Bridging the gap between the fine and the less refined

Posts tagged “urban

The Resurgence of 80’s Art

Fab 5 Freddy, Shepard Fairey==
NOWNESS Presents the New York Premiere of Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child.==
MoMa, NYC==
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010==
Photo - J.T. White/

I can personally say that my fascination with modern art with an emphasis on 80’s art comes from a more formal, classroom introduction to modern art. As of late though, I have noticed that I am not the only one with an interest in this era of art. This curiosity can especially be found in urban culture.

Ranging from references to Basquiat on the “Watch the Throne” album to Swizz Beats teaming up with Reebok to create a line inspired by Basquiat. You can watch a video of Swizz art shopping below.

Uh, Picasso was alive he woulda made her
That’s right nigga Mona Lisa can’t fade her
I mean Marilyn Monroe, she’s quite nice
But why all the pretty icons always all white?
Put some colored girls in the MoMA


(for a more detailed list of Basquiat references, you can check this VERY well down list but here)

But where did all this come from?! Here’s my theory: The musicians that are now making the music we listen to grew up in the 80’s at the height of street art in NY. So what they are doing now is glorifying their heroes. The same way they recently put 90’s Nick shows back on TV because the kids that watching those shows are now in their 20’s, these musicians are bringing back the influences that raised them.

All of this makes me incredibly happy because it is a great example that the heroes of OUR generation draw from a diverse group for inspiration. They are not these one dimensional figures. It also shows that hip-hop/music are not the only things that come from the street but it also brings us this beautiful art that now in the realm of artistic academia. You can conclude the same thing with hip-hop. Originally music critics thought that the genre of hip-hop was just a phase and wouldn’t last but now these hip-hop pioneers are being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

May this be a trend that continues.

Basquiat/Haring by Shepard Fairey


Claw Money Millionaires

As of late, I can honestly admit that I have neglected my passion for graffiti and so now es la hora to nurture it! And it’s a woman.

Girl power. Shout of to the Spice Girls.

Claw Money. You never heard of it, aye?

Claudia Gold is a Queens born graffiti artist who is now based out of LA. And let me tell you, she is a very special lady indeed. Back in the 80’s and 90’s (when few people had yet taken the time to understand graffiti as an art form) Claudia was bombing walls, trains and buses with her now iconic claw.

Through a serious of events, Claudia began moving her action from the streets to the fashion house. Now she is without a doubt, one of the most influential female designers in the urban realm.

And it is truly the “claw” that personifies her clothing line. The claw symbolizes a fierceness and the unsurrendering, relentless nature of who Claudia Gold, and all women for that matter, is.

Get it? CLAU…dia, CLAW. Nifty, huh?


Women are particularly attracted to this because who doesn’t want to be known as powerful, passionate and even ferocious? That was rhetorical….

You will see moderations of the claw ranging from how it is pictured here as a candle to brass knuckles to ice cream cones. Subtly dangerous.

According to the Claw Money website, the likes of MIA, Santigold, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna have been known to sport the line.

What struck me most about Claudia was a tweet she posted in the recent past saying, “Pay me in paint”. This gesture is paying homage to her roots which is graffiti. I can respect a woman who never forgets.

I will continue to wear my brass knuckle claw earrings proudly!

The Resurgence of Versace in Hip-Hop

I told myself that I would try and stay away from the style aspect of hip-hop but there is something on that needs to be recognized. Also this is the best time to do it since the 15th anniversary of the death of the Notorious B.I.G. (who I can faithfully credit for bringing Versace into hip-hop. Donatella herself even acknowledged this) is coming up this week. The resurgence of Versace in hip-hop. Now I’m not talking about simple, classic Versace suits. NO that would be too easy. I’m talking about rappers wearing those Tony Montana inspired brightly colored, patterned silk shirts. I have also seen more and more musicians wearing the designers sunglasses too.

Now I must admit that when I saw their line with H&M, I was incredibly turned off.

Tacky is not even the word.

But it is truly their classic pieces that have been Versace’s salvation. Let’s look at who did it best.

It all started with Biggie in 1996 in the “Hypnotize” video. Frankly this man made it cool for big guys to rock the brand. An obvious descendent of this trend is Rick Ross. I would post a picture of this within the post but it is too obscene you can see for yourself here or watch the “I’m On One” video here.


(from left to right) Don C, Drake, Tyga

Now this guy is probably my favorite when it comes to who wore it best.

In terms of sunglasses Big Sean definitely wins. I have seen both Tyga and Soulja Boy in recent videos wearing Versace sunglasses. Check the “Rack City” video here.

I like the idea. Versace is a premier Italian fashion house and the fact that these rappers recognize this and are, in a way, paying homage to their Versace wearing forefather is beautiful. Respect.

Don’t call it a comeback.

*** did a great (fuller) history of Versace in hip-hop. Take a look.

My trip to 5 Pointz

Long Island City, Queens. The mecca of graffiti.

Lucid Dreams of Little Monsters: Monstrinho Spotlight

Since the origin of graffiti, it has been done best in numbers. Graffiti crews have been an integral component of hip-hop…but this week’s feature is going to be a little different. This single guy is so remarkable that he deserves a special spotlight.

Michael “Monstrinho” Amorillo. (one member of the Get Vicious crew)

What makes Monstrinho interesting from the jump is his use of non-traditional colors. You would think that this kid’s favorite holiday was Easter or he was only given the neon-version Crayon box as a child. Either way his works feature a vibrancy that is unseen in most street art.

They say that electric blues are associated with a feeling of exhilaration. No wonder why I just thought I could fly…

Taste the rainbow.

Then there is the subject matter. Just imagine that Happy Feet moved to Brooklyn and had a baby with an owl from Jamaica…Penguins, bears, fish, birds or some mixture of all of them combined. What’s even more crazy about it is that each of these characters has a gaze as if they are..well let’s just say “elevated“.

It’s good to know though that this is some sort of Kandinsky-inspired message. Monstrinho’s work isn’t a purely aesthetic art form like Matisse with Fauvism. Monstrinho’s website states,

“Myriad messages can be interpreted from his characters: An octopus represents flexibility and the ability to adapt to multiple environments. Angel wings symbolize freedom and protection. Be it a painting or graffiti letters, the goal is for his art to evoke human emotion with a funky flow”.

He uses his art as a medium for people to tap into their innate sensations. Whether that be joy, anger or some other state of consciousness (as cued by the lowliness in Happy Feet’s eyes)…to each his own my brotha!

For me it is all about his artist mark. In other words his individual touch on the use of acrylic paint. Each line is very clean and crisp (but you know in kindergarten he was coloring outside of the lines and still does metaphorically speaking) and yet there is imaginatory feel to all of his work that takes you back to an illogical and youthful time when we didn’t try to rational the World. If he were to create a cartoon, adults and kids alike would be mesmerized.

Ya heard. But don’t take my word for it. Do some investigating yourself.

pssh: peep the pic I yanked off of his Facebook page

"I Will Protect You"

(Basquiat reference anyone?)