But with the legion of trend-spotters, buzz-sniffers and Faith Popcorns of the world employed to "cool hunt," the span between a subculture and its appropriation by corporate America seems to be diminishing. Now more than ever, corporations are anxious to capture the youth market in a perpetually teenage culture.
And as a result, the new underground is above ground where you can see it. And even better, buy it.
But multibillion-dollar corporations -- despite the legions of PR flaks, trend-surfers and ad agencies at their disposal -- can be pitifully behind the times, as evidenced by McDonald's cutting-edge hip-hop campaign. Yo. Yo ... yo.
Now, Toyota has appropriated street culture to sell its newest wheels: the Scion xB, a kind of boxy, woody wagon-style, kid-branded answer to the PT Cruiser.
The crack marketing department at Toyota has come up with an advertising scheme linked to that fresh and funky new youth culture thang ... graffiti! Scion's corporate attempt to wrast'l street culture into irrelevance and banality will be on view in upcoming exhibitions at the Defoor Centre.
Defoor is the setting for the second Underground Art Project, March 20-April 1. Founded by Brady Lowe, the show is heavy on graffiti and culture jamming (random acts of media sabotage like the stenciled posters you see near the Krog Street tunnel). The first Underground event in October 2003 featured the renowned culture jammer Shepherd Fairy, who plastered the city with the "More Mileterry, Less Skools" posters still visible at local intersections.
The second UAP, curated by Alex Brewer, will feature a range of works by local photographers, filmmakers and graffiti artists including Totem, Hense, Born and Shie.
Scion is a sponsor of the UAP event and will also get all up in the Defoor Centre's shiiiiiit for its Installation show April 2-16.
Installation is a traveling multicity exhibition of Scion xB car panels that have been tagged by respected graffiti artists such as Sever2, Totem, Saber and Daim. The theme continues in small car models tagged by graf artists that also will be on display, a project that comes eerily close to the CowParade concept of artist-decorated bovines.
The ultimate irony is, of course, that graffiti culture has had one of the most antagonistic relationships ever known with mainstream culture, which tends to object to having its urban spaces "decorated" by Krylon bandits.
Now a Japanese car company has asked those same street artists to symbolically tag their cars. If it weren't so stupid in a bad way, it could almost be stoopid in a good way. Almost.
It's the perfect blank canvas for art: A 210-acre corridor of land used daily by a constantly changing audience of walkers, joggers and cyclists. Bill Gignilliat, chair of the public art advocacy group Metropolitan Public Art Coalition, believes the time is right to bring art to Freedom Park.
Gignilliat's organization is searching for a curator to select artists to create temporary works for the park. The initiative is supported by the Community Partners group, which includes MPAC, the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Freedom Park Conservancy. Eric Dusenbury, a conservancy representative, hopes that if the initiative is successful on a temporary basis, it could lead to future permanent works. In the meantime, there's just the little issue of finding the money to pay the piper. Eddie Granderson, public art manager of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, supports the project but says raising money for it will be the biggest obstacle. The estimated budget is $83,000, which Gignilliat hopes will come largely from private funders.
Among artists, there is often a line drawn in the sand between "legitimate" art seen in galleries and museums, and the kind of hand-crafted furniture, pottery and jewelry sold in shops and showrooms. For those eager to venture beyond that divide, there is a mini-tsunami of craft and design work going on in Atlanta. The American Craft Council comes to the Georgia World Congress Center March 20-21. The show features more than 250 artists, among them Atlantans Michael Gilmartin, Marks Alexander and Timothy Sullivan. And the Museum of Design is featuring Talking Furniture Design: The Language of Contemporary Southeastern Artisans through Aug. 28. Curated by Gilmartin, it includes work by artists Donald Locke and the late Ed Moulthrop as well as a black walnut bench by Georgia renaissance man Jimmy Carter.
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