Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recommended: May '12 Issue of Juxtapoz

I haven't been excited to look at--much less read--an entire issue of Juxtapoz magazine since March of 2011 when they had a cover story of Emory Douglas, (the Black Panther Party's Minister of Culture). But the current issue on the stands is the "Public Art Issue" which features, (besides four different covers), great photos and interviews of some of the biggest street artists working today.

There's also articles written by the artists themselves. For instance, El Mac, who starts off an essay about murals with a quote from one of the great Mexican muralists, Jose Clemente Orozco: "The highest, most logical, purest and most powerful type of painting is mural painting. It is also the most disinterested, as it cannot be converted into an object of personal gain nor can it be concealed for the benefit of a few privileged people. It is for the people. It is for everybody." And then there's this quote from the introduction of Ron English's article where he talks about his long-time involvement with public art:
"Most of the public art that I've done in my career was unsanctioned. So for me, public art means street art, which is DIY, immediate, unfiltered, non-paying, physically and legally risky, and sometimes resulting in situations unplanned for and out of control. I seem to have an innate ability to generate imagery that pisses people off. Combine that with a penchant for putting it on the street and what you have is a life of constant trouble with periods of great delight."

Other great pieces in this issue include the profile piece on Swoon, an artist known for taking her beautiful wheat pastes and highly creative "out-stallations" all over the world: from Brooklyn to Sao Paulo, Brazil; from New Orleans to Haiti; from San Francisco's Mission District and back again. You can tell she has a lot of love for the planet and loves to engage with all kinds of people. The interview with L.A. graffiti artists Saber and Revok is also good, as it spends much time speaking on the criminalization of graffiti artists (mostly youth), and the constant harassment from police and city government.

But, my favorite article is the profile on JR, a french artist who also travels the world trying to utilize art for social change an has gone to many different places like Brazil, Palestine, South Africa to wheat paste giant sized portraits of regular people that seem to bring out their humanity. "When I'm in the streets and I paste, I have to talk to people, so that's why it's easy for me to talk and paste because that's what I do, working in the streets everyday. I have to explain it to folks. I love people, and I love exchanging, and those projects are a great way to learn about people and ask them questions about their story and really learn about their conflicts," he said in the interview.

If you only buy one issue of Juxtapoz a year, make sure this is the one!

[UPDATE: Some stores have already removed this issue from the stands and have replaced it with the new June issue. However, you can still order this issue online].

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