Montreal-based artist Jason Botkin recently returned from Cancun, Mexico, where he created a series of murals and installations for the second annual Festival Internacional de Arte Publico, a week of art making that took place at the end of February. In collaboration with Jeremy Shantz, Botkin created a series of humorous, mask-like pieces with movable features that viewers could reconfigure a la Mr. Potato Head. Public engagement and collaboration are at the heart of Botkin’s whimsical work. He is a co-founder of the collective En Masse, which invites its members to co-create sprawling monochromatic murals. Though Botkin’s painting style has an instantly recognizable palette and texture, he has no problem adapting his aesthetic to work with that of other artists. Today we take a look at his pieces from FIAP as well as some other recent work.
While the collective mindset at some street art festivals seems to be “go big or go home,” at NuArt Festival in Stavanger, Norway, the line-up of artists seemed more concerned with creating deliberately-placed works with an underlying political punch. That’s not to say that a few mammoth pieces weren’t painted. Polish duo Etam Cru (who are featured in our current issue, Hi-Fructose Vol. 32), true to their form, left behind a storybook-like mural that added color to the overcast landscape. The piece pictured a sleeping boy tucked into his bed with a can of spray paint sticking out from under the covers — a young artist in the making.
Brazilian twin artists Os Gemeos are always taking it up a notch. Last May, they adorned a Boeing 737 with the character-driven art to escort the Brazilian team to the FIFA World Cup (see our coverage here). In August, the brothers took on their biggest project to date: an enormous 75-foot-tall, 360-degree mural that measures a total of 23,500 square feet. Envisioned as a non-profit public artwork for the Vancouver Biennale, the piece is intended to leave a lasting mark on the Ocean Cement silos amid the industrial landscape of Vancouver’s Granville Island. The project was funded via a crowd funding campaign and is included in the Vancouver Biennale’s 2014-2016 programming as part of a series of large-scale public works they’re calling an Open Air Museum. Granville Island attracts over 10 million annual visitors and the Biennale’s organizers hope that the scale of this project will make it a major art destination for years to come.
Uninspired by the lack of public art in their home town of Aalborg, a mid-sized Danish city, Lars Bonde and Mads Mulvad curated We AArt, the first art festival focused exclusively on murals in Denmark. The fest brought out many diverse talents from different corners of Europe. In our first update, you’ll find a large-scale mural by Aryz, who is known for expressing his illustrative style on monumental walls. Also hailing from Spain, Kenor created an abstract wall alive with neon colors and Escif painted a mural with neatly compartmentalized depictions of people and objects that evoke’s a traveler’s sketchbook. Stay tuned for more murals from Interesni Kazki, Alexis Diaz, Don John and Jaz, whose walls are still in progress as we speak.
There, but not really. That’s the context for Barcelona-born artist Jaume Plensa’s public sculptures. They might seem like intrusions. They’re large. They’re set where people congregate. And the figures themselves are huge monumental heads. They sit in business districts and in front of an art museum. They emerge from the ocean. They hover above unsuspecting pedestrians. They rest in the neighborhood that surrounds the Venice Biennale.
The on-going conversation about San Francisco’s transforming social landscape is one full of shared bitterness and tension. In a city where any given conversation begins with the baseline grievances of high rents, gutted arts programs and the overall influx of wealth and monopolizing industries, it’s no wonder people are frustrated. With that said, one nonprofit is hoping to make a positive impact. Art City, founded by former techie Luke Groesbeck, is a cultural establishment bent on retooling the perspective of San Francisco’s citizens by implementing a month-long public art program. Teaming up with local curators Tova Lobatz and Jenny Sharaf, Way Out West sets out to replace commercial advertising spaces with striking contemporary artworks.