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Al Diaz, coming to Cherokee Street Gallery

SAMO©... LIVES

Artist Al Diaz to exhibit at Cherokee Street Gallery

New York City artist, Al Diaz is coming to St Louis to open an exhibition of his current artwork at Cherokee Street Gallery on Saturday, September 8th. The exhibition is titled “SAMO© LIVES” and opens at the gallery with an artist talk by Diaz from 6:00 to 7:00 pm followed by an opening reception beginning at 7:00 pm.

“I’m psyched about showing theses new pieces. I’ve been preparing all summer for the Cherokee Street Gallery show.  St. Louis is proving to be a Street Art Destination.” - Al Diaz

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Al Diaz and Jean Michel Basquiat collaborated on the creation of the enigmatic graffiti tag "SAMO©", pronounced "same oh" as in "same 'ol shit" or "same 'ol thing." It was a blasé expression of boredom in reaction to the repeated patterns of daily activity offered by modern life. Diaz and Basquiat worked to build the SAMO© concept by writing short cryptic slogans on the streets of New York City from 1977 to early 1980 tagged with the name SAMO©. According to Diaz, "SAMO© was never intended to be a person." Cherokee Street Gallery Founder, Benjamin Lowder’s take on SAMO© is that, “it was meant to be a brand or place holder for the empty promises presented by religion and consumer culture.” Basquiat took over the SAMO© identity for a while as his art-world alter ego, but Diaz says it was never intended to be that and he presents an alternative viewpoint of what the enigmatic SAMO© actually was. 

August marks the 30th anniversary of Basquiat’s death and the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis is mounting an exhibition titled “Basquiat Before Basquiat” focusing on the same years that Diaz and Basquiat created SAMO© together. Cherokee Street Gallery Manager Lisa Simani says, “it’s fortuitous timing that brings these two exhibitions together here in St Louis to present a more complete picture of this culturally significant collaboration between Diaz and Basquiat.”

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Cherokee Street Gallery • 2617 Cherokee Street, St Louis • www.CherokeeStreetGallery.com

Contact: info@cherokeestreetgallery.com

 

Ben Lowder
Artist Talk with Benjamin Lowder

"Messages From Mercury"

An artist talk at Cherokee Street Gallery by Benjamin Lowder

Saturday, September 1st at 4:00 PM

Cherokee Street Gallery artist and founder, Benjamin Lowder shares the inspiration behind his "Myth, Math & Magic" series of artwork. Benjamin will be focusing on the thread of thought that lead him to the new work appearing in the "Messages From Mercury" exhibition.

Topic areas will include: 

Hermes Trismegistus • Sacred Geometry • Word Magic • Semiotics • Mythology • Alchemy 

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Artworks currently on view at Cherokee Street Gallery as part of "Messages From Mercury"

Scenes from our inaugural opening

Cherokee Street Gallery's inaugural exhibition "Messages From Mercury" featuring new artwork by the gallery's founder Benjamin Lowder opened to a packed house along with works by artists Jerald Ieans, Zack Smithey, Travis Lawrence and Lauren Marx. photos by Rebecca Bolte

SEE YA ON JUNE 29th
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Cherokee Street Gallery, located at 2617 Cherokee Street in St Louis, presents it’s first official art opening on Friday, June 29th with a reception from 6 - 10 pm. The show is titled “Messages From Mercury” and features artwork by the gallery’s founder, Benjamin Lowder. Lowder says, “our inaugural show’s title draws from the mythological idea that the planet Mercury, being the closest planet to the sun, functions as the messenger between worlds and presents itself to human beings as the mythological character Hermes. This archetypal character deals with language and travel, functioning as a scribe to communicate the source of creation’s will to humanity in order to guide us on the right path.” Through the use of objects like deconstructed caution barricades, Lowder’s current artwork is using this mythological narrative as an allegory to express the idea that we are in danger of loosing touch with our guiding archetypal forces and this disconnection could cause us to “go the wrong way.” Lowder says “this message from mercury is essentially a call for us to acknowledge our hubris.”

In addition to Lowder’s “Messages From Mercury” show, the gallery will also be exhibiting the artwork of two other talented and popular St Louis artists. Cherokee Street Gallery’s, managing gallerist, Lisa Simani said, “during our inaugural exhibition we are also placing artwork by Jerald Ieans and Zack Smithey in conversation with each other. Both of these artists have uniquely strong voices and in considering their work, it seemed to us, that their artworks were having a dialogue with each other.” Both of these artists utilize fluid biomorphic shapes that play with the viewers perception of these shapes in relation to themselves and the background in which they’ve been placed. The artwork in this show will be on view at Cherokee Street Gallery through the months of July and August. During this show’s run the gallery will also be periodically showcasing other artistic mediums such as fashion design, dance, music and designer furnishings.

Cherokee Street Gallery’s next show will feature the artwork of Al Diaz and it is set to open on Saturday, September 8th, 2018. Al Diaz and Jean Michel Basquiat collaborated on the creation of the enigmatic graffiti tag "SAMO©", pronounced "same oh" as in "same 'ol shit" or "same 'ol thing." Diaz and Basquiat worked to build the SAMO© concept by writing short cryptic slogans on the streets of New York City from 1977 to early 1980 which they tagged with the name SAMO©. According to Diaz, "SAMO© was never intended to be a person." It was meant to be a brand or place holder for the empty promises presented by religion and consumer culture. Basquiat took over the SAMO© identity for a while as his art world alter ego, but Diaz says it was never intended to be that and he presents an alternative viewpoint of what the enigmatic SAMO© actually was. 

STAY TUNED!

What's Up With That Sign???
 The Cherokee Street Gallery sign, a nod to the iconic NYC Subway graphics

The Cherokee Street Gallery sign, a nod to the iconic NYC Subway graphics

The Cherokee Street Gallery signage is a reference to the 1970 New York City, Transit Authority, Graphics Standards Manual, Designed by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda.

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If you found yourself in the New York City subway in the 1960s, you were probably lost, and by the year 1970, the Standards Manual changed everything. the New York City Transit Authority hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to design a signage and wayfinding system that could solve this complex communication challenge. Vignelli and Noorda met this daunting design challenge by creating, the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, which has since become an iconic example of modern design.

 A whole subway car "burner" done by Dondi White juxtaposed with NYCTA signage.

A whole subway car "burner" done by Dondi White juxtaposed with NYCTA signage.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's the NYC Subway system was used as a meeting place, studio and canvas for young graffiti writers. The creative lighting that struck there, at that place, in that time, electrified the minds of New York city's youth. They were creating art outside of the law and outside the halls of the establishment. It was from that energy that Hip Hop culture was brought to life and it has since become the dominant form of creative expression around the world today.

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Legendary artist and myth-maker, Rammellzee drew a large degree of inspiration from the subway system and he claimed that his Wild Style graffiti letters were "weapons" who's stylistic form, had been shaped "in the wind tunnels of the transit system." Rammellzee's pivotal insight was that symbols and language shape our reality and that through the control of society's agreed upon symbols, an artist can operate at the causal level and actively shape reality. He was also very aware of the ongoing battle raging among the symbols, logos and language of competing corporations and governments for control of our collective reality. It was in light of this war for our collective hearts and minds that Rammellzee armed his letters with an array of weaponry. Artist Dondi White, repeated Rammellzee's philosophy regarding the need to "arm letters" by quoting Rammellzee's thesis stating,

"the only way to destroy a symbol is with a symbol."

The iconic subway signage created by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noord as well as the graffiti art that originated at the same time in that same subway system both deal in the use and manipulation of symbols to convey meaning. The way in which we attribute meaning to the symbols systems of art and design is a fascinating area of study know as semiotics. This, simply put, is the study of meaning-making and it is a tool for analysis we employ at the gallery. This confluence of meaning, iconography and art occurring in the New York subway system made the NYCTA signage a perfect visual reference point for the kind of ideas we will be exploring at Cherokee Street Gallery as we curate artwork that evokes the miracle of the natural world through humanity‘s distilled symbolic language.

Cherokee Street Gallery takes it's name from it's location and Cherokee Street takes it's name from the lost Cherokee Cave network that still exists beneath the street's pavement. Although access to the cave has been lost, the mystery and power associated with this fabled system of caverns still defines the area through the legends of native americans who revered it as a sacred place, to the breweries it brought to St. Louis in the 1800's who used the caves for refrigeration. The subterranean geology of this cave network, known to geologists as a "karst region," has defined the history and current character of St. Louis. 

In a similar way the subterranean architecture of the New York Subway System has defined the character of New York City, and as the most influential city in the 20th Century, New York has largely defined our current global culture. The inherited letter forms that were appropriated and abstracted by New York graffiti writers share an architecture with the natural growth structures they were based upon as humanity began to use symbols to stand for actual things. This nexus of nature informing symbols to shape global culture is referenced in the Cherokee Street Gallery sign which is an iconographic reference to the 1970 style manual for the New York city subway system signage. 

Cherokee Street Gallery Founder,

Benjamin Lowder

SAMO© LIVES with Al Diaz

Al Diaz is coming to Cherokee Gallery

 Al Diaz putting up a SAMO tag in NYC

Al Diaz putting up a SAMO tag in NYC

Al Diaz and Jean Michel Basquiat collaborated on the creation of the enigmatic graffiti tag "SAMO©", pronounced "same oh" as in "same 'ol shit" or "same 'ol thing." It was a blasé expression of boredom in reaction to the repeated patterns of daily activity offered by modern life. Diaz and Basquiat worked to build the SAMO© concept by writing short cryptic slogans on the streets of New York City from 1977 to early 1980 tagged with the name SAMO©. According to Diaz, "SAMO© was never intended to be a person." It was meant to be a brand or place holder for the empty promises presented by religion and consumer culture. Basquiat took over the SAMO© identity for a while as his art world alter ego, but Diaz says it was never intended to be that and he presents an alternative viewpoint of what the enigmatic SAMO© actually was. 

 vintage NYC SAMO tag Photo by Henry Flynt

vintage NYC SAMO tag Photo by Henry Flynt

 An Al Diaz "SAMO Cross" Tag in the NYC Subway.

An Al Diaz "SAMO Cross" Tag in the NYC Subway.

Cherokee Street Gallery is having Al Diaz come to St Louis this September to exhibit work and share his perspective on SAMO© "As an end to mindwash religion, nowhere politics and bogus philosophies."

Albert Diaz explains how SAMO came about and how he and Jean Basquiat created the world renowned brand, including how reports of it's death were misunderstood.