This past Friday evening I was cordially invited to attend and cover a one night event in Wynwood, Florida called “X Art Basel’ that was put on by Drew Estate Cigars. If you are not familiar with Art Basel, one of the biggest events held in Miami, Florida, it is a gathering of artists, galleries, and performers that show case there work both in South Beach and the Wynwood area of Miami.
This year, Jonathan Drew tasked his team to convert a building he owns, in the Wynwood area, into an art gallery that would feature the works of five renowned street artists from Brooklyn, NY that he commissioned to create the artwork for the 20 year anniversary of ACID and the KUBA ARTE water tower project. He called this event “X Art Basel”. As the X-Games are to the Olympics, X Art Basel is to Art Basel. It was planned to be bold and showcase the works of the long and often misunderstood culture of street artists. Jonathan leased the building to the Hausammann Gallery which effectively curated the art show on Friday evening.
The Drew Estate team pulled off a fine transformation of the empty building. Unlike a normal gallery, there was not only art but also tattoo artists and cigars featured. Like a fine art gallery, the room was brightly illuminated and spacious, so no piece overcrowded another. You had plenty of space to walk around and admire the talent hanging on the walls. They even set up a pop-up cigar lounge in the parking lot of the building.
There was supposed to be spirit vendors but I was told the city put a kabash on that because of the presence of the tattoo artists. By law you can’t mix alcohol and tats. That did not stop the Drew Estate faithful from enjoying 4 plus hours of #DE4L fellowship.
The 5 artists; CHINO, DOC, KEO, QUEEN ANDREA, and VERS all showed up days before to create a combined mural on the outside wall of the building. I would have liked to have been there for the creation of the magnificent mural. I was told by the Drew Estate team that it is was epic to watch the talent at work.
For those that may not be familiar with the artists here is a brief bio of each:
DOCTC5 had one of kind train car art, that he recreated from his days tagging IRT cars in the train yards in Brooklyn. Each piece represented a subway car with the art he created back in the day. The pieces were selling for $1,500. He also has numbered and signed lithographs of his art. DOCTC5 is described as a living, breathing legend and the very personification of Brooklyn. DOC worked the Moving Art Galleries (a.k.a. the NYC Transit System) at the dawn of street writing culture where his mission to ask “Who is Doc?” catapulted him to global recognition. IG:@DOCTC5.
As part of the KUBA ARTE project, DOC created the following:
KEO; TOP TC-5 X-MEN a.k.a SCOTCH70 is a bona-fide Brooklyn legend in the realm of NYC graffiti & hip hop. Weaving his charismatic “old school” aesthetic into the tapestry of urban art & pop culture, while redefining classic graffiti styles into fresh new work in fine art & design outlets. IG:@KEO_XMEN KEO also had some classic lithographs for sale but the piece I grabbed up was the original art that he sent to Adidas who markets the Original KEO tee shirts.
What I found cool about this peice of art, is not only is it his original work, but it is actually two sheets of letter paper taped together. When I asked KEO why did he use two sheets of paper, he smiled and told me; “…as I started to draw, I realized I wanted to add a necklace, so take another sheet and continue the work…if I wanted to add his feet I would have used a third sheet.” Well this piece, once it is framed, will be proudly displayed in the Stogie Press lounge, along with the litho I purchased from DOC.
As part of the KUBA ARTE project, KEO created the following:
A NYC-based fine artist, graffiti artist, typographer and graphic designer & part of a newer generation of early 1990’s graffiti writers. Queen Andrea finds her creative inspiration in the diversity & crazy energy of city life and especially graffiti. Out in the streets Queen Andrea has developed a reputation for her over-sized typography murals, influenced by an endless appreciation of typography, as well as themes of urban life, hip hop lyrics & empowerment. IG: @queenandreaone
You can also see her work on Citi-Bikes throughout Manhattan and she was selected by Goldman Properties and Goldman Global Arts to take over the historic Houston Bowery Wall Mural from June through September of this year.
As part of the KUBA ARTE project, Queen Andrea created the following:
One of the foremost practitioners and ambassadors of graffiti culture in the world, David Villorente spent eleven-years as editor of the “Graf Flix” feature in The Source magazine that cemented his position as an important arbiter within the global graffiti community. He has coauthored numerous books on graffiti culture, most recently with The ABC’s of Style (Testify Books, 2018) as well as being an artistic collaborator with brands including, NIKE, REDBULL, ADIDAS, MASS APPEAL, Vh1 as well as co-curating the groundbreaking Beyond the Streets exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York. Villorente currently resides in his native borough, beautiful Brooklyn, New York. IG: @chinobyi
As part of the KUBA ARTE project, CHINO created the following:
Born and still based in Brooklyn, where for over 30 years with a spray-can in his hand, Vers has created unforgettable murals in his signature technical style full of energy and movement. His work is known around the globe from Iceland, Europe, Japan & even Mongolia! But NYC will always be home. IG:@VERS718.
For the KUBA ARTE project, VERS created the following:
For the roughly 90 Drew Estate fans, each of whom paid $99.00 to attend the event, received a personally signed KUBA ARTE water tower filled with said cigars. The retail value of that tower is like $250.00. But it didn’t stop there. Each attendee got to meet with Jonathan and received a personally autographed 2 -count box of Liga Privada Único Serie A cigars. Once things got underway, the line to meet Jonathan started to grow and I would say Jonathan was in his zone. You know the place, where he meets the fans and takes time to talk with each one, and signs autographs. The line did not end till well after 10PM.
The company also had a full line up of Drew Estate cigars for sale, all neatly arranged on a center table. You could purchase a single cigar or a whole box and that is what many of the attendees did.
But it was not only Jonathan that drew fans, it was also the artists. If you took the time to talk with them, they told their stories and took you back to their roots when they were writing and tagging subway cars, some as far back as the late 1970’s. Dang, I am sure I saw the work of KEO on a train or two when I was attending college in Brooklyn back then. Of course, each one of the five have come into their own over the years, credited for some of the most amazing street art, not only in NYC, but around the world. Some of them had tables set up where they were showcasing and selling not only lithographs but one of a kind original work.
Here is a gallery of the fun we we had at X Art Basel (click any photo to enlarge):
Beyond X Art Basel
During the evening, I took a moment and wondered about Wynwood, and snapped a few more photos of the surrounding area. The main Art Basel event was about a mile away, which did not afford me the time to get into the thick of it.
Overall, the Drew Estate X Art Basel event was a success, as those that attended had fun admiring the art, talking to the artists and meeting Jonathan Drew. They walked away with a great value for attendance and the only thing that would have made it better, is if there was a food truck and beverages for sale. But in the end, it was a break for those attending the main Art Basel event as they walked back to get in their cars or stopped in before walking downtown. I would like to thank the Drew Estate team for inviting me to cover the event and I am happy to have added some additional collectible art to the Stogie Press lounge!