Allouche Gallery is thrilled to present UFO907’s highly anticipated Solo show, How Do You Spell New York? at their new SoHo location on Mercer Street. UFO presents a new body of shaped canvas works inspired from his beloved New York City.
UFO draws the show title from a well known Dillinger song “Cocaine in My Brain” where Dillinger asks, “How do you spell New York?” shunning the classic spelling of New York for a wild rhyme, “A knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork, that’s the way we spell New York”.
UFO follows in suit, giving us his own magical spelling of New York found within these twenty six new shaped works – while asking the viewer how they might spell their New York, as everyone in this profoundly diverse city has their own way of depicting, digesting and presenting their beloved city. UFO907 created this show pulling key ingredients from his personal cupboard. Starting with a base of 1980’s skateboarding culture, adding some Freak bike gang action, and tossing in a generous helping of 26 years of graffiti vandalism. The show is made up of gritty dumpsters, images of homelessness with high art aesthetics and revered with classic New York City street icons.
Creep’in while your Sleep’in
Here we see a delivery box truck: the favorite subject of the artist. To UFO, box trucks are an iconic part of the New York City landscape. Driving through the city’s veins delivering substances that keep his city running. Ever since Mayor Koch’s abolishment of MTA train graffiti in the 80’s, delivery box trucks took on the role of traveling canvases for the cities graffiti artists. As the city sleeps, these trucks are painted in quiet streets, and ready to debut the artist’s tag in the morning as they travel borough to borough. Throughout his career, delivery trucks were one of UFO’s favorite targets.
UFO907 brings to light an ongoing problem of his city; one that comes and goes but never disappears regardless of the status of the economy. With the current rising of inflation and the Covid pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in homelessness throughout the country but no place is it more apparent
than under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, an area UFO passes daily going to and from his studio. Small encampments grow continuously along each overpass, and UFO is fascinated by these individual’s interest to decorate their humble homes with an off-kilter sense of pride. UFO states, “This piece is a metaphor of the fragility of an artist’s career today. Artist careers rise and fall in the blink of an eye.” The UFO t-shirt hangs as a flag presenting the artist’s own insecurities as an artist. Has UFO faced this demise? Please drop some change in his cup so he can buy some paint and canvas to continue his mission on planet earth.
Long Tall and Ugly
This work is a homage to the BLBC’s (Black Label Bike Club) New York chapter. During the 2000’s this bicycle club was the center of UFO907’s life, building freak bikes and rolling them through the city. This painting pays respect to the wide array of “Freaks” that make up this great city. The character depicted is a combination of UFO himself and his close friends from this time. The specific bike in the painting is a “Tall Bike” the primary mode transportation used by the BLBC. Built long, tall and in many ways, ugly, the painting depicts the boy with his bike overlooking the relatively new NYC sky line after the tragic events on 9-11. To UFO, the new Freedom Tower is somewhat also “Long, Tall and Ugly” and he can’t lie that his heart pines for the original World Trade Center buildings he remembers in his youth.
Dumpster Divers series
UFO907 returns to a subject close to his heart. After painting a dumpster piece for his last solo show, we see he is not done with this subject. Why dumpsters? Such a banal subject matter for a painting. The dumpster has always been a common sight on the streets of the New York City. These hulking weathered stinky beasts are perfect subjects for painterly explorations. Waste Management with it’s ever iconic logo being the most prominent dumpster found out there – their truck wakes us at night. “Dumpster diving”, a common sport among many brave New Yorkers. Whether looking for repairable furniture for their first NYC apartment or foraging for some slightly over ripe fruits and vegetables for their kitchen table, many a New Yorker has found themselves in a dumpster or has been surprised by someone popping out from said dumpster after the sun has set. The viewer notices each dumpster in this series has a person or two popping out from within. UFO leaves it to the viewer to project their own story onto each painting – but we can also be motivated to think deeply: Could the individual in the dumpster reflect an artist’s own insecurities about his work? In this case, being only worthy of a dumpster or creating work eventually destined for said dumpster. Is that the artist himself popping his head out from within his own work, peering at the viewer trying to catch a glimpse of the viewers expression. What are they saying about the work they view?
Once upon a time… Brooklyn Banks
This piece derives straight from the heart and soul of UFO907. A homage to his roots as a late 80’s/early 90’s skateboarder. As with so many of the artistic greats of today, UFO gives credit to the rich culture of skateboarding, for feeding and influencing his artistic tendencies. The 80’s fashion is inspired by the era, while Nike symbols critique the corporate appropriation of this culture. The ramp below questions the state of today’s skateboarders in the city: the skatepark brings a safe, controlled space for skaters to congregate and practice their craft all while also limits the imagination of the culture, where individuals might skate the city end to end, looking for anything that might deem an obstacle to conquer creatively by skating upon it. New York City had no skate parks in the 80’s, as the sport was of the streets. To UFO, “The only place coming close to a skatepark at that time was the “Brooklyn Banks”, a strange embanked run made of bricks running the length of a Brooklyn Bridge exit ramp, which became a mecca that brought skateboarders from every borough as well as the far reaches of the tri-state area to meet up.”
The iconic blue vessel titled “USPS” depicts one of New York City’s ever present post office boxes. This is one of the top ten favorite locations for graffiti “tagger’s” to leave their marks. UFO907 fantasizes this painting: the mythical beast of the mail box has sprouted feet and eyes roaming the city’s streets. An arm comes from the mouth and skillfully graces the body of the beast with a UFO
Double Dribbler & Jump Shot
Double Dribbler and Jump Shot present one of NYC’s age old iconic past times: street ball. NYC’s street ball is legendary. You’ll find these ball courts scattered across every borough, some well maintained, others dilapidated and grimy. Both paintings depict some of the beautiful aspects within this sport, the dribble and the jump shot. These well-dressed youth show how street ball gives a purpose and positive outlet for the restless energy of New York City’s youth. These paintings represent kids having fun while working hard to master their craft.
UFO907 uses these paintings as an armature to depict energy, gesture, and movement – all historically important aspects found in the study of art.
Street Meat series
The eight paintings in this series speak to the meat and potatoes of the graffiti craft. This being the iconic “throw up”: a quick and simple two color depiction of the graffiti artist’s tag. The “throw up” is the most common form of graffiti seen on the streets of New York City. For this series, UFO plays on these concepts labeling them “Street Meat”. UFO relayed, “an NYC resident might find themselves ‘throwing up!’ after eating the street meat served from a food cart on a busy corner.” For years UFO907 was (and sometimes still is) shunned in the macho world of graffiti due to his unconventional approach to his craft. Being an early adapter of the use of an icon rather than the traditional way of using letters as “Tag” made many in a ridged graffiti world nervous and upset. These pieces playfully flip the concept upside down to poke fun at the traditional graffiti aesthetics by painting the usual quick “throw up” painfully slow and meditatively, by squeezing paint from a 1mm tube, rather than using a spray can. He texturizes the paint by throwing paint back on the work, rather than working in the smooth and clean style cherished by many in his world.
UFO907: How Do You Spell New York? will be on view from September 10 through October 10, 2022 at Allouche Gallery in their new space at 77 Mercer Street, NYC. An Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, September 10th from 6-9pm.