Search: High School of Art & Design

A&D-subway-design-winne

This past Thursday evening, the High School of Art & Design hosted a reception, exhibition and panel discussion honoring 20 student winners of its first A&D Subway Car Design Competition.  Soon after the event, I had the opportunity to speak to Art & Design alumnus and Old School graffiti writer George Colon aka AIM, who had invited us to this celebration of our favorite art form.

George-Colon-Signs

Thursday evening’s event was wonderful.  We loved the way it brought so many folks – students, alumni, faculty, parents, artists and us graffiti aficionados — together. Whose idea was it?

Two years ago, I presented the idea of a panel discussion on the theme of graffiti art to the school’s administration. Art & Design seemed like the ideal site to host such a symposium, since so many famed writers are A&D alumni.  The faculty, though, was hesitant at the time to engage in a graffiti-related event. They were afraid, I assume, of negative reprisals.

Art-and-Design-subway-car-competition

How, then, did last week’s amazing event happen?  What caused the change? Why was the school suddenly receptive? 

There were several factors. First, there was a change in the administration. The new principal is open to new ideas and programs that he feels are in the students’ interests.  And I connected with A&D alumnus, George Alonso, who was in touch with Klim Kozinevich — the designer of the All City Style Blank NYC Subway Cars. It was George’s idea that a few of us alumni offer the students a workshop in designing subway cars. Alumnus Klim Kozinevich donated the All City Style Blank NYC Subway Cars and everything else followed.

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What was your original inspiration behind this? What spurred you to see it through?

I felt that I wanted to give back. It was also an opportunity to educate folks about a global art form that has strong roots in this particular school.

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The panel discussion was certainly informative. George Alonso was the perfect moderator, and you, along with Spar One and Kenji Takabayashi, had much to offer.  The audience was totally engaged. Why do you suppose there seems to be so much interest these days in graffiti, particularly from the perspective of veteran writers?

As graffiti is increasingly embraced by professionals and recognized as a legitimate art form, it is more likely to spur the interest of folks who would ordinarily dismiss it.

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Yes! Once an art form becomes the subject of museum retrospectives, it is difficult to relegate it to mere vandalism! What’s ahead for you?

We are planning to continue collaborating with Art & Design. We would like to make the A&D Subway Car Design Competition an annual event, and we’d love to conduct graffiti–inspired design workshops in other educational settings.

That would be great! Good luck! 

Images

1. First-place winner, James Dundon (design — center top)

2. George Colon aka AIM SSB signing books presented to students

3. Trains designed by A&D alumni: Kenji TakabayashiGeorge Colon aka AIM, SexerSpar One and Flint

4. Spar One with black book in hand

5. Kenji Takabayashi

6. Joe Russo

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 4 Tara Murray; 2 Todd Atkinson; 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Dasic-Fernandez-and-Rubin415-street-art

Penned by photographer, writer, neuroscientist and street art aficionado, Yoav Litvin, 2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City is a distinctly elegant ode to the art of collaboration. Recently released by Schiffer Publishing, it was formally launched last month at the Bronx Museum of the Arts alongside a collaborative photography exhibit, 2gether: Portraits of Duos in Harlem and the South Bronx by Litvin and Tau Battice. A textual and visual documentation of the creative and collaborative process among nine pairs of artists, 2Create also presents first-hand accounts of each one’s early life and work.

Dasic-Fernandez-and-Rubin415-paint

Featuring such duos from NYC-based Al Diaz and Jilly Ballistic to the Iranian brothers Icy and Sot, 2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City showcases a broad range of styles, sensibilities and processes. It also introduces us to the specific locale — from Manhattan’s Union Square Subway Station to a Greenpoint, Brooklyn rooftop — of each of the collaborative works featured. With its astute insights and superb design, it stands out among the dozens of street art-related books published last year.

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bunnyM-and-Square-street-art

After reading the book, I posed a few questions to Yoav:

Your first book, the highly acclaimed Outdoor Gallery: New York City, focused largely on individual artists. Why did you decide to focus on duos in this book? 

In contrast to other art forms, such as music or dance, the visual arts involve a more solitary practice. Painters are famous for being hermits: closing themselves off from the world in their studios where they paint their masterpieces. At least, that’s the popular narrative. I feel that because the visual arts are easily commodified and objectified, they have evolved in such a way.  While I was working on Outdoor Gallery, which focuses on 46 individual artists, I noticed several duos of street and graffiti artists who produced incredible works, and I was fascinated by their practices. In 2Create I seek to investigate the art and practice of collaboration in different mediums — collage work, screen printing, stenciling, graffiti and mural making. My goal with 2Create is twofold: to present the behind-the-scenes processes of these artists and to investigate the secrets of collaboration, with the ultimate aim of encouraging others to create together. Just like any skill, collaboration needs to be practiced!

Dain-and-Stikki- Peaches

How did you decide which duos to feature in 2Create?

My process with 2Create was mostly democratic. I was looking to present a diversity of styles, messages, mediums and locales. I am cognizant and weary of the politics involved in the arts and attempted to focus on artists that I felt were doing radical, innovative work and were constantly challenging themselves. Throughout my research on collaborations, I discovered there were two major categories that lie on a continuum — from complementary collaborations – individual works presented side by side – to integrative, a single piece that seamlessly integrates the work of two artists. I chose nine duos that present the full spectrum.

Icy-and-Sot

Icy-and-Sot-paint

What insights did you, yourself, gain into the collaborative process, particularly among visual artists?

Collaboration is a skill that should be practiced by any visual artist as part of his/her development. Collaboration is an exciting and stimulating process that can produce immense growth if approached correctly, but can be very challenging at times. An artist needs to respect and trust his or her collaborator and be willing to be adaptable and open to critique. The collaborative process can open new doors for an artist  — in techniques, messages, ideas and human connections that can be useful moving forward.

ASVP-2Create

The book, itself, is masterfully designed. Can you tell us something about that? 

For the design I worked with the designer Dan Michman, who is also an excellent childhood friend. It was important for me that every aspect of this project be collaborative. Dan is the best designer I know, plus I like him a lot and knew from experience that we’d collaborate well. Our process was incredible. Dan took my materials — images and texts — along with my notions on the artistic process and on collaboration, and created a stunning design “language” for the book. It was a truly integrative collaborative process. I could not be happier with the way it turned out. Plus, the cover design is simply stunning. Lastly, Schiffer Publishing did a great job in the book’s production.

2Create-cover

How has the response been to 2Create?  Is there any particular readership you’d like to reach?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to appealing to the street art and graffiti fan crowd, my hope is that 2Create will integrate as a text book for art schools, colleges and universities. I believe the behind-the-scenes process shots, the revealing interviews and the insight into the art of collaboration make it a unique resource for artists in general, and visual artists in particular. But 2Create is more than a book on art. It is a document that presents the collaborative duo as the basic unit of a collective humanity in which empathy and collaboration trump disregard and domination. In an era of the cult of celebrity, war and climate change, collective action is not only beneficial, it is necessary. 2Create expresses these radical notions and I hope it will serve to inspire activists fighting for the greater good.

For more listen to Yoav speak on Counterpunch Radio here.

Images

1 & 2 Rubin and Dasic 

3 & 4 Bunny M and Square 

5  Stikki Peaches and Dain

6 & 7 Icy & Sot

ASVP

All images © Yoav Litvin

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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An in-depth analysis of graffiti and street art, the Routledge Handbook of Graffiti and Street Art presents a strong sampling of the current scholarship in the field. Edited by University of Baltimore Professor Jeffrey Ian Ross, it is appended by a glossary of graffiti terms and a chronology of graffiti beginning with early cave paintings.

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Published earlier this year by Routledge — the world’s leading academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences — it is divided into four sections, offering a range of theories by thirty-seven contributors on the:

  • History, Types, and Writers/Artists of Graffiti and Street Art
  • Theoretical Explanations of Graffiti and Street Art/Causes of Graffiti and Street Art
  • Regional/Municipal Variations/Differences of Graffiti and Street Art, and
  • Effects of Graffiti and Street Art.

With its mix of aesthetic, cultural, sociological and political perspectives across a richly diverse spectrum of topics – from the history of freight train graffiti in North America to the value of street and graffiti in the current art market – it is a fascinating foray into one of the most significant global movements of our time.  Among the many essays of particular interest to those of us immersed in the current scene are: Rafael Schacter‘s thesis of graffiti and street art as “ornamental forms;” Jessica N. Pabon‘s examination of gender in contemporary street art; Jeffrey Ian Ross‘s discussion of London’s contemporary graffiti and street art scene; Mona Abaza‘s analysis of the graffiti and street art that surfaced in post-January 11 Egypt, and Peter Bengtsen‘s discussion of the value of street art removed from the street.

An interview with Professor Jeffrey Ian Ross follows:

What initially spurred your interest in graffiti?

Beginning in childhood and continuing during my high school years, I spent a considerable amount of time creating visual art – graphic design, painting, photography and sculpture. Frustrated and/or disappointed with the quality of instruction in my public high schools, I enrolled in and completed courses at the Ontario College of Art–now Ontario College of Art and Design — in Toronto. Later, I was accepted to the Central Technical School Commercial Art program, as well as the Photographic Arts program at Ryerson College — now University–, but I chose not to attend. In many respects, my study of graffiti and street art, and the content of this book represent a way of coming full circle. The scholarly study of graffiti and street art deals with many subjects close to my personal interest areas, including codes, control, crime, criminal justice, deviance, gentrification, harms, illegalities, identity, state responses, power imbalances, protest, punishment, resistance, subjectivity, subterranean processes and networks, surveillance, urban incivility and vandalism.

jeffrey-ross-baltimore-graffiti-alley

What inspired you to edit a book of this nature?

In 2012 I decided to teach an undergraduate class on “Graffiti and Street Art” at the University of Baltimore.  Over time, as I started to read the body of work on graffiti and street art, I noticed that it was short on empirical scholarly analysis, was of uneven quality, and was distributed through a diverse number of scholarly venues. What was missing was a reference book that presented and analyzed the important research, theories, and ideas related to the field of graffiti and street art. I was determined to assemble a collection of original, well researched and written pieces created by experts on this subject under one literary roof. This handbook is the result of this effort.

How do you account for the increased interest among academics in graffiti and street art?

Graffiti and street art are pervasive in cities around the world. You cannot ignore it. Because the amount of graffiti and street art has increased since the 1960s and has changed in form and content, it is something to be examined by an interdisciplinary cadre of scholars.

jeffrey-ross-graffiti-street-art-nyc

How did you decide what topics to include?

Through an intense reading of the scholarship of graffiti and street art, and by consulting with some of my contributors, I was able to disentangle what are/were the most important topics to include in the book.

And how did you decide which academics/scholars/authors to include?

Again through a careful read of the scholarship and by engaging with my contributors with respect to who might be the most appropriate scholar/author to write on a particular topic, I was able to narrow down which academic to invite to write a chapter.

jeffrey-ross-santiago-chile

Are there any particular theories presented here that particularly surprised or enlightened you?

I am a big fan of subcultural theories of crime, but recognize that there are numerous other theories embedded in other social sciences and the humanities that are relevant here, including different kinds of literature that play into the study of graffiti and street crime, like gentrification, space, etc.

Who is the audience for your book?

The Handbook is easy to read and designed to answer common questions asked by undergraduate and graduate students, as well as by experts on graffiti and street art. This book is also accessible to practitioners — individuals working, or aspiring to work, in the fields of criminal justice, law enforcement, art history, museum studies, tourism studies, urban studies, etc., as well as policy- makers in these fields. In addition, it is of interest to members of the news media covering stories on graffiti and street art. The analysis and writing are accessible to upper-level university students — typically referred to as juniors and seniors at American universities — and graduate students. This volume will also be useful for scholars and libraries, and can easily be utilized in the classroom context. A reference book of this nature will be of interest not only in the previously mentioned scholarly fields, but it will also be specifically relevant to those institutions that have programs in cultural studies, visual arts, tourism, and museum studies. Last but certainly not least, the Handbook will appeal to a wide international audience.

Photos for this post by Jeffrey Ian Ross: 1. Baltimore (Graffiti Alley); 2 NYC & 3. Santiago, Chile; interview by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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giz-ghost-such-graffiti-street-art-Bushwick-Collective-NYC

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Bushwick Collective‘s founder and curator, the indefatigable Joe Ficalora, as he readies for this year’s 5th Annual Block Party, June 3-5.

As you prepare for this year’s 5th Annual Block Party, can you share with us some of this past year’s highlights?

Last June’s Annual Block Party was certainly a highlight!  The entire community came together as a family. It was a beautiful sight! A special highpoint of this past year was the Bushwick Collective‘s collaboration with Mana Urban Arts. We had the chance to go down to Miami in December during Art Basel. NYC artists, along with local Miami ones and artists from across the globe, painted together, transforming the inside and outside of the RC Cola Factory. It was a particular thrill to have seven-year-old Lola join us and watch her paint with Chor Boogie. We’ve also facilitated murals in Miami and Jersey City in coordination with Mana Urban Arts. And – more recently — during Frieze Art Week, we participated in Art New York on Pier 54 with Sipros in support of the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.

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What would you say was your greatest challenge this past year?

My greatest challenge was dealing with all the marketers trying to hunt down walls. Now that this neighborhood is “cool,” they feel that they can take advantage of the public space without giving back.

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What can we expect at this year’s Block Party?

There will be live painting, food trucks, local vendors, special activities for families with kids and surprise performers.  A pop-up exhibition at 198 Randolph Street will feature artists from the The Parsons School of Design at the New School, the official sponsor of the weekend, along with local artists. The Museum of the City of New York will be projecting images of Bushwick from over 100 years ago and sharing a huge blown-up photo of Bushwick in 1909. All money from the artwork sold at the exhibit — that opens to the public at 7pm on Friday, June 3, and can be viewed on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm — will go directly to the artists. Local artists will also be exhibiting their work independently. Performers opening the weekend include: The BBoy Rebels (NYC Original Subway Dancers), DJ Mister Cee, Loaf Muzik, Monsters of Brooklyn, Thorough, Thirsting Howl lll, Styles P and Jim Jones. And on Saturday — in addition to JADAKISS — DJ Statik Selektah and friends, Lil Waah, Joell Ortiz, Dave EastChris Rivers, son of the legendary Big Pun, and The BBoy Rebels will perform. Keep posted to our website for updates.

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Who are some artists we can look forward to meeting?

Artists from everywhere will be painting. Among them are: D*Face, Case Maclaim, Sipros, Atomik, Don Rimx and Trans1. Local artists include: Giz, Tats Cru, CrashMeres, Topaz, Plasma Slug, Lola the Illustrator and Hops 1.

starfighter-street-art-Bushwick-Collective-NYC

That sounds great! What’s ahead for the Bushwick Collective?

We will continue to grow as an organization and evolve with time. We look forward to further collaborations with Mana Urban Arts.  We also look forward to establishing new partnerships.

Images

1. Giz, Ghost, Such, RIS Crew

2. Sipros

3. Case Maclaim

4. Oji

5. Starfighter

Photo credits: 1 & 3 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; 2, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky with Sol Raxlen

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Geoffrey-Carran-and-Rowena-Martinich-street-art-mural-Project- brookLYNK-NYC

Designed to link artists with schools, Project BrookLYNK has transformed EBC High School for Public Service in Bushwick into an exuberant outdoor/indoor gallery. We recently visited the school and spoke to Project BrookLYNK director, Thomas Gleisner aka Tommy Gee.

What a wonderful space! How lucky these students, teachers and staff members are! What exactly is your role in making this happen? And what is your relationship to this school?

I engage the artists, oversee the execution of the murals and organize a range of activities related to the artworks. I also teach art and Special Education.

D-Gale-art-mural-Project- brookLYNK-NYC

 When did it all begin? 

The first mural inside our building, Black Lives Matter — painted by Bevon Brewster — surfaced over four months ago.  Then in June, Melbourne-based artists-in-residence Geoffrey Carran and Rowena Martinich involved our students in painting murals and instructed them in a variety of art activities. Since then, it’s been an ongoing project.

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How has your principal responded to this intitiative?

Our principal, Shawn Brown, loves it. I’ve known him since 2010, when we worked together at another high school in Brooklyn. We share a similar educational vision.

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And how have the students and faculty members reacted?

Most haven’t seen all of the art yet. But their response to what they did see was positive. The students love it. And the teachers were quite surprised at first, but their response has also been positive.

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How have you managed to involve so many artists — and so many celebrated street artists?

Some are friends; others are friends of friends, and some are referred to me.

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 What’s ahead?

More murals, more artists’ residencies and more community engagement and collaborative projects here at EBC High School for Public Service. And I would, also, like to expand Project BrookLYNK to other schools in the fall.

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That would be great! We are looking forward to seeing more!

Note: The murals pictured above are a small sampling of the dozens of pieces in disparate styles by local, national and international artists that can be seen inside and outside EBC High School for Public Service located at 1155 Dekalb Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. More info and links here, and keep posted to our Facebook page for many more images.

Murals: 1. Geoffrey Carran and Rowena Martinich 2. D. Gale 3. Rob Plater 4  Nepo 5. Hori Shin 6. See One 7Phetus

Photos: 1-4 Lois Stavsky; 5-7 Tara Murray

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noxer-kaput-giz-martinez-gallery

While visiting the Free Radicals graffiti exhibit at ALL CITY this past Friday, I had the opportunity to speak to noted Martinez Gallery director Hugo Martinez who — together with Dr. Juan Tapia — envisioned and helped realize this wonderful space that serves as a graffiti art gallery, arts center and pediatric clinic.

What an amazing venture this is! A pediatric clinic, a dynamic art gallery and lounge all sharing the same space. Whose concept was this?

It was Einstein’s. “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity and form,” he once stated. There is a natural synthesis between art and medicine, and a health clinic is an ideal setting to realize it.

Noxer

What made this extraordinary space possible?

2.5 million dollars and seven years.

Who were the main forces behind it?

I work with Dr. Juan Tapia, a pediatrician and former graffiti artist known as C.A.T. 87.  We were inspired to observe and measure evidence-based results of fusing two seemingly antithetical concepts.

"Navy8 and False"

How did you two come to collaborate?

I met Juan over 40 years ago when I was a student at City College and he was a Warlord for the neighborhood division of the Young Savage Nomads gang.  In 1972, we co-founded the United Graffiti Artists (UGA) as an alternative community to the established art world. Juan then went on to earn his GED and attend college and medical school. We have since collaborated on many community-based art and health projects. And in 2008, we established the ALL CITY Foundation.

Can you tell us something about the ALL CITY Foundation?

It is a community-based health and arts collaborative that has brought together a network of medical practitioners, artists and designers to create and run coordinated health and art programs for youth in New York City.

Navy8

Your current exhibit, Free Radicals, is a remarkable representation of various works in different media by a range of prolific artists.

Yes. All of the artists in this exhibit have established all-city reputations, most in NYC and a few in other large cities.

Why did you choose this particular space on the corner of 135th Street and Broadway? It is quite impressive.

It is close to City College, where UGA was first established. And the lay-out of the building, the former Claremont Theater – a 22,500-square-foot landmark that was the first theater to show photoplays — is perfectly designed for our purposes.

Soviet

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What’s ahead?

A range of programs, activities and revolving art exhibits.

Note: Free Radicals continues through March 31 at 3332 Broadway at 135th Street in Harlem. All artworks are for sale. You can follow the Martinez Gallery online at martinezgallery.com and on Instagram at instagram.com/martinezgallery. You can also visit the space with NY1 and check out this recent story in the New York Times.

Photos

1. Kaput, Noxer and Giz

2Noxer

3. False and Navy8

4. Navy8

5. Soviet, close-up

6. Various artists, as seen from the outside looking inside

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky

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"The X-Spot"

Topaz – one of the most active members of the hip-hop and 5Pointz communities – began customizing T-shirts when he was in junior high school. His most recent venture is the X-Spot, a unique space at 2 East 116th Street in East Harlem. We recently visited him and had the opportunity to speak to both Topaz and Jay, the manager of Production X.

Topaz

How did you guys come up with the idea to open such a space?

We grew up together in Rego Park, Queens, and we’ve been working together for years. We’ve actually had two stores before – one in Paterson, New Jersey and the other in South Carolina. We wanted to do something different from what we’d done in the past.

Jerms

In what ways is this venture different?

Our emphasis here is on providing services and maintaining a gallery.  It is production-based. Although we sell graffiti art on canvases, select magazines — like the latest issue of Flashbacks — and CD’s, our space here is not primarily a store or shop.

Jerms-Topaz-and-Blone-graffiti-on-canvas

What are some of the services that you provide?

We provide clients with all forms of graphic design — customized murals, logos, portraits, canvases, T-shirts and more.

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It sounds – and looks – great! Whom do you see as your principal clientele?

At this point, it is largely the hip-hop community – rappers and entertainers. But, ideally, the general public, especially as graffiti continues to gain respect and recognition as an art form.

Treat Street-graffiti-on-canvas

This is such a great location! It’s right off 5th Avenue in East Harlem and down the block from the 2 and 5 subway lines. How did you guys come up with such a great locale?

A lucky set of circumstances – as Jay’s cousin had previously worked at this location.

Poet-Pace-Jerms-Sav-Ice-graffiti-on-canvas-gallery

The artwork on display here is primarily by you, TopazJerms and Treat Street NY. Are you open to other artists participating in your projects?

Absolutely.  Talented and committed artists can stop by our space or drop us an email at ProductionX@aol.com or LordRoccolypse@aol.com.

Photo credits: 1. and 2. Topaz by City-as-School intern Tyler Dean Flores; 3. Jerms by Lois Stavsky; 4. Jerms, Topaz & Blone by Lois Stavsky; 5. Treat Street with Jay (X-Productions) by Lois Stavsky; 6. Treat Street, as commissioned by Derek Jeter’s nephew, by Lois Stavsky and 7. PoetPaceJermsSav, Ice and more by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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The rooftop of the former Seward Park High School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has evolved into one of NYC’s most enticing graffiti canvases.  Following is a sampling of what we saw this past Sunday as Rooftop Legends, curated by New Design High School dean, Jesse Pais, celebrated its sixth anniversary.

Marka27 and Don Rimx

Mark27 and Rimx

Fever

fever-graffiti

Graffiti pioneer Part One

Part-one

Smoke

smoke-graffiti

Toofly and Werds

Toofly and Werds

Style masters Shank aka Dmote, Wane and Aplus

Shane, wane and a-plus

Slave

Slave-graffiti

Dr. Revolt

Dr.-Revolt-graffiti-rooftop-legends-NYC

Ces

Ces

KR.One

KR.One

Pesu

Pesu

Queen Andrea

Queen Andrea

Vers

vers

Photos by Lenny Collado and Tara Murray

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Back in 2012, Chicago-native Shawn Bullen brought his wonderful talents to Bushwick. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet up with the gifted artist who has just returned to NYC after spending several years in San Francisco.

Shawn-Bullen-mural-art

When and where did you first get up in a public space?

When I was 17, I got hold of some Mean Streak markers and started tagging the mailboxes in my Chicago neighborhood.

What inspired you to get up?

My friends were doing it, and it seemed like a fun thing to do. I didn’t really think about what I was doing, and I certainly didn’t take it seriously. I also wasn’t very good at it!

Do you remember when you first became aware of graffiti?

There was a graffiti wall in New Hyde Park that I used to pass almost every day. But I didn’t quite get it! I thought, “Why would anyone write something that nobody else could read or understand?”

Shawn-Bullen-Miami-Mural-art

Once you began getting up, did you ever get arrested?

I was arrested twice. The first time, I had climbed on top of a nearby fruit and vegetable stand to write my name. I was caught on camera, and I ended up having to turn myself in. Ironically it led to my first paid gig as the owner of the space offered me $200 to paint his truck.

What was the riskiest thing you ever did back then?

My friend and I would crawl across train tracks lined with live wires through dangerous neighborhoods.

Why did you do that?

To get to rooftop walls that we liked along the Green line.

Shawn-Bullen-mural-Bushwick-NYC

How did your family react to all this?

My mom was hot happy that I was breaking the law, but she was always confident that what I was doing would lead to something.

Do you have a formal art education?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing! But, yes, I studied Photography throughout high school. And then I studied Photography and Drawing at Columbia College in Chicago before transferring to NSCAD, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. But I didn’t graduate. I left after two years.

Why was that?

I noticed that most of the graduates were working in coffee shops. Few had jobs related to art. I had also felt that I had learned enough.

Shawn-Bullen-mural-art-SF

How you feel about the role of the Internet and social media in this scene?

I think the Internet is a beautiful tool that allows us to share our work with others. It is difficult, though, to keep up with social media, and I know that I need to focus more on my Instagram account. I can get lazy!

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I was exposed early on to the hip-hop culture. Undoubtedly, it has influenced my aesthetic. And when I paint, I almost always listen to hip-hop – Kenye West, Jay Z, Drake…

Have you any favorite artists?

So many! To name a few…Kehinde Wiley, Chuck Close, Basquiat, Aryz, the Etam Crew, and – of course – Michelangelo hasn’t been topped yet!

Shawn-bullen-SF-I still-have-a dream

That’s quite a diverse group! Do you prefer working alone or would you rather collaborate with others?

From ages 17-22, 90% of what I painted was with my crew, the IDC Art House, but these days I feel more and more that I like making my own decisions.

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

It depends. I love to freestyle. It is so much fun. But for commissions I often have to present a sketch first.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

It’s never as good as I’d imagined it to be, but since I can’t spend years on it, I’m generally proud of myself.

shawn-bullen-paints

Have you exhibited in galleries? Any thoughts about street artists and graffiti writers showing in gallery settings?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in several shows, both solo and group. I don’t have a problem with street artists exhibiting in galleries. All artists need as much exposure and financial support as they can get. And I have only respect for artists who have moved onto the fine art world.

What about the corporate world? Any thoughts about that?

I have mixed feelings about it. Clearly not all corporations are evil. And, yes, I’ve worked with corporations. Corporate gigs, in fact, make it possible for me to survive as an artist. And why shouldn’t corporations support artists?

And do you work full-time as an artist?

Yes! From age 18 on, I was either teaching art or doing art.

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What inspires you these days?

I’m interested in exploring people’s ideas as to how we can save the world. I’m intent on uncovering solutions to problems that affect us all.

How has your artwork evolved in the past few years?

I think much more about concepts, and I continue to paint on a larger and larger scale.

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

It’s up to each artist to decide his or her role. I see my role as making life better. I want use my art to make people feel better.  I would love to change someone’s life with my painting!

Shawn-Bullen-Boom+Boom

What’s ahead?

I want to paint! I’d like to create at least one piece of public art in every country in the world. And I’d love NYC to be my home base!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos courtesy of Shawn Bullen, SHAWNBULLEN1@GMAIL.COM

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Sei-and-Ki-smith-brothers

We recently had the opportunity to meet up with Apostrophe founders and curators — Sei and Ki Smith  — and find out a bit about their plans for 2016:

Just what is Apostrophe?

Apostrophe began as a gallery and performance space in Bushwick in 2012, and it has since evolved into a series of pop-up exhibits and events. As a collective, it is designed to offer exposure to artists while sparking a creative energy that can be experienced by everyone.  Our last exhibit, Subway Show, took place at the Kosciusko Street stop on the J train.  The subway passengers, along with anyone else who came by, were treated to art, music, a comedic performance and refreshments!

Apostrophe-subway-show-NYC

What about its name, Apostrophe?

Our concept came before the name. The name was inspired by the title of Frank Zappa’s eighteenth album Apostrophe’.  It suggests an inclusive fusion of energies.

What is Apostrophe’s current mission?

The mission of our current project Base 12 is to highlight the art of twelve talented artists in a dozen diverse, unconventional settings, while making their art accessible to folks who might not otherwise see it.  When art is shown exclusively in gallery settings, its audience can be limited.

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What kinds of alternative settings are you referring to?

Of the nine upcoming pop-up shows here in NYC, three will take place on subway platforms, three in museums and three in parks. They will all engage passersby in non-traditional ways. Details will  be announced the day of the event via Instagram and Facebook.

That sounds great! How did you select the artists?

Some had participated in exhibits in our former Bushwick space; others we met through friends. And some we discovered through our open call for submissions.  We’ve all gotten to know one another, and we all work well together.  Once a month we come together, and we critique each other’s artworks. We love not only the works of the artists we are showing, but their energy, as well!

sei-smith-art-apostrophe-art-collective-nyc

Do you both have a formal art education?

We both went to art school, but neither of us finished. We grew up, though, in a family of artists and have always engaged in art-related projects here and abroad.

What’s ahead?

In addition to what will be happening here in NYC, we are planning three exhibits and events abroad: at Alan Istanbul in Turkey; at corretger5 in Barcelona, and at a gallery space — to be announced — in London.

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It’s all very exciting!  Lots of luck! We will definitely keep posted to your Instagram.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Houda Lazrak

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-4 courtesy of Apostrophe; 5 Tara Murray

2  Subway Show 

3  James A Reyes, My Shorty

4  Sei Smith, Half Portrait No. 5

5  James Rubio, Black Flowers, close-up of public art work

Apostrophe’s Base 12 will also feature the works of Caslon BevingtonRyan Bock, Morell Cutler, Alana Dee Haynes, Kolter Hodgson, Charlie Hudson, The Love ChildJulia Powers and Bruno Smith

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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