Category Archives: Boston street art

On Paint Pens in Purses (aka a totally rad female urban art collective).


Photos from a series I shot for the Boston Phoenix of the Paint Pens in Purses art show at the recently-closed Marty’s Liquors space. See the whole series here.

Previously: Photos, video and a write-up of the Paint Pens gals muralizing LAB’s windows

On Shepard Fairey

(Image from photos I took of Shepard Fairey’s visit to the Boston Phoenix offices)

In this week’s New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl comments on the storm of recent Shepard Fairey news, with some interesting points-of-view.

Fairey’s fight with the AP over whether the Obama photo he used for his famous “Hope” poster is downright stolen or covered by fair use laws, Schjeldahl says, is a “predictable legal snarl”:

“The general issue is an old story of our litigious republic. Appropriative artists, including David Salle, Jeff Koons, and Richard Prince, have been sued at intervals since Campbell’s soup went after Warhol, in 1962 (but then thought better of it). As an art maven, I’m for granting artists blanket liberty to play with any existing image…. and I’m bored by the kerfuffle’s rote recurrence, with its all but scripted lines for plaintiff and defendant alike.”

Fairey cites Warhol as one of his primary artistic influences – no surprise there – and it’s interesting that nearly 50 years after audiences struggled to consider images of soup cans as art, we’re still having trouble with the concept of blatant, purposely apparent borrowdness as a medium.

“Fairey’s stylistic borrowings from Russian Revolutionary, Soviet, and W.P.A. propaganda are often remarked upon,” Schjeldahl writes. “But borrowedness itself—studied anachronism—is his mode of seduction.”

Schjeldahl only makes a brief-yet-poignant mention of Fairey’s arrest, implying that the incident is only worth a few words – can you hear that, Boston.com commenters? – because the pro- versus anti-graffiti/street art argument has probably been around longer than Fairey himself. Street artsists exhibit their work in galleries often, and many have been arrested. Fairey just did it on a grander scale (at the ICA), and at a moment when the public (in Boston and elsewhere) happened to have all eyes on him.

“Boston’s I.C.A. has condoned a citywide smattering of street art by Fairey, as an extension of the show. That makes sense. So does the decision of the Boston police to arrest him for it, on his way to the show’s opening.”

Perhaps, much like Warhol did for pop artists, Fairey – as America’s best-known street artist at the moment (besides Banksy, whose anonymity lends him a separate and unique set of issues) – is creating a whole new set of inevitables for street artists making a foray into the museum and gallery world. Or maybe it’s just history repeating itself.

Daily street art.

From the Phlog:

Yes, I know, I should rename this whole street art series something like “Sporadic Street Art Updates,” or “Sometimes daily street art.” Let’s just say I’m using the term loosely. This weekend I plan on visiting my favorite street art-related spot in town: the Wall in Central Square, so I can capture some photo updates of what’s going there. As I’ve mentioned before, the whole project began last October, when a who’s who of Boston and New York-based street artists threw their stuff all over the formerly boring brick outside of Central Kitchen (and on the roof, and other how-did-they-get-there? spots). Then, inevitably, shit fell down or was spray painted over with non-interesting “0’s,” etc. NOW there’s more art over the old art, this layer over that layer over that layer, so it’s spanned beyond just a street artist’s roll call – it’s a concentrated statement of what’s happening in cities all over the world, everyday. Here’s hoping it keeps going!

I don’t know a ton about today’s handpicked local artist, noirboston, but I’m a fan of his gold (and sometimes neon,) Scooby Doo zombie character-like stencils currently lining the streets of Boston with other familiar characters, like Nineta and Goldenstash, like Boston’s freaky, unofficial street art mascots, greeting you en route to wherever you’re going.

As for the non-local street artist du jour, Roadsworth‘s stuff seems to be popping up everywhere, from Amsterdam, to Montreal, to Quebec, to Berlin, if Flickr is to be trusted as a location source. Roadsworth’s shtick is using road markings as a base for his or her artwork, transforming crosswalks, manhole covers, and other common city staples into statements of inspired cleverness. This is a somewhat Banksy-ish tactic that I’ve written about before; and the artists who do this – use pre-existing environments a the catalyst for artistic ventures – are the some of the most interesting. It’s a means of changing expectations for what you might see on a daily walk – who doesn’t want to stumble across art right under their feet?

In Boston: noirboston


Photos by noirboston.

Not in Boston: Roadsworth



Photo by nomsaleena.


Photo by greynotgrey.


Photo by hobbes313.


Photo by François @ Edito.qc.ca.

Phoenix blogs are down, so this can’t go up on the Phlog yet, unforch.

For those of you not at SXSW: If I may be so bold, I’d like to offer you a list of things to do this weekend (besides going to see Justice, or dancing your ass off at Hearthrob – which sounds like a tough decision for the types into those activities, aka moi), in flier form. LAB Boston is an unclassifiable Allston hotspot. I’d call it part clothing store, part art gallery, part party venue, and part space for graf artists to paint on semi-clothed women’s bodies on a Saturday afternoon. This weekend, they’re one year old and, of course, there’ll be a celebration:

artopening3-15-081.jpg

Sunday is obviously going to be mainly about consuming beer and claiming to be Irish for most Bostonians, but if you’re in the mood to do something cause-worthy for the sake of Boston’s independent film scene (and also drink more, and maybe catch a sneak preview of an awesome, not-yet-released movie), the crew behind Twelve, a film I wrote about for the Phoenix, are throwing a fundraiser shindig. The obligatory flier:

12fundflyer.jpg

There are other good things happening (not in Southie) on Sunday as well. A non-flier tidbit from my inbox:

READING AND PARTY: Sunday, March 16, 2008, 7pm, The Dirty Water Reading Series presents “Get Lucky”
“Get Lucky” is a St. Patty’s-themed reading at Grub Street Headquarters, featuring mad-libs of famous Irish writers and short readings by Sommer Browning, Steve Himmer, Nina MacLaughlin, and Felicia C. Sullivan. Organized by local journals Quick Fiction, Redivider, and Fringe, along with Black Ocean Press. Free food and drinks, plus door prizes. Come on down and have a pint!
FREE, Grub Street HQ, 160 Boylston Street

Nina MacLaughlin is a co-worker at the Phoenix, and a fantastic writer – check this awesome piece she wrote about Andre Dubus for last fall’s literary supplement.

And finally, Will will (sorry, had to do it) be DJing it up at ZuZu on Sunday around 10 pm – I’ve been eyeing up his record collection for months, and I can safely say the kid’s got good taste, and it’ll definitely be worth checking out.

Oh, and if you’re the “stay at home on the net”-type, maybe you should customize a shirt?

Au revoir!

Paris street art is Iansanity.

Stolen from the Phlog.

Daily street art posts have been minimal lately, due to my recent absence from the office/country, but I’m back and voilà! I’ve brought street art pics back pour vous. From the fifth arrondissement of Paris, Hemingway’s old stomping grounds, I’ve got some shots of famed figures in stencils, by the not-so-famed artist Jef Aerosol (he’s getting there, though). Meanwhile, Boston’s street art scene was vivacious as usual, and I’ve got a lot to catch up on, starting with Iansanity, whose alien-like hot dog bun heads are popping up all over Allston.

In Boston (Allston): Iansanity


All photos by iansanity.

Not in Boston (Paris):


All photos by moi.

Daily street art.

From the phlog:

In Boston (Cambridge): Stenciled-on musicians are brightening those bleak, concrete walls

Awesome pics by sushiesque, who also captured a heartbroken Loch Ness monster. We miss Elliott and Kurt too, Nessy.


Not in Boston (???):
Christine Autturio, my artsy, in-the-know co-worker, pointed out Skelewags, the crafty, Tim Burton-referencing street art currently decorating sewers and other unappealing city locations, by an artist called Chewy, on conceptart.org.  Actually, decorate isn’t even the right word, because Chewy incorporates his artwork into pre-existing structures, cracks, pipes, plants, etc. These things are not just canvases for the artwork, they’re part of it. It’s sort of Banksy-type thinking, that street art can be both inspired by and an improvement upon it’s surroundings. Chewy’s website is currently unfinished, and I wasn’t able to pin down exactly what city these photos are from, via extensive Google researching, but my could-be-totally-wrong guess is somewhere in Portugal, based on this. If anyone knows for sure, help a sista out and shoot me an e-mail.

Photos by Nuno Caria.

Art on the streets.

Here’s a little something I’ve been doing recently. It’s sort of an ongoing project, born from an ongoing obsession.

In Boston (Nineta, on Comm Ave and beyond):

Photos snagged from l_a_i_a.

Not in Boston (Talking Britneys in Vancouver, British Columbia):

Photos swiped from jerm9ine. In Boston (South End):

Flickr photo by (who else?) Hargo.

Not in Boston (on a subway car in Holland, the Netherlands):

Photo by ces53 on Flickr.

Also not in Boston (Te Aro, Wellington, New Zealand):

Photo by bronzebrew on Flickr.
In Boston:

Via hargo on Flickr. (Otherwise known as the man behind the Wall.)

Not in Boston (Tirana, Albania):

Via sys68escuadrilla on Flickr.

Gotta get out there more with my own camera, so I can cut down on all of this Flickr thievery. Tune in here for more installments.

That whole Shriiimp thing

Photo courtesy of Shriiimp.com

A few things I’d like to point out, in light of some recent comments disapproving of this piece. First, the misspelling of “Juxtapoz” was a miscommunication between myself and my editor, and for that I’m sorry. I’m not sorry, however, for reporting the story to the best of my abilities. I am not a publicist, and I was not writing a press release to hype up Shriiimp. One of the ground rules for journalism is that a story should never be one-sided; a variety of points-of-view are always necessary. I interviewed a plethora of sources for this story, from a large group of Shriiimp-involved people, to art experts, graf experts, artists, and other people with strong opinions about the site. I reported back a variety of opinions, both for and against Shriiimp’s concept – i.e., those who take it quite seriously as art, those who find it to be misogynistic, and those who think it shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

I have no problem with people posting comments on the story. No journalistic career is free of personal criticism, not even for Deborah Solomon. If anything, I’m glad that it was something that got people talking. It’s a good thing when people are talking about art, or journalism about art, and obviously the anonymity of the Phoenix’s commenting system allows people who would never have the courage to e-mail or call me personally, and express their opinion to make biting and immature comments, with no risk of exposing who they are, or having to elaborate their opinions further. Having someone refer to my writing as “insanely horrible,” and a “steaming pile of shit” is not exactly pleasant but, as a co-worker put it to me today, “internet backlash is the first sign you’ve made it.”

Apologies all around

Goldenstash photo by trevorpowers 

Greetings blog readers! (If there are still any of you out there). I’ve been slacking on the updates lately… turns out when you start working full time for a newspaper, they actually want you to write and blog for them and stuff. Crazy!  I’m going to try to get the ball rolling again on this here blog, though, for realz. In the meantime, here are a few things that have been keeping me busy writing elsewhere, instead of on this fine blog.

The List is Life, or, the story of this coolest person I’ve ever met at a beer tasting, and why lists can be awesome.

Streets of Gold, or, the story of the coolest person I’ve ever willingly met at 3 a.m. for illegal shenanigans.

Tales from Inman Square, or, the story of the coolest people that have ever kept me from eating delicious Indian food.

Up next, in the Phoenix’s Literary Supplement, a story about “things” (or, the coolest books I’ve read lately, Taking Things Seriously and Evocative Objects).

I will return soon with some shiny new blog posts!