*BLING*: Rashaad Newsome’s Work Sparkles as Grey Area’s Latest Addition.

Rashaad Newsome getting down with the A$AP Mob

At a raucous celebration, complete with the live sounds of A$AP Mob (despite malfunctioning audio equipment, and sadly sans A$AP Rocky), a cameo appearance by Mos Def (so brief it was what we in the industry call a “drive-by”), free-flowing champagne, and the suspicious smells of burning herbs (no comment), SoHo purveyor of artist-designed objects Grey Area introduced us to cultural remix master Rashaad Newsome’s latest pieces, a collaborative effort with W magazine, who supplied the bling. It “was actually was the first time I got jewelry and shot it myself,” Newsome told ARTINFO as A$AP Mob put away their microphones, recorded music came back on, and the crowd began to dissipate.

Hung next to a glass case full of his 2011 “Fitted Crowns,” two baroquely ornate and garishly painted (teal!) frames surrounded collages of various jewels. On the left were the gold of Flavor Flave’s mouth and the rings of fingers adorned with long acrylic nails (painted, similarly, to be both ornate and garish at the same time). The piece, like the black leather hats encircled by jeweled crowns next to them, was as the crux of his work has always been, the juxtaposition of old bling and new bling as a commentary on modern-day heraldry.

To the right, however, the pieces looked decidedly more of an ode to the stately regalia of Madison Avenue; photographs of the jewelry of Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, and Cartier were layered upon a bed of pink and gray pearls, with a few actual ones hot-glued to the surrounding wall. It looked almost entirely like a crest of the Upper East Side with almost none of his found hip hop imagery we’ve become familiar with, save the one detail that made it unmistakably Newsome: a jewel-studded hashtag “#SWAG” curling up from the bottom of the frame, painted some unnatural shade of orange.

— Janelle Zara

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