Friday, October 10, 2008


You've heard right. We're moving up in the blog world and our new blog is now going to be part of our main site at: So move your bookmarks, update your homepage, tell your friends, tell your mom, take a deep breath, and then get click on the link and enjoy our new spiffy site.

We'll still be using this site as our archive, so if you want to see any past posts, they'll all be up here for you.

Piecebook: The Secret Drawings of Graffiti Writers

Before it hits the wall, graffiti is often planned out in a black book—a common artist’s sketchbook sometimes called a “piece book”—“piece” being short for “masterpiece.” Well-worn and dog-eared, these books are used to develop and trade ideas with other graffiti writers, and are often passed from artist to artist, becoming unique records of creative expression. Piecebook: The Secret Drawings of Graffiti Writers chronicles the evolution of graffiti via images that weren’t intended for everyday people to see, focusing on the works of New York City writers active from 1970s until the mid-1980s. It brings together hundreds of drawings, most never before published, reproduced on uncoated paper to resemble the pages of an authentic graffiti writer’s black book. Bold works from graffiti history’s most important sources or “seeds”—Zephyr, Dondi, Daze, CRASH, Lady Pink, T-Kid, CAP, and Ghost, among others—represent a dizzying array of techniques and styles. Fans of graffiti will find this an irresistible inside look at how their favorite artists perfected their talents.

This Sunday, authors Sacha Jenkins (of Ego Trip fame) and David Villorente (the Source) will be at Fifty24SF Gallery from 5pm to 8pm, discussing their newest project, Piecebook: The Secret Drawings of Graffiti Writers. Come and hear the background of the book from the authors themselves!

About the Authors:
Sacha Jenkins co-founded the seminal hip-hop magazine ego trip and parlayed the brand into numerous books and television shows. He is currently editorial director of Mass Appeal—an urban lifestyle magazine rooted in the culture of graffiti.

David Villorente was the editor of Source magazine’s graffiti pages, writing under the byline of his graffiti tag “Chino.” He lectures widely on the art of graffiti.


The magnificent Mear One is coming back to the gallery where he got his start at fifteen years ago, the legendary Zero One Gallery (530 South Hewitt Street #141 / Los Angeles CA 90013) in the downtown arts district of Los Angeles. The opening reception is this Saturday, October 11th from 7 - 10 PM, so if you're in the LA area you're not going to want to miss it.

Over his career Mear One has made quite a name for himself in the art world, from being at the forefront of the movement that began to blur the lines between fine art and graffiti - to holding solo shows in Paris and Portland. And most recently he's contributed an in-your-face tee to our collection as well as a fine limited edition print (only 50 copies!) for our Obama series.

There's also an after party immediately following the gallery reception (invite below), tell them Upper Playground sent you and they'll be somewhat nice to you.

Big Shoes To Fill

I visited the adidas campus in Portland a few weeks back and Sam Flores' face is plastered all over the place. From the outside of buildings, to offices, large posters of Sam loom overhead. The best part was seeing Sam's oversize adidas shoe that he painted smack in the middle of campus . . .


Upper Playground just got its hands on two new hardcover books that have photos as cool as the one above, and we thought why not share the love with our fans? All you have to do to enter is become our fan on Facebook, add your wisdom to our discussion board and we'll randomly pick two winners from there.

Also, check out FIFTY24SF’s page for how to enter another contest we’re doing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Recap: SPARKS Ignite What's Next Art Tour 2008 - PHOENIX

I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that the latest Sparks/Juxtapoz/Upper Playground tour is done with. On one hand, it’ll be nice to get back in to some sort of routine, without being torn by my roots and thrown in to some new city w/ a bunch of creepy artist dudes. On the other hand, what could be better that being ripped from one’s routine to go hang out in new cities with creepy artists dudes… ok, ok… the creepy artists dudes happen to be my buddies, so it does make it a little easier. Plus, I have been fortunate to work with great new people, in each city. I really have to give it up for all the musical acts (DJ Pickster, Silver Medallion and the Insects). The last dude I want to thank is Dumperfoo. His stage name is kinda weird, but the dude is cool as shit. Without him, the AZ leg of this tour would have suffered, so hats off to you. Now, for the photos…

Yet ANOTHER picture of the boys. Straight from the plane, I knew that it was long past time to get a bite/beverage (despite the fact that I was sick as a muhfuggin dog). N8 and Alex had already been in AZ for a day, when Tarrant, Flores and I arrived and because of this, felt like they already had a lay of the land. They actually ended up taking us to a pretty sweet place (food/beverage-wise), even though it was kind of like a sad Tempe version of Hooters. Unfortunately, this was the only pic I was able to snap, as I was distracted by the minors that worked there (remember that this place was very hooters-ish), the amputee magazine cover models and the plethora of motorized wheelchairs that seemed to zip past us, every 30 seconds.

Later, we headed over to the Phoenix art-walk. Shit was crazy. There was a huge strip, with a few side streets, that branched off of it. On said strip/side streets, were about 100 “galleries” and about 1,000 people. I throw galleries in quotes, because half of these places were garages/basements/etc. A few of the artists that I spoke with were justifiably bummed about this, because it really takes away from the folks who have worked hard to build a legit art scene out there. Not saying that a good gallery can’t sprout out of creative use of space, but most of these people just wanted a spot to show their own awesome graffiti sketch books. If you say you are showing in a gallery in PHX, generally nobody really cares, because it all seems to get lumped together. That being said, there were definitely a few places that were cultivating some amazing talent. Oh yeah… the Ghostbusters were there, too.

Finally, it was time to get some real drinking done. When we demanded that we be given directions to a bar with a) rock, in the jukebox, b) a pool table, and c) bud + jack, behind the bar, we were unanimously steered to the Bikini Lounge. After typing the coordinates in to TomTom (Alex Pardee’s crappy version of a GPS device), we drove, parked and started walking. As we were walking, we looked across the street and saw this billboard. e all thought it was a little weird, but whatev’s…we’re in Phoenix. Then we looked up and saw another billboard connected to this, that said (in HUGE letters), TEEN CHALLENGE. We weren’t really sure to make of things and figured it might just be a good idea to get to the bar, ASAP. N8 had other ideas…

Yeah, N8 had other ideas… Passion of the N8.

That egg on N8’s head is the result of dropping that huge cross and having it land partially on his head. The funniest part about this (aside from the fact that a gargantuan dude was lugging a huge cross, down the sidewalk, much to the dismay of all the residents) was that Alex Tarrant thought that the bump was totally normal and had always been there.

We finally made it in to the Bikini Lounge, after talking our way out of a pummeling (for f*cking with the cross… turns out the Teen Challenge place keeps a cross in front of their building, because they are a drug recovery place run by some gnarly dudes who don’t take kindly to a bunch of f*ckwads screwing around with their religious paraphernalia). This is N8 and our new pal, Jessica (sister of Jeremy and wife of Dumperfoo).

Just after I put a couple bucks in the jukebox and played the entire Ride The Lightening album, the bartenders screeched, “Everyone out…this is an emergency…EVERYONE OUT!” Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled (who doesn’t love Ride The Lightening?), but what I didn’t know was that this was a blessing in disguise. This forced us to find Chez Nous. Have you ever seen Animal House? If so, then I’m sure you’ll remember the part where the Deltas roll in to the Dexter Lake Club and realize that “we’re the only white people here.” This place was sick. There was a crazy soul band finishing up, the lights were dim, there were beautiful leather booths everywhere. And then N8 happened… again. Mind if we dance with your dates?

After all was said and done, I decided to ride the lightening, my own way.

The next morning we all needed to soak up some of what was sloshing around in our tums. For this entire tour, the waffle houses that freckle this fine country had proved to be a fascination for the dudes. On this leg of the tour, we just happened to have a Waffle House within walking distance of our hotel. Oh, and NEVER ask them (or possibly anyone) to put mushrooms in your grits. Ol’ Sammy Count Chocula Flores found this out the hard way.

How tall? This tall.

Alex claims to not drink, but when he couldn’t hold it anymore and we saw that his urine was the same exact color of the sparks we’d been drinking, he definitely aroused some suspicion.

The dudes finally start getting things underway.

OK… here’s where the pretty starts and the loafers start feeling lighter. Right when we noticed the sun setting on the Tempe skyline, the dudes immediately wanted their picture taken, to capture the moment. I think it may be that gigantic spliff in Floreezy’s mouth that really kicked this off.

More pretty shots (this one is one of my favorites).

Pardee and I agreed that this tower/sunset combo kind of looked like a J. Soto painting. Nice work, Jeff.

Last of the pretty . . .

Back to work.

I have to say, I was very impressed with the Tempe/Phoenix folks. The doors opened @ 8 and even though there were no performances until 9, there were already about 150 people watching our guys, by 8:30. People had really followed the history of Sam, N8 & Alex and seemed truly honored to have these guys doing their thing, right in their hometown. What was even more impressive was the age spread… there were 15 year olds, who seemed to know as much about these artists as some of the 30-40 year olds in attendance.

Fruits of labor and love.

What a bunch of jerks. Can’t wait to do it again.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Citrus Report #4: "Take the Fifth" now up

The newest issue of The Citrus Report ( is now up and running with features on Jeff Staple, Armsrock, and Jesse Reno. The look of the site has changed slightly, but we still have features, columns, daily news from the world around us, and now, we are featuring 11 Questions with various artists, UP team members, and the occasional celebrity that we deem worthy of the vaunted 11 Questions.

So go check out the new issue, "Take the Fifth," read about Armsrock and Staple and all the others, and don't worry, you will have more news than you will know what to deal with.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cody Hudson x Upper Playground x Obama limited print

Graphic design and fine artist Cody Hudson is the latest artist to partner with Upper Playground (UP) to produce a Barack Obama print. The Chicago-based Hudson recently published a book with UP’s FIFTY24SF Gallery books entitled Save My Life, as well as exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago this past year.

There are 200 prints made that are signed and numbered by the artist, and retail for $200. The limited-edition 18" x 24" print is available exclusively online. Please note: prints will not ship until November 3, 2008.

All proceeds from the sales of the poster will go directly to creating more campaign t-shirts, posters, and stickers by other artists in support of Obama's bid for President. Stay tuned for more Upper Playground projects in support of Barack Obama to be announced up until the election on November 4, 2008.

Cody Hudson’s Barack Obama poster is part of an ongoing series from Upper Playground of artist collaborations in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Upper Playground has endorsed Obama's campaign by creating posters featuring artwork from Justin Bua, David Choe, Grotesk, The Date Farmers, Munk One, Ron English, Alex Pardee, Morning Breath, Mac, Sam Flores, Burlesque Design and Mear One, in addition to printing T-shirts with Shepard Fairey's Obama graphics to help support the campaign.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tonight @ FIFTY24PDX Gallery, Mel Kadel + Michael Sieben + Travis Millard

Look at what is going in Portland tonight: Mel Kadel, Michael Sieben, and Travis Millard, all together for a show at the FIFTY24PDX Gallery. Go check it out. Say hi to Michael for us.

The set up.

Michael and Mel, sitting, blogging, surfing, writing, etc.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Koralie, this Thursday, October 2, FIFTY24SF Gallery

A little reminder goes a long way. Thursday night, at the FIFTY24SF Gallery, Koralie is opening up her new solo show, "Haiku," in our downstairs gallery. Come by from 7-9:30PM for a little bit of art goodness. Here are some set-up shot.

A wall of good Koralie work.

Koralie, in set-up mode.

She paints, we watch.

And another reminder, the "Catalyst" show has moved solely upstairs, so if you can't get enough of Horkey and friends, well you got another month to check it all out.

Upper Playground NYC

Finally, we have moved ourselves to NYC as today, Upper Playground opened shop in the East Village. We guess the UP logo and butcher paper covering the store was not enough to squash the rumors, but UPNYC is officially opened. The UPNYC location also has a massive, permanent mural by David Choe on the inside walls, which is a major highlight to the store. Read below for our official word . . .

That's a nice David Choe mural we got there. David is good. You should know by now.

Upper Playground is excited to announce the unveiling of its first East Coast retail establishment in New York City. Upper Playground’s new East Village location will provide shoppers with a unique fashion and fine art experience.

Upper Playground offers apparel for men and women including their popular line of hoodies, t-shirts, jackets, shoes, luggage, and more. Similar to other UP storefronts, the store will feature an exclusive line of localized themed designs from a variety of contemporary artists and designers.

The walls of the new location will be adorned with a permanent art installation from fine artist and NYC resident David Choe. In addition to its NY location, Upper Playground has retail locations in San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Portland, London, and Seattle, which also opened this month.

A superFishal design for UPNYC.

WHEN: The store will be open to the public on: Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Store Hours: 11 AM – 7PM, Mon-Sun.

WHERE: Upper Playground NYC
437 East 9th Street, West Space, New York, NY 10009
(212) 254.2233

12Grain for UPNYC.

Grotesk for UPNYC.

Final "Ignite What's Next" Event this Saturday, Ocotber 4, in Phoenix

The third and final leg of the Sparks x Upper Playground x Juxtapoz "Ignite What's Next" Art Tour is upon, and the closing event is this Saturday, October 4th, at the Marquee Theater in Phoenix, Arizona. The gang of three—Sam Flores, Alex Pardee, and N8 Van Dyke—will again be painting live and showcasing their internationally renowned talents as some of the biggest stars in contemporary art. Previous Tour stops in both Atlanta and Boston had the three artists painting live including live performances from some of the best DJs and MCs in their respected cities, including a major performance from Killer Mike in the ATL.

Check out a couple of videos from the first two events: ATLANTA and BOSTON.



The Phoenix area "Ignite What's Next" Art Tour stop at the Marquee Theater will feature musical guests DJ Pickster One, Ill Al the Anglo-Saxon + OHM, Silver Medallion, and The Insects. Don't forget, this Saturday, Octoboer 4, 9 PM.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Upper Playground x Burlesque Design X Obama limited print

Graphic design and screenprinting studio, Burlesque Design of North America, are the latest artists to partner with Upper Playground to produce a Barack Obama print. The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Burlesque Design have gained international recognition as one of the premier printing and design studios for various music, poster, and tee-shirt projects. Burlesque has also been responsible for printing the entire series of Upper Playground collaborative art posters to support Obama’s campaign.

Burlesque Design’s Barack Obama poster is part of an ongoing series from Upper Playground of artist collaborations in support of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. The poster features an excerpt from Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention this past summer. Upper Playground has endorsed Obama's campaign by creating posters featuring artwork from Justin Bua, David Choe, Grotesk, The Date Farmers, Munk One, Ron English, Alex Pardee, Morning Breath, Mac, Sam Flores and Mear One, in addition to printing T-shirts with Shepard Fairey's Obama graphics to help support the campaign.

There are 200 prints made that are signed and numbered by Wes Winship of Burlesque Design of North America, and retail for $200. The limited-edition 18" x 24" print is now available exclusively online. Please note: prints will not ship until October 20, 2008.

All proceeds from the sales of the poster will go directly to creating more campaign t-shirts, posters, and stickers by other artists in support of Obama's bid for President. Stay tuned to a new Upper Playground project in support of Barack Obama to be announced later this month.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Koralie @ FIFTY24SF Gallery: Opening Reception: Thursday, October 2, 2008 from 7–9:30 p.m.

“HAÏKU” is a solo exhibition featuring French artist Koralie, an internationally renowned fine and street artist.

The show will mirror the concept and form of a haiku, focusing on what Koralie explains as, “Little canvases, little frames, little supports, all recounting a little story.” Koralie has made a name for herself in the international fine art community with her unique street art and gallery work, capturing Geisha-inspired characters with beautiful textures, patterns, colors, and forms. Apart from exhibiting in galleries across the world, Koralie has contributed designs to Upper Playground’s apparel line.

Koralie is based in Montpellier, France. Her Geisha-inspired characters are some of the most unique pieces to pop-up in cities across the world. Her work has been recently seen at Galerie L.J. Beaubourg in Paris and Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City.

Koralie’s “HAÏKU” solo exhibition will be on display at the lower level of the FIFTY24SF Gallery from October 2–30, 2008.

The upper level of FIFTY24SF Gallery will continue to show “Catalyst,” a group exhibition showcasing the works of Aaron Horkey, Josh Graham, Aaron Turner, Seldon Hunt, Justin Bartlett, Stephen Kasner, Dwid Hellion, and Florian Bertmer. The exhibit brings together an underground community of artists in which aural and visual expressions converge. Artwork on display comprises of a wide source of media, including new two-dimensional paintings, drawings, video installations, screen prints as well as an installation of seminal works from each of the artists’ extensive catalogues. Guest curation by Brett Aronson.