Presented by the Rutter Family Art Foundation, this summer Work | Release holds their second large exhibition in the NEON District. Nobody Writes Letters Anymore is an exploration of the out of the box thinking and hands on experience of outsider art, namely graffiti, and how it has inspired generations of artists, artisans, craftsmen, designers and tastemakers.
Featuring local and nationally renown artists, muralists and prolific writers, “LETTERS” gives a glimpse of the muscle that drives creative culture and the possessed spirit that make the artist desire to create and to be noticed.
The exhibition kicks off with a grand opening weekend celebration that spills out onto their rear parking lot of the historic Texaco building at 759 Granby Street, with music, live painting and bike and skate demos on both Friday, June 5th and Saturday, June 6th from 6pm-2am. The exhibition will be open to the public Thursday through Saturday evenings until July 11th.
Curator Charles Rasputin of Alchemy NFK states, “Graffiti culture has influenced the higher art world since its inception. A small culture of writers driven to leave their mark in improbable places have influenced a much broader swath of visual artists, fashion designers, musicians, and tastemakers than one could ever imagine. Keith Haring, Basquiat, Marc Ecko, KAWS, Shepard Fairey, Banksy and hundreds of other amazing artists all owe a great debt for this stylized influence. Our exhibition explores several American artists from all walks and studies who have lived, loved, and been influenced by the world of the writer and who all strive to leave their mark.”
The formal LETTERS exhibition includes installations and murals from 11 artists from around the country, and includes quite a few local legends. It will be on display through July 11th. In addition to these artists, the six week show will bring in a rotating mix of writers, muralists and illustrators for live art demonstrations and interactive elements. Included in the lineup is one of Richmond’s most well known muralists, Mickael Broth (above). Broth graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Painting and Printmaking. Founder of the current Welcoming Walls program in Richmond and published author, Mickael’s work ranges from large scale vibrant murals to mixed media installations and paintings and drawings in contemporary galleries. Now Broth is commissioned by well known businesses and organizations, but in 2004 he was incarcerated for vandalism. “I’ve been removed from the act of vandalism for nearly a decade, but I still think about it every day.” Mickael will be telling his story at an artist talk on the Saturday of opening weekend. Guests can view work from Chris Peters a.k.a. APES FCR, a Baltimore based photographer and videographer who manipulates environments by creating camera obscuras that magnificently reflect outdoor landscapes onto forgotten interiors. Peters has a BFA in videography and photography and a MA in Community Arts from Maryland College Institute of Art. The show also features Norfolk / Virginia Beach locals Noah Larmz and “Frank Ape” creator Brandon Sines from New York.
“It’s refreshing to be a part of something that brings together such a wide variety of artists that all have this one thing in common. I’ve always found it interesting to see the paths that different graffiti writers take as they get older, and how it influences all our lives in different ways. From designer to sign painter, to fine artist, to tattoo artist, it’s pretty cool to know that we all started from the same subculture and all share similar work ethics and mentalities,” says Joshua Newton, part of Noah Larmz (below), designer at ad agency Grow by day and DJ LRDMRCY by night. Newton also designed all the branding and website for Rutter Family Art Foundation and Work | Release.
Nobody Writes Letters Anymore is curated by Charles Rasputin, Creative Director of Alchemy NFK. A Virginia native, Charles is an artist, designer and a leader in the Norfolk art community. A self taught illustrator and printmaker with no formal education, he has certainly left his mark, creating clever branding and marketing campaigns, public art projects, and unforgettable events.
The new exhibition space and arts venue, Work | Release, opened it’s doors to the public in April and has been bustling ever since. In the two months that they’ve been open they have held a successful neon exhibition, AGLOW, as well as two separate one week only exhibition’s for graduating Governor’s School for the Arts seniors. Additionally, Work | Release hosts a variety of art related events such as viewings of art films, Drink n Draw, performances by Core Theatre Ensemble and artist talks. The space has a full kitchen and bar that is open for dinner and late night Thursday through Saturday. Guests can also see a variety of musical performances; latin, electronic, rock, classical, noise, live bands, DJs and more.
“We try to keep people on their toes and not be too predictable. We like to pair unlikely performances together. People come out to hear a DJ or a rock show and we throw a theatrical performance or noise band in the mix. Take someone away from their comfort zone for just a couple minutes, show them the value in what they’re experiencing and then bring them back in where they feel safe. It’s mind blowing sometimes. This summer we have so many exciting surprises to unveil. LETTERS has been a really fun exhibition to put together. The programming around the show almost comes naturally,” says Work | Release’s Venue Director, Careyann Weinberg.
When asked about the significance of this exhibition’s name and purpose, Charles Rasputin cites communication as one of the strongest driving human desires. “This exhibition explores that courtship between communication, creativity, ingenuity and expression that is inherent to any artist’s struggle, whether painting in the studio or painting in the train yard.”
He continues, “What began as simple messages in complicated spaces became stylized alphanumerics, indecipherable codes. Symbols and pictures. Aerosol and Paint. Paper and paste. The tools have grown and the methods vary, but the creative spirit remains. We are always making our marks and sending our messages out, even if nobody writes letters anymore.”
Nobody Writes Letters Anymore ‘s opening weekend is Friday, June 5th and Saturday, June 6th from 6pm-2am. Meet some of the artists, watch those and others paint live in the rear parking lot while bike and skate demonstrations excite guests of all ages. Opening weekend will also feature interactive installations , an outdoor bar and of course, music and dancing. LETTERS artists Noah Larmz present the return of Rolodecks on Friday night w/ Legendary DJs OHBOY! and LRDMRCY. Saturday night begins with an artist talk by Mickael Broth followed by music from DJ Raw Russ, the #WEGOLD crew and more to be announced. Food and beverages will be available from the Work | Release restaurant and bar. All ages are welcome. Friday night is free all night and Saturday is $5 after 9pm.