Tag Archive | "Karyn Mannix"

Whether Legal or Criminal, Street Art Brings Art to the People

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"Structures of Thought II," 2013, unique handcut stencil and spray enamel on canvas, by Chris Stain. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

Chris Stain, “Structures of Thought II,” 2013, unique hand cut stencil and spray enamel on canvas. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

By Tessa Raebeck

An image by Los Angeles street artist becca in Sag Harbor Village. Photo by Michael Heller.

An image by Los Angeles street artist becca in Sag Harbor Village. Photo by Michael Heller.

A few years ago, Chris Stain was arrested for spray painting graffiti in a public space. While on probation for the crime, he was commissioned $60,000 to paint a mural, also in a public space. As the line between “graffiti” and “mural” gets thinner, the public is beginning to catch up in understanding the common thread—art.

Mr. Stain is one of 13 street artists featured in East Hampton art dealer and curator Karyn Mannix’s new show, “For the People: Beat of the Street.” Years in the making, the opening reception for the pop up art show will be held at the Atlantic Terrace Motel on Saturday, August 23.

Long miscategorized as the work of vandals and heathen teenagers, street art seems to finally be earning recognition for what it is: bringing beauty to public spaces and art to those with no private collections or museum memberships to speak of. In New York City, Baltimore and London, streets without galleries and apartment buildings with bare hallways are being decorated and enlivened with giant murals and powerful stencils of social commentary created neither for profit nor recognition, but for the culture of the people.

The show’s artists include: Mr. Stain; Andre Woolery of New York City and Jamaica; becca of Los Angeles, who has stencils on walls around Sag Harbor Village; Billy Mode of Baltimore; DOM from the United Kingdom; Brooklyn’s gilf!; Jason Poremba of Southampton; Karen Bystedt of Los Angeles; Leon Reid IV of Brooklyn; Harlem’s Ruben Natal-San Miguel; and T.Wat, also from the United Kingdom. Peter Tunney and Rolland Berry also collaborated.

The latest way these public artists show their work is through an “art drop,” in which an artist takes a painted canvas and leaves it without any publicity or fanfare in a public space.

Mr. Poremba has been doing art drops around the East End one or twice a week for the past few months, his most recent drop was last Friday in East Hampton.

Most of the pieces included in the show, which the artists prefer to keep affordable, were originally done on the street.

For Mr. Stain, an urban kid who started painting graffiti when he was 11 years old growing up in Baltimore, decorating the street was the natural artistic development.

There were no subways to speak of in Baltimore in the early 80s, but the book “Subway Art” by Martha Cooper, which documents the paintings being done during the graffiti movement of the 80s in the New York City subway systems, nonetheless inspired the young artist.

“They were being made by kids, for the most part, and when I saw the book and when I found out that it was kids making the artwork, I got really excited,” Mr. Stain said. “Because I was already into art, a little bit, but that really piqued my interest and art became a way of self-expression for me.”

He took a class on printmaking and learned to make stencils in high school and, around 1998, Mr. Stain’s art evolved from graffiti lettering to more figurative work “because I wanted to tell more of the story of the person and what was going on around me and my life and my neighborhood—the people I knew.”

"Corporate Greed" by T.Wat. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

“Corporate Mugging” by T.Wat. Courtesy Karyn Mannix Contemporary.

When he moved to the city in 2006, “I just transferred my putting stuff on the streets in Baltimore to putting stuff on the streets in New York.”

“I want to tell the story of common people and by putting the work on the street, everyone gets to see it, it’s not just those people who go into galleries,” Mr. Stain said, before being interrupted by a question from “one of the kids in the neighborhood.”

Mr. Stain’s commitment to depicting the “struggles of the unrecognized and underrepresented individuals of society” has garnered him classification as an American Social-Realist.

Started in the 30s and 40s during the time of the depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal, social realism is an international art movement comprised of artists of various mediums united in their desire to draw attention to the conditions and everyday struggles of the common people, painting narratives of the lives of the working class and the poor. Naturally, it takes on political and social criticisms of the social structures and powers that be that keep those conditions in place.

Those included in “Beat of the Street” vary widely; The line-up includes sculptors and photographers, street art pioneers and those new on the scene, and paintings of Hollywood Stars by Mr. Poremba next to “Corporate Mugging,” an image of Mickey Mouse brandishing a broken Coca-Cola bottle by T. Wat.

The only common ground is that their art is, first and foremost, for the people. As Ms. Mannix explained, “Their work goes out on the streets, that’s the only thread between them all.”

Often an illegal art form, subversion is inherent to street art. Political commentary is a natural extension of a means of expression that often lands the artist in jail.

“You do the crime, you gotta do the time,” said Mr. Stain. “The first time I was arrested I was 11—and it didn’t really stop me.”

Mr. Stain was arrested again as a teenager and a third time as an adult, each time with different fines and implications. His most recent imprisonment was when he would leave meetings with his probation officer to work on the large-scale—and legal—public mural for which the artist was commissioned.

“It’s pretty funny, it’s pretty ironic,” he said, adding, “It’s kind of ridiculous.”

The opening reception of “For the People: Beat of the Street” is Saturday, August 23, at the Atlantic Terrace Motel, located at 21 Oceanview Terrace in Montauk. From 5 to 6 p.m. a special preview for ticket holders and collectors will offer a first glance at the work, which Ms. Mannix expects to be sold out quickly. The gallery is open to the public from 6 to 10 p.m. and will be on view through September 7 by appointment only. For more information, visit karynmannixcontemporary.com.

There’s Romance and Passion in Water Mill

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By Tessa Raebeck 

Red legs entwine on a stained surface, locked together in a sensual embrace. There are no faces or genitalia or obvious genders; those details are irrelevant, the figures blend together defined only by a clear purpose: love.

"Ex. 2 The Importance of Flesh" red industrial enamel paint on stained plywood by Melissa Mapes.

“Ex. 2 The Importance of Flesh” red industrial enamel paint on stained plywood by Melissa Mapes.

At the ninth annual “Love and Passion: Walk on the Wild Side” group show, opening this Saturday, February 15, in Water Mill, artist Melissa Mapes will feature her red legs paintings alongside the works of over 60 other artists in an adventurous celebration of music, art, love and the emotions that bind them together.

Originally organized by Karyn Mannix of karyn mannix contemporary and the late Vito Sisti, the show, traditionally held at Ashawagh Hall in Springs, is an open call “to get the community out,” Ms. Mannix said. This year, the show travels to Water Mill, where visitors will “walk on the wild side” between two galleries, Hampton Hang and the Sara Nightingale Gallery.

During the opening reception, host Sara Nightingale’s “Blind Date” Music Lab series will bring live music to a space between the two galleries. In the series, two musicians who have never met are brought together to perform, “though anyone who shows up with an instrument is welcome to play,” said Ms. Nightingale.

Held around Valentine’s Day each year, the show’s over arching theme has always been “Love and Passion.” Artists are  encouraged to use their own, subjective interpretations to create art that in turn elicits viewers’ own, subjective interpretations.

“Love and art have a lot in common,” explained Ms. Nightingale. “Both are elusive concepts designed by humans. We crave and need them both, yet neither is necessary for actual survival. Some art is very expressive and emotional, while other art is more intellectual, dry or subtle. Love has these disparate manifestations as well.”

“Additionally,” she added, “what one viewer experiences while looking at a work of art may differ completely [from] another viewer, who brings his own history and prejudices to his viewpoint. Fortunately, this is also true in love. For every lover scorned, there is somewhere another potential mate.”

Each year, a secondary theme further inspires the artists. This year’s “Walk on the Wild Side” is a double entendre honoring the late Lou Reed—who died last summer at his Springs home—and symbolizing the walk between the galleries, Ms. Mannix said.

“We are all in agreement on the tone being adventurous,” added Ms. Nightingale. “We want viewers to experience the thrill/trepidation they might feel on their way to a first date with someone they have been flirting with online.”

In “Grape Eater,” a nude female figure feeds herself grapes. As the viewer’s eyes move down the canvas, emotions can change with each color block: first a vibrant orange, then a royal blue and finally, a deep, rich red.

“I find art a constructive tool for most anything,” said the artist, Abby Abrams, a Springs resident who has two paintings of “fantasy nudes” in the show.

The show’s broad topic and open call format allows artists to submit works in various mediums and with diverse subject matter; the common theme serves to show the unity of the pieces—and the unifying power of love—while also representing the diversity of individual experience and interpretation. One artist in the show expresses a passion for surfing, while others use warm color palettes of red, pink and orange to show the evocative powers of love.

“Love and Passion is a beautiful theme because it resonates within us all,” said Ms. Mapes, whose paintings “Ex. 1: The Importance of Flesh” and “Ex. 2: The Importance of Flesh” are featured in the show.

An East Hampton native, Ms. Mapes began working on the series of “abstracted sensual flesh-morphing legs and buttocks forms” when her fiancé joined the military.

"Grape Eater" acrylic on canvas by Abby Abrams.

“Grape Eater” acrylic on canvas by Abby Abrams.

“We spent much time apart passionately longing for each other’s company,” she said. “It taught me how significant love and passion really is. We fought, and we still fight for our love, and we work for it all with a deep passion. It’s not easy, but it is worth every minute, as we both patiently pass the days waiting to feel that flesh-to-flesh contact once again.”

“Everybody can relate,” the artist continued. “Flesh is a primal necessity. To consume flesh, to feel flesh and to create flesh are crucial animalistic traits that are driven by a powerful energy force that feeds the will to survive for all animals.”

The figures in her paintings are cut off at the waist, allowing the intertwined legs and buttocks to “create a language of primitive symbols that express this dire necessity for flesh-to-flesh contact,” she said.

“I want the viewer to sense the emotion in the form and the line,” said Ms. Mapes. “I do not want a four-page essay neatly typed and placed next to the painting to ‘explain’ it. Art speaks for itself.”

“Love and Passion: Walk on the Wild Side” will be on view February 15 through February 22. The opening reception is Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Sara Nightingale Gallery and Hampton Hang Gallery, 688 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, call 329.2811 or contact karynmannix@optonline.net.