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The Origin and Current State of Borf

10 years after his graffiti campaign, the artist known as Borf paints a new life
By Rachel Manteuffel :: August 13 (Original Washington Post article)

Read about Borf's arrest and sentence here.

John Tsombikos, 28, 10 years after his campaign of graffiti and cryptic messages covered the city. (Roger Erickson/For The Washington Post)

The artist previously known as Borf, though that was never his name, is 10 years older than he was when his whimsical, mysterious graffiti campaign in Northwest Washington got him adored and despised and incarcerated.

 

He’s 28, sort of. He lives in New York now. He won’t say where, exactly. He says that’s irrelevant. He says he does no work that would compromise his anti-corporate, anti-authoritarian principles, but also refuses to say how he supports himself or whether he lives in a place his parents own in Manhattan, as some records suggest, or if he is working some sort of soul-numbing day job, the kind he publicly sneered at, to support his painting habit.

He also won’t let you take a picture of him. You can only shoot his art, but not him. If he thinks you’re trying to sneak a picture, he turns away or holds a hand over his face. He’s reluctant to talk about what his art means, but in the end he will blurt something so revealing that it explains just about everything. He will hate these paragraphs if he reads them.

Eclair Bandersnatch: Street Artist for the Snowden Age

Eclair Bandersnatch: Street Artist for the Snowden Age
Annalee Newitz, Gizmodo

Walk pretty much anywhere in San Francisco’s SoMa, Haight or Mission neighborhoods, and you’ll see one of Eclair Bandersnatch’s glittery stencils, often featuring “Saint Snowden” or Chelsea Manning. We talked to Bandersnatch about bringing art, tech and politics together on the streets.

Bandersnatch has been stenciling San Francisco streets for several years, and her subjects run the gamut from Godzilla to ladies who look like they’d be comfortable at a 1920s party along the Barbary Coast. Her vision is uniquely San Franciscan, mixing internet politics with a queer sensibility — and heaping dose of humor.

And ever since Snowden began to tell the media about the NSA’s secret surveillance plans, Bandersnatch has been turning the Snowden Age into street art. Here’s our interview with her.

Giz: Why are Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden important to your work?

Eclair Bandersnatch: My work? They’re important to my life! And they should be important to everyone’s life!

Now Experts Are Issuing Warnings About Sunburn Art

Now Experts Are Issuing Warnings About Sunburn Art

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Sunburns are painful and potentially cancer-causing, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming an increasingly popular means of artistic expression.

Experts are now speaking out against “sunburn art,” a new social media trend in which people use stencils or strategically applied sunblock to create a do-it-yourself temporary sunburn tattoo on their bodies.

Participants then take pictures of their creations and post them on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The trend is worrisome enough that the Skin Cancer Foundation has issued an official position on sunburn art, warning of the health risks associated with tanned or sunburned skin.

“Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk,” the statement reads. “In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”

Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, said that people tend to underestimate the health hazards of sunburns.

The ultraviolet rays in sunshine or, for that matter, in the rays emitted by tanning beds, damage the DNA inside skin cells, making them more apt to turn cancerous, according to the American Cancer Society.

Further, the risk is cumulative, Sarnoff said. The more tans and sunburns a person receives throughout their lifetime, the more likely they are to develop skin cancer or melanoma at some point.

Shepard Fairey's Arrest Begs Question: Art or Vandalism?

How Shepard Fairey's arrest provides a new look at an old question: Is it art or is it vandalism?

By DEBORAH VANKIN AND DAVID NG (LA Times)

Shepard Fairey has never been one to play by the rules — and that's par for the course for someone in a street art community that exists on the cultural margins.

Or does it?

The L.A.-based street artist and graphic designer, best known for his 2008 "Hope" poster timed with Barack Obama's presidential campaign as well as the "Obey" image seen on posters and T-shirts worldwide, was arrested last week while passing through customs at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities there noticed that Detroit police had issued a warrant last month related to two counts of malicious destruction of property.

Fairey, 45, had been accused of putting up posters, without permission, on private and government property in Detroit. But once he was in custody in L.A., Detroit police backed off: They declined to extradite the artist.

"In terms of graffiti, it's not as high as a murder or rape or something," Detroit police Officer Dan Donakowski said Monday, a day before Fairey surrendered to Detroit police and was quickly arraigned and released.

SF artist's Pride show squashed

SF artist's Pride show squashed by foundation, due to assault claims
By Chris Roberts @cbloggy (Examiner)

Street artist Jeremy Novy is no stranger to controversy.

Before he won commissions to put his signature stencils of koi fish on public and private property in The City, his art — pasted on sidewalks and buildings — sometimes broke the law.

Starting Monday, Novy — a rare LGBT street artist in the hetero-dominated world of taggers and stencilists — was supposed to have a monthlong gay culture-themed show in the Castro.

Called “PHONE SEX = SAFE SEX,” the show was to run throughout Pride Month at Magnet, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation-run sexual health clinic in The Castro.

That’s all over now.

On the midnight prowl with one of S.F.’s hottest street artists

On the midnight prowl with one of S.F.’s hottest street artists

By Ryan Kost (SF Chronicle)
June 1, 2015

The street artist known as fnnch stands at the corner of Capp and 19th. It’s just started to rain, the sort of rain you can feel but you can’t see unless you catch it in a car’s headlights. He’s staring at a postbox just across the way, freshly painted, a blank canvas. “I really want to hit this box.”

But there are people near it, drunken and rowdy people, people who holler at the woman pacing in front of the corner store. “I got a dollar for you, baby. What’s up?”

Fnnch keeps watching them, and then, after a few minutes, he starts walking. “I don’t think they’re going to care,” he says. “There’s only one rule: Let me know if a cop is coming. Like, nothing else really matters.”

Saving Murals from the SF Condo Boom

Icy & Sot with Ha-Ha (CELLspace, SF, CA)Various Works: 2050 Bryant, CELLspace
Know Your Street Art, SF Weekly by Jonathan Curiel
<< Photo: Icy & Sot with HA-HA (CELLspace, SF, CA)

On a wall just inside the building formerly known as CELLspace, an artwork delivers a defiant message: "NOT for Sale!" But the message is a lie — the building, whose exterior walls once featured some of the best street art in San Francisco, was sold and is slated for development. Last summer, two volunteers — artist Russell Howze and art editor Annice Jacoby — took down much of the outside art and put it in storage for temporary safekeeping. What's left on the walls are stickers, tagging, and remnants of art — including faces of Native American men, a monkey with a sign imagining a battle between two well-known street artists ("Hektad vs. Banksy"), and an impressive work by muralist Joel Bergner. Even in its current state, 2050 Bryant's art potpourri inspires passers-by to take photographs for posterity.

But what about the art that was taken down? Howze, whose own CELLspace work is among the preserved art, and Jacoby are trying to find a patron who will buy the works and display them again. The art includes Bergner's De Frontera a Frontera, a lyrical, red-splashed work about haves and have-nots in the Dominican Republic, and Icy and Sot's collaboration with Regan "Ha Ha" Tamanui, Super Hero with Portraits, which has a caped boy standing alongside a gallery of orange-tinged smiling faces.

Grammarians are Pissed (Quito, EC)

Ecuador's radical grammar pedants on a mission to correctly punctuate graffiti

(Eduardo Varas in Quito and Jonathan Watts, The Guardian UK)

A pair of anonymous vigilantes are cleaning up Quito’s graffiti; by adding accents, inserting commas and placing question marks on sentences scrawled across city walls

In the dead of night, two men steal through the streets of Quito armed with spray cans and a zeal for reform. They are not political activists or revolutionaries: they are radical grammar pedants on a mission to correctly punctuate Ecuador’s graffiti.

Adding accents, inserting commas and placing question marks at the beginning and end of interrogative sentences scrawled on the city’s walls, the vigilante editors have intervened repeatedly over the past three months to expose the orthographic shortcomings of would-be poets, forlorn lovers and anti-government campaigners.

Banksy's Upper Haight Rat Back in SF

Haight Street Rat: By Banksy. On display in the window facing Montgomery Street. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 21-July 11. 836m, 836 Montgomery St., S.F. Free. www.836m.org.

Banksy’s 'Haight Street Rat’ graffiti holes up in an S.F. gallery
By Rachel Howard (original)
Updated 1:59 pm, Monday, January 19, 2015

A graffiti work by the stealth artist Banksy is back in its original street habitat — sort of.

Through July 11, the image known as “Haight Street Rat,” spray-painted on the side of a bed-and-breakfast in 2010 when Banksy was in San Francisco for the release of his documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” will be viewable to anyone who passes down the 800 block of Montgomery Street, though the 12-foot-tall work will be protected behind the glass facade of 836M, a nonprofit gallery near the Transamerica Pyramid.

The stenciled rat, which wears a Che Guevara-style cap and clutches a Magic Marker, no longer appears accompanied by the work’s original text, “THIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE.” But “to me, this is as close as you can get to the intention that Banksy had, given the fact that the piece was salvaged and restored,” said Sebastien Lepinard, founder of the investment firm Next World Group and co-founder of 836M with his wife, Julie.

The Lepinards became interested in displaying the work after reading a Chronicle report on the efforts of Brian Greif, former general manager of the defunct KRON-TV, who in 2010 persuaded the owner of the vandalized Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast to let him remove 10 redwood siding planks on which the rat was painted. Greif took the painting to art-restoration specialists, who mounted the slats on corrugated aluminum. He raised $10,000 to offset costs through a Kickstarter campaign, promising never to sell the work, even though other Banksy creations have sold at auction for more than $1 million. Greif then tried to donate “Haight Street Rat” to various museums, but without a letter of authentication from the artist, the institutions said they would not accept the work.

Taking a Tour of El Castillo Cave, Seeing Ancient Hand Stencils

19 November 2014
A journey deep inside Spain’s temple of cave art
In Spain Arts & Architecture By Rachel Corbett, for the BBC

I gasped at my first glimpse of a cave painting: a crude red outline of a deer with one wild circle for an eye. Its iron pigments blazed under the lamplight. The illusion of a breastbone emerged, ingeniously, out of a hump in the limestone wall. After a while, a cave becomes a long black tunnel of sensory deprivation; the sight of this tender image jolted my breath back to life.

“Can you tell you’re in a sacred place?” asked Marcos Garcia Diez, the archaeologist who had agreed to show me some of the most breathtaking rock art ever created. “This cave is like a church and that’s why ancient people returned, returned, returned here for thousands of years.”

Jutting from the base of a mountain about 85km west of Bilbao, El Castillo is one of the world’s most celebrated rock art temples. When Homo sapiens first began their northward migration from Africa to Europe around 40,000 years ago, some joined the Neanderthals here in Cantabria, a region that is home to at least 40 painted caves, including El Castillo. So magnificent are the province’s primordial masterpieces that when Picasso visited, he reportedly declared, “We have learned nothing in 12,000 years.”

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