Interviews

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

Just One graffiti Bushwick NYC Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

When did you first get up? And where?

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

What inspired you to do so?

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

Any early memories that stand out?

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

How did that happen?

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

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

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

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

Have you ever been arrested for graffiti?

No!

How’s that?

I have good instincts.

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

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

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My children love it!

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

About 70%.

Just graffiti three pieces1 Speaking with Bronx Based Just One

What keeps you painting after all these years?

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

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

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

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

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

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

Both.

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

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

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

Do you rep any crews?

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

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

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

Do you have a formal arts education?

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

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

I freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Most of the time!

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

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

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

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

To inspire others to express themselves.

How do you feel about the photographers in this scene?

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

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

It will continue to evolve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was that like?

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

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

What’s ahead? 

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

That would be great!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were there any particular surprises?

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

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

What’s next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s ahead for Exit Room NY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What aspect of the project most appealed to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were there any particular challenges?

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

 Photos of images:

1. Queen Andrea, Lois Stavsky

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

5. Queen AndreaDani Reyes Mozeson

6. RRobots, Dani Reyes Mozeson

7. & 8. CekisDani Reyes Mozeson

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

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