On view now at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea is the new show entitled "Cruel Summer" after the Bananarama song from 1984. The show displays the work of over twenty artists curated by Roger Gastman the famed graffiti historian and urban anthropologist. It is a cross-section of work from the best urban artists of the last thirty years, including the curators friend and frequent collaborater Shepard Fairey. The vibe is meant to evoke the feeling of New York City during the summer of 1984 and the music video that accompanied the song. Among the works showcased in the gallery is that of Ben Venom, an outlaw quilter who creates quilted tapestries of Tattoo art made up of old band T-shirts and biker jackets. Another artist on display is Cleon Peterson whose highly graphic drawings depicts the violence of the inner city in an almost cartoonish style; juxtaposing a benign appearance with a grim reality. The paintings by Niagara evoke the femme fatales of Film Noir done up in the colors of an Andy Warhol portrait. Besides these deadly beautiful women are quotes revealing their killer but witty natures. The work of Pose is at the extreme edge of graphic design, overlaying comic art, vintage signage, and photography into a cohesive whole that seems almost organic in its oneness. Victor Reyes' paintings make his viewer meditate on the infinite multiplicity inherent in swirls and patterns showing us the magic in repeating forms with a touch of the chaotic.
Overall, this show displays the amazing diversity of urban art and the way it has blossomed over the last three decades as seen through the eyes of its most avid connoisseur.
Images via the gallery.