Scene It: Michael Holman

A look into the 2009 film projects of White Walls artist, Michael Holman.

After quitting his job as an investment banker in the 80s, Michael Holman turned to film, music, and art for fulfillment. He was influential in the underground hip hop scene of the time and he started one of the first noise bands with Jean-Michael Basquiat.

Holman now looks back on these days through the film Downtown Calling, which he is co producing. The documentary focuses on the dance, music, art and club scenes of downtown New York City during the early 80s. The cast includes musicians and graff writers such as DJ AM, Mos Def, Jaleel Bunton and Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, Chris Stein of Blondie, Daze, and Fab 5 Freddy.

The film will be screened at the Austin Film Festival on October 24th and 29th. Watch the film trailer here to get a feel for the upbeat energy of Downtown Calling.


Film Synopsis

In the late 1970s, the “greatest city in the world” was teetering on the edge of total chaos. A failed economy, crime and en mass housing corruption gave way to a city in crisis. Yet out of the economic and social strife that held the “Big Apple” hostage, a family of homegrown cultures that would forever change the world began to emerge. Downtown Calling not only documents, in detail, the evolution of New York City’s fertile music and art subculture during this period, but how its collective output continues to play a prominent, driving role in the international fashion, art and music industries today. –Downtown Calling official site

Richard Ableton
© Richard Ableton

The noise band that Michael started with Basquiat, Gray, is still in existence. Other members had been invited into the group before Basquiat’s death: Shannon Dawson, Wayne Clifford, Nick Taylor and Vincent Gallo. They carry on the legacy of Gray, which will be releasing a new album this year. Also, their song “Drum Mode” is featured in the documentary Blank City along with two film excerpts from Michael’s repertoire.’s band, Gray © Philmreel

We look forward to getting our hands on these new projects from Michael Holman. He is a man of many talents!

David Soukup’s Hong Kong Hustle

As we have spent the last two weeks admiring The Stencil Show, questions begin to arise about each painting. We asked David Soukup to analyze his piece, “Hong Kong Hustle,” from top to bottom. Soukup’s mini interview reveals much that we never saw before in this painting; just wait till you find out how many hours he spent cutting the stencil.

Hong Kong Hustle

White Walls: Title of work:

David Soukup: Hong Kong Hustle

What sparked the idea for this piece?

This was the first piece I got rocking and rolling on when I locked the White Walls Show.  I wanted to go big right away, and this was a great starting point.

Where did this image come from?

This really isn’t just one image.  It’s about ten images photo-shopped together.  The alley, some buildings, the people, the signage, etc.  Most of my images start with something simple and I combine lots of photographs to create what I want.

I have a habit of bringing a camera everywhere with me, and in Chicago there is no shortage of reference.  I try not to limit myself.  But sometimes the subject looks at the camera or the sun doesn’t hit at the right angle, so I hit the internet for a sign or a person.  I allow myself to go and fix those errors to create something different and add more detail.  It’s something new to my process.  I used to just copy the photograph, as in my first set of works. I’ve now started altering the images to work how I want them, which gives me more control over composition, contrast, and color.

Additionally, I add a lot of Chicago or personal references to all of my paintings whenever I can.  At the show, I caught so many people who saw my “Sidewalk Shuffle” piece and saw the New York references and imagery, but knew that Jackson and LaSalle are streets in Chicago, and that the intersection looks nothing like the painting.  There are such details in my other paintings as well, and this one has tons of small nods to my hometown.  I add small things like that to keep people looking and to add little jokes.

My friends’ names or phone numbers appear all the time on the signs. Most people don’t notice that, but it adds a personal touch I think.

How did you create it from start to finish?

I explained the photoshop part above. From that step, I print them out on paper and cut each layer by hand.  Every curve, shape, and letter is cut by hand with an x-acto knife.  The whole thing may be complicated, but it’s really simple when you get around the cutting.  I also try to document this process as much as possible.  I then build my own frames, stain and distress them, and paint them with spray paint.

Stencil-heads know what I am talking about when I say I don’t use spray adhesive, and rely on the pressure of the can to hold the stencil in place and give me a clean line.  I also have the ability to run prints, and this is one of the paintings I submitted 2 editions of.

How long did it take you?

It’s hard to really know.  Painting it only takes like 2 hours, but the actual cutting process- maybe something like 50-80 hours.  I lose track of time when this happens, and I jump around to other stencils sometimes.  The worst thing that can happen is getting bored of cutting a particular stencil, so it’s nice to switch it up.

What were you thinking about while you worked on it?

Nothing.  It’s why stencil cutting is so great.  Some people say they never would have the patience to do what I do, and for me, it’s more like meditation.  I work in the art department in the film business and sometimes the days just burn me out.  With stenciling, I get 2-4 hours a day when I don’t think of anything else.  It makes the process really enjoyable and calms me down a lot.

What meaning do you ascribe to this cityscape?

I try not to get too descriptive.  If I had to pick words, I’d say that it’s about the harmony cities enjoy.  Everyone does their thing. No one is mindful of each other despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people on the street.  It’s the idea of controlled chaos and trying to get people to appreciate the details and beauty of everyday life.

On a side note, I think this show was a great opportunity to showcase my ability, but since leaving San Francisco, I’ve felt such a huge desire to create.  Within the next few months, I want to take the stenciling medium and push it a little further and not get so trapped by the medium.  I think my upcoming work will be something that people haven’t seen and I am anxious to hear the response.

Adam 5100 x Green Day

As we mentioned before, The Stencil Show artist Adam 5100 is a busy guy. We were happy to come across this image of his newest piece to be displayed at Stolen Space Gallery in just a few days. The painting, Murder City, is part of Green Day’s Art of Rock exhibit opening on October 23rd.

Murder City by Adam 5100

From NeuFutur Magazine:

“We’re really excited to be associated with this incredible show,” Green Day front-man Billie Joe Armstrong said. “Seeing the pieces that our new album has inspired is very exciting. We feel a strong connection to that type of creative expression; we think the fans coming out will love it.”

Logan Hicks, the show’s curator, also hit the nail on the head:

“I chose artists whom I felt had a similar visual approach to art as Green Day does to its music,” said Hicks, a stencil artist and die-hard punk-rock fan, whose portraits of band members Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt will also be on display. “Although most of the artists represented are well-established in their careers, they embrace the same emotional rawness with their art, which speaks from the heart and swings with the fist.

Their subject matter is struggle and injustice – they shoot from the hip and their art is their weapon.”

This morning, we were sad to hear that Adam’s studio was flooded over the weekend. Sending our love to Adam 5100!

Hugh Leeman on Walls and Tees

Hugh Leeman was up to no good on his trip to NYC this month. One morning he returned to the meat packing district, where he had thrown up pieces the night before, to find D*Face installing a mural on the same wall. He also hit up several locations on Wooster Street, pictured below.

Hugh Leeman

(More images of this mural at Arrested Motion)

Hugh Leeman

Hugh Leeman

Hugh Leeman

Hugh Leeman

When he returned to San Francisco, Hugh also implemented a new campaign to distribute tees around the Tenderloin. Bearing the face of his “Yankees hat guy,” the shirts add another dimension to his street art. A few words from Hugh explain the project:

“I’ve been producing t-shirts with my street art portraits and distributing these shirts to the inner city residents of San Francisco in the Tenderloin. I’m selling the shirts for $20 apiece to those on my contact list. This money is then entirely re-invested into buying more shirts which are given away to the residents of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. We are in the process of working with partner restaurants who will wear them as uniforms for about a week and donate 10% of food sales to the charity of their choice.

People are mostly aware of the portrait from my street art. The response has been incredible, The first week people were interested and excited by the second week we had a crowd/line. Even the police showed up and were actually pretty cool. But when he showed up he didn’t want a donut. Donuts are something else we offer with the shirts for reasons just like that.” -Hugh

Hugh Leeman

Hugh Leeman

Hugh Leeman

See more works by Hugh Leeman here.

Stencil Artists Tell All

Since our Stencil Show artists are a rare breed, we decided to throw something fun at them in place of a traditional interview. We let the artists tell their story through a mad lib, passing the story amongst themselves for a complete mix up. Read on to see how Tes One, David Soukup, Casey Gray, Ernesto Yerena, Chris Stain and Adam 5100 got to where they are today.





mad lib 5 2

Red Carpet: The Stencil Show

Red Carpet

As stated by Arrested Motion, The Stencil Show’s opening reception was a success. Casey Gray, David Soukup, Ernesto Yerena, and Adam 5100 all came out to represent while a curious crowd absorbed the wide range of stencil works. Thanks for joining us in the celebration of such a unique exhibit and we hope to see you back at the gallery soon.

Shooting Gallery opening reception

Ramblin Worker’s Upstairs Is Where the Magic Happens

Shooting Gallery opening reception

Casey Gray

Shooting Gallery opening reception

White Walls opening reception

David Soukup and his girlfriend

Shooting Gallery opening reception

Casey, Michael, and Lauren

White Walls opening reception

Gallery babe

White Walls opening reception

Ernesto Yerena’s family and friends

White Walls opening reception

White Walls opening reception

Casey and Julio

White Walls opening reception

Adam 5100

White Walls opening reception

Gallery Babes


Saturday night’s opening reception for The Stencil Show, Upstairs Is Where the Magic Happens, and C3/KMNDZ/Akira attracted an amiable crowd. We didn’t miss the opportunity to snag the pretty ladies of the night for our second edition of Gallery Babes. Continue scrolling for a little art and a lot of lipstick.

Gallery Babes at White Walls

Gallery Babes at White Walls

Gallery Babes at White Walls

Gallery Babes at White Walls

Gallery Babes at White Walls

Gallery Babes at White Walls

Gallery Babes at White Walls