Powerful street art

Companionship, hope and art

One of my favourite days in London included two hours hiking through Shoreditch, observing the ever-changing gallery of graffiti art. My guide was a member of the tour group Street Art London. Here is its tribute to the street artist John Dolan (reprinted with the hope that they won’t mind because this post is solely intended to inform my readers and promote this fabulous tour in London).

Street Art London is pleased to be supporting notorious Shoreditch artist John Dolan’s return to Howard Griffin Gallery with a landmark exhibition entitled John and George. John Dolan is east London’s most notorious artist. For three years, he sat every day with his dog George on Shoreditch High Street. In the past, Dolan had been in and out of prison and often found himself homeless. Sitting on the street every day and watching the world go by, he became part of the community, speaking to passers by about his life, his experiences and George. Dolan began to draw the buildings on the street to document his day, elevating the old, decrepit buildings that are so often ignored and under appreciated. He also drew portraits of George as he sat beside him, and began to sell his drawings to the people he saw walk up and down Shoreditch High Street every day.

Howard Griffin Gallery met John Dolan a year ago. His debut exhibition in September 2013 focused on his unique cityscapes, and saw Dolan collaborate with some of the world’s biggest street artists, including ROA, Thierry Noir, RUN, Steve ESPO Powers, Know Hope, Pablo Delgado and many others. His next exhibition, John and George, moves away from his documentation of the street and turns inward, centring on the unique relationship between the artist and George.

The story of John and George is one of companionship and hope. Dolan was on the streets when he was given George in exchange for the price of a strong can of lager. Since that time, George has been Dolan’s most loyal companion, ultimately enabling him to change his life. With George at his side, Dolan managed to escape a twenty year cycle of homelessness and prison, establishing himself as one of east London’s most recognisable artists.

John and George will present viewers with an immersive microcosm of the street in which visitors will be surrounded by hundreds of drawings of George. The repetition in Dolan’s work stems from the years of working on the street where each drawing he made of George marked the passing of another day and George’s presence was the one thing in Dolan’s life which he could rely on totally. In the chaotic world in which we live, Dolan uses repetition to encourage viewers to take a moment and see things in a different way. The subtle variations in each drawing tell a story and document a quiet and unassuming friendship that for one month will be shared with visitors to the gallery.


From the sketchbook of John Ellis. See more at www.AnIncompleteThought.com.

From Co. Design, March 27, 2013. Andrea Dezsö is a Transylvania-born, New York–based artist teaching at Parsons the New School for Design. The requirements for her sketchbooks are many: “I am very particular about the kind of paper used, the feel of it, the smoothness, the shade, the transparency,” she says. What fits the bill? Muji lined notebooks, the covers of which she decorates with everything from stickers to paper cutouts.

Co. DESIGN never asks for my sketchbook doodles. I wonder why.

The Fast Company team has once again published some great pages from the sketchbooks of top creatives. This is worth a visit to see what people are doodling in meetings. It’s great stuff.

If you’d like to see what I’ve doodling over the years, check out An Incomplete Thought, my harmless musings on life in the digital age.

The work of Toronto artist Chris Hayes.

What? I bought lobby art?

I’m a big fan of the Toronto artist Chris Hayes. I own some of his work. That’s why it caught my eye at my local TD Canada Trust branch. It turns out that my local branch manager offered to decorate the bank with the artist’s pieces as a way of promoting local talent.

All of the work is for sale.

This is a beautiful example of local marketing and what can happen when front-line people have the vision and authority to take action in their communities.

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More inspiration from DUMBO (or not)

My wife and I collaborated on this stunning example of bubble-water colour art while touring an Art Fair in DUMBO. We paid $5 to support a local artist who gave us each a plastic straw and a demonstration of his technique.

Four jars were filled with bubble-making solution, the kind the kids use. Each one was tinted with India Ink (CMYK). To make art similar to this flawless example, dip the straw in the ink and blow. When the bubbles land, they create unpredictable art. It’s a ton of fun for half the price of a beer in Manhattan.

Try it with the kids or use it to raise some money at an office fundraiser.



Inspiration in DUMBO

DUMBO NYC. A very hip way to spend the afternoon.

Last Sunday, I crossed the Brooklyn bridge to attend the Arts Fair in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass). The area is now an established home for artists, supported by dozens of galleries and a steady flow of hipster tourists.

I came across an interactive display room, hosted by residents of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYC. The work was quirky, intelligent and very forward thinking. It’s worth the time to check these guys out and see what they do. This qualifies as productive procrastination and can be done on company time.

ITP is a two-year graduate program located in the Tisch School of the Arts whose mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible.

CineSkates makes fluid video easy

I love the simplicity of this idea. Although this is an ad, it’s also a great story. Have a look and imagine what you could do.

Labour of lovely art

James Gaddy has written an excellent overview of this project. You can read the whole thing on Fast Company’s blog. This hand-drawn video took months to complete. Here’s how Gaddy introduces the project:

The new video for Irish duo We Cut Corners starts as innocently as the children’s ditty it sounds like: a black and white portrait of the lead singer whose face is obscured and revealed by rising and falling waves. Eventually sharks, lightning, and skulls–a reference to the song’s title, “Pirate’s Life”–float in and out of the picture until the bridge, at the 1:30 mark, explodes into a jumbled riot of colorful hand-drawn geometry. And it’s then that you realize that the whole thing was drawn, by hand, with markers. 

We Cut Corners “Pirate’s Life” from Kijek / Adamski on Vimeo.

For those of you with time, take a look at the “making of” video as well.

Creating exciting things may as well be boring from K/A on Vimeo.

Yelping with Cormac hits home

If you don’t know Cormac, this isn’t funny. If you love Cormac, this is gut bustingly funny.

EDW Lynch needs no help promoting his brilliant blog Yelping With Cormac, yet I feel compelled to send both of my loyal readers to his site for some novel and well-written humour.

Here is Lynch’s (uh Cormac’s) review of Jamba Juice in the financial district of San Francisco.


Three stars.

I’ll have another, he said.

The clerk wiped down the counter and would not look at him. We’re not supposed to give customers more than three guarana boosts, he said.

I aint askin.

The clerk poured another shot of what looked to be hog lagoon effluent and pushed the glass across the counter.

The man took the brimming glass with a calloused hand and stared into the murk and staring back were wolf eyes golden and immutable. He tossed the shot back. As if in consuming the vision he could consume the memory as well. The scar sickled across his face throbbing.


Discovering the Human Library

The Human Library

The Human Library project is fascinating and worth exploring if you’re into community building or just appreciate great ideas.

In a human library, you can ‘check out’ a person, usually for 30 minutes, and just have a conversation about who they are and what they do. It sounds a little odd but here is an example of the human books recently made available at Toronto libraries. People on the front lines of today’s city issues. Contributors to Toronto’s arts and culture scene. Veterans and survivors who are rebuilding their lives after war. Entrepreneurs making it in today’s competitive world. The people on the front lines of human health.

The History of The Human Library

Once upon a time in Copenhagen, Denmark. There was a young and idealistic youth organisation called “Stop The Violence”. This non-governmental youth movement was self initiatied by the five youngsters Dany Abergel, Asma Mouna, Christoffer Erichsen, Thomas Bertelsen and Ronni Abergel from Copenhagen after a mutual friend was stabbed in the nightlife (1993). The brutal attack on their friend, who luckily survived, made the five youngsters decide to try and do something about the problem. To raise awareness and use peer group education to mobilise danish youngsters against violence. In a few years the organisation had 30.000 members all over the country.

In 2000 Stop The Violence was encouraged by then festival director, Mr. Leif Skov, to organise acitivites for Roskilde Festival. Events that would put focus on anti-violence, encourage dialogue and build relations among the festival visitors. And the Human Library was born, as a challenge to the crowds of Northern Europes biggest summer festival.

Read more here.

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Students, activism and art together again.

I’m a fan of brilliant documentaries such as Manufactured Landscapes. There nine minutes flew by because the images and ideas are fantastic.

Canadianartschool.ca: Art & Activism from Canadian Art on Vimeo.

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