Interviews

Netism graffiti tag outdoor  NET on TAGSTRACTION, Tonights Unsanctioned Exhibit, the Art World and more

As NET was getting ready for TAGSTRACTION, tonight’s unsanctioned exhibition on the streets of NYC, I had the opportunity to speak to him and find out a bit about it all.

Just what is TAGSTRACTION?

It is a mix of tagging and abstraction, blurring the lines between graffiti tagging, abstract expressionism and stylized signatures.

And when was NET born?

NET was born in 1987, but I’ve been tagging since I was a child.

Netism in studio Brooklyn NYC  NET on TAGSTRACTION, Tonights Unsanctioned Exhibit, the Art World and more

Were you ever arrested? 

I was arrested about fifty times for graffiti since I was 14.

Who are some of your inspirations?

There are many: Barry McGee aka Twist, Adam Cost, Jon 156, Al Diaz, Easy, Phantom 13 aka P13, Old English, Enx, Phil Frost and multiple Brooklyn artists.

Netism on inside door nyc  NET on TAGSTRACTION, Tonights Unsanctioned Exhibit, the Art World and more

You define TAGSTRACTION as “too hood for the nerds and too weird for the thugs.”  Who is your audience?

Anyone and everyone who’s on the street with eyeballs.

How can folks see tonight’s exhibit?

The location will be announced one hour prior to the 7pm opening. Check out my Instagram for it.

tagstraction  NET on TAGSTRACTION, Tonights Unsanctioned Exhibit, the Art World and more

And why did you choose an unsanctioned outdoor location for an art exhibit?  Is there a message here? You seem to be on a mission of some kind.

My message is that you do not need the approval of the Art World to accomplish your goal.  It is time for us to take it into our own hands.

Yes!

All images courtesy NET; 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  NET on TAGSTRACTION, Tonights Unsanctioned Exhibit, the Art World and more

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Directed by Queens-based filmmaker Raul Buitrago, the recently released GOUCH is a sensitive, gripping portrait of a Brooklyn graffiti bomber living a dual life. After viewing the short, insightful documentary — chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick – I had the opportunity to speak to Raul.

What drew you to graffiti? You obviously have a deep understanding and appreciation of its culture.

Growing up in Eastern Queens in the 90’s, I was exposed to graffiti early on. Graffiti was part of the punk and skateboard culture that was all around me. And I found myself gravitating to it.

Gouch graffiti bomb nyc Queens Based Filmmaker Raul Buitrago on GOUCH, Graffiti and More

And what about this particular writer? Why did you choose Gouch? And how did you connect with him?

Gouch was one of my personal favorite graffiti writers while growing up.  His style and flow are incredible.  I’d known about Gouch years before I reached out to him.  He was featured in the legendary State Your Name DVD, and it was in that video that I first saw him in action. The footage was raw, gritty and true NY graff to the max. I contacted him via his Instagram in 2014.

Are there any issues regarding graffiti that particularly engage you? Any messages you wish to convey to your viewers?

As a fan and student of graffiti culture, I’m interested in its power to lure seemingly ordinary people. Its sway is amazing – and the way it always seems to call you back. So often, it becomes an obsession. I also find it very interesting that it can be glorified and vilified at the same time.  Graffiti has made its way onto advertisements, clothing and other forms of branding while some of its practitioners end up doing time in Rikers Island.  Graffiti is used for commercial purposes because it has that edge that can’t be found in other artistic realms.  It’s unfortunate that big companies are profiting off something that’s created through the toils and risks of people who have such a deep appreciation, knowledge and ability in something so historically rich.

Gouch sprays graffiti nyc Queens Based Filmmaker Raul Buitrago on GOUCH, Graffiti and More

Yes, that is unfortunate, and it is something I’ve thought about quite a bit.  It is — obviously —  graffiti’s aspect of illegality that gives it that edge…You clearly won Gouch’s trust. I imagine that might have been your greatest challenge. What were some of the other challenges you faced in producing GOUCH?

As it was my first documentary, I was learning how to do it as I was doing it!  I’d previously focused on music videos.  That was my greatest challenge.  Gaining Gouch‘s trust was actually incredibly easy.  Upon first meeting, we spoke about graffiti at length.  Because of my knowledge about the culture and my previous video work, he knew he could trust me. Other challenges I faced included coordinating schedules and making sure that his family was comfortable throughout the filming process.  It was important to me that they be comfortable with the finished project since it’s so personal.

Have you a formal education in filmmaking?

I studied Photography at NYU, but I never studied filmmaking. I’m a self-taught filmmaker.

Gouch in NYC Queens Based Filmmaker Raul Buitrago on GOUCH, Graffiti and More

How long did it take you to produce GOUCH?

When I first met up with Gouch, I thought I would produce a two – three minute video. But it evolved into something far more, and I ended up working on it for one and a half years.

I’m so glad it worked out that way! Gouch – in all his complexity — is certainly worth knowing.  And the music by Jazzsoon that accompanies your film perfectly complements it. I find myself viewing it again and again!

gouch with child Queens Based Filmmaker Raul Buitrago on GOUCH, Graffiti and More

You can view the film in its entirety here.

All images courtesy Raul Buitrago; interview with Raul 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 Queens Based Filmmaker Raul Buitrago on GOUCH, Graffiti and More

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torch fuego in Newark sgk graffiti pit NJ In Newark, New Jersey with Torch Fuego at the SGK Graffiti Pit

The most riveting graffiti spots are those we almost never discover on our own.  Located in tunnels, abandoned buildings, rooftops and hidden passageways, they tend to host some of the most creative, innovative writing — from tags to pieces — to be found anywhere. We recently had the opportunity to visit such a spot — the SGK Pit — in Newark, New Jersey and speak to Torch Fuego who has established an office there.

Can you tell us something about this spot! What an amazing oasis of creativity and escape from it all! 

It was founded over 25 years ago by several Old School writers, and it quickly became — largely under the direction of SGK crew founder Syko – a key spot for writers to practice and learn from one another.

And what does SGK stand for? 

Style, Gifted, Knowledge…and more!

Lesk and more graffiti at the SGK Pit Newark NJ In Newark, New Jersey with Torch Fuego at the SGK Graffiti Pit

Who were some of the writers who frequented it? Were they all locals?

Among the NJ writers were: Syko, RimeCarmelo “Snow” SigonaTeck and Lesk – who made me an SGK member.  But folks also came from other places. Bom5 used to come down from the Bronx.

How and when did you discover the SGK Pit? And what was your first impression of it?

Baye took me there when I was about 15. I thought, “Wow!.” I couldn’t imagine that such a place existed.

torch fuego graffiti the SGK pit newark new jersey In Newark, New Jersey with Torch Fuego at the SGK Graffiti Pit

Do any particular memories stand out?

The few graffiti battles that turned into brawls…lots of parties…and the first time I saw the deer and red foxes that also call this spot home.

And just what is your role here now?

For several years it had been abandoned. But it has recently been revitalized.  And — together with Zew — I basically maintain it. I keep it tidy. I make sure the walls are clean. I introduce new members to old heads, who can pass down knowledge to them. Basically, I want to maintain it as a “practice sanctuary.” And as Syko handed down the torch to me, I feel a huge responsibility.

tara and torch in the graffiti pit newark new jersey In Newark, New Jersey with Torch Fuego at the SGK Graffiti Pit

That seems like quite a responsibility and quite a bit of work!

Yes! I’ve sacrificed my day job for this.  But it’s worth it!

No doubt!

graffiti on ground sgk graffiti Pit Newark New Jersey In Newark, New Jersey with Torch Fuego at the SGK Graffiti Pit

Note: You can meet Torch at a special event today — Saturday — from 1-6 pm at Shorty’s. And tonight — starting at 11pm — Clearport Events will host a graffiti after-party at Port-O-Lounge, 286 1st Street in Jersey City, to benefit The Artchitectz, a program that teaches youth creative skills. Check out Torch’s Instagram for additional info.

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 5 Tara Murray; photo two features work by Lesk, with Erizl to his left; interview conducted and edited 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 In Newark, New Jersey with Torch Fuego at the SGK Graffiti Pit

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Dasic Fernandez and Rubin415 street art Greenpoint NYC Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

We recently had the opportunity to speak with writer and photographer Yoav Litvin about 2Create, his ongoing project and upcoming book on creative collaborations.

We love your recently launched 2Create Facebook Page and Group. Can you tell us something about the concept behind 2Create? What is its mission?

The aim of 2Create is to study and promote teamwork and fellowship as it showcases the art of collaboration. Folks tend to place far more emphasis on competition than on collaboration. But so much more can be accomplished if we work together.

Icy and Sot street art at Welling Court NYC Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

Yes! We tend to glorify individualism, particularly in the West.

And my point is that when two people create, it is greater than two. 1 + 1 is not 2, but something more. The duo is the basic unit of a collective.  And we need to look at forming collectives as a means to solve our societal problems.

Cekis and Cern. streeet art nycjpg Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

One of your initial projects, related to this larger one, is your upcoming book, 2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City.  Can you tell us something about it?

Yes. It will be released by Schiffer Publishing this fall. It showcases the works and processes of nine pairs of NYC graffiti and street artists. Each duo consists of two artists whose unique styles came together to create a larger-than-life work of street art in a NYC neighborhood. The book focuses on the backgrounds, techniques, and collaborative processes of the featured duos.

asvp at work in studio NYC Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

What spurred you to produce this particular book? What was your impetus behind it – in addition to promoting the concept of collaboration?

There were a number of factors. I was interested in expanding the documentation that I began in Outdoor Gallery New York City by getting to know more of my favorite artists – like Cekis and Rubin. But most of all, it was a project that enabled me to further develop myself as an artist by integrating my background in psychology, my passion for progressive politics and my respect and love for graffiti and street art in NYC.

jilly ballistic al diaz Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

What were some of the challenges that you faced in the process?

Identifying artists who could work well together and produce first-rate artwork was the initial challenge. I also had to gain their confidence and access to their relationship so that they would speak freely about the process.  And some of the artists were quite shy – which was an additional challenge. And, then, for some of the works I had to secure walls, materials and more.

Alice Mizrachi and TRAPIF truck art nyc Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

What’s ahead for 2Create?  Where are you going with it?

I want to continue documenting and interviewing duos that work together in a wide range of scenarios: visual arts, dance, music and more!

 2create 500 Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

How can we become engaged with your project? Can we contribute to it?

You can Like the project on Facebook and share your own collabs and connect with others here. You can also follow it on Instagram and on Twitter.

It sounds great! And what a wonderful concept!

Images

1. Dasic Fernandez with Rubin 415

2. Icy and Sot

3. Cekis with Cern

4. ASVP

5. Jilly Ballistic with Al Diaz

6. Alice Mizrachi with Trap IF

7. Logo design by Dan Michman

Photos © Yoav LitvinYoav in conversation with Lois StavskyTara Murray and 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 Yoav Litvin on <em>2Create</em>: His Ongoing Project and Upcoming Book on Creative Collaborations

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valeri larko Bronx Museum of art NYC with painting With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

On view through June 26 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts is Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko, an extraordinary visual ode to a borough whose landscape is rapidly changing. Among Valeri Larko‘s paintings are many that are infused with the Bronx’s gritty graffiti. With her impeccable renderings of tags, throw-ups and pieces, the artist has immortalized our favorite art form in the borough that birthed it. On revisiting the exhibit last week, I had the opportunity to meet Valeri, who gave a tour of her exhibit.

We love the way you are keeping some of our favorite walls alive through your paintings. What spurred you to focus on this aspect of the Bronx?

I’ve always been interested in the urban landscape, and when I moved from New Jersey to New Rochelle — just a short drive from the Bronx — I discovered the just how rich the graffiti in the Bronx is. I think it is gorgeous, and I love how sites with graffiti always have great stories to tell.

valeri larko obey and more With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

Can you tell us something about your process? How long does it take from beginning to end to create a painting?

Everything is done on location. If a site interests me, I begin with a quick pen and ink sketch in a small notebook using a uni-ball pen. If I then decide that I want to do a painting of the particular scene, I do an oil sketch of it. For most of my studies, I work on 300 pound watercolor paper that I staple to a board. For the larger version, I typically paint two to three months, also on location.

Valeri Larko Boone With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

What are some of the challenges you face in producing this work?

The weather is, by far, my greatest challenge. The wind is my biggest enemy. My car is — many times — my only shelter, and that is where you will often find me painting, especially in the winter months.

How do the graffiti artists feel about what you are doing? 

They love it. If they see a blank surface at a particular space where I am painting, they will sometimes ask if they can leave their mark on it — to be included in my painting.

valeri larko Bronx drawbridge With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

What is your most memorable experience of painting on location?

There are so many, but here is one that comes to mind: I had been working at a site for several weeks on Top Dollar, a painting of a trailer truck. Then one day when I showed up, I was surprised to find a very large boat in front of the truck. I could’t imagine how it got there! Luckily, I had mostly finished the painting, and the boat seemed too clean, too pristine and too out of place to include. But a few days later, the graffiti artist SAET with his friend NARO showed up. Once SAET had christened the boat with his tag, it was totally transformed. And so I decided to add the boat to the painting. I was even thinking of doing a new painting of the boat. But that never happened!

Valeri Larko painting Top Dollar With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

Why was that? Why didn’t you get to do the new painting of the boat?

While I was still working on Top Dollar, Tommy — who was living in the Jay’s Hot Dog Camper — informed me that the site was about to be demolished. That is one of the hazards of working on site. Whoa! I still needed at least a week to finish my painting. Luckily I found the guys doing the demolition work, and they agreed to give me one more week to complete my painting! It actually took me eight days, and within hours after I finished, everything on the site was demolished. And what about Tommy who had been living in the camper? He headed on a Greyhound back home to Kansas City where he and his sons had built two houses!

Valeri Larko Top Dollar Bronx With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

What’s next? Are any walls calling you? Any sites that particularly intrigue you?

Yes! I discovered an abandoned golf course across from Co-op City. And since I don’t know how much longer it will be around, I’ve been heading there as often as I can!

 What an incredible visual history you are creating!  And we are already looking forward to your upcoming solo exhibit at WallWorks in the fall.

Images

1. Valeri Larko — as seen last week — at the Bronx Museum

2. Ferris Stahl Meyer Diptych, close-up

3. Corner of Boone Avenye and 173rd Street

4. Bronx Drawbridge

5. Valeri Larko painting at Top Dollar

6. Top Dollar

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; 5 John Wyatt & 6 courtesy of the artist; 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 With Valeri Larko at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

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Flip graffiti pioneer at Centre fuge Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

A pioneer of the graffiti movement, Charles Henry aka FLIP One was immortalized in Flint Gennari’s classic photo of him tagging a Coney Island-bound train over 40 years ago. And this past spring the now-iconic photo made its way onto a stencil fashioned by Balu for the Centre-fuge Public Art Project. I met up with the artist — now an LA-based Emmy award-winning cinematographer – while he was visiting NYC last month.

When and where did you first get up?

It was back in 1974 in Propsect Park, Brooklyn. I was 15.

What inspired you to?

Flint’s writings were everywhere in my neighborhood. He was my main inspiration. He also got me into photography. Other writers such as Spin, Coco 144 and Mico also influenced me. And I loved the adrenalin rush hitting the trains late nights and the little bit of fame watching my name go by.

flint gennari photo of Flint Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

What was your preferred surface back then?

The Franklin Avenue shuttle.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They were not happy. My dad used to work for the MTA.

Do you have any specific graffiti memory that stands out?

I saw once — and only once — an LL Cool J top to bottom while I was riding the train to school. I will never forget that!

Flip tags graffiti Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

Did you work alone or did you collaborate with others?

I painted with the Ex Vandals and the Soul Stoned Brothers (SSB).  But I generally preferred working alone, because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

What was the riskiest thing you ever did?

Entering the 7 yard with Flint, Dime 139 and Asp across from Shea Stadium during a playoff game in the World Series. Luckily, the cops — who were supposed to be watching the yard — were too busy watching the game on their little black and white TV to pay attention to us! And so we managed to get in and out and do our thing in broad daylight without anyone noticing.

Has your work ever been exhibited?

Yes, my work has appeared in Flint Gennari’s photos in several galleries and museums. My small trains have been exhibited in galleries in LA.

flint and balu Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

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

I think it’s great! It suggests that what we did has meaning.

What about the increasing engagement of the corporate world in the graffiti subculture?

I used to hate it, but it doesn’t bother me any more. Writers risked getting arrested, maimed — and more — for what they did. They should be paid!

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

It’s not an issue. My favorite artists tend to blur the line between both: They include: El MacRetna, ObeyMan One and Revok.

Flint Flip AimSSB Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

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

I love it! I get to see the work of people I used to war against!

Any thoughts as to why the Europeans are more open to graffiti than most Americans are?

I haven’t really thought about it, but maybe it’s because they place a higher value on self-expression.

And there’s probably no art form more expressive art than graffiti!

Photo credits: 1, 3-5 Lois Stavsky; 2 Flint Gennari; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo 3  features Balu to the right of Flip One and the last photo features Flint to the left and George Colon aka AIM SSB to the right of Flip One

Note: Jan Arnold, the artist’s wife, is in the process of completing a documentary about Flip One’s life. Be sure to check its Facebook page here for some great photos and clips!

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 Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

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giz ghost RIS bushwick collective museum 2016 At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

While visiting the Bushwick Collective on Thursday as it was readying for its 5th Annual Block Party, we had the opportunity to spend some time in its wondrous pop-up museum at 198 Randolph Street. The brainchild of Bushwick Collective founder Joe Ficalora, it showcases an extraordinary array of works by Bushwick Collective artists, along with art by community members, local youth, Parsons School of Design at the New School students and more.  We also had the chance to speak to the Bushwick Collective Museum‘s director, Asja Gleeson.

asja gleeson dan witz bushwick collective museum edited 1 At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

This is all so amazing! There are works here by artists who’ve exhibited in museums, along with art by children who live in the neighborhood. Just about every art genre and style is represented here. How did you connect to so many diverse artists?

Joe Ficalora simply gave me a list of the folks he’d already reached out to. In the five years since he’s founded the Bushwick Collective, he’s made so many wonderful connections.

tim okamura fine art bushwick collective gallery At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

How did you connect to Joe? 

Dan Witz introduced me to Joe two years ago, and I worked with Joe and Dan on the exhibit for the Collective’s 3rd Annual Block Party.  The experience was so fantastic that I was thrilled to have an opportunity to be involved once again with the Bushwick Collective.

enx bushwick collective museum At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

As director, what are some of your responsibilities in managing an exhibit of this scope?

I had to contact all the artists and make sure that their work arrived in a timely fashion. I assisted Stan Sudol  the director of the Mana Urban Arts Project, in installing the works. And, basically, I was in charge of organizing the exhibit and assuring that it runs smoothly.

What — would you say — was your greatest challenge?

Getting it all together in the span of a week.

anna orcutt jahns art At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

That’s quite an accomplishment! Have you an academic or professional background in art? 

Both my parents are artists, and I studied Art History and related fields at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. I’ve also worked in several Chelsea galleries.

How does working here differ from working in Chelsea?

It’s more of a labor of love here! The pace is faster, and there’s far more community involvement here in Bushwick than in Chelsea.

Nicer graffiti art At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

What is your impression of the art on exhibit here? Have you any favorites?

I’m so impressed by the quality of it all. There are so many wonderful pieces. Among my favorites is the one by Enx. It speaks to me!

see one art At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

How can folks see this exhibit? It’s an amazing opportunity to not only view such an eclectic selection of quality artworks, but to purchase art at remarkably reasonable prices — with all proceeds going directly to the artists.

It remains open to the public from 10am-5pm through the weekend. 

Images

1.  Giz and Ghost, RIS

2. Dan Witz, with director Asja Gleeson

3. Tim Okamura

4. Enx

5. Anna Orcutt-Jahns

6. Nicer, Tats Cru

7.  See One

Photo credits:  1, 2, 4 – 7 Tara Murray, City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; interview conducted and edited 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 At the Bushwick Collective <em>Museum</em> with: Giz & Ghost, Dan Witz, Tim Okamura, Enx, Anna Orcutt Jahns, Nicer, See One and more

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A member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Colorado-based Gregg Deal is an accomplished muralist, painter and performance artist. I first encountered his artwork awhile back on the grounds of the EBC High School For Public Service in Bushwick, Brooklyn. This past weekend, I met him down in DC at the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building, where he was one of 40 artists featured in CrossLines, presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Gregg Deal at Smithsonian Painter and Performance Artist Gregg Deal on Silenced Indigenous Voices

What spurred you to so fervently embrace your Native American identity?

I don’t know that I specifically embrace it. It is just one of my many identities. I am, foremost, a human being. I am also an artist, a husband and a father.

gregg deal portrait face Painter and Performance Artist Gregg Deal on Silenced Indigenous Voices

You are sitting here in a tipi. What does this particular setting represent?

This tipi represents Washington DC. It is where museums, politics, sports and commerce all contribute to a view of Native Americans.

gregg deal tipi Painter and Performance Artist Gregg Deal on Silenced Indigenous Voices

What about the paintings inside this tipi? How did you decide which to include?

I had to include works that would be acceptable to the Smithsonian. They had to be safe. And so I chose identifiable stereotypes of Native Americans — the only image most others have of us.

And as today’s event progresses, you continue to cross out the mouths of your portraits with bold red lines.

Yes! That is because of voices our censored. We have not been permitted to speak for ourselves. I, myself, have been censored.

gregg deal censorship Painter and Performance Artist Gregg Deal on Silenced Indigenous Voices

What about your interpreter? You often speak through an interpreter.

That is because our lives — our experiences, feelings and thoughts —  are almost always interpreted through others. Authentic indigenous voices have yet to be heard or recognized.

gregg deal portrait crosslines smithsonian Painter and Performance Artist Gregg Deal on Silenced Indigenous Voices

You are certainly creating awareness of that here.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 3 Sara C. Mozeson; interview by 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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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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