Changing the art scene

Nestled amongst the independent retailers, bars and eateries that fill The Quarter sits The Art of Protest Gallery. With its aqua coloured walls, it stands out among old brown brick stone wall that surrounds it. It is here Jeff Clark – one-half of the founding duo of The Art of Protest – is patiently waiting for me alone. He’s dressed casually – tweed blazer, black V-neck top, grey jeans and black sneakers – as he welcomes me warmly, apologizing for Craig Humble’s absence. He’s holding a painting of an explosive with Donald Trump’s face placed inside. It piques my interest. Noticing this, he explains the piece, ““This is actually by one of our artists, Steven Spazuk, who uses fire to paint,” he says excitedly, “It was in reaction to the Paris climate talks and the threat he {Donald Trump} poses to our environment.”

Despite the nature of the piece in his hand, Jeff is keen to make it clear that The Art of Protest is about more than offering politicized work. “The relevance of picking the name ‘The Art of Protest” for Craig and I was around the areas that we wanted people to stop and think. Now, obviously, it allows people to ultimately just jump straight to the conclusion that this is really politicized; {but} it’s not about it being overly politicized, it’s about stopping and thinking,” he says as he places the artwork in the drawer beneath him. “It’s not about being left or right wing. It’s about making people think and be a bit more considerate of the world around them.”

Jeff Clark holding Image by Steven Spazuk

Jeff, a practicing photographer, is full of praise for his partner, Craig Humble, describing him as being someone he considered “a mentor” in his early years in business. Both met at Washington Green, one of Europe’s largest fine art publishers, where Craig served as the Northern director, and Jeff sought advice on how to commercialize his work. They would end up losing touch as Jeff moved to the US and worked with artists such as Hoerle Guggenheim, Defer, and Retna. Whilst consulting for Moniker, they established their connection. It was at this time that they began to nurse thoughts of establishing The Art of Protest Gallery: “For different reasons, we both came back and were consulting for this art fair for which we looked at what was going on in the North of England. Thousands of people migrate from the North of England to the South to buy art, which has a cultural relevance. We had to ask ourselves these questions of why. Why are they migrating? The culture is here. So, we looked at all the different areas and we thought let’s do something. We asked ourselves how do we want to do it? Do we just want a gallery? Do we just want to sell art work? No. It has to be more than that. And so was born the Art of the Protest.”

Art of Protest Gallery

Does he worry about the risks involved in running a new business? “It’s not easy establishing a new business. It’s never going to be, whatever you trade in. So, what we’ve got to do is make sure that we are culturally and visually relevant, from the day we open and create enough things to generate energy and excitement and keep people coming back and looking at us.” The arrangement of the artwork creates a spacious walkway out of the walls of the gallery, diffusing the potential threat of claustrophobia the size of the gallery poses. The pieces in the gallery carry with them and urban feel and look as if they would look just as good on the walls of York, as they would in the homes of potential buyers.

Having been an artist himself, Jeff is at pains to pass across his view on gallerists who cheat their artists: “If you find there is a gallerist out there ripping off {young} artists because they spend hours creating something and they get a very low percentage of the actual mark up. That is wrong,” he says earnestly, “It’s inherently wrong and they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.” For Jeff, “it’s the responsibility of the gallerist to make sure the artists are looked after” otherwise things don’t work: “There is no point in the gallery getting fat and the artist getting skinny, and vice versa. It has to be mutually advantageous for everybody otherwise it doesn’t work.”

Artworks in Art of Protest Gallery

The table between Jeff and I is covered in rough sketches of a calligraphic design of sorts, which bears resemblance to the huge mural on the wall opposite the gallery. This mural was created by two of the world’s biggest urban artists, Defer and Big Sleeps, to run with the opening of the gallery.

“They were absolutely amazed by the actual architecture of York and felt very inspired to work with it,” Jeff tells me, as his eyes light up. He brings out from his drawer, a sheet containing different symbols and adds, “The wall itself was set upon and they included up to 21 significant York words, dates, times within it. If you look closely in it, the actual formation of the language, they weaved in certain words, Jorvik, Richard the 3rd and allow people of York who love the history and the modernism to enjoy it together.”

Defer and Big Sleeps, Street Art mural

For Jeff, this encapsulates what the Art of Protest hopes to achieve in York – the fusion of York’s history and urban art. This is what he and Craig believe York and its art scene needs. “York has a wonderful art culture. We’ve got history in abundance in this city. The architecture speaks for itself; we’ve got these beautiful medieval walls. Yet, if we consider it is the most walled city in the U.K, it doesn’t have any street art. These are things which have been the visual culture of the last 30/40 years. Now the first, or I think second ever mural festival in the U.K was actually in York. Goldie was here. All the big celebs of the street art world. That’s just disappeared. Where’s that gone? So, street art is actually a really important part of York’s history as York is in the actual street art movement. A little bit of revisiting that, I think, is really important for us and then we can play with this beautiful historic town and make it as visually inspiring as we can for everyone that comes through.”

Jeff’s words come out with a measured excitement. It is clear he and Craig look forward to taking the York art scene to where they think it needs to be. “The thing which we want to focus on is the 100-mile radius of people, and let them know that they are here, let them know there is an oasis of urban culture for them to come be part of. We know we’re going to supply the best artwork that this city has ever seen, that’s exciting.”

Jeff Clark

As I begin my descent home I wonder if Jeff and Craig plans for York will bear fruit. In the corner of my eye, I see a family of four stop in front of the gallery for a few seconds and ponder Steven Spazuk’s work. It’s a powerful moment, and it gives gravitas to Jeff’s earlier words. I realize it is too soon to tell if Jeff and Craig will be successful with their plans. In that moment, it doesn’t matter. They had managed to get all five of us to stop and think.

Miss Hazard, Paint's mural live in York

On August the 6th at the Light-horseman pub in Fulford York.

Harriet Wood AKA Miss Hazard returns to her home city to paint a mural, and release her new collection at the 'Art Of Protest Gallery'.

There will be live music, and street food on the day, so come along and socialise with the likeminded.

For more information please contact the Pub or the gallery.

See you there.

Steven Spazuk the Fire Painter has his first UK exhibition

Art of Protest Gallery York are proud to announce the first UK exhibition by world famous fire painter Steven Spazuk. The exhibition runs June 16th-30th featuring original artwork valued from £300 to £4,950 and Steven's freshest Signed Limited Edition available framed for £350.

Please call or email the gallery for more information or to receive a portfolio presentation of the available artwork.

info@artofprotestgallery.com
01904 659008
https://www.artofprotestgallery.com/

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Write up of the Gallery in the Yorkshire Post

Thank you Yorkshire post for the write up. 

The best advice to anyone entering the Art of Protest Gallery in York is to turn around and leave. No reflection on this interesting space, but it’s the big wall opposite you want to be looking at first. Until recently the unassuming back wall of Browns department store was in no apparent hurry to announce itself. Not any longer. The loading bay wall now boasts the largest mural in the city. The store’s managing director, Nick Brown, gave his permission and is said to be happy with the result. The new gallery in Little Stonegate is dedicated to what might loosely be called modern street art, concentrating on art from the past 30 years or so. The owners, Craig Humble, 46, and Jeff Clark, 33, were behind the painting of the York mural, which harks back to the street art of Los Angeles. This is the art of gangs. “They’ve all been shot at, they’ve all been stabbed, they’ve all had quite a violent past,” says Craig. “But through going to prison and re-studying, they honed their skills and turned it into the beautiful murals we see today.” Before setting up their own gallery, Craig and York-born Jeff worked for Washington Green, owners of Castle Galleries. Craig, originally from Leeds, was the Northern sales director, and Jeff worked with him running the York branch. Jeff moved up the ladder to Mayfair and then on to another Washington Green gallery, Halcyon, before a company takeover took him to the States. During his spell in the US, Jeff worked at the Miami Basel art show with the urban artist Retna, now a collectable star whose graffiti-inspired work illustrates the cover of Justin Bieber’s 2015 album, Purpose. While in Miami, Jeff heard that Defer was the next big thing in typographic art. Art of Protest now represents him outside of the US, and that is why a wall in York today sports such a striking piece of street art. Jeff and Craig were expecting a visit from Defer, but he turned up two weeks early, carrying four canvases and accompanied by fellow artist Big Sleeps, a tattooist with a global following. They had been in Paris for a tattoo conference and then hopped on to York. Defer saw the potential of the wall opposite the gallery, but before getting to work on the mural he went on a tour of York with Jeff’s father, who is a city guide. “He did all the history of York and coming from LA he’d never really experienced a city like this,” said Craig. “He was very inspired and created that mural based on the facts of York’s history, and weaving the Latin names and Viking names of York, and significant dates.” Hidden in the mural are 21 different historical references to the city and the artwork took one day to complete. “It’s the largest piece of art outside of architecture to happen within the walled city, which is a phenomenal thing to be part of,” says Jeff. Once you have looked at that mural, you should then step into this new gallery, which sits where it joins Back Swinegate, a street corner for street art. The work on display here will change often, Craig and Jeff say, as they introduce the work hanging on the walls on the day of my visit. First up is Defer himself, whose painting uses a mixture of written language forms, ranging from ancient Arabic to Hebrew and English and Saxon scroll. Other artists on show include London artist Zeus, who has been drawing inspiration from urban culture for 30 years, and Colin McMasters, originally from Belfast but now living in south London, who turns found objects into fine art pieces with a 1950s style, often using striking cutouts. A.CE is a London-based paste-up artist with similarities to Banksy, whose pictures are created in the studios and put up around London at night. “In the world of street art, he is huge and has been working the streets for probably the last 25 years,” says Jeff. Like Banksy, he likes to remain anonymous. “You will never see his face and you will never know his name. I have been out for dinner with him, but the public will never know [him].” Pam Glew, from Brighton, uses vintage flags for her canvas, and Jeff points to a ghostly silhouette of David Hockney emerging from a darkened Union Flag. Then there is H, who emerged from the rave scene of the late 1980s. H likes to play with marketing images and brands – doing a “culture jam, swapping their clothes”, says Craig, pointing to a print of a can in Pepsi colours that bears the slogan “Wish I was a coke”. Prefab77 used to be a collective working out of Newcastle, and now one artist, Peter Manning, has very much taken on the mantle. In a series of outlines, punk and rock combined with an ethnic headdress of an African woman, using layers of imagery. “Bringing them together in one image is the best representation of multiculturalism, not didactic but beautiful,” says Craig. Also on the walls at Art of Protest are two pieces by Benjamin Murphy, a young writer and artist from Ilkley who has a love of French literature and 19th century femmes fatales. “He’s a very exciting artist,” says Craig. “I think he’ll be stolen from us very quickly.” Back to Jeff for a final word, and a parting thought about an art-world conundrum. “All the artists want to paint Trump,” he says. “But no one wants to own Trump.” As for the presently Trump-free Art of Protest, Jeff adds: “There will be lots of exciting things planned – watch this space.” And don’t forget to look at that wall.

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/york-plays-home-to-gallery-representing-some-of-the-world-s-most-radical-artists-1-8517087

 

 

Gallery Opening Night!

BIG THANKS to all that came to join us for the Art of Protest Gallery's opening night party! More photos and videos are on the way - be sure to share your best shots with us too!

Gallery opening in progress!

Sneak peak into the AOP gallery, finishing touches underway!

Be sure to stop by for a visit, all of us at the gallery would be happy to give an early preview!

1st wall in York..Ever!

Here are some more shots of the historic first mural being painted in York. Defer X Big Sleeps! Respect to the whole crew coming out from L.A for the event. 

Online shop coming soon!

As we come closer to officially opening the Gallery's doors in mid April we will be implementing an online shop for remote purchases. Please stay tuned for more. Never before seen originals and editions coming! 

Defer teaser!