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subway doodle by ben rubin showing a pile of garbage resembling donald trump in the subway of new york

Ben Rubin Subway Doodle

Art being a creative way of visually expressing imagination, skill and talent, some artists have found a way to link art and technology to come up with some of the most amazing pieces today.

Ben Rubin, a media artist from New York City was born in 1964, Massachusetts, Boston, says that he has been drawing all his life; though there was a time he did not do too much art. He took AB Computer Science in Brown University in 1987 and later went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for MS Visual Studies in 1989. Mr. Rubin also became a critic in graphic design after teaching in the Yale School of Art in 2004. He has worked for 25 years in television, and owns a marketing company called The Mint in Brooklyn New York which makes promotions for social media and also television networks.

Mr. Rubin has also has a number of exhibitions to his name. Starting as early as 1993 with The Tuning of the World in the Nickel Art museum in Calgary, art in the Anchorage in Brooklyn all the way to Madrid for the Ministerio de Fomento with Habitats Techtonicas in 2001. The same year he teamed up with Mark Hansen at the Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn Academy of Music.

subway doodle by ben rubin showing a young boy and a playful rat beast

Some of his works are situated in the collections of the San Jose Museum of art, the art institute of Chicago and the Science Museum, London and some of his work has been publicized at the MoMA, Whitney Museum in New York, and other worldwide venues. He has in turn been appointed to craft a large-scale public art work for the New York Times Building, the University of Texas and the City of San Jose among others.

The Shakespeare Machine which was commissioned by the New York City’s Percent of Art initiative as an on-going restoration of the landmark institution and completed in October 2012 is an art fitting, which is site-specific and long-lasting.

subway doodle by ben rubin showing a monster wiht a horn on it's head in a small police car

It was Rubin’s large-scale multimedia sculpture creating a clarifying display of the Shakespearean dialect. It pauses as the Public Theatre lobby’s chandelier and organizes pieces of the texts according to various attributes that are arranged into motion guidelines of an infinite number of texts. 37 display panels one of each representing Shakespeare’s plays, appear in luminous characters of the moving texts. Ben Rubin himself said that his goal for the Shakespeare Machine was to generate flashes of the wit and passion that existed at the time of these plays’ creation.

For his achievements in the field of public art; he received the Public Art Annual Award in 2012,  and later went on to win the CoD+A Public Art Award in the category of Public Spaces in 2013, his work was included in the 2013 Public Art Network year in review.

subway doodle by ben rubin showing a celebrating monster heading to a sports game in subway tunnel

Mr. Rubin has operated closely with some key figures including architects, performers, theorists and artists. Mostly he has collaborated with Mark Hansen in projects like Listening Post (2002), Movable Type (2007) and together with the Elevator Repair Service presented a performance, Shuffle, that reviewed text of three 1920s American novels

subway doodle by ben rubin showing a monster with two horns riding on a blue bicycle in new york

In 2011, Ben Rubin took art to another level as he found a creative innovative way to pass time during his daily routine commuting from Brooklyn to Manhattan by doodling on his iPad. If ever you’ve ridden the New York City subway you clearly experienced it first-hand that there’s never a shortage of peculiar and bizarre incidents. Subway Doodling is simply cartoon characters which are humorously integrated into certain or immediate surroundings. These characters are incorporated in photos next to subway riders who are unaware and find themselves starring in social media avenues which has drawn more than 52000 followers.

subway doodle by ben rubin showing a tentacle monster beast snuggle a sleeping guy on subway

Mr. Rubin started drawing humorous creatures in the subway environment on his iPad that gave it the social media sensation termed as Subway Doodle. In kind of a funny way these subway doodle creatures, from a wide range of sweet and cuddly to scary monsters, took the representation of the New York subway riders themselves.

subway doodle by ben rubin showing a pile of garbage resembling donald trump in the subway of new york

He then jumped into sharing his creations on social media some years back as a place to archive them but in an unexpected way took the internet by storm. Most of his monsters are furry blue creatures with a weird-looking facial or body attribute, sometime come in a beautiful form such as unicorns and chicken holding flowers. Those who want more should visit his official Subway Doodle website.

He enjoys making these creatures around unsuspecting people who are in their own world which is part of the humour though he sometimes asks friends or family to pose. It is not as a way to make a statement, but from the humour that comes from it. It is just a creative way to pass time in what could be a boring subway ride and brings some kind of fun to people who are seated on the subway, not imagine being having a ridiculous creature sitting next to them.

 

sucklord

Artist Profile: The Sucklord

Of the many types of artists that roam the streets of New York, there is one that stands separate from the rest. His name is The Sucklord and he has built a mini-empire based on his strange, unique vision of what an action figure can be, and where strange art fits into the art scene.

The Sucklord was born in the West Village, New York City in 1969, the perfect time to see the rise of the action figure in popular culture. When he was eight years old, Star Wars was released in theatres and, along with the film’s box office, a flood of toys entered the marketplace. The Sucklord, then more commonly known as Morgan Phillips, became a lifelong fan of the franchise and was inspired to create his own line of action figures. “I’ve been inclined to make toys my entire life, since I was a kid, since the first Star Wars figures came out,” he said in an interview with The Atlantic. “It became sort of hard-wired into the way I experience the world.”

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The Sucklord’s work is perhaps best described as remixing. He will often take discarded and abandoned materials and rework them into something new, something unique. He calls the result “bootleg action figures,” a term he coined when he first started producing his unique figures in earnest in 2005. “Bootleg figures are a lot like sampling in the world of hip-hop, where you take little bits and pieces of different songs, different figures, and recombine them into something new,” he explains. “Hopefully there’s something transformational going on.”

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The Sucklord’s work has a hard time being placed in the modern art world but has slowly been gaining notoriety in unconventional places. The Sucklord himself admits that he has a hard time “know[ing] where this stuff belongs.” It’s too “low-brow” for the modern art gallery, with its preconceptions and precarious pretensions, but his figures are a bit too esoteric and adult to find themselves in traditional toy stores. The Sucklord, however, has found two avenues that are bringing his work to the masses: the internet and reality television.

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You can find much of The Sucklord’s work on his site, Suckdelic, where he sells his work, blogs, and profiles many other artistic endeavours. He has also made several appearances on reality TV shows, including Gallery Girls. The show’s stars, who own a store in New York called End of Century, stocked his wares and profiled him on the show. He has also appeared on a number f other shows, all of which feature his eclectic work.

One of the things that make The Sucklord’s work so interesting is its placement. Rather than avoiding commercialism, like how Banksy tries to sidestep capitalism and art, The Sucklord has embraced a modern approach, one that circumvents the normal, established avenues in favour of something more suited to his particular work. By making his own path, he can control his art’s distribution without compromising his vision.

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#NotACrime: The Power and Politics of Street Art

Street art is political. At its very core, the idea of painting art in public places with or without the permission of owners and governments, has placed the artform in political territory, often before the spray paint hits the wall. And while street art is increasingly part of regular, lawful modes of artistic expression, it hasn’t lost its political edge, and it’s something that people in New York City are using to discuss very real political issues facing our world, and specifically the country of Iran.

Iran, as many people know, has very strict laws when it comes to expression, whether it’s religious, political, or otherwise, and frequent quelling of expression happens all over the country every day. It’s a huge issue that impacts millions of people, not just in the streets of Tehran, but family, friends, and fellow countrymen around the world. And some street artists have used their chosen artform to raise awareness.

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The #NotACrime movement began in New York city and focuses on two major issues facing modern day Iran: the persecution of Iran’s largest religious minority, the Baha’is, and the suppression of journalistic freedom. According #NotACrime’s website, “Iran’s government has persecuted them since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Businesses are torched, people are fired from their jobs, thousands are harassed and jailed, and hundreds have been killed.” Baha’is aren’t allowed to teach or study at Iranian universities, and many have been forced to study in secret at great personal risk.

The second major problem is journalism and is the origin of the movement’s name and hashtag. The project started as a way to raise funds to help those who have been imprisoned, harassed, and censored, to provide these brave people with legal and psychological counselling that can help them overcome their many difficulties.

notacrime-journalism

But they didn’t stop with fundraising and are now taking to the streets, quite literally, to spread the word of the problems many of Iran’s citizens face. The awareness has taken the form of a series of murals in New York City, and has attracted the attention of celebrities and Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mark Ruffalo, Nazanin Boniadi, and Justin Baldoni.

The murals themselves have generated a lot of attention for both the movement and the issues they are speaking about, and the group has decided to democratize the movement. Their website features a handbook, which covers everything from doing street art legally to mixtures you can make for paste to tips on stencilling. In their own words, “#NotACrime hopes that a mix of old-school street art and social media pushes this cause into the public imagination.”

#NotACrime not only highlights an important issue facing a substantial number of people in the world today, it also demonstrates that public art can fight, raise awareness, and do good. It shows that artists who take to the streets are capable of making bold and important political statements. It’s something that’s part of the artform’s history, and something that must never be lost.

banksy secret artwork sale

Banksy’s Art Sale

Andy Warhol accomplished many things in his lifetime. He brought pop sensibilities to high art in a way unseen before his arrival. He made movies that made people go to the art gallery. He even cultivated the career of one Lou Reed, one of New York’s most beloved musicians. But one thing that Warhol did, intentionally or not, was change what people consider art, and how much they’re willing to pay for it. Consider it: Warhol made an entire series of paintings which are essentially copies of Campbell’s soup cans, one of the most common items in the entire world. These paintings have sold for millions of dollars. They have become iconic pieces and owning one would be like owning a piece of American history.

In 2013, Banksy seemed to accomplish the exact opposite: taking something worth millions and selling it for pennies. A humble art shop was set up in New York’s Central Park when Banksy was doing a high profile yet very secretive tour of the city. It was full of Banksy originals and prints, all for sixty dollars. There were three signs: one said “Spray Art,” another the price, and a third simply stating “This is not a photo opportunity.” Run by an older man in sunglasses and a hat, the store was only open for a single day and sold a total of eight pieces for a grand total of $420. Half of the sales came from a man from Chicago who “just needed something for the walls” of his new apartment. One lady bought two pieces for her grandchildren, managing to haggle a 50% discount from the shopkeeper.

Banksy’s work has always, in some way or another, a commentary on the economic systems surrounding art. He became famous for his stencils, freely given, on the streets of England and, later when he decided to have his Central Park art sale, New York. His Dismaland attraction charged an entry fee, but it was nominal and the uninterested guards probably wouldn’t have stopped you. But the way his work becomes part of economics is interesting as well: a single mom who awoke to discover Banksy had painted a piece on the side of her house ended up selling the section of wall for five figures, helping her climb out of debt and start anew. And even his Central Park art show would be a chance for someone to make an insane profit: sixty dollar pieces that are easily worth thousands.

Banksy has never been shy about discussing economics and art, whether it’s in his street art pieces or efforts like “Exit Through Gift Shop” or this pop-up shop in Central Park. His approach says something about the importance of access when it comes to art and artistic expression. While much of today’s art sits in galleries, exclusive events, and parties for the social elite, Banksy and other street artists continue to make efforts to provide art for everyone. All it takes is a stroll outside.

artwork by rime

Artist Spotlight: Rime

New York has always been seen as one of the starting points for graffiti. Indeed, it’s embedded into the everyday experience in that city, seen on the rooftops as you take the train from into Manhattan, scribbled on the subway. Graffiti is everywhere in that town, especially when you cross the East River and head into Brooklyn.

Brooklyn-based artist Joseph Tierney loves graffiti, you can see it almost every piece of work he does. It draws heavily on New York’s definitive style, and he sees the work as something that fights back against gentrification, a problem that’s been plaguing Brooklyn for decades. And while Brooklyn has plenty of amazing street art, he’s quick to call out the difference between it and graffiti.

Rime doesn’t mince words about the difference, either. His website describes street art as “Privileged motherfuckers flock to “hot spots” and commutable convenience. Digestible. The urban adventure… Art without soul. Surface high. Flat excitement. Commercials.” By contrast, he describes graffiti as “Full bodied application. Complicated motherfucker’s sport. Interaction. Force play. Passion… Handmade master of your craft. Contradictive self.”

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The binary is clear for Rime. One happens in spite of development, it calls out and challenges. The other happens as a result, which is why his most recent claim to fame is so important to not only his approach to art, but to him as an artist.

katy perry rime controversy

Rime is perhaps most recently famous, unfortunately, for plagiarism, as in someone stealing his work for their own benefit and leaving him without proper compensation. The controversy arose in the early months of 2015, when Italian designer Moschino debuted a dress by their designer Jeremy Scott that featured a mural Rime had done in Detroit. The mural, called “Vandal Eyes” was a commission piece that Rime did on the side of a building in Detroit, the same place where Jeremy Scott hosted a Fall Fashion event in the late parts of 2014. By May, superstar singer Katy Perry was roped into the controversy when Moschino allegedly paid her to wear it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Gala. Rime, never one to shy away from controversy, stated that “his credibility as a graffiti artist was compromised by inclusion in such a crass and commercial publicity stunt.” The lawsuit, at the time of writing this, has not been settled.

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In many ways, Rime’s art is representative of the history of graffiti as a whole. Unapologetic, working outside the normal bounds of gallery space constraints or legal loopholes, his work is against coopting, turning mainstream, and being hung in coffee shops. And it is especially ironic that it ended up on a high fashion dress at one of New York’s most famous, and famously exclusive, art museums. But like his now-infamous mural, Rime’s work watches and is unashamed of its extra-legal status. There is art for those who want to pave over, and there is art for those who want to fight. At least, that’s what Rime’s art expresses.

hula sitting on surfboard infront of watery mural

Hula Bio

Graffiti has a long history of being done in precarious places. In New York, street artists have climbed higher and higher to avoid clean up crews, often climbing twenty stories and painting with ropes and harnesses to covey their message to the world. In parts of Nevada, billboard vandals climb fences and scale tall poles to spread their messages of anti-consumerism. But in Hawaii, one artist is getting his street art out to the world in a precarious place, and it all looks amazing.

exterior mural painting above waterline by artist hula

But what Sean Yoro, aka Hula, does can hardly be called street art. Probably a more appropriate term would be “waterway art.” Instead of climbing or traversing or hopping, Hula paddles out on his surfboard, scouting locations that are visible to the casual passerby but are difficult to approach. And, with his board fully loaded with paints and brushes, he sets about giving the sea-line of Hawaii something beautiful.

Hula is a master of the female form and almost every single one of his surfboard murals features a bathing woman. Each one is completely unique, a bust of a woman enjoying the warm ocean, and they are all singularly beautiful. Hula’s attention to detail to a point of near-photorealism gives the murals a certain depth and allure. He also frequently incorporates small symbols on the women’s bodies, a callback to his Hawaiian roots.

artwork by hula

Hula is now based in New York and turning much of his attention to indoor art, art that requires just as many paints and brushes, but a lot less paddles and surfboards. His indoor work avoids the usual canvas of, well, actual canvas, and instead uses unusual surfaces as a base. It only seems appropriate that a man who made his name painting the sides of docks would not be comfortable painting on normal surfaces. In some cases, Hula uses wood for his paintings, allowing his figures to flow over the natural ebb and flow of the rings. In others, he uses surfboards for cool and unique designs, a way he originally made money when he career was just launching.

Hula’s art is beautiful, focused, and turns up in the most unusual of locations. It speaks to a few histories: Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage, Hula’s own personal history as a surfer and painter, and to street art’s ongoing relationship with the spaces they choose to paint and alter with their artistic designs. In the case of Hula, he uses all three to make docks and other water spaces striking and, well, quite a bit sexier. Worse things have happened than having a beautiful woman swimming in the ocean in Hawaii. And all it took to get there was a surfboard.