The Making of Surplus Candy
One thing I’ve learned from my past few years of being a photographer and documenting Street Art is that when a friend tells you they’re going to paint and they invite you along you should (almost) always say yes, no questions asked. This happened last weekend on Saturday, January 4th and what would occur over the following week was epic to say the least.
Pictures started to appear on Hansky’s Instagram account on Saturday; first it was Col Wallnuts and then shots of Elle popped up. Martha Cooper soon followed up with additional shots while getting busy in the kitchen with Elle. Hanksy then added the hashtag “surpluscandy” without any other information. A text came in later that day from Foxxface indicating that he would be painting at this mystery location the following day and wondered if I wanted to join.
Sunday started off like any other weekend day, slower than normal. I headed out and met up with Hanksy to gain access to 324 East 4th Street in Alphabet City, which would soon be known as the site of Surplus Candy. Around 2 in the afternoon more artists showed up to begin their contributions. That days line up included Tony Depew, Royce Bannon, Russell King, Foxxface, and CB23. The following five days turned out to be some of the most memorable that I have had as a photographer and fan of Street Art. There was a revolving door of mainly New York based artists who were eager and excited about leaving their mark on this project. The site was an unimpressive four story building, the only thing that made it stand out was an older mural painted on the exterior by Cernesto and El Cekis from 2005; this mural later turned out to be the location clue which Hanksy dropped 30 minutes before the exhibition was set to open to the public this past Friday.
Highlights from the week included a broken water main which nearly flooded the building, Icy and Sot literally setting one of their pieces – depicting Coca Cola molotov cocktails – on fire, and altogether an amazing sense of camaraderie which was felt most on Wednesday night when the 3rd floor was full of Graffiti writers and Street Artists who were set up side by side all working towards the same end goal. The temperature never rose much above freezing for the entirety of the week as New York dealt with unseasonably cold temperatures thanks to the Polar Vortex. The building didn’t have any heat which made the working conditions somewhat difficult since the paint and wheatpaste struggled to dry quickly enough.
In just under a week, 43 artists contributed time and supplies to make this what many have been saying was one of the most memorable events in recent New York art history. Searching #surpluscandy on Instagram will pull up over 1,300 images which gives you a sense of how many people were able to see this show during the short 2 hour public viewing window.
Back in October I had the privilege of attending a similar show, La Tour Paris 13, in which 105 artists took over a much larger building over the period of 7 months. I was lucky enough to document the finished product of that building for Brooklyn Street Art and Huffington Post, however, this was a much more intimate experience due to the fact that this was organized in an extremely short period of time, I was present to document almost the entire transformation, and the most striking difference was that this was an illegal installation in an abandoned building in my backyard.
The almost complete list of participating artists includes: Hanksy, Col Wallnuts, Elle, Royce Bannon, Russell King, Tony Depew, Foxxface, CB23, Alice Mizrachi/AM, Trap, Dick Mama, Cosbe, Tone Tank, Icy and Sot, ASVP, El Sol 25, NDA, Lunar New Year, Mata Ruda, Bishop203, GILF!, Sonni, Magda Love, Wretched Beast, Moustache Man, Nicolas Holiber, Mrs. Big Stuff, UR New York, Edapt, BD White, Enzo and Nio, Mr. Two Three, Mr. Toll, Elizabeth Glaessner, Cernesto, Left Handed Wave, Wizard Skull, Dee Dee, Vulpes Vulpes, Tako, Drippings, and late editions during the show by EKG and Never.
Text and photos by Spencer Elzey