Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Street Artist DAIN Brings Glamour & Graffiti To Folioleaf Gallery!

Who's day doesn't instantly become much better when you spot a DAIN piece of art on the street?  Mine improves greatly and I become very happy!  It's that simple.  If you've lived in the city for any length of time you've seen his iconic, beautiful, Hollywood-esque style images, especially around Soho, Tribeca and Williamsburg.   The art-beauty-fashion-like mix filled with collage and bright colors can be spotted a block away.  And, thus can the smile on my face.
Imagine my happiness when Todd Masters, owner of Folioleaf gallery asked if I wanted to do a little interview with DAIN vs. just coming by to shoot a few images before the show!  I was honored to meet and speak with him last week about his art and it's process and whatever else I could learn about the elusive artist.   I have been a huge fan of his work for years and since very few people have actually met DAIN, I was again, more than privileged.
The exhibit opening is this Thursday, April 3, 2014 from 6-8p.m. at Folioleaf Gallery, 111 Front Street, #226, Brooklyn (Dumbo.)   The solo show will feature at least a dozen original paintings of his latest collage / graffiti style of the clever, classic Hollywood faces merged with vibrant colors and characteristics of street art.   I believe most originals are spoken for but prints may still also be available at the gallery and on line by looking here: http://folioleaf.com/exb/dain.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, DAIN combines glamour and grit brilliantly.  He features iconic black and white head shots of actresses from the past to present such as favorites Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn to Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham and Adele with collage from a variety of media (advertisements, fashion magazines and found images.)   Next comes vibrant spray paint and most recently, painted backgrounds.  Throughout his practice, DAIN manages to balance fine art, contemporary and street art resulting in the grittiness of the streets.

First, for the many people trying to find you on Instagram or Facebook, they won't.   Do you think you'll ever partake in social media?
Probably not, I like it the way it is.

You realize you have a huge following and most people use the #dain to share your work with other fans (via Instagram.)  What do you think about your many, many loyal fans who constantly seek out your work on the streets?
I'm always amazed and a little shocked by it.  I really enjoy their photographs.

You were born and raised in Brooklyn.  How did growing up in New York influence your art?
Growing up in New York City is like no other place in the world and I love everything from the sights to the smells and of course the culture and diversity.  Graffiti used to be huge when I was young and now, still is, it has always been a big influence.

As a child you were inspired by graffiti and starting writing yourself.   Now, you are known for your "street art" images.  When did you start doing work in the street?
Yes, I stated "writing" at a young grade-school age and began wheat-pasting around 2007.  I owned a T shirt, silkscreen type business about ten years ago and had a few friends working "on the streets."  I became very intrigued and started exploring wheat pasting then began to join them.  I definitely like to evolve and try new processes and mediums.

I for one, run out to see and photograph your work the minute I see something new has gone up.  I want to get a great shot before it's tagged on.  Does the tagging, etc.  annoy you?
No! Not at all. On the contrary I only expect it to stay up a short time. If it lasts a month that's huge.  I actually like when it's "written" on, doesn't bother me at all!  I don't like it to stay up to long.

What is it like wheat-pasting your art on the street to then showing your work in galleries like Folioleaf and Avant Gallery?
I love showing work in galleries and hope to do more exhibits in the upcoming future.  The show at Avant Gallery in Miami a couple years back was wonderful and I recently had an exhibit at their New York space.  Whether it be Madison Avenue or Brooklyn, I would like to explore a variety of gallery atmospheres who feature not just street art but contemporary as well.  I would like to show again in London and / or in Europe.

Can you tell us about your process from beginning to end per say, from the found pieces to collage to painting?  How does it all come together? 
I generally use black and white photographs of pieces that speak to me, that I just find and like.  Many are Hollywood icons and many I don't even know who the model is.   I particularly like Adele and Twiggy, and also just finding that one anonymous piece that jumps out at me.   It's in the eyes which is what first grabs me.   I don't have a rhyme or reason to the collaged pieces, they just speak to me and putting those together takes most time.   Once I have my foundation image down I begin choosing colors, painting and layering spray paint.  Collage is the foundation, from there it gets easier.  I'm also concentrating much more on "painting" now, evolving my pieces.

I really just love that old Hollywood glam look from the 40's and 50's, especially the fashion, when women dressed iconic and beautifully.   They didn't show much skin and didn't have to.  You'll notice my pieces are tasteful and the women are not revealing.   I like mixing the fashion of men's suiting with a beautiful face for example.  Women were beautiful with their clothes on and classic films and images made you think.  You had to use your imagination.

What inspires your work?
A great found image of inner beauty and class.  Plus to me, it's all in the eyes and lips and it doesn't matter as much what she is wearing.  And, I enjoy a normal figure with chic clothing.  The eyes say it all and inspire me!  The rest comes together around that.

Since the fist time I saw your work years ago, I felt fashion influence...
Kind of, and I like exploring classic, iconic fashion in my work.

The circle and drips around one eye are almost like a trademark on many of your pieces, can you tell us about that? 
No, it's just something I like.

The work you've done in 2014 seems to be even more evolved, can you tell us about the new pieces?
The new work, I feel is yes, more evolved and I'm using much more color and backgrounds.  Before it may have been more collage, black and white and some color on a white surface. Now I'm really focusing more on painting.  I feel I'm just now scratching the surface. I'm just now getting started.
I look forward to see how this direction will evolve an whats going to come next. It's exciting.

How do you know when a piece is done?  It must have perfect balance and now since I'm focused on color and painting, I continue to add.  It's not done until the last minute and I like the last minute deadline.

You have a Faberge egg in The Big Egg Hunt,  tell me about that.
I was honored to be selected to create an egg and it will be a massive college of faces but not one in particular.  I believe it will be displayed in Rockefeller center later, currently it is at Quality Mending on Prince Street.
DAIN shared a photo from his cell phone of the egg!  Trust me it's amazing and will be a sure show stopper.

Are there any artists, street or contemporary that you particularly admire?
I couldn't name just one, all of them.   I  enjoy seeing work on the street and in the galleries and museums when I can.

How do you spend your spare time?
With my family, we love to travel as well.

Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, or 10 years? 
I want to do more shows, create fun and enjoyable pieces and possibly do something with fashion. You never know.  I will  continue to do work that doesn't burn me out, but that's enjoyable.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive - who would it be and why?
Jesus, because he was the most influential person.

And there you have it.  Now have a look at some of what you'll see at Folioleaf Gallery and what I was able to shoot before they were hung...
A quick look at the print release (above/below), the one below is spoken for, (by myself!)
In the gallery.... (above)
...and on the streets nearby.
The exhibit will run  through May 17, 2014 and you can learn more here http://folioleaf.com/exb/dain and keep your eyes out for more DAIN on the streets!