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UNCONTAINABLE opens with RETNA, Shepard Fairey, Logan Hicks, London Police + more

UNCONTAINABLE, opening June 9, is the precursor to the forthcoming National Institute of Urban Art. NIUA, opening in late 2017, will provide exhibition space, public education programs and artist services (such as legal and accounting advice) to the urban arts community. I am honored to be affiliated. I hope you will join me in congratulating the ambitious new museum.


Thomas Center Galleries Announce UNCONTAINABLE | Urban Art from Vandalism to Movement Exhibition, June 9 – September 9, 2017
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In partnership with the National Institute of Urban Art, the Thomas Center Galleries announce the opening of UNCONTAINABLE | Urban Art from Vandalism to Movement, on Fri., June 9from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The exhibit features a collection of work of twenty-five globally recognized urban artists, some of which has never been exhibited previously.
The artwork on exhibit in UNCONTAINABLE, includes two exquisitely detailed collages by Brian Adam Douglas (Elbow-Toe), an original large-scale woodcut by Swoon, a rendition of the renowned Bowery Wall stencil piece by Logan Hicks, silk screens by Shepard Fairey, a large canvas by Axel Void, as well as work by Retna, Revok, Invader, Os Gemeos, Etam Cru, How & Nosm and others. Never-before-exhibited work by Michael Reeder and Juan Travieso will debut.

The roots of urban art can be traced to late 20th century graffiti – the stealth ‘writing’ and tagging on buildings and train cars documented in Philadelphia and New York. The early stage of the movement represented a kind of adolescent anarchy and was considered as blight and prosecuted as vandalism. Illegal graffiti nonetheless had its admirers – and a hierarchy of accomplishment elevated some of the “writers” as early heroes of the movement.

Recognition and respect among these graffiti artists led to a quest for mastery of materials and craft. Competition for exposure as well as admiration was fierce. Simple tags led to elaborate hand styles, which expanded into more complex wall art – “burners,” “pieces,” and murals. These largely unschooled street artists reached beyond spray cans and markers to wheat paste, sticker bombing, rollers and brush paint. Today, over forty years later, the best urban art is as lush and detailed in the street as in the studio.

The current urban art movement is exploding internationally, with walls and urban art festivals in cities across the North America, South America, Europe and Asia. The movement grew alongside the internet, with the power of shared digital imagery a factor in documenting and elevating an art form that degrades and disappears over time. Artists, many working under their street names, connect and intersect in towns and cities around the globe
Visitors to the opening reception of UNCONTAINABLE may join a bus tour introduction to the352walls/Gainesville Urban Art Initiative” from 5:30-6:30. This tour of the urban art walls in and near downtown is free, but seating is limited. Bus tour sign-up sheets will be available at the gallery starting at 5 p.m.
The opening event will also feature a screening of “Saving Banksy,” the 2017 Colin Day documentary film about arguably the world’s most renowned urban artist and the issue of art-world profiteering

UNCONTAINABLE is curated by Anne E. Gilroy, Curator of the Thomas Center Galleries, and Craig O’Neil, founder of the National Institute for Urban Art. Work was loaned to exhibition by Craig & Charo ONeil, Robert Meltser and Logan Hicks. Both the Main and Mezzanine Galleries are part of the expansive exhibit.

Thomas Center Gallery doors will open at 5 p.m. on June 9, with signup sheets for the bus tours. “Saving Banksy” will begin at 7pm; please note this film contains strong language and is recommended for adults only. The public is welcome to this free event. Parking at the Thomas Center is available.

The Thomas Center Galleries are located at 302 NE Sixth Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The galleries are closed for observed holidays. For additional gallery information, please contact Russell Etling, Cultural Affairs Manager, at 352-393-8532 or visit
For additional information about this exhibit, please contact Anne E. Gilroy, Thomas Center Galleries curator, at

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