New York's surreptitious street artist Jim Joe has a short-run solo gallery show on the Lower East Side this weekend.
ArtInfo reports that there will be 17 new works from the inscrutable graffiti artist, including paintings, drawings and trash sculptures, for this weekend only. There is an opening reception Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the gallery will then show the work from the irregular hours of noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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The art was created over a period of three weeks, but is the culmination of five years of street art experience. As The Hole's website describes, it is "an attempt by the artist to transition ideas, emotions and intentions used in the street to a fine art gallery setting."
Joe was profiled in The New York Times blog The Local East Village in October of 2010, but he wasn't interviewed -- at least, not in person.
"I MISS YOU BUT I CANNOT BEAR TO LOOK YOU IN THE EYES," he wrote in an e-mail exchange with The Local, one of his rare responses to requests for comment from the public. "I WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE SEEN."
Joe's work is seen, however, all across the streets and subways of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Montreal, where he was born. He works in words, scrawling his name and simple sentences in chalk on buildings, dumpsters and various discarded items like sofas and doors.
Joe separated himself from many street artists by using social media for promotion, but it appears as if his Twitter and website are now gone, adding fuel to his furtive fire.
In an email to The Local, Joe continued talking only in riddles and all caps. He said one of his primary influences is Duchamp, and when asked of others, he wrote:
TEENAGERS GAVE ME FREEDOM
GARBAGE GAVE ME A SURFACE
PAINT GAVE ME SOMETHING TO DO
AND BASQUIAT GAVE ME A FEW DOLLARS
Graffiti blogger Jowy Romano created a months-long research project on Joe's work. "He draws influence not directly from other graffiti artists," Mr. Romano said to The Local. "He ignores the unwritten laws of wild style - which is 99 percent of the graffiti you see now - and goes back to simpler styles, like most of the graffiti in the early '70s."
Joe has even inspired a collective of fans following his every move online at Cult of Joe. The website quotes a Tweet that he sent which is, in Joe fashion, a bit of insight wrapped in an enigma:
THE MEANING IS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE TEXT AS WELL AS THE TYPEFACE
To discern Joe's meaning, try your luck at the gallery opening tonight and see if you can ask him yourself. Otherwise, it's back to the streets.