Top Street Art of November, December 2010

As some of you may have noticed, there was no “street art picks” for the month of November, despite there being one every month since July. There are two main reasons for this:

First, street art is the most seasonal of public art. December has seen very little street art but much dampness and snow, and once the snow arrived the artists took to keeping their creations inside (and who can blame them?). I had a hunch there wouldn’t be enough street art for the month of December, so thought to combine the two months once the first week of the month came and went. It is only slightly ironic that with the freezing temperatures, Graffiti Blasters cannot do their job as effectively: gang tags that would normally be buffed in days now stay up for weeks.

The second reason for the delay is related to the comments in my “Top Street Art of October”. Two members of the street art community have been arrested in the last couple of months.  I’ve written this before, but it is worth repeating: It is a waste of time and taxpayer money for the CPD to scour the internet in search of  street artists and graffiti writers (and what is being done about the 15 year old gang members with flickr accounts?). Given the October comments and my somewhat paranoid nature, I began to wonder if my monthly documentation of the newest and best street art was in some way hurting the very artists that I adore. However, if the police are going out of their way to gain access to a graffiti writer’s e-mail account and phone, then why would they bother to read my monthly column when they can find the very same pictures on flickr? The flickr users that go out of their way to document the artwork found on the street were not hushed, deterred, or warned and the street artists themselves did not go into hiding, so why should I? That said, if you’re going to post photos on flickr, please be cool and don’t geotag.

Other important news:

The last Banksy up in Chicago has been defiled by some newb graffiti attention-whore. Ho hum, perhaps defiled is a strong word – the baby carriage is still intact, though the value of the artwork has been greatly diminished (and so has the real estate value of the building) by the addition of the talking blob. Most countries (and states) with Banksy’s protect his work with some sort of glass, but Chicago isn’t classy like that (but the Transylvania stealing Romanians are?).

CRO’s arrest has not slowed the artist down in the slightest with his work appearing in three shows these past months: Love Flows Both Ways – in a show with Banksy no less, and in Pork & Politics and The Daley Show.

The “laser graffiti” RGB Lounge in Wicker Park has angered the street art community, as  no one from the RGB crew is associated with the lounge and an employee tried to smooth everything over by mentioning Solve. Ruh Roh.

Just Seeds and Veterans Against the War took to campaigning their cause (and promoting their exhibit) through paste-ups. Addition reporting on the collaboration here.

More recognizable pop culture references are appearing in street art: here’s a pixelated Link, a sprayed  Spongebob Squarepants, Senor Codo goes with a “Get Him to the Greek” quote, and here’s a Super Mario.

Someone inspired by Albers took to painting concrete walls so unsuccessfully that I am almost angry for Albers. Good try, I guess?

And before we get to the list,  the honorable mentions: Poor Kid saying hi to The Grocer (and some more hating on his pieces, this time with wallpaper puke), the baby head person is baaaaaack and on Michigan Ave no less, check out Ruben X Like and Migue, this painted flower, this paste-up making fun of Chicagoans, this cute rain-drop character,  Buy-Sun Shaman, and a pink tiptoe.

10) unknown artist responsible for the double Popsicle/ Parking Meter Deal satire pieces

Flickr photo by theres no way home

While this artist produces work that is inferior to the honorable mentions above, outrage over Daley’s parking meter debacle is still alive and kicking in our political hearts with mayoral candidates “sparring” over the deal with colorful verbs  like “snookered“.   I first noticed these Popsicles by parking meter boxes and signs in September (I spotted my first outside the Marvel vs Capcom Fight Club event), but since then they have multiplied. Other notable Popsicles include this one on a No Parking sign, and this one on a Streets and Sanitation sign.

9) Three Way Tie between Nick Adam, Nautilus, and Confirm
[  M  ] 2
Flickr photo of above Nick Adam piece photographed by GXM

Nautilus covers up her own work with this newer piece:
Nautilus responsibility pasteup

Confirm makes this list for his/her stencil placement (also by GXM):
Safe place (CONFIRM) (detail)

8 ) Snacki decorates a door
Snack Attack dope door design

Flickr photo by GXM

7) dont fret
Street artist in orange knit hat and red Converse sneakers (Don't Fret pasteup)

flickr photo by GXM

Other pieces by dont fret include “Viva La Vida“, and a polo-wearing blonde gentleman.

6) Cheh
almost bronze

flickr photo by michaelzrobin

Cheh yields few results on the internet, but here is some work from 2008.

5) Nice One’s “Muffin Lady”
nice one
Flickr photo by pasco33

Notice the “Stay With Me” stencil on the right. Other recent work by Nice One: “Sea Salt“, “Helping Hands“, and this duo riding a watermelon. Nice One exploded onto my radar with his “goons has a posse” piece earlier this year, though he has been around for years.

4) Brooks Golden’s “Crowd Surfer”, featuring the fictional heavy metal band DIPSTK

Brooks Golden recently said he “enjoys the contrast of being a 30 year old black male from Chicago making art about five white guys”. Back when he was a young teenager and getting around on his skateboard while listening to heavy metal, both activities that were “vilified” in the day, he was called a “white boy” or a “sell-out” by his community. DIPSTK is just as much about Golden’s relationship to blackness as it is about nostalgia – “it makes me think of when times were simpler, like my first girlfriend”, he adds.   Brooks Golden has stated the heavy metal aesthetic is “instantly recognizable” and a part of “our musical history that has come and gone”. Check out the DIPSTK blog here, and because I feel like this artist doesn’t get enough press, Golden gets another embedded photo below (via Maxwell Colette):

3) Joey D

flickr photo by pasco33

Additional recent street work by artist Joey D includes this gem here. Read a Gapers Block interview with him here.

2) CLS
CLS (Milwaukee/Kimball)

flickr photo by GXM

CLS has appeared frequently on this top pick list of mine, as his/her choice of materials is rare in the street art community. Other recent CLS’s include a more simple piece here, and check out this one with wires.

1) goons

Flickr photo by pasco33

The above goons was placed in July, right across from the Banksy baby carriage piece mentioned in the news section. Goons is, in my not-so humble opinion, one of the best, if not the best street artist in this city (Banksy perfected stenciling, so Chicago, let’s move on please…). Read an earlier interview with goons here (don’t pay any attention to the numbers, the site was hacked by 4chan), check out his characters animated in a music video here as well as in an Orbit ad here. One of the most recent goons (a collab with The Viking) can be viewed here, and one of my favorites from this year is here.

While no street art has come out and said it explicitly, goons’ influence might be responsible for the proliferation of character-like paste-ups over the years. Nice One mentioned goons in one of his first paste-ups, and dont fret has clearly been inspired by goons.

As many of you have probably noted, paste-ups dominated this list because paste-ups are my favorite form of street art.  First, paste-ups are easy to remove (just add hot water) and they don’t damage the building like other forms of street art. Second, paste-ups are complete and finished works of art – the artist can take as much time as they need to perfect their creation at home, making paste-ups very detailed and labor intensive and thus removing this artificial notion that if we give street artists gallery space they have more time to create “finished” art . A good paste-up is already perfected before it is unrolled and placed on the street.