Broke-Ass Art Spotlight: Alex Smith
This video (click on photo to view) for Favourite Sons’ track “Pistols and Girls” features artist and former auction curator and Contemporary and Urban Art Specialist at Phillips de Pury & Co., Alex Smith. Much like this video, Smith’s work can be seen as at first jarring, but compelling, as Smith playfully and smartly works to blend seemingly dissimilar elements.
The scope of Smith’s work includes collaborations with an array of other artists, curation of various exhibits across the east coast, as well as, obviously, his own artwork. Now he’s a freelancer, based primarily out of his studio in Bushwick. What kind of stuff (besides the video) does he do to warrant such an urban bohemian-yet-sustainable lifestyle you ask? Let’s take a gander.
In 2005, Alex Smith curated a Pittsburgh exhibit called â€œRoll Rampant and Freeâ€, essentially, a series of skate ramps that were used both by skaters and visual artists. Here, Smith seemed to be playing with the ideas about what he deems as the â€œephemeral nature of [the] performative [act]â€ of skateboarding and the general conception that many types of â€œstreet artâ€ are impermanent vis-Ã -vis a tangible physical structure with a practical, urban planning-y purpose.
Urban and street art seems to be one of the main areas of focus in Smith’s artistic vision. In this Flavorpill article, he and freelance consultant and former editor in chief of Tokion magazine, Ken Miller, discuss the definition of Urban Art. Smith asserts here that:
Graffiti is urban but urban is not graffiti. Urban [art] has quickly become the umbrella term for anything with even the loosest ties to and origins with graffiti and street art. I think the corporations (and perhaps the auction houses) are the easiest ones to blame for this. It’s a convenient blanket term that has become frequently misused of a certain graphic style, and as a byproduct [the term] has been stigmatized by many of the artists associated with it.
Then there’s Smith’s other, more grotesque and spectacular type of work. The 2004 Pittsburgh Smith-curated exhibit â€œDaydream Nationâ€, a protest of Bush-led America and the Iraq War, lends us some clues into many of Smith’s various installation, sculptural, design, collage, and photography pieces like these below from his website. Again here Smith’s work is humorous and cheeky, but, there’s a certain sinister and more visceral undertone to this side of his work. That website I linked, by the way, includes everything Smith has ever done since childhood. Wowzers.
Like Smith’s self-aware and self-constructed â€œknightâ€ character in the music video, Smith’s collection of work can be shrewd and actually, kind of depressingâ€¦but in the most playful and enjoyably resonant way.