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On the Scene: Mexico City’s Emerging Art World

July 25, 2014

Patti Smith, New York City’s resident alt scene goddess, said recently that if she were a young artist today she would never have been able to live and work in New York City. She advised that aspiring artists not even bother attempting to survive in the city famous for generations and generations of groundbreaking work, but that they “find a new city”. Detroit, Baltimore, Poughkeepsie, anywhere but New York. Of course, contemporary ingénues like Z Behl are proving that it is still very much possible to thrive producing remarkable art despite the exorbitant rents and other pitfalls artists face in a post 9/11 New York City.

Patti Smith, shot by David Gahr in 1971, the good(?) old days of New York City...

Patti Smith, shot by David Gahr in 1971, the good(?) old days of New York City…


Never the less, it is true that other cities are proving particularly hospitable to the next crop of trouble-makers, thought provokers and visual bric-a-brac-ers. Berlin, with its drool worthy apartments, thriving gallery scene, and generous subsidies for artists, has been the go-to art city for at least the first part of the new milenium. But the truly avant guard is always restless, dreaming of new horizons, cheaper rents, more inspiring geographies and untapped potentials. Mexico City, (or “El D.F.” to locals) previously known primarily for kidnappings, mariachi bands, the worlds best tacos and largest flag, is quickly becoming a significant destination for artists and art lovers. The result is a particularly inspiring wave of artists and gallerists expanding the established means of both producing and displaying art. We asked a few insiders for their favorite galleries, artists and of course the best bars to hang out in, so we could share their secrets with you. Disfrute!

Galleries to Check Out

La Condesa/Roma is often known as the most beautiful neighborhood in Mexico City and is the perfect place for strolling around taking in the sites in a calmer atmosphere than much of the frenetic city.

A corner in the lush neighborhood La Condesa

A corner in the lush neighborhood La Condesa


Proyectos Monclova has fantastic exhibitions by local and international artists
Colima 55 Roma Norte Mexico D.F. 06700. T. +52 (55) 4754 3546. T. +52 (55) 5525 9715 info@proyectosmonclova.com.
Ulla Von Brandenburg's work from the group exhibit "a Trip to the Moon"

Ulla Von Brandenburg’s work from the group exhibit “a Trip to the Moon”

San Rafael is known by locals as the the most up and coming area for art spaces.

YAUTEPEC Gallery (Melchor Ocampo 154-A
Col. San Rafael, Del. Cuauhtemoc) has particularly innovative curators
who in addition to the gallery have developed Mexico City’s highly praised alternative art fair “Material Art Fair” emphasizing affordable art (Much of the work ranges from $5,000– $12,000)

Yann Gerstberger. Orgasmo de Bebé, 2014. Cotton, vinyl, neoprene glue, natural pigments (grana cochineal). 290 x 240 cm.

Yann Gerstberger. Orgasmo de Bebé, 2014. Cotton, vinyl, neoprene glue, natural pigments (grana cochineal). 290 x 240 cm.

Also in the neighborhood:

Lodos (García Icazbalceta #30)

a piece by Aline Bouvy in the entry-way to Lodos

a piece by Aline Bouvy in the entry-way to Lodos

NO Space, an artist run project space located in the artists gorgeous home

GAGA (Amsterdam 123)

Casa Maauad is an artists residency whose international artists regularly produce and exhibit wonderful work during their stays.

In San Miguel Chapultepec:

LABOR
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Héctor Zamora Protogeometrías. Ensayo sobre lo anexacto

Héctor Zamora Protogeometrías. Ensayo sobre lo anexacto

Kurimanzutto (gob. rafael rebollar 94, col. san miguel chapultepec)

Los teatros de Saturno (the Theaters of Saturn) an exhibit by Adrián Villar Rojas

Los teatros de Saturno (the Theaters of Saturn) an exhibit by Adrián Villar Rojas

Eating and Drinking!

Mexico City would be worth a trip for the food alone. Here are some of our favorites, not including pretty much every taco stand on any corner:
Mercado San Juan is the major “foodie” market. You can spend hours exploring the glorious produce, and stalls featuring some of the best “fast food” on the planet.
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For incredible oxacan food in Colonia Roma be sure to head to Yuban Comida Casera Zapoteca (Colima 268, near Av. Insurgentes)

Six different types of mole!

Six different types of mole!


A bar/cafe that hosts noteworthy pop-up events is muebles-sullivan (Miguel Schultz 146-1)
San Rafael
Pinchon is a traveling restaurant that everyone in the know can’t stop swooning over. Email niki.nakazaua [at] gmail.com to find out for yourself

For other great food recommendations visit: goodfoodmexicocity.com

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Z-Behl: Trickster Queen

July 10, 2014

Welcome to the first installment of “Artists We Love” where we showcase artists whose work we find particularly thrilling and noteworthy. Whether they are established luminaries who line the walls of the world’s greatest museums, or an emerging talent with a unique style and sensibility, these are some of the creative minds we currently look to for inspiration. We hope to hear feedback from you! Is there an artist you have in mind that we absolutely must highlight? Let us know!

The artist Z Behl in one of her incredible handmade body suits

The artist Z Behl in one of her incredible handmade body suits

Z Behl is the type of artist myths are made of: the realms of the world that concerns her would have, once upon a time, been listed on maps as simply “here lie dragons”. She, and her work which are sometimes inseperable as is so much of the work of great contemporary female artists, often strikes me as a beautiful mash up of a pirate and a mermaid.

Shortly upon finishing college Z and a number of her friends were recruited to create the magical fantasy world of the film that would go on to become the Sundance winning, Oscar nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild.

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In the film’s design we see an incredibly prescient number of themes that seem to follow Z: A fierce young girl living in a makeshift world, giant creatures, and the difficulties of natural disasters.
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This theme of the flood has a kind of biblical presence in Z’s life and art. Years after making the film Z was rooted in Brooklyn’s Red Hook art scene when Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of her and her compadres work. In response she curated The Flooded Art Show, to highlight the work altered by the creative-destruction of Sandy, raising funds and awareness. Despite the frustration over loosing a considerable amount of work, this group show eventually resulted in grants and a studio space through Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, which has enabled here to develop a number of remarkable large scale projects.

One of Behl's fantasy worlds of wood cutouts

One of Behl’s fantasy worlds of wood cutouts

A close up
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An original Camera Obscura  in Peekskill Project V, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY

An original Camera Obscura in Peekskill Project V, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY

When I met up with her in late june in New York City we spoke about the difficulty of being a young female artist, attempting to assume similar positions to her male contemporaries, the kind of bold, necessarily egoistic stance of an artist that is difficult for a woman to assume and be similarly understood. What is the female version of all these iconographic roles: The trickster? The Pied-Piper? The Pirate?
While she hasn’t quite worked out a name for this role yet, she certainly is well on her way to crafting this art of the uniquely daring, sexy, adventurous trouble seeker, leading her audiences into previously unseen or unknown versions of reality.

Behl's Pied Piper

Behl’s Pied Piper


featuring live children from the downtown art school where Behl teaches

featuring live children from the downtown art school where Behl teaches

The Minotaur shown in The Last Brucennial, New York

The Minotaur shown in The Last Brucennial, New York

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To see more of her work visit http://www.zbehl.com/

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Movies Under the Stars

July 4, 2014

fireworks12 AP Mike Adamucci

The Fourth of July is summertime and all its glorious traditions at its peak: blankets laid out for picnics, barbecues galore, swimming holes, roof-top parties, fireworks, road trips, meteorite gazing. Of all these beloved, seemingly immortal rituals, one essential American summer activity has been quickly disappearing from our landscape: The drive-in movie. So here, on our nations birthday we’re paying homage to the great outdoor cinema going experience.

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Friends watching a film. Photographer unknown (getty images)

Friends watching a film. Photographer unknown (getty images)

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Perhaps ironically, it seems it took the acclaimed japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto to really capture the current state of drive in theaters, in his almost ghostly but deeply nostalgic series of photos of American drive-in movie theaters. To capture these images Sugimoto leaves the exposure open on his camera to run the entire length of the movie, subverting the photograph’s typical relationship to time. Instead of just capturing one split second, Sugimoto captures an entire film.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (1)

hiroshi sugumoto 2

In doing so, there is an almost buddhist-like quality to these images: Although the screens appear empty, they actually contain the residue of innumerable images that have passed over them during the length of the film. They seem to be a meditation on stillness and desertedness, but upon closer examination they are simultaneously about motion and fullness.

While we don’t see many of the things we typically expect to see in an image of a drive in- cars or people for starters! We do see many other things that are difficult, if not impossible, to see with the naked eye, like the movement of stars across the sky, or maybe more philosophically we can say we actually see the passage of time in these images.

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But the joy of watching movies outdoors on hot summer nights certainly isn’t a uniquely American experience. Mahen Bonetti, Founder and Executive Director of the New York African Film Festival speaks often of the importance “cinemobile”‘s had for the development of cinema in colonial Africa.

Photo by Stuart Farmer for Open Air Cinema

Photo by Stuart Farmer for Open Air Cinema

These trucks– Land Rovers carrying a 16mm projector and screens– would arrive in remote areas of Africa, often places that did not even have electricity and set up a mobile outdoor cinema. Many times this was people’s first ever experience seeing a moving image. Can you imagine how glorious that must have been!?

Still from the film "Confusion Na Wa" (Kenneth Gyang, Nigeria, 2013, 105min.)

Still from the film “Confusion Na Wa” (Kenneth Gyang, Nigeria, 2013, 105min.)

Ms. Bonetti’s wonderful organization continues the tradition of bringing movies outdoors to underserved areas, only now in New York City Parks. These free events, which commence this weekend, are often accompanied by live music and dance, and bring together a beautiful cross section of the city’s cinephiles. We cannot recommend them enough! For more information and a complete schedule, visit their website.

To find drive in theaters near you visit driveinmovie.com a site which keeps an impeccable record of drive ins all over the United States.

Happy 4th!

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Long Days, Hot Nights and the Gorgeous Girls of Summer

June 20, 2014

There are few things whose glory remains equally potent as in childhood and summer is certainly at the top of that list. We never seem to be less than thrilled by salty skin, sandy feet, the unparalleled bliss of falling asleep exhausted by a long day of swimming and laughing with friends in the hot summer air. Tomorrow marks the official start to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and we couldn’t be happier.

TONI FRISSELL (1907-1988) "First Bikini"  Montego Bay, Jamaica, 1945 Harper's Bazaar

TONI FRISSELL (1907-1988) “First Bikini” Montego Bay, Jamaica, 1945 Harper’s Bazaar

Brigitte Bardot, French Queen of the Bikini in her 1963 film "Le Mépris

Brigitte Bardot, French Queen of the Bikini in her 1963 film “Le Mépris

Bad girls, bored in the city. Photo by one of our current favorite  photographers: Cass Bird

Bad girls, bored in the city. Photo by one of our current favorite photographers: Cass Bird

If Raquel tells you to get into the water, you just do it!

If Raquel tells you to get into the water, you just do it!

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A girl in a bikini

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The soundtrack to summertime lazing

Photo by Ulrich Knoblauch

Photo by Ulrich Knoblauch

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Brazil: Bikinis, High Modernism, Pixação and Jobim!

June 5, 2014

brazil babe

Maybe it’s anticipating the world cup’s commencement this month, or that one of our shop girls has fallen madly in love with a Brazilian & won’t stop telling us about it, whatever the reason, this week we’ve got some serious saudade for Brazil.

Saudade,(Pronounced souˈdädə) if you hadn’t heard of it before, is one of those indelible words that doesn’t exist in English. It captures a mix of emotions Anglophones can only begin to approach with a string of adjectives: Think of saudade as a kind of yearning, sentimental, nostalgia. It’s a state of happiness and longing caused by deep feelings for something- maybe a time gone by, or a person so intoxicating they can’t ever be close enough to you… Here are some of the things giving us some serious saudade lately.

Jobim

jobim

It doesn’t get more Brazil than Antônio “Tom” Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, the high priest of Bossa Nova and all things classy-cool.  You’ve certainly heard his classic song  The Girl From Ipanema, but did you know he recorded an entire album with Frank Sinatra?! We want to spend the whole summer dancing barefoot to these magical songs.

 

 

 

Street Style

ipanema-skateboarder

 

It’s impossible to talk about Brazil without mentioning the women!

Centuries of slave trade, European and Asian emigration, combining with an indigenous population, Brazil has long been known as a country with an incredibly mixed ethnic background and of course some of the most beautiful people on the planet.

 

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Colorful style, beach living and an obsession with fitness certainly contributes to exquisite people watching.

 

 High Modernism

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Brazil’s capital, Brasília might be one of the strangest cities in the world.  Built from start to finish in only 40 months, it’s a fantastic experiment in high modernist urbanism.  Designers Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer’s extraordinary combination of stark minimalism and sensuous curves have been equally lauded and criticized, but we find them we find endlessly inspiring.

espasso

Espasso continues the tradition of Brazil’s phenominal modernist design at their store here in New York City.   We love having them as neighbors, not only do they have a superb selection of furniture, but they throw a great party!

Pixação

pixaco

Is a distinctive graffiti style native to São Paulo, the name comes from the word for tar in Portuguese (“Piche”), the substance in which political slogans were written on walls in the 1950s.  Beginning on the 1980s young people began writing their names and the names of their crews on walls in the recognizable vertical typography inspired by lettering found on 1980’s heavy metal record covers.

Pixote’s bold and elegant work, featured in our current exhibit Back Against the Wall, epitomizes this avant guard style.

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Pixote’s 5 x 9 carpet, currently on display in our NYC showroom

 

For more on Pixação check out this incredible  book

For a fabulous city guide to Rio, we love Garance Dore’s blog

 

Did we miss any of your favorite things about Brazil? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

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Girls! Girls! Girls! (In The New York Times!)

June 3, 2014

n-NY-TIMES-large570Talented female artists are often over looked in the boys-club that is the street art scene.  That’s why we were extra excited to see our very own ELLE getting some serious props in this New York Times article on the burgeoning number of women-artists giving the boys a run for their money.  Julia Baird writes, “ELLE bucks against the inane, repetitive stereotyping she sees in advertising signboards, and instead depicts “strong, powerful, beautiful women.”

ELLE explains that she “got into graffiti because I saw so many men scrawling on the streets and putting up what they wanted to see,” she said. “I wanted to be protected by large warrior women as I walked down the street.”

Brooklyn Street Artist Elle

Come see this incredible piece of ELLE’s in our showroom before Jay-z and Beyonce snatch it up for Blue’s room!

 

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Graffiti Chic: Street Art Doubles As Décor Part 2

May 13, 2014

Part 2: Office, Hotel, Restaurants

graffiti chic - pt 2

The growing popularity in fine art, fashion and lately, home décor and interior design, has street/graffiti art consistently blurring the line between high and low brow.  The principal component of Street/Graffiti Art is that it is found on the Street; on display in public, and for public consumption.  While not completely rid of its vandalism stigma, the bold and expressive nature of graffiti and street art is becoming more and more prevalent. 

Read more…

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Pattern Pairings: Vivienne Westwood Contemporary Cocktail Dress and Carini Lang DAIN Street Art Rug Collaboration

May 13, 2014

Pattern Pairing:

Vivienne Westwood Contemporary Cocktail Dress & Carini Lang DAIN Street Art Rug Collaboration

Pattern Pairings Carini Lang Vivienne Westwood 2014 Spring Cocktail Dress and Street Art Rug by Back Against the Wall Artist Collaboratior Dain Graffiti

Looking for More Eye Candy? 

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Graffiti Chic: Street Art Doubles As Décor Part 1

May 7, 2014

Screenshot 2014-05-29 14.12.34

Part of the emerging contemporary movement, Graffiti Street Art comes in all forms, from the tiny and intricate black and white pieces to the large colorful graphics that can be found on city streets. The desire for art in the home and for big, bold graphics has lead to the emergence and building popularity of decorating interiors with street art pieces.

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Carini Lang’s Back Against the Wall Collection in Spring Masters, New York 2014

May 2, 2014

 

Formerly The Spring Show NYC has been re-envisioned as Spring Masters, New York.  The inaugural edition of the Fair spotlights traditional art in a contemporary context.

Carini Lang is showing pieces from the recently premiered Back Against the Wall Collection of Street Art and Graffiti inspired carpets.  It is the perfect example of traditional art in a contemporary context: Back Against the Wall was created from the combination vibrant, living, breathing street art into luxury handwoven and custom dyed tapestries/rugs represents the very core of what this years Spring Masters show is all about.

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Pattern Pairings: Natural Camo Pattern

April 29, 2014

Pattern Pairings:

Tree Bark & Camo Fatigue

Textile Twins - Carini Lang and Andy Goldsborough - Camo Fatigue

Our recent collaboration with Interior Designer extraordinaire Andy Goldsborough, resulted in a gorgeous (and on-trend) Camouflage Collection.  The collection’s Camo X caught the eye of the editors at Architectural Digest as one of April’s Most-Wanted Home Furnishings.

 

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Artist Spotlight: DAIN

April 22, 2014

Whether happening on a colorful wheatpaste of a Hollywood icon or on wood in a white-walled gallery, street artist DAIN’s exciting work unquestionably demands our attention.

Born in Brooklyn, DAIN combines glamorous black and white head shots of Hollywood actresses both old and new from Elizabeth Taylor to Angelina Jolie with collage from newspapers, advertisements, fashion magazines, and vibrant spray paint, most noticeably and iconically around the eye of the Hollywood stars.

 

Through his elegant juxtapositions, DAIN adopts the content and contexts of the original images to create his own surreal portraits. Using images of Hollywood icons and fashion models,  DAIN splices and overlaps famous faces, creating hybrid ‘icons’ that dissociate the familiar to create something a bit more surreal.

 

Coupling male and female identity into unified characters, DAIN points to a disjointed harmony, which simultaneously complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, famous personalities (and our idealizations of them) become subsidiary and empty.

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Artist Spotlight: ELLE

April 18, 2014

elle scraetch tag pink

In a scene dominated by men, New York City-based Elle boldly stands out for her iconic posters of panic-stricken eyes and psychedelic, wolf-headed females.

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Artist Spotlight: BEAU

April 16, 2014

Beau is a talented artist and a great proponent of moving ‘street art’ from the subway car to the gallery wall.

photo credit: Phillip Mansfield for Complex

photo credit: Phillip Mansfield for Complex

BEAU has been making quite a name for himself on the streets of New York in the past 5 or so years.  In fact, he’s handwritten it across the entire city, four letters at a time (B-E-A-U).  Much of Beau Bradbury’s work is quick and light, bringing a smile to passersby when they see a couch tagged up with BEAU on the LES or a fill-in in a super visible spot.   Beau is not your typical “artistic” type–he often creates his art collaboratively with fellow Back Against the Wall artists Jim Joe & ELLE and uses his success to share the wealth with his street art contemporaries, curating group exhibitions that otherwise would never come to fruition.

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Artist Spotlight: COST, the Tag Machine

April 15, 2014
photo credit: Mark Hewko via Village Voice

photo credit: Mark Hewko via Village Voice

Arguably one of the most influential street/ graffiti artists, COST aka the Tag Machine has been making street art for over 20 years.

New Yorkers of the early 1990s didn’t have to be versed in the graffiti subculture to recognize Cost.

A Graffiti writer schooled in the techniques of bombing, Cost saw an opening to use the public space in a new way. In his campaign of simple white 8 1/2² X 11″ paper postering on the backs of Walk / Don’t Walk traffic signs, he took the idea of guerilla bombing and combined it with the blatant mass appeal of advertising.

The language had changed from the insider hieroglyphics of graffiti to the simple text of cold type that anyone -young and old, black and white, rich and poor, could read. As a result the city paid attention with one 1995 New York Times Letter to the Editor calling Cost “probably the worst graffiti vandal in the history of New York” (NYTimes).

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