Mark Cross in front of Muddguts, Williamsburg, NY, Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2018

A new art destination on Graham Avenue was once a recognizable café, in fact a Williamsburg staple called Caffe Capri. Now the second brick and mortar iteration of Muddguts, a gallery and boutique formed online in San Francisco in 2007, has been reconstituted by Mark Cross. Cross a tattoo artist by trade, is quickly earning the title of mayor when it comes to Graham avenue. Part of the new generation of Williamsburg, Cross pays homage to those who have come before, keeping the original architecture and aesthetic of each storefront and interior, doing minimal renovations. Muddguts is Cross’ second undertaking within a few blocks. The first is Rose Tattoo Parlor, a successful tattoo shop with artists such as Cross, Craig ChazenCris Cleen and  Hillary Fisher White.  All superstars in their own right, the shop has a growing Instagram with nearly 34 thousand followers. For Muddguts and Rose Tattoo Parlor, Cross worked with a craftsman to remake the original identifying signs that were so well-known in the neighborhood. He utilized the original font, scale and colorations, only altering the name of the establishment. In this case, Steve Powers did their signage which is referential of the original and now defunct Caffe Capri.

Muddguts inaugural exhibition opened March 23rd with a series of black & white photographs by a graffiti artist known only as Blake, part of the BTM crew. For those who like me, tend to pay attention to the semiotics of an urban landscape, Blake is everywhere. His tag a nomenclature, is as elusive and vague, as is his appearance. For his début exhibition at Muddguts titled “Bail Window”, he’s installed a series of high contrast black and white photographs, documenting daily street life in a way that appears to be unplanned and rather arbitrary. Following in the vain of Dash Snow a graffiti writer who originally started out with a photographic practice, Blake captures the surrounding world, as he exists in it and intervenes within the urban landscape.  At merely 23 years old, his photographs have a particular compositional strength within the documentary tradition. Utilizing friends and strangers as subjects his work is personal as in most instances the visual plane between photographer and subject is shallow, something that could only arrive from them being taken at close range.

Blake, Bail Window, Installation view, Muddguts, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2018

Shooting with an analogue camera, Blake also prints each photograph in a D.I.Y. darkroom, constructed in his apartment. Nearly all of the photographs in “Bail Window” are being sold at an affordable $100 each and as Cross stated, “they are priced to move.” In addition to the photographs, the boutique section of Mudd Guts is selling t-shirts, hoodies and books. One was published specifically for “Bail Window” and since the opening, they’ve already sold 150, with an additional 50 copies going to Have A Good Time, a store in Japan catering to street, graffiti and skater clientele.

“I opened the first gallery space in South Williamsburg, 2013. We were open for one year and then when our lease was up, we got shut down for having too much fun.” On Blake, Cross stated, “The two things are compartmentalized, but his graffiti and photographs each on their own, are quite the accomplishment.”

The closing reception for Blake, “Bail Window” is April 15th and the next show opens April 20th with Lydia Fong, Alicia McCarthy, Todd James and Steve Powers. Tote bags and t-shirts will be available for purchase.  Stay tuned for other activities and events which will be planned to activate the space and be sure to follow @muddguts on Instagram.

Blake, Bail Window, Installation view, Muddguts, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2018

Blake, Bail Window, Installation view, Muddguts, Brooklyn, NY, Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2018

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Katy Diamond Hamer is the Founding Editor of Eyes Towards the Dove a platform on contemporary art and culture. She writes for several print and online publications and has done public speaking on numerous occasions. For more of her writing and art life travels, follow her on Instagram @katyhamer