Skewville Saves Street Art for Posterity

02/15/2012 5:00 AM |

Even if you’ve never heard their names, odds are that if you live in New York, you’ve seen artwork by a pair of brothers named “Ad” and “Droo.” They’re the twins behind Skewville, one of the most prolific street art teams in the city. For over a decade, the Queens-born brothers have installed sculptures on sidewalks and tagged buildings with their signature block-letters—they’re the duo responsible for the “All Supply, No Demand” wheatpastes and the (appropriately) green “Keep on the Grass” stencils. Retro Retrospective at Factory Fresh (through March 11) takes Skewville’s vast amount of work off the street and crams it into the gallery space. The result is a charming, hodgepodge history of the twins as they moved from graffiti to gallery. Luckily for us, it’s a story that’s already been played out on the streets of New York.

Skewville’s sculptures occupy the front room—a set of playing dice the size of ottomans spell out “Bushwick,” a small but fierce plywood dog grips a sneaker in its mouth. Their text-based work is punchy and defiant, but never preachy and always familiar. A smiling chef takes a toke on a poster called “Baked Fresh Daily.” “Do Your Homework,” says a chalkboard; two canvases hang backwards on a wall, “Fame Game” spelled out in balsa wood across the backs.

It’s their sneaker project, though, that has gained Skewville the most attention. For “When Dogs Fly,” the brothers began cutting the silhouettes of sneakers from sheets of plywood in 1999. After fastening them in pairs with laces, they tossed them up onto telephone wires across New York and other far-flung locations like Spain, Holland, and South Africa—you can still see many in Bushwick. Sneakers rescued from sagging cables and sidewalks hang from the gallery ceiling, their laces gray with age. ¬†They aren’t for sale; the sneakers, as well as any other works that were once displayed on the street, won’t be sold. At Factory Fresh, they’re artifacts—Skewville’s public art stays public.

(Images courtesy Factory Fresh)