Mighty Tanaka

Art Advising // Consultation // Curation



Keeping it Real with Skewville

When I first arrived in NYC eight years ago, I was taken back by the abundance of Street Art that filled the city walls of Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Like a kid in a candy store, I went from wall to wall, studying the graphic communication, learning the who's who and the lay of the land.  It was a fascinating time in my life, as the city was rich with urban interpretations and an underlining rebellious attitude that screamed both freedom and resistance.  I fell in love.  

Before embarking upon NYC, I spent the previous three years of my life in Manchester, England, where I had experienced Street Art of another kind.  The urban art movement that was sweeping Britain during the early 2000's relied heavily upon clever iconography, highly tuned technical skills and an illustrative based approach to artwork on the streets.  The work was both socially aware, yet fun to look at and easy to digest.  The movement was thriving in the UK, a socially acceptable form of rebellion, which was embraced, for the most part, by city councils and organized events.  

However, in NYC, things were quite different than the urban expressionism of the UK.  There was a raw edge and iconoclast attitude on the streets.   Yet, one artist stood out amongst the others that captured my attention - Skewville.   It was obvious that Skewville was creating Street Art to the beat of their own drum.  Not content to follow the trends in wheat paste, spray paint, rollers, stencils etc, Skewville were instead injecting their ideas through quirky, pop assemblage of found materials and hardware store treasures, all the while including a somewhat self-deprecating message that poked fun at themselves and their contemporaries.  Their vision of the urban landscape was unique and fun, in a class all by themselves that worked as the ideal hybrid between the cleverness of UK street art and the rawness of NYC street art.  

Skewville on Wooster St., 2006.  Photo courtesy of Bucky Turco, @animalnewyork

Skewville, a partnership between identical twins Ad & Droo, have been the unsung hero's of NYC Street Art scene for decades.  While many of their peers have all risen to global fame and notoriety, the twins have remained relatively under the radar, however they have contributed to the overall growth of the movement in tremendous ways, both behind the scenes as well in in the public arena.  Through two Street Art gallery spaces (Orchard Street Art Gallery, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan as well as Factory Fresh in Bushwick, Brooklyn), Skewville helped build the foundation for the advancement of Street Art in NYC.  Furthermore, their iconic, wooden shoes have also been a common sight throughout the city for well over a decade.  These symbolic shapes that hang from electric wires throughout the boroughs have been the calling card of this duo, as they release a newly designed pair each year, quietly yet consistently adding to the conversation on the streets in their own, unique way.  

Photo courtesy of Ad Deville, @skewville

For me, NYC Street Art doesn't get much better than Skewville.  They have captured my imagination for years and they still possess the same sense of wonderment that they did when I first discovered their work.  While in recent times Street Art has become overtly formulaic and ultimately uninspiring, Skewville is still working behind the scenes, creating fun and exciting artwork that pokes fun at themselves individually as well as making a distinct statement about the over saturation of Street Art as a whole.  While many up and coming Street Artists use the art form as a conduit for exposure and fame, the twins have been keeping it real on the streets for decades and will continue to do so for decades to come.  

Photo courtesy of Ad Deville, @skewville