: Los Angeles is where drought-friendly, heat-tolerant plants thrive while flowers look out of place.

And I must add that my home away from home, the Standard Hollywood, has been on the cacti-trend since Day 1 but they have upped their game as well with a new emphasis on succulents throughout the property. They even have a Cactus Lounge where every Wednesday night they present Desert Nights, a live acoustic music series that is worth checking out if you are in LA (photos and video below).

Check out all the “greenery” photos below from retailers, restaurants, hotels, and event spaces throughout LA.

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Love All The Street Artists Working In My Neighborhood

Love All The Street Artists Working In My Neighborhood

 

Sometimes circumstances force you to take a new route in your daily trek around town and BOOM you make a huge new discovery (or in this case re-discovery).

That’s what happened to me this weekend while making a quick trip to CityMD on Delancey Street (FYI, minor ailment, nothing serious). However, a new route brought new visibility to some street art that had not been on my radar for a while.

So on my trek east, I was thrilled to come across these pieces, mostly off Delancey. The giant mural by the old Essex Street Market by Gera Lozano is especially gorgeous. Her work covers both the exterior and interior of the building. Also love the truck art by Rambo and Stain that was parked right out front.

Some of the work I re-discovered today is relatively recent (from late 2016) but much of it goes all the way back to 2012. It’s all held up really well. Kudos to Hektad, DYE READ, J Corp, Ology Collective and, of course, Gera Lozano.

Also, interesting to see work that had been hidden behind buildings being unearthed as new construction takes place. Urban Archaeology at work.

More pics below. Enjoy!!

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How Important Is It To Be Instagrammable? It is EVERYTHING!

How Important Is It To Be Instagrammable? It is EVERYTHING!

 

Have you noticed how much more colorful and eclectic things are getting?

  • I’ve seen a huge uptick in instagram-centric design popping up in restaurant/bar interiors, museum shows (e.g. the New Museum has become the master of Instagram-worthy exhibitions), hotels, and there’s an enormous amount of instagram creativity showing up in retail pop ups.

Here are a few examples from the past year with more details and pics below:

  • Restaurants and bars e.g. Island Oyster Bar on Governor’s Island
  • Hotels e.g. new Public Hotel in NYC has a fabulous hidden garden and the escalators have been epic on instagram!!
  • Museums, Art Fairs, Galleries e.g. Hauser & Wirth DTLA (without a doubt my favorite art space of all time)
  • Retail – I find the pop-ups most interesting
  • Billboards/Promo materials e.g. Gucci billboard in Soho by Coco Capitan

To succeed commercially on Instagram, a visual hook or anchor is essential. Here’s what I’ve noticed most often:

  • Color e.g. Carthage Must Be Destroyed’s pink
  • Pattern e.g. floor tiles at Beekman Hotel
  • Murals or Wallpaper e.g. Made Nice’s Shepard Fairey wall
  • Colorful installations e.g. Barney’s Holiday Windows
  • Views e.g. Island Oyster bar at Governors Island
  • Unexpected architecture e.g. The Magnolia Market in Waco built around the silos – FAB!!
  • Natural light. This is an extremely important element of instagram-centered design. Dark environments do not photograph as well and will not get as many likes.

Read on below for more examples PLUS photos and instagrams.

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Visiting Atlanta? Put This Hidden Gem On Your To-Do List

Visiting Atlanta? Put This Hidden Gem On Your To-Do List

 

Swan House is my #2 favorite place to check out as a visitor to Atlanta (#1 is the Goat Farm Arts Center). Oddly, no Atlantan I know, has been to Swan House. Although fans of The Hunger Games, will be familiar with the estate.

  • What makes Swan House such an amazing experience is seeing the original owners’ furnishings and belongings still in place in many of the major rooms.
  • Swan House was the home of Edward and Emily Inman beginning in 1928. Edward died of a heart attack 3 years later at age 49.
  • His wife, Emily, continued to live there until 1965 with her oldest son and his wife and their children.
  • Make sure you check out the grandchildren’s bedroom on the 2nd floor. Children visiting the house are encouraged to play with the toys in the room.
  • The Atlanta Historical Society purchased the house, its furnishings and the entire 28-acre estate in 1966 and opened it to the public in 1967.

One important tip: Do not be put off by the bland and uninspiring Atlanta History Center building that faces the street. It’s where you need to go to get your tickets but do not dilly dally there. Get right out on the estate grounds behind the History Center and amble over to Swan House.

See pics below of what caught my eye in the house and around the estate including two children’s playhouses. The History Center’s grounds also house the Smith Family Farm which is definitely worth a visit as well.

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Book Cover Design: When, And Why, It Matters

Book Cover Design: When, And Why, It Matters

 

My good friend, Nick Belperio, who single-handedly turned me back into a reader, recently told me that book jacket design is one of his obsessions.

  • Until he brought it up, I had never given it much thought. Perhaps because most of my reading centers around biographies and business-related topics.
  • I can’t say I have ever bought – or even necessarily judged – a book by its cover.
  • But Nick’s passion and knowledge of the subject prompted me to dig deeper. After all, you must investigate when a knowledgeable friend tells you: “Some of the most creative and gorgeous package design is in books. It’s migrated there from album covers and movie posters which used to be the most creative and visually innovative.”

Nick’s favorite designers include Peter Mendelsund, Rodrigo Corral, and Chip Kidd – all superstars of the book design world.

  • In checking out their websites and stories, I can understand why this might become an obsession.
  • My questions for Nick and my fellow readers: how does the jacket design influence your decision to buy a book and secondly, how does it influence the reading experience?

See below for my 5 key takeaways after digging deeper into this subject.

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