March 08 2011 . 01:18pm

Obey Giant Art x Subliminal Projects x Robert Berman Gallery are proud to present REVOLUTIONS, a project featuring the Album Cover Art of Shepard Fairey. On exhibition from March 12th thru April 23rd at Robert Berman’s C2 Gallery, will be over 80 pieces of Punk, Rock, New Wave, Jazz, and Hip-Hop inspired artwork based on the 12″ record cover format. To mark this occasion, two special Limited Edition Album Cover Print Box sets will be released for the exhibition. Please join us for the opening celebration on Saturday, March 12th, 8-11pm.

“Long before I knew about art galleries or even street art, I was excited about album cover art, if only because it was the visual counterpart to the music on the records I loved. Album covers conjured a euphoric association with the listening experience. Most of my earliest home-made tee shirts were stencils based on punk album covers. I’ve had some very moving encounters with art in my life, especially in the street, but almost nothing can compare with the first time I heard the boots marching and first chord of the Sex Pistols’ Holidays in the Sun, or the air raid sirens leading into “too black, too strong” on the intro to Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, or the opening guitar scream of Black Flag’sRise Above. Those songs did, and still do, make my arm hairs stand up. Music is visceral and accessible, but also has the additional powerful layers of the lyrics, with their content and politics, and the style,politics, and personalities of the musicians themselves. No matter how much I love art, or try to convince myself of its relevance in society, the fact remains that music is a lot cooler and way more able to reach people’s hearts and minds… but I’m a populist and I look at this way: I may not play an instrument, but I’m gonna rock it hard as nails anyway. With my art I try to capture the same energy and spirit that makes music so powerful and democratic. REVOLUTIONS is a celebration of all the great music and accompanying art that has inspired me over the years.”
– Shepard

The Album Cover Art of Shepard Fairey

Opening Reception:
March 12th, 2011, 8-11pm

Musical performances by:
Dan The Automator
DJ Shepard Fairey
music presented by Soul Kitchen

Exhibition Dates:
3/12 – 4/23/11

Robert Berman Gallery C2
2525 Michigan Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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Victor Reyes MISSPELLED truck in San Francisco

July 02 2010 . 07:30pm

A truck painted for upcoming VICTOR REYES | MISSPELLED art show in San Francisco.

1632 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102
Reception: Wednesday, July 7, 2010, 6 – 9 pm
Runs: July 7, 2010 – August 14, 2010

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Victor Reyes MISSPELLED article in SF Gate

June 25 2010 . 12:18am

Driving around the Mission District one recent evening, artist Victor Reyes pointed to his handiwork letter by letter.

He’d painted a gorgeous "M" on the side of a liquor store on Folsom near 26th Street. A giant "R" hid in an alley off Valencia Street. "L" was parked – for the moment – on a delivery truck at the corner of 14th and Shotwell streets.

In the past two years, Reyes, 31, has managed to paint all 26 letters of the alphabet in the Mission, a personal exercise in aerosol typography. His style has evolved from that of a youthful graffiti writer whose markings once riled a neighborhood to one that can appeal to the casual observer and sell in fine art galleries.

But on city walls it still provokes the age-old debate: Is it graffiti, or is it art? Viewer’s choice.

Some letters earned him a paycheck (the liquor store job) and won the street’s definition of art: No one defaced it. Some letters are illegal throw-ups completed in darkness and less than 20 minutes, and therefore are vulnerable to a competitor’s cross-out or the city’s paint-over.

Everyone’s a critic

As Reyes guided the tour, he pulled up to a Walgreens on Mission at 23rd Street, where the corporate retailer was paying him to paint a side wall. Reyes’ most inspired work is electric in color and obsessive in detail. Even though he burned through the drugstore’s commission fees on materials long ago, Reyes thought the piece needed more – "more tension, more drama," he said. "More something."

A man in his late twenties admiring the wall from the sidewalk recognized Reyes and said he’d caught on to the alphabetical endeavor. He couldn’t tell if the wall was another letter in the series, nor was Reyes willing to provide an answer.

"I saw your ‘A’ and ‘V’ on the other side of South Van Ness," the hipster said. "I’ve been watching you for a long time."

Reyes’ fan suddenly turned into a critic and argued the Walgreens piece was overly designed. "Keep it street," he offered.

"Everybody wants to say what art is or isn’t," Reyes said as he continued on with the drive. "I don’t care if you like it. That’s why I’m the one painting the wall. … I’ll paint it white if I want to."

If his tone revealed some edge, Reyes hadn’t slept in two days to meet deadlines for his first solo show at E6 Gallery on Market Street near Franklin, opening July 7. The show will feature his letters as fine artworks in various media – Reyes is one of an increasing number of street artists transitioning into mainstream galleries on a "case-by-case basis," said gallery owner Robert Berman.

At a group show in Los Angeles two years ago, Reyes gained his first look from serious collectors when he sold a 6-foot-tall "R" for $17,000, Berman said. (Reyes declined to say exactly how much it earned and seemed embarrassed by the sale. "It was a silly amount," he said.)

"You can talk about Victor’s work as flowery and beautiful," Berman said, "a quest for pure beauty, much like art nouveau. But it’s also street: art nouveau 110 years later."

Tagging roots

At age 15, growing up a middle-class kid in the upper-class hills of Orange County, Reyes may not have considered such labels on his drawings. Always consumed with penmanship and its "natural rhythms," he soon found peers in a graffiti crew called AWR – Angels Will Rise or Art Work Rebels, depending on their mood.

Reyes’ last name became an icon at Southern California graffiti spots. His swirling imagery and cool colors made his work stand out, giving it a distinctly feminine quality in a genre that favored more aggressive, angular designs.

"It’s not dude art," Reyes said. "That’s one rift with the typical graffiti community."

Reyes, who has no formal art training, moved to San Francisco in 1998 and took a variety of jobs for rent money – he’s a freelance illustrator now – but soon tired of the thematic limitations of graffiti.

"I needed a vacation from writing my last name," he said.

Yet he was still dedicated to honing a craft. So he did what a lot of San Francisco artists do to mature: He assigned himself a project that he felt was just beyond his ability and somehow within his grasp.

He decided to paint an alphabet across San Francisco. Then he’d distribute a map, and he’d call the project "MISSPELLED." "Everybody knows graffiti artists can’t spell," Reyes said.

Shortly after he began, he reeled in the grander ambitions. It was more convenient to paint just in his neighborhood, the Mission. The map idea was rejected after he concluded it was a more sublime experience for people to stumble across the work instead of hunting it down. And what once appeared as a capricious art project developed meaning.

As a graffiti kid, Reyes knew the biggest complaint: People couldn’t read it.

But if people could read it, would they like it? And if they liked it, is it still graffiti?

Graffiti versus art

Reyes stood next to his "L" on the parked truck at 14th and Shotwell streets and pointed to a group of scrawled names on a garage door across the street.

"That’s graffiti," Reyes explained.

He noted the taggers’ lack of craft and sized them up as angry kids, high on cheap beer and most afraid of going through life unnoticed.

"Every one of those kids, they’ve got a specific thing they want to emulate, and it’s for a specific place. They’re full of piss and vinegar and PBR. They only want to produce it in certain ways – and it’s only for those people."

The delivery truck painting was an example of how Reyes managed to "hold hands with graffiti and still be non-graffiti." A friend named "Steel" painted the first four letters of his name around the truck, and Reyes added the L to one side.

"I’m hoping to open something up with this for graffiti writers," he said. "Don’t get me wrong. I love graffiti, and if it wasn’t for graffiti I would be in jail, or worse. I could be a CPA."

Canvas of concrete

As Reyes concluded his drive through the neighborhood, he recalled that when he first moved to the city he worked as a valet at the Foreign Cinema restaurant on Mission. As he parked cars, a particular spot above the parking lot caught his graffiti artist’s eye: a blank canvas of concrete above a residential garage.

He guided the car toward the same parking lot. "The ‘H’ is for ‘hidden,’ " he said.

Reyes sees the Mission with a street artist’s eyes. He can translate tags on the surface and recall the details of large pieces that exist four layers beneath it.

He estimates he’s painted 200 to 300 images in San Francisco, and knows that none is permanent, including his "MISSPELLED" letters. He declines to have his face photographed, worrying that the graffiti police will seek him out.

To find Reyes’ "H," people have to look up and catch a peek through trees. It’s difficult to see from a moving car on the street, maybe not even possible.

He stood in the parking lot where he once valeted and looked up at his "H."

Some who walked by might just see graffiti; others who can actually read it may wonder why a single letter is floating above the lot; others will know the larger context of the project.

Some will never notice.

"I always looked at this spot having fantasy after fantasy of painting it," Reyes said. "It was one of those things where I said to myself, ‘You’ll get to it one day.’

"And then, I got to it."

E-mail Justin Berton at

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Victor Reyes MISSPELLED art show at Robert Berman Gallery SF

June 18 2010 . 01:57pm

Robert Berman / E6 Gallery is pleased to present MISSPELLED, an alphabet by Victor Reyes, handmade in California.  The ambitious public art installation turned gallery exhibition explores the artists’ unique approach to graffiti, by dissecting individual letters and exploring the anatomy and architecture found in the symbols we use to communicate. Inspired by San Francisco’s streets, surfaces, and overall visual vibrancy, Reyes reinterprets the letters and presents them to us in a brilliant array of color and movement. These alphabets, recontextualized on various abandoned surfaces around the city, are not intended to provide answers, but to raise questions about how we interpret public spaces and the content assumed within.
Over the past 2 years, Reyes has been diligently painting freestanding alphabets within San Francisco on its many vacant surfaces that resulted from the financial crash in 2008.  What started as an initial impulse to push color and movement in a city with a long history of outdoor murals and graffiti has morphed into an attempt to inspire personal and public change in reaction to the economic downturn of recent years.
The individual letters painted in multitude have become an indiscernible narrative written in spray paint and acrylic house paints. These letters adorn trucks, fences, walls and rooftops throughout San Francisco. Alphabets have been strung together and carved out of forgotten spaces, exceeding his original intentions, multiplying in numbers.
Reyes’ restlessness in California over the last two years is portrayed in the landscapes and figures formed out of these letters. Often using the juxtaposition of vibrant colors and dirt, his unique hand-painted characters are meant to exist on their own, an unconventional quality unseen with most street writing.  Their message is scattered and fleeting, open to interpretation; The letters are ephemeral, constantly weathering, fading over time, and are often facing neighborhood intervention. The placement of letters on the sides of panel trucks that disappear at the change of a stoplight exemplifies the alphabet’s physical mobility, in most cases leaving us with only a photograph as proof of their existence. Since the projects inception in 2008, Reyes has executed over forty site-specific murals around the city, as well as created countless studies and mixed media works for the exhibition.
In addition to the street installation and gallery exhibition MISSPELLED will also take on the form of a 104 page book documenting the story of these alphabets and how they came to be. It will include photographs, studies and reproductions of the murals and works featured in the exhibition. The release of the book will coincide with the opening of the exhibition, and will be available throughout the show.
Reyes has been painting since the early 90s, and has shown extensively around the world, in Bosnia, Germany, Switzerland, Taipei, Japan, and Miami.  Recent shows include Flight at Miami Art Basel 2009, Public Provocations at Carhartt Projects in Germany, Will Rise at Robert Berman Gallery (Los Angeles) in 2008, and Letters First, a traveling show in Japan/Korea/Barcelona 2006-2008. Reyes is inspired by his peers, including a community of new California artist’s  “The Seventh Letter” who have had integral role in the development and motivation for this body of work.
“The photos and illustrations capture a time in my life when I was able to make this work for a city I love and labor in.” — Victor Reyes, July 2010

1632 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102
Reception: Wednesday, July 7, 2010, 6 – 9 pm
Runs: July 7, 2010 – August 14, 2010


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3 of 3 part series of RETNA & EL MAC art show by Yuri Hasegawa

October 10 2009 . 05:43pm

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