Thursday, May 20, 2010

My encounter with street artist Swoon in Brooklyn: Why she rocks!

I ventured to Williamsburg earlier this month for the Swoon book signing, accompanied by G Train Salon curator Krista Saunders.

The event was held at the Urban Art Projects headquarters and drew a diverse crowd. Newly graduated PR reps in stilettos mingled with grizzled street artists, middle-aged art aficionados and random passersby looking for free beer.  (The Brooklyn Lager was excellent).

Fawning over Swoon at her book signing in Brooklyn on May 8, 2010.

As reported in my NY Destinations column, Swoon is a well known street artist who appears--albeit briefly-- in the Banksy documentary, "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

After selecting copies of Swoon's book and prying them off the wall (they formed part of an installation), we approached the street artist.  She was holding court from a folding chair at the back of the room.

Swoon was friendly and laid-back. She admitted she hadn't seen the Banksy film, but had heard she uttered one line (basically, "f-off"). Swoon is the lone female artist featured in "Exit Through the Gift Shop", which provides a fascinating look at the world of street artists. It also offers a biting commentary of the gallery scene and commercialized street art.

An art world denizen revealed that Swoon keeps it real by incorporating her street art into her gallery pieces. According to this informant, all of Swoon's gallery work is based on drawings that have appeared on city streets.

Swoon is planning a visit to Haiti, where she is working with a charity organization to provide housing to locals affected by the earthquake. Examples of the temporary housing, which she helped design, are on display at the East River State Park in Brooklyn until June 6, 2010.

>> Click on my NY Destinations article for details of the Williamsburg Waterfront Sculpture Exhibition, featuring Swoon's housing domes.

We passed by the park after closing time but caught a peek at the brown domes. It's questionable whether Haitians will want to live in these adobe-inspired huts, which seem more like art installations than functioning dwellings. But Swoon's heart is in the right place. Since she's not an architect, I imagine she did more rubber stamping than hands-on designing of the structures.

Swoon was a gracious host and the event was a clear success. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her work on Manhattan streets!

>> Click on the photo slideshow for images of Swoon's work

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