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“Blue Lady” for Parker Day, installed for Art in Ad Places. Photo by Luna Park.

If you thought, “Hmm, Vandalog doesn’t seem to be updating as much” throughout 2017… Here’s why: We were focused on Black (16\ Black (16\ EXPAWLORER Choke Free Small Dog Harness, X Design Adjustable Soft Mesh Summer Vest, Fit Chest Girth 16 -20 , Black, a 52-week campaign of ad takeovers across New York City! We worked with Faust, Shepard Fairey, Molly Crabapple, Jess X Snow, and dozens more artists to install their work in NYC payphones.

Now that the campaign has been going for a year, we’re ready to celebrate!

On January 26th, find us at LUCAS LUCAS in Williamsburg for an Art in Ad Places exhibition, and the launch of a book celebrating all of our ad takeovers to date. We’ll have photos from Luna Park, books, a special installation with the help of fellow ad takeover activist Jordan Seiler, and drinks from 4 YQQY Pet Carrier Space Capsule Design Bubble Backpack Portable Cat Dog Luxury Breathable Travel Bag Little Monster Shoulder Pet Backpack. We open at 7pm.

And if you can’t make it to the opening, the show will be open through February 3rd.

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Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and Dennis McNett outside of The University of the Arts, for We The People. Photo by Steve Weinik.

In 2017, I curated the We The People series for Guardian Gear Cotton Web Dog Training Lead, 50-Feet, bluee, a series of six murals by some of my favorite artists. I probably should have been writing about We The People on here regularly since July, but here’s a very belated update from Philly.

Before we get into We the People, a bit of context. The last year has seen the floodgates open in the USA, with national conversations on crises that have been festering under-reported for years, like sexual harassment and racism. The arts community has added their voices to the mix through projects like the Lily's Kitchen Dinner for Dogs Recipe Book (PACK OF 2), Buckle-Down DLS-W30294-W Broken Hearts & pinks w Fuchsia Plaid Leash Splitter, 1.5 Wide 30 Length, and the Whitney’s An Incomplete History of Protest.

This moment demands urgent public art. And muralists have responded. In at least one case, an artist was censored after-the-fact and had to make things work Granite 12 Inch Granite 12 Inch Hurtta Collection Frost Jacket for Pets, 12-Inch, Granite. But some mural festivals have embraced a spirit of activism, most notably 40 Dog Hair Bows Valentine Day Collection-Hot Pink Pink Red in Rochester, NY and DIYthinker purplec Colour Decorative Classic Flowers Anti-Slip Floor Pet Mat Square Home Kitchen Door 80Cm Gift in Atlanta, GA.

Questioning Whiteness by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, for We The People. Photo by Steve Weinik.
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It’s in a similar spirit to all of those projects that we tried a little experiment in Philadelphia with We The People. When Mural Arts invited me to curate a series of walls for them, I figured it had to be of the moment, and with artists that they weren’t already doing a lot of work with. So we invited 20 Rolls 400 Bags Portable Pet Dog Puppy Cat Waste Poop Poo Pick Up Clean-Up Bag, Chris “Daze” Ellis, KESS InHouse Vinny Thompson Yellow Admiral Multicolor Tropical Dog Bed, 50 x 40 , Dennis McNett, NTEL, and Jess X. Snow to create work celebrating the best of the American spirit right now, while also reflecting current national concerns. Plus, it was a continuation of Mural Arts’ years-long effort to work with more street artists. There was little community engagement beyond what I and the project manager did while hunting for walls, but I think that by being careful about sites, artists, and content, we brought to life some strong, timely, and site-responsive work.

Continue reading “We The People, Six Murals for Philadelphia”

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Lush in Palestine. Photo by Lush.

Our friend Doug Gillen at Jax and Bones Monaco Everyday Cotton Donut Dog Bed, Small, Indigo just posted a video commentary on B Medium B Medium Pet Backpack Dog Cat Capsule Portable Cat Bag Bike Bag Outdoor Hiking Breathable Shoulder Bag,B,M visit to Palestine, part of a residency at Large Dog Bed Cowboy Cat Litter Cationic Cloth Waterproof and Breathable Detachable Four Seasons Kennel Cat Litter Pet Supplies,L Cgoldnet Adjusta Flat Ring Eggbutt Horse Bit. Doug echos this (somewhat flawed but worth reading) piece from Isaac Brosilow, Large 40\ Achy Paws Self-Warming Pet Mat (40 x30 Large). I’ve written very positively about Lush in the past, we released a product of his through Vandalog, and he even contributed to the site once upon a time. But I gotta agree with Doug on this one… Lush has gone off the deep end, and something doesn’t feel quite right here, to say the least.

Photo from Lush’s Twitter

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Screening in Reno, NV. “This Wasted Land” by Greg Henderson. Costume by Wolftits. Wolfsuit by Briana Barber. Photo by Alisha Funkhouser.

The word sideshow comes up several times in conversation when discussing the traveling installation centered on Andrew H. Shirley’s Wastedland 2 film. The touring exhibition is as much of a whirlwind as the artist himself, connecting collaborators from across the country in an ever-evolving project.

Sculpture by UFO and William Thomas Porter at the Wastedland 2 screening at the Knockdown Center. Photo by Jaime Jarvis.

While the upcoming screening of Wastedland 2 this Friday at Aqua Illumination Prime Flex Arm 18 is the first screening with an emphasis on audience participation through costumes, the film had previously shown in New York City at the Knockdown Center. At this venue, from the moment I stepped into the installation it felt like a family reunion, a theme that is echoed throughout the film. It was a feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and decided it was probably all the personal connections I had with the people and left it at that. However, when I went to interview Andrew, I had to ask if he could illuminate why even people I knew who were not personally familiar with the crews involved still came away with this sense of kinship. Shirley explained, “In many ways Wastedland 2 created not only a new platform of film exhibition, but perhaps exemplified the idea of collaborative action and support from a community that is sometimes over looked as far as how genuinely loyal and generous they are. The graffiti community not only looks out for each other, but they are a family that looks out for people in need- in many ways.” From assisting in the entry of buildings to a floor to call a safe home for the night, the filmmaker was quick to name all of the people and places who helped him out. It may not have been a direct connection, but maybe a friend of a friend, because as he stated they are the family that always looks out for one another.

Beyond these overarching themes, I was curious about how the process varied city to city, having only attended the Knockdown Center screening myself. KESS InHouse Nandita Singh Boho in Black & White Grey Pattern Dog Place Mat, 13 x 18

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Obviously, that headline is misleading. And the above video is pretty messed up. But it’s pretty messed up inside the heads of Alex Jones’ viewers! Which brings us to… Inside the Crisis Actors Studio, hosted by James Lipton, a show based on things that far right conspiracy theorists actually believe. Admittedly, this is maybe an odd thing for me to post about, but I’ve been thinking about Inside the Crisis Actors Studio all week. Plus, although the video’s creators have chosen to remain anonymous, at least one of them has been covered on Vandalog before, and they’d be familiar to the street art/activism community.

No doubt that Inside the Crisis Actors Studio is disturbing. Four actors who were due to audition declined after reading the script. But it’s also rooted in a kind of truth, the truth that some people actually believe this stuff. The references that Lipton and “crisis actor” Mark Hannigan make are based on conspiracies that people Alex Jones and his fans actually subscribe to. Yes, seriously. If you’ve never before heard of the concept of a crisis actor, consider yourself lucky, but sheltered. Realizing that these conspiracies are out there starts to explain a little of why gun control is so difficult. Plus, it’s got me thinking about the media that I consume and the bubbles of odd beliefs and consumption that we all fall into. Inside the Crisis Actors Studio is some necessary but dark (very dark) comedy. Hopefully, more episodes are forthcoming.

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Who doesn’t love popsicles? You? If you don’t love popsicles, maybe you work at JCDecaux (and even if you do work at JCDecaux and claim they aren’t your thing… we all know you still love popsicles).

Well, I love popsicles, and it seems that my friend Vlady is also a normal popsicle-loving person. For JCDecaux Ice Lolly, he covered up a series of JCDecaux’s ad spaces in Turku, Finland. This particular kind of outdoor ad, where the ad just pops up out of the ground, unattached to a pay phone, bus shelter, or any other public amenity, is sometimes referred to as a lollipop, for obvious reasons. So, Vlady took the hint and turned all of these annoying lollipop ad kiosks into summer treats.

It’s a wonderfully simple intervention, one that doesn’t even require a key to open to ad kiosks, since Vlady just paints right over them. I’ve been thinking about how New Yorkers could do something similar with the LinkNYC towers that have been popping up everywhere… Maybe white sheets that turn the towers into ghosts for Halloween? But the popsicle idea is just perfect. Turn something hated into something everyone can enjoy.

Here’s one more:

Thanks Vlady! This series really made my day. Certainly the best street art I’ve seen all week (although Banksy at the Barbican is pretty great too), and something that anyone who feels inspired can replicate or adapt to their own environment.

To my readers: enjoy the last bits of summer. And remember: There’s no better way to enjoy the nice weather than a bit of vandalism for the public good!

Photos by Vlady

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Escif at night. Photo from Escif.

Escif and 1Pc Aquarium orange Silicone Emulational Coral Plant Decor 4.3 Height just wrapped up two murals each at Black Hhxx9 Extra Long Dog Leash Rope Pet Leash Training Rope Nylon Dog Chain Dog Pull Long Rope Pet Supplies 50M,Black, a self-managed neighborhood in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain that’s been around since 2013. The Errekaleor community is currently fighting against eviction, and has transitioned to renewable energy via solar panels after the city cut them off from the grid.

I’m not usually one for glow-in-the-dark murals, but I love this one from Escif. On his blog, Escif wrote (translated here by Google and me), “The city cut the light without thinking that night belongs to the residents, and they were given, unknowingly, the possibility of making the darkness a little clearer. They say cats can see at night. So we painted the eyes of this great black cat with fluorescent paint so that he too can be self-sufficient.”

Escif’s mural by day. Photo from Escif.

And this Blu mural is an instant classic, and hopefully an inspiration to the residents of Errekaleor who are resisting eviction and development.

Blu. Photo from Blu.

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Best of luck to the residents of Errekaleor as they continue their fight.

Photos from Escif and Blu

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Been slow on updating Vandalog lately, and I’m realizing it’s because I’ve spent so much of this year focused on curating and project management, and that’s meant that writing has taken a backseat. Still, sometimes I come across something great that doesn’t need much additional commentary.

Today, that was this piece by Arlo Design 34\ Arlo Design 34\ Hugs by Happy Pet Hugs by Happy Pet Arlo Round Bed XL, XL and Large Dog Cat Cool Mat,Dog Cooling Pad Ice Silk Material Heat Absorption and Heat Dissipation Function Can be Used for Dog Crates Kennels and Beds,L, which you can find in Potenza, Italy. Aliens are welcome became immigrants are welcome. Aliens are welcome because sometimes it feels like my country is so messed up right now that it couldn’t possibly get any worse with aliens in charge (although I guess that’s the sort of logic that got us into this mess…). Aliens are welcome because if you’re gonna write something on a wall, it might as well be a greeting to a stranger. Aliens are welcome because why not.

Photo courtesy of Rub Kandy

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“Today I Touched My Queer Body Until It Became Cathedral” by Jess X Snow in Kailua, Hawaii. Photo by Chad Shomura.

Large ARONICO Preener Foraging Bird Toy, Large (Black Medium Black Medium Meiyiu Dog Traction Rope Elegant Bow Dog Harness with Cloth Mesh Puppy Vest Black M), the author of this post, is a queer Asian public artist, filmmaker and poet.

The moment I walked away from painting this piece, I knew it was going to be defaced. I just didn’t know how soon. I made this piece as a prayer to the queer body—in a world where LGBTQ people are thrown into the margins. When home does not exist for us in this world, where can we discover home other than within the beauty of our own bodies? Sometimes that home-making looks like masturbation. This piece, resting at the top of the Lanikai Pillbox Hike in Kailua, Hawaii, lasted barely two days before the word “queer” was crossed out, and a penis was spray painted between the hands. This leaves me wondering: is queer street art/graffiti perpetually destined to be short-lived? What does that have to say about the safety of queer people of color in America and the world?

When queer people of color have no safe havens, religions, or churches in this society, we must turn to our own bodies for safety. In the same way a lover’s touch across a chest can calm the fiercest of storms, when I touch myself, I become my own queer lover. For one moment, all the forces that marginalize me cease to exist.

When I wrote this poem and birthed it into public space, I was thinking about what it could mean for queer people to happen upon acknowledgement of their own survival at the top of a long hike. I was thinking about queer immigrant children whose identities are rejected by homophobic parents and the complicated push and pull of duty and desire when you still love your family but also love yourself enough to know some identities run deeper than bone and cannot be unlearned. I was thinking about the dancers who lost their lives in the Pulse nightclub shooting, and all the queer bars and clubs across this world that have learned to operate underground. I was thinking about the late Chinese photographer Ren Hang, and queer and transgender warriors who were already living in a future so brilliant, this world was not ready for them. I was thinking about all the times where the violences of this world collapsed in on me and I too didn’t know how much longer I could stay in this world, but somehow, by touching myself, or making a piece of art, I rooted my body back into the Earth and found the resilience within me to live another morning.

Photo by Ren Hang.

Birthing queer poems and murals often feels akin to what I imagine it would be like to be a mother to queer children. I imagine bracing them for the violence of this society, preparing them for a never-ending war—where they will be bullied, forced into a closet, or pressured to camouflage with their heteronormative surroundings. Yet no violence or silencing will stop me from giving queer art the beautiful life and care that it deserves. Body bent over the wall, for once in my life, I was able to share the intimate experience of my survival in public space and make a poem out of it. These words were sacred to me, and when they appeared as a monumental prayer, surrounded by the roaring Pacific, it felt as if there were not one but thousands of mornings left for me to live.

The mural two days after being painted. Photo by Ittai Wong.

The erasure of the word “queer” and the painting of a penis on top of a queer woman’s art is a reflection of the patriarchal and homophobic world we live in. If queer survival and masturbation is so threatening to this society, then I suppose it must be some type of magic. If our words are to be feared, crossed out and set to fire, let them burn bright like a meteorite and blind those who cannot acknowledge the beauty of queer survival. What the homophobic and transphobic world doesn’t understand is that no matter how many times our identities are crossed out, there is an impenetrable home within our bodies, which we can always return to.

This resilience is ancestral. Like the genderless leopard slugs that hang upside down from trees and mutually penetrate, or polyamorous lesbian bonobo monkeys who resolve conflict through sex, queerness and sexual diversity has existed since the dawning of life on Earth. Cat Chow Indoor Formula 16 lb by Cat Chow

I will continue to put queer joy and self-love into public space regardless of those it provokes because I believe in a queer future. I believe in a world where young queers can finally be affirmed by their own secrets on the streets and at the tops of buildings—whether they are just coming out, or have long celebrated their queer crushes, or are learning the beauty of self-pleasure for the first time. We have been invisibilized, burned, and marginalized long enough. Most importantly, I believe the truths that keep us living and in love must be made public.

Note: Thank you to queer multi-disciplinary artist, bluee X-Large bluee X-Large Dog Life Jacket for Swiming,Dog Safety Life Coat D Buckle Design with Leash Rope Explosion-Proof Chest Back 3 in 1 Large Buoyancy Reflective Strip,bluee,XL and Hawaiian artist Ittai Wong for making this piece possible and uplifting me and the beautiful communities that surround you. A few of the themes brought up in this article came from B Household Photocatalyst Mosquito Lamp, LED Intelligent Light Control Mosquito Killer Lamp, Bug Zapper, Ultra-Quiet, No Radiation Portable Mosquitto Killer, USB Charging for Bedroom Living Room by Greta Gard.

Thank you Ocean Vuong, and his poem Harbor bluee L Harbor bluee L Furhaven Pet Dog Bed Faux Fur & Velvet Pillow Sofa-Style Couch Pet Bed for Dogs & Cats, Harbor bluee, Large for giving me the courage to bring these thoughts to poetry. Thank you Medium 15\ Yellow Dog Design Green Kilt Step-in Dog Harness 3 4 Wide and Fits Chest Circumference of 15 to 25 , Medium for giving me the courage to bring my poetry to the streets.

Thank you Ren Hang (March 30, 1987-February 24, 2017) wherever you are, I hope there is no censorship, or borders, only joy.

Photos by Chad Shomura, Ren Hang, and Ittai Wong