#NYisOK: Our New York Times
Curated by AIKO
168 Suffolk St. New York, NY
Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00 – 6:00pm
Martha Cooper, Rolling Stone Midtown 1978, Archival Pigment Print, 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm.)
Trotter&Sholer is pleased to present #NYisOK: Our New York Times, an exhibition curated by AIKO. The show includes herself and her chosen legendary figures in the New York street art scene Martha Cooper, John Fekner, and undeniable scion Conrad Stojak. It is a love letter to the streets which serve as an inspiration, studio and oftentimes canvas to generations of New York City Street artists.
#NYisOK: Our New York Times is rooted in the history of the medium. It brings together artists from earlier generations with those who entered the scene later. The exhibition evokes nostalgia, including tags, ephemera, art, and posters of the many members of the street art community and friends of the curator. The exhibition also embraces the future of the genre. The artists exhibited are excited to share their work and histories with younger members of the community and remind collectors that graffiti street art is an important and meaningful mode of cultural communication and artistic expression.
The exhibition follows in the tradition of Patti Astor’s legendary FUN Gallery, the first gallery in the East Village and the only one to introduce street and graffiti artists to the traditional art world, which was a radical move at the time. Astor did not differentiate between genres, her dedication created her space that allowed these street artists to be taken seriously by the larger art world. In that spirit, Trotter&Sholer provided AIKO the space to create freely, bringing the essence of the city streets indoors. #NYisOK merges the documentation of street art and scenes of New York City with works by prominent artists whose work has historically interacted with the city scape.
Martha Cooper began documenting and photographing graffiti and street art in the 1970s and 80s. Many of the works included in this exhibition capture scenes of daily life in the New York City streets, specifically in the Lower East Side. She influenced many artists and helped bring graffiti front and center. Cooper’s first book Subway Art is affectionately referred to as the “bible” by graffiti artists. Her work created mainstream legitimacy for graffiti and street art and allowed artists to share their work in the pre-social media era.
John Fekner is an unnamed rebel. With his stencils, he anonymously addressed issues relating to urban life and decay, pollution, indigenous concerns and media. His slogans interact with the city, providing a kind of narration or caption for the world around him. Starting in the late 60’s Fekner was a pioneer; his art predates all other street writers.
AIKO is one of the most influential street artists over the last 20 years. Her iconic hand-cut stencil works of bunnies, sexy butterfly women and romantic lovers can be found in cities around the globe. Her style, which blends Japanese and Western qualities is be-
loved and respected worldwide. She is one of the founders of the street art collective, FAILE and began painting on the Lower East Side during the early days of Bast, Banksy and Shepard Fairy, who have gone on to become household names.
Conrad Stojak’s works take familiar street objects, like the parking meter and bring them inside transforming them into objects of art. In each of the parking meters, Stojak creates whimsical vignettes that allude to the magic of city life. He elevates the drabness of urban municipality and makes it beautiful.
As AIKO and Stojak work in the wake of their predecessors, Cooper and Fekner, there is a kind of artistic lineage created. There is an awareness that those who come next will build the scene of the future. Their works remind us how lucky we are to be in this electric city. #NYisOK: Our New York Times will be on view at 168 Suffolk Street.
Conrad Stojak, 7 Train Riders 2015, Metalic Paper, 11 x 16 in. (27.9 x 40.6 cm.)
AIKO, aka LADY AIKO, was born and raised in Tokyo before moving to New York City in the mid-90’s. She is one of the most important female street artists known for her ability to combine western art movements and eastern technical artistic skills. Her art career in NYC began when she started assisting for Takashi Murakami at his Brooklyn through the late 90’s. AIKO continued to practice her own art and graduated from The New School where she completed an MFA in Media Studies with her street art practice. She would come to establish the group now known as FAILE with two American artists. Creating work within the collective locally and abroad for a number of years, she established herself as LADY AIKO in 2006.
AIKO continues to create work in the studio as well as public space. She is acclaimed in the contemporary art world and well-respected within the international graffiti and street art scene. She had a two-person show “Bick Ladies” with Lady Pink in Brooklyn in 2008, and collaborated with Banksy on “Exit Through the Gift Shop” in 2010. Her large-scale works indoors and outdoors are installed in many cities, including Miami’s Wynwood Walls in 2009, New York City’s Bowery Wall in 2013, as the first female artist, and Coney Art Walls in 2015/2016/2017, all curated by Jeffrey Deitch. AIKO has also been involved in many group and solo exhibitions indluding “Animamix Biennale” at Shanghai MoCA in 2009, “Edo Pop” at Japan Society NYC in 2013, “Lady Go!” at Shizuoka City Tokaido Hiroshige Museum in 2018, and Beyond The Streets in LA 2018 and NY 2019, 2020. She has been working for numerous commercial commissions such as from Louis Vuitton, Estée Lauder, Fendi, The Standard, The First Lady and WTC.
Martha Cooper is a documentary photographer who has specialized in shooting urban vernacular art and architecture for over forty years. In 1977, Martha moved from Rhode Island to New York City and worked as a staff photographer on the NY Post for three years. During that time she began to document graffiti and b-boying, subjects which led to her extensive coverage of early hip hop as it emerged from the Bronx. Her photos, published worldwide, helped make graffiti and hip hop the predominant international youth movements they are today.Martha’s first book Subway Art (with Henry Chalfant), has been in print since 1984 and is affectionately called the “bible” by graffiti artists. Her next book, R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art looks at memorial murals in NYC and Hip Hop Files 1980-1984 contains hundreds of rare, early Hip Hop photos. We B*Girlz is an intensive look at B-girls worldwide. Street Play and New York State of Mind are her collections of NYC photos from the late 70’s. Tag Town shows the evolution of graffiti style from early tags to complicated pieces. Her books, Going Postal and Name Tagging contain hundreds of images of graffiti and street art on postal stickers. Tokyo Tattoo 1970, published in 2011 by Dokument in Sweden, showcases photos she took while living in
Japan in the 70’s. Her latest book, One Week with 1UP, documents the daring exploits of Berlin’s notorious 1UP Crew.
Martha’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published in numerous magazines from National Geographic to Vibe. She lives in Manhattan but travels frequently to urban art festivals around the world. Martha: A Picture Story, a documentary about her life and work, premiered at the Triboro Film Festival in 2019 and is now available on the web at Apple TV.
John Fekner is a street and multimedia artist, who created hundreds of environmental, social, political, and conceptual works consisting of stenciled words, symbols, dates, and icons painted outdoors within the five boroughs of New York and other cities around the world. Through the past five decades, Fekner has addressed issues involving concepts of perception and transformation, as well as specific environmental and sociological concerns such as urban decay, greed, chemical pollution, mass media, and raising awareness of North America Indigenous Peoples.
Conrad Stojak is a multidisciplinary artist hailing from Queens, New York. He interned at MoMA’s P.S.1 in the 90’s and later received his B.F.A. in filmmaking from the New York Institute of Technology. Conrad became a large scale public art documentarian having worked on Tom Otterness’ “Life Underground” (2000), “The Gates” (2005) installation by Christo & Jeanne-Claude in Central Park and most recently, on the Thomas Heatherwick’s “Vessel” (2017) at Hudson Yards. His own art rose to prominence when he started breaking into defunct parking meters in the middle of the night and built out elaborate dioramas within the glass domes. Conrad received considerable media attention for his, “Parking Meters Project”. He has received numerous accolades including the prestigious Pollack-Krasner grant and a writing fellowship from the Edward F. Albee Foundation. Conrad still creates street art with broken pay phones, old coin operated animal rides and obsolete ATM machines
AIKO, Lovers Weekend N train, 2021, Spraypaint on Subway Paper, 17 x 13 in. (48.2 x 33.0 cm.)
John Fekner, 2014, Screenprint, 16 x 23 in. (40.6 x 58.4 cm.)