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With Art Basel (the international art show that’s on every millionaire’s or billionaire’s party circuit) approaching, I asked myself, “Who are the most relevant and interesting artists today?” Names such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Jasper Johns quickly came to mind. While they all certainly produce impressive, iconic and germane contemporary art, I felt that that they didn’t quite muster the personal intrigue of artists of eras past — like, say, Warhol.

Warhol created buzz not only through his “pop” spin on iconic figures and objects, but his life personified his work. Perhaps it was the bevy of models by his side or his regular patronage of haunts like Studio 54, but his name lives on as something that represents the nostalgic best of his era. Today one artist in particular seems to be well on his way to developing a Warhol-like status and that is the graffiti artist Alec Monopoly. His street and canvas art foster a conversation centric to wealth and excess and the artist himself seems to have become the proverbial Monopoly Man who wears a top hat and is often chauffeured to some of the world’s most exclusive parties in a white Rolls (and has even designed custom Rolexes available through bhindi.com).

While this New York native may have somewhat of a bad boy rap, you need only sit down with Alec Monopoly to quickly realize how well spoken, passionate and humble he is about not only his work, but life. Yes, his caricature is over the top, but it’s really about performance art… even when he’s busy autographing Miley Cyrus’ inner thigh backstage at LIV Nightclub in Miami.

I spent some time with Monopoly before, during and after Basel to get a better appreciation of who he is, where he came from and how his life informs his art. Here are our conversations:

David Morris (DM): How did you end up in LA?

Alec Monopoly (AM): I was in New York and then I had some issues where I was getting into a lot of trouble with my graffiti, so I came out here just to take a break from it all and then I just ended up staying.

DM: When you say trouble…

AM: I was doing a lot of illegal graffiti at the time in New York City. I had an art show there. It was my first show and I was there doing a lot of graffiti promoting the show and the police showed up to my gallery. They actually tried to arrest me and I fled the state and I went to New Jersey. I took the train there and then I left from there.

DM: You literally left your show and fled to LA?

AM: Exactly.

DM: Warrants out for your arrest?

AM: They were. They finally caught up to me. The cops always catch you.

DM: All that’s in the past now?

AM: Yeah, all that’s in the past. I’m chilling now.

DM: What were you graffitiing in New York?

AM: I’m not going to say exact details because the case really isn’t closed and they never really got me, but I was doing a couple of landmarks, areas that you really weren’t supposed to graffiti.

DM: You came up very quickly in the LA scene since your arrival in 2006.

AM: I was always known in the graffiti scene in New York, but not really in LA. I gained notoriety really quickly just because LA is so much easier to do graffiti. It’s so spread out. There’s not as many cops around. The cops really pass by you and they don’t even really care. They have bigger stuff to deal with. They have drunk drivers. They have the gangs. There’s shootings. In New York, the cops are bored because in Manhattan there’s not really much crime really anymore, so they’re really out for you. Here, they’re a little more lenient.

DM: And now people actually seek out your work.

AM: Yes, I was even able to get a lot of legal walls where I could do more intricate things. A lot of the walls you see now in LA I have are legal, done with permission.

DM: Is everything legal that you’re doing now?

AM: No, not everything, but most of the stuff. I always try to find time to do some graffiti here and there, but most of the time, I have so many walls that are given to me now, so anytime I want to go out and do something illegal, I can just do it legally.

DM: When did that change?

AM: I got my first permission mural in 2010 and then it snowballed because I used it as an example to show other building owners.

DM: What was your reaction when someone asks you to graffiti their wall?

AM: It was surprising. I spent maybe a week all day every day working on the wall, my first legal wall because I was just so excited and it was nice to be able to chill and relax and work on the piece instead of doing it quickly and running from the cops or whatever. Then it just really grew from there. Other people saw it and appreciated the skill.

DM: Then you started really making the transition to gallery art?

AM: My first show was in New York as I had mentioned. I had just been doing graffiti around New York and this real estate investor guy had walked through meat packing in New York and saw some of my graffiti. He was impressed and asked if I sold canvases. I really had not made any canvases of my graffiti work yet, but told him I could make one for him. He then commissioned me to make ten paintings and put on my first art show. Between the sold out show and the cops chasing after me it created a lot of media and I’ve been doing really well since then.

DM: Rewinding a little bit, everyone knows you as Alec Monopoly. Obviously that’s the alias of who you are in the media, but you grew up in New York? Who were you before you put on graffiti mask?

AM: I grew up in New York. My mom is a painter, so I’ve been doing drawings and paintings as early as I can remember. Then there was this gap where I was doing graffiti in high school and making as much [traditional] art. Then after high school, I focused mainly on [traditional] art and I wasn’t doing any graffiti. I did an art show for Donald Trump at his house in Palm Beach, Florida. It was a bunch of pop art and stuff like that, so I wasn’t doing any graffiti at that time, so I’d say from about 2000 to 2006, I wasn’t doing any graffiti.

DM: How did you get hooked up with Mr. Trump?

AM: My friend was actually doing a fashion show with a bunch of models at his house and asked if I wanted to come and exhibit there. It was an amazing opportunity for me. I ended up selling most of my canvas work there. Back then I was doing these Van sneakers to match the canvas and doing paintings on the shoes. They were pretty cool.

DM: When did you start to put on the mask and create your persona?

AM: I first created Alec Monopoly when I started doing graffiti of Monopoly figures. There are so many different routes you can go as a graffiti artist, but I wanted to keep my identity anonymous so I could continue to do more illegal graffiti. It was just for legal purposes that I was hiding my identity in the beginning. I never really even named myself Alec Monopoly. I was just going Alec and would always do the Monopoly guy. On the internet I just became known as Alec Monopoly. I’ve kept it not for legal purposes anymore, but it’s just more for my convenience so I could live a normal life.

DM: And you wear a top hat.

AM: I started wearing the top hat in 2012. It’s when I felt a little more comfortable with the character and felt almost absorbed by him, so now I really am the Monopoly guy.

DM: You’ll roll up in Hollywood in a white Rolls Royce to a venue, top hat, scarf and all, and everyone knows exactly who you are.

AM: Exactly. It’s fun because for me, I’ve become performance art. The life I live is my art work.

DM: Do you do this to further your brand?

AM: I’m going to carry on with it for a little bit longer, but I have some new concepts coming out and am going to do the death of Monopoly.

DM: The death of Monopoly?

AM: Yeah. We’re not releasing that series yet, but it will come soon.

After mingling with Kobe Bryant, performing with A$AP Mob in Los Angeles, opening his OVO store in downtown Toronto, and brawling with Diddy in Miami, Drake is being honoured in his hometown for a second time around. He definitely is our U.G.K. (Underground King) whether some people won’t like to admit it or not. I personally feel that all the attention Drake brings to the Raptors and their fans, makes them more motivated and this season shows what that can do.

The shirt below is the new design that will be handed out to all ticket holders at the ACC tonight:

Opposed to the black and gold theme of last season, this year’s Drake Night shirt is a little more retro – embracing the 20th Anniversary with the original Raptors logo and lettering. I like the look but white gets dirty.

The Air Canada Centre will be a white-out sell-out crowd Tonight, seeing as Drake has again picked the Brooklyn Nets as the opposing team. I would love to be sitting court side at this game, especially if Jay-Z made an appearance. I’m sure scalper’s are making a killing tonight.

Last year, before their victory on Drake Night, Drake announced the starting lineups, did commentary with Matt and Jack, and got a special Drake suit jacket with his nickname inside.

street art financial district

A reader tipped off a popular Toronto-based blog, Blog TO, to this anonymous street art spotted in the Financial District last night. Located at Commerce Court, it is attached to Derrick Stephan Hudson’s bronze sculpture Temba, Mother of Elephants, which was installed in the courtyard in 2002. The piece is simple but effective in my opinion, two ball and chains with gold dollar signs are attached to the young elephants, which serves as both a reminder of the area’s fundamental purpose and as a subtle critique of this particular style of public art.

What I like most about this particular style of art is that it usually consists of sculptures installed at public spaces. This isn’t the kind of art you can hang on your wall, it is meant to be displayed outdoors against authority to open the public eye to current issues in our society. It is usually done by someone who, like in this case, wishes to remain Anonymous. This adds a certain mystic that draws my attention. Unfortunately, the shackles were quickly removed as of 9:30 a.m.

street art financial district

street art financial district

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This is an interesting match-up, Rihanna has been named the Creative Director of Puma, overseeing the women’s vertical. “Rihanna will work with Puma to design and customize classic Puma style, as well as create new styles to add to the Puma product portfolio,” the company said Tuesday. It is said to be a multi-year partnership, which I imagine equals big money for Rihanna. She is also said to act as the brand’s Global Ambassador alongside Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and football star Mario Balotelli, in addition to starring in the brand’s add campaign for 2015.

Puma is one of my favourite brands so I’m glad to see it get the attention. Another celebrity who supports Puma is Toronto’s own, Deadmau5. Besides Beyonce, I would say Rihanna has the highest influence on fashion in the music industry for chicks.

Disaronno Wears Versace

Posted: December 15, 2014 in Fashion
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Disaronno has collaborated with one of the world’s most reputable fashion houses. The DISARONNO wears VERSACE limited edition bottle is a collaboration between two iconic Italian brands.

Combining the classic shape of the Disaronno bottle with the signature decadence of Versace fashions, the design takes its inspiration from he blue, gold, and white motifs of the Versace home collection.

The project supports “Fashion 4 Development”, a charity sponsored by the United Nations that creates opportunities for women working in the fashion industry in developing countries.

This one of a kind collectors’ edition bottle is now available in stores around the world, so make sure to pick one up now for yourself or as a gift to that fashion forward family member this holiday season!

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I have always been a big fan of Kanye West’s fashion sense, except for the skirt thing but I get it. One of his most notable pieces to date is the H&M x Versace collaboration bomber that he debuted at his performance for the VS Fashion show a few years ago.

The Versace for H&M collection was always going to be a hit, its unmistakable pedigree whipping up a frenzy before the colourful clothes even hit shelves. This jacket in particular has skyrocketed in appreciation since its debut. Originally $129.99 in-store, it was selling for $800 on eBay the very next day. Now, if you search on eBay you would be lucky to find one for sale.

About a month ago my good friend Passion Daisy, another Toronto fashion blogger was fortunate enough to find me one these staple pieces at a thrift shop on Queen St. W. in Toronto. I scooped it for $80! Once I got home I checked it’s current value on eBay and there was only 1 available for $1300 which has already been sold.

The moral of this story is you never know what you can find in thrift shops!

Suits you, sir: The $129 Versace for H&M jacket, as worn by non other than Kanye West, is now available on eBay for $799PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 17:  Swizz Beatz attends the Swizz Beatz and Reebok host party at VIP Room Theatre on November 17, 2011 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Franck Prevel/Getty Images)
Kanye and Swizz Beats rocking the iconic jacket.Versace for H&M

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An unknown thief or group of thieves stole Pablo Picasso’s Visage aux Mains (Face with Hands) (1956) from the Amsterdam-based Leslie Smith Gallery’s booth at Art Miami, the Miami Herald reports. The work is a 16.5 inch in diameter silver plate and is believed to have been snatched sometime after 10:30pm on Thursday night. Police have classified the heist as grand theft.

Gallery owner David Smith discovered that the plate was missing from its holder upon arriving to Art Miami on Friday morning around 10:45am. “I’ve been doing art shows all my life,” he told the paper, “I’ve never, ever had anything stolen.” The work in question is worth an estimated $85,000 and is part of a 20-piece series.

Upon being notified of the theft, Police reportedly cordoned off the booth to conduct their investigation. Smith told the Herald that on top of losing the prized Picasso, that meant he also had to turn away potential customers on one of Art Miami’s busiest mornings.

Police have very little to go on in their investigation thus far. A detective from Miami Police Department told the Herald “There is no video surveillance or witnesses to this incident.” However, the tent in which Art Miami was held until Sunday night was under 24-hour security. Doors were chained closed after the fair closed for the evening and only an approved list of cleaners and individuals showing at the fair or involved with its administration were allowed to enter thereafter. Art Miami employs the same security firm as Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Responding to the theft on Saturday, fair director Nick Korniloff said that Art Miami would offer a $5,000 reward to anyone who returned the Picasso. That may seem low for such an expensive work, but it also suggests a working theory of the crime. A much more expensive Picasso ceramic (for which the market is currently booming; see “Buy, Sell, Hold: Picasso Ceramics”) was hung just below Visage aux Mains (Face with Hands) (1956). Thus, if the thief or thieves were, in fact, after the plate’s silver—worth a reported $400 or so when melted down—rather than its value on the art market, the reward would serve as quite the incentive to hand it back in.

UPDATE: Art Miami director Nick Korniloff subsequently sent the following comment to artnet News about the latest regarding the investigation:

We are currently continuing to cooperate with authorities regarding the missing work. The police are conducting their own investigation and are diligently going over the time frame in which the work went missing and who had approved  access to the facility. In the seven years that we have owned and operated the fair we have never had a loss and utilize the exact same security company and measures as Art Basel Miami Beach. It is our policy to all exhibitors that they place small valuable objects that can easily be hidden into their secure closet areas at the end of day. We have issued a $5,000.00 reward for the return of the work with no questions asked—based on our own internal conclusion that whomever took the piece knows nothing about art and took it based on the fact that they thought it to be solid silver. […] It makes absolutely no sense that this work would be targeted by anyone with knowledge of art. We hope that the piece is returned to the owner to preserve the existence of the work for future generations.

Source: artnet News

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MTV is airing a two-part series as a part of their True Life series called I’m Hooked On Molly which follows the lives of three teens who are addicted to Molly.

MTV keeps up with modern-day culture as it evolves and even though it seems like they are promoting everything that’s currently wrong with our society, some would argue that this brings attention to the consequences of abusing the drug. Click here to see the sneak peek and feel free to vote in the poll below!

Current mood.

Video  —  Posted: December 5, 2014 in Music
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Originally posted on AllHipHop:

The nominations for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards are slowly being unveiled today, with the big announcement of who is up for Album of the Year being revealed tonight at 7 p.m (PST).  While there are no nominations for Macklemore, Iggy Azalea is the lone rapper in the Record of the Year and Best New Artist categories. From what’s been released so far, nominations for Beyonce were scarce while Pharrell scored two for his megahit “Happy” and album, G I R L.  Even though their highly-anticipated albums have not been released yet,  Kendrick Lamar and Drake both got spots in the Rap Performance category along with Eminem, Childish Gambino and Lecrae. Jhene Aiko’s debut album, Sail Out, earned a spot in the Urban Contemporary Album category but she has some tough competition.

The Grammys will air on Feb. 8th. Peep a handful of the nominations below.

Rap Performance

“3005,” Childish Gambino

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