Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Become your dream
I've been showing a few properties on the Upper East Side of Manhattan recently. Walking the streets around 75th and Second Avenue I started noticing the words "become your dream" and a fish, scrawled on some of the garbage that has piled up because of the snow and lack of garbage pick up this winter. It was transformed into piles of new canvas for some creative street artist. It reminded me of the late 70's © SAMO graffiti that started popping up all over town, attributed to the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
I googled the phrase and found that others had noticed it too. In fact, they had noticed the work much earlier than me. Artist James De La Vega has been prolific in creating street art for several years now. He's a native of East Harlem that attended Cornell.
I use the phrase "beauty lives everywhere" as a tag-line on my promotional materials about real estate. I was nice to see beauty in places that were unexpected. Using words in public space as art, and appropriating the media form of the "slogan" as art, is a tradition that artists like SAMO, Barbara Kruger, and Jenny Holzer have embraced. However De la Vega's is directed more at the common man, in a direct attempt to inspire, rather than provide commentary. I found it refreshing.
There is a documentary video about him here:
From the filmmaker: Shot over a year's time, this experimental documentary examines both the art of New York's most famous urban artist as well as presents the ethics of documentary. De La Vega is known as a sidewalk provocateur, a mural master and a Cornell educated painter. Born in Spanish Harlem, De La Vega is personally familiar with living the life in the urban jungle: poverty, AIDS, and violence mixed with a side of ingenious wit, good natured humor and a propensity to produce massive amounts of work. "Become Your Dream: James De La Vega" also examines and reflects on the ethics that rule all documentaries: who's economic gain; political representation of self and the other; and most importantly, the differences in vision that can result between subject and object. Captured and presented for the first time so that a broader conversation can begin about the ethics of documentary.