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Monkey Bird is a duo of French contemporary artists born and working in Bordeaux. They are known for using symbolic anthropomorphism in their artworks. That means they are depicting wild animals in urban areas. The duo is active since 2010. They work in a stencil, collages, spray painting, drawing, carving, silkscreen and engraving.

The duo consists of Blow the Bird and Temor the Monkey, and they incarnate the two faces of humankind, the monkey being the realist, and the bird being a dreamer. Members of the crew have BTS in graphic design, BTS in object design and MA in industrial design. In their work, a search for balance between dreams and reality is visible, as their goal is to become the alchemists of the living desire. The artists are inspired by ephemeral monumentality, religious paintings and the art nouveau.
Balance between dreams and reality is visible

Before they started working on the walls of museums and institutions, both artists worked on the street. In fact, that’s how they met in the first place. One of them was looking for a change in his graffiti and the other a change in framework and identity. Unconsciously, the symbols came to them naturally, giving their approach an intellectual note, unlike the early works, which were primarily an instinctive need. Monkey Bird crew loves working on antique doors, waste walls, abandoned and industrial buildings. Monkey Bird crew loves working on antique doors, waste walls, abandoned and industrial buildings.

Their mission is to transcribe social themes into walls, through the use of animal totems and elaborate symbolism. Most of the inspiration comes from the sacred or lyrical works like illuminations, stained glass, and architectural ornamentation seen in the illustrations of “Arts and Crafts” or Japanese prints. They leave their signature marks all around the world.

They are represented by GCA Gallery in Nice, France. Monkey Bird crew lives and works in Bordeaux.

MonkeyBird performance Art Up! 2014 from Anne Jeannin on Vimeo.

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WRDSMTH is a published author, screenwriter, former advertising copywriter, and an emerging street artist.

Born and raised in the Midwest, he relocated to LA and started doing time in Hollywood, chasing the dream like countless others. Past and present worlds merged when he came up with the concept for WRDSMTH — a unique combination of stenciling and wheat pasting — and began temporarily tattooing walls in LA with indelible thoughts and phrases.

Active in the street art community since November 2013, he’s made his mark in Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, London, Paris, and Edinburgh. He’s been featured in LA Weekly, LA Magazine, LAist, LA Canvas, and The Philadelphia Enquirer. He was named one of The Art of Elsyum’s 2014 Emerging Artists and his work has been sold at The Gabba Gallery, Stone Malone Gallery, Voila Gallery, and LabArt.

WRDSMTH from David Rowe on Vimeo.

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WRDSMTH is a published author, screenwriter, former advertising copywriter, and an emerging street artist.

Born and raised in the Midwest, he relocated to LA and started doing time in Hollywood, chasing the dream like countless others. Past and present worlds merged when he came up with the concept for WRDSMTH — a unique combination of stenciling and wheat pasting — and began temporarily tattooing walls in LA with indelible thoughts and phrases.

Active in the street art community since November 2013, he’s made his mark in Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, London, Paris, and Edinburgh. He’s been featured in LA Weekly, LA Magazine, LAist, LA Canvas, and The Philadelphia Enquirer. He was named one of The Art of Elsyum’s 2014 Emerging Artists and his work has been sold at The Gabba Gallery, Stone Malone Gallery, Voila Gallery, and LabArt.

WRDSMTH from David Rowe on Vimeo.

The anonymous street artist, Wrdsmith — a transplant from the Midwest following his dream in L.A. — jokingly calls himself a cliché. A few years ago, he was working in advertising in Chicago when he realized he just wasn’t happy. His job was creative but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to live the dream. He wanted to be a writer. “I decided to quit my job and move west,” he says. “My family and friends all thought I was crazy.”

Deciding he’d rather struggle financially than continue down a path that didn’t bring him happiness, Wrdsmth made the leap. And while his L.A. life has had its share of challenges, he couldn’t be happier with his choice. He’s found success in various writing fields, and most surprisingly, has become a renowned street artist. I talked to Wrdsmith recently about his unlikely journey, how positivity drives him to inspire others, and his superhero origin story.

So you moved from Chicago to Los Angeles, why L.A.?

I actually had friends who — when they knew I wasn’t happy in Chicago — they were like, hey if you wanna be a writer you should move to Los Angeles. For a while I was like “there’s no way I’m doing that. It’s not my kind of city.” But I decided one day just to do it and I moved here. And just a couple months in, I remember being in Runyon Canyon and I was like this place, Los Angeles, is awesome! You know what I mean? It gets a bad rap but it’s just so … creative and conducive, the weather’s great, and I just realized: I love it. I’ve been here long enough that I call it home. I absolutely adore Los Angeles. I have no desire to move anywhere else.

What gave you the idea to begin putting words and phrases around the city?

I started just wanting to say things to people in Los Angeles that I wish they would’ve said to me when I first moved here. Just positive stuff, motivational stuff. Like “If you’re gonna chase your dream, chase it — one hundred percent. Don’t doubt yourself,” and just things like that. But what I realized really early on is that it wasn’t just about Los Angeles. Everybody has a dream. There are stock brokers in Chicago who dream about writing a book, and there are dentists in the Carolinas who want to be actors. These are people that came here, and I started talking to them, saying, “put your head down and put in the work.” You’re not going to be sitting on the porch when you’re older sipping lemonade going, God, I wish I wouldn’t have chased my dream when I was young. It’s gonna be quite the opposite.

When you first started putting up pieces around the city, did you get immediate satisfaction or feedback?

I started off doing it for me. I just love writing, period. And I like writing in a lot of different mediums. In 2013, I had a really creative year, a good year but that meant I was sitting in front of the computer all the time. So I had this day that I realized, wow, I need an active hobby. I need something that gets me away from the computer for stretches of time. But I know myself, if I took up photography, I would also be resenting it because I just love to write. I’d always loved street art. I’d been inspired by it even when I was a kid, and it’s just such a part of the city. But I never in a million years thought I could do it. I actually thought superheroes did it because these things appear overnight, and they’re on top of roof tops and on buildings and it’s like, “Who did that?”

But I needed an active hobby and thought, maybe I could try street art. And if I did street art, it would be word based. I had the thought of a typewriter painted with a page made of wheat paste coming out of it … I loved the idea so much that I actually had to google to find out if anybody had done it before. and when I discovered nobody had, I was like, “Oh my god I have to do this.” So I got over the fear. I just learned how to make stencils. I learned how to wheat paste. I just taught myself. That’s the great thing about the internet, you can really discover how to do almost anything. I just packed up a backpack one day with words that I printed up and a stencil and some paint, and I went a couple blocks from my house and I put up my first piece. And I was hooked.

How did that first piece make you feel?

It fit the bill of everything I was looking for. It reinvigorated me, it energized me, and the adrenaline rush was unbelievable. I was just having so much fun.

And to come back to your earlier question, really early on I saw that the words were resonating with people. They were popping up on my feed with tags and I was like wow, people are finding this and they’re finding it motivational, they’re finding them romantic, they’re finding them funny. It was, I don’t know what to call it, a snow ball effect — like this is so lucky. It just started taking off and now I do it full time. It’s very gratifying.

That’s cool! How did it become a full time job? What was that evolution?

I was having so much fun that I put a lot of time into it. Like there is no formula, there is no path, there is nothing with this. It’s people that go out in the middle of the night and put up a message that they think is going to affect other people, but there’s no guarantee that it’s gonna be seen. It could be painted over in 20 minutes or it just might not resonate with people. I was very lucky in the sense that the messages I was putting up were well received. I’m a very positive person and I think my messages were universal and motivational. With everything going on in the world I think that positivity, was needed.

What are some of your favorite phrases that you’ve written?

I have a lot of them. They’re so personal and they’re so rooted in things in my life. “Aspire to inspire others and the universe will take note” was something that I wrote a long time ago and I think that it’s taken on a life of its own, where it is the thought behind WRDSMTH. I totally believe in that, in the good karma of just aiming to inspire others and motivate others and I think that, that word has taken wings far beyond what the original intention was when I wrote it.

The other one is: “The only lie I ever told you, is that I liked you when I already knew I loved you.” I feel like I wrote a pop song because it resonates with so many people. It was rooted in my life and means something to me but it’s this universal thing that again, has become something else. I’ve done so many commissions for that piece and that’s fantastic, I mean I love that. Any writer is gonna love that they write something that’s speaks to that many people.

What’s the most recent piece you’ve done?

I did a utility box on Hollywood and La Brea. I love utility boxes, they’re these ugly gray boxes that are this blank canvas. And when people are stuck in traffic, you can reach them, you can talk to them. I put up a word that is just motivational and it’s: “Follow your calling, trust in your talent, chase your dream, believe in yourself.” So again, really things that I think anybody in any walk of life can adhere but the it’s a message that really resonates here in Los Angeles.

 

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Lawrence Weiner, one of the central figures of Conceptual art, was born in 1942 in the Bronx, New York. After graduating from high school, Weiner had a variety of jobs—he worked on an oil tanker, on docks, and unloading railroad cars. He traveled throughout North America before returning to New York, where he exhibited at Seth Siegelaub Contemporary Art in 1964 and 1965. Weiner’s early work included experiments with systematic approaches to shaped canvases and later, featured squares cut out of carpeting or walls.

A turning point in Weiner’s approach came in 1968, when he created a work for an outdoor exhibition organized by Siegelaub at Windham College in Putney, Vermont. Weiner proposed to define the space for his work with rather unobtrusive means: “A series of stakes set in the ground at regular intervals to form a rectangle with twine strung from stake to stake to demark a grid—a rectangle removed from this rectangle.” When students cut down the twine because it hampered their access across the campus lawn, Weiner realized that his piece could have been even less obtrusive: viewers could have experienced the same effect Weiner desired simply by reading a verbal description of the work.

Not long after this, Weiner turned to language as the primary vehicle for his work, concluding in 1968 that: “(1) The artist may construct the piece. (2) The piece may be fabricated. (3) The piece may not be built. [Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.]”

Like other Conceptual artists who gained international recognition in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Weiner investigated forms of display and distribution that challenge traditional assumptions about the nature of the art object. As the sole contribution to a presentation organized by Siegelaub in 1968, Weiner created a small book entitled Statements; since the work consisted of nothing but words, there was no reason to display a physical object. That same year, Weiner also contributed pages to Siegelaub’s Xeroxbook, a compendium of photocopies by seven Conceptually oriented artists.

The wall installations that have been a primary medium for Weiner since the 1970s consist solely of words in a nondescript lettering painted on walls. The lettering need not be done by the Weiner himself, as long as the sign painter complies with the instructions dictated by the artist. Although this body of work focuses on the potential for language to serve as an art form, the subjects of his epigrammatic statements are often materials, or a physical action or process, as exemplified by such works as ONE QUART GREEN EXTERIOR INDUSTRIAL ENAMEL THROWN ON A BRICK WALL (1968) or EARTH TO EARTH ASHES TO ASHES DUST TO DUST (1970).

In others, the subject involves a translation from one language to another or an encounter with a national boundary, as in THE JOINING OF FRANCE GERMANY AND SWITZERLAND BY ROPE (1969). In the succeeding decades, Weiner explored the interaction of punctuation, shapes, and color to serve as inflections of meaning for his texts. In 1997, he created Homeport, an interactive environment for the contemporary art web site Adaweb.com, in which visitors can explore a space defined by linguistic rather than geographic features.

Major solo exhibitions of the artist’s work have been mounted at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1990), Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1991), Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1991), Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux (1991 and 1992), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1992), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1994), Philadelphia Museum of Art (1994), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (1995), Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (2000), Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City (2004), and Tate Gallery in London (2006). In 2007, the Whitney Museum of American Art organized the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States. In addition to publishing numerous books, Weiner has produced various films and videos, including Beached (1970), Do You Believe in Water? (1976), and Plowman’s Lunch (1982). Weiner lives and works in New York.

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Graffiti writers around the world know the name that started it all: TAKI 183. A kid from 183rd Street in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, TAKI’s simple signature captured the attention of a reporter and, in the summer of 1971, an article appeared in The New York Times. TAKI was the first New Yorker to become famous for writing graffiti. The floodgates opened.

TAKI 183: The Legendary Father of Graffiti from Petros Kasfikis (Pkas) on Vimeo.

In the summer of 1969, Demetrius was bored. He lived uptown, north of Harlem, in a neighborhood full of Greek kids, like himself, and also a growing population of Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. The Savage Nomads gang was headquartered a block away, but they didn’t bother the locals. One afternoon that summer, Demetrius’ friend Phil wandered down to 183rd and had some news for Demetrius and his friend Greg. A kid in Inwood, 20 blocks north, was writing his name and street number: JULIO 204. Demetrius and Greg thought that was pretty cool. They all started to write their names. Demetrius wrote ‘TAKI,’ a diminutive for a number of Greek names, and his street number.

In the fall of 1970, TAKI went to high school in Midtown Manhattan, taking the 1 train down and back. Along the way, he wrote TAKI 183 on the subway stations and anywhere else he thought was a good spot. He had seen the election posters and stickers plastered around the city in 1968, and again in 1970, and emulated their campaign tactics.

When he started working as a delivery boy in midtown, running packages of high-end cosmetics to fancy places like the Upper East Side, he held the box up against light poles, using it as cover while he wrote his name.

It was probably one of these tags on the Upper East Side that caught the eye of the New York Times reporter, who tracked TAKI down near his home. On July 21, 1971, TAKI’s fate was sealed: “TAKI 183 Spawns Pen Pals,” read the headline of the Times article. Just like that, TAKI 183 became the father of contemporary graffiti. His legend grew, and rumors spread that TAKI even tagged a Secret Service car and the Statue of Liberty.

Over the next five years, graffiti exploded to the point where it became a colorful, stylish mural-sized art form. TAKI had no interest in that. He was done with graffiti and had moved on to being a sensible grown-up. He went to college and learned car repair and bodywork. He raised a family. And amid all the flurry of nearly 40 years of graffiti around the world, he has kept silent.

Your name TAKI is — according to what we’ve read — a traditional Greek nickname for Demetrius, and 183 refers to the street where you lived in Washington Heights. How old were you when you first got your name up? And what was the first surface you hit?

I was about 16. The first surface I remember tagging was the bus terminal on 179th Street and Broadway.

What inspired you to leave your mark in a public space?

My friends Phil T. Greek and Greg 69 had begun writing their names in the neighborhood. They had most likely been inspired by Julio 204, whose tag first surfaced around 1964.

And why did you keep doing it? 

I liked the feeling of getting my name up, and I liked idea of getting away with it. I soon became obsessed. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

Did you have any preferred surfaces?

Any flat surface was good. Subways were good. If there was a blank space, I hit it.

Do any early memories that stand out?

One night when I came upon a huge empty space on a wall across from George Washington High School, I decided that instead of using a marker to write my name, I would use a paintbrush with black paint. I wasn’t prepared for the mess that it made. And I remember returning home with black paint all over me.

In the summer of 1971, you were the subject of a significant article in The New York Times. How did you feel about that?

I didn’t understand why they would waste their time on some kid who was tagging. I thought to myself, “For stupid things they put me into The New York Times. Aren’t there more important things going on in the world?”

How did that New York Times piece impact you?

It gave me legendary status. After all, if The New York Times says so, it must be true! Suddenly the media were all interested in not only what I was doing — my greatest hits —  but in the entire culture of tagging and graffiti.

How did your family react to what was going on?

My father said, “Take it easy!”

Have you any thoughts about the direction that graffiti has taken?

I don’t really pay attention to it. If you were born after 1955, I don’t know you! But I do appreciate the graffiti over on 207th Street.

You’ve been riding the trains again in Nic 707‘s Instafame Phantom Art Project.  Can you tell us something about that?

I think it’s great! I like Nic’s vision of taking an old concept and presenting it in a new way.

How do you feel about your status in the graffiti culture?

I feel good about it. I like having a place in history!

Have you any theories as to the world-wide popularity of modern graffiti?

It’s a great outlet for talent and creativity. And getting up in a public space gives you great exposure. Not everyone has the means or know-how to get into a gallery.

What advice would you give to the young taggers out there?

Be careful!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.


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Rone aka Tyrone Wright is a street artist living in Melbourne, Australia, famous for his lavish paintings and murals of glamorous and beautiful women. His reoccurring motif is so-called Jane Doe, in which the artist attempts to convey the friction point between beauty and decay. His recognizable style gives an iconic tone to urban art and adds a strong emotional side to it. Rone started off as a graphic designer, only to discover his talent for painting. In 2002, he was decorating skateboards and skate parks, and working on paintings, until 2010.

The artist painted his first large-scale mural in Miami in 2010, and his career took off from that point. Living in Melbourne was a good thing, given that in Sydney, though a much more popular city, street art wasn’t welcomed for many years. In Melbourne however, there are many alleys and streets, and there is always a wall to paint. This still had to be done undercover, and yet in 2003, Rone with his fellow artist, got himself caught by the police at Empty Show, an illegal exhibition held in derelict buildings.

Most of Rone’s early works have been produced either through a process of stenciling or screen printing. This doesn’t allow for much freehand style, and that is exactly what the artist has been working on, and moving toward. Freehand enables openness and looseness that exude into the image. Rone finds that this style gives a certain raw quality to his pieces that enhance the art in every possible way. Over the years, his trademark figures, heroic and alluring, almost cinematic icons emerge in even more emotional and elaborate forms. Reno has embraced a freehand style to express more emotion and allure.

Rone lived in the city of Geelong, before moving to Melbourne, where he would swiftly become an unmistakable part of the cityscape, permeating the landscape at a high rate. After going corporate with his large-scale murals, the artist has returned to some smaller-scale work. This process takes him back to the beginnings when he had to work undercover and quickly, followed by the adrenalin rush. It is as if a circle has been closed with the exhibition Empty that took place in 2016. Having returned to smaller-scale pieces, his works have been exhibited around the world, providing him worldly fame.

It was a long way from the early 2000’s when Rone started as a part of the Everfresh group to becoming a celebrated street artist, and nothing happened overnight. With a mixture of diligence, talent, and patience, Rone overtook the streets of Melbourne and is responsible for putting it on the art map. His work is found both in galleries and on the streets and has been an acquisition by the National Gallery of Australia. The artist was commissioned to work with Jean Paul Gaultier and has exhibited work in prominent galleries in London, San Francisco, Berlin and New York, among many other cities across the world.

Finding the friction point between beauty and decay is a thread that runs through much of Rone’s work. As a street artist best known for his haunting, stylised images of women’s faces, he understands better than most that beauty can be fleeting. Seeing his artworks gradually worn away by natural and human elements has taught him to appreciate the unexpected beauty of an image as it begins to blend back into its more prosaic surroundings. Rone has gone from spearheading Melbourne’s fledgling street art movement in the early 2000s, as a member of the Everfresh crew, to being a celebrated fixture on the international street art scene.

The Omega Project from Everfresh Studio on Vimeo.

An inveterate traveller, his distinctive female muses have followed him around the world, and can be found – in various states of decay – peering out from beneath overpasses and emblazoned on walls everywhere from New York, Paris, Tokyo and London to Christchurch, Santo Domingo and Port Villa. These days, Rone’s work is found as often in galleries as it is on the streets. His work has been acquisitioned by the National Gallery of Australia, commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria to work with Jean Paul Gaultier and shown by galleries including Stolen Space and in London, White Walls in San Francisco, Urban Nation in Berlin, and Opera Gallery in New York.

New murals by Melbourne-based artist RONE who is renowned for beautiful large-scale paintings of women. The artist recently launched The Alpha Project – a cluster of four massive portrait murals painted secretly over three months in an large abandoned paper mill due for demolition. The murals were revealed over two days last week to a select group of invited friends. “Over the last few months I’ve been working in secret on a series of works in an old paper mill. This was a dream project, a giant abandoned site where I could paint whatever I saw fit. These latest works at Yarra Bend have been completed inside the iconic brutalist brick buildings of the old Alphington Paper Mills on Heidelberg Road.” – RONE

Rone has just launched The OMEGA Project and totally transformed a quaint abandoned house in Melbourne into a temporary exhibition only open for viewing for just seven days before being demolished. Seven female portraits appear like ghosts – one in each room, inviting the onlooker to leave their reality and immerse themselves in the immediate surroundings teeming with relics that feel like they have been there for a lifetime. A limited number of photographs of each of the portraits in their context were snapped up in hours. Check the images below, the video and then take the 3D virtual tour to really get a feel for this incredible installation and experience.

 

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