The Hallmark Art of Vibrant Al Stark

Al Stark is an Australian gallery and street artist who admits that he is inspired by music, literature, film and artists including Robert Crumb, Chris Burden, Oskar Kokoschka, the Vienna Actionists and The Vienna Secession.

Now based in northern New South Wales, Stark has come a long way since the 1980s where at about the age of 10 or 11 he had a crew of outcasts called ‘The Grunters’ who ran a weekly zine called ‘Grunter’s Weekly’.

  • Nowadays, from Fitzroy to Clayton and anywhere in between Stark has been painting his bold neon tribal street art murals around Melbourne. Works include his murals or collaborations with other well-known local street artists such as Nails and TwoOne.
  • When it comes to his gallery art, Stark has exhibited both locally (represented by Mars Gallery) and overseas including Lyon, France.

More information about Al stark is available at his blogspot, Facebook or Insta@alstarkruins

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On Today | Wednesday December 12 1979

Japanese artist On Kawara (December 24, 1932 – July 10, 2014) was a Japanese conceptual artist who lived in New York City from 1965. Kawara belonged to a broadly international generation of conceptual artists that began to emerge in the mid-1960s, stripping art of personal emotion, reducing it to nearly pure information or idea and greatly playing down the art object.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 12. 1979 (1979) synthetic polymer paint on canvas and artist-made cardboard box. (MOMA).
  • This work belongs to On Kawara’s Today series, which consists of thousands of ‘date paintings’ made between 1966 and the artist’s death in 2014.

To create the starkly uniform series, Kawara adhered to a precise set of rules. Each painting executed in Liquitex on canvas, depicts the date when it was painted. The text, inscribed in white paint against a dark monochromatic background conforms to one of eight standard sizes, ranging from 8×10 inches to 61×89 inches; all horizontal in orientation. Many of the canvases are accompanied by a handmade cardboard box lined with newspaper clippings from the same day and location. If a work was not completed by midnight, it was destroyed.

By diligently repeating the same process for almost five decades, Kawara succeeded in tangibly representing this abstract concept of time itself.

When Kawara died in New York on July 10, 2014 (at the age of 81) his published obituary stated that he was alive for 29,771 days rather than giving his dates of birth and death.

Life and Death | An abstract concept of time itself!

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Here’s a good part of some CDH art


CDH art has been around for 20 years, starting his street art creatives around 2000/2001. Working mostly alone, CDH’s interest came from his admiration with the street art of San Francisco. He uses anything and everything from paste-ups, aerosol, naping (fire graffiti), hammer-drill or welding, to create murals and pieces. Many of his works take a great time and effort up to 20-30 hours, and others are ‘quick and dirty’ taking as little as 20-30 minutes to create.

Amongst this collection which I have taken over a great period of time include:

  • Raimond Gaita – an Australian author, academic and moral philosopher.
  • Kyle Magee – Melbourne ad-busting political communication speech activist.
  • Matthew Brady (grey portrait) – the ‘gentleman bushranger’, colonial convict escapee of Tasmania. Got his nickname for never robbing or insulting women and conducting himself with good manners during a robbery. Sentenced to hanging at the old Hobart jail in 1826. CDH explains more about this on his website.

CDH states that he tries to work in areas where street art has been tacitly endorsed; where there is long standing, pre-existing street art or where the owner has demonstrated indifference about the aesthetic of their building (peeling paint, extensive tagging, poster advertising etc). I’m trying to make my community better with my street art.

Find out more about CDH at his website and whilst there, don’t miss reading Fandalism – such a great story!

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Mike Kelley Was No Nelly

American artist Mike Kelley (October 27, 1954 – January 31, 2012) was born in Wayne, Michigan, (a suburb of Detroit). Kelley worked in performance, music, sculpture and installation art, mining the American vernacular culture to develop what has been described as ‘an aesthetics of delinquency’. In his younger days he was a member of a noise band ‘Destroy All Monsters‘.

Kelley graduated from the University of Michigan in 1976 and moved to Los Angeles, California where he undertook a Master of Fine Arts at the California Institute of the Arts. One of his teachers at the Institute was John Baldessari.

On January 31, 2012, Kelley was found dead from an apparent suicide at his home in South Pasadena, California.

  • The above images, all ‘Untitled’ (1990) [from a MOMA, New York collection] use ‘found objects’, which include crocheted rugs, and abstract patterned ‘afghans’; hand-sewn dolls and stuffed animals. Kelley claimed that the materials used were not meant to suggest childhood comforts, but were chosen instead for their formal elements and patterns.

‘There was a general tendency amongst a number of New York artists at that time to try to capture the look of the brand new manufactured object’, Kelley said, ‘so I started collecting things that were obviously handmade and that weren’t made to be sold.

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What to See by Lucy Lucy

Meet Street Artist Lucy Lucy who came to Melbourne from Paris, France. Lucy (born 1983) has been  living in Melbourne for many years and is known for her paintings and pastes of gorgeous females. She also loves fashion and fabrics, patterns and material. Lucy is part of the AWOL Crew Street Art Collective, along with Adnate, Deams, Itch and Slicer and has illustrated the children’s book ‘Nancy Wake: Fighting for Freedom’.

  • A lover of drawing and painting since childhood, Lucy got involved in street art after moving to Melbourne from her native Paris in 2007, to study a master’s degree in international business. She befriended several street artists and began joining them on nocturnal painting jaunts, honing her skills away from the public eye.

Post-study, Lucy returned to Paris for a few years, but returned to Melbourne about six years ago. She ended up being a room mate of an artist who was friends with Slicer, Adnate and Deams; and soon became attracted to street art.

  • Now known as Lucy Lucy, she depicts “different aspects of the feminine” in murals of archetypal women. They’ve been displayed on walls in Brunswick, Collingwood, Prahran and Richmond and Union Lane in Melbourne, as well as the Box Hill Town Hall and Preston Library; further afield in Mayfield (NSW); and there are two in Benalla, home to the Wall to Wall street art festival.

Further information is available on Facebook.

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Some Tender Fender Stories

Leo Fender | Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar[Fender Stratocaster electric guitar designed 1954 made 1957 wood metal and plastic MoMA | Leo Fender (American 1909-1991), George Fullerton (American 1923-2009) and Freddie Tavares (American 1913-199)].

The Stratocaster (“Strat”) electric guitar was designed by Leo Fender, a self-taught electrician, inventor and amateur musician from Southern California and it is one of the most successful musical instrument designs from the 20th Century. Sold with a range of finishes with detachable elements which are easily repaired or replaced, these guitars were designed to withstand heavy use and amplification.

The ergonomic and balanced form was contoured to fit comfortably with the player’s body and technical innovations included a three pickup for a bright glassy sound, and a fender-patented built-in tremolo arm (“whammy bar“).

The Strat’s user-friendly design and unique sound meant it soon dominated the market, attracting numerous devotees including: Jimi Hendrix, Mike Oldfield, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Rory Gallagher, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck and The Beatles to name but a few.

  • Mike Oldfield has a “Salmon-pink” Strat, which is his favourite guitar.
  • Ry Cooder used his 60s Strat slide guitar for the film soundtrack Paris, Texas (1984).
  • Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour owns Strat #0001, which was manufactured in 1954, but was not the first Strat made since Fender does not use sequential serial numbers. His custom modified Strat features in his solo piece on The Wall’s Comfortably Numb, which remains a definitive Strat moment in music.
  • Both George Harrison and John Lennon from The Beatles were Strat owners. Harrison hand-painted his original Strat in psychedelic paint with “Bebopalula” painted above the pick-guard and the guitar’s nickname, “Rocky” was  painted on the head-stock. He can be seen playing Rocky in the Magical Mystery Tour film as well as The Concert for Bangla Desh. Lennon had a 1961 Strat during his Beatles days and a different one for his solo Imagine album. He acquired a candy apple red Strat with 22 carat gold electroplated brass hardware around 1980 not long before his untimely death.
  • Jeff Beck is noted for his innovative use of the Strat’s vibrato system. Originally a Les Paul devotee, he moved over to a Strat in 1975 and is recorded as saying “With a Les Paul you just wind up sounding like someone else. With the Strat I finally sound like me.
  • Jimi Hendrix’s main stage guitar was a Strat. Although left-handed, he is noted for playing a conventional right-handed Strat flipped upside down because he preferred to use the controls in that position, rather than buying a left-handed guitar.
  • In 1990, Hendrix’s white Strat used at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 sold at a Sotheby‘s auction for $270,000. (A record price at the time).
  • Rory Gallagher loves his worn 1961 sunburst Strat. He once said “B.B. King has owned over 100 Lucille’s, but I only own one Strat, and it hasn’t got a name”.

Sounds like a case of Fender Splendour for the Megablaster Stratocaster

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Here’s a Plug for Smug

Smug or Smug One (aka Sam Bates) is an Australian born photo-realistic contemporary street artist now residing in Glasgow, Scotland.  Born in 1982, he grew up in a small town in New South Wales about three hours from its capital, Sydney. Always interested in drawing, he began spray can art after graduating from high school. As a teenager, Smug skated and hung around in the streets with his friends, writing their names on the walls and listening to hip-hop music.

Known for his outstanding photo-realism street art murals, Smug uses nothing but spray cans to create amazing highly technical large-scale wall pieces that are often edgy, cheeky, or incredibly playful; whether the subject is flora, fauna, a tribute to his grandparents or a cheeky self-portrait.

  • You can discover more about Smug at Widewalls website.

Asked about his artistic name, Smug says that he cannot remember how he received his. Originally he tagged using various names, but somehow Smug stuck. Now he is as Smug as he can be.

Don’t be a mug | Get some Smug!

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John Baldessari | What is Painting?

John Baldessari | What is PaintingWhat is Painting [Synthetic polymer paint on canvas (1966-1968) MoMA]

  • Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other, not just placed side by side? Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words.

American artist John Anthony Baldessari (June 17, 1931 – January 2, 2020) was an American conceptual artist known for his work featuring found photography and appropriated images. Initially a painter, Baldessari began to incorporate texts and photography into his canvases in the mid-1960s.

  • It was during this period that the Southern California-based artist lived and worked in Santa Monica and Venice, California. Baldessari began to reconsider both the nature of painting and more broadly, the practice of art-making itself. Undermining the importance of the artist’s hand in creating a work, he hired a commercial sign painter to execute What is Painting. 
  • Challenging the artist’s contribution of content, Baldessari appropriated the work’s text from an instructional book; turning sentences on how to compose an artwork into a self-referential painting.
  • From 1970 onwards, he began working in printmaking, film, video, installation, sculpture and photography.

I think the wonderful irony about this piece is that it’s text‘, Baldessari has said. ‘But in fact it is a painting, because it’s done with paint on canvas. So I’m really being very slyly ironic here in sayingWell, this is what painting is“.

What is Painting? | Is It Art?

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Straker | The Image Breaker

Straker / Drew Straker aka ‘The Muralist’ is an  internationally recognized aerosol street artist from Perth, Western Australia (WA). Born in the suburb of Subiaco, Drew is the youngest of three boys. A keen skateboarder, he began his graffiti skills at fourteen and has gone on to teach in art programs for youth at risk.

  • Straker was possibly the first artist to use the ‘neon glow’ technique in his pieces (white lines under a transparent colour) and also the white-only on black giving an almost negative effect, as indicated in these vintage images I took back in 2011.

Often referred to as camera-shy, Straker has created popular murals across Perth, including an anti-corruption piece which was commissioned by the WA Corruption and Crime Commission in 2016 and an octopus mural commissioned for Celebrations Carlisle in 2017.

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You Can Check Out Any Time You Like | But You Can Never Leave

Huseyin Bahri Alptekin |  H-fact: Hospitality/Hostility series (2003-2007). [A series of light box art simulating hotel signs from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) collection].

According to Wikipedia, Turkish artist Huseyin Bahri Alptekin (1957-2007) studied aesthetics, philosophy of art, and sociology in Ankara and Paris. Alptekin is considered one of the most significant figures in the established contemporary art scene of Istanbul. He was part of the first generation of Turkish artists considered to be globally active and nationally influential.

H-fact: Hospitalty/Hostility consists of a series of seven light boxes, each bearing the name of a city, which are fabricated to resemble signs for cheap hotels in Istanbul neighbourhoods frequented by merchants, migrants and budget tourists in particular from Russia and the Balkans.

Hotel Bristol | Hotel Odessa | Hotel Rejkyavik (sic) | Motel Beirut |
Pension Cadiz | Hotel Estambul | Balkan Oteli

  • In this work, Alptekin explores the effects of globalisation, immigration and exile on Turkey and specifically its cultural capital, Istanbul.  Some of the cities featured on the signs were part of the former Ottoman Empire.
  • The work speaks to Turkey’s historical and continued role as a fertile meeting place for various civilizations, its Ottoman past; and its contemporary identity as a strategic partner in the European political arena.

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night.
[From Hotel California by Glen Frey, Don Felder and Don Henley]

  • I wonder, do these hotels have mirrors on the ceiling and/or pink champagne on ice?

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There’s Lots To Waffle About With Sofles Art


Sofles is an Australian graffiti/street artist who comes from Brisbane, Queensland. His career began in the late 2000’s, with his graffiti and street art. Since then Sofles has had an extended artistic career which also includes tattoo art, illustration and fine art. His imagery is wide and varied and his collage murals are a mind-bending abstraction melting into intricate form, showing perfect snapshots of his wild imagination.

Sofles’ bold use of colour is quite distinctive and this has firmly set his reputation as one of Australia’s most-watched contemporary artists. Constantly working, whether outdoors or in his studio, Sofles continues exploring new techniques and mediums, which makes his artwork so rewarding.

  • One example of this, was back in 2013, when he completed a series of stunning works on the walls of an abandoned warehouse which was recorded on video in a motion controlled time-lapse series entitled “The Ultimate Timelapse with Sofles”.
  • Another example from a few years ago, is when Sofles created a black and white installation for the Melbourne White Night festival. His work consumed the entire side wall of a multi-deck car park in Melbourne’s Mackenzie Street.  This mural worked in conjunction with 3D video experts, a musician and a handful of other friends, to create a marvelous spectacle for the overnight festival.

Sofles travels around Australia and the rest of the world creating mural art, painting and video art. He often paints with fellow Brisbane artists Drapl and girlfriend Cherie Buttons. Other collaborations have taken place with Adnate, Smug, Lush, Deb, Twoone and Anthony Lister, to name but a few. Sofles has also garnered two big contracts one with Redbull and the other with Adidas.

  • Discover more at Sofles website, or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.

Sorry for the waffle, let’s get with more Sofles!

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Pellucidar and The Dirty Dozen

Dirty Dozen | Pie Bolton | Pellucidar (2018)This piece by Pie Bolton entitled Pellucidar (2018) was part of The Dirty Dozen exhibition which ran from 18 July – 23 August 2018 at the subterranean Campbell Arcade in Melbourne based on one of Edgar Rice Burrough’s science fiction novels Pellucidar. Also referenced in this piece are the seven books in the fictional ‘Hollow Earth’ Pellucidar series written over a 47-year period by Burroughs from 1916-1963.  Titles include: At The Earth’s Core (1916), Pellucidar (1917), Tanar of Pellucidar (1929), Tarzan At The Earth’s Core (1929), Back to the Stone Age (1939), Land of Terror (1944); Savage Pellucidar (1963). (Bolton also includes some quotes taken from Earth’s Core, Dover Press page 67).

  • The Dirty Dozen defines itself as ‘subway grit meets art.’ The artists who show through this initiative have their works displayed in the subterranean arcade leading to and from Melbourne’s Flinders Street railway station; in one of twelve glass display cases.
  • These have been reactivated as exhibition space by Creative Spaces and made available to creative artists.

Creative Spaces is a program of City of Melbourne’s Arts Melbourne branch. It sources secure refurbished and managed studio rehearsal and exhibition space for creative people. The program manages over 130 studio spaces in five buildings and runs a website that lists thousands of creative spaces across Australia.

  • Discover more about The Dirty Dozen at Creative Spaces or go to @creativespaces.

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Loadz of Potential Here

Nathan Loader aka LOADZ is an Australian street artist. Originally from Townsville in Queensland, he now lives in Melbourne, Victoria.

  • LOADZ’s artwork and painting show bold, colourful kooky spliffy, ‘bent edge’ characters and nebulous reptilian graffiti fonts. His work is often found near street art by Silly.

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Just Rewards for Great Work

Sculptor Louis Laumen (b 1958, The Netherlands- ) came to Australia with his family in 1960. Laumen studied at the Victorian College of the Arts (Fine Art – Sculpture); Bachelor of Fine Art and Graduate Diploma of Fine Art (with Distinction). He works as a full-time artist having been a sculpture instructor at the National Gallery Society Summer School and a lecturer in sculpture at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

  • Laumen has completed many sculpture commissions from important figures and sporting greats to former Premiers and revered Saints. Some of which include sculptures of Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop (Benalla); Sir Henry Bolte (Gold Museum, Ballarat) and the Blessed Mary McKillop Statue (Penola College); along with two examples described below:

Sir Archibald McIndoe (1900-1960) Surgeon in Charge of the Maxillo-Facial Unit, the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, England from 1940-1960. Famed for his innovative and pioneering techniques in the treatment of grievously burnt airmen of the RAF, RCAF and the RAAF during the Second World War. 638 “Guinea Pigs” passed through his hands; all survived to enjoy useful lives. (Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, 2001)

Pastor Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls (1906-1988) and Lady Gladys Nicholls (1906-1981) Memorial. The first memorial statue in Melbourne dedicated to two Aboriginal community leaders. They fought for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their commitment to human rights in Australia. He was a traditional owner, Aboriginal Elder and Church of Christ Pastor. She was Aboriginal Community Leader, charity worker, women’s activist and fighter for equality and human rights.  (Parliament Garden, Melbourne, 2007).

  • Discover more about Louis Laumen at his website.

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Dont’ Be So Harsh | Let’s Get with Scott Marsh

Scott Marsh (b. 1984) is a Sydney-based artist and large scale street artist. Marsh picked up his first spray can at the age of 12 and began tagging the neighbourhood streets and train carriages. Later, tagging trains around the world, as a graffiti writer, his ‘Sydney-style’ tags earned him international recognition as one of the most talented graffiti writers of his generation.

  • In 2009, Marsh completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Painting, at the University of New South Wales (College of Fine Arts) and soon after began receiving commissions for large-scale commercial murals.

Marsh’s artworks are created using brush and acrylic and oil paints, as well as spray cans. He uses a lot of colour and creates pieces with complex layering, creating depth and texture to his work. His years of street art painting is evident in his gallery pieces; whether its still life or paintings of flora. His artworks are admired and purchased by both local and international collectors.

  • His large scale street murals cover current affairs and media topics such as politics, marriage equality, the environment, the cult of celebrity or just pictures of folk wearing cute hoodies or animal-print onesies.

Discover more at Scott Marsh’s website.

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