When Matt and I were in New York for a week last August, Matt was going through a busy time with work. He apologized each morning for having long skype meetings and not being able to come out. I hope I looked suitably sorry about this. In reality my thoughts were, “So long Sucker, I’m outta here…” as I dashed out the door each day, camera in hand. “Call my mobile when you’re done!” I was delighted to be out with my other companion (my camera). All I wanted to do was explore the immediate neighbourhood…and I really do get the best photographs when I am by myself.
New York was rather overwhelming and big. Where was the human scale? In the street art. I walked, searching out material by street artists. A term I dislike is “stable of artists”. Some galleries claim they have “a stable of artists” (thankfully not the gallery I’m with). I don’t want to be anyone’s performing pony! But if there ARE such things as stables of artists, then American street artists are unbroken mustangs out on the range. They put art where they will. And some of that art is quite beautiful.
I came across this piece on one of my lone morning walks. I decided to take a line from Lou Reed for its title – “Just a New York Conversation”. Who are the speakers? Artist Russell King started the conversation. A-trak, ASMA and the decomposing piece of paper piped in. I, the viewer, am the other participant. I am having an internal dialogue with the art. I am thinking about the contrast between King’s work and its banal hard edge surroundings. His piece celebrates the curvaceous seductive female. She is a flirt and a tease yet her wistful gaze off to the distance suggests melancholy reflection. The artist whispers to the passer-by, “pause and look” in the midst of a noisy rushing NY street.
I am not turned off by the other three additions on the receptacle’s surface either. I am fascinated by their randomness and variety. I wonder if ASMA is just somebody’s tag OR if the person is meaning asthma and is commenting on the pink smoke? For if you say out loud “asma” it sounds like “asthma”.
Last week I had a brief written exchange with Russell King. It was easy to find him on the internet since his name is written within the smoke swirls. I wrote, “I’m drawing a piece of your street art. I hope you don’t mind”. Of course, I wondered what I would do if he replied, “Yes, I bloody well do mind!” However, being a generous fellow-artist, he replied, “Go for it”. Wasn’t he kind?! I found an interview with him at www.powderzine.com titled “classic on nyc streets – russell king” which I recommend reading.
I don’t generally like going into dealer galleries. I find them intimidating and sometimes snooty. The art world can be so up itself. Conversely, it is an utter joy to come across art in the open air. It is one of the delights of life. Thank you, Street Artists, for your daring and dialogue. You have my attention, appreciation and admiration.
“Did you see what she did to him/did you hear what they said/just a New York conversation/rattling in my head.”
Related page: Street art
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