Currently based in Montreal, Canada, lilyluciole has been sharing her distinct vision and luscious aesthetic throughout the globe. We met up when she was in New York City.

lilyluciole and Bauba street art photo Alex Tassot1 Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

When did you first begin to share your artwork in public spaces?

I began three years ago. I was living in Paris at the time and recovering from a painful operation. Creating art was a way for me to express my feelings and, at the same time, heal my psychic and physical wounds.

What inspired you to hit the streets?

I wanted to share my vision with others, while transforming public space in a positive way. I feel that I have a unique way of seeing the world. The first image that I pasted after I arrived Montreal in 2011 was a portrait of an African woman who represented survival amidst difficulties. She was a woman who remained faithful to her dreams despite adversity.

lilyluciole street art brooklyn nyc Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

Which cities have you hit since?

I’ve gotten my artwork up in Montreal, Paris, Berlin and New York City. And Eric Marechal has pasted for me in China, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico for Street Art without Borders and the ArtFabric. I was also involved in JR’s Inside Out Project in Sao Paulo, thanks to Eric and Fabi Futata.

What is the riskiest thing you ever did in the public art sphere?

I never think about it, so there are no risks.  What I’m doing is too important. Any “risks” that I take only enhance my viewpoint.

Lilyluciole Herard street art The artfabric Buenos Aires 2014 1 Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

Do you belong to any crews?

I belong to Collective Offmurales, a Montreal-based collective made up largely of women. It includes a range of artists from yarn bombers to street artists –like Zola, Stela, Wall of Femmes, Camille Larrivée and Harpy. I also work independently of this crew on an informal basis with a gamut of artists including street artists, photographers and dancers.

Have you any favorite artists? Artists who’ve inspired you?

I’ve been in love with Swoon since I first discovered her. But there are many others I really appreciate. I have a great respect for artists who are passionate, who seek their own truth, who view the world critically and who connect to others’ realities – those whose lives and art are one.

Lilyluciole Ismaera Alex Tassot Paris 2014 Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

Have any particular cultures influenced you?

Not consciously. But I suppose I’ve been influenced by African and European ones. My inspiration is rooted in my travels, in dance and in life, itself.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Sometimes. But as soon as I’m finished creating one, I’m already thinking about the next one.

Do you have a formal art education? Was it worthwhile?

I began studying for a BFA in 2002, and I completed it in 2008. Yes, I’d say it was worthwhile, as it helped open me to many things, including the interdisciplinary fusion of techniques and genres, such as photography, fine arts and video.

lilyluciole wheatpaste street art nyc Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes, mainly in Paris, because in Montreal galleries tend to focus on a select group of artists.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I don’t understand it. I want to bridge the so-called divide.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s gotten lighter in tone.

lilyluciole street art shooters Paris 2014 Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

How does the street art scene in Montreal differ from the one here in NYC?

The street art scene in Montreal is new compared to the one here in NYC. It is still emerging, and it does not yet have the energy of NYC, Paris or Berlin. It has yet to open itself to the world. But it will.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all this?

The streets are what matter in this movement. But I’m not against the Internet as a tool to promote what’s on the streets. And I am grateful to all the photographers who document and share my work – the artfabric, Sylvain Borsatti, Alex TassotStreet Art Shooteurs and everyone else who has captured my work.

lilyluciole street art dumbo NYC Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

Have you any feelings about the bloggers in the scene?

I’d like to see more discussion beyond a superficial level. Bloggers need to question the artists and listen to them.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To provide society with an alternate voice, an individual one. I see my particular role as blurring the boundaries among cultures.

lilyluciole and Keith QBNYC Speaking with Montreal based lilyluciole in New York City

What do you see as the future of street art?

It will become bigger and bigger and more socially conscious at the same time.

What about you? What’s ahead for you?

I don’t know, but I will continue to explore my identity, my sense of truth and my position as a woman and as an artist.  Women have a particular wisdom and perception of the world that come from their intuition. I hope to continue to broaden my distinct insights and express them through my art.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky. Photos: 1. lilyluciole & Baubô in Paris by Alex Tassot; 2. lilyluciole in NYC by Lois Stavsky; 3. lilyluciole & Herard for ArtFabric in Buenos Aires with photography & Choice of collaboration by  Fabi & Eric Marechal; 4. lilyluciole & Ismaera in Paris by Alex Tassot; 5. lilyluciole in NYC by Sara Mozeson; 6. lilyluciole in abandoned space by Street Art Shooteurs; 7. ilyluciole in NYC by Lois Stavsky  and 8. lilyluciole and Keith QbNyc in NYC by Rachel Fawn Alban

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The finale of the Fabergé Big Egg Hunt began this past weekend and continues through Friday. Among the 260 egg sculptures on view at 30 Rockefeller Plaza are quite a few by artists with roots in the streets. Here’s a small sampling:

Vexta

Vexta street art egg The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Enx

enx street art egg The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Dain

dain street art egg The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Seen

seen egg street art nyc The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Indie 184

Indie 184 street art egg The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Retna

Retna street art egg The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Pure Evil

Pure Evil street art egg hunt The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

ASVP

ASVP egg The Big Egg Hunt Finale at Rockefeller Center through Friday with Vexta, Enx, Dain, Seen, Indie 184, Retna, Pure Evil, ASVP & more

Friday marks the final day of the auction with all proceeds going to Studio in a School and to Elephant Family.

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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This is the second in a three-part series featuring first-rate graffiti walls that have recently surfaced in the vicinity of the Morgan stop on the L train:

Vor 138 at work

Vor138 graffiti bushwick 2 Busy in Bushwick — Part II: New by Vor 138, Asend, Logek, Doves, SP.One and Yes1

Asend

Asend graffiti bushwick NYC Busy in Bushwick — Part II: New by Vor 138, Asend, Logek, Doves, SP.One and Yes1

 Logek

Logek graffiti bushwick Busy in Bushwick — Part II: New by Vor 138, Asend, Logek, Doves, SP.One and Yes1

Doves

Doves graffiti Bushwick2 Busy in Bushwick — Part II: New by Vor 138, Asend, Logek, Doves, SP.One and Yes1

 Greg Lamarche aka SP.One

SP.one graffiti Bushwick NYC Busy in Bushwick — Part II: New by Vor 138, Asend, Logek, Doves, SP.One and Yes1

Yes1 at work

Yes 1 graffiti Bushwick Busy in Bushwick — Part II: New by Vor 138, Asend, Logek, Doves, SP.One and Yes1

Photos of Deves and SP.One by Rachel Fawn Alban; Vor 138, Logek and Yes1 by Dani Reyes Mozeson and Asend by Lois Stavsky

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A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, MICO is an undisputed pioneer of subway art. One of the first writers to get his name up in the early 70’s, MICO also used the trains that rolled through NYC to deliver powerful socio-political messages.

Keith Baugh Subway Outlaws MICO graffiti Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

When and where did you first get up?

It was back in 1970 inside Erasmus High School in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. I used a pen at the time and thought it was so cool!

What inspired you back then?

Our main inspiration was the idea of writin’ our names everywhere and becoming known or famous. Also, I had no other creative outlets for self-expression. My high school didn’t offer me any art classes, and that frustrated me. I also, began meeting other writers like Undertaker Ash, WG, King of Kools, Dino Nod, Half, DECO, and along with my new found Colombian friends, we decided to start competing with those other writers that were already hittin’ the neighborhood walls.

Mico tag LL train NYC Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

Mico Hang Nixon graffiti on train Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

Any early memories that stand out?

My first MICO hit on a street wall with spray paint. I remember finding a can of silver paint in my building’s basement. And I used it to hit the base of a store window at the corner of Beverly Road and Flatbush Avenue.

What about your name? How did you come up with MICO?

Back in Colombia, there was a kid in my class who looked like a monkey. In Colombia, it is quite customary to be called a nickname, so we called him MICO, which means monkey in Colombia.  That guy actually did look like a monkey. Obviously, he didn’t like the idea of being called a monkey. My best friend and I decided to write MICO all over the school walls with white chalk — to drive this guy crazy. Once in NYC, and in need of a name to hit, I thought that if I wrote MICO all over NYC, and that guy from Colombia ever visited and saw “MICO” on NYC walls, he would probably get a heart of attack.

Mico graffiti Bogota Colombia Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

When did you begin hitting the trains? And why?

Early 1972. Remember — my friends at Erasmus Hall H.S. and I wanted to be famous. Once we started hittin’ the streets, my main writin’ partner MANI said, “If we hit our names in big letters with spray paint on the subways, our names will get around even more, and we will be even more famous.” The rest is history. Now the friendly competition we had engaged in with the other writers in East Flatbush became an all-city friendly competition with writers from the Bronx, Manhattan and the rest of Brooklyn. This friendly competition, however, began at the same time that a guerilla war against the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority started — with life and death consequences.

You became known for your social and political messages – like “Hang Nixon,” and “Free Puerto Rico.” Can you tell us something about that?

From a young age, I always had a strong sense of social awareness and was sensitive to injustice the world over. I was always a newspaper reader. Once I started hittin’ the trains, I realized that I could use them as a vehicle to communicate socio-political stuff throughout NYC. And I did!

Mico with youngsters in Bogota Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

Were you ever arrested?

Yes. Back in the winter of 1972, Slim 1, a young Chinese writer, and I were bombing a newly-found RR underground train yard at City Hall. Apparently, they already had a video surveillance camera down there, and they sent down a uniformed cop to chase us out.  We ran into the tunnel and made our way to Canal Street. But when we got there, Detective Steve Schwartz, the notorious detective of the MTA’s anti-graffiti force, was waiting for us.

Any other arrests come to mind?

In ’75 – after I’d stopped getting up on trains — I got arrested, along with another UGA member, for painting clandestine murals throughout NYC for a rally that was to take place outside the UN on November 1, 1975 in support of five Puerto Rican nationalists.  The following morning, William Kunstler, the most famous radical lawyer at the time, showed up in the courtroom and had a private conference with the judge at the bench. We were immediately set free.

Mico spray paint Inwood NYC Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

What is the riskiest thing you ever did back then?

Probably having to climb down from the elevated tracks of the 4 train to the street in the cold winter while the cops were chasing me and others.

Were you involved with any crews?

In 1970, I co-founded with MANI, SALVAJES, the first all-Latino writin’ group in Brooklyn. It consisted of three Colombians and one writer from Spain. I also became the first writer from Brooklyn voted into UGA.

Mico with writers in Inwood NYC Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

My mother did not approve at all. I was made homeless by a decision she made when I was 16. That is one of the reasons I spent so much time on the trains.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti into galleries?

It’s bittersweet as it takes it out of its original vandalism context and brings it into the world of commerce. And instead of your work being in a public space for everyone to enjoy or hate, it now belongs to some collector who hides the work in his or her collection.

Mico graffiti 5Pointz NYC Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

Have you exhibited your work in galleries?

Yes. My painting “MICOflag” was the first painting sold in the Razor Gallery in 1973. In fact, it was the first time in history that a spray paint masterpiece on canvas was purchased in an art gallery setting. I’ve also shown in other galleries and in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. In 2006 I was one of five US artists invited to participate in the 9th Havana Art Biennial.

In retrospect, have you any thoughts regarding the original school of writers?

We were the ones who sailed through unchartered waters. We risked our lives to the 600 volts of juice on the third real. Part of our experience was to discover the various layups and train yards for the next generation of writers. It was interesting that every single one of us in the Original School — who took what were doing seriously — always had a sense of originality. We tried to outdo ourselves with the next masterpiece, and we also had a sense of respect and tolerance for the work done by other writers.

lava Clyde Bama Mico NYC Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

What about the evolution of graffiti? What do you think about what’s happening these days?

I’m impressed!  Its technicality amazes me.

What about your art? How has it evolved through the years?

It’s evolved from letters to figures to abstract social realism, a style I began to develop in the mid 80’s.

Mico Puzzle Signature Collective Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or do you just let it flow?

It all comes from my head. I never use in-hand-sketches. I do sketch on paper…but usually it becomes a work of art in itself

What inspires you these days?

Societal issues that arise in everyday life. Justice and injustice.

Are there any specific cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Indigenous and urban.

MIC0 abstract Speaking with Original School NYC Writing Pioneer MICO

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

His or her role is to express and convey ideas that need to be out there.  The artist is a recorder of historical events who gives these events an artistic twist.

What are some of your other interests?

My main focus these days is on my family, social and political realities and preserving nature.

If you were getting messages onto trains these days, what would your message be?

Why is there ALWAYS money for war, but not for education?

Why does the 1% continue to make life miserable for the other 99% – even if it means criminal behavior – AND get away with it?

What’s ahead?

More art.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Richard Alicea; first image © Keith Baugh; all photos by MICO or Reserved Rights; photos 3 & 4 in Bogota, Colombia; all others in NYC

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Currently on exhibit at Chelsea’s ArtNowNY is “Push It,” an exuberant show featuring works by over 20 female artists working in a remarkable range of expressive modes.  Fresh new talents are showcased alongside legendary artists — many with roots in graffiti and street art. Here’s a sampling of works by six artists who consistently share their visions with us in public spaces:

Swoon

swoon art now Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Elle

elle canvas street art now Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Lady Pink

Lady Pink ArtNow Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Lady Aiko

Aiko canvas artnow nyc Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Alice Mizrachi

alice mizrachi art now nyc copy Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Vexta, close-up

vexta close up art now nyc Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Maya Hayuk

maya hayuk art now nyc2 Push It at Chelseas ArtNowNY through April 26    with Swoon, Elle, Lady Pink, Lady Aiko, Alice Mizrachi, Vexta, Maya Hayuk and more

Curated by Melissa McCaig-Welles, the exhibit continues through April 26 at ArtNowNY, 548 West 28th Street in Chelsea’s gallery district.

Images of artwork by Dani Reyes Mozeson, Lois Stavsky and City-as-School intern Dea Sumrall

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busy in bushwick Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

With the wicked wintry weather finally behind us, the Bushwick streets — in the vicinity of the L train’s Morgan station — have once again become a fresh canvas for both local and national writers. This is Part I of a three part series of what’s been happening:

Dero

Dero graffiti bushwick nyc Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

Ribs GAK

ribs graffiti bushwick nyc Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

Deem

Deem graffiti Bushwick Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

Slom

Slom graffiti bushwick Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

Bio of Tats Cru

Bio tats cru graffiti Bushwick1 Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

Sebs

Sebs graffiti Bushwick NYC Busy in Bushwick    Part I: Dero, Ribs, Deem, Slom, Bio and Sebs

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson and Lois Stavsky

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The following guest post is by Yoav Litvin, a writer, photographer and author of the recently released Outdoor Gallery – New York City book on contemporary NYC graffiti/street art.

Newmerica at Exit Room The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

Ñewmerica is a collective of artists, which includes LNY, Icy and Sot, Mata Ruda, NDA and Sonni. Each well-known to street art enthusiasts in New York City and worldwide, they joined forces in “The Birth of a Nation,” currently on display at Exit Room in Bushwick. After a fantastic opening chocked full of performances, raffles and other fun surprises, I returned to Exit Room to re-examine the art.  The first piece one encounters is an installation piece constructed by the group —  “La Inmortal Deli,” a bodega stocked with hand-embellished bottles and cigarette boxes. Outside the bodega are pieces by each of the artists in the main hall of Exit Room.

Newmerica bodega The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

It is very refreshing, Ñewmerica, to see a group of talented artists — each in their own right — form a collective. What are you trying to achieve with Ñewmerica?

Ñewmerica is a friendship and a platform for independence. When artists start out, they are free to create a body of work as they see fit, but then as the gallery system takes over, the work gets dissected and profiled to fit curatorial restraints or group show themes that tell their own stories. This can take away from an artist’s ability to present and represent his or her work. Ñewmerica is a collective push to take that complete artistic expression back by making the work we want to see exactly the way we want to see it. Ñewmerica is freedom.

Newmerica Bodega at Exit Room The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

Is there a collective experience for foreign artists trying to make it in NYC? Can you tell us something about the name, Ñewmerica?

None of us are native to NYC – our shared playground. NYC is the perfect stage for anybody to talk about anything resembling national identity, immigrant identity, or issues of gentrification and generational perspectives. Our individual work speaks about these issues already, and it gets amplified when we work together. At the same time this is just our reality. Even if we don’t make identity an issue we see it coming up in every day life. Analyzing identity is a way of discussing the reality of New York.

Bodega foreclosure at Exir Room The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

What’s wrong with America and what are you trying to change?

We are not necessarily trying to change anything, but just better ourselves through collaboration, sharing, and friendship. That’s the only way we can create a better commons and consequently better communities, neighborhoods, cities and nations. Know thyself before you wreck thyself and thy town.

Icy and Sot NDA The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

The bodega – why did you choose a bodega as the collaborative point for the collective, and not some other nexus? Why did you choose to make art on alcohol bottles and cigarettes boxes?

The bodega is a contested battleground. Much like the subway, it unifies a city because all social strata melt into it. Commerce and necessity make the bodega a contemporary secular place of worship where we all get our alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and purchase dreams on lottery tickets. It is this quintessential NYC icon — that has played an important role forming our culture — that is slowly getting lost. The bodega icon has been the focus of a lot of scrutiny, a specific example for this is the Street Market installation by Barry McGee, Todd James and Stephen Powers at Deitch Projects back in 2000 — something we all looked at and talked about at the beginning of this production and in a way are paraphrasing as part of this longer dialogue in time.

Mata Ruda Icy and sot The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

Is there significance to the name, “La Inmortal Deli?”

“La Inmortal Deli” is our nod to this history and our wish for this type of questioning to continue while simultaneously dealing with contemporary issues. Contrary to its name, “La Inmortal Deli” has an expiration date; it has been foreclosed and will soon be replaced by a Bank of America. So where will our culture go? What will replace the bodega in this new city we are building? What can we do about it?

Newmerica art at Exit Room The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

Please tell us some of Ñewmerica‘s plans for the future.

Ñewmerica has lots of fun and secret events planned for the future months – check back with us to find out @nwmrca and on our Facebook page.

Sonni LNY art Exit Room The Ñewmerican Dream: Yoav Litvin Talks to Ñewmerica

____________________________________

 “The Ñewmerican Dream is our biggest success to date,” commented Exit Room founder Dariel MTZ and co-founder Daniela Croci aka Zoe. “This group of artists represents the perfect balance between a grittier street art style and fine art, highlighting diversity in style, ethnic influences and a critical, yet progressive, new vision for American society.”

“The Birth of a Nation” continues through April 19 at 270 Meserole Street.  Gallery hours are Wednesday – Sunday: 5 – 8pm

All photos by Yoav Litvin; photos 1-4. Bodega installation; 5. NDA and Icy & Sot; 6. Mata Ruda and Icy & Sot; 7. Ñewmerica — all members, and 8. LNY and Sonni

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meres 5pointz white wash canvas W H I T E W A S H: A Requiem to 5Pointz at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery with Meres, Cortes, Zimad, See TF, Shiro and more through June 8

On November 19, 2013, 5 Pointz, the world’s aerosol art Mecca, was whitewashed overnight.  Its heartless destruction profoundly saddened not only the artists who called it home and those who traveled there from across the globe, but all of us who loved the creativity and camaraderie that 5Pointz represented. Currently on exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, just a short walk from the site of the “art murder,” is W H I T E W A S H.  Curated by Marie Cecile-Flageul, it features the works of nine aerosol artists and two photographers.  Here’s a small sampling of what is on exhibit:

Another by Meres One

Meres graffiti whitewash 5Pointz W H I T E W A S H: A Requiem to 5Pointz at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery with Meres, Cortes, Zimad, See TF, Shiro and more through June 8

Christian Cortes

chris cortes whitewash 5Pointz graffiti W H I T E W A S H: A Requiem to 5Pointz at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery with Meres, Cortes, Zimad, See TF, Shiro and more through June 8

Zimad

Zimad painting 5pointz whitewash W H I T E W A S H: A Requiem to 5Pointz at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery with Meres, Cortes, Zimad, See TF, Shiro and more through June 8

See TF, close-up 

See tf close up whitewash 5pointz W H I T E W A S H: A Requiem to 5Pointz at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery with Meres, Cortes, Zimad, See TF, Shiro and more through June 8

Shiro

shiro 5pointz whitewash W H I T E W A S H: A Requiem to 5Pointz at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery with Meres, Cortes, Zimad, See TF, Shiro and more through June 8

Also on exhibit in W H I T E W A S H are works by AuksHans Von Rittern, Jerms, Just One, Orestes Gonzalez, Poem and Topaz.   The exhibition continues through June 8 at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery. Located at 2137 45th Road in Long Island City, the gallery is open Friday – Sunday 12-6pm and by appointment, 917 767 1734.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky and City-as-School intern, Dea Sumrall

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army of one Jef Campion aka Army of One at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

Most of us street art aficionados identify Jef Campion aka Army of One with his appropriation of Diane Arbus’s compelling image, “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.” But currently on exhibit at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery at 98 Orchard Street is a series of works never viewed before — from poetry to sculptures fashioned on salvaged wood — that provide a poignantly intimate look into the talents and torments of this distinctly complex and sensitive artist.

We visited the gallery the day after the exhibit opened and had the opportunity to speak to its owner, Vincent Harrison.

Where and when did you first meet Jef?

I discovered Jef at Art Basel in Miami in 2012. He was standing in front of his van, covered with red paint from a project he’d been working on.

army of one Jef Campion memorial exhibition Jef Campion aka Army of One at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

What was your first impression of him?

He was a very intense guy, but also one of the nicest you’d ever meet. I was impressed by his sincerity and passion — in addition to his artistic and technical skills. He had a strong sense of justice that he carried throughout his work both as an artist and as a firefighter. In fact, he never intended to exhibit his work in galleries or make money from his art. Whatever money he made he donated to causes and charities such as the Ronald McDonald House. He just wanted to make a difference.

army of one memorial exhibit Jef Campion aka Army of One at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

Why do you suppose Jef took his art to the streets?

Jef studied at CalTech and SVA and was making fine art long before he hit the streets. But after 9/11, he became intent on reaching as many people as possible. And the streets were the perfect vehicle for him to do this.

Have you any thoughts on Jef’s appropriation of Diane Arbus’s iconic Grenade Boy?

He always felt a strong connection to Diane Arbus, someone who also led a tragic life. Her iconic image was the ideal way for Jef to highlight the plight of children affected by war and the loss of innocence within American society.

Army of one jef campion words1 Jef Campion aka Army of One at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

There seems to be so much pain and angst in Jef’s work.

He had his demons. He struggled with issues related to his childhood, his relationships with women and his abuse of drugs and alcohol.  Though spiritual, he rejected organized religion and the Catholicism that was imposed on him as a child. He felt that religion had been used to promote prejudice. But the biggest battle he faced was with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He was a first responder following the 9/11 attack and stayed at Ground Zero for 40 consecutive days. He was left struggling with traumatic, painful memories.

Army of One Jef Campion Colored White Jef Campion aka Army of One at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

Can you tell us something about this particular exhibit?

We wanted to commemorate Jef Campion’s life as an artist and individual who gave so much back to his community.  Brooke Lynn McGowan, who was in touch with Jef’s former girlfriend, curated it. None of the work on exhibit is for sale, but some museums have expressed interest in the work.

Army of one writing Jef Campion aka Army of One at Castle Fitzjohns Gallery

How did the opening go?

It was a wonderful tribute to Jef. His close friends, along with street artists, firemen, members of the police department and representatives of charities, attended and shared their memories. He will be missed.

The exhibit continues through Thursday at 98 Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Interview with Vincent Harrison by Emily Thaler; photos of Jef’s work by Dani  Reyes Mozeson, Lois Stavsky and Dea Sumrall

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New Museum Neighbors Paweł Althamer painting Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

The vision of Polish artist Pawel Althamer, the huge white space of the New Museum’s Fourth Floor gallery has become a vibrant collaborative canvas featuring a dynamic range of creative expression.  Visitors of all ages are welcome to participate and are provided with paint and drawing materials. Here are a few images captured last week:

New Museum Neighbors paint Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

City-as-School’s Dea Sumrall joins the fun 

Paweł Althamer Neighbors New Museum Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

And then captures some close-ups

New Museum close up Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

new museum Neighbors dream big Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

Featured on the second and third floors of the New Museum are several of Althamer’s haunting sculptures and videos – many produced in cooperation with  community groups that he has worked with over the past two decades.

From the Venetians, an installation of life-size figures

Paweł AlthamerNew Museum sculpture on bench Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

Self-portrait as the Billy Goat

New Museum sculpture seated Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

Self-Portrait in a Suitcase

Pawel Althamer self portrait in suitcase sculpture Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

Another self-portrait, this one in collaboration with Paulina Antoniewicz and Jacek Taszakowski, as he looks out of the window on an imaginary childhood scene

New Museum window Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

New Museum sculpture close up Pawel Althamers Neighbors Transforms New Museums Fourth Floor Gallery into Dynamic Collaborative Canvas and more

If you bring a new or gently men’s used coat to be donated to the nearby Bowery Mission, admission is free!  But do hurry – as the exhibit ends April 13.

Photo credits: 1. Rachel Alban; 2-3. Daniel Reyes Mozeson; 4-5. Dea Sumrall; 6-7. Dani Reyes Mozeson; 8. Lois Stavsky; 9-10. Dani Reyes Mozeson

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