Thursday, June 23, 2011

AiOP 2011 artist Leon Reid IV will bring 2 "H"s this October: Humor and History

**Update** You can help fund Leon Reid IV's project by making a donation through his kickstarter page. Click the link for more information

The time has come to get to know a few of our AiOP 2011 artists who will make 14th street a bit more lively during the first week of October. First stop:  Leon Reid IV, a graffiti artist / commission based sculptor who plans to make you smile and question your knowledge of history during the festival. New Yorkers tend not to pay attention of their surroundings. Safe to say his project will do the trick to stop you and make you think. History? Humor? Thinking? What exactly does he have in mind?  Well it involves a statue of a very famous historical figure. Intrigued? Read on and get to know him better.

Leon Reid, IV, photo provided by artist

AiOP: Tell us about you?

LR: My name is Leon Reid IV, I am a public artist operating out of Brooklyn, NY. I grew up as a teenage graffiti artist, writing under the tag VERBS in the mid 90's. I came to NYC to attend Pratt Institute in '98 where I was surrounded by a completely new environment and open to new influences. During this time, I began to break away from traditional graffiti to the point where I had to use a different name altogether, I chose DARIUS JONES as my pen name. As Darius, I began making sculptures out of steel and hammer drilling them directly into the pavement -all while disguised as a daytime construction worker. I didn't know it then, but years later I was told that what I was creating was 'street art'

My background in graffiti and street art have brought me where I am today, a commission based sculptor working in the public realm. My past forays have taught me to react to every site differently, to find the uniqueness embedded in each space and enhance it with a work that speaks to the common pedestrian. My goal as an artist is to change the way the commoner views their environment.

"Pedestrian Shuffle" 

"The Great Recession" (2009) 

AiOP: How did you hear about Art in Odd Places?

LR: I was on a public art panel discussion with a curator for AiOP at Pratt Manhattan in '09. This is where I first learned of the great projects that AiOP brings together!
AiOP: Walk us through your thought process in creating your piece for Art in Odd Places.

LR: Using the theme of ritual with 14th street as a backdrop, I conceived of a project called "Tourist-In-Chief" to be installed (hopefully) on the statue of George Washington in Union Square. This intervention transforms Washington from stoic statesman into your everyday tourist by addition of simple props such as" I Love NY" hat, subway map, Whole Foods and DSW shopping bags. "Tourist-In-Chief" will animate this icon of American history and propel him into today's ritual of consumption. It should be a laugh for New Yorkers and tourists alike.

This work is similar to one of my previous interventions called "True Yank", permitted by the city of Manchester, U.K. As was the case with "True Yank",  "Tourist-In-Chief" will inspire people to re-discover who Washington was personally and his place in NYC history (he was inaugurated on Wall Street)

Leon Reid IV "True Yank" , Photo by Ian Williams

AiOP: How is the preparation coming along?

LR: Preparation for "Tourist-In-Chief" is getting under way. If anyone is interested in volunteering for the project, please contact me here:

AiOP: What do you hope to bring to the festival?

LR: I hope to bring humor and wonder to the AiOP festival. 

AiOP: Any message to the people who will be in 14th street during the festival?

LR: My message to festival goers and pedestrians: "Look Twice" 

AiOP: Where can we reach you?

LR: You can reach me by email at 

AiOP: Any final words?

LR: Don't let galleries and museums dictate where art can exist. If you let public forms of art into your life, you are stepping foot into your own personal art museum every time you go outside. Also, be on the lookout for my latest project: "A Spider Lurks In Brooklyn" which is fiscally sponsored by ARTSPIRE, a program of NYFA.

Truly a sight you don't want (and probably can't) miss. Goodluck with the preparation, Leon! We can't wait to see George Washington's different transformation. Don't forget to visit his website to see Leon's current and past work. His work are very interesting

More artists bios coming soon. Follow our blog for up-to-date Art in Odd Festival 2011 news.

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