POW! WOW! Japan (street art festival) 2015 recap

Art collective POW! WOW! has just wrapped up half of its tour of Asia with artists like Case, Fafi, Ben Horton, Kevin Ancell, Omen, Sasu and many more showing their work to the masses.

With dozens of murals painted along the walls of the Tennozu area, crowds poured through to admire the work, marking the event as a resounding success and cementing the showing in an Asian market. Stay tuned for more work as it becomes available.

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Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky presents Benjamin Von Wong’s “Underwater River”

For the fifth installment of its “Stay True” collaborative series, following projects with graffiti artist INSA and DJ-producer Black Coffee, Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky partners with “hyper-real” photographer Benjamin Von Wong for a unique underwater experience. Floating 30 meters down in an ancient Mexican sinkhole is a cloud-like layer of hydrogen sulphide which separates salt and fresh water to create a unique visual phenomenon – an underwater river.

Inspired by this natural phenomena, along with a desire to celebrate his Chinese heritage, his beliefs and his deeply ingrained passion for experimentation, Benjamin set to work with Ballantine’s to create these seemingly impossible underwater images – a stunning, contemporary recreation of a fading ancient tradition, the Chinese Cormorant Fisherman.

After four months of intensive planning and research, across three continents, a special team comprised of some of the world’s most experienced divers, set builders, underwater filmmakers and even a record-breaking free-diver descended on the Mexican jungle for five days to undertake a challenge none of them had ever before contemplated.

Sikh American graffiti artist Nisha Sembi defies stereotypes

AsAm News/NBC News:

How can one person challenge racial and gender stereotypes with one quick spray of paint? Through her participation in graffiti street art, Nisha Sembi, a Sikh American, can not only counter stereotypes, but also build bridges among communities as disparate as first-generation immigrants and hip-hop aficionados, according to NBC.

I grew up with the typical model minority expectations, but I wasn’t interested in being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. My family always labeled me as the ‘odd, creative one’,” Sembi said.
In Berkeley, CA, she honed her skills, learning her craft under veteran U.S. and Indian artists. Now her  work, grounded in hip-hop culture, can be seen across the globe. Sembi says that her art is more than just a visual medium; her work also tells stories and gives voice to her community.
First generation Asian Americans have a very unique story to tell, and if we do not take ownership of it and document it, who will?” Sembi said.
To see Sembi’s graffiti art, click here.

POW! WOW! Taiwan 2014 Video

After taking Taipei by storm, the POW! WOW! team takes a look back at its first-ever venture into Taiwan. Directed by Vincent Ricafort, this lengthy recap of POW! WOW! Taiwan 2014 does well to highlight its quest to paint massive murals in the Taiwanese capital, even dealing with typhoons as the festival brought together street art heavyweights like Aaron De La Cruz, Apex, Dabs1, INSA, James Jean, Brendan Monroe, and Madsteez, as well as regional talents Reach, Mr.OGAY, Seazk, Saym, Zishi, Xue, and Vita Yang.

Enjoy the piece above and head on over to POW! WOW!’s blog for a slide show of some imagery from the event.

Street Art: POW WOW! Taiwan- Summer Episode Video

Back in September, Hypebeast published a write-up about CANLOVE, the artistic duo comprised of DJ Neff and Paul Ramirez dedicated to transforming empty spray cans into the very thing they’re used to produce: art.

Over the summer, POW! WOW! Taiwan and Fubon Art Foundation enlisted their help to create colorful installations out of 900 discarded canisters, all painstakingly collected by volunteers post-festival. In October, a quick 30 second trailer to a short called the Summer Episode was released, which offered a glimpse of Neff and Ramirez at work, plus a few shots of some murals. The full clip is now up online, and not only does it feature CANLOVE cutting and spraying away for the project, but we also get brief commentary from artists Will Barras and Reach about their thoughts and experiences painting large walls.

Woman held in Osaka for allegedly turning traffic signs into street art

Japan Times:

A woman arrested in Osaka on Wednesday on suspicion of defacing traffic signs with artsy, humorous stickers has admitted to vandalism, police said.

I did it as a form of artistic expression but now I deeply regret it,” police quoted 43-year-old Mami Urakawa as saying.

Urakawa’s apparent accomplice, French national Clet Abraham, who describes himself as a street artist, was not detained. Within hours of Urakawa’s arrest, her photo appeared on Abraham’s social media accounts.

In a comment posted on Wednesday evening, Abraham suggested that Urakawa was his partner both in crime and life. Both claim to be residents of Florence, Italy.

Arrested by Osaka police Clet’s girlfriend,” he declared in a post on Facebook. “In Japan it’s a crime to have a relationship with a street artist,” he added.

Urakawa is suspected of breaking the road traffic law by altering several road signs in Chayamachi, in Osaka’s Kita Ward, at around 1 a.m. on Jan. 3.

Apparent surveillance footage obtained and broadcast by Japanese media appears to show two individuals climbing a post to reach the sign. Police are thought to have identified Urakawa from the video.

Abraham earlier told his Facebook followers he was in Japan over the New Year’s holidays. Osaka police have not confirmed the second suspect’s identity but say the investigation is ongoing.

If police ask me whether I did it, I would say ‘Yes,’ ” the Fuji News Network television channel quoted the culprit as saying, although it stopped short of naming the individual as Abraham. He told the network that he had tampered with 90 signs in Japan on the grounds that they are symbols of authority that he seeks to challenge through art.

FNN showed examples of the sticker graffiti, including images of a sign that had been altered to look like an arrow piercing a heart, and one that showed a bar being eaten by Pacman, the video game character. Other designs seemed more whimsical.

A spokesman for the Osaka Prefectural Police told The Japan Times the street sign in question was an arrow indicating a one-way street, and that altering it would have put drivers at risk of an accident. The sticker made the tip of the arrow appear warped.

Media reports say there have been 32 reported instances of road signs obscured by stickers in Osaka and about 30 in Kyoto Prefecture. There have been no reports of the signs disrupting traffic.

Abraham has gained fame and notoriety for his Keith Haring-esque sticker street art. The longtime resident of Italy is reported to have brought his guerilla graphics to cities across Europe, changing road signs in the middle of the night.

One sign he altered in Europe showed Jesus Christ crucified on a dead-end sign.

His mischief has landed him in trouble, the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported two years ago, citing reports that on at least one occasion he was fined.

Watch these cool Asians teach you some math

CAAM videos use cultural and artistic diversity to teach middle school math lessons.

Angry Asian Man:

This is pretty cool. The Center for Asian American Media has produced a series of short videos that use cultural and artistic diversity — and a little bit of ukulele — to teach middle school math lessons.The 2-5 minute videos were produced, written and directed by Kar Yin Tham, CAAM’s director of education initiatives, who says she wanted to make diversity “the central starting point” in the lessons.”The challenge was to figure out what math concepts were inherent in each artistic or cultural tradition, and how to best present them. To accomplish this, we collaborated with math educators, artists, musicians, and community based organizations.

Some of the collection’s highlights include:

Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro demonstrates the relationship between music and math:Fencing Junior Olympian Kaitlyn Tran uses math and division to show how she can win a match:

Graffiti artist Scape Martinez using math to plan how much paint he needs for a mural.

Each 2-5 minute video, part of PBS LearningMedia‘s educational collection, comes with lesson plans and activities, and are aligned with the new Common Core standards.

For further information, go here.

To see all of the CAAM-produced videos in the collection, go here.