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Sneakers, Faile and Basquiat: a visual mashup

Posted on Sunday, 23rd August, 2015

BK Museum 3 exhibitsNote to reader: this has very little to do with anything digital. It’s still cool though. ~10 min read

It’s not everyday a museum captures three things I love, all independent of one another; street art, sneakers and the intimate power of words. I ventured to the Brooklyn Museum today for a glimpse of all 3 and was not disappointed.

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks
(because words)
The Rise of Sneaker Culture (because Adidas! Jordans! Vans!)
FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds (because LES street art, obvi)

Captured my day mostly through photos, I snapped things that touch my heart, inspired me and/or drew on nostalgic times.

BASQUIAT: The Unknown Notebooks

Today was the last day for the Basquiat exhibit. Better late than never. Which is kinda how I felt about seeing his work in person for the first time. God rest his soul, those who know Basquiat for his early graffiti art (I’m very familiar with) or later paintings (less familiar) both predominantly represented his inner angst as a “springboard to deeper truths” related to the the world of pop culture, politics and race. Today, insight into his creative process was highlighted (usually involving black and white composition notebooks full of words, phrases, wordplays, sketches) — over 160 pages of his lyrics of life brought to the forefront. I read 90% of the pages. Some of it was disturbing. Someone of it was emotional. Some of it was blank. But all of it was personal, for Basquiat, something I appreciate and respect of any artist. (sidenote: they didn’t teach this kind of stuff in art history in college.) Those notebook pages, along with a smattering of sketches on paper and a few large-scale paintings summed up the exhibit.


Basquiat and Language

basquiat 2


basquiat 1

Took this snap in Willamsburg in June. Still haven’t posted it. Waiting for the right moment. #Streetart by Eduardo Kobra

Basquiat vs warhol Kobra

The Rise of Sneaker Culture

I went to HS/college in the 90s. What you wore on your feet mattered, and still does. I grew up amongst a crew of  homeboys/ punk skaters / athletes who definitely loved their kicks. Sometimes I wonder what Insta would have been like back then at high school basketball games. “Check the feet, never mind that sic 3-pointer he sunk”. Jordans were the Mercedes of feet, today there were ~4M worth in walls of them. Just dedicated to JORDANS.

This exhibit explored the cultural significance that sneakers have had on the world to date– and it was my favorite of the day. I wish my brother Jeremy was with me, he would have loved this.

Some sneaker collectors have their retirement IRAs stacked in boxes at the top of their closet. The sheer number of aficionados at the exhibit made me smile. Dudes were lined up reading everything behind the glass. Most of them came in packs of 3/4s, exploring their passions together. A guy in his 40’s manically describing how “he scoured eBay and paid a months rent for these…” another reminisced back to 1994 “when he begged his mom to buy him the new Air Jordan Retros”. Only a few times did I observe girls with them– (girls that love sneakers and the guys too, of course).

Stan Smiths! The first ever leather tennis shoe! For some fun history check out the Stan Smith Wikipedia page, you’re sure to win Trivial Pursuit with that knowledge!

Original Stan Smith!


The Saucony Jazz! I have these in red and still love them. They are so dirty. Don’t care.

saucony jazz


Original Shelltoes baby! The Superstar from 1969. A classic that never goes out of style.

real shell toesshelltoes


Jeff Spicoli would be so proud. I’m a life-long lover of Vans (and all their ad campaigns with Dennis Hopper) and have scoured eBay many times for my sacred tie does ones that I wear only on special occasions. However, my everyday go-to Vans are actually snakeskin from the Madewell/Vans collab in 2014. Love, love love.

vansvans descrp



Nike Air Max were such a big part of my life in late 90s/2000’s. I still have 2 vintage pairs of them. And they totally remind me of my friend Amy’s husband Chris, I’m pretty sure he sleeps with 1 of his 100 pairs of Air Max’s on. For real.

nike air maxnike air max descrip


Who’s mom DIDN’T have these Reebok Freestyles??? Mine did. (ok, but her’s were white. And I used to steal them).

pink reebokreebok descr



What! What!

My Adidas and me, close as can be
we make a mean team, my Adidas and me
we get around together, rhyme forever
and we won’t be mad when worn in bad weather
My Adidas.
My Adidas.
My Adidas.

Great history on the RunDMC/Adidas collab on the Adidas blog here. Great interview.

adidasadidas rundmc


I know the high style tastemakers like Balmain, Lanvin and Yeezy have since invaded this sector but sorry guys, there’s just no room for you in my closet- I’m sticking with my classics.

my adidas



Make it to the exhibit before Oct. 1st (GO! now!) especially since Mr Porter already sold out of the book.


Faile: Savage/Sacred Young Minds

Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil are Brooklyn natives and made their fame on the streets of the Lower East Side in Manhattan. I’m sure at some point, you have seen one of their wheat pastes. They are legendary. The exhibit was varied- neon wheat pastes you’d expect, a limestone & marble sculpture installation and a more psychedelic punk installation called The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade where the walls, floors and ceilings covered with neon wheat pastes, pin ball machine and video games– its enough to give anyone a panic attack. The 2 installations couldn’t be more polarizing. Most of their work is blend of high/low art with a combined play on pop culture, consumerism and mocks the perfect, ideal life. My favorite bit of trivia I learned today: Faile is an anagram of A Life. Makes so much more sense now.

faile 1


faile 3

faile 4


faile arcade

faile 2



Next level art history via text

Need to close with a hats off to the Brooklyn Museum for getting digitally connected with their guests. They have a great new app called ASK (and great/fast wifi in the building).

You can use the app to text any questions you have and someone from their team of art historians/educators will answer you immediately! Real-time info!  The app uses both location and bluetooth sensors to identify which pieces of the exhibits you are near so the staff can best recommend what you should look at next.  It works. Download it here. Well done.

bk app 3






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