Nexst RIP

Nekst RIP

“In the graffiti world, there is a status pyramid. At the bottom you have the Toys, beginners to graffiti who have not yet earned respect nor established their art or name beyond a fundamental/amateur level. At the top, you have the Kings, who have established themselves as the best of the best through years of hard work, determination, talent and aligning themselves with other great graffiti writers.

Nekst was an All-City King. Everywhere he went, he did it big and owned the city with his graffiti. He started here in Houston. His crew here is/was DTS (Def Threats). He went on to New York City, but also hit New Orleans, San Francisco, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and many other great cities along the way. He became part of the MSK crew (Mad Society Kings), which includes some of the best and most notorious graffiti artists in the world. He began writing his name as Next in 1996, then evolved to Nekst.

Perhaps his best and most traditionally artistic work was done during a six-month detention in a Dallas-area prison, during which he drew dozens of touching and contemplative portraits of his fellow prison inmates with simple pencil and paper.

We offer our condolences to his family and crew. May he forever rest in peace.”

Houston Press

Photographer Glen E. Friedman Sues Graffiti Artist Thierry Guetta and Wins

Exit Through the Giftshop

“Good artists copy, great artists steal” — Thomas Hawk

Alot of people wondered if the graffiti artist known as Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash) in the Banksy Oscar nominated documentary film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” was one huge elaborate hoax by Banksy. If you haven’t seen the film yet, do yourself a favor and go check it out. It’s far cheaper than going to art school and you learn twice as much. If you have Netflix, you can see it on “Watch Now” here.

A big part of the film chronicles the rise and fall (just kidding, but he did fall and break his leg in the film) of artist Thierry Guetta, who started out documenting much of the earliest street art scene, including big roles played by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey and Banksy himself. In the movie Guetta plays an affable, over the top, unlikely artist with a larger than life personality that many have suggested was too fake to be true.

With Banksy being no stranger to huge massive hoaxes, it seemed possible that the whole success of Guetta was one massive prank.

But news is out yesterday that Guetta just lost a lawsuit as himself in Federal Court to photographer Glen E. Friedman over the appropriation of one of Friedman’s most famous and iconic photographs, an early photograph of rap act RUN DMC.

I’m not sure how much money Freidman successfully sued Thierry for. Does anyone know how much he got? [Ed. update: From William Beam in the comments below: “The case was ruled on summary judgement in favor of the photographer. Next, theyíll proceed to the damages phase, so the amount hasnít yet been determined.”]

What is interesting though, is that this business of photographers successfully suing artists who appropriate their work seems to be becoming something of a trend. Some other recent high profile cases involving artist image appropriation where artists have lost or settled include artist Richard Prince’s recent loss for infringing on photographer Patrick Cariou’s work, and Shepard Fairey’s own recent settlement with the Associated Press over his very famous and iconic image made of President Barack Obama.

Personally this trend worries me a little bit. I’m all for photographers defending the rights of their images, but image appropriation and new transformative works based on culturally iconic imagery has been a place where many great works of art have come out of in the past. You have to wonder if artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein (who also appropriated work that did not belong to them) would also end up being sued if they were still around today. They probably would be.

In another interesting legal mindbender, in 2010 a claim was made by Lichtenstein’s estate against a band that was using an image that Lichtenstein HIMSELF had stolen.

Of course photographer Glen E. Friedman and artist Shepard Fairey (who featured large in the Banksy film) have collaborated on works in the past and obviously know each other — it would surprise me if Friedman and Guetta didn’t at least know each other through Fairey. Which makes you wonder if perhaps the Court Document itself isn’t just one huge fabrication, prank and stunt.

I did google the supposed judge who signed it, Dean D. Pregerson, and he does seem to be an actual Federal Judge. And the case does seem to actually have gone through court. I doubt a Federal Judge would be in on a Banksy prank too, but hell, you never know with Banksy. It’s probably a real case, but wouldn’t it be grand if it were a huge massive prank.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Freidman’s photography, it’s well worth a look. I own his book Fuck You Heros (where the original Run DMC image was published) and it’s a highly recommend documentary style book of the punk rock and skateboarding scene in Los Angeles during the 80s.

I’ve also spent some time documenting some of both Banksy and Fairey’s work — you can see those sets of mine here:


Shepard Fairey

Thanks, HotBox!

Eddie Colla “My Life” Opening on Thursday Night at Ma Velous Coffee and Wine Bar in San Francisco

If You Want to Achieve Greatness Stop Asking for Permission

Corporations spend ridiculous amounts of money putting their messages out there and I can go out and compete with that. I can put my commentary right next to them or over them. I can interrupt their conversation and change the subject. Thatís very appealing to me. – Eddie Colla

I’m looking forward to checking out street artist Eddie Colla’s new mural at the Ma Velous Coffee and Wine Bar in San Francisco on Thursday Night. The opening for the new 50 foot mural (his largest to date) runs from 6pm to 10pm. Eddie recently did an interview with the Warholian about his work here. There are more details about the event on this Facebook page here. If you can make it I look forward to seeing you there.

You can see a set of images I’ve made of Eddie’s work here.

D Young V

Nob Hill

D Young V piece on the corner of Geary and Jones. D Young V shows at White Walls.

Blek le Rat & Above, White Walls Gallery

So Close I Can Almost Touch You BabyFamily ManSo Close I Can Almost Touch You Baby, Plate 2

Blek le Rat & Above
May 1 – June 5, 2010

White Walls Gallery
839 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA
Open Tues – Sat 12PM – 7PM

“Every time I think I’ve painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier.”

“My stencils are a present, introducing people to the world of art, loaded with a political message. This movement is the democratisation of art: if the people cannot come to the gallery, we bring the gallery to the people!”
Blek le Rat

Back before there was Banksy, there was Blek le Rat. One of the earliest urban street artists, Blek le Rat is considered the godfather of stencil graffiti. The first artist to produce life sized stencils, Blek has been decorating the streets of Paris and the rest of the world for over two decades.

Fortunately for us here in San Francisco, Blek is currently showing his work at the White Walls Gallery on Larkin Street. I stopped by White Walls to check out his work and was impressed with a gallery full of interesting and politically provocative images.

Sharing a show with Blek is Above, a younger version of Blek, doing his own stencils in his own unique new way. Above started traditional graffiti of tagging freight trains in California in 1995 and then moved to Paris at the age of 19 where he started painting his trademark arrow (pointing above) all around the city. Since then Above has been consistently traveling around the world doing many large self-financed “tours” with each tour exploring a new medium or style of artworks.

Are You Still Coming Over LaterPlay That Funky Music Blek Boy

Dan Plasma

Dan Plasma

I spent some time Tuesday afternoon hanging out with Dan Plasma. I first ran into Dan a few years back when he was painting a piece on a wall on Valencia Street in the Mission.

Dan’s been painting around SF for a while and yesterday did this killer Francis Baconish piece on the side of this great box UHaul truck.

While Dan was painting, a brown UPS truck drove by and the driver kind of gave us the eye. I think it was an interesting contrast. Every day I see so many Fedex and UPS trucks running up and down the streets of San Francisco. Shouting their corporate message at us every chance they get.

And then we have artists like Dan and others out there painting their own message back on the side of construction trucks, delivery trucks, trucks full of recycled cardboard that live in Chinatown or Oakland or run around delivering vegetables in the Mission District. And these trucks, I believe, are sent to us to counteract those Fed Ex and UPS trucks. To provide an authentic and artistic voice to balance out the increasing encroachment on our public space by big corporations.

I remember a few years back when I was speeding down 101 and all of a sudden I noticed this great truck in front of me painted by ORFN. It made me happy to see that truck out on the road. To see public art shared with the world. It made me happy watching Dan work yesterday and being there to document his new work and knowing that thousands of people will see it as it rolls around the streets of San Francisco in the months ahead.

5733, by Eddie

fiftyseven-thirtythree store Grand opening from Fiftyseven-thirtythree on Vimeo.

4125 Piedmont Ave, 2nd Floor
Oakland, CA

We make all our gear in East Oakland using water based, solvent free inks. No art directors, consultants, or teleconferencing were used in the production process. We hope it makes you look good, feel good, get laid…whatever makes you happy. Cheers. – 5733 Facebook page.

On Saturday May 1, I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Opening party of 5733 on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, CA (that’s me in the moving pictures video above shooting SF sex blogger Violet Blue and Pal Ben Metcalfe).

5733, with the tagline “made in Oakland,” is the latest venture by local graffiti artist Eddie and features a number of his new stencil pieces on display as well as a store where some of his art and t-shirts can be purchased. The evening featured music by TBBS and Lankston and was a great event to support one on of the top local artists currently doing work in the Bay Area.

If You Want to Achieve Greatness Stop Asking for PermissionHow Did I Lose You

I first started noticing Eddie’s work on the street back during the campaign for the presidential election in 2008. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the interesting Obamas in starter caps were actually his. Since then Eddie continues to put up fresh new innovative pieces around town combining political themes with his own artistic sensibility. Eddie told me that he’s also got a few up and coming new commissions going up around town as well, which is great.

If you missed the opening, it’s not too late to stop by 5733 and check out some of Eddie’s great new works (tip: definitely visit the dressing room, some of my favorites are in there) as well as pick up some up some great new threads supporting one of the Bay Area’s great local artists. 5733 is open Tuesday – Saturday noon-6pm.

Eddie Makes the World a More Beautiful Place to Live InThey Say I Lost My Way5733 Opening, 2010In Over My Head, Plate 2The Officer in Command

5733 Blog here.
5733 on Facebook here.
Eddie on Flickr
My Eddie set on Flickr here.