Platinum Cheese: 10 Years of Wooster Collective @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery


“10 Years of Wooster Collective 2003—2013″, is a group exhibition curated by Marc and Sara Schiller featuring works and site-specific installations by over fifty local and international artists including Shepard Fairey, Ron English, How & Nosm and Olek. The Schillers have been avid supporters of the urban art movement by acting as a mouthpiece to help artists promote their message to a wider audience through the global community. Ultimately, “10 Years of Wooster Collective: 2003-2013″ is a tribute to street art around the world and its transformative power. In conjunction with the exhibition (housed in a temporary space in Chelsea), a number of the participating artists will also be creating public murals in various locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.


After witnessing the rise of temporary art on the streets of New York City over a decade ago, Marc and Sara Schiller founded Wooster Collective in 2001 to document the ever-changing face of their downtown Manhattan neighborhood. In 2003, they started the website out of a genuine desire to share these images with the world – a few years mind you before social media and image sharing via Instagram, Tumblr, etc. became the norm. The collective’s mission is to discover and document authentic art experiences via salons, lectures, exhibitions and online. In 2006, they organized 11 Spring Street, a monumental street art exhibition that took place in an abandoned building in downtown New York, and was chosen by The New York Times as one of the top art exhibitions of the year. Three years ago, the pair collaborated with Carlo McCormick on Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art, published by Taschen. They have been featured in The New York Times, Time Magazine, Good Magazine and more. As a global voice for this brand of art, the Schillers have spoken at the Tate Modern, Design Indaba and The New Museum. In the curators’ words: “While street artists express themselves in a myriad of ways, they are often joined by a set of common principles: reclaiming public space, beautifying the environment and fighting for the freedom of speech. Street art has become the catalyst for people of all cultural and economic backgrounds to challenge the system and express themselves without any filter.”

Street art may have indeed eliminated the artist’s filter, but the medium also inadvertently democratized the art world. A few of Martha Cooper‘s snapshots that appear in 10 Years…, capture the burgeoning hip hop/graffiti scene of late 70′s/early 80′s. That movement eventually forced those in the art world to look beyond their colorless world of white-walled galleries, white wine openings and white artists and view their own urban landscape in a new light – as one endless canvas for these nascent maverick artists. It’s comforting that decades later, not much has changed. The artist Vhils for example carved his motifs into a found wooden door to create the moody “Insculpt #9″. His other piece “Homogeneo #9″, consists of hand carved and laser-cut billboards collected from walking down the street.


Rather than concentrate on one plane of street art and possibly alienate the viewer, the curators cleverly exhibited a fairly wide range of work – the delicate and feminine, to the droll to the bold and in-your-face. Zev’s pair of canvases, “Liquidated Marlboro” and “Liquidated Gucci” serves as a humorous homage to both Pop and Pollock. TrustoCorp‘s biting street signs deserve a few moments to appreciate all the innuendos. Topping it all off, Invader aliens discreetly adorn the space with their omniscient pixilated eyes. – Daniel Alonso


(Published August 2013)


Platinum Cheese: How & Nosm ‘Late Confessions’ @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery


“Late Confessions” is a series of works and installation by New York-based identical twin brothers Raoul and Davide Perre, better known as the street art duo How & Nosm. The pop up show, presented by Jonathan LeVine Gallery, marks the brothers’ debut solo exhibition in New York.

The exhibit consists of murals, sculpture and mixed media rendered solely in black, white and red (the limited palette was originally conceived out of necessity but soon evolved into a How & Nosm signature). Their work fuses highly stylized characters with vibrant, graphic patterns. The result is inter-connected, highly charged narratives that lure the viewer into bizarre micro- universes. “Our pieces make you think. You look and look and you find more images and you try to understand the whole concept,” says Davide.

What is most striking upon closer view is the level of intricate detail the twins pour into each of their creations. “Live and Tell” (spray paint, india ink, cel vinyl, collage on canvas) reveals various vignettes depicting sci-fi figures and scenarios from a bio-mechanical matryoshka doll to alchemical bottles spewing red liquid to a character donning a rising sun sombrero – Bosch meets H.R. Giger by way of Japanese anime and graffiti, if you will. But don’t be deceived by the seemingly cheerful quality of the work as a darker undercurrent pulses beneath.

The brothers Perre were raised in Spain in the years following Franco’s dictatorship – a time of political turmoil in which military tanks and gunfire were common sights and sounds. Consequently their early years were marked by chaos and emotional instability. Adding to the heaviness was growing up in a home plagued by alcoholism and poverty. “We kind of had a very disturbed childhood,” Raoul explains in a recent interview. “Welfare too, so… I smile a lot and shit but in my paintings I think it is more important to express myself with what most people want to suppress and not show, you know? There’s a lot of love stuff, too. Like heartbroken stuff, financial situations – about myself or other people.” It’s clear that the brothers’ art serves not only as a visual diary of sorts but also as an ongoing catharsis.

Although the large-scale murals have a powerful impact, the most thought provoking feature of “Late Confessions” is a crimson alcove tucked away in the back of the gallery. Featured on three small walls are a collection of framed stencils and preliminary sketches used during the creative process. Works of art in and of itself, the display serves as another reminder of How & Nosm’s affinity and flair for meticulous detail. And by isolating certain design elements one can quietly appreciate motifs and design elements that appear (or hide) in the rest of the work throughout the exhibit.