Street Art and Social Change: No-Tech Zone Signs in San Francisco Public Parks


Artist and culture jammer, Ivan Cash, of San Francisco recently took it upon himself to have people look up and question the present moment. This was done in the form of official looking city signs he made and installed around several public parks in SF. The signs state: “No-Tech Zone; No cellphones, tablets, laptops, or smart devices permitted; Violators subject to $300 fine.” On any given afternoon in any of the numerous city parks in San Francisco, you can find city residents congregating and enjoying themselves in the open air. While activities and types of people may vary between the parks, one thing links them together – though persons may be in the outdoors relaxing with friends or having a solitary moment, almost always at some point the phone comes out and they begin the downward stare.

And this is by no means only happening in SF! What is the point of being outside and at the park if you are only staring down at your phone?! Cash’s urban intervention prompts this question. Discussions and debates on the SF tech-boom, gentrification, and housing crisis aside, this piece is simply a friendly reminder. About his project, he states: “We designed and installed “No-Tech Zone’ signs in parks across San Francisco, encouraging people to question the role technology plays in our lives and environment.” That role, here in SF and beyond, is perhaps something that we need to have a little more of a philosophical conversation with. Cash, himself, is no outsider to the tech industry, having worked with Facebook and Airbnb, and so the question comes from a humble yet critical place. Technology can be a great and wonderful the, but at what cost?



Street Art and Social Change: M-City on Industry and Environmental Cost


This week we’re looking at an environmental justice piece! Polish artist, M-City, was recently in the Netherlands painting. This mural was painted in Breda, where the artist used his signature style of high-impact graphic imagery with underlying meaning. The image is of some sort of industrial beast, trudging through a forest, cutting trees down as it goes. The metaphor is very clear with this wall – the environmental cost of our industrial age. Working in greyscale, the only color in the piece is the red blood on the jagged scissors that are cutting the trees. M-City is a master at the use of specific color and placement! Be sure to check out M-City’s other work on this page.

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Street Art and Social Change: Vermibus Adbusts Fashion Weeks Around the World


Berlin-based Spanish street artist and activist, Vermibus, is strategically on tour right now to four major cities around the world coinciding with their Fashion Weeks. For his latest urban interjection and social critique project, called “Unveiling Beauty”, the anonymous artist is adbusting his way through the cities of London, Milan, New York City, and Paris during their influential Fashion Weeks. Central to his work is the questioning of consumerism, lifestyle, merchandising, sexism, capitalism, and the constant bombardment of advertisements in public spaces.

Unveiling Beauty – Teaser from Vermibus on Vimeo.

His method and style is unique – he goes into the street, unlocks ad windows, takes the ads back to his studio, manipulates them with solvents and brushes, and then goes and replaces them in the street.


Call it adbusting, culture jamming, civil disobedience, or decommodification, Vermibus’ art seems to peel back the perfectly sterile fake airbrushed representations of humans we all see in the street adverts every day. In fact, his art often stops onlookers in their tracks more than the normal image would. The ghostly images are of what may be under the masks of perfection. We’ll let him do the talking:

“As points of reference in the fashion industry, Fashion Weeks form and lay down specific standards of aesthetics and beauty, and market them via their advertising: just one more strategy in the globalization of Western consumer culture.

The beauty-cult is as firmly established on the catwalks of every Fashion Week as it is in the advertising they generate. The fashion industry uses the body as a tool in order to sell products, sell consumerism. The image of the body in advertisements limits and oppresses an individual’s true beauty, concealing it behind the false rhetoric of its own liberation.

In a new project, Unveiling Beauty, Vermibus will reflect on this use of the body, and on standards of beauty imposed from above, within the framework of the Fashion Week circuit, via a new series of public interventions.

Unveiling Beauty, as the name suggests, reveals the beauty that lies hidden behind the make-up and the retouching that are used within the fashion industry and also as it publicly stages itself through advertising.
This September, Vermibus will follow the route of the most influential Fashion Weeks, traveling to New York, London, Milan and Paris. And he will analyze and reveal the true beauty that lies hidden behind the various campaigns that are forced upon the public spaces of these cities.”

His art questions the effects of constant consumer advertisements on the psyche of our societies. His talent, motivation, and diligence are truly admirable. We greatly look forward to seeing the rest of the series! Keep it up, Vermibus.

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Street Art and Social Change: “Trail of Tears” by D*Face in Fort Smith, Arkansas


The Unexpected Festival has just wrapped up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a production of the good folks over at JustKids. The mural festival was organized to revitalize the downtown and waterfront of Fort Smith, by bringing vibrant murals to city walls in 8 days by 7 artists from 6 countries. Artist lineup includes: ROA, Vhils, ASKEW, Ana María, Maser, Bicicleta Sem Freio, and featured artist for this week’s article, D*Face! As one of the most active and recognized artists today, D*Face has been busy busy for years now, traveling around the world producing both large-scale murals and noteworthy gallery shows. In a different direction than his usual high impact pop-art style, the British artist took a more subtle approach on one of his two pieces for the festival that speaks to people and place, culture and history. Entitled “Trail of Tears”, this mural depicts a single white line heart painted on a raw red brick wall with many arrows around it and one within it on a red bullseye. Well designed and thought provoking, the piece can be taken many ways by viewers. However, the meaning is in the title – “Trail of Tears”.


After some research D*Face wanted to paint a tribute to local Native American history of the area. In 1838 and 1839 the Cherokee Native Americans were forced from their lands, across the Mississippi to present day Oklahoma as part of the Indian Removal Act. Because of this violent and tragic forced removal, the migration of the people is referred to the as the Trail of Tears. Perhaps the heart with one arrow in it is their original, lost land. Perhaps it is the new home they had to make. How do you perceive it? Thank you, D*Face, for touching on a heartbreaking social event from our past that we are still see the repercussions from today. Here at 1AM we see the message of let us not forget, so we may learn and not repeat.


(photos © Rom Levy, story awareness via Street Art News)


“Memento Mori” Art Opening with C215 & Logan Hicks

1AM Gallery is pleased to present “Memento Mori” a new collection of works by the profound stencil artists C215 and Logan Hicks. Memento mori, Latin for “remember (that you have) to die” is the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

Join us for the opening of this exhibition Thursday, September 17th, 6:30-9:30pm. This event is free and open to the public. Click Here to RSVP. For inquiries or art catalog email

Left: C215 | Right: Logan Hicks

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Street Art and Social Change: FAILE Installs “Wishing on You” Prayer Wheel in Times Square


Brooklyn-based artist duo, FAILE, just installed this anti-consumerism prayer wheel in in the heart of American capitalism – Times Square, New York City. FAILE, comprised of Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, were granted the installation as a Times Square Arts project. Currently, they also have an exhibit across the East River in the Brooklyn Museum, entitled Savage/Sacred Young Minds.


Prayer wheels are traditional to Asian cultures and give those who walk by and spin them much the same effect as orally reciting prayers. Though FAILE’s prayer wheel does not send out silent meditative thoughts on harmony, kindness, empathy and peace. Instead, their wheel and alter is nearly covered in images and text that speak to the social reality of the American present. Words and phrases like “Celebrity”, “Secret Places”, “Lottery”, “XXX”, “Artificial Flowers”, and “Truth & Lies” cover all surfaces. When one spins the wheel (which is apparently very heavy and difficult to do – on purpose???) loud voices try to get your attention and neon lights glow. The prayer wheel is a kaleidoscopic portrayal of Times Square’s history to the present day, where consumerism, pop culture, desire and spectacle entangle together. FAILE has always stood in the way of modern society, holding a mirror to us all, showing our social reality in a different light through their art. We always look forward to their next intervention!




(FAILE – artists Patrick Miller and Patrick McNeil)

(all photos © Jamie Rojo)

Street Art and Social Change: The Mediterranean Tunnel by MTO

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French artist, MTO, recently created this magnificent dual-mural, spanning in the Mediterranean. MTO, known for his hyperrealistic style of spray painting and politically charged imagery, painted these two walls in two completely different location: Sliema, Malta and Sapri, Italy. Titled “The Mediterranean Tunnel”, the piece(s) use the physical space of the spanning sea as part of the conceptual intention of the work. MTO is addressing recent European immigration issues with this intervention, and in conjuncture he shared two news articles about the issue on his Facebook page: Malta Independent, Huffington Post. Be sure to stay up on the always critical and powerful work of MTO through his social media, and stay tuned with us here every week for updates on how art on the street is changing the world!



Street Art and Social Change: Faith47 Gives NYC Some Love

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South African artist, Faith47, has just completed a large mural on the streets of New York City, entitled “Lay Your Weapons Down”. Painted on the side of a four-story building, the South African artist adorned the facade with this image of a couple in an intimate embrace. One of the world’s most recognized female artists, Faith47 steers her work toward issues of social justice with imagery that is loaded with symbolism and meaning. Much of her work touches on women’s rights, and social and political concerns. With her muted color schemes, Faith47’s murals can be unintrusive or deeply felt by passersby, inviting moments of poetic heartfelt reflection. She has the powerful ability to provoke questioning of our social reality and the complexities of the human condition. Take a moment and let this recent mural of her’s wash over you and see what comes from it. That is the intent of her work – to stir feelings with the hopes of making the world a better place. It’s always a pleasure to see new work from the talented, Faith47!

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Behind the Scenes with Eddie Colla

We’re getting excited here at 1AM for our upcoming solo show “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Eddie Colla opening this Thursday, August 6th from 6:30-9:30pm.With a great range of art pieces coming through from this very prolific artist, this show is not to be missed! Make sure to RSVP here and for any questions or would like to request the catalog please email

Here are some behind the scenes shots of the 1AM crew setting up for this great show.








Street Art and Social Change: SpY Creates an Urban Intervention on Barriers


Spanish artist, Spy, was recently in Santiago, Chile, where he created this piece entitled “Barriers”. The artist used metal safety barrier fencing to create this impassable urban intervention, which invokes thoughts on control, division, and enclosure. The fencing is spiraling out from a central point to create an impassable circle in a plaza of a deprived neighborhood in Santiago. The artist began his career in public art in the mid-eighties as a nationally recognized graffiti writer, who shortly thereafter started to explore other forms of artistic communication in the street. SpY is creates with paint, natural elements, and urban form. He is an artist not limited to one genre, style, method, or concept. SpY’s pieces want to be a parenthesis in the automated inertia of the urban dweller. They are pinches of intention, hidden in a corner for whoever wants to let himself be surprised. Filled with equal parts of irony and positive humor, they appear to raise a smile, incite reflection, and to favor an enlightened conscience. A true master of social commentary through urban intervention, SpY could be the urban response to the master of natural assemblage, Andy Goldsworthy. Be sure to check out his work on his site and keep up with us for future coverage on the critical thinker, SpY!