By JAMES SALOMON November, 2019
“How the fuck did I wind up in New Jersey?”
It’s a question that I ask myself every now and then. And I can explain, with confidence, some other time. But as I’ve been pondering this since my recent visit to the NJDMV, I may as well get it out in the open. Let me continue by saying that I have no intention to offend anyone, and I am very happy where I live. But as I tell my wife, Jersey City will not be my final resting place.
Until then, here I am.
And honestly, it’s pretty great here. You just have to get over the stigma of saying “Jersey City”, because, frankly, it doesn’t sound as sexy as “Brooklyn” as a Manhattan alternative (though I’ve dubbed it Brooklyn West, the way it’s been blowing up).
“I liked it better when it had the stigma. Unfortunately it doesn’t anymore,” says my friend Dylan Egon, street artist extraordinaire, amongst other things. If you don’t know Dylan, chances are you’ve seen his larger than life images wheat pasted along the streets of Downtown Jersey City and Lower Manhattan. His graphic imagery is impossible to miss. His abode, an 1870s engine house, is 200 yards from my place by crow, I just have to cross Van Vorst Park to borrow a vice grip, have a beer, or snoop in on what he’s up to.
There’s a lot to see in this Bat Cave. It’s hard to know where to begin, but I can mention that Asian enthusiasts of Americana have traveled the globe to document his belongings. Dylan surrounds himself with enough pop cultural relics to make your head spin. For example, he has an impressive professional motorcycle jacket and helmet collection, worn by the likes of Jay Springsteen, Dave Aldana, Jim Rice, the list goes on and on. I have no idea who these people are but somehow I’m convinced. Can’t have jackets and helmets without the actual bikes, right? There’s a Ducati “Neo” Crotch Rocket (same model used in The Matrix), a 1982 Husquavarna, a 1970 Triumph Bonneville, a 1950s Dick Mann BSA in the kitchen. I could go on and on all day about the eclectic artifacts that nest within his walls. “Where does he get all those wonderful toys?” as the Joker would say.
Scattered among them are Dylan’s own artworks, bearing images of racehorses, assault rifles, Mickey Mouse, Pegasus, The Virgin Mary, and the lot. Why do I rattle off all of these belongings and symbols? Because they give some insight into the curious mind behind the works that will be on exhibit on Allen Street later this month. It’s a Jonathan LeVine popup project; they needed a storefront they could fit a 1929 Ford Model A into. Jonathan—a pioneer in developing the Street Art market—is another character. He has a tattoo of Trenton Bridge across his back that says “Trenton Makes, The World Takes”. The boys will be offering up plenty of Egon merch: hats, tee shirts, stickers, patches, blankets, Billykirk collaboration bags, booze, and other stuff readily available for mass consumption. The artworks: paintings, assemblages, prints, and objects, all of which comprise Dylan’s Great American Dream Machine—a commentary on our current value system and consumerist appetite in this One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.
The exhibition will be in New York City’s Lower East Side at 198 Allen Street, with an opening reception on Thursday 21 November, 7-11pm, and lasting through Sunday the 24th. Four days only, so get over there if curious. You may not even have to pay a toll. WM