Interviews

The first NYC tagger to go all-city, TAKI 183 has achieved mythical status as the father of modern day graffiti.  We were thrilled to meet up with him last week.

Taki 183 The Legendary TAKI 183 on Tagging, <em>The New York Times</em>, the Wall on 207th Street, InstaFame Phantom Art, Graffiti and more

Your name TAKI is — according to what we’ve read – a traditional Greek nickname for Demetrius, and 183 refers to the street where you lived in Washington Heights. How old were you when you first got your name up? And what was the first surface you hit?

I was about 16. The first surface I remember tagging was the bus terminal on 179th Street and Broadway.

What inspired you to leave your mark in a public space?

My friends Phil T. Greek and Greg 69 had begun writing their names in the neighborhood. They had most likely been inspired by Julio 204, whose tag first surfaced around 1964.

And why did you keep doing it? 

I liked the feeling of getting my name up, and I liked idea of getting away with it. I soon became obsessed. Once I started, I couldn’t stop.

taki 183 nytimes The Legendary TAKI 183 on Tagging, <em>The New York Times</em>, the Wall on 207th Street, InstaFame Phantom Art, Graffiti and more

Did you have any preferred surfaces?

Any flat surface was good. Subways were good. If there was a blank space, I hit it.

Do any early memories that stand out?

One night when I came upon a huge empty space on a wall across from George Washington High School, I decided that instead of using a marker to write my name, I would use a paintbrush with black paint. I wasn’t prepared for the mess that it made. And I remember returning home with black paint all over me.

In the summer of 1971, you were the subject of a significant article in The New York Times. How did you feel about that?

I didn’t understand why they would waste their time on some kid who was tagging. I thought to myself, “For stupid things they put me into The New York Times. Aren’t there more important things going on in the world?”

Jorit street art taki 183 The Legendary TAKI 183 on Tagging, <em>The New York Times</em>, the Wall on 207th Street, InstaFame Phantom Art, Graffiti and more

How did that New York Times piece impact you?

It gave me legendary status. After all, if The New York Times says so, it must be true! Suddenly the media were all interested in not only what I was doing — my greatest hits —  but in the entire culture of tagging and graffiti.

How did your family react to what was going on?

My father said, “Take it easy!”

Have you any thoughts about the direction that graffiti has taken?

I don’t really pay attention to it. If you were born after 1955, I don’t know you! But I do appreciate the graffiti over on 207th Street.

taki183 subway art graffiti The Legendary TAKI 183 on Tagging, <em>The New York Times</em>, the Wall on 207th Street, InstaFame Phantom Art, Graffiti and more

You’ve been riding the trains again in Nic 707‘s Instafame Phantom Art Project.  Can you tell us something about that?

I think it’s great! I like Nic’s vision of taking an old concept and presenting it in a new way.

How do you feel about your status in the graffiti culture?

I feel good about it. I like having a place in history!

Have you any theories as to the world-wide popularity of modern graffiti?

It’s a great outlet for talent and creativity. And getting up in a public space gives you great exposure. Not everyone has the means or know-how to get into a gallery.

taki 183 signs graffiti tag The Legendary TAKI 183 on Tagging, <em>The New York Times</em>, the Wall on 207th Street, InstaFame Phantom Art, Graffiti and more

What advice would you give to the young taggers out there?

Be careful!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

Photos: 1 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 3 Italian artist Jorit with his portrait of TAKI 183 in the Bronx, courtesy Patrick Styx One; 5 Tara Murray

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For over three decades Bronx native Just One has been making his mark on NYC public and private spaces. We recently had the opportunity to speak to the prolific artist.

Just One graffiti Bushwick NYC Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

When did you first get up? And where?

It was back in 1984 — over 30 years ago — in the West Farms section of the Bronx. I was 14 at the time.

What inspired you to do so?

My older brother and his friends were all doing it. It was the natural thing to do.

Any early memories that stand out?

I was at a handball court in Crotona Park when the spray can I was holding in my hand almost burst into flames.

How did that happen?

It came into contact with a cigarette lighter, and could have easily blown up.

We’re glad it didn’t! We’ve noticed your work in quite a few projects these days – from JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn to Operation Skittles at August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens. Do you prefer legal or illegal surfaces?

I love painting anywhere – but to experience the full essence of graffiti, there is nothing like painting on a surface I discover on my own. Finding a space, being there alone and creating something out of nothing is the ultimate experience.

just one JMZ Walls graffiti NYC Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

Have you ever been arrested for graffiti?

No!

How’s that?

I have good instincts.

What was the riskiest graffiti-related thing you’ve ever done? And why did you do it?

Hitting an elevated abandoned train line, where I had to hop over each wall to do another letter. Why did I do it? I’d been eyeballing that spot for quite awhile and nobody else took it, so I’d figure I’d take my chance. And, yes, it was worth it!

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My children love it!

What percentage of your day is devoted to your art these days?

About 70%.

Just graffiti three pieces1 Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

What keeps you painting after all these years?

Passion and the adrenalin rush!  It also relieves my stress.

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I, myself, prefer the movement and flow of graffiti. But art is art. And street art can be beautiful.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries? Have you shown your work in galleries?

I don’t have a problem with that. It’s a good thing! I’ve shown at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery in Long Island City and in bars and other alternative spaces around town.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

Both.

Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with?

I’d like to paint with Mitch 77, Jamie Hef and Lee Quinones.

just one graffiti street art mural NYC Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

Do you rep any crews?

TMC, TFO, KD, COA and I’m the prez of WF, World Famous Crew.

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

It can be too much. When it gets too much into your business, it’s bad.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I’m self-taught, but my teachers always encouraged me to draw.

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

I freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Most of the time!

Just one graffiti august martin high school nyc Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s sharper and neater. And I work much faster.

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

To inspire others to express themselves.

How do you feel about the photographers in this scene?

The more exposure our works get, the better for us.

What do you see as the future of graffiti? Where is it going?

It will continue to evolve.

And what about you? What’s ahead for you?

I plan to keep painting.  And I want to get back into the canvas scene and hopefully — sometime soon — do a solo show.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with City-As-School intern Diana Davidovaphotos: 1, 3-5 courtesy of Just; 2 & 6 (with Awez) Lois Stavsky

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While attending last Friday’s reception for the Art.Write.Now.2015 National Exhibition featuring the winners of the The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, I was introduced to the wonderfully talented Bushwick-based Scholastic alumnus Timothy Hyunsoo Lee.  Earlier this week we visited his studio.

Timothy lee scholastic window Bushwick Based Scholastic Award Alumnus Timothy Hyunsoo Lee on Scholastic, Artistic Passion, Identity, Public Art and more

When and how did Scholastic first identify and award your talents?

I was a student at Hunter High School back in 2006 when I received my first Scholastic Award on a regional level.  I had been participating in Hunter’s after-school art program and was encouraged to submit my art to Scholastic’s annual contest. Then in 2008 I was given a national award from Scholastic for my portfolio.

Since then, you’ve won many other awards and fellowships  –  including the VSA Emerging Young Artist Award from the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and the International Emerging Artist Award in Dubai. You’ve also participated in several solo and group exhibitions here and abroad. At what point did you decide to devote yourself to art? 

When I first began attending Wesleyan University, I assumed that I would become a doctor. But during my junior year, I decided that I wanted my pursuit of art to be more than just a hobby. It had become my passion. And so I graduated Wesleyan with a double major: a B.A. in Neuroscience & Behavior and Studio Art.

timothy lee close up Bushwick Based Scholastic Award Alumnus Timothy Hyunsoo Lee on Scholastic, Artistic Passion, Identity, Public Art and more

I can see that. Your visual art definitely reflects your background in science.

Yes, I’d say that my work represents a fusion of the artistic and the scientific in its representation of my struggles with my identity as a Korean-American — and the anxiety that its expectations incurred.

Upon graduating from college with your double major, what direction did your passion then take?

I rented a studio in Williamsburg and I taught art for two years.

Timothy lee with art in studio Bushwick Based Scholastic Award Alumnus Timothy Hyunsoo Lee on Scholastic, Artistic Passion, Identity, Public Art and more

timothy lee work in progress studio Bushwick Based Scholastic Award Alumnus Timothy Hyunsoo Lee on Scholastic, Artistic Passion, Identity, Public Art and more

Now with a studio in Bushwick, you devote yourself full-time to creating your own art. What moved you in that direction?

The turning-point was my 2013 week-long art experience, known as the Art.Write.Now.POP-UP!, a short-term residency that took place in the front window of The Scholastic Store in SoHo.

What was that like?

It was the first time I had ever engaged the public while creating art, and it was amazing. I was used to spending up to 12-13 hours on end working alone in my studio. It was an incredible feeling to see such a diverse group of passersby stop to look at my art and respond to it. I was overwhelmed by their engagement. Knowing just how much my art could impact others moved me to want to create my own art full-time.

timothy lee painting Bushwick Based Scholastic Award Alumnus Timothy Hyunsoo Lee on Scholastic, Artistic Passion, Identity, Public Art and more

What’s ahead? 

In September I will be exhibiting in Istanbul, and I am preparing for a second solo show at the Sabrina Amrani Gallery, the Madrid-based gallery that represents me. I’m also looking forward to sharing my vision with the public on an open space somewhere here in NYC.

That would be great!

Note: Through tomorrow, Saturday, June 13th, you can check out Timothy’s work in the group show a curious blindness at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University.

Photo credits: First image is courtesy of the artist; 2 Tara Murray; 3 & 4 Lois Stavsky and 5 Timothy Lee

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lady k Fever with graffiti writers <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

Conceived and curated by Lady K FeverA Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960′s to Present Day, presents an extraordinary array of writers’ signatures spanning three generations. While visiting the space — across from the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse – I had the opportunity to speak to Lady K.

I love this! There is so much history here. What prompted you to organize this?

When I first hit the streets, I did so as a tagger. And the first book I ever read on this culture, The Faith of Graffiti, alerted me to the significance of the tag. On a more personal level, this wall is also my way of paying homage to the old school writers who were so supportive of me when I first moved to NYC.

Charmin65 and Swan3 Old School Writers Time line of handstyles <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

This wall serves as a canvas for early legends, as well as for some of the new artists on the scene. How did you get the word out?

I spoke to a number of writers from different generations, and asked them to invite others.

Stella handstyle <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

Nicholai Khan handstyle <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

What were some of the challenges you faced in curating this?

Figuring out the logistics of it all, engaging younger writers, and dealing with the inevitable politics.

Dun one handstyle <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

Meek hand style <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

Were there any particular surprises?

Folks rumored to be dead suddenly surfaced! Seeing Swan 3 was, perhaps, the biggest surprise! What a pleasure that was! And I was surprised — and delighted — that so many folks were willing to travel here from afar to tag this wall.

Broham 380 handstyle <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

What’s next?

I’d love to curate a huge warehouse and engage far more people.

Handstyles complete <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

Timeline LadyK <em>No Longer Empty</em> Presents <em>A Timeline of Handstyles: Signatures from the 1960s to Present Day</em> Across from Old Bronx Borough Courthouse

The mural will remain on view through the end of this month — with a special public viewing on Sunday, June 28, 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

Note: Special thanks to Delicioso Coco Helado for providing the space and supporting the project.

Photos: 1-7 Lois Stavsky; 8 & 9 Lady K Fever

Note: Photo 2 features Charmin 65 and Swan 3; photo 3 Stella Isabella; photo 4 Nicholai Khan; photo 5 Dun One; photo 6 Meek; photo 7 Broham380

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studio sweet home public art NYC  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

The Studio Street Home duo — Colombian native Yeimi Salazar and Puerto Rican native Melvin Sanchez – began collaborating six years ago, soon after they met in NYC. Their first solo exhibit will open tomorrow and Saturday at Exit Room NY during Bushwick Open Studios. While visiting Exit Room last week, we had the opportunity to speak to its art director Daniela Zoe.

It’s great to see Exit Room NY so alive again! What a wonderful home for Studio Sweet Home‘s first solo exhibit!

Yes! To coincide with Bushwick Open Studios, I wanted to feature artists with a unique multidisciplinary approach. And I’m delighted to host Studio Sweet Home here at Exit Room NY, as Juguetería/Toys Warehouse is a great opportunity for the artists, our space and the public.

studio sweet home with text  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

studio sweet home healing  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

Can you tell us something about this upcoming show? What will Juguetería/Toys Warehouse feature?

There will be paintings, installations, sculptures, video projects, and performances. There will be something for everyone – as Juguetería/Toys Warehouse is not just an art exhibit, but an interactive experience.  A participatory performance will be held at 7pm on both opening days.

studio sweet home  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

Have you worked with Studio Sweet Home artists Yeimi Salazar and Melvin Sanchez in the past?

Yes, they have participated in group shows before here at Exit Room NY.

Studio Sweet Home art installation  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

What was it about Yeimi Salazar and Melvin Sanchez that initially drew you to them?

Their mastery of their craft, their talents and their versatility.  And I love the way their works attract participants.

Studio Sweet Home tragedy  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

What do you expect those who visit the show to take away from it?

The constructed objects and scenarios are certain to engage the viewer’s senses. There will be so much to see, stories to hear and objects and people to touch. And there are many subtle, suggestive, somewhat ironic, messages.

Studio sweet home at exit room nyc  <em>Juguetería/Toys Warehouse</em>    Interactive Exhibit by Studio Sweet Home    to Open at Exit Room NY for Bushwick Open Studios

What’s ahead for Exit Room NY?

We are expecting a visit from a legendary street art crew in August. We will keep you posted!

It sounds great! Good luck! We are looking forward to it all!

Note: The exhibit’s opening will take place tomorrow and Saturday, the first two days of Bushwick Open Studios. The exhibit will then continue until June 26. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Friday from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  EXIT Room is located on 270 Meserole Street, a short walk from the Montrose stop on the L train.

Interview conducted by City-As-School intern Diana Davidova. All photos courtesy Studio Sweet Home and Exit Room NY.

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Subway Entrance Queen Andrea Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

The once drab and dull 900-foot long tunnel connecting Broadway and St. Nicholas Avenue at the 191st Street subway station is now a wondrous canvas featuring bright and bold graffiti and fine art.  While visiting it last week, we had the opportunity to speak to Jessie and Katey, the Baltimore-based duo, who — along with NYC-based artists, Queen Andrea, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2 — were selected to paint murals along the tunnel.

Jessie and Katey artists Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

We love the way you are beautifying this Upper Manhattan tunnel. How did you two first meet? And how did you two — Baltimore-based artists —  become involved in this NYC project?

We met when we were both students at MICA: Maryland Institute College of Art. And about four years ago, we started painting together. We’ve both lived in New York, and when we heard about the Department of Transportation‘s open call for artists who specialize in painting large scale murals, we applied.

Jessie katey abstract art DOT Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

Jessie and katey abstract art mural with passerby DOT Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

What aspect of the project most appealed to you?

We loved the idea of returning to NYC to paint such a huge, awesome space.

Queen Andrea Live Your Dreans DOT NYC Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

R Robot tunnel DOT NYC Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

What was it like working with the other muralists on this project? 

It was great, and getting to know them all was wonderful.

Cekis art DOT with skateboard Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

Cekis art mural DOT Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

What about the Department of Transportation? What was it like working for the DOT?

It was the bomb! They even supported us with potties!

Cope2 graffiti Art Is Life Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

cope2 graffiti tunnel DOT Mural Art Beautifies the 191st Street Subway Tunnel and Entrance with: Queen Andrea, Jessie and Katey, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2

Were there any particular challenges?

At one point the walls cried, and we had to repaint some spots. But — overall — the entire experience was awesome.

 Photos of images:

1. Queen Andrea, Lois Stavsky

2. Jessie and Katey, Lois Stavsky; 3. Dani Reyes Mozeson 4. City-As-School intern Diana Davidova 

5. Queen AndreaDani Reyes Mozeson

6. RRobots, Dani Reyes Mozeson

7. & 8. CekisDani Reyes Mozeson

9. Cope2, Tara Murray; 10. Dani Reyes Mozeson

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INTI santiago chile street art <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Outdoor Gallery NYC author Yoav Litvin recently returned from a five-month trip abroad, where he explored the street art in several key South American cities and towns. I had a chance to catch up with him last week:

Those of us following you on Instagram got a mere glimpse into your incredible adventures on the streets of South America. You visited Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Brazil. What spurred your interest in that region?

I was curious. I had seen amazing works from South America online, and while I exploring the streets of NYC, I had met a number of South American artists.

Gonzalo Sánchez Painters vaparaiso <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

In what ways did your findings meet your expectations?

I expected to be blown away and inspired. And I was — beyond any expectations.

Stinkfish and APC crew street art bogota <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

What were some of the highlights of your trip?

There were so many!  Among them were: walking around the streets of Lima with Entes; coming unexpectedly upon an art festival in La Paz, Bolivia and being in São Paulo during its 3rd annual Graffiti Fine Art Biennial.

Entes y Pesimo Lima street art <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Decertor street art Lima Peru <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Do any particular impressions stand out? 

The juxtaposition between Peru’s rich culture and history and its current street art particularly struck me. And navigating Bogota was what NYC was like for me in the early 80′s. I always had to keep my eyes open!

Marcelo Mente street art Rio de Janeiro <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Tarm1 street art rio de janeiro <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

What about some of the challenges along the way?

The biggest challenge — I would say — was the language. And living in the Vidigal favela in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro certainly was an experience.

Nove graffiti sao paulo brazil <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Where do you think the street art scene in South America is going? Do you think it will continue to remain so authentic?

It is difficult to generalize as each city and town is unique. But I suspect that it will continue to thrive.

Apitatan street art quito ecuador <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

What’s next for you? 

This Wednesday evening, May 27, I will be speaking about my personal style as a street art and graffiti documentarian, along with the role — as I see it — of the street art photographer.  After sharing some of my experiences in photographing NYC street art and graffiti and publishing Outdoor Gallery NYC, I will speak about my recent trip abroad and present many images of street art that I photographed in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Brazil. The event will take place 7:00 - 9:00pm at Nowhere Studios, 582 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn.

EVENT FLYER <em>Outdoor Gallery NYC</em> Author Yoav Litvin on the Streets of South America with: Inti, Gonzalo Sánchez <em>Painters</em>, Stinkfish & the APC Crew, Entes & Pésimo, Decertor, Marcelo Ment, Tarm1, Nove and Apitatan

Note: All photographs © Yoav Litvin, 2015

1. Inti, Santiago, Chile 

2. Gonzalo Sánchez “Painters”, Valparaíso, Chile

3. Stinkfish and the APC Crew, Bogota, Colombia

4. Entes & Pésimo & 5. Decertor, Lima, Peru

6. Marcelo Ment & 7. Tarm1, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8. Nove, São Paulo, Brazil 

9. Apitatan, Quito, Ecuador

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NDA Iena Cruz paint Henley SoHo NYC  <em>The Secret Garden Series</em> Launches at the Henley Vaporium Backyard Garden in Soho with NDA and Iena Cruz

We stopped by the Henley Vaporium earlier this week to watch two of our favorite artists — NDA and Iena Cruz — as they were collaboratively painting a huge wall in the splendid backyard garden at 23 Cleveland Place. We also had the opportunity to speak to Kimyon Huggins, the curator of the newly launched Secret Garden Series.

Kimyon Huggins NDA Cruz HenleyVape  <em>The Secret Garden Series</em> Launches at the Henley Vaporium Backyard Garden in Soho with NDA and Iena Cruz

This looks fabulous! Just what is the Secret Garden Series?

Beginning this month and continuing through late fall, several leading street artists and muralists will spend one week each month collaboratively painting the back wall of the garden at 23 Cleveland Place.  During that week, visitors to the Henley Vaporium will be able to watch the artists in action. And at the end of the week, a reception will be held to unveil the final work and to celebrate the artists.

NDA paints street art mural HenleyVape NYC  <em>The Secret Garden Series</em> Launches at the Henley Vaporium Backyard Garden in Soho with NDA and Iena Cruz

Your first public reception takes place this Saturday, May 16. What can visitors expect?  

They can expect, of course, to meet and socialize with the artists and view the completed murals. They can also expect music by such DJs as DJ Jaclyn, KC and the Real Christiano?, along with food and drink. And they will find themselves among a great community of artists, art lovers, patrons and tourists from throughout the globe.

Cruz paints Henley SoHo NYC  <em>The Secret Garden Series</em> Launches at the Henley Vaporium Backyard Garden in Soho with NDA and Iena Cruz

How did you discover this particular venue? It is lovely.

The owners are friends and I like their anti-establishment vibe. The Henley Vaporium is part retail store, part education center and part social hub. Featuring a huge lounge, performance space and outdoor garden, it is ideal. Each month smaller works of art by each of the artists will be displayed inside the Henley Vaporium. Along with limited edition photographs of the completed murals, they will be made available for purchase online, with 10% of the proceeds going to public arts advocate StreetArtNYC and vape industry advocate SFATA (Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association).

NDA Cruz street art mural the Henley NYC  <em>The Secret Garden Series</em> Launches at the Henley Vaporium Backyard Garden in Soho with NDA and Iena Cruz

Which artists can we expect to see in the months ahead?

Other artists already lined up include GILF and Ivan Orama in June and Elle and Vexta in July.

It sounds great! We are looking forward to it all.

Note: The Henley Vaporium is located between Spring and Kenmare Streets and is easily accessible by public transportation.

Secret garden series  <em>The Secret Garden Series</em> Launches at the Henley Vaporium Backyard Garden in Soho with NDA and Iena Cruz

Interview and photos 2, 4 and 5 by Lois Stavsky; photos 1 and 3 by City-as-School intern Diana Davidova

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Contreras art Speaking with Miami Based Peruvian Artist Diana Contreras aka Didi

Fusing her passion for street art with her mastery of classical painting, Miami-based Peruvian artist Diana Contreras aka Didi fashions whimsical portraits depicting her distinct notion of femininity. In NYC this weekend for the Fridge Art Fair, she will also be sharing her talents with us at JMZ Walls in Bushwick and at the 12C Outdoor Gallery in the East Village. I met Didi earlier this year in Miami.

When did you first paint in a public space? And where was it?

I first painted outdoors four years ago in Miami. I came late to the scene!

What made you decide to take your vision to the streets?

I love the idea of creating art for “the people” and sharing my vision with them.  It’s so much fun!  And it is also a great way for me to showcase my art.

Diana Contreras Cleo Overtown Speaking with Miami Based Peruvian Artist Diana Contreras aka Didi

You often paint beautiful images of lovely, sensual women. Why is that?

They’re fun; I can use any colors I want and I can add endless accessories. And I know women! I paint what I know!

Is there a message you want to convey?

I want folks who see my art to feel positive about themselves. If there is a central message, it is: Enjoy your life! And I also want girls to know that they have the power to follow their dreams and create themselves.

Diana Contreras fine art Speaking with Miami Based Peruvian Artist Diana Contreras aka Didi

Are there any particular street artists who have inspired you?

I’ve been inspired by so many who have painted in Wynwood. Among them are: Miss Van, Fafi and Entes & Pessimo.

What is it like to be a female artist in Miami’s street art scene? 

The street art scene has actually been very supportive. It was the guys, in fact, who encouraged me to get up! It isn’t difficult for us to get walls, and folks are interested in hearing our stories.

Diana Contreras Miami mural Speaking with Miami Based Peruvian Artist Diana Contreras aka Didi

You are a full-time elementary school art teacher, as well as a studio painter and muralist.  How do you manage to balance it all?

It’s difficult. I often feel that I am living two separate lives. I somehow manage because I love what I do so much. Both my lives give me tremendous gratification.

What’s ahead?

I’m headed to NYC for the Fridge Art Fair and while in NYC, I will be painting for JMZ Walls in Bushwick and for the 12C Outdoor Gallery in the East Village. I’m also excited to be participating in Boundless Brooklyn‘s upcoming group show of female artists curated by Claw Money. And I’m looking forward to a summer of traveling and painting!

Diana contreras mural detail Speaking with Miami Based Peruvian Artist Diana Contreras aka Didi

It all sounds great!  And I’m so glad you are on your way to NYC!

Photos of Diana’s images: 1, 2, 4 and 5 courtesy of the artist; 3 Lois Stavsky

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T Kid graffiti august martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

This past weekend over 100 artists — including such graffiti legends as T-Kid 170, Cey Adams, Cycle, Claw Money and Part One – transformed the blank white walls of August Martin High School into a dazzling, brilliant canvas. Curatated by Meres One with Marie Cecile Flaegul, the freshly-painted artworks represent a multitude of cultures, sensibilities and styles. While visiting yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to August Martin student, Justin Price.

This is all so amazing! Your school is an absolute wonderland! What inspired this magical change?

The walls in our school were recently painted white. They looked dull and unwelcoming. We wanted to bring color and life to our surroundings, so that we would look forward to coming to school. And we wanted to look at art that we could relate to and that reflected our culture.

Will Kasso grafffiti August Martin High School The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Whose concept was this?

August Martin’s Future Project Dream Team surveyed 500 students to find out what change they most wanted in our school. The students’ consensus was that they wanted to change the appearance of the school’s interior.

cey adams graffiti august martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Once you knew what you wanted to do, what were some of the challenges you faced? 

We had to come up with a proposal and a budget. That took us at least a month. Then we had to identify artists who could work with us. That was our biggest challenge until we were introduced to Meres and Marie of 5Pointz.

Zeso graffiti The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

How have things been working out since you met them?

Once we met up with Meres and Marie, everything went smoothly. Meres is an amazing artist and knows so many other amazing artists. And I just can’t say enough about Marie! She is so conscientious and caring.

Miss Zukie character art august martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Most of the students haven’t yet seen the murals. But what kind of response have you gotten from those who have seem them?

They love them. They can’t wait to pose for photos in front of them!

Steve Lew art Gillian Smith The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Part One graffiti august martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

And how have the teachers responded to this project? 

Their response has been positive. They know that if the students are happy and motivated, their jobs are easier.

meres graffiti art august martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Reme graffiti art August martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

And what about your principal, Ms. Smith?

She’s been 100% behind it. She’s worked hard to make sure that it happens and she has been here with us all weekend.

Remiks graffiti See tf Portrait August Martin High School The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Why do you suppose there are so many underachievers among the students here?

Many of the students here lack the support systems they need, and they feel easily discouraged.  So many are talented and really love discovering new things.

Cycle close up graffiti art August Martin High School The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

I don’t doubt it!  What are your thoughts about this project and its possible impact?

I love it! It makes me so happy! And I think it will have a great impact on the other students.

sembakkus graffiti art august martin high school The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Why is the project called Operation Skittles? I’ve been wondering about that!

Actually, there are two reasons!  Skittles are colorful and this project brings color to our school. And Skittles are the favorite snack of  Syreeta Gates, the Future Project Dream director here at August Martin.

BK Foxx art mural august martin high school edited 1 The 5Pointz Family Returns to Queens    Transforming the Interior of August Martin High School: Meres One, TK 170, Will Kasso, Cey Adams, Zeso, Kid Lew, Part One, Miss Zukie, Reme 821, See TF, Cycle and more

Now that makes sense! How lucky you students at August Martin are to have realized Operation Skittles!

Note: Keep posted to the Street Art NYC Facebook page for more images and for news about an event at August Martin open to the public in early June.

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

1. T-Kid 170

2. Will Kasso

3. Cey Adams

4. Zeso and Awez

5, Miss Zukie

6. Kid Lew with August Martin principal Gillian Smith standing to his left

7. Part One

8. Meres One

9. Reme 821

10. Remiks and See TF

11. Cycle

12. Sjembakkus – in from Amsterdam

13. BK Foxx

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