Graffiti

Part One SAENYC Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

This past Sunday, Elmhurst’s ELKS Lounge was home to Street Art Expo NYC, as it celebrated three generations of first-rate graffiti artists. Visitors — of all ages —  had the opportunity to meet a wonderfully diverse range of artists, become acquainted with new products and purchase original artworks directly from the artists. Pictured above is the legendary Part One. Here’s a small sampling of what we saw:

Veteran writer and photographer Flint Gennari with photo he’d captured back in the day of Flip One in action

Flint SAENYC Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

 Old school writer and a sponsor of Street Art Expo NYCAlski

alski graffiti SAENYC Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

Bronx-based veteran writer and founder and curator of InstaFame Phantom Art, Nic 707

nic 707 SAENYC Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

Contemporary graffiti and street art legend Moody Mutz, AA Mobb

Moody Mutz SAENYC Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

The prolific Brooklyn-based Plasma Slug

plasma clug stanyc Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

Bronx-based b-boy and graffiti artist, Chief 69

Chief 69 SAENYC Street Art Expo NYC 2016 Celebrates Three Generations of Graffiti Art with: Part One, Flint Gennari, Alski, Nic 707, Moody Mutz, Plasma Slug, Chief 69 and more

In addition to The Alski Show, other sponsors of Street Art Expo NYC included: Ironlak, TYOTOYS and Art Primo.

Photo credits: 1 & 5 Tara Murray; 2-4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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AD subway design winne High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

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 High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

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 competition1 High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

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.

spar one training days book High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

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.

Kenji Art and Design High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

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.

joe russo tags at A and D High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

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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kyle hughes odgers street art dc Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

On our recent visit to Washington DC, we came upon dozens of intriguing murals, representing a huge range of styles from abstract designs to photorealistic portraits. Featured above is a close-up from a huge mural by Australian artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers covering two sides of a four-story building in the District’s NoMa neighborhood. Here are a few more:

Berlin-based James Bullough, who grew up in DC

James Bollough mural art Washington DC edited 1 Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

Munich-based SatOne

sat one graffiti mural art Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

Baltimore-based NYC native Gaia, close-up of huge mural at The Fridge DC

gaia street art dc Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

DC artist Eric B

 Eric B DC graffiti Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

Bronx-native Pose2

Pose2 WashingtonDC street art  Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

Polish artist Bartek Świątecki aka Pener

Pener mural art DC Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

And with the launch of POW WOW! DC tomorrow, DC will be home to dozens of more public artworks by local, national and international artists.

Photo credits: 1 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 2-4, 6 & 7 Tara Murray

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.

en play badge 2 Street Art NYC Down in Washington DC with Kyle Hughes Odgers, James Bullough, SatOne, Gaia, Eric B, Pose2 and Pener

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giz ghost such graffiti street art Bushwick Collective NYC Bushwick Collective Founder and Curator Joe Ficalora on Community Engagement, Mana Urban Arts, Art Basel, the Bushwick Collective’s Upcoming Block Party and more

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.

sipros street art bushwick collective nyc Bushwick Collective Founder and Curator Joe Ficalora on Community Engagement, Mana Urban Arts, Art Basel, the Bushwick Collective’s Upcoming Block Party and more

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.

case maclaim mural art Bushwick Collective NYC Bushwick Collective Founder and Curator Joe Ficalora on Community Engagement, Mana Urban Arts, Art Basel, the Bushwick Collective’s Upcoming Block Party and more

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.

oji street art Bushwick Collective NYC Bushwick Collective Founder and Curator Joe Ficalora on Community Engagement, Mana Urban Arts, Art Basel, the Bushwick Collective’s Upcoming Block Party and more

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 Bushwick Collective Founder and Curator Joe Ficalora on Community Engagement, Mana Urban Arts, Art Basel, the Bushwick Collective’s Upcoming Block Party and more

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.

en play badge 2 Bushwick Collective Founder and Curator Joe Ficalora on Community Engagement, Mana Urban Arts, Art Basel, the Bushwick Collective’s Upcoming Block Party and more

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Lady K Fever Paints graffiti NYC <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

This past Saturday, Her Story, the first annual female graffiti series, was launched at the legendary Inwood wall on Isham Street off 10th Avenue . While visiting, I had the opportunity to speak to the inimitable Lady K Fever.

A Tribe Called Mel graffiti <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

Can you tell us something about Her Story’s mission?

We women are underrepresented in the graffiti world. The mission of Her Story is to provide us female writers with a supportive environment to tell our stories while sharing our skills with others.

rocky188 graffiti nyc <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

Whose idea was it? And how did the concept for such a project become a reality?

We’ve been constantly talking  – among ourselves — about the need for more opportunities. We feel that we don’t have anywhere as many opportunities — or access to spaces — as guys have.  And, by chance, several weeks ago, Crane invited us to paint here on Isham and 10th Avenue.

charmin 65 graffiti NYC <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

How did you decide which artists to include in today’s launch?

We’ve all known each other for awhile, have painted together before and we get along well together. We are looking forward to including additional female writers in future jams.

Bom5 <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

The vibes here are great! Everyone seems to be having so much fun. What is your impression of this launch?

It’s been excellent! So many people came by to watch us paint, including many legendary old school writers. It’s been busy!

Gem paints graffiti nyc <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

What’s ahead for Her Story?

With the sponsorship of The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery and Hush Hip Hop Tours, we will be painting for the next six months in five boroughs in three states. On June 25th you can find us at Tuff City.  Future spots include: Graffiti Universe and Hackensack, New Jersey. We will also be involved in the New York Restoration Project. In collaboration with Bette Midler’s foundation, we will be painting in a garden on July 30th, as part of the series, Ladies of the Bronx, highlighting the elements of hip hop.

neku graffiti inwood nyc <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

It’s all very exciting! Good luck!

Images

1. Lady K Fever

2. Mel1

3. Rocky 184

4. Charmin 65

5. Miss Boombox with Bom5 dancing to its beat; Gem 13 on right

6. Gem13

7. Neks

Photos and 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.

en play badge 2 <em>Her Story,</em> the First Annual Female Graffiti Series, Launches Uptown with Lady K Fever, Mel1, Rocky 184, Charmin 65, Miss Boombox, Gem13 and Neks

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Fusing symbols of Latino Catholicism with elements of a pop sensibility, the Holy Art Show showcases the works of over a dozen artists, including many whose works surface on our streets. Curated by Frankie Velez and Savior Elmundo, the exhibit remains on view at Williamsburg’s Cafe de la Esquina through Sunday. Here is a sampling of the intriguing works on exhibit:

Marc Evan, The Lady of Guadalupe Appears

Marc evan art <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

RockoArt Is My Religion

Rocko <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

Savior ElmundoArt Is My Religion

savior el mundo art <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

Ben Angotti, Sacred Heart

Ben angotti <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

Carlito 624!, Purple Reign: Units in the City

carlito6241 <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

Will Power, Crucified My Passion

will power art <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

 Curators, Savior Elmundo and Frankie Velez

frankievelez savior el mundo curators edited 1 <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

The exhibit continues through this weekend at the lovely Cafe de la Esquina at 225 Wythe Avenue between Metropolitan and North 3rd Street.

Photo credits: 1, 3, 5 & 6 Tara Murray; 2 & 4 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen and 7 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.

en play badge 2 <em>Holy Art Show</em> at Williamsburgs Cafe de la Esquina with: Marc Evan, Rocko, Savior Elmundo, Ben Angotti, Carlito 624!, Will Power & more

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rigoberto toress sculpture Daze graffiti At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

Among the thoroughly engaging exhibits currently on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts are two with special appeal to us street art and graffiti aficionados. Spotlight: John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres showcases a series of sculptures by the two artists, whose works continue to delight us on the streets of the Bronx.  And Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko features stunningly realistic renditions of Bronx graffiti, including some of our favorite walls that no longer exist. While visiting the Museum last week, we had the opportunity to speak to Lauren Click, the Director of Community and Public Programs.

Thank you for reaching out to us. Can you tell us something about your role here?

As director of community and public programs, I organize public programs related to Museum exhibits and events. I also work with the Community Advisory Council (CAC) a volunteer group of local residents with the goal of raising awareness of the Museum and organizing programming in response to community needs.

john ahearn and rigoberto torres Bronx Museum 720 edited 1 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

What are some of the successful means that have been used to accomplish this?

I like to introduce folks to new experiences while mixing them with familiar ones. For example, on senior Thursdays we combine tea services with multimedia collaborative activities. We also have a weekly newsletter we send to subscribers informing them of all the events that take place. This is part of our effort to establish a large presence on social media. Our twitter page has over 38,000 followers. And since admission has become free, we have had four times as many visitors than we used to.

Valeri Larco Graffiti Zerega Avenue Bronx 2008jpg At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

What are some of the challenges that you face?

The greatest challenge is fighting the stereotype of being located in the Bronx. People are not aware of how rich and varied the cultural opportunities are in this borough.

valeri larko ferris stahl meyer shipping 2013 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

What would you like to see happen here at the Bronx Museum?

I would like to see it continue to evolve and engage increasingly diverse audiences.

valeri larko power ball 1015 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

How can people stay informed as to all that is happening here at the Bronx Museum of the Arts?

They can follow our Calendar of Events on the Museum’s website. They can also keep up with us on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram.

Note: This Saturday – May 14, 2:00pm to 3:30pm – Valeri Larko will offer a free guided tour of her exhibit Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko. The Museum is located at 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx and is easily accessible by public transportation.

Images

1 Rigoberto Torres, Daze

2 John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres

3 Valeri Larko, Zerega Avenue

4 Valeri Larko, Ferris Stahl Meyer Shipping

Valeri Larko, Power Ball

Photo credits: 1 Tara Murray; 2-5 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; interview Lois Stavsky, Sol Raxlen and Tara Murray

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.

en play badge 2 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

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Kenny Scharf paints NYC The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

For the past week, Kenny Scharf has been at work on a massive mural along Third Avenue in the Bathgate section of the Bronx.  Replete with the artist’s colorful, fanciful characters, the artwork brings vibrancy and intrigue to this central Bronx neighborhood. Here are a few more images we captured yesterday:

A small segment of huge, block-long mural

kenny scharf flying creatures bronx mural The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

Another segment

Kenny scharf bronx mural nyc The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

Yet another fragment

Kenny Scharf characters mural Bronx The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

And eleven-year old Jadeden — who has been mesmerized daily by Kenny’s work — sharing one of his artworks

Jadeden young artist The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

Visible from the Cross Bronx Expressway, this mural was produced in collaboration with Krinos Foods and coordinated by KM Fine Arts.

An exhibit of Kenny Scharf‘s works remains on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art, where he will be painting live on Sunday, June 19, 12-4 p.m.

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-5 City-as-School intern 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.

en play badge 2 The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

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flint tags centrefuge Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Among the intriguing images that recently surfaced on the once-abandoned East Village trailer, curated by the Centre-fuge Public Art Project, is Balu‘s rendition of Ex-Vandal Flint Gennari’s photo of old school writer, Flip One. This past Sunday several legendary writers graced the trailer with their tags.

Balu captured at work earlier this month

Balu stencil art action nyc Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Nic 707 – to the right of Al Diaz aka Bomb 1 tag

Nic at Centrefige NYC Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Rocky 184

rocky184 centre fuge Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Kool Kito

kool kito Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Snake 1

snake paints canvas Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Coco 144

coco tags East Village1 Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

Nic 707, Snake 1, Coco 144, Rocky 184 and Flint

Old School graffiti writers Old School Flavor Comes to Centre fuge East Village Trailer: Balu, Flint, Nic 707, Rocky 184, Kool Kito, Snake 1, Coco 144 and more

All photos by bytegirl

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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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in 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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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.

Shawn Bullen mural Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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 Speaking with Chicago Native Shawn Bullen in NYC

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

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