Graffiti

While combing the streets of San Francisco, I was struck by the dozens of intriguing surreal images that grace the city’s visual landscape. Pictured above is the work of the anonymous street painter known simply as BiP. I captured it on my last day in San Francisco, as it was near completion. What follows are several more images — marked by a surreal sensibility — that gripped me:

San Francisco-based Austrian artist Nychos

Also by Nychos

Bay Area-artists: Mars 1 with Damon Soule, NoMe Edonna, David Choong Lee & Oliver Vernon; segment of large mural as seen at dusk

San Francisco-based Lango Oliveira

New Delhi-based Seattle native Jonathan Matas, close-up

San Francisco-based Hyde1 with his distinct Aztec aesthetic

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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

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Produced by artist Andrew H. Shirley and featuring  members of the classic Brooklyn-based 907 graffiti crew, the widely-acclaimed 32-minute film Wastedland 2, along with a site-specific installation, will make its NYC premiere tomorrow, September 15th, at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth, Queens.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by the spirit animals of graffiti vandals, the film features Wolftits, Avoid, SmellsRambo, Noxer, EKG, UFO and others, as it raises the existential questions: What is this all about? and Why are we here?  Ultimately,Wastedland 2 is a paean to the power of graffiti. Prior to its eagerly-anticipated NYC premiere, Wastedland 2  toured several cities — beginning with Shirley’s native Detroit. What follows are a few photos captured at different sites:

At Recycle Here! in Detroit featuring EKG

At Superchief Gallery in LA — featuring Rambo, UFO and more

At Holland Project’s Serva-Pool space in Reno, Nevada with Wolftits & more

The filmmaker Andrew H. Shirley in Portland

The opening reception of this one-day special event will take place tomorrow, Friday, from 7pm to midnight with screenings at 9pm and 11pm. Music performances will take place throughout the evening.

All photos courtesy Andrew H. Shirley

Photo credits: 1 Phil Conners; 2 William Dunleavy; 3 Tod Seelie; 4 Danny Johnson and  5 Daniel Kruse

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This past Saturday, September 9th, Boston’s new urban playground, Underground at Ink Block, officially opened to the pubic. Earlier in the week, eleven acclaimed artists — both local and national —  converged on this distinct space, located under the highway between the city’s South Boston and South End neighborhoods. By week’s end, 100,000 square feet of walls were transformed into a visual wonderland. The mural pictured above was painted by Miami-based Hoxxoh. What follows are several more images of artworks — some captured in progress — that have made their way onto Underground at Ink Block.

Marka 27, Don Rimx & Problak

The legendary NYC-based Cey Adams at work

Los Angeles-based Vyal Reyes aka Vyal One

Boston-based Percy Forting-Wright 

Boston-based Sneha Shrestha aka Imagine

Los Angeles-based Pen Taylor aka Upendo

Curated by Street Theory GalleryThe Underground Mural Project is powered by Reebok in partnership with National Development.

Photos: Above the Sky, ATS Photography

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

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Once again, Union Street Park’s magical walls in Hackensack, NJ have been transformed. Pictured above is Washington Heights graffiti legend Totem. Several of these featured images were captured during Rozzy Ken Roz‘s birthday celebration — hosted by Darrius-Jabbar Sollas — two weeks ago. Others were taken when we revisited Union Street Park this past Wednesday.

The superb Sade TCM 

Bronx-based Ricky Montalvo aka Soze527

Flite (L) and Rocky 184 & Gem 13 Collabo

Classic writer Wore IBM at work

The legendary Seen TC5

Graffiti pioneer Part One

Wide view with celebration under way 

Photo credits: 1, 4, 5 & 8 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2, 3, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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While visiting San Francisco earlier this summer, I discovered Max Ehrman‘s aka Eon75 mesmerizing public artworks. Eager to find out more about the talented artist, I posed a few questions to him:

Where and when did you first paint on a public space?

The first wall that I painted was a legal wall of fame in Gainesville, Florida. I was in my early 20’s.

What inspired you at the time?

I was inspired by a memorial wall that Daim and Seemso had painted on that spot. It was amazing! I had never seen anything like it before — in terms of design, color, layout and balance.

What keeps you doing it? Painting in public spaces — in addition to your studio work? You are quite prolific!

Passion! It is something I love doing.

You’ve traveled quite a bit. Have you any favorite cities or specific sites where you like to paint? 

Anywhere that I can paint and sit on a beach is top on my list. So Barcelona, Puerto Rico, Naples, Florida and Thailand for sure.

What is your favorite medium when you work outdoors? 

Spraypaint — definitely!

What about your name? Eon 75?

A friend in Europe gave it to me. Extermination.of.reality — and 75 is the year I was born.

Have any particular artists or cultures inspired your aesthetic?

Mostly Mother Nature and the cosmos.

Do you prefer working alone — or collaborating with others? 

I love working with other artists…some of my favorite people to paint with are San Francisco-based Ian Ross and Ratur from France.

Have you a formal art education?

No, I went to school for architecture. When It comes to art, I’m self taught.

How has your work evolved through the years — since you first started painting back in Gainesville, Florida?

I would say it’s gotten more complex, and I love working in lots of diverse mediums which leads to changes in styles.

What’s ahead?

More traveling and painting. I’d like to paint more characters and get into sculpture.

Good luck! And it would be great to see your work here in NYC!

Images

1  Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco

2 Collaboration with Vance DNA in Bangkok, Thailand, close-up

3 Cooks Valley Campground in Piercy, California

4 Abandoned train in California

5 Collaboration with Ian Ross in San Francisco, close-up

6 Collaboration with Ratur on San Francisco rooftop

All photos courtesy the artist

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

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To the delight of us graffiti lovers, First Street Green Park has been showcasing artwork by a range of first rate, often legendary, graffiti writers and muralists. The image featured above was painted by Andre Trenier  and Zaone. What follows are several more murals that surfaced at last month’s Summer Classics Block Party hosted by DJNY Art:

Albertus Joseph and Jaylo YNN, tribute to the late Sean Price

Jeff Henriquez at work on tribute mural to the late Guru of Gang Starr

Wore IBM does Rakim

Graff masters T Kid and Doves at work

T Kid‘s completed piece

Completed Doves piece

And on Friday — September 8th — DJNY Art will be hosting “Welcome To The Lab,” a Pop Up event for Nike and Sneaker Lab at Van Der Plas Gallery, 156 Orchard Street on the LES.

Photos: 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 courtesy Kate Storch

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

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While visiting the Bay Area earlier this summer, I met up with photojournalist, Juxtapoz Magazine contributor and fellow graffiti/street art enthusiast Iqvinder Singh. I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview him:

What is your first street art/graffiti-related memory?

My earliest memory goes back to the late 70’s/early 80’s in Northern India. I grew up in Rajisthan and Punjab, where it was normal there for people to express their opinions and feelings on the walls. Print and broadcasted media were still considered a luxury for the rich, and the city walls reflected the voices of the unheard. I would see people painting the walls during the daytime without any fear of the police or shop owners. The messages were written in Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujrati, Urdu and other local dialects. It was something expected and normal in my surroundings. It was odd to see blank walls with no messages. Smaller villages were less political, but they too decorated their walls, though with cultural and religious symbolism. Geometric patterns inspired by the muhgals, swastikas, flowers of life and Hindu dieties were very common. Some farmers even branded their cows with similar symbols. Colorful walls made the cities and villages livelier and more welcoming.

What was your initial impression of the streets here?

When my mom and I moved to Oakland in 1982, I was introduced to different types of markings and monikers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Suburbia meant clean walls, and any kind of wall markings were only found in the “bad areas” of the city. At an early age, I learned to appreciate the intricate hand styles of the local graffiti artists and witnessed what was to come in the 90’s and into the new century.

Did any particular artists stand out? Inspire you?

Among my earliest inspirations were East Bay graffiti artists: Plato, Fresh Kid, Echo and Rocs. In the early 90s, I met the late Mike Francisco a.k.a. Dream at the College of Alameda. He was one of my greatest inspirations, not only from a graffiti perspective, but also because of his views and stance on social/civil rights issues. He was very vocal about police brutality and other injustices that plagued our communities. Many of us aspired to reach Mike’s style status. I also admired Dizny from the TPC crew. Dizny was from Berkeley and painted beautiful murals touching on local and global topics. Where Dream had mastered the letter form, Dizny told stories with characters and broke down complex politics for an average kid from Oakland. San Francisco also blessed us with inspiring artists like: Twist, Margaret Kilgallen, Dug 1, KR, Revyon, Caryone and UB40.

You’ve been documenting the Bay Area graffiti and street are scene for awhile now.

Yes! So many different styles came out of the San Francisco Bay Area, and I thought it was important to keep a record of it all. In 1997, I started a zine called Suitable 4 Framin’ which focused on underrepresented artists. I don’t think there were any other graffiti publications in Northern California at that time. I printed about 1000 copies of each issue and sold them at cost or traded them for other zines and magazines.  I want to capture it all. The piece on the wall, the artist painting it, and whatever else is brewing the neighborhood. I try to post stuff that others may have missed or capture it from a different angle. I try to catch the artists in action, and I try to understand their influences and histories. Bay Area has churned out so many great artists, and those same artists influenced hundreds of others. From the 80’s to today, it’s been an amazing experience to live through so much good art. Graffiti is definitely here to stay, and I hope to tell the story from my perspective.

With easy access to social media, there are so many people documenting the graff/street art scene in the Bay Area these days. It’s always interesting to meet the photographers behind their Flickr or Instagram pages. They all started at different stages, and they all have a certain focus. Some are focused strictly on selected crews, hand styles, freights, throw-ups, burners, trucks… Some are good photographers but don’t know the artists or the history, and others are seasoned veterans.

You’ve photographed thousands of images. Do any particular pieces of graffiti and street art in the Bay Area stand out?  

There are many. Whenever I see a piece by Lango, it’s always a treat. He is doing some next level painting with spraypaints. Stuff by Nychos and Aryz is always on a grand scale and their pieces always run for a while.

How has the Bay Area scene changed since you first became involved with it?

When I was active, your alias was very sacred. The goal was to be everywhere without anyone knowing who you were. Nowadays, graffiti/street artists hand you their business cards, links to their website, flyers and more. That mystery element is gone expect for the selected few. Graffiti/street art in general is a lot more acceptable. I remember when I did one of my first legal graffiti pieces in North Oakland in the late 80’s; it was a big thing at the time. Nowadays, most of the big productions are sponsored, and they are popping up everywhere, so people don’t get that excited. In the 80’s into 90’s, it was all about lettering, and there were many unique styles. Now, kids bring in characters, vegetables, clouds, animals, and other monikers as their tags. Work by guys like Ras Terms, Plantrees, and Broke speaks volume without any lettering. I personally prefer lettering, but I can still appreciate different trends. Paints are better, and there are even classes in graffiti.  It’s, also, definitely more commercialized. And with the advent of Internet, artists have a lot more resources now. Artists use graff to sell merchandise or as a stepping stone for other business endeavors. Graffiti for the sake of graffiti is gone. There’s nothing wrong with earning money from something you love, but don’t exploit the art form.

Besides your documentation of graffiti, you’ve also photographed life in many ethnic communities across the country.  

Yes, for some of my previous corporate gigs, I had the opportunity to travel over the country. I started documenting immigrant communities in my travels. I photographed Indians, Japanese, Mexicans, Chinese, Hmongs, and many others. It was a cultural experience to discover their roots and learn about their struggles to achieve that American experience. And, yet, I was most intrigued by the Chinese.

Your solo exhibit, Everything’s Fine in Chinatown, was  recently on view at the historic Throckmorton Theatre Gallery in Mill Valley. Have you any impressions of the graffiti you’ve encountered in the Chinatowns that you’ve visited? And what spurs your intense interest in Chinatowns?

Graffiti was one of the main reasons I used to go to Chinatowns. Chinatowns had some of the best trucks. I think the businesses learned that there was no point in painting over this stuff, as it wasn’t hurting their business. I’m intrigued by how the Chinese, particularly the ones living and working in Chinatowns, hold on to their cultural identity like no other ethnic group. Regardless of what goes in the world, there never seems to be any politics in Chinatown. It’s always business as usual. There’s a blend of old, new and hints of the future in Chinatown. It’s a mashup of everything you want in one place: restaurants, art galleries, temples/churches, schools… My goal with these photographs is to not only capture life as it exists today but also to document the changes that are brewing in the background.

Images

1 Iqvinder Singh at the “Out of Order” art show, Bay Area 

2 Political poster in India

Barry McGee aka Twist

Barry McGee aka Twist at Oakland Art Museum

Baer

6 Nychos  

7 Ras Terms & Leaf Leaver

8  from Iqvinder Singh‘s solo exhibit “Everything’s Fine in Chinatown”

All photos courtesy Iqvinder Singh

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

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Home to a rotating range of vibrant murals by first-rate, often classic, graffiti writers, Hackensack’s Union Street Park is a treasure. While visiting on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its founder and curator, Darrius-Jabbar Sollas also known as Nasty Neo.

When did you first begin curating this spot?  It’s a graffiti-lover’s paradise. We’ve been returning regularly to check it out since we first discovered it — by chance — several years ago.

It’s ten years now. I began curating it in 2007. We are celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Congratulations! How did you discover such an ideal spot?  And how did you come to manage its walls?

I used to pass it every day as I took my kid to school.  And it looked like the perfect spot to showcase graffiti. As I went about locating the owners of the adjacent building to secure permission to use the walls, I discovered that a friend of mine was one of the building’s owners. I was given one huge wall.

What was the initial response to your transformation of this space? How did the community react?

The response was wonderfully enthusiastic. The town’s officials couldn’t have been more positive. And soon I was invited to curate the entire space, not just one wall.

Among the many artists who’ve painted here, do any in particular stand out?

Among them: Serve, Bates, Hef, Med, Tats Cru, Poem, Sade, T-Kid, Wane

What have been some of your challenges in managing this space?

The artists themselves! They can be pompous and arrogant. All of the walls are buffed for them, and too many still need to be catered to.

I notice that you guys are buffing the walls now. What’s ahead? Are you getting ready for anything special?

Yes! We have a birthday barbecue coming up Saturday for Roz…our fifth annual one.

Who are some of the artists who will be painting at the birthday barbecue?

FliteServeWore, Jew, Pase, Python, Rocky 184, Gem 13

It sounds great! Have fun! And thanks for bringing so much vibrancy to Bergen County!

Images

1  Union Street Park curator and artist Darrius-Jabbar Sollas aka Nasty Neo

2  Staten Island-based Goal

3  Classic writer Sound7TC5

4  Graffiti legend Part One

5  The masterful Sade TCM

6  Doe of the RTH crew

Photo credits: 1, 4-6 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2-3 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky

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Oakland’s streets teem with impressive murals and inventive graffiti. Pictured above was fashioned by the Austrian artist Nychos, who is now based in the Bay Area. What follows are several more I captured on my visit to the West Coast earlier this summer:

Ryno and Wegotem

Oakland-based GATS

Oakland-based New Mexico native Irot

Oakland-based Vogue TDK,  Fuming Guerilla Productions mural dedicated to the 36 individuals who lost their lives in the the devastating Ghostship  warehouse fire

Oakland-based Ras Terms and DeadEyes , close-up

Oakland-based Chicago native Jack Chappel

Special thanks to Iqvinder Singh for introducing me to the streets of Oakland.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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

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From August 9 – 13th, Under Pressure held the 22nd edition of its annual graffiti festival in Montreal. The largest and longest-running event of its kind in North America, it is a celebration of hip-hop, graffiti and street art culture. The image pictured above was painted by the famed French graffiti crew and family 123 Klan. Several more images that we captured on site follow:

Montreal-based Adida Fallen Angel artworks on door and to its left

Canadian artists Scribe, Francois Leandre and Corey Bulpitt collaboration 

Montreal based MissMe

Montreal-based Monk.E at work on collaborative wall with Ankhone and Fonki

France-native, Montreal-based Sbuone at work

 Tattooist J Mats at work on collaborative wall

Rien, Borrris, Arnold, Naimo & Will Lyf3 203 Crew collaborative mural

Photo credits: 1, 5 & 8 Tara Murray; 2-4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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

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