Opening Friday, June 21, at Moberg Gallery, is the exhibit In Bloom, a panoply of work by world-renowned street and mural artists. Artist Jason Woodside has curated a show of art from the streets and brought it in to the gallery walls. Get a glimpse of Woodside’s vibrant large-scale works via his smaller pieces. Also featured in the exhibit are works by Swoon, D*Face, Ruben Sanchez, Adele Renault, Pref ID, ItsALiving, Adam Lucas, Maser, and Buff Monster.
In anticipation of this exhibit, which feels much like an explosive Des Moines event, Michaela Mullin was able to have a quick late-night chat with Woodside, while he was participating in a mural fest on the East Coast:
M: Jason, you’ve worked on such varied commercial projects, from a car wash to a Faberge egg hunt; the forms and surface textures are so different. This is true of your small-scale works, as well. The different media used: spray paint, acrylic, resin, etc—how does your relationship with the media and surfaces shift?
W: Smaller works are blueprints for the larger works, and different mediums are themselves exploring the different textures. When working with brands it’s more of a chemistry thing and their values and mine have to line up, to be on the same page to build something amazing together.
M: You’ve worked all over the world, with projects in Des Moines, up and down both coasts, from Paris to Sydney. Does the nomadism or geographic locale influence or get absorbed into your visioning of a mural or installation? If so, in what ways?
W: I live between NY and LA now, and those are hubs—everything in between is about bringing artwork to those that wouldn’t necessarily be introduced to this art otherwise. I don’t plan the artworks before I get to a place; I take in the color and absorb the community I’m working in.
M: Can you talk a bit about how creating two-dimensional works on three-dimensional architectural structures informs the way your contrasting palettes or division of sections and swaths emerges?
W: I strip everything back. I have a fascination with light and color and really exploring the idea of light and color and seeing things from a different perspective, of taking an object that’s not necessarily interesting and turning it into something fun to look at it.
M: The culture from which much street and mural art derives is youthful, radical, iconoclastic, and socially conscious—activistic. What ideas and emotive elements are important to you when you create?
W: With my art, it’s more emotional and less figurative; when someone paints a man or woman, that seems like something that’s less open to interpretation. When it’s color-based, it can be nostalgic and happy, and it’s hard to find something negative in that. So, it’s all about color for me.
M: You use words such as “nostalgic color,” “energy,” and “vibrations” when describing your work. Is anything new inspiring you, or are there other words you would use to describe your process?
W: Since I recently relocated to the West coast, I’ve noticed a lot more pinks and oranges, a lot more fades. In regard to verbiage, I’d say “Passionate.”
M: How has it been for you working in Des Moines? (the mural on the west side of The Silver Fox, on Ingersoll Ave, is one of Woodside’s)
W: Love Des Moines; there are elements that are very progressive and want this sort of energy. It’s a perfect spot for something like this!
M: As a curator, why did you choose the particular group of artists that are included in In Bloom? How do the works of these nine artists, along with your own works, cohere and speak to each other visually?
W: This group—we kind of travel together. We met on mural festivals or travel in general. We all have the same sort of values and we all just clicked. We’re heavy homies! (Laughs).
M: Thank you, Jason. I’m gonna let you get some ZZZs. I’ll see you next week in Des Moines!
Join Woodside and the works of the Heavy Homies for the opening of In Bloom on Friday, June 21, from 5 pm – 9 pm. The exhibit runs through July 27th. Don’t miss it!
New York and Los Angeles-based artist Jason Woodside has been making interior and exterior walls all over the world amaze viewers for years. His collaborative projects and commissions include high fashion and street brands, boutiques, galleries and museums, such as Colette in Paris, Adidas, Faberge, and Obey Clothing, as well as the New Museum in NYC, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Jeffrey Deitch. Born in Florida, Woodside attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and is also co-founder of the coffee shop/gallery/book store, Happy Bones. His paintings and murals have been exhibited in NYC, Paris, Los Angeles, Sydney, Berkeley, Miami, and Des Moines, among other urban locations. Starting with a doodle on a desk in school, informed by his background in film, and often using spray paint, Woodside focuses on shape and color, because it “keeps away from linear thought.”
Adele Renault is an artist with a deft touch for that which most might find commonplace. From pigeons to people, she focuses her artistry on realistic depictions of ordinary city residents, on canvas as well as massive murals.Adele was raised on a farm in the Belgian Ardennes where her musical family encouraged her to travel and experience the world on her own. At just fourteen she ventured to Venezuela for a semester and then on to Brighton, England. During her travels she studied visual arts from classical oil painting to modern spray can graffiti, while experimenting with new media and graphic design. Renault graduated in 2010 from theAcademie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels. She lived an worked in Amsterdam until 2017 and is now based in Los Angeles. With a distinct portraiture technique focused on the ubiquitous pigeons and people of the global city center, Adele’s work is immediately relatable. Her interest in people and pigeons stems from the commonality that no matter the city, each can be found in abundance. With meticulous care and attention to detail, she renders an old woman’s face and a pigeon’s with the same precision. The ever-changing colors of the pigeon’s feathers are just as significant as the wrinkles in an old woman’s face.
D*Face is a contemporary British street artist, best known for his distinctive graffiti, stickers, and posters, placed in various cities around the world. Featuring recurring imagery of celebrities and punk iconography, D*Face’s oeuvre is characterized by his bright, graphic aesthetic and focus on consumerism and the ways in which it shapes everyday life. His diverse range of influences include skateboarding culture, early New York City subway graffiti, Pop Art, and Shepard Fairey’s Obey campaign. Born Dean Stockton in 1978, in London, England, he worked in advertising and for publications like Thrasher magazine before embarking on his own artistic career. A reported friend of the famed anonymous street artist Banksy, D*Face’s identity remained a mystery until 2008, when he revealed his name to the public. “I don’t find that it’s necessarily relevant that you know who I am regarding my work,” he once explained. “The work speaks for itself, and if it doesn’t speak for itself, then I like people to reinterpret it for their own views.” The artist lives and works in London, England.
Maser truly embodies the centric spirit of contemporary visual art in Ireland today. Having created artwork since 1995, over the last 24 years, Maser has earned much respect professionally and has generated a large and dedicated following in Ireland and abroad – through his seamlessly imaginative and unique graphic style.Maser is internationally recognized for his expansive repertoire of contemporary visual art, which includes works on canvas, sculptures, prints, immersive installations, interactive exhibitions and exquisite large-scale murals. His unique, artistic style draws upon numerous influences including optical art and mid-century art, and is regularly complemented with bold colors, pattern and text. Maser is ambitious and is unafraid to experiment with any artistic format. Since the outset, Maser has continuously progressed his artistic style and practice, which is now firmly rooted in the gallery space, and moreover, in the realm of contemporary Irish Art. Having credited his origins in street art for the initial evolution of his personal style, his artistic practice today comprises of his unique typographic style combined with photorealistic elements, which usually convey an uplifting and socially conscious message to the viewer. The content of his work is inspirational and offers the viewer an opportunity to become fully immersed in an almost hypnotic state, through his use of contrasting colours and the use of repetitive patterns. With the underlying ideals that ‘We are all in this together’ woven throughout his work, Maser’s art unifies him with the viewer by conveying the love he has for his environment and the people that live in there.
Boasting an impressive list of exhibitions at high-end art galleries, Maser has created original artwork for many prestigious arts organisations including, Lazarides (UK), the National Gallery of Ireland (IRL), the National Library of Ireland (IRL), Tandem Press (USA) and more. He has collaborated on projects with the Irish band U2, TED prize winner JR, globally recognized muralists Fintan Magee and Connor Harrington, and he has even collaborated with the president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins on a limited edition print series. In 2018, Maser established Atelier Maser an art studio and gallery space located in the heart of Dublin that is dedicated to emerging visual artists. The Gallery boasts an exciting programme of artist residencies and exhibitions developed to nurture talent and provide guidance for young artists to showcase their skills.
ItsALiving is not just a name or a statement but is also a life philosophy for Ricardo Gonzalez, a designer and artist from Durango, México, currently living in Brooklyn. His signature script style can be easily recognized from large-scale murals to commercial work for some of the biggest brands, to a simple sticker in the street. The ambiguity in the typographical messages continually creates a dialogue between viewer and artwork. “A word is an image” and an image can be interpreted in so many ways, and the direct approach of typography has been an exploring-path, where the main goal is to question daily living and produce a positive impact. After all, it’s a living. His clients include: Apple, Armani Exchange, Nike, Mercedes Benz, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, Budweiser, Samsung, AirBnB, Bloomberg Business, Toyota, Vice, Lululemon, MTV, Yahoo!, Nissan, VH1, Coca Cola, Revlon, KRINK, Bing Bang Jewelry, Oprah Magazine, AIGA, Bowers & Wilkins, Harper Collins, New York Botanical Garden, Complex & Stussy.
Pref is a British artist, well known for his multi-layered typographic-style graffiti, and his incorporation and exploration of common words and key vernacular phrases. This multi-layering means that an element of deciphering is introduced, and the viewer is asked to disentangle images and meanings from the artwork. Pref has developed his role and reputation as a graffiti artist over 20 years. He initially trained at Chelsea Collage of Art, before going on to work in graphic design. The clear linear elements of his work, and his evolving interest in typography trespass across the borders of fine and graphic art in energetic and intriguing ways. He was recently commissioned by Italian fashion house Fendi to design new logos and branding, as well as lend his skills to a new collection, Roma Amor.
Adam Lucas, aka Hanksy, has added to the cultural of street art since 2011, producing playful, pun-centric work that utilizes humor as a lighthearted tactic of subversion. In 2016, he dropped the Hanksy moniker, and began showing as Lucas. His work layers images, text and bold design with playfully acerbic references culled from contemporary culture. Using a loud and elegant color chord, Lucas simulates the experience of being a city-dweller who’s inundated with visual information and coded advertising subtext. His design is a nod to the synthetic Cubists; however, calibrated to express the distinctive urban street life and American popular culture. The recognition and re- appropriation of culture and its advertising tethers Lucas’ work to Hanksy’s celebrated puns. The aesthetic end results might look different; however, both factions of the artist’s oeuvre reveal work that is at once bright, with rhythmic beats and opportunity for visual play, but is also couched in weightier, trenchant themes.
Caledonia Curry, known professionally as Swoon, is a Brooklyn-based mixed-media artist whose work explores humanity through portraiture, printmaking, and immersive installation. Swoon graduated from Pratt in 2001 and in 2005 was the subject of a pivotal solo exhibition mounted by now-mentor Jeffrey Deitch. Swoon’s work has since adorned the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, LA MOCA, Mass MoCA, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and many more. Her 2014 Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Submerged Motherlands, was the Museum’s first solo show devoted to a living artist with roots in street art. In Fall 2017, Swoon created a large scale, site-specific installation in the Zaha Hadid-designed Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center as part of a two-story solo exhibition. She spends much of her time enveloped in art and social practice by way of community building initiatives in, among others: Haiti, New Orleans, and the Rust Belt town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Swoon founded the 501(c)(3) Heliotrope Foundation to streamline these projects and to expand aid for urgent social crises. In addition to her community building work, Swoon is a dedicated advocate for the proper treatment of mental health and trauma.
Buff Monster is a New York City street artist who uses bright colors, bold lines and funny characters to make the world a better place. He names heavy metal music, ice cream, pop art, Japanese culture and graffiti as major influences. For over 15 years, he’s worked with leading curators to paint murals all over the world and is included in Banksy’s Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. His meticulously-executed paintings have been shown in galleries around the world. He’s worked with some of the most-recognizable brands, such as Apple, Black Milk Clothing, Disney, Converse, Hello Kitty, Samsung, Nike, Coca-Cola, G-Shock, Hurley, Kidrobot, Kiehl’s, Mishka, Montana-Cans, NBCUniversal, Samsung, Sanrio, Scion, Smart Car, The Standard.. Now under the brand name Stay Melty, he continues to release a variety of limited-edition collectibles, including vinyl and resin toys, prints, shirts, stickers and trading cards.
Born and raised in Madrid, and adopted by Barcelona and Dubai in past years, Ruben Sánchez is a self-taught artist with a strong, colorful graphic style that resonates through all of his projects. Coming from the cultural worlds of graffiti and skateboarding, Sánchez learned graphic design and illustration. In the mid 2000’s, he mixed the techniques and influences from each field, adding new skills on wood, resins, etc, with continued self-education in the arts, where he started translating his own vision onto canvases, murals, reclaimed wood, sculptures or installations. His artwork can be found as part of art festivals, humanitarian projects or international exhibitions (including: Denmark, France, Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada, the US, Greece, Hungary, and Jordan), but can also be found as ‘uncommissioned’ works in all kind of places.