>KAWS: the first solo museum exhibition by the Brooklyn-based artist at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

15 Jul

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TEXT, VIVIAN KELLY

The Sunday afternoon opening at the Aldrich broke all records. 1200 people came to see the multi-artist exhibit, many of them came to support Grafitti artist, KAWS. KAWS, [we’re not allowed to reveal his real name ie: the one on his passport/driver’s license] arranged to bus in his supporters from NYC and by the turn-out, it’s evident that this young artist is hot, on –fire, actually. He is known for “taking infamous iconic entertainment characters and subversively reinterpreting their appearances and personalities.”The beloved ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ was the focus of the large works on display.

We eventually broke our way through the human knot of admirers around him, thanks to the Aldrich’s effervescent Michael Blakeney, the museum’s Development Director, who made the intro. KAWS is soft-spoken and appeared somewhat uncomfortable with his fame; in the way actress Kristen Stewart is. When I asked him which of his collaborations were particularly memorable, he picked my favorite – the one he worked on with fashion photographer David Simms. The photos in the smaller gallery show a very young Kate Moss, at the start of her career with some interesting graffiti added on by Kaws. While seemingly shy, he really shines with young people. In spite of fans eager to speak with him, he took the time to draw on our friend’s son’s arm cast. He didn’t just scribble his name, but drew a cartoon, right on the spot for him, shutting everything [and everyone] else out as he worked.

On the walls of the sun-washed gallery were huge works of “Spongebob Squarepants” and other of his well-known street art, apparel, product, and graphic designs. As the press release stated, the exhibit “debut[ed] a selection of never-before-seen paintings, sculptures, and drawings which blur the conventional boundaries between art, design, and culture.”
The KAWS exhibit is an experience. Be sure to go and see it, you have until January 2, 2011. No excuses!

To learn more about the Aldrich, visit www.aldrichart.org

Image of the “SpongeBob” gallery, Courtesy of the Aldrich contemporary Art Museum

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