Interview with artist Heidy Cody

Eskimo_snv_smTake a look at this interview in NYArts with friend of Stay Free! Heidy Cody about the ubiquity of brand identifiers and the critique implicit in her art. (Wow, if that sentence doesn't sell you on an interesting interview, nothing will!)

Among other things, you can read the origin story for Heidi's art-enabling superpower:

... I also lived in France until I was eight, and my belated introduction to American consumerism was like, Pow! Look at all this candy! Also, my father refused to buy a color TV because he thought it would distort my idea of reality. Word. I didn’t understand, but now I think having a 13” black and white TV for ten years made everything else more colorful to me. There’s a lot of commercial information that I zoom in on that others just don’t see. It’s like I have bionic Pop vision.

Thanks, friend of Stay Free! Jim Hanas!

Posted by Charles Star on September 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mary's Dirty Little Monkey


I first thought that this was a great advertisement for soap that involves a monkey as a metaphor for ladyparts. It turns out that it is one of a series of cards about Mary and her monkey from a time when people had a sense of humor about sex.

You can see all of the excellent illustrations at the above link or read the whole poem below the fold.

(Via Silent Porn Star, which has a lot of great vintage risque (often NSFW) stuff. If you search for "wrestle" you'll see a great cartoon.)

1. Mary has a little Monkey, just as cute as it can be,
It was covered with the softest hair that ever you did see.
2. To keep it nice and clean was Mary's greatest hope,
So she washed her little Monkey with the best kind of soap.
3. The boys all like Mary, and like her Monkey too,
And when they play so nice with it, what can Mary do?
4. Once Mary's Monkey got real cold That filled her with alarm
So she bought some woolen pants For to keep her Monkey warm.
5. Mary went in swimming and she took her little pet.
A wave hit in the "Good Old Summer Time"
and she got her monkey wet.
6. Mary now is married and it keeps her on the jump,
And between the man and Mary, her Monkey has to hump.

Posted by Charles Star on June 25, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

I made a really big joystick.

BigjoystickseqSo about a month ago, the curator of the i am 8 bit art show, Jon Gibson, commissoned me to make a giant, working, Atari 2600 joystick. I said yes, but, honestly, I wasn't 100% certain I could do it. But, I did! For once, this is not a post about what a big failure I am! I made the joystick 15x the size of the actual one, worked with a skilled cabinetmaker named Dan Fill to make those nice big round holes, wired it all up, and it works. Last night we unveiled it at the opening of the show, hooked up to an Atari projected on the outside wall of the gallery. And boy, did it get the crap beat out of it. Hundreds of happy, drunk, art-and-old videogame lovers were there to hop on, stomp the button and yank that stick around. That's why I made it, so I can't complain, but oh man was it hard seeing scrapes and footprints all over the finish I was fussing over like an effete furniture restorer not three hours before. Still, it's a great, fun show and I'm excited to just be a part of it. There's a writeup here and a bunch of pictures of all the amazing art here. Oh, and I later found out that there's an even bigger Atari joystick made by a Mary Flanagan. I think it's in the UK. So I really made the most Secondest Biggest Atari 2600 Joystick.

Posted by Jason Torchinsky on April 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Underground American Inginuity - Open City at Eyebeam (NYC)

Opencityflier_1Open City: Tools for Public Action opens this Thursday March 1st from 6-8pm at Eyebeam. The show "documents the ingenuity of artists, protesters, pranksters, graffiti writers, and hackers reclaiming the public realm." Stay Free readers should feel right at home. The show will include forms of documentation as well as the various tools and inventions (The Graffiti Research Lab's L.A.S.E.R. Tag for example) that shall, without a doubt, boggle the mind.

As an R&D Fellow at Eyebeam I've been able to get a sneak preview of some of the work in the show. I wont give it all away, but one I can't wait for others to see is a German artist, Matthias Wermke, who has expanded out from graffiti into some very poignant and entertaining directions. In one video, he hangs giant swings from various monumental and nearly impossible locations - freeway overpasses, the underside of famous German bridges, subway tunnels, public transit offices, and so on, and then videotapes himself simply swinging on the swing at heights of 50 to 100 feet above ground. It's a charming combination of child's play, acrobatics, and total disregard for authority. In another he carries around a bucket and squeegee and attempts to wash the windows of passing vehicles on street corners - but only the public busses. He then moves on to trains, then later attempting to wash the windows for subway drivers. He is met with a variety of reactions and the final two scenes in the video I just can't reveal here. The surprise is too good.  Don't bother searching the internet, these videos can only be seen at the show.

The show is up through April 7th but the opening should be quite an event. If you're at the opening say hello.

Posted by Steve Lambert on February 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

A Call to Artists - and to Owners of Broken iPods

Comingsoon We hereby announce that Stay Free! is seeking artists and (broken) ipods for an upcoming project about planned obsolescence. Why does the portable player widely considered the hallmark of savvy design typically die in little over a year? Are ipods "made to break"? Or simply, as some critics have suggested, run-of-the-mill e-waste?

If you know someone who owns an iPod, chances are good that you know someone with a broken ipod. Environment groups have taken Apple to task for its dirty practices, and we'd like to join them -- by making lemonade out of lemons.

Here's what we're looking for:


Transform your broken ipod into something deliciously useless: finger puppet? toy car? coaster? Use your creatively to come with something beautiful, funny, or otherwise engaging. Take a photo and email it us with your contact information at temporary181 at Favorite projects will be featured in Stay Free! and ultimately exhibited in New York (venue TBA).

Artists unable to find a broken ipod should contact us for assistance (though, due to our limited resources, we recommend asking your peers first).

Deadline: *** Friday, December 8 ***


Don't have time to create something but want to help? Please donate your broken ipods to Stay Free!, a nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible. We'll distribute broken ipods to working local artists for this project.


Stay Free!
23 Hawthorne Street
Brooklyn, NY 11225

For more information about this project, stay tuned to


"Good Luck with that Broken iPod"
New York Times (February 4, 2006)

"Pain in the Pod" 
Chicago Tribune/news services (July 24, 2006)

Greenpeace's Green My Apple campaign

Computer Take Back campaign


The iPod Is Bad Garbage: An interview with Giles Slade

Posted by carrie on October 31, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (11)


Morons I've got a new project I've set afloat called WhyTheyHate.Us -- a participatory photo project using images submitted to Flickr. The home page is a single image chosen at random from uploaded photos tagged "whytheyhateus."  The images aren't curated, edited, or censored. Anyone can contribute any image to the dialog and eventually every image will be shown in the random display. 

As it's just getting started, I'd like to encourage any Stay Free-ers to contribute some imagery and send it on to your photo-snapping friends.  The more images added, the more interesting it gets.

Posted by Steve Lambert on August 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (4)

AAA's Oakland bus stop bench make over


The Anti-Advertising Agency has completed another campaign.  Working with Packard Jennings (you may know him from Stay Free's Illegal Art Exhibit), we surveyed neighborhoods within one block of Oakland bus stops.  The surveys polled residents about which advertising tactics they found most bothersome in that area.  Packard then created illustrations based on the survey results and the new content was placed in the respective neighborhood bus stop.  There's a set of photos on the AAA site showing several of the benches in their various locations as well as additional information on the project.

Posted by Steve Lambert on May 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tax the Arts

Usculturalheritage Starving artists no more?  Preserving America's Cultural Heritage is a proposal for a new federal law adding a 1% tax on all art sales.  The funds would be set aside and "annual disbursements from this fund would be paid to eligible artists living in the US. Eligibility would be awarded to visual artists that have evidence of an exhibition history." 

The proposal and accompanied campaign is a collaborative effort by artist Jeffrey Vallance and the MA Curatorial Practice program at the California College of the Arts. Their next event will be on April 15 on Neighborhood Public Radio at Artist Television Access in San Francisco from noon to 2pm.  Neighborhood Public Radio (NPR) will be broadcasting Tax themed shows for the day.  A download of the broadcast should be available soon after.

And while we're on the subject of taxes, I don't have the stones the War Tax Resisters have, but their site is refreshing at tax time.

Posted by Steve Lambert on April 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oil Standard

Oil_ipodamazon_cropOil Standard, a browser plugin by artist Michael Mandiberg, will convert prices from U.S. Dollars into the equivalent value in barrels of crude oil.  "When you load a web page, the script seamlessly inserts converted prices into the page."  Hold your mouse over the price and the plugin will load a recent news headline on the oil business.

Nickels, silver dollars, gold coins - our money used to be linked with the value of precious metals.  That ended in 1971 when Nixon closed the "gold window" and one could no longer cash in their dollar bills for gold and silver in the federal reserves.  A few years later the US dollar became the exclusive currency of OPEC, tightly tying US money and the value of oil together.  Today it's common knowledge that gas prices go up and the dollar will buy you less.  The 10W40 Dollar has a ring to it, no?

Posted by Steve Lambert on April 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Packard Jennings at Catharine Clark Gallery, SF

A project I have been working with Packard Jennings on under the auspices of the Anti-Advertising Agency will make its debut this Thursday, April 6, from 5:30-7:30pm at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.  You may know Packard from his "Fallen Rapper Protoyptes" in the Illegal Art E xhibit.

Packard_jennings_business_reply_pamphletThe show at Catharine Clark includes two new works. One is a pamphlet, much like his Day at the Mall pamphlet, designed to be included in postage paid return mail envelopes that come with credit card offers.  The pamphlet is in the style of an airline safety card, and shows mail processors overturning their desks and creating a new utopian society within their office complex.  Packard is collecting the business reply postage paid envelopes to send pamphlets in and would appreciate anyone who sends some his way care of the gallery.

The other project is the Anti-Advertising Agency Bus Stop Bench project.  Packard and I have been surveying neighborhoods in Oakland about what advertising tactics bother residents the most, then Packard created new content for ads on the neighborhhod bus stop benches in response to the survey results. The drawings, a sample bench, and documentation can be seen at the gallery.

The opening reception is Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 on the second floor of 49 Geary in San Francisco.  The show will be up through May 6.

Posted by Steve Lambert on April 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)