Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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Mint & Serf - Kings of NYC Street Art

Here I am with Mint & Serf!

My friend Derrick B. Harden, a renaissance man who passionately and brilliantly moves from art to film to music introduced me to fabulous artist duo and kings of NYC street art; Mint & Serf. These guys have been collaborating and working together on street art projects for more than 10 years. They are immensely talented and I believe that they can transform any space into something so amazing that I’d be recommending them to all my clients who really want to have that unique piece of art or mural that becomes the piece-de-resistance of any house or apartment. Can you imagine how wonderful that is? Having the coolest artists come to your own place and creating something exclusively for you? Recently, Mint & Serf had the great opportunity to curate all the art collection and to create original art for ten rooms at the Ace Hotel, one of the hottest and coolest spots in New York City. They have also done amazing projects for Red Bull, Adidas, Ogilvy & Mather, Nike and Marc Jacobs (enough said!)

Marc Jacob's Bleecker store window displaying Mint & Serf's art

The whole experience surrounding these guys is cooler than anything! From Derrick who has known them since high school, to the places and projects they get to be involved with! So we met a B.E.S restaurant on 22nd Street and 11th avenue, appropriately located in that glorious street of west Chelsea where not only there is a concentration of some of the best galleries in the world but also there’s the Chelsea Art Museum, Balenciaga and Comme des Garcons. Mint & Serf came to B.E.S http://www.boutiqueeatshop.com/ to transform one of the walls in the restaurant into a fabulous mural that will catch any eye and stimulate visually and intellectually anybody who steps into that restaurant.
One of the rooms at the Ace Hotel, with an original Mint & Serf mural in the background

I spent most of my time talking and joking with Mint (whose real name is Mikhail Sokovikov) and asking him so many questions that he barely has time to answer them all. I’m interested in knowing how two young, energetic, creative men can work together for ten years so I ask who takes the lead to the projects and Mint answers that their work is done on a project-by-project basis as bouts of creativity and inspiration can come from one or the other. He also tells me that curating and creating art for the Ace Hotel has been one of the most interesting jobs they have done, particularly because they had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted so that opened the door for the most amazing results in each of the rooms at the hotel. As part of the curatorship of the Ace Hotel, Mint and Serf incorporated other cutting-edge street-art geniuses including Tristan Eaton, Pork and Pablo Power among others.

One of the screenprints to be exhibited in the show that opens on July 28th

Serf (whose real name is Jason Aaron Wall) also pops by from time to time to say something funny or edgy, but always timely and appropriate. We keep talking about the projects they have been involved with and I bring Marc Jacobs up. They loved creating something for his Bleecker street store and they admire Marc for being such an art supporter and a lover of all things New York. They mentioned that working with him made the whole “street art” vibe to be very present and alive as Marc and his team made Mint & Serf feel as if everything was really being done in an illegal and clandestine way. And that steers me in the direction of talking about the momentum that street art is having right now, particularly with so many excellent exponents including Banksy, Os Gemeos and Mr. Brainwash. They agree but also say that what keeps them on their toes and excited beyond words is that, street art in its pure form, i.e., painting or spraying with graffiti the walls of private property, is and will always be illegal (Mint funnily adds that he was arrested a couple of weeks ago but that luckily the trick in his profession is to have a good lawyer!)

Mint & Serf for B.E.S

The whole illegality concept comes apropos when we decide to talk about the upcoming Mint & Serf show that Derrick is curating and that will be on view at the Lyons Weir Gallery in Chelsea http://lyonswiergallery.com/. It starts on July 28 and it’s called “Mint & Serf SGU (Special Graffiti Unit)”. The show pays homage to Law & Order, which is the longest running television program filmed entirely in New York City and by incorporating painting, photography and video the artists' interpret their encounters with the law in New York City and within their community (including vandalism, street-art and nightlife).

I’m a total fan of these guys and will be following them closely. And if you are into street art, you should too!


Friday, July 16, 2010

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Collecting Photography - Part II

Massimo Vitali, Mount Fuji, Sicily, 2007

My clients also ask me: how can I make sure that what I’m buying is really worth the money? I usually try to explain that if you love something and can live with it for a long time, then it’s worth the money. However, I always make sure that my clients understand and familiarize themselves with the artist.

For me, the artist has to be up-and-coming, featured in important shows and exhibits, or have been acquired by a museum. Some clients do not have the same requirements, and cost of collecting is not an issue to them. But for those with a budget, finding an artist that has already been well-received can still be affordable. In the arena of photography, there are very famous artists who create amazing works, who are also in museums or very high-profile collections, and whose works can be acquired for less than $5,000. Why? Because photography works are rarely one-of-a-kind, they come in editions.

BUT, make sure that the work has been printed in limited editions, the less prints out there, the more valuable the work is. It’s also important to check how many artists’ proofs exist. If you are offered an Artist Proof, it must be labeled as “AP”. Also confirm that the work is signed and numbered.

Photography requires special care once it is properly mounted and displayed; the piece must be placed away from direct sunlight and in a dry place where it should not be exposed to humidity.

I have many favorite artists who do photography. Some of them have become so popular, their prices are prohibitive. But there are still plenty of them that I can appreciate and collect. My list of faves includes: Candida Höfer, Andreas Gursky, Massimo Vitali, Vik Muniz (check out my Vik Muniz article published in the Latin American Art Journal: http://latinartjournal.com/?p=393) Peter Beard, David Drebin, Ed Ruscha, Marilyn Minter and Ruud van Empel.

Get in touch with me if navigating the ins and outs of collecting photography seems too complicated! I’ll make it fun and easy for you!

Vik Muniz, Sophia Loren, 2004


Ruud Van Empel, Dawn # 4, 2008


Peter Beard, Marilyn Monroe, 1971/2001


Marilyn Minter, Chewy, 2005

David Drebin, Me and Me, 2008


Thursday, July 8, 2010

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Collecting Photography - Part I

Candida Hofer - Masonic Temple Philadelphia I, 2007

Sometimes, my clients come to me, interested but not sure about whether or not to collect photography. Understanding concerns about getting started collecting any kind of art, we discuss the medium, and I urge them and help them to get immersed in such an interesting and stimulating world. I also tell my clients that, for the price point of photography it’s hard to find in any other medium (painting, mixed media, sculpture or drawing) something as neat with the same, striking visual impact, and by well-known names.

Some of the rock stars of art collecting--Charles Saatchi, Eli Broad and the Baroness Marion Lambert, all collect photography. That says a lot!

It took many years for photography to be considered a major art form. Purists have always tried to make the case that the use of a camera can’t be art because it’s a mechanical process that involves pressing a button. While I completely disagree, I also think that the “purists” haven’t taken into account the amazing moments that a camera and a good photographer can capture. It’s often an act of sheer brilliance. Photography is also creative in the manipulation with color, form, techniques, fantasy, theatricality and different sensations that artists who do photography explore.

There are many types of photographic prints, each one with its own characteristics. Artists print their works in different types of paper using different techniques depending on the objective. For example, a cibachrome print is usually regarded as the best in terms of color longevity as well as color saturation and reproduction. That doesn’t mean that buying, for example, a chromogenic (C-Print) or a giclée is a bad investment, they are just different techniques that convey different imagery.

I will continue with this subject in the following post. In the meantime, please enjoy the images that I have selected for you!

Cecilia Paredes - Asia, 2009

Cindy Sherman -Untitled Film Still #7, 1978


Slim Aarons - Mrs F C Winston Guest (aka Cee Zee Guest) and her son Alexander Michael Douglas Dudley Guest in front of their Grecian temple pool on the ocean-front estate, Villa Artemis, Palm Beach, 1955

Andreas Gursky - Rimini 2003