STATEN ISLAND: RIME / TOPER
Graffiti giants like Rime and Toper made Staten Island their stomping grounds during their New York City come up. And even if it is a place known for welcoming transitory residents (see some notable members of the infamous Wu-Tang Clan) or cats from Jersey— since the Bayonne Bridge connects to the Garden State— Staten Island breeds them hard. This is probably why powerhouses like Rime and Toper don’t find it too hard to “regulate” on walls and surfaces like they had to commandeer growing up writing together.
THE BRONX: WANE
Mention the Bronx in a few places around the globe and you’re likely to get one of two responses from those that know— intrigue or dismay. Both stem from the same source, the borough’s infamy. Infamy for the sheer poverty that has historically plagued it, and ironically, created the conditions that birthed one of the most revered pockets of early, bourgeoning hip hop culture. Ask Wane COD and he’ll probably tell you firsthand what his esteemed borough meant to him and his style in the early ’80s, when he dived headfirst into the language that’s taken him around the world— graffiti.
Where Brooklyn at? Apparently everywhere and anywhere if you let ubiquitous cuts like The Notorious B.I.G.’s infamous “Madison
Square Garden Freestyle” call it— a staple at any hip hop party’s peak. Though the idea is more metaphoric than anything— being
everywhere at once really defies the laws of physics— Brooklyn sons like graffiti legend Chino BYI can testify to covering more County of Kings ground than most.
The “city that never sleeps” is comprised of five boroughs. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that doesn’t categorize Manhattan as the quintessential mainland— no matter what partialness to the others. The 13-mile stretch (length) is filled with more history, relics, and stories than most can imagine. The magic of the most hustle and bustle lays here.
Harlemite and native New Yorker Micah, of über-successful local lifestyle brand Only NY, knows this probably better than anyone. He cites the city’s unlimited sights, sounds, and pulses as the unlimited source of inspiration for his art. Well, that and his fondness for the tranquility of nature— the complete opposite of the urban jungle. This limbo or understanding of balance, if you will, is what best describes his art’s flow, a parallel to the city’s momentum and pace.
QUEENS: SMART CREW
The international soccer community is in a frenzy this summer thanks to the massive convergence taking place in Brazil. This means folks from different countries, cities, and boroughs even— all over the globe— are at attention and in grand hopes of their team’s road to victory. Queens, New York City isn’t immune to the highly contagious fever. Considering that the borough is a melting pot of soccer-loving ethnic communities like Colombians, Jamaicans, Mexicans, Germans and Greeks, among others, it certainly won’t be difficult to find locals gathered up at bars, restaurants, delis, or even in plain public, tuning in to the play-by-play of the latest match.
It was for this reason that the Queens-founded Smart Crew decided to make use of their special box truck canvas, provided by Nike NYC, to commemorate the spirit of the biggest soccer event on the planet. Formed circa 1997 by original members MEY, SYCO13, and LUK, the diverse squad has been gaining attention and strength since. They approach graffiti in a very collective and calculated manner that very much reflects, not only their name and iconic “S” with graduate cap emblem, but also the diverse unity found in soccer culture. The crew gets down like the teams get down!
curated by Roger Gastman
August 6—23, 2014
Opening Reception: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
557C West 23rd Street: 6—8pm
529 West 20th Street: 7—9pm
NEW YORK, NY — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Cruel Summer, a group exhibition curated by collector, graffiti historian and urban anthropologist Roger Gastman.
“The summer of 1984 was awesome. The space shuttle Discovery took off on its maiden voyage, Apple released the Macintosh personal computer, the Olympics rallied the world together and Karate Kid was the hit film featuring the song Cruel Summer by Bananarama. The song and its video of three gorgeous young women roaming the streets of New York City inspired this show.” — Roger Gastman
Cruel Summer will take place in both locations of Jonathan LeVine Gallery (557C West 23rd Street & 529 West 20th Street, in Chelsea) and feature works by over 20 artists, including:Ben Venom, Blade, Caleb Neelon, Cleon Peterson, Cope, Dabs Myla, Finok, Eric Haze, Horfe, HuskMitNavn, Mark Bode, Maya Hayuk, Mike Ballard (Cept), Mike Giant, Niagara, Pose, Revok, Rime, Risk, Sam Friedman, Shepard Fairey, Tim Conlon and Victor Reyes.
Hot summer streets ~ And the pavements are burning ~ I sit around
Trying to smile ~ But the air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying ~ What did they say ~ Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort ~ This heat has got right out of hand
It’s a cruel, cruel summer ~ Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer ~ Now you’re gone
ABOUT ROGER GASTMAN
Roger Gastman began writing graffiti as a teenager in Bethesda, MD, and later parlayed his love for it into a legitimate career as a trusted mediator between underground art scenes and mainstream culture. He founded and published two pop-culture magazines in the 1990s and 2000s called While You Were Sleeping and Swindle (co-published with Shepard Fairey). Gastman served as consulting producer for Banksy’s Oscar-nominated documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop and has authored over 30 art books includingThe History of American Graffiti, the definitive story behind the most influential art form in the last 100 years. In 2011, Gastman co-curated Art in the Streets, an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles, the first comprehensive survey of graffiti and street art at a major museum in the United States. He curated PUMP ME UP: D.C. subculture of the 1980s at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2013 and produced The Legend of COOL “DISCO” DAN, a companion documentary narrated by Henry Rollins.
ABOUT JONATHAN LEVINE GALLERY
Jonathan LeVine Gallery is committed to new and cutting edge art. Our roots go back to 1995, when Jonathan’s life-long participation in punk and underground music grew into a curatorial experiment with the visual culture that surrounded him. We moved to Chelsea in 2005, with an eye towards honoring and connecting with the history and context of Post War art. We contribute to the dialogue by challenging the conventions of the canon – exploring the terrain of the high/low and everything in between. Jonathan LeVine Gallery is located at 557C West 23rd Street and 529 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011
Some samples of works on paper from Reaction Lines at Galerie Wallworks.
Toper, Serval, Rime, 2014
For show and catalogue information: