25 Kent Ave., Brooklyn
Thursday - Sunday through September 29, $25
“Beyond the Streets” is an aptly titled exhibition, a wide-ranging show, continuing in a multilevel space in Williamsburg through September 29 that features more than 150 artists who made their names tagging and writing on trains, buildings, water towers, and the like. Displaying rebellious art that originally arose from a disaffected community — pieces meant to be freely viewed outdoors by all — in a gallery setup can be problematic. Curator Roger Gastman includes ample documentation of earlier spray-can art and graffiti but mainly concentrates on artists’ more recent work, including paintings on canvas, sculptures, and installations. The centerpiece is “Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent,” Shepard Fairey’s thirtieth anniversary show, consisting of more than thirty framed pieces that follow his transition from a street artist posting stickers of Andre the Giant to making larger murals and posters that have entered the political zeitgeist, taking on such issues as racism, gender inequality, and the military industrial complex. “Beyond the Streets” began in Los Angeles, and the New York iteration is significantly different, focusing on a more local appeal, though the LA artists get their due as well.
Among the artists represented are Barry McGee, BAST, BLADE, Charlie Ahearn, CRASH, Dash Snow, DAZE, Dennis Hopper, Fab 5 Freddy, Gordon Matta-Clark, Guerrilla Girls, INVADER, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, LADY PINK, Mark Mothersbaugh, Ron English, SWOON, TAKI 183, and TATS CRU, the first major graffiti collective to create commercial work. Street art is, by nature, temporary, so photographs by Martha Cooper, Glen E. Friedman, Maripol, Henry Chalfant, and Jane Dickson depict classic tags. LEE Quiñones re-creates his “Soul-Train” wall piece, adding such quotes on a pizza box as “Running out of paint just as I did back in ’75.” Takashi Murakami and MADSAKI collaborate with snipe1 and TENGAone on a room that includes a text-laden, colorful sculpture that declares, “Hollow.” Craig Costello takes over a corner with two canvases and a pair of mailboxes dripping in white paint.
C. R. Stecyk III repurposes old, rusted spray cans. Bill Barminski invites visitors into an interactive world made out of paper. DABSMYLA offers a respite with a panorama bouquet. A special section is dedicated to the Beastie Boys’ street sense. Tim Conlon paints a large-scale model freight train. John Ahearn’s “Smith vs. the Vandal Squad” depicts an incognito graffiti artist giving the finger. Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms” posters are filled with thousands of statements, such as “Any surplus is immoral” and “Awful punishment awaits really bad people.” The visual theme of the presentation is Kilroy Was Here’s half-hidden man peeking out from various places. Overall, it’s a celebration of a revolutionary art form and its immense cultural influence, showing how so many of these artists continue to create today.