Culture

These 6 Artists Are Taking Their Work Beyond Gallery Walls And Into The Street

Muralists across the U.S. are making art increasingly accessible and sharing their take on politics and identity with the world. Here are six artists whose work and vision are inspiring us to rethink what art means.

Ahol Sniffs Glue

Credit: Instagram / pcaroluspr

Ahol Sniffs Glue is undeniably one of the most recognizable street artists in the world. His signature eye designs are so striking, in fact, that American Eagle utilized the design without permission, resulting in a settlement with the artist. But Ahol’s art isn’t limited to eyes on walls. His animated documentary  Biscayne Worldabout his hometown of Miami, made Vimeo’s staff picks, and he pursues a number of projects both within and outside of the traditional art world. As Ahol told Mitú, “I don’t want to portray that I am living a crazy illegal life of graffiti when I’m having art shows, making digital works, cartoons, jewelry, animations, illustrations and other random stuff.”

Levi Ponce

Credit: Instagram / leviponce

At just 25 years old, Levi Ponce has become one of the premier West Coast street artists. He was commissioned by The Paradise Project to create a mural of famous pantheists, including Albert Einstein and Lao Tzu. “My big thing is getting murals [people] can relate to,” Ponce told L.A.’s KCET. “I try and find these things that unite us and get them on the walls. I don’t go into a neighborhood with my ideas. It reflects the neighborhood that raised me.”

Bonus: Ponce also paints Selena murals, so our heart is basically his:

My Selena mural in #lincolnpark #la #mural #plazadelaraza ..repost from @__arleeene__ a

A photo posted by Levi Ponce (@leviponce) on

Credit: Instagram / leviponce

Kristy Sandoval

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Credit: Facebook /Kristy Sandoval, image by Tapatio

In one of her most famous pieces, “Decolonize,” Kristy Sandoval depicts a young woman freeing trapped butterflies and parrots into a field of flowers. Sandoval lives in L.A. and founded a local, all-female collective called HOODsisters, which stands for “Honoring our Origins, Ourselves and our Dreams.” HOODsisters’ murals spotlight powerful Latinas throughout history, like Toypurina, a native Californian who battled Spanish missionaries and led a revolt in 1785.

Mata Ruda

"He had got, finally, to the forrest of motives…" -Amiri Baraka (from 'A Poem For Speculative Hipsters') The wall is titled "The Speed of Dreams (No Boni)" for Ras Baraka's #modelneighborhoodinitiative for the city of Newark. A portrait of a young man having an ancestral dream where he encounters a Kokobene Luck mask from central Ghana (designed by Rita Addo Zakour) speaking to him as he is interwoven with abstracted west african textiles. Above the figure's head is a sunset of the marshland landscape that surrounds Newark, New Jersey. All this contained within what Amiri Baraka referred to as "the forrest of motives". This piece was influenced by the work and narrative of the short film "No Boni" by Newark film maker and my hermano, Dubois Ashong. For more information check out @nobonifilm and @duboisashong and keep to keep up with Mayor Ras Baraka check out @rasjbaraka The mural is located at 544 Springfield Ave. Newark, New Jersey.

A photo posted by MATA RUDA (@mataruda) on

Credit: Instagram/ mataruda

Mata Ruda is an artist, activist and archivist living in Phoenix, Arizona. Using imagery from Americas North, South and Central, his art intends to honor immigrant and overlooked communities. “I love creating a sacred space out of the everyday architecture that we are so accustomed to and surrounded by on a daily basis,” Mata told mitú. “Art, especially public art, can affect society in so many ways, but what is unique and special about public art is that it is not owned by any single individual, yet at the same time is owned by everybody.”

Mata reminds us that public paintings are no passing trend. “We’ve been painting on walls since we can remember, reflecting our realities and documenting our legacies, our attempt to share something deeper is an act of love, knowing that others will see it as a form of healing.”

Lady Pink

#WellingCourt #streetart

A photo posted by Lady Pink (@ladypinknyc) on

Credit: Instagram / ladypinknyc

Born in Ecuador and raised in NYC, many consider Lady Pink the first female street artist to break into the boys club, earning her the title, The First Lady of Graffiti. “When I first started, women were still trying to prove themselves, through the ’70s, that women could do everything guys could do,” she told the Brooklyn Museum. “The feminist movement was growing very strong and as a teenager I think it affected me without me realizing that I was a young feminist. The more guys said ‘you can’t do that’ the more I had to prove them wrong.” She started out painting NYC subway trains and now has art featured in the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Rolando Adrian Avila

#wynwood #muralart #workinghard #instagraffiti #streetart

A photo posted by Artist | Designer (@adrianavilaarts) on

Credit: Instagram / avilaarts

Rolando Adrian Avila loves naked women. So much so they can be found in most of his art dominating galleries and walls all over Miami. The Cuban-born artist often uses black, white and just one other color to portray the female form, and finds his work is right at home in Miami. “I feel like people [here] really respond to figurative work. I do these girls, and in Miami the body is something that is celebrated,” Avila told Miami’s Rise News. Avila feels lucky to have had so much opportunity. “I got money to go to California from school, that was the only way,” he added. “I feel like that’s important for an artist, to be educated. Education is everything.”

READ: Meet The Artist Who Pays Latino Day Laborers To Be Subjects In His Paintings

Where is your favorite piece of street art? Tell us in the comments below and don’t forget to share on Facebook and Twitter!

Brazil President Bolsonaro Fires Secretary Of Culture After He Paraphrased A Nazi Speech

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Brazil President Bolsonaro Fires Secretary Of Culture After He Paraphrased A Nazi Speech

@phpacha / @noblecavalcante / Twitter

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro fired his Secretary of Culture after he published a video that paraphrased a well-known Nazi speech at Adolf Hitler’s favorite opera. Former Secretary of Culture Roberto Alvim’s posted the video to his Twitter account Thursday evening and the overnight public outcry resulted in his firing the following day. Even the setting of the video bore so much resemblance to Nazi Germany propaganda minister Joseph Goebbel’s own desk, both with framed photographs of their elected leaders in the background. Alvim played music from the Wagner opera, Hitler’s favorite opera, in the background of his paraphrased speech from the Nazi leader’s propaganda leader.

At first, Alvim tried to chock up the viral outcry as leftist sensitivities. Eventually, he admitted that he asked his aides to Google speeches on “nationalism and art,” which inevitably led to the infamous speech by Goebbel. 

Both Joseph Goebbel and Roberto Alvim said that their country’s art will be “heroic” and “national” or “it will be nothing.”

CREDIT: @PHPACHA / TWITTER

Goebbel delivered his speech in 1933, the same year Nazis seized control of Germany, as an impassioned invitation for artists to join the nationalist movement. Goebbel was intensely anti-Semitic and eventually rose in ranks to become Hitler’s second-hand man. Hitler’s will left Goebbels as the new Chancellor of Germany, for which Goebbels accepted for just one day. The next day, Goebbels and his wife poisoned their six children with cyanide and committed suicide. Twelve years earlier, at the start of the Nazi regime, Goebbels became known for his speech that would but unwittingly plagiarized nearly a century later by Alvim. 

“German art of the next decade will be heroic, will be wildly romantic, will be objective and free of sentimentality, will be national with great pathos and equally imperative and binding, or else it will be nothing,” Goebbels became known to say.

“Brazilian art of the next decade will be heroic and it will be national… and imperative because it will be rooted in the urgent aspirations of our people, or it will be nothing,” Alvim similarly said in an address meant to announce a $4.8 million investment in Brazil’s national arts program.

Several top officials suspected that Alvim “may not be of sound mind,” but others disagree.

CREDIT: @CLUPPO / TWITTER

The speaker of the House called for Alvim’s removal from office while the Supreme Court’s highest office said that his speech must be “repudiated with vehemence.” Meanwhile, Olavo de Carvalho, a radical right YouTuber (think the Stephen Miller to Donald Trump), suspected that “it may be too early to judge, but Roberto Alvim may not be of sound mind. We’ll see,” in a Facebook post. Carvalho has since landed on a conspiracy theory that Alvim had a secretly liberal employee that sabotaged his reputation by paraphrasing Goebbel and overlaying his speech with Hitler’s favorite opera. 

Roberto Alvim couldn’t be more lucid. Had it not been for the controversy, the pressure of networks, society and the wear and tear on the political environment, it is quite likely that Bolsonaro would have kept him in office since it’s a fascist government,” tweeted another Brazilian.

Bolsonaro’s administration has decided to distance itself from Alvim regardless.

CREDIT: @NOBLECAVALCANTE / TWITTER

The day after the speech, Germany’s embassy declared, “The period of National Socialism is the darkest chapter in German history, bringing infinite suffering to humanity….We oppose any attempt to trivialize or even glorify the era of National Socialism.” Israel’s embassy issued a statement that put it bluntly: “Such a person cannot command the culture of our country and must be removed from office immediately.” Only after Israel called for Alvim’s ouster did Bolsonaro make what he called an “unfortunate pronouncement” that Alvim would be removed from office. The video is shockingly similar to Goebbel’s, stylistically, but the core nationalistic sentiments are one and the same. Alvim accepted his position as Secretary of Culture only after one of the previous title holders resigned when Bosonaro cut funding to LGBTQ+ artists.

Meanwhile, some Americans are taking the news with a soberingly dark sense of humor: “Former Brazilian culture minister Alvim should apply for immigration status here from @realDonaldTrump@GOP, and bosom buddy @LindseyGrahamSC. I’m sure that they will welcome another like-minded Nazi sympathizer into the USA,” one American tweeted. Others are saying that an elected official who has to paraphrase other speeches shouldn’t be in office anyway.

READ: This Is What Brazilians Think Of President Bolsonaro One Year Into His Presidency

This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

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This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

fridakahlo / Instagram

Frida Kahlo’s Death Has Long Been The Subject Of Debate —This Play Unpacks The Painter’s Last Week Of Life 

This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

This Play Explores The Last Week Of Frida Kahlo’s Life —And The Mystery Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat

There have been many movies, television dramas and stage productions based on the life and works of Mexico’s most famous artist Frida Kahlo, but none of these stories had ever explored the woman’s last week of life. As it turns out, her death has been an open-ended and unanswered question mark. Many believe there was a cover up, and this play dives deep into the mystery. 

The award-winning playwright and actress, Odalys Nanin explores the mental, emotional and physical condition during the last week of Frida Kahlo’s life in her latest play.

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$25 Early bird tix at machatheatre.org

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‘Frida: Stroke of Passion’ peels away the secret cover up of the painter’s death and reveals what or who killed Frida Kahlo.

Until recently, Nanin, managed and produced at the MACHA Theatre in West Hollywood, CA, a company she founded years ago.

After writing and producing nearly a dozen plays, Nanin presented her last production at the MACHA last fall. The play was another original she wrote, this time about Mexico’s most controversial artist, and one of the world’s most famous painters, Frida Kahlo. 

Frida: Stroke of Passion, enjoyed a three-month long run last fall and received rave reviews and awards.

Frida Kahlo died July 13, 1954. Her death certificate alleges cause of death: “pulmunary embolism” but no autopsy was allowed and she was immediately cremated. The play explores her mental, emotional and physical condition during the last week of her life – exposing her love affair with famous Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Maria Felix, Josephine Baker, Tina Moddoti, Leon Trotsky, a Cuban spy and her complex passionate love for Diego. 

Back by popular demand and with a grant from LA County Arts, DAC and CAC, “Frida: Strokes of Passion” premieres February 7 in Boyle Heights for six shows.

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In Nanin’s tale, Kahlo’s bout with bronchopneumonia and the loss of her right leg left her frail and numb, “Her right leg had been amputated from the knee down so she is either in her wheel chair or bed ridden.  She was under a lot of pain killers and alcohol in order to numb her pain. So she was between a daze of sleep and awakening.”

“Espero que la salida sea gozosa, y espero nunca mas volver.”

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In a diary entry written just days before her death, she wrote, “I hope the exit is joyful — and I hope never to return.” For these reasons, Nanin believes the artist took her own life.

In the play, Nanin delves deeper into Frida’s sexuality.

https://twitter.com/womensart1/status/1147401383706017792?s=21

“What initiated the spark of passion in me to write about Frida Kahlo was because as a lesbian Latinx I relate to her courage and fearless determination to stand up to injustice and to be the voice of the voiceless through her art and political activities.” 

The main players in the story are Kahlo’s tormented husband, Diego Rivera, the love of her life, but there were other lovers.

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Her passion didn’t just start or end with Rivera, there were several women in-between and one other man who also captured her heart, and during her final days, they all came visiting– taunting and haunting her with the memories they each represented. Women like Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Mexican movie star Maria Felix, cabaret singer and dancer Josephine Baker, famous model and photographer Tina Modotti, and Cuban revolutionist/spy Teresa Provenza. There was also the ghost of Leon Trotsky, a man she admired and loved and whose murder haunted Kahlo for the rest of her days.

The production has also been released in the form of a book. 

Nanin has written a book capturing her play in print– the story goes far beyond Kahlo’s Mexican and European Surrealism, and her indigenous Mexican culture influence. Frida Kahlo hated societal rules and traditions at every level, and she felt shackled as a woman. In the book, Nanin explores her frustrations, her love affairs, her queerness and overall, her passion for art. 

“Frida – A Stroke of Passion” runs February 7–9 and 14–16 at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Casa 0101 Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets and more information, click here.