Interviews

lamkat Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

This past summer, a distinctly elegant mural surfaced on the streets of Williamsburg by Brooklyn-based artist LAMKAT. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet up with the talented artist and find out a bit about her.

When did you first share your vision in a public space?

The very first time I painted outdoors was this past June in Krakow, Poland.  It was in collaboration with Marcin Kowalik and sponsored by Galeria Dystans.  I loved the experience, and was instantly inspired to continue painting outdoors.

lamkat mural art krakow poland1 Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

 Were you always conscious of street art? Have you any favorite street artists?

Yes! I was always aware of it and I’ve always loved it! Among my favorite street artists are Bogota-based Gauche — whom I met in Berlin — and Li-Hill.

Can you tell us something about your particular aesthetic? What inspires it?

My father’s black and white photography has been a huge inspiration. He’s the one that taught me the importance of perspective and depth, both visually and as a way of observing life.  And I’m inspired by math.

Lam Kat mural art brooklyn Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced it?

My Chinese heritage plays a role, and growing up in Texas, I was influenced by Mexican culture.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

Both! I like working alone, and I love collaborating. This summer I collaborated with One Thousand Birds, a commercial sound studio. We created interactive sound murals that were featured at Likeminds Camp, a creative and tech conference set in the middle of the woods in Beacon, NY.

lamkat interactive sound mural Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

Have you a formal art education?

I started with Fine Arts, but I then studied Advertising and Art Direction at The University of Texas at Austin. And I earned a degree in Communication Design from The University of North Texas..

Do you feel that your formal education benefited you?

It did when I worked in advertising. It taught me about the relationship between art and business…how to turn art into a business.

LamKat street art shutter 100 gates nyc Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

Now that you are now longer focused primarily on advertising, what is the main source of your income? 

My art still is — through commissions — in such venues as restaurants — and also through my work as an illustrator.

Your illustrations — as evident in the gate you recently painted for the 100 Gates Project – certainly exude a different feeling than your huge abstract murals!

Yes! I’ve always loved drawing birds, robots and goofy characters!

lamkat illustration Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

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

I do have an initial sketch.

How do you generally feel when your piece is finished?

I feel happy and sad at the same time! I’m happy, of course, that it’s completed, but I love painting so much that I feel sad that it’s over!

lamkat illustration Toxotes Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

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

It is to bring a sense of vibrancy to our environment.

What’s ahead?

The interactive sound mural from Beacon will be at the Art Mart, 395 Johnson Avenue, at Bushwick Open Studios (ed.note: beginning today through Sunday); I will also be selling my smaller-scale works there. On October 20th, I will be participating in a skate deck show at Fillin Global, 160 Bowery. I’m also scheduled to paint next month up in the Bronx at the BMX Park. And in late October, I’m heading to Austin.

lamkat illustration kenneth Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

It sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photo credits: 1 Tara Murray; 2-8 courtesy of the artist; 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 Brooklyn Based Artist LAMKAT on Public Art, Collaborations, Zany Characters, This Weekends Art Mart at Bushwick Open Studios & More

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Mr Cee and Seoz paint for pink graffiti newark nj <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

This past Saturday, Paint for Pink brought over two dozen artists and scores of folks of all ages to Abington Ave & 4th Street in Newark, New Jersey.  Here’s what Ironbound founder Gary Bloore and Newark-based Reme3 — his partner in this project, along with Torch Fuego – had to say about the event when I caught up with them on Sunday:

This is the second annual Paint for Pink here in Newark. What initially inspired this project?

We wanted to do something positive for my Lisa who is battling breast cancer.  And so we came up with the idea of painting names of people dear to us who have been affected by the disease.

reme with graffiti newark new jersey1 <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

What — would you say — is the main mission of this project?

It is to educate and create awareness of breast cancer.

mocks paints graffiti newark new jersey <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

How does this year’s Paint for Pink differ from last year’s event?  I notice that the location is far more accessible.

Yes. We chose a more visible site for it. And we added an educational and health element to it.

ziren and ram paint graffiti mural art newark new jersey <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

You seem to have partnered with quite a few resources.

Yes! Newark Tech High School was engaged with the project through Ironbound, and Rutgers School of Nursing (RSN) brought their Children’s Health Project mobile unit to the event. Dozens of folks in the community who don’t have insurance were able to get general health examinations and breast cancer screenings.

twerk graffiti newark nj <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

That’s quite impressive! And you seem to have engaged folks of all ages.

Yes. Many children joined in the fun, as well!

children at paint for pink graffiti newark new jersey <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

What were some of the challenges presented by Paint for Pink?

Waiting for the permit! And successfully infusing the health and educational elements into it was also a challenge.

goomba paints graffiti newark new jersey <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

To what do you attribute the obvious success of this year’s Paint for Pink?

That we connected to people who could make things happen!

torch fuego graffiti paint for pink edited 1 <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

And thank you for making such an inspiring project happen!

Reme and paint for pink newark new jersey <em>Paint for Pink</em>     Where Graffiti Meets Education and Health for Breast Cancer Awareness    in Newark, NJ

Images

1. Mr Cee, Seoz & Chubby Womak

2. Reme3 for Lisa

3. Mocks for his aunt, Tina

4. Ram, Ziren and Chek

5. Twerk for his brother, Alex, and for 17-year-old YaYi

6. Neighborhood kids against backdrop of artist to be identified and Spidee for his high school art teacher

7. Goomba, close-up, for his aunt

8. Torch Fuego and Elrizl

9. Reme3 and Ironbound founder Gary Bloore against backdrop by RamZiren and Chek

Photo credits:  3, 4, 6 & 7 Tara Murray; 1, 2, 5, 8 & 9 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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alski with merchandise all the right Speaking with Veteran Queens Graffiti Writer Alski

While attending the Street Art Expo NYC this past May in Elmhurst, I met the legendary Queens graffiti writer Alski. Struck by his passion and devotion to the graffiti culture, I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview him. We met up late last month at All the Right – a hip-hop clothing and graffiti art store — on the corner of 92nd Street and Corona Avenue in Elmhurst.

When did you first get up?  

It was back in 1979 in Corona. I was in the 6th grade at the time.

What were your main spots?

Street corners and the 7 train.

alski paints graffiti Speaking with Veteran Queens Graffiti Writer Alski

What inspired you back then?

It was the incredible pieces I saw on my walks from Roosevelt Avenue to Junction Boulevard – works by Dondi, Fuzz, Flame. I remember being struck by their phenomenal colors. And I liked the idea of becoming popular — of getting known.

Did you paint with any crews back in the day?

I was mostly solo. The kids from school wouldn’t put me down because I was White.

How did your family feel about what you were doing back?

My father couldn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing! He yelled at me, but he was always good to me.

Alski graffiti on canvas with background Speaking with Veteran Queens Graffiti Writer Alski

What were some of the dangers you encountered doing what you were doing?

Running as I was getting chased and dodging bottles that were thrown at me.

Can you tell us something about your name — Alski?

I’ve actually had lots of names. But the Al is my tribute to Raskal; I like his handstyle. And ski signifies homie.

These days — would you rather work alone, or do you prefer to collaborate with others?

I generally like working alone, but collaborating with others allows me to get to know other writers.

alski paints train Speaking with Veteran Queens Graffiti Writer Alski

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide? Do you — personally — feel it?

There’s definitely resentment among some graffiti writers towards street artists. Many street artists come from privileged backgrounds, and they’ve gone on to earn degrees in Fine Arts. Most graffiti kids can’t spend money the way many street artists can to promote their careers. The writers also feel that much of street art is a sell-out. But, no, I don’t feel it personally. I’m neutral! I’m open to interviewing street artists for my podcast, as well as graffiti writers.

Have any particular cultures influenced your aesthetic?

The B-Boy culture and hip-hop were my main influences.

the alski show Speaking with Veteran Queens Graffiti Writer Alski

I’ve been checking out The Alski Show. I love it.  It’s so much fun, and I’m learning so much. You’ve interviewed quite a few legends.

Yes. Among them are Ces, Moody Mutz, Fade AA Mobb, DusterDuel, Ket, Giz & Easy

You’ve been doing this weekly now for almost a year. I know that you work full time. That’s a lot of love and a lot of devotion.

It’s my way of giving back, of keeping the culture alive and pushing it forward.

The Alski Show certainly seems to be doing that!

street art expo nyc queens Speaking with Veteran Queens Graffiti Writer Alski

You can check out Alski’s website, Out to Crashhere.  And you can meet him tomorrow, Sunday, at the Street Art Expo NYC where he will be selling a range of merchandise — from canvases to his  OTCITY Truckbooks – and signing black books.

Photos: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-4 courtesy the artist. Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

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mr prvrt a visual bliss jorit agoch street art staten island ny1 Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

Passionately engaged in promoting the positive values of the cultures of street art, graffiti and hip-hop, the Staten Island-based NYC Arts Cypher is a dynamic ever-evolving venture. For the past few months a host of  local, national and international artists have been busily at work preparing for Cypher Fest, NYC Arts Cypher‘s first Annual Street Art Festival. While visiting I had the opportunity to speak to its founder and president, Charlie Balducci aka Charlie B.

When was NYC Arts Cypher born?

It was founded in 2004, and it became an official 501c3 nonprofit organization in 2007.

What spurred you to create it?

It was a way for me to stay involved in all aspects of the arts and entertainment and –- at the same time — engage the community.  The realization of it was a dream come true. Of the five boroughs, ours had been the least recognized.

L7 matrix street art staten island new york Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

How would you describe its mission?

Its mission is to promote positive values through programs and events related to urban art. NYC Arts Cypher also serves as a networking tool for artists in all five boroughs. And with its open-door policy, it introduces many of our local kids to a range of skills from painting and dancing to acting and producing videos.

What are some of the concerns that  NYC Arts Cypher has addressed?

When Amanda Cummings, a local teen, threw herself in front of a bus in 2013, we took on the issue of bullying.  And, tragically, the issue of bullying was in the news once again when 13-year-old Staten Island resident Danny Fitzpatrick took his life leaving behind a note that expressed his pain as a victim of bullying. Among other issues we address are: vandalism, drug abuse and conflict-resolution.

sipros at work mural art staten island nyc arts cypher Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

sipros dont be a bully mural art staten island nyc Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

Does any particular highlight stand out?

In 2010, we were awarded “best documentary short” at the Staten Island Film Festival for our documentary, M.U.R.A.L

Can you tell us something about it?

Yes. It presents graffiti as an art form – rather than an act of vandalism. It features interviews with a range of people from the youth who are active in our programs to law enforcement officials to such accomplished artists as the members of Tats Cru and Meres of 5Pointz fame.

What are some of the challenges you encounter in overseeing such a multi-faceted space?

Working on sustaining it is the principal challenge, as we continue to expand and offer more programs and networking opportunities.

cheri mural art staten island nyc Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

It seems like a monumental task! How do you do it?

We have support from sponsors like SIBOR, Wheel Concepts and Williams Eye Works. But nothing beats the heart of a volunteer — like Cynthia Valle and Tony Spinelli.

What’s ahead for NYC Arts Cypher?

We are utilizing all our resources to beautify not only our block, but — also — neighboring blocks, as artists from across the globe are now painting alongside local artists. We will continue to engage schools in a range of programs promoting positive values –particularly the Don’t Be a Bully initiative that combats bullying with creativity and Pillz Killz that tackles head on the epidemic of drug abuse plaguing our community. We will also be hosting  a pop-up shop and café. And next Sunday, September 10th we will be presenting Cypher Fest, our first Annual Art Festival.

NYC arts cypher block party Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

Images

1  Mr. Prvrt & A Visual Bliss with Jorit Agoch at work on the right

2  L7 Matrix

3 & 4 Sipros

5  La Femme Cheri

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 3 Tara Murray; interview with Charlie B 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 Staten Island Based NYC Arts Cypher    a  Model of Community Engagement    to Present Its First Annual Street Art Festival

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Phetus mural art close up glen cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

A remarkable museum, featuring the artwork of dozens of street artists, muralists, graffiti writers and bombers, is underway in the least likely spot –a 300-year-old historic Glen Cove, Long Island mansion. While visiting this designated city landmark last week, I had the chance to speak to Sean Sullivan aka Layer Cake, who is actively engaged in the transformation of this 9000-square foot site that was once home to one of the five founding families of the city of Glen Cove.

This is remarkable? Whose concept was this?

Joe LaPadula — known among us for his fabulous cutting-edge urban art car projects — knew about this site and saw its potential to serve as a platform to introduce his favorite art form to the public.

Such graffiti glen cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

How did you become involved with it?

I did a Ferrari hood for Joe’s project, and we discovered that we share a similar vision. And then I involved Harris Lobel who has done a great job overseeing the Drip Project in Mount Vernon’s Mes Hall.

reaps graffiti glen cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

This home is the centerpiece of the First City Project – which has also engaged artists in painting in public spaces. What is the goal of this project?

There are many. The First City Project‘s principal goal is introduce the residents of the City of Glen Cove and surrounding communities to the next generation of urban-themed artists.

Layer cake urban art glen cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

When did the transformation of this site begin?

The actual painting began on May 2. I was, in fact, the first artist to paint here.

ellisG urban art glen cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

There is such a wildly diverse mix of art here. How were you able to engage such a variety of artists?

At first I reached out to those I know and like. And then it was a matter of word of mouth, as artists connected to one another.

Chris easy zero productivity graffiti glen cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in seeing this through?

Working with such a varied range of artists with so many different personalities is, in itself, a challenge. But immediate ones that come to mind are: artists not showing up on time; having to stay up far too late and the inevitable politics that comes with it all.

Pase graffiti Glen Cove The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

What’s ahead for the First City Project?

Live art events, gallery exhibits, more outdoor mural projects that engage the community — particularly the youth — student art classes and more.

It’s very exciting! Good luck with it all! And we look forward to news about upcoming events.

Images:

1. Phetus

2. Such

3. Reaps

4. Sean Sullivan aka Layer Cake

5. Ellis G

6. Chris RWK, Nite Owl, Zero Productivity and Easy

7. Pase

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

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

en play badge 2 The First City Project Transforms 300 Year Old Historic Glen Cove, Long Island Mansion into Spectacular Street Art and Graffiti <em> Museum</em>

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the London police street art in heroes we trust Neely Shearer on <em>In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes</em>

Conceived and curated by Native Californian Neely ShearerIn Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes features the musings and artworks of 60 international artists on the theme of heroism. After reading the elegantly engaging book — with its foreword by Ron English and preface by Jef Aerosol – I posed a few questions to Neely.

What inspired this book/project?

One of my clients happens to be the CEO of a publishing company, Knock Knock. After purchasing some artwork, she suggested that I do a book based on the concept of my shop, In Heroes We Trust

Why did you choose to focus on street artists?

I had already been working on projects with artists and decided to make my new shop a mash-up of fashion and street art. Street artists have always had my respect, and they quite amuse me. They are a certain type of character  – bold, independent, determined. That’s inspiring to me. The walls of my shop have been painted, stenciled and wheat-pasted by street artist friends. I had asked them to do their own personal heroes, keeping their own original style.

Jef Aerosol street art In Heroes We Trust Neely Shearer on <em>In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes</em>

What inspired the particular title — In Heroes We Trust— of both the shop and the book?

I came up with it some years ago driving solitary along an ocean road listening to the David Bowie song ‘Heroes’. It really speaks to me at core level – the idea of being a Hero. Not in a grand gesture way, but in terms of living life daily as a Hero to oneself, and ultimately to others. Being human isn’t always easy, but if we can do our best to be the best versions of ourselves and share that with others, perhaps we can all get along better, live fuller.

How did you decide which artists to include? 

I had my favorites, of course, and I did a lot of research. I looked for the talent, the message behind the work and the artist’s integrity.

Pichiavo street art in heroes we trust1 Neely Shearer on <em>In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes</em>

Did this project pose any particular challenges to you?   

I had to keep my nose to the wheel to track many of them down, as their contact info wasn’t always easily accessible.

How did the artists respond — as it’s not the usual question posed to them?

Most artists seemed excited about the project right away. In a few cases, an artist had said No at first; however, with more communication between us, we came to understand one another and what this was about. The artists get hit up a lot by various projects and surely it’s not always clear what’s what and who’s who. They need to protect themselves. It was definitely a wonderful learning experience in communication. And I had such a great team at  Knock Knock - my editors Jamie Stern and Erin Conley, who were of great support and positivity behind the scenes. They really trusted me to do my thing, and that meant a lot.

Hula In Heroes We Trust Neely Shearer on <em>In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes</em>

Did any artist responses particularly surprise you?

Yes, one in particular. One artist’s manager wrote back quite a strict reply saying that the artist would never do such a book for the benefit of promoting my shop. I explained that this was a real gift for all of us that the publisher had offered us. Basically — a book showcasing them and their work on another, more personal, level. Sure, the book will shine light on what my shop is doing – which is to promote artists. And I am thrilled about that! I’m similar to them in that I’m a one-person show… getting by on what I love to do. Collaborating and supporting one another is really IT. It’s how we move forward, follow our passions and live what we are here to do.

What was the outcome? Did you successfully convince this particular artist’s manager?

Yes! That artist did join the project and is featured in the book.

In Heroes We Trust Neely Shearer on <em>In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes</em>

How has the response been to the book? All of us here who have seen it love it.

From what I’ve seen firsthand, people think it is a beautiful little book of inspiration. And the artists who have seen it have said they are honored to be included with so many other artists whom they admire. For me, that was surely my hope. I wanted to present the best of the best and for all the artists to feel proud of their work in the company of their peers.

Who are some of your personal heroes?

In high school, I kept a photo of Joan Rivers with Boy George on my locker door. I loved that they both caused such controversy by being outrageous. I know Joan got pretty crazy into the insults later in her career.  However, she opened up so many doors for women in the entertainment industry and beyond; in her generation women held back, but she didn’t.  And Boy George just rocked his style and sexuality like no one. He let freaks be freaks! The two of them were good friends and that was also pretty cool – kind of two people you wouldn’t expect together. I’m interested in these kinds of people who don’t give a f*#k about normality. They break barriers for the rest of us. Today we have Martha Stewart and Snoop together – and I love it. It’s a great example of people connecting beyond age, race, upbringing and past lives.

Images

1. The London Police, All Hail Sir David Bowie. From In Heroes We Trust, published by Knock Knock LLC © 2016

2. Jef Aerosol, The Sitting Kid. From In Heroes We Trustpublished by Knock Knock LLC © 2016

3. Pichiavo, Trojan Heroes. From In Heroes We Trustpublished by Knock Knock LLC © 2016

4. HulaKahu. From In Heroes We Trustpublished by Knock Knock LLC © 2016

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 Neely Shearer on <em>In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists and Their Heroes</em>

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Recognized for his folksy outsider aesthetic, Brooklyn native Steven Cogle has shared his talents on public spaces for the past few years at the Welling Court Mural Project.  I recently met up with him.

steve cogle and al ortiz street art welling court Steven Cogle on His Distinct Outsider Aesthetic, His Influences, Welling Court Mural Project, His Upcoming Documentary Film and More

When did you first begin drawing?

I was five or six when I started drawing cartoons.

Any inspirations back then?

I was a big fan of Charles Schultz.’s Peanuts comic strip, and I also loved Bugs Bunny.

Steve cogle artwork close up Steven Cogle on His Distinct Outsider Aesthetic, His Influences, Welling Court Mural Project, His Upcoming Documentary Film and More

Did your family have any response to your early drawings? Did they encourage you?

Not really! But my classmates did. I was always drawing characters for them.

What about your teachers?

I took an art class when I was a student at George Gershwin Junior High School in East New York.  I couldn’t say, though, that my teacher encouraged me.  But when I discovered Lee J. Ames’ How to Draw books in the library, I used them to teach myself how to draw.

Did you go on to study art in a formal setting?

No. I’m self-taught.

Steve Cogle outsider art Steven Cogle on His Distinct Outsider Aesthetic, His Influences, Welling Court Mural Project, His Upcoming Documentary Film and More

How would you describe your particular aesthetic? It’s been referred to as Neo-Expressionism.

My artwork reflects me – tribal Africa crossed with urban blight. Growing up in East New York, I witnessed a lot of tragedy and loss, along with hope and survival. As I layer the painting on the canvas, I am also layering the experiences that I saw.

Have any specific artists influenced you?

Eric Orr became a mentor to me, and explained the business side of art to me.  And I was influenced by Picasso’s versatility, Basquiat’s palette and Clemente’s spirituality. 

steve dogle and art work Steven Cogle on His Distinct Outsider Aesthetic, His Influences, Welling Court Mural Project, His Upcoming Documentary Film and More

What about galleries? When did you first show your work in a gallery setting?

In 2004 my work made its way into two Brooklyn spaces and into an exhibit at the Chelsea Center for the Arts in Manhattan. I’ve since exhibited in several galleries in Brooklyn and in Manhattan, and my work is in collections across the globe. My dream is to see my work in a museum setting.

I first discovered your artwork in Astoria, Queens, where you painted with the Welling Court Mural Project. This year, in fact, you collaborated with Al Diaz.  You don’t generally paint in public spaces. What brought you to Welling Court?

I’m fond of Garrison Buxton, the project’s organizer, and I love the make-up of the neighborhood. I’ve painted there for the past four years.

Steve cogle welling court mural art nyc Steven Cogle on His Distinct Outsider Aesthetic, His Influences, Welling Court Mural Project, His Upcoming Documentary Film and More

Have you any favorite artists among those active on our streets?

I like the way Chris RWK and Joe Iurato bring me back to my childhood. And there are several Staten-Island based artists I especially like: ErinKelli, John Exit and Kwue Molly.

What’s ahead? 

I’ve been working on a film to be released in 2017. It tells my story, while showcasing a range of creative artists. I plan to move to Italy by the end of this summer, and I wanted to document my life here. And, of course, more painting is ahead.

Steve Cogle art Steven Cogle on His Distinct Outsider Aesthetic, His Influences, Welling Court Mural Project, His Upcoming Documentary Film and More

Why the move? 

It’s time for a change!

Yes, change is good! Good luck with it all! 

Photo credits: 1 Lidia Santana; 3, 4-6 courtesy of the artist; 2 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Currently on view at Chelsea’s Porchlight is New York State of Mind, a group show featuring a diverse range of artworks by eight of our all-time favorite artists. While visiting the space earlier this summer, I spoke to its curator, Joshua B. Geyer.

LNY Porchlight <em>New York State of Mind</em> at Porchlight with Lunar New Year, Icy and Sot, Sonni, Lady Aiko and more

This space is lovely, and the artworks are beautifully displayed.  How did you connect to such an ideal space?

My buddy, Michael Shain, is the general manager. We’d first met when we were students at the University of Hartford.  And after Michael saw my exhibit at the  World Trace Gallery, he invited me to curate a show here.

Can you tell us something about the title of the show – New York State of Mind?

Yes. All eight of the artists on exhibit have been active on the streets of NYC and have created artworks on a range of media while living in NYC.  And with the exception of Hellbent, all were born outside of the US. This is why there is such a diversity of styles.

icy and sot hunger stencil art <em>New York State of Mind</em> at Porchlight with Lunar New Year, Icy and Sot, Sonni, Lady Aiko and more

Every one of these artists has exhibited in a traditional gallery setting. How did they respond to your invite to show in an alternative setting such as this one?

They were all open to it. Here they can reach people who may not regularly visit galleries. And on our opening night we sold two pieces.

Yes, a reception was held here earlier this summer. How did that go?

It was great! All of the artists who were in town came, and I was told that it was the venue’s busiest evening.

Sonni rise and grind <em>New York State of Mind</em> at Porchlight with Lunar New Year, Icy and Sot, Sonni, Lady Aiko and more

Did this exhibit present any particular challenges to you?

The biggest challenge was getting the word out about the exhibit. And then, of course, letting people know that the art is actually for sale!

How can folks see the exhibit?

Porchlight is open Monday through Wednesday from 12 pm until 12 am; from 12 pm until 2 am on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturdays from 4pm to 2am. It is located at 271 11th Avenue at the corner of 28th Street. The exhibit continues through the fall.

A New York State of Mind <em>New York State of Mind</em> at Porchlight with Lunar New Year, Icy and Sot, Sonni, Lady Aiko and more

 Images

1. Luna New Year, Ccollanan Pachacamac

2. Sonni, Rise and Grind

3. Icy and Sot, Hunger

Note: Final image with list of artists features Lady Aiko

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Lois Stavsky; 3 Tara Murray; interview by Lois Stavsky

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

en play badge 2 <em>New York State of Mind</em> at Porchlight with Lunar New Year, Icy and Sot, Sonni, Lady Aiko and more

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James Kusel at work graffiti ar Speaking with Graffiti Artist James Kusel at Creedmoor’s Living Museum

While visiting the incredible Living Museum housed at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village earlier this week, I unexpectedly came upon a graffiti artist at work.  He introduced himself as James Kusel, and when I shared my passion for graffiti with him, he spoke about his experiences back in the day and his current mission to give back.

When did you first get up?  

It was during my sophomore year of high school. I was 16 years old.

What inspired you back then?

I was working in a luncheonette in Woodhaven, and I saw the black books of the kids who were also working there. It was love at first sight! And getting up was a great outlet for me. I was a troubled kid – almost always alone – and graffiti gave me something to live for at the time…and a sense of belonging. I was passionate about it.

james kusel name graffiti Speaking with Graffiti Artist James Kusel at Creedmoor’s Living Museum

What were your main spots?

I started hitting the trains immediately. Among the lines that I hit were: the M, J, 7, the E and F and the 2 line. My favorites were the BMT flats. I bombed the outsides of the trains with Krylon and Rust-Oleum, and the insides with Pilots, Unis and Flow Markers. I also hit yards and rooftops. I wrote Aero.

What is the riskiest thing you ever did back then?

Everything I did was risky. Here I was a white kid – piecing at 3 in the morning in the M and J yards while ducking from the cops. It’s not where I should have been. But the riskiest thing I ever did was bombing while I was high on angel dust.

How did your family feel about what you were doing back?

My mother hated it. When she couldn’t take any more of me, she shipped me away to High Point Hospital.  I spent 2 ½ years there, and since 1988, I’ve been coming here. I’ve been sober now – free of drugs and alcohol – for 28 years. If I hadn’t been locked up during the height of the crack epidemic, I’d be dead now – like so many of my friends from back in the day.

james kusel its a beautiful life graffii art Speaking with Graffiti Artist James Kusel at Creedmoor’s Living Museum

Have you ever shown your work in galleries or museums – besides the Living Museum?

Yes. I painted a gigantic mural at the Queens Museum in 2002 for its exhibit In the Flow: Artists From the Living Museum. By then I had changed my name to Insane. And I’ve painted and shown murals in alternative spaces when I worked as a DJ.

Have you ever studied art in a formal setting?

No. Why should I? I like to do things my way. I’m too cool for art school!

Did any particular cultures influence you?

Black culture. Most of my friends have been Black. I’ve been raised by that culture.

James Kusel New York graffiti art Speaking with Graffiti Artist James Kusel at Creedmoor’s Living Museum

What’s your favorite place to create art these days?

Right here! I love the Living Museum. The people are wonderful, and I feel as though I am a part of a community of artists. There’s a great sense of camaraderie.

Have you any other particular interests and passions?

Yes! I love music, all music. And I am also a culinary artist and ex-surfer.

Are there any graffiti artists whose works have inspired you?

Yes! Among the artists who’ve inspired me are: Dondi, Zephyr, Duster and Lee.

James Kusel Help graffiti art Speaking with Graffiti Artist James Kusel at Creedmoor’s Living Museum

Any shout-outs?

T-Kid! I identify with him and all that he’s overcome.

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

To keep his talent, the artist must give it away. That is his role. To share it with others.

What’s ahead for you?

I’d like to create more art expressing positive messages and I want to interact more with members of the community.

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Bonnie Astor and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 1 & 2 Lois Stavsky

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gera luz essex street market mural nyc Gera Lozano Refashions the Essex Street Market with a Flavorful Feast of Luscious Colors and Abstract Shapes

Few Lower East Side spots are as tantalizing as the Essex Street Market. With its rich array of delicacies, it’s been one of our favorite haunts for years. And now with Gera Lozano‘s artwork gracing both its exterior and interior, it’s even more inviting!  I recently met up with Lauren Margolis of the Lower East Side Partnership who gave me a bit of an update.

We love the the Essex Street Market‘s new look! What inspired the makeover?

With the development of the nearby Essex Crossing, the Essex Street Market was experiencing less foot traffic. Many people, in fact, didn’t realize that the Market was still open and functioning. We wanted to boost its visibility.

gera luz abstract mural art nyc Gera Lozano Refashions the Essex Street Market with a Flavorful Feast of Luscious Colors and Abstract Shapes

You certainly seem to have accomplished that! We street art aficionados were introduced to Gera Lozano‘s aesthetic largely through the murals she has painted with WERC in Brooklyn and Queens.  We are delighted to see her work surface here. How did you decide which artist to commission for this project?

Natalie Raben, who oversaw the 100 GATES Project, was familiar with Gera’s work, and suggested that we bring her abroad for this project. And Gera was quite excited about this project when we approached her.

gera luz exterior essex street market nyc edited 1 Gera Lozano Refashions the Essex Street Market with a Flavorful Feast of Luscious Colors and Abstract Shapes

What about the design? How was that decided? What considerations went into it?

We were seeking an attractive, eye-catching design that represents the range of vendors at the Essex Street Market.

gera luz interior design essex street market nyc Gera Lozano Refashions the Essex Street Market with a Flavorful Feast of Luscious Colors and Abstract Shapes

How have folks reacted to this transformation?

They love it. The response has been so positive. People have been commenting on it, posing in front of it and posting images it on Instagram!

gera luz mural essex street Market Gera Lozano Refashions the Essex Street Market with a Flavorful Feast of Luscious Colors and Abstract Shapes

What’s ahead for the Essex Street Market?

In 2018, it will be moving into the ground floor of Essex Crossing. All of the existing vendors will have a new home, and there will be space for additional vendors. Delancey Street Associates, the developer of Essex Crossing, will cover the cost of the move.

I’m glad we have Gera’s artwork in the meantime! And we look forward to seeing the art that is certain to surface there!

Note: The Essex Street Market is open Monday through Saturday, 8:00am to 7:00pm, Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm. The Market also houses Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space that is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12-6pm.

Photo credits: 1 & 5 Tara Murray; 2-4 Lois Stavskyinterview with Lauren Margolis conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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 Gera Lozano Refashions the Essex Street Market with a Flavorful Feast of Luscious Colors and Abstract Shapes

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