MPLS graffito: "Yo Yo Ma is cool"

Despite winning no points for craftmanship, this writer's right, Yo Yo Ma is cool.

Banksy "stolen" in LA: Cut from building wall "in broad daylight"

Caution, prior to being tagged and then removed, by Rob Wade

Banksy -- in LA in the lead-up to last night's Oscars -- did several wall stencils, including one that was swiped removed on Friday. As photographer Ted Soqui writes, "Art thieves drove up in broad daylight and sawed away the Banksy piece from the wall." Flickr user Ultra Shine Blind, who's been documenting Banksy's recent LA murals, has a series of shots of the piece, Caution Crossing, after it'd been cut from the wall of a building and loaded into a truck. Before it was taken, the piece had been tagged, also in broad daylight.

Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop was up for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, but lost out to Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs' expose on the global financial crisis.

Update: Ok, maybe not "stolen." The blog MELROSEandFAIRFAX states that, "unfortunately, instead of preserving it, the owner chopped it out of the wall."

Update: Ultra Shine Blind, who shot the photos below, confirms: "The piece wasn't really stolen ... The real story is how people are cutting holes in there walls b/c they thing it's a Banksy."


Bits: 02.25.11

Greg Stimac, Gravedigger, 2011

JCPenney's new logo looks an awful lot like the Gap's ditched rebranding effort last fall.

• Videos: Talibanksy, featuring stencil artists in Kabul in 2009, and the trailer for the Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land, about artist Vik Muniz's collaborations with workers in Brazil's largest landfill.

• An anti-abortion billboard claiming that "The most dangerous place for an African American is the womb" went up in Soho recently, raising the ire of the mother of the six-year-old girl pictured as well as reproductive health advocates. The billboard's been removed, but due to "safety concerns," not its content. Here's "popagandist" Ron English's suggestion for a modified version of the "racist" ad.

No Logo author Naomi Klein applies her idea of the "shock doctine" to the actions of Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who's working to strip the right to collectively bargain from state workers.

Daily Serving interviews artist/experimental geographer Trevor Paglen.

• Your moment of Radiohead's "Creep," theramin-style. (Thanks, Cameron Gainer.)


Hijacked newspaper boxes in Seattle highlight police violence

Newspaper boxes in downtown Seattle were hijacked this week, The Slog reports, with display copies of The Seattle Times replaced to bear a new lead story, headlined "'We're killing everybody we can,' Seattle police declare." While The Stranger offers little context, the city's police have been involved in a series of controversies, including -- probably most prominently -- the Aug. 30, 2010, killing of a homeless wood carver. Police officer Ian Birk shot well-known carver John Williams after he told Williams three times to drop his whittling knife; Williams was partially deaf.

The newspaper alteration seems linked to that case: Last week the Seattle Police Department found Birk's shooting of Williams "unjustified," and Birk resigned, but he won't be prosecuted for the killing. Williams reportedly was given only four seconds to respond to Birk's command to drop the three-inch carving knife. (The Seattle Post-Intelligencier has video from the officer's car which captures audio of the four-second exchange and five gunshots.)

In December, the ACLU formally requested that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice "open a pattern or practice investigation into multiple incidents of excessive force by the Seattle Police Department (SPD), particularly force used against persons of color."

Williams was Native American, "a member of the Ditidaht and Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations tribes in British Columbia. "

The newspaper alteration isn't the only creative response to the killing. Seattle street artist No Touching Ground created a mural in the slain man's honor.


Protest graffiti in Libya

اكتب تعليقكبنغازي اليوم 23-2-2011
Via Wired's Raw File blog Twitter feed, which has been collecting Libya protest graphics. Translations, anyone?
اكتب تعليقك

Video: Explosive etching by Vhils

Via John Grider on Twitter, a look at Alexandre "Vhils" Farto's technique of using controlled explosions to make etchings on concrete.

Titian's topless Venus in Minneapolis gets graffiti bra

With another new foot of snow on the ground, it's mighty cold around these parts. But a graffiti artist decided to help out: The topless Venus on a billboard for the new Minneapolis Institute of Arts' show show of works by Titian is now sporting a spraypaint bra... along with the word "Brr!" MIA staff, writes the LA Times (which first reported the story), is "is highly amused.”

(Via Secrets of the City.)

Update: Bob Collins at MPR's NewsCut makes a point I should've: The alteration is likely a PR gimmick. After all, the photos at the LA Times (and the local tabloid, which ran a piece on this too) were provided by the exhibition's marketing firm.

Update: MIA PR director Anne-Marie Wagener emails to state that it's not a publicity stunt:
[L]ast Friday I saw the 'new' billboard image that was sent to me by one of our staff and it went around the museum. I didn't send it to any media at all. It took off all on it's own through social media really. We couldn't have created such a stunt anyway as we can't put words/copy over images of art, it's not allowed, especially when the art work is owned by some else, as it is in this case. Art museums can never 'deface' art images. I thought at first that it had been photo shopped it was so 'perfect' and had someone in Marketing call Clear Channel and they confirmed that it had been graffitied. Whoever did it did a good job ;)


Day of Remembrance: Dorothea Lange's Japanese internment photos

San Bruno, California. Young evacuees at this assembly center are happy to get their pictures taken., 06/16/1942
Sixty-nine years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the executive order that led to the internment of Japanese Americans, forced migrations -- later referred to by Congress as "fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights of these individuals" -- commemorated through today's Day of Remembrance. Photographer Dorothea Lange documented the forced evacuation of Japanese (and other Asian) Americans to camps; eventually, around 120,000 people were detained for the duration of World War II. Of those, 62 percent were American citizens. (A far smaller number of Germans and Italians were affected by the order as well.)

Hired by the War Relocation Authority, Lange (pictured at the top of the photo above) photographed life in Japanese-American neighborhoods and at processing centers and camps.

Quickly, the Library of Congress writes, Lange "found herself at odds with her employer and her subjects' persecutors, the United States government":

To capture the spirit of the camps, Lange created images that frequently juxtapose signs of human courage and dignity with physical evidence of the indignities of incarceration. Not surprisingly, many of Lange's photographs were censored by the federal government, itself conflicted by the existence of the camps.

In the book Years of Infamy, the late Michi Weglyn -- an American citizen sent to a camp when she was 15 -- wrote that "our government had in its possession proof that not one Japanese American, citizen or not, had engaged in espionage, not one had committed any act of sabotage." In fact, according to the Commission of Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, internment was "motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
Hayward, California. Farmer of Japanese ancestry is showing his identification card to a Wartime Ci . . ., 05/08/1942
Acknowledging that a "grave injustice was done to both citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War II," Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which paid restitution to those affected.

One of the most arresting works on the topic is the 2006 documentary The Cats of Mirikitani, in which filmmaker Linda Hattendorf takes in homeless New York artist Jimmy Mirikitani after 9/11 only to learn how, echoing anti-Muslim hysteria following the attacks, World War II internment ripped his family apart.

Here's text of the internment notices (click to enlarge):
Photos (top to bottom):

Dorothea Lange, "Hayward, California. Two children of the Mochida family who, with their parents, are awaiting evacuation bus. The youngster on the right holds a sandwich given her by one of a group of women who were present from a local Church. The family unit is kept intact during evacuation and at War Relocation Authority centers where evacuees of Japanese ancestry will be housed for the duration," 5/8/42, U.S. National Archives

Dorothea Lange, "San Francisco, Calif., April 1942 - Children of the Weill public school, from the so-called international settlement, shown in a flag pledge ceremony. Some of them are evacuees of Japanese ancestry who will be housed in War relocation authority centers for the duration," Library of Congress

Photographer unknown, "Lange photographing Japanese-American evacuees, "4/6/42, Library of Congress

Dorothea Lange, "Hayward, California. Farmer of Japanese ancestry is showing his identification card to a Wartime Civil Control Administration Control Dispatcher as he is about to board the special bus for Tanforan Assembly center," 05/08/1942, U.S. National Archives

Internment notice, Wikipedia


Bits: 02.15.11

Raphaël Zarka, Riding Modern Art, 2007

• The Indianapolis Museum of Art, which has "152 acres of gardens and woodland," outlines its environmental stewardship work, and how it measures its carbon footprint.

• Kentucky Rising activists, including poet Wendell Berry, ended a four-day sit-in protest at the Kentucky governor's office yesterday afternoon, emerging from the building to a crowd of 1,000 people. Highlighting the destructive practice of mountaintop-removal mining, Berry vowed to keep pressure on the governor, who's up for reelection. He said, “We came because the land, its forests, and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal, because the people are suffering intolerable harms to their homes, their health, and their communities.”

• Read Wendell Berry's poem, "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front."

• Michael Bloomberg's family foundation is making $32 million in grants to arts organizations around New York City; 250 small and midsized art groups in operation for at least two years have been invited to apply.

• Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has cancelled his first retrospective in mainland China. AFP reports that the show, scheduled for the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, was canned after its organizers told Ai the show was "politically sensitive." Ai has long been a critic of China's communist government, and has paid the price: he's been arrested, beaten and jailed, and in November his studio was razed. "The timing is sensitive and politically they feel it is not suitable at the moment," he said.

• Italian collecitve IOCOSE has futzed with Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds, an installation of 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, to create Sunflower Seeds on Sunflower Seeds: On Jan. 31, they left real sunflower seeds in with Ai's replicas, apparenlty shooting some of the seeds in with slingshots.

• Vintage book cover: Secrets of the Shopping Mall, apparently a horror book, via Brian Ulrich.

• Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop is up for an Oscar, prompting questions about how or if the incognito artist will accept his trophy. Amid the hubub: a sighting of a new Banksy piece in LA, and a new mini-documentary on the artist.

• With Crashvertising -- what Bruce Sterling calls "wry and smirking European anticapitalist intervention-art," Italy's Kook-Artgency sends a team "immediately to the spot, showing an advertising campaign on large scale posters and giving away safety vests with a brand’s logo to all the people involved in the road accident. Furthermore, 'a special warning triangle with your brand message is located near the cars,' and 'gadgets or other advertising stuff are given away to people in the area.'"

Mentalgassi's giant camera street-art in Spain

Berlin-based wheatpaste team Mentalgassi, last seen at Eyeteeth here, was in Spain late last year for GETXOPHOTO, and left a few contributions around Getxo (about 14 km from Bilbao).


B Movie: A Film About the Art of Banksy

Via Laughing Squid.

Bits: 02.14.11

Kunsthofpassage Funnel Wall, a raingutter musical instrument in Dresden, Germany

• American Airlines in-flight magazine revisits the Miss Rockaway Armada's Minneapolis launch in 2006 (I'm interviewed) as a preview of Swimming Cities' upcoming project on the Ganges in India. Here's my look at the Swoon-led project just before the flotilla of sustainable rafts launched on the Mississippi a few blocks away nearly five years ago.

Passive Aggressive Vending Machine by Yarisa Kublitz: Put in a coin and your selected piece of china will crash to the bottom of the machine.

• Gun street art + stop sign = alarm in Atlanta. (Thanks, Maryn.)

• Minneapolis calls for art: FEAST (Funding Emerging Art with Sustainable Tactics), due Feb. 18; and Northern Lights, which is curating the nuit blanche (i.e. dusk-to-dawn) site-specific festival Northern Spark on the Minneapolis riverfront June 4-5; deadline Mar. 7.

• The Walker design department posts fliers from the late '60s and early '70s for shows by The Who, Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters and others.

• An amazing gallery of German aerial photography.

• Secrets of the City visits with sculptor Kinji Akagawa.

Shatner's doing a metal album.

Kentucky Rising: Poet Wendell Berry, others protest mountaintop-removal mining at KY guv's office

Daniel Shea, Hell's Gate, from his 2007 Appalachian photo series "Removing Mountains"

Today is day four of a sit-in in the Kentucky governor's office by 76-year-old poet Wendell Berry and 13 other Kentucky Rising activists who are calling for an end to harsh mountaintop-removal mining. The group is urging Gov. Steve Beshear to "lead by ending mountaintop removal, by beginning a sincere public dialogue about creating sustainable jobs for our hard-working miners, by putting the vital interests of ordinary Kentuckians above the special interests of an abusive industry." In his 2011 State of the Commonwealth speech, Beshear decried "Washington bureaucrats" over what he calls the "arbitrary and unreasonable regulations on the mining of coal." "Get off our backs," he said of the EPA.

Writes Berry: "[O]ur protest is against methods of mining that are abusive. We do not oppose mining per se. Our purpose is to protect our land and water. And we most certainly bear no ill will against those who work in mines."

Authors Michael Pollan and Bill McKibben have been vocal in support of the activists. McKibben:
It's about time that people said: 'No more business as usual, if that means leveling the mountains of southern Appalachia.' And it comes as no surprise that Wendell Berry is in the forefront, as he has been for an entire generation. When the rest of the nation sees the person we most associate with Kentucky taking a stand like this, we pay attention."
Last summer, Berry ungifted his papers to the University of Kentucky, his home state, after it decided to name its basketball players' dormitory after the coal industry.

Today is I Love Mountains Day, when activists are marching to the Kentucky capitol in protest of the mining procedure.


Broken Crow to do mural at Mexican City toy museum

After making murals in Gambia in October, John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons of Minneapolis' Broken Crow have their next international trip planned: They just confirmed they'll be heading to Mexico City from March 1-11 to do a gigantic mural at MUJAM, el Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico (the Antique Toy Museum Mexico). The museum is run by 65-year-old Roberto Shimizu, the son of Japanese immigrants who imported toys and food into the country. Filmmaker Albo Mora Roca writes that Shimizu "deliberately located his museum in a working-class neighborhood, Colonia Doctores, a place people go to buy stolen car parts. He calls it 'a live museum for living Mexicans.'" Shimizu's son Roberto, Jr., helps with art programming, holding a twice monthly event called Collec, in which painters, comic artists and designers sell their works on an empty floor of the museum.

Grider says Broken Crow is planning artmaking trips to the UK and to Anchorage, Alaska, this summer, as well as throughout rural Minnesota where they'll be painting barns. He estimates the pair has created around 100 murals, including 15 in the Twin Cities (here's two: 1, 2) seven in New York, and 30 in international cities including London and Paris. Above, a shot from their Gambia trip, courtesy of Christin Crabtree Grider. Below, Roca's documentary on MUJAM.


Object du jour: Frank Gaard's Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts Snowshovel (1969)

In an email, Minneapolis-based artist Frank Gaard explains this seasonally appropriate readymade from 1969:
I got the snowshovel when I first moved here from California in 1969. It was standard issue for renters in Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts buildings.

I thought it was pretty ironic. The fellow in the photo broke his arm that following summer; the title of the Duchamp readymade was In Advance of A Broken Arm. It seemed as if the readymades could be anywhere, made from anything. It was a skill-less art, no craft, just slight knowledge of contemporary art.


Blog: Born This Way

Isaac, age 7, Karratha, Western Australia, 1995

This is sweet: A blog highlighted by NPR of snapshots submitted by readers "that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate LGBT selves."

Certified Steve Martin encounter

Via Reference Library, it makes me think I should try to contact Martin about this.


Didier Faustino's swingset billboard

Architect Didier Faustino's Double Happiness, an "urban reanimation device" installed as part of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture:
Double Happiness responds to the society of materialism where individual desires seem to be prevailing over all. This nomad piece of urban furniture allows the reactivation of different public spaces and enables inhabitants to reappropriate fragments of their city. They will both escape and dominate public space through a game of equilibrium and desequilibrium. By playing this “risky” game, and testing their own limits, two persons can experience together a new perception of space and recover an awareness of the physical world.
Via PlaceboKatz.

The Words Don't Fit the Picture

Ron Terada, The Words Don't Fit the Picture (installed outside the Vancouver Public Library), photographed by Kenny Louie. (H/t Maryn McKenna.)


Bits: 02.01.11

002, Gerco de Ruijter, from Baumschule (2008-2010)

• "How abstract can a landscape become while remaining a landscape?" Gerco de Ruijter asks. His reply is a series of "32 photographs of tree nurseries and grid forests in the Netherlands" called Baumschule. BLDG BLOG has more.

• An upside of the rotten economy: a resurgence of DIY, interventionist and reuse-oriented architectural projects.

Google Art Project: "Explore museums from around the world, discover and view hundreds of artworks at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share your own collection of masterpieces."

• A professor, sued by an author over an academic book review she thinks is defamatory, is now in court in Paris. Writes Joseph Weiler, Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law: "As I entered the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, the French Old Bailey, my lawyer whispered: ‘Emile Zola was tried here.’ Vive la difference: This was no Dreyfus Affair but the stakes for Academic Freedom and liberty of expression are huge."

Wilco is founding its own record label, dBpm, to release future Wilco records (including the band's next one, due out late this year). Distro will be by ANTI- Records, which put out Mavis Staples' Jeff Tweedy-produced release.

• "Bohemian Rhapsody," ukelele version.