Interviews

Garavato musicians illustration Speaking with Colombian Artist Garavato in NYC

With a B.A. degree in Industrial Design, Colombian native Garavato has designed and developed dozens of projects in a range of media. During the past three years, he has also shared his talents on public spaces. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with him when he was in NYC where he painted at Grove Alley in Downtown Brooklyn and at EBC High School.

When did you first hit a public surface? And where?

Three years go in Argentina.

What inspired you to do so?

I had always worked on paper, on canvas and on indoor walls.  But I wanted to try to get a huge stencil up in a public space. And when I had the opportunity to do so legally in Buenos Aires, I did.  And I’ve been doing it since.

garavato collab street art Speaking with Colombian Artist Garavato in NYC

Do you tend to restrict yourself to legal surfaces?

I usually ask for permission when I’m a guest in another city, but in Bogota, where I’m now based, it’s okay for me to get up just about anywhere.

In what other cities have you painted?

I’ve painted in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro. Berlin, Napoli and now in NYC.

How does your family feel about what you are doing outdoors?

At first, my father was concerned. But now he is very supportive.

garavato stencil street art nyc Speaking with Colombian Artist Garavato in NYC

What percentage of your day is devoted to your art?

All of it. 24/7. It is the sole source of my income, as I work as a designer and illustrator.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I studied Industrial Design for five years. So my background isn’t in fine arts or illustration. But I’ve always been drawing, and my mom is a painter.

What about galleries? Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in Argentina, Chile, Italy and in major cities in Colombia.

gavarato exhibit italy Speaking with Colombian Artist Garavato in NYC

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I like working by myself, but I also like learning from others. And that happens best when I collaborate with other artists.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

I’ve begun to paint on a much larger scale and — inspired by the works of Emory Douglas, Shepard Fairey and Toxicomano – I am using fewer colors.

What inspires you these days?

So much! Music, birds — the freedom they represent – skulls, animals and the notion of evolution.

garavato public art Speaking with Colombian Artist Garavato in NYC

Have any particular cultures influenced your aesthetic?

I’d say the punk culture, the street art movement and the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement.

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

The artist gives a gift to the people, stirs conversation and raises consciousness.

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

It’s amazing! It give us artists the opportunity to connect with so many people. And I love that feeling.

garavato art illustration nyc Speaking with Colombian Artist Garavato in NYC

And what about you? What’s ahead?

I’d like to focus on stencils, further develop my own brand and travel more.

Sounds good! Good luck!

Interview by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of the artist, except for photo 3 by Lois Stavsky

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Warmi Paint Ecuador Toofly on the Upcoming All Women Warmi Paint Arts Festival in Quito

We miss Toofly when she isn’t in NYC, but we love what she’s up to in her native Quito. You can find out about her current project here:

Just what exactly is Warmi Paint?

Warmi Paint is an all-women arts and culture festival that will launch this fall in Quito, Ecuador.

Graffiti Ecuador. jpg Toofly on the Upcoming All Women Warmi Paint Arts Festival in Quito

What is Warmi Paint’s mission?

Its mission is to celebrate and empower Latin American women street artists with a focus on graffiti, street art and murals.

What does the name Warmi mean or represent?

Warmi means “woman” in Quechua. It is the name of the people of the Central Andes of South America. It is also the name of their language. Women of all ages from this part of the world will create a new vision of themselves, nurture their communities and reflect a powerful message.

Ecuador graffiti Women Toofly on the Upcoming All Women Warmi Paint Arts Festival in Quito

What can visitors expect?

Special guests and 20 women artists will paint collaborative murals, host workshops, and present their work to the Ecuadorian community. We will have graffiti films, slideshow presentations, panels, youth workshops, pop-up shops and a concert! People of all ages will benefit from this unique cross-cultural exchange and community-building experience.

Warmi Paint Image Toofly on the Upcoming All Women Warmi Paint Arts Festival in Quito

It sounds wonderful! Good luck with this!

Note: Your support will help artist/curator TOOFLY (NYC) and artist/curator HTM (Ecuador) realize their mission.  Find out how you can help fund the project here.

Photos courtesy of Toofly

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Nether Freddy Gray Mural Baltimore copy Baltimore Based Artist/Activist Nether on Breaking Down Barriers, Honoring Freddy Gray, Forging Street Art for Social Justice and more

A few years back, several wheatpastes – many of children — surfaced on the walls of NYC’s marginal neighborhoods. The works of Baltimore-based artist and activist Nether, they seamlessly reflected the folks with whom they shared the streets. In his native Baltimore, Nether has been actively involved in several community-oriented projects, including Baltimore Slumlord Watch drawing attention to neglected properties and the issue of vacant housing. And in 2013, as founder and president of the non-profit, Wall Hunters, INC, he facilitated the installation of 17 murals on abandoned properties in Baltimore.  More recently,  Nether‘s focus has been on the death of Freddy Gray at the hands of his city’s police and Baltimore’s broken justice system. While visiting Baltimore earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak to Nether and visit some of his recent murals.

When I last visited Baltimore, you were involved in the Wall Hunters: Slumlord Project.  Its intention was to expose landlords who had neglected properties. Have you seen any outcomes from this project?

Definitely! Since the project began, there’s been dialogue on the issue and focus from the social justice community. It’s hard to know if we were directly responsible, but several buildings that we targeted have been demolished. The first one happened only a month after Stefan Ways painted his piece on it.

Nether and Stefan Ways mural art Rose Street Baltimore Based Artist/Activist Nether on Breaking Down Barriers, Honoring Freddy Gray, Forging Street Art for Social Justice and more

How has the local art scene changed in these past few years?

It really has.  There seem to be many more projects coming from a variety of directions and approaches.  Also, recently there has been a lot of reflection in the art scene on the many barriers in the city that separate people. Hopefully, this will create pressure on curators, venues, gallery owners, and arts businesses to diversify their crowds, artists and outreach. There has, also, been a focus on social justice through street art this summer. I have been involved in organizing murals in Sandtown. BOPA has been running this amazing ART@WORK program — in partnership with Jubilee  –  teaching and employing kids in Sandtown to paint murals with professionals such as Ernest Shaw.  Also, a group of Morgan students organized an installation on Greenmount Avenue adjacent to a wall by Pablo Machioli and Gaia.  Other active projects include: Richard Best’s Section 1 Project and the Shift Project in Highlandtown.

Nether and Stefan ways mural baltimore Baltimore Based Artist/Activist Nether on Breaking Down Barriers, Honoring Freddy Gray, Forging Street Art for Social Justice and more

The memorial mural that you painted in tribute to Freddy Gray has garnered quite a bit of media attention.  At what point did you begin painting the mural?

The planning began after his death around the time of the first protest, and I began painting the mural the day the curfew ended.

What was the mood like the evening of his death?

People were respectful and united.  So much solidarity that evening. The people were taking their pain and turning it into an incredibly positive movement.

Nether street art baltimore Baltimore Based Artist/Activist Nether on Breaking Down Barriers, Honoring Freddy Gray, Forging Street Art for Social Justice and more

How do folks in Sandtown respond to your presence in their neighborhood?

Generally, people are surprised, yet welcoming.  People constantly speak to me, and I always welcome that.  I essentially sit on a ladder all day and receive stories.  My feeling is that I’m a guest in their neighborhood, and I need the people’s blessings to paint.  Also, I’m very up-front about my personal background and what part of the city I’m from. I do get occasional comments that are meant to offend me, but street art in Baltimore has the potential to break down the social boundaries created by decades and decades of discrimination.  A mutual feeling of Bmore Love among Baltimoreans is one of those forces that is so strong that, I believe, it can get over any hurdle that is thrown in front of it.  When I go to a place like Sandtown, it is to create a dialogue and deal with hard topics that I have to be comfortable talking about. What I do isn’t easy; it deals with very difficult issues.  Many of the conversations that I have had with people have heavily influenced my artwork. I try to plan murals that are able to adapt and change through dialogue and the creative process.

Nether mural art Baltimore Baltimore Based Artist/Activist Nether on Breaking Down Barriers, Honoring Freddy Gray, Forging Street Art for Social Justice and more

What did bring you to Sandtown at such a difficult time?

Having previously done many paste-ups and murals in Sandtown, loving Baltimore, and the fact that state violence had been the focus of my work for a while now.

And how has the response to the final mural been?

Folks have been extremely appreciative and supportive.  The mural has attracted media, often giving residents the chance to speak out about those issues that are so important to the entire city.  The more murals that go up from all the projects going on in Sandtown, the more this will happen. The idea is to promote a message that is amplified so loudly that it can no longer be ignored.

Nether Mural caught in the lines Baltimore Based Artist/Activist Nether on Breaking Down Barriers, Honoring Freddy Gray, Forging Street Art for Social Justice and more

What’s ahead?

More murals in Baltimore that will act to aid the movement and call out the issues that have plagued Baltimore’s neglected neighborhoods for generations.

Note: Photos 2 and 3 are of murals done in collaboration with Stefan Ways.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photo 4 by Lois Stavsky; all others courtesy of the artist.

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bk foxx art all city street art expo Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

Opening tomorrow at 23 Meadow Street in East Williamsburg, the three-day All City Art Expo 2015 is an exuberant celebration of NYC’s outdoor art culture. We stopped by yesterday and had the opportunity to speak to Evan Tobias of Cluster Wall who, along with Kevin Michael, curated the exhibit.

dain all city art expo nyc Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

This is quite an eclectic collection of art here! What is the concept behind the All City Art Expo?

It is a celebration of all outdoor art. We wanted to showcase a range of artwork — by sticker artists, graffiti writers, street artists and muralists — all in one setting.

see one all city art expo nyc Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

And it looks great! How did you find such an ideal setting?

We began looking at spaces awhile back. And Mona Liza Furniture — a huge arena with ample outdoor space —  offered to host us.

rob plater all city art expo Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

It couldn’t be more perfect! When did you begin working on this All City Art Expo?

I met Kevin Michael many months ago. We began working together on this project back in the winter.

zimad graffiti character all city art expo Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

There are so many artists here representing so many different styles, concepts and genres. How did you choose which ones to include?

When Kevin and I came up with this concept, we wrote up a wish list that included a range of artists from Old School graff guys to ones whose works have surfaced recently on our streets.

taki 183 nic 707 all city art expo Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

What was your greatest challenge in organizing this event?

Handling the logistics behind working with over 100 artists!

art is trash all city art expo Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

What can visitors expect — besides a chance to see and purchase such an extensive selection of artworks?

The Sticker Social Club will join us and visitors will have a chance to “slap and share.”  There will be a Black Book Jam on Sunday with many Old School writers in attendance. On both Saturday and Sunday a Groundswell artist will lead mural workshops. And there will be music all weekend by DJ Pumpkin, food by Arrogant Swine, along with drinks, vendors and raffles.

rocko Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

Can you tell us something about your relationship with Groundswell?

We have asked each artist to donate a canvas — an All City Compact Canvas – that will be sold for $150.00. Proceeds will be donated to Groundswell to support the wonderfully transformative projects the organization brings to our communities in its work with youth.

IMG 7853 Three Day All City Art Expo Brings Outdoor Art Inside with: BK Foxx, Dain, See One, Rob Plater, Zimad, Taki183, Art is Trash, Rocko and more

Good luck!  It’s all so impressive, and it looks like it will be so much fun!

Images: 1. BK Foxx 2. Dain 3. See One 4. Rob Plater 5. Zimad 6. Taki 183 and Nic 707 7. Art is Trash 8. Rocko

Interview by Lois Stavsky

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

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Joel Bergner and Israeli and Palestinian youth mural fragment l Brooklyn Based Artist and Arts Educator Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista on His Recent Project with Israeli and Palestinian Youth

We recently spoke to Brooklyn-based artist Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista about his experiences this past spring working with Israeli and Palestinian youth.

What brought you to the Israel?

I ‘d worked with artist and arts educator Max Frieder last year in the Middle East in a program for Syrian refugees and, also, in Cuba. He invited me to partner with him on this trip — organized by his Artolution project with the support of private donors and the U.S. Embassy and Consulate — to Israel and Palestine.

What was the purpose of the trip?

The main purpose was to provide creative opportunities for Israeli and Palestinian youth, who rarely interact, to meet each other through our educational workshops and collaborate on public mural projects. Through this work, they formed relationships with each other and were able to begin positive dialogues. 

Israeli and Palestinian youth with Joel Bergner paint mural Brooklyn Based Artist and Arts Educator Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista on His Recent Project with Israeli and Palestinian Youth

Was your experience in this particular conflict-ridden landscape different from what you had anticipated? 

I had thought of the divide in this region as largely an Israeli-Palestinian one. But I came to realize that the situation is far more complex. There is a considerable divide between the religious and secular and divisions within certain communities themselves. I also wasn’t aware of the situation of the East Jerusalem Palestinians who do not have Israeli citizenship; in fact, they don’t have citizenship to any country in the world! Most can get Jordanian passports even though they are not Jordanian citizens, and it is these passports they use when they travel abroad. We worked with a Palestinian friend who was in this difficult and complex situation, and he brought us all around the West Bank and taught us a great deal. He was an inspiring guy for me because of his positive and tolerant perspective toward all the people of the region.

Did you feel personally affected by the conflict?

I was there on Jerusalem Day, when the Israelis — particularly those on the right — celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City. That was a particularly tense day, as there were protests and a highly charged and violent atmosphere in the area between the east and west sections of the city.

Israeli and Palestinian youth mural at American Consulate in Jerusalem Brooklyn Based Artist and Arts Educator Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista on His Recent Project with Israeli and Palestinian Youth

What — would you say — was you greatest challenge? 

Getting the Israeli and Arab kids to interact with one another in a meaningful way and actually work together.

Were you able to overcome this challenge?

Yes. Most came to value the idea of working together for a common purpose. One of the groups came up with the image of a boat floating on a sea. Out of the boat grew a tree with branches that became human figures. They wanted to send a message that despite differences, they all have the same roots, and that they are all on the same boat together.

Mural by Israeli and Palestinian youth Brooklyn Based Artist and Arts Educator Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista on His Recent Project with Israeli and Palestinian Youth

In what ways was your experience in Israel different from other countries where you’ve worked with youth?

I’ve worked in many countries with youth from very difficult environments, including those who have experienced war and other forms of violence, but this was my first time purposefully bringing together two sides of a conflict in order to spark dialogue. These are young people who are taught to fear and hate the other side. But many told me individually that once they came face to face with each other and worked together, joked around and had conversations, it became impossible to see the other as an enemy. They realized that they had so much in common. It was incredible to see them bonding and becoming friends. One day we all broke into a spontaneous dance party! It was beautiful to see them just acting like normal teenagers together. While this will not solve all the complex problems in region, I hope that it will be a seed. 

Israeli and Palestinian youth celebrate Brooklyn Based Artist and Arts Educator Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista on His Recent Project with Israeli and Palestinian Youth

What was the final project?

The installation of a huge mural at the Hand in Hand School, which was then installed at the US Consulate in Jerusalem.  There it is visible to people from all backgrounds as they wait to apply for their visas.

Any thoughts about the future of this region?

After working with these kids, I do have some hope for these youth. One of their murals, in fact, told a story of the journey from conflict to peaceful coexistence. But I don’t see any easy resolution to the larger conflict.

Joel Bergner and Israeli and Palestinian youth Brooklyn Based Artist and Arts Educator Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista on His Recent Project with Israeli and Palestinian Youth

And what about you? Any further plans to work in this region?

Yes, we are planning future projects for communities in the Middle East. These will include the participation of local artists and educators, who will be trained to facilitate their own arts-based community programs. The plan is to turn this concept into a global organization that will focus on advocating for social change through public art. 

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

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Queens native Cern began writing graffiti in the early 90′s.  His artworks — characterized by luscious colors, swooping shapes and imaginative characters — have, since, made their way into public spaces, alternative venues, festivals, galleries and museums throughout the globe. We recently met up with him in Long Island City where his current exhibit, Vertical Archipelago, remains on view through the end of this month.

cern art on canvas Speaking with NYC Based Artist Cern aka Cernesto

When did you first get up? And where?

Back in 1990 in Queens. I was 12 at the time.

What inspired you to do so?

Everyone around me was doing it!

Are there any early memories that stand out?

I remember riding the train with my mom, looking out the window and thinking, “Wow! This is amazing!”  She said, “This is bad!”

cern abstract face Speaking with NYC Based Artist Cern aka Cernesto

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

Way too much!

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

Everyone seems to be having a good time!

Your current exhibit Visual Archipelago is beautiful, and it encompasses an incredibly wide range of artworks. How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?

It’s nothing new. It’s been going on for 40 years. It’s a normal progression. And I like the way art looks everywhere.

cern surreal Speaking with NYC Based Artist Cern aka Cernesto

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about the relationship between street artists and the corporate world?

I have no problem with an artist getting paid to promote a cool product. I, myself, like working with small, independent businesses.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I like both.

What is the riskiest thing you’ve ever done on the streets?

I just finished painting six stories high on Canal Street throughout the night!

cern multiple faces  Speaking with NYC Based Artist Cern aka Cernesto

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

It’s cool! It provides us all with yet another medium.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I have a degree in Studio Art from Queens College, but I never really used it. It did teach me, though, how to deal with bureaucracy.

What inspires your art these days?

Memories, discoveries, nature, animals and urban life. And, of course, all my travels have been a source of inspiration.

cern surreal birds Speaking with NYC Based Artist Cern aka Cernesto

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

I sometimes work from loose sketches.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Usually.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s more experimental, and I tend to work with a range of mixed media including spray paint, watercolor, graphite and ink.

cern with art work at exhibit Speaking with NYC Based Artist Cern aka Cernesto

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

To heighten people’s visual awareness.

What do you see as the future of street art and graffiti? Where is it all going?

Styles seem to be evolving more quickly. And the marketing of the art has become increasingly important, almost as important as the art, itself.

And what about you? What’s ahead?

I want to continue in my own development as a person and as an artist.

Note: All of the above images were captured on our visit to Vertical ArchipelagoCern’s current exhibit at 26-19 Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray.

Photos: 1, 2, 3 & 5 Tara Murray; 4 & 6 Lois Stavsky

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Ramiro Davaro centrefuge public art project Speaking with Argentine/American Artist Ramiro Davaro

With influences ranging from comic book art to South American/European muralism, Brooklyn-based Ramiro Davaro has created a wondrous world of fantastical characters who have made their way onto public and private spaces throughout NYC and beyond. We recently had the opportunity to visit Ramiro’s studio and speak to him.

When did you first paint on a public surface and where?

It was back in high school around 2002. I was about 16 at the time. I painted some mushrooms on a huge rock at a park we used to go hiking in.  It was the worst. I basically ruined a nice lookout.

What inspired you to do so?

I was getting tired of painting on small surfaces. I wanted a larger canvas so I could paint way bigger! But what I painted was so dumb that it took a few years before I was ready to try again.  My first real art on the street was in 2007 in Buenos Aires.

ramiro Davaro little havana street art Speaking with Argentine/American Artist Ramiro Davaro

Do any early graffiti/street art-related memories stand out?

I remember seeing lots of political art – with faces of politicians and names of soccer teams — on the streets of Argentina when I was a young child.

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

About 70%. When I’m not doing something art-related, I’m skateboarding.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

Everyone likes my work and has been very supportive.

ramiro davaro studio art Speaking with Argentine/American Artist Ramiro Davaro

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I don’t feel it, and I don’t think about it. I love both, and they’re both necessary.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?  We’ve seen your work at Cotton Candy Machine in Williamsburg and you are now showing with Brandon Sines at Grumpy Bert in Downtown Brooklyn.

I think it’s good for everyone!

What about the corporate world? Any feelings about that?

So long as I can dominate the conversation and be true to my vision, I don’t have a problem with it.

ramiro davaro street art Speaking with Argentine/American Artist Ramiro Davaro

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

It’s a bit much! It can be insane. But on the positive side, it creates opportunities for artists, and it also builds bridges.

Do you have a formal arts education?

No. I majored in Business. But my mom used to always take me to art museums. While growing up in Massachusetts, I got my very early schooling at the Worcester Art Museum.

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

I mostly just let it flow.

ramiro davaro art on paper Speaking with Argentine/American Artist Ramiro Davaro

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

About 80% of the time!

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

Before moving to Brooklyn, I had been able to visit and live in different countries. As a result of my experiences, my process has become more mature, more thought-out, and tighter. Working with different companies, painting murals in a range of places and engaging in various projects have also helped me become more flexible and fluid in the work I can produce. In these past couple of years, my hand has really taken over and put a definitive mark on the work I produce.

Are there any artists out there whose works have inspired you or influenced your particular aesthetic?

I remember reading about David Ellis and the Barnstormers crew in Juxtapoz back in 2008.  That blew me away!  As far as influences — Os Gemeos, D*Face and Word to Mother come to mind.

sines davaro Speaking with Argentine/American Artist Ramiro Davaro

What’s ahead?

More shows and more murals! A group show in LA at Luz de Jesus Gallery in September; a few animations with FlipBooKit for the Maker Faire here in NYC in at the end of September; painting at Art Basel in December; a group exhibit at Redefine Gallery in Orlando in February. Books, walls, Aruba, Argentina and more art!

It sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Note: Through Sunday, you can check out Ramiro’s works — many in collaboration with Brandon Sines – at Grumpy Bert in Downtown Brooklyn.

Photos: 1, 5 Tara Murray; 2 – 4 Lois Stavsky

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Street Art Santiago . David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

Penned by London native David Sharabani aka Lord K2, Street Art Santiago is a fascinating foray into 14 neighborhoods within Santiago, Chile. With his stunning photography and revealing conversations with the artists, the author presents us with an intimate, striking portrait of an historic capital city.  I recently had the opportunity to meet with David and ask him a few questions.

Street Art Santiago is quite amazing.  When did you first start documenting street art?

It was in 2012. I was on vacation in Bogota, Colombia, and I was struck by the texture and quality of the pieces on the walls there.

piri bellavista street art santiago chile David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

You’ve been quite passionate about public art since. I’m a huge fan of your site the Museum of Urban Art. What other cities have you explored?

I’ve also photographed street art in Buenos Aires, São Paulo and here in New York City.

salazaart santiago chile street art graffiti David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

Why did you choose the street art in Santiago as the subject of your first book?

I discovered so many distinct styles that I loved, many representing the rich political and social history of the city.  And I also felt a special bond with the Chilean artists whom I met. They love to share walls, and they love to collaborate. They invited me to paint with them, and they are extraordinarily humble.

piguan piri guztok David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

You have a formal education in art. Did what you see on the streets impact your work as an artist?

Yes, after a few months in Buenos Aires, I was inspired to learn how to do stencil art. And I’ve been doing it since!

grin Cubdos Derik Sick graffiti santiago David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

What were some of the challenges you faced in producing this book?

I was working with an inexpensive pocket camera. I was new to graffiti and street art, so I lacked any credibility. My knowledge of Spanish was limited. And I didn’t have a clue as to how to publish a book.

brillos graffiti crew santiago chile David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

You seem to have brilliantly overcome these challenges. What’s next?

I’m off to Thailand at the end of the month where I will be documenting another kind of art, the art of Muay Thai, Thailand’s principal spectator sport.

vandal jony bellavista santiago chile David Sharabani aka Lord K2 on His Newly Released <em>Street Art Santiago </em>with Images of Artworks by Piguan, Piri, Salazart, Guztok and more

What about street art? Any other books on the way?

Yes, my next book will focus on the street art in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

That sounds great!  Good luck with it all!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photos: 1 Piguan 2 Piri 3 Salazart 4 PiguanPiri & Guztok 5 Grin, Cubdos, Derik & Sick 6 Brillos Graffiti Crew 7 Jony

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gilf LMNOPi mural art Henley Vape NYC1 DEMAND JUSTICE: A Collaborative Mural by LMNOPi and GILF! in Tribute to Kalief Browder at Henleys Backyard Garden

Busy last week in the lovely backyard garden of SoHo’s Henley Vaporium were Gilf! and LMNOPi – two Brooklyn-based activist artists — collaborating on a mural in tribute to Kalief Browder.  When we stopped by, I had the chance to speak to Gilf!

It’s wonderful to see the two of you working together. How did this collaboration come to be?

When Kimyon Huggins, the curator of the Secret Garden Series, hit me up to paint a mural, I immediately thought of LMNOPi.

Gilf LMNOP at work Henley NYC DEMAND JUSTICE: A Collaborative Mural by LMNOPi and GILF! in Tribute to Kalief Browder at Henleys Backyard Garden

Yes, it seems like such a natural collaboration. How did you decide on the subject of this mural?

My work has recently focused on the kinds of issues and injustices related to the case of Kalief Browder‬. And since LMNOPi is such a wonderful portrait painter with a strong social and political consciousness,  I thought we would work well together.

What — would you say — is the intent of your art?

The only reason I make art is to change the world.

gilf lmnopi Kalief Browder mural Henley NYC DEMAND JUSTICE: A Collaborative Mural by LMNOPi and GILF! in Tribute to Kalief Browder at Henleys Backyard Garden

And what is it about Kalief Browder‘s story that has triggered your work?

What happened to Kalief is, sadly, not unique.  And it is outrageous. Yet, many people aren’t aware of these kinds of widespread injustices.  Kalief was incarcerated at ‪Rikers‬ Island at age 16 for three years for a crime he never committed. Two of those three years were spent in solitary confinement. Eventually his case was dismissed. This past June, Kalief Browder committed suicide by hanging himself.

What would you like people who see the mural that you have fashioned with LMNOPi walk away with?

I would like them to question what happened and demand justice.

LMNOP and gilf DEMAND JUSTICE: A Collaborative Mural by LMNOPi and GILF! in Tribute to Kalief Browder at Henleys Backyard Garden

Yes, what happened to Kalief is such a blatant, horrific injustice. We certainly need to raise awareness of the need for radical change within our prison system.

Note:  The mural will be unveiled this Saturday, July 11, at Henley Vaporium‘s backyard garden at 23 Cleveland Place, between Spring and Kenmare Streets, in Soho. The event is free and open to the public — with a BBQ and DJs — from 2-10pm. There will be a Q+A with the artists and curator at 7:30 pm.

Interview with Gilf! conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

Photos: 1 & 3 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2 & 4 Tara Murray 

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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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