Artist José Parla and Coby Kennedy
José Parlá is a contemporary American painter, best known for his monumental calligraphic abstractions. His colorful and amalgamative work conflates ideas of art and architecture, blurring the lines between identity, environment, graffiti, and language. “I’m really interested in the way our lives are built up out of memory and history,” he once explained in Architecture Digest, “and how we reflect that in our surroundings.” Born in Miami, FL in 1973, he has gone on to widespread critical acclaim, garnering commissions for large-scale architectural installations such as the Barclays Center in New York, and, more recently, a sprawling 90-foot mural in the lobby of One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. As a major contributor to contemporary street and graffiti art, several of Parlá’s murals can be found in the streets of Havana, Cuba. He has exhibited extensively, including a solo show at the Atlanta-based High Museum of Art in 2014 and at Mary Boone Gallery in New York in 2015. The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Artist Coby Kennedy has found a city with a kindred spirit. If industrial design and fine arts ever collided geographically, it’s in Detroit. As an industrial designer who turned his attention to the fine arts, Kennedy can see the massive machine dreams that drove the Motor City in designing the streets, the neighborhoods, the people.
Kennedy’s multidisciplinary sculptures can feel like functional set pieces pulled from a movie set in a dystopian future that refused to learn lessons from its past. Cinematic and imposing in any medium, Kennedy can make his impact as equally felt on the canvas as via his assault rifle vending machines or New York street signs-turned-makeshift weaponry. There’s contemporary commentary to parse from each piece for sure, but in the way that Kennedy’s body of work is appointing a point system for actions today that will paint a grim future tomorrow.