Archive for the 'Street Art' Category

Possible sticker show in NYC!

There is a chance I might be able to show stickers from my collection at an artists’ collective gallery in NYC next February-March 2013!  I can’t say where exactly yet until the artists in the group confirm the idea, but the director of the gallery is very positive.  I met with him on Wednesday, and we spent over an hour talking through different ways to approach the project in ways that would be a good fit with the well-known street artists in the collective (inc. Faust and others).  Brian, the director, suggested we show individual stickers on the wall rather than stickers in thematic groups.  I like the idea a lot.  It would put the focus on stickers as individual works of art and creative expression.  We also talked about emphasizing the D-I-Y aspects of stickers to show one-of-a-kind handmade stickers (drawings, paintings, silkscreens, Xeroxes), as well as commercially printed vinyl stickers.  I think of D-I-Y in this context as often using free or cheap materials (US postal stickers, “Hello, my name is” stickers, etc.) and creating idiosyncratic mysterious messages with image and/or text, but even vinyl stickers can carry a D-I-Y attitude.  Here are two little magical D-I-Y stickers, in vinyl on the left and hand-drawn on the right:


One of my favorite books on D-I-Y is Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture by Stephen Duncombe.  Most everything that the author describes about zines pertains directly to stickers, too, in my opinion.  Primarily, both zines and stickers offer an alternative to commercial culture and consumer capitalism (how apt that I’m writing today on Black Friday, ugh….).  I’ll write more about zines and stickers in a later post.

Since I didn’t have to go to work today, I went through hundreds of stickers in my collection looking for any possible themes, genres, etc., for the show in NYC.  It was really fun and a nice change of scenery since I’ve spent so much of the last couple of years focusing on political stickers.  Here is some preliminary info I sent to Brian:

  • U.S. Postal stickers – I have about 75 that are hand-drawn, hand-painted, silkscreened, and a few Xeroxed.  From the strange to the wonderful!  I also have a bunch from Germany, too, which I’ll go through later.  Some German ones are done by well-known taggers such as Tower, Nest, and Ed Crew.
  • Animals and insects (35+): taggers – birds, cats, rabbits, lions, fox, mouse, zebra, panda, wolf, penguin, bugs, roaches, and bees.
  • Skull and crossbones (36+): taggers and advertising – tattoo salons, bands, hair salons, punks.
  • Portraits – hand-drawn and vinyl (50+) – mostly unknown faces – taggers; humanoid animal/human figures.  These are some of the most creative stickers, I think.  Really individual styles.
  • More well-known street/sticker artists (30+): Faile, Matt Siren, Gary Baseman, Serkos, 20 mg, Skarekroe, London Police, Evoker, Bäst, Toaster, Bishop 203.

And finally, here is a hand-drawn postal sticker that states, “Twerps!  Area Riot!  Rap Music Godz Ate Thier Oats!”

DE VIGUEUR et DE VERVE! press release

Hatch Kingdom | Stickerkitty

International Sticker Exhibition


Fresh Paint – Peint Frais

Edition III

Hatch Kingdom, the only sticker museum in the world, has collaborated with Catherine Tedford, a.k.a. Stickerkitty, to present an exhibition of street art stickers and photographs from Berlin and New York City, with additional pieces from cities across Europe and North America.  As part of a larger exhibition entitled Edition III, which includes work by contemporary muralists, graffiti artists, photographers, and others, the international sticker exhibition will be on display at Fresh Paint Gallery, Montréal, Québec, from December 2, 2011, through January 29, 2011.

Founded by Oliver Baudach in 2008, Hatch Kingdom began as a small gallery space in Berlin’s alternative Friedrichsain district to serve as a platform for stickers, sticker artists, skateboard fans, and collectors.  An expanded Hatch HQ is now located in central Mitte, with two gallery spaces devoted to Oli’s ever-growing sticker collection, now numbering well over 25,000 stickers, and one gallery for rotating exhibitions by young urban street artists.

Catherine directs St. Lawrence University’s art gallery in Canton, NY, and has been actively collecting stickers since 2003, having now collected over 6,000 original stickers by hand, primarily from Berlin and NYC, with stickers also from Hamburg, Munich, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cambridge (MA), Ottawa, Toronto, Amsterdam, Budapest, and other cities in western and central Europe.  Part of the collection is being digitized and can be found at SLU’s gallery Web site.  Catherine has presented papers at academic conferences for the College Art Association, the Visual Resources Association, and the International Arts in Society; in 2012, she will present a paper entitled “WTF.  It’s Only a Sticker” at the annual CAA conference in Los Angeles.  Check her Stickerkitty blog for more information.

The exhibition at Fresh Paint also includes six original drawings and collages from “Oversized and Underpriced,” a project initiated by Oliver Baudach in which artworks on oversized sticker printouts are sold at low prices with proceeds to benefit Skateistan, a skateboarding school in Kabul, Afghanistan, for young boys and girls.

In addition to art, music, and tagging stickers, political stickers in the exhibition from Germany and the U.S. focus on anti-authority, anti-capitalism, post-9/11 surveillance measures, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2008 US Presidential election, the environment, oil consumption, and the economy.  Examples of these were included in a recent gallery exhibition at St. Lawrence in 2010, which was based in part on a summer research grant from SLU’s Center for International and Intercultural Studies in which three students and an alumnus traveled to Berlin and Munich to study street art.

“Bush did it for oil”

According to the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook Web site, in 2010 the US consumed 19.15 million barrels of oil every day, compared with Afghanistan (4,800), Australia (960,800), Bhutan (1,000), Canada (2.209 million), China (9.189 million), Germany (2.495 million), Greenland (4,000), Hong Kong (333,000), India (3.182 million), Iran (1.845 million), Iraq (694,000), Israel (238,000), Italy, 1.528 million), Japan (4.452 million), Nigeria (279,000), Pakistan (410,000), Qatar (166,000), Saudi Arabia (2.643 million), and Singapore (1.08 million).  The global consumption of oil that year was 86.99 million barrels per day, so by calculation, the US consumed a little over 22% of the world’s supply.

On the other hand, the United States has spent over $803 billion on the war in Iraq since it began on March 20, 2003.  Go to and watch the numbers spin.  October 7, 2011 marked the ten-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, and there, the US has spent $474 billion. is part of the National Priorities Program whose NPP mission “makes complex federal budget information transparent and accessible so people can prioritize and influence how their tax dollars are spent.”  New York State’s 23rd Congressional District, where I live, has paid over $1.8 billion of the $803 billion spent on the war in Iraq, and’s “Trade-Offs” page notes that my district could have used that money to convert 1.2 million households to solar energy for a year, or hire 20,789 elementary school teachers for a year, among many other possibilities.

NY’s 23rd is home to nearly 656,000 people, and the median income here is $42,473.  I read recently that St. Lawrence County, one of eleven in the district, is also home to 12 millionaires and 38 people with adjusted gross incomes between $500,000 and $1 million.  So if those 50 people are making that kind of money, how are the rest faring of the other 655,950?

New link to street art database

The contemporary street art database is being re-conceived in a much more useful fashion.  AT SLU, arts cataloging guru Arline Wolfe has been organizing image files and assigning consistent terms for artist, title, date, location, and most importantly, subject and description fields.  Good cataloging = easier and better access.  Sounds simple.  It’s not.  Really not.  We’re still stuck with a non-intuitive online display format using ContentDM software, but at some point in the future something better will surely appear on the horizon.  Arline now has 200 stickers from Berlin in the new collection with 300 in the wings – another 200 from Berlin (and possibly Munich?) and 100 from NYC.  Wo0T!  Stay tuned!

Sometimes/all the time

“Sometimes the pencil is stronger than I am” is my favorite quote right now from an Inuit artist, Suvinai Ashoona.  I can kind of relate.  Sometimes stickers and street art have such a strong presence and force, stronger than me.  Well, not sometimes. All the time. I hope that’s not too weird.  I love the creativity, the hope, the commitment, the optimism.  That people will notice.  That people will care.

Quick status report

1.  Oli and Nada head home to Berlin tonight.  (Boo.)  I heard from them today that they weren’t sure which was better during their trip to NYC — standing in front of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat or happening upon a photo shoot in Central Park with Chris Rock.  That’s a tough one, but after seeing CR on TV this past week, I vote for CR.

Oli and Nada leaving SLU.  Don’t you love this pic?

2.  I’m listening to stories about the mid-term election results on NPR tonight and had a brief warm fuzzy about U.S. politics.  Democracy in action.  But then I remembered we’re screwed.  If Palladino wins NY, we are TOTALLY screwed.

3.  Paul Rand is in.  Christine O’Donnell is out.

4.  Everyone is asking for help financially.  The Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, NY, is out of funds as of October 20.  I got a phone call tonight from The Nation asking if I’d contribute $$ to be part of an associate’s club or something.  I said yes to both, lucky to have a little extra right now.

5.  There is much to share about the Berlin street art exhibition at SLU, which will all come soon with time.  I’m debating now whether to go back to Berlin next year for the 2011 Pictoplasma conference or for May Day.

(Wow.  That is one incredibly s-u-r-r-e-a-l combo.)


I was able to speak today with someone who grew up in (west) Germany, and I showed him stickers from my two recent trips to Berlin, the one in 2009 and the other in 2010.  He’s lived in the US for the past 30 years, but he talked about aspects of German history and culture that will help me make better sense of the stuff I have been gathering for the past six years.

My favorite quote of the day was, “Tempelhof is a cult like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”  (I’ve got a dozen or so stickers about Berlin’s Hitler-designed Tempelhof airport that protest the ongoing commercial development of the site.)

What struck me again today is that every tiny sticker has a story to tell.  Every single one.

Wikipedia (sorry) says this of the Tempelhof airport:

The airport halls and the neighbouring buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe and a symbol of Hitler’s ‘world capital’ Germania, are still known as the largest built entities worldwide, and have been described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as ‘the mother of all airports’.

Stickers speak of past, present, and future, as in the story above and a gazillion others elsewhere.  I know it probably sounds stupid, but when you think about it, maybe stickers are like grains of sand in a mandala.  Every grain of sand in a mandala is charged with particles of energy that represent time.  Stickers are like grains of sand that represent particles of energy – past, present, and future.  Sand, stickers, mandalas – all ephemeral.

Who knows.  It’s getting a little circular, and I’m tired.  I will sleep on it and report back later.  In the meantime, here is a(nother) random story to figure out.  Who wrote this?  Why?  What is s/he saying?  Why?


On the street and on FB.

“a healthy opposition to ideologies” (I miss my Dad today)

A link from Infoshop leads to a Web site called Little Black Cart, which is a combination blog and shopping cart for books, mags, ‘zines, etc.  Reading topics include: anarchism, communism, culture, green anarchy, situationist, insurrection, anarchy, autonomism, and surrealism.  Here is what they write about Situationists.

The Situationists (or Sits) were artists from various countries who formed a group in the 1950s called The Situationist Internationale. They critiqued modern society in its various economic, social, and political aspects. They wanted to bring Marxism up to date, to construct a theory of what was going on in society that was preventing people from being able to live fully and act freely. The result was a critique that centered around everyday life, rather than on abstract economic forces. The idea of the “Spectacle” (the empty roles and values and passive rituals that modern life both perpetuates and relies upon) was at the heart of this.

The Situationists were characterized by a healthy opposition to ideologies (if you think of ideologies as sets of ideas that people pledge allegiance to, stop thinking critically about, and only defend). As part of that opposition the Sits denied that there was such a thing as Situationism, doing their best to fight off the stultifying, paralyzing effects of dogma and the party line.

I think I got “a healthy opposition to ideologies” from my Dad, a Congregational minister who left the church to become a professor at a community college and a maximum security prison.  I remember him talking about why he left the church, in that he felt the church as an institution in general was heading in the wrong direction.  This was in the early 1970s during the height of the Vietnam War and civil rights movements.  He said that he felt he would be a better minister working with those from a disadvantaged working class and others who deserve equal opportunities in life.

Shepard Fairey, a RISD grad, quotes the Situationists as an influence in his own work as a street and sticker artist.  His Obey Giant campaign “manufactures quality dissent since 1989.”

I have come across a number of German stickers in the past five years that reflect Situationist perspectives, which will be the subject of one of my text panels for the upcoming exhibition at SLU, “Contemporary Street Art in Berlin as Cultural Expression and Political Protest.”  Quiet mornings are helping me formulate the exhibition in my mind, and I realized today that the subject headings in my sticker database will form a perfect framework for these text panels.

In the context of German street art, I’d say that anarchy is not about lawless chaos.  Rather, according the Oxford English Dictionary (via Wikipedia), it refers to “A social state in which there is no governing person or group of people, but each individual has absolute liberty (without the implication of disorder.)  But is bound by a social code.”

2010 World Cup

In the last week, der Spiegel has featured a couple of articles regarding the multicultural diversity represented in the German football team as it moves into the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup.  Eleven of the 23 team members are of immigrant descent.  The Turkish-born German Mesut Özil scored a winning goal in the recent match against Ghana, which is said to have caused a great deal of controversy for many in Germany.

Immigrants Defend the Flag while Left-Wing Germans Tear it Down (June 29)

An Inspiring New Face for Germany’s National Team (July 2)

Neo-Nazis Spurn Germany’s Diverse New National Team (July 2)

During my last two trips to Berlin, I’ve seen scores of stickers related to football ultras, i.e., hardcore fan clubs that express strong political stances left and right.  I’ve also included below a shot of handwritten graffiti “Freedom for Ultras” and “A.C.A.B.” (all cops are bastards).  Apparently A.C.A.B. is a popular punk chant at some football matches.  More reading for SK.



Flickr Photos

December 2022