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Group Exhibition of Street Art on View at Affirmation Arts
Robert Williams, A Square Peg in a Round Hole, 1999. Oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches. Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Affirmation Arts presents Street Smart, curated by Heidi Lee, featuring artists: Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup, Blek le Rat, D*Face, Dalek, Date Farmers, Shepard Fairey, Doze Green, Keith Haring, James Jean, KAWS, Mark Ryden, Jeff Soto, Robert Williams and WK Interact.

Street art, as a fine art genre, has been challenged since its inception in the 1980s and endured much resistance from society and art critics alike. Recently, it is experiencing a revival and the value and importance of street art cannot be denied. There are books, exhibitions, auctions and academic discussions about the subject.

Despite the current recession, street artists have successfully crossed over from lowbrow to high culture. These artists continue to push the boundaries, working across varied media including paintings, prints, multiples, sculpture and street walls. Street Smart focuses on urban and graffiti artists who have been marginalized until recent years. The exhibition features the major players of the street scene and offers an overview of the current state of street art, while following the history of underground art, activism and graffiti and its eventual acceptance into the art historical canon.

Doze Green’s singular aesthetic combines both a figurative abstraction and a symbolist approach to create metaphysical concepts. From his urban background and involvement in the early hip-hop graffiti movement of New York City in the late 1970s through early 1980s, he transitioned from creating art in the streets and subways to making work to be displayed in art galleries.

Street Smart provides an insightful view into the conceptualization and making of this diverse and mercurial subculture of art. Both emerging and established artists working in the areas of street art, pop surrealism, lowbrow, illustration, comic book, tattoo and printmaking are featured in the show. The featured artists demonstrate a deep passion and commitment to their craft, using a variety of materials such as ink, gouache, metallic pigments and collage. Taking cues directly from American culture as they witnessed it first hand on the streets, many artists started out making t-shirts, toys, record covers, sneakers, and other simple, low cost materials that were available. Street art gallery owner Jonathan LeVine stated, “I don’t believe that art has to be pretentious and so serious...(artists) can be successful while being fun, accessible and intelligent.” Street Smart celebrates street art and offers a vibrant, unadulterated perspective on the current urban art scene. Street artists today can indulge freely in their newly established means of expression and ride the wave of acceptability.

Heidi Lee is a New York based art advisor with extensive experience in Modern and Contemporary Art.

New York | Affirmation Arts | "Street Smart" | Heidi Lee | Keith Haring | James Jean | KAWS |

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