so i started working on this and…well. was not sure how to cover the show. it falls into this weird area of street art ethics. its an interesting story and a very, very cool collection. Peter Lemke, for years has collected street art from the street, right off of walls and polls. after living in NYC, and enjoying the street art there, he moved to Chicago, collecting some things here and there throughout the 90’s. but he really started this collection in and around 2004. when a piece that he really liked dissapeard. so he made a decision to start saving some of this work from the city. wether that be, the buff, vandals destroying them, the general weather in chicago. last week myself and the girlfriend(who is covering this for newcity) rode up to logan square to talk with peter and check out the stuff he had hung up.
to go along with the work from the streets. Mr. lemke will be showing his collection of wesely willis drawings(he has about 19-20). and he will also have for sale, works by wesley’s brother ricky willis. sculptural buildings made out of cardboard and paper. they look a lot like his late brothers work, and look great with a willis drawing behind them.
after having the chance to talk with peter, i do believe that his intentions are good. and i started a thread in a flicker forum, just to get some opinions there. but all that does not make this a clear cut issue. iv had lots of discussion with friends this last week about it. and honestly there is a lot of things to discuss on this. and im not here to do that per-say i just want to move this discussion forward.
Peter Lemke’s Collection of Milwaukee Avenue Street Art will show at 2630 N. Milwaukee during the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, July 31-August 2
so the following are some pics of the work in the show. after the jump.
charlie owens, and solve memorial piece.
[art]illery, and goons
bonus(a piece aquired during free art friday-he even has the “free art” sign)
also jaime sent out some emails to ask some of the artists what they thought. pulling quotes from their responses for her article. i thought id include two of the full responses here, both good, articulate opinions. from the grocer, and saro.
“I’m not as angry as other artists I’ve talked to. In general, I’ve always believed that once you put the work out on the street you don’t own it anymore – so what happens just happens. I’ve had works buffed by the city in less than 24 hours and works stolen. This kind of thing just happens. My intention with works for the street is that they are for the public to enjoy as long as they are up. The avocados that Peter took was the last painting on plywood that I ever put up, precisely because the boards are easier to steal than paste-ups (which are simpler and cheaper to install on the street anyway.)
Here’s my rub with Peter Lemke. Peter Lemke is a man with the means to buy art. He once contacted me to create 3 paintings for his commodities trading office. I was quite busy at the time and when I got around to starting the commission he no longer had a desire for the paintings. However, I have had several shows with works available for purchase, and have completed commissions and sold paintings to people directly through internet correspondence. Peter Lemke took my 4×3’ painting of avocados that was intended for public enjoyment and put it in his stairwell. He has never purchased a painting from me. To my knowledge, he has never purchased a painting from any other street artist I know in Chicago. Most of these artists have shows and offer their artwork for VERY reasonable prices. I’m not a rich man but have purchased many paintings from this group of artists to support their work and what they’re doing for the community (and cause it’s dope). If he was avid patron of urban artists in Chicago and did his “saving” I think that might change the way most artists perceive him. As-is, though, I feel like what he’s doing is 1) not supporting artists 2) stealing from the public. I don’t think he’s a bad man, I just think he’s made up this justification in his mind for taking what he wants from the community around him.”-the Grocer
“ive met mr.lemke awhile back. he actually walked into a friends gallery (ohno! Doom! located on Lyndale and Sacremnto) asking the guys there if they knew a hand full of artists, i believe he asked about Artillery, Viking, and myself. The boys at OND shot me a text and asked if it was cool to give em my email. i said sure.
he eventually hit me up saying he was a “collector” of street art and bla bla bla then offered me a spot on doing a installation at Logan Squar Skate Park, so thats how i thought he was ‘ok.’ then the more and more i thought about him taking the art off the street, the more it bothered me. the amount of work it would take to pry off the boards from the pole is 10X the work it takes to put them up, which is the very reason these bolt-ups are such a good idea.
most of the time the city lets em ride for awhile (depending on the area). ive had one taken down in 16hrs and ive had em ride for over 4yrs (my 2nd board ever is still up downtown). Putting those boards up is a gamble. will i get caught? will i lose my job over this? will it get buffed? will it ride? and is it worth it? for him to come and interfere with that is unexceptable. sure he only has take one piece from me, but the fact that he has enough to call himself ‘ a collector’ is very bothersome.
Street art is like the bastard step child of graffiti. Not excepted by the graff community or the city. The graffiti scene in Chicago is THE hardest workin group out there. Penalized the hardest, and against the strongest anti-graff organization to date, Mayor Daley. So, knowing this, imagine how hard street artists would have to work to be called an equal or even respected as a catagory of illegal arts.
now some were saying that once our work is on the street, its out of our hands and up to chance…and thats very true. ive actually had some guy, google me, hunt me down (couldnt find me) met me at an art show, and told me he saw one of my boards and DIDNT want to take it down but he wanted to find me so he could ask me to make him a board ( i believe it was my Bride of Frankenstein) for his girlfrriend for her bday. Thaat was awesome. What lemke is doing is gaining fame from stolen art the others risked their necks putting up. when we put up work, the general idea is you want the most ppl to see it. a stolen board is limited to the amount of ppl it will be shown to, art show or not.
theres a few of us out there that were saying how we’d like to go take it back…we’ll see if that happens. our ultimate concern is is Mr. Lemke trying to turn a profit (in anyway) from our work. he might not sell it directly, but dropping our names might draw in a crowd, as will charging for drinks at an art show where the art is stolen.
as for the code of ethics goes, sure there is one. generally all spots are fair game (excluding places of worship, automobiles, and homes). also, respect others work (graff and street art alike) and dont cover other ppl shit, and for the most part the graff community respects that too.”-Saro