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frank lexi Bella Kosbe the best of the worst Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

The following guest post is by Houda Lazrak, a graduate student in Museum Studies at New York University.  

This past weekend, Hanksy’s much-anticipated show, The Best of the Worst, drew hundreds of street art fans to the former Chase Bank at 104 Delancey Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Along with some of NYC’s most notable graffiti writers and street artists, Hanksy transformed the space into a NYC playground-like arena — with a skate ramp, a Chinese massage parlor and more wonderfully-engaging site-specific installations. Dozens of intriguing, overlapping pieces, paste-ups and stickers paid homage to street art, while, also, poking fun at the scene.

Miss Zukie

Miss Zukie  Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

CB23 

CB23 Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

Magda Love and Hanksy and more

Magda Love Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

Meres and more

Meres the best of the worst Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

Russell King, Col and UR New York

Russell King more Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

Hanksy

Hanksy the best of the worst Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

Included, too, was a rather formally installed art exhibit in the wittily-titled Gag-Osian Gallery featuring some of NYC’s most popular street artists.

Mr. Toll at the Gag-Osian

Mr toll Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

El Sol 25 at the Gag-Osian

El Sol25 Street Art Prankster Hanksy Brings <em>The Best of the Worst</em> to NYC: Frank Ape, Lexi Bella, Cosbe, Miss Zukie, CB23, Magda Love, Meres, Russell King, Col, UR New York, Mr. Toll, El Sol 25 and much more

All photos by Houda Lazrak; pictured in the first photo are Frank Ape, Lexi Bella and Cosbe

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Speaking with Mor

March 26, 2015

For the past several years, Mor‘s exquisitely-fashioned stencils have been surfacing on the streets of NYC and beyond. I had the opportunity to speak to Mor earlier this week at Con Artist, where she was preparing for tomorrow’s opening at City Bird Gallery.

Mor with stencil con artist Speaking with Mor

When did you first get up on the streets? What was your medium at the time?

I started almost five years ago with hand-made stickers. And the following year, I pasted up my first one-layer stencil – a face looking upward — in Williamsburg.

What inspired you to work with stencils?

When I was in middle school, I was living in Bushwick — in its early stages of gentrification. I remember passing Swoon’s work on my way to school. Its beauty astounded me. She is my greatest inspiration. And C215’s amazing work – that surfaced in Brooklyn back then — also moved me to experiment with stencils.

What about the streets? What was the appeal of the streets to you?

I love the notion of creating something beautiful and just giving it to others.

mor stencil art Lower East Side NYC Speaking with Mor

Were you ever arrested back then?

I was once caught tagging with a black marker, and I ended up spending the night in jail. It is a risk that all street artists take.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They were positive, encouraging me to do what makes me happy

Do you have a formal arts education?

I am, for the most part, self-taught.  But my art teachers always encouraged me.

Mor street art nyc Speaking with Mor

Any thoughts on the graffiti street art divide?

There definitely is a divide, and there will always be some kind of beef between graffiti writers and street artists. It’s not cool when a street artist goes over graffiti. Nor is it cool when a writer tags over street art.  But I think the media – particularly the Internet – is partly responsible for the beef.

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

It has definitely changed the playing field!  It’s great that it gives permanence to a transient art form. But — on the negative side — it boosts a type of showmanship, while giving exposure to mediocre artwork.

What inspires you these days?

Much of my inspiration comes from my dreams. I’m also into mysticism.

Mor stencil street art in Bushwick NYC Speaking with Mor

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Tribal ones have the most influence.

Have you collaborated with other artists? 

I haven’t in the past, but I will be painting with Ian Bertram at City Bird in preparation for our joint exhibit.

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

As my father is an artist, I grew up around galleries. I do think, though, that there is something sterile about galleries as compared to public spaces.  Showing in a gallery is very different from getting up on the streets.  And I don’t feel that the art world understands art — not just street art, any art!

Mor stencil art Centre fuge East Village NYC Speaking with Mor

How has your work evolved in the past few years? 

The streets have energized me to keep pushing myself. I feel that I’ve grown so much in just finding my process.

Have you any preferred surfaces when you are out on the streets?

I love brick walls — the way art ages on brick walls. And I like smooth doors because they’re easy to use.

How would you describe your ideal working space?

At the moment I have my ideal working space — here at Con Artist.  I love my Con Artist family. But I can imagine some day sharing a huge space with the extraordinarily talented Ian Bertram, a constant source of inspiration!

Ian Bertram art Speaking with Mor

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

As much time as I possibly can — when I’m not dealing with family responsibilities or bartending, my main source of income.

Any thoughts about the marketing of graffiti by the corporate world?

We all know that the corporate world is filled with scoundrels and pirates, but we also know that as artists, we need its financial support.

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

It is the artist’s role to channel deeply seated emotions and creativity in a positive way. It is an essential role.

Mor stencil art skate boards Speaking with Mor

What do you see as the future of street art?

I have no idea where it’s going. There’s been too much hype around street art.  But graffiti will always sustain. Someone will always be writing his or her name on a wall.

What’s ahead for you?

I just want to continue to channel my creativity into living a productive life as an artist, while engaging and, hopefully, enriching others.  Tomorrow night I will be showing my newest pieces, alongside Ian Bertram, at City Bird Gallery.

Ian Bertram and Mor City Bird Gallery Speaking with Mor

 Congratulations! That sounds great!

Photos: 1 and 7 City-as-School intern Zachariah Messaoud; 2, 4 and 5 Lois Stavsky; 3  Sara C. Mozeson & 6 Ian Bertram

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Royce Bannon Kerren Hasson Fishing Buddies art Royce Bannon on Living the After Life at 17 Frost

On exhibit through tomorrow — Saturday — evening at 17 Frost is Royce Bannon‘s Living the After Life.  Fashioned on a range of found surfaces — some collaboratively — all of the images intrigue. Curious as to what is going on, I posed some questions to Royce.

What does this all mean? What is going on here?

These works represent my ideal vision of the afterlife — doing the things that I enjoy doing — when I am living as a ghost. It is a celebration of life after death.

Royce Bannon KA art 17 Frost Royce Bannon on Living the After Life at 17 Frost

Royce Bannon Afterlife Royce Bannon on Living the After Life at 17 Frost

 What, do you suppose, was the impetus behind this theme? Why the focus on life after death?

My mother recently died. For quite awhile I’d been preparing myself for her death and thinking about the afterlife. Death is not the end.

Royce Bannon Only Positive Thoughts Royce Bannon on Living the After Life at 17 Frost

How have folks responded to this body of work? 

The response has been positive. There’s been considerable interest in the works.

Royce Bannon Observer Obscuraart Frost Royce Bannon on Living the After Life at 17 Frost

How can folks to be sure see the exhibit before it closes?

Everyone is invited to the closing party to be held tomorrow evening — Saturday, March 21 — at 17 Frost Street from 7-11pm.

living the after life party invite Royce Bannon on Living the After Life at 17 Frost

Note: Tomorrow evening’s closing party will feature a new collabo with EKG and a live drum machine performance by Jefferson Wells.

Images

1. Fishing buddies, Collab with Keren Hasson, Acrylic on wood

2. The swing is always broken in limbo, Collab with KA, Acrylic and spray paint on metal.

3. Remember that day, pt 2, Acrylic on wood

4. Only positive thoughts, Acrylic on metal

5. So far, Collab with Observer Obscura, Mixed media on wood

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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Home to three distinct galleries – Artemisia GalleryAzart Gallery and MZ Urban Art – Chelsea 27 is currently presenting Spring Group Show featuring works by an eclectic range of emerging and established international artists. While visiting the gallery yesterday, we had the opportunity to speak to Marina Hadley, owner of MZ Urban Art.

pez azart <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

Can you tell us something about Chelsea 27?  This current exhibit features artworks presented by three distinct galleries, yet the pieces seem to seamlessly work together. 

We are three friends. I had previously worked with Latifa Metheny, the owner of Azart Gallery, at 547 West 27th Street, and I met Christine Jeanquier, who runs Artemisia Gallery, through a mutual friend.  We respect each other’s visions and choices.

kokian artwork artemisia <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

You seem to all share a somewhat similar vision. 

Yes, we are interested in showcasing emerging and contemporary artists — who are working in a range of media and styles – from across the globe. We are interested, too, in discovering new talents. Latifa Metheny particularly focuses on the culture of street art and Christine Jeanquier on French artists.

sliks abstract art chelsea27 <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

 Why did you choose this particular location?

It is on the ground level of an ideal space in the heart of the Chelsea art district. It was a step I was ready to take, as it is the perfect location for attracting serious collectors.

sen2 azart galllery <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

Yes, it does seem perfect! What advice would you offer an emerging artist who would like to see his work featured in a Chelsea gallery?

Before approaching a gallery, get to know its owner and the work that it features. That is how you will know if the gallery is likely to be receptive to your work. Be sure to have a professional-looking website with each image labeled with its size and medium. When visiting a gallery, bring business cards and a cover letter that look professional. Check out — as often as possible — what other artists are doing. Work hard and be persistent! And be sure to have a body of work and a recognizable style before approaching a gallery owner.

Esther Barand <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

That certainly sounds like great advice! Is there anything in particular that you, yourself, look for in an artist?

Yes, I look for someone who has a statement to make and is willing to take risks to make it. I develop a personal relationship with each artist whose works I exhibit.

kurar stencil artist artemisa <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

So much is happening in the contemporary art scene. How do you keep up with it all?

I follow social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. I regularly read the New York Times, the London Times and the LA Times. I read essential blogs and I talk to people.

Joyce DiBona MZ Urban Art <em>Spring Group Show</em> at Chelsea 27: El Pez, Kokian, Sliks, Sen2, Esther Barend, Kurar, Joyce DiBona and more

We’re looking forward to upcoming exhibits and events, and we are delighted that Chelsea 27 is showcasing so many artists who are active on our streets.

Note:  The exhibit continues through Saturday, March 21.

 Artworks

1. El Pez 

2. Kokian

3. Sliks

4. Sen2

5. Esther Barend, close-up

6. Kurar

7. Joyce DiBona

Interview by Lois Stavsky with City-as-School intern Zachariah Messaoud

Photo credits: 1, 2, 5 & 6 City-as-School intern Zachariah Messaoud; 3 & 7 Lois Stavsky and 4 Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Betso Mickey Splash PIQ <em>Twisted Mouse</em> at Grand Centrals PIQ Pays Homage to Mickey Mouse: Betso, Eric Orr, Sienide, Miss Zukie, Chris RWK and more

An extraordinary range of artworks in various media celebrating the iconic Mickey Mouse is currently on exhibit at PIQ at 8 Grand Central Terminal in the Shuttle Passage. Among the artists featured in Twisted Mouse are many who also grace the streets of our cities. I recently had the opportunity to speak to its curator, Sabina Nowik.

Can you tell us something about this exhibit? What is happening here?

It is a celebration of Mickey Mouse with dozens of works ranging from the quirky to the gruesome.

Eric orr Mickey Mouse PIQ <em>Twisted Mouse</em> at Grand Centrals PIQ Pays Homage to Mickey Mouse: Betso, Eric Orr, Sienide, Miss Zukie, Chris RWK and more

Why Mickey Mouse? What is his significance to you?

Having lived and worked in Orlando, Florida, I’ve always had a special relationship with Disney’s characters. Mickey Mouse represents youth and fun!

sienide artwork Mickey Mouse PIQ <em>Twisted Mouse</em> at Grand Centrals PIQ Pays Homage to Mickey Mouse: Betso, Eric Orr, Sienide, Miss Zukie, Chris RWK and more

How did you bring such an extraordinary array of artists together? How did you find them all?

I knew some of the artists from the previous exhibit here at PIQ; some I discovered via word-of-mouth. And I did considerable online research.

Miss Zukie Mickey PIQ <em>Twisted Mouse</em> at Grand Centrals PIQ Pays Homage to Mickey Mouse: Betso, Eric Orr, Sienide, Miss Zukie, Chris RWK and more

What was the experience like? Was it different from what you had expected?

It was very pleasant, as I had expected it to be. But the installation itself — incorporating everything from soft vinyl to triptych art — came together far more seamlessly than I had anticipated.

chris rwk art piq <em>Twisted Mouse</em> at Grand Centrals PIQ Pays Homage to Mickey Mouse: Betso, Eric Orr, Sienide, Miss Zukie, Chris RWK and more

Note: Twisted Mouse continues through March, with many artworks to remain on exhibit through April. Hours: Monday-Thursday: 8-10 | Friday 8-11 | Saturday: 8-10 | Sunday 9-9.

Artworks

1. Betso, Mickey Splash

2. Eric Orr, Max with Mickey Ears

3. Sienide, Wickey Mouse

4. Miss Zukie, Stuffed Mouse

5. Chris RWK, Tourist Trap

Photo credits: 1 Sara C. Mozeson; 2 – 4 Lois Stavsky and 5 courtesy of the artist

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Damien Mitchell street art Bushwick NYC1 Damien Mitchell on Graffiti, Street Art, Prague, NYC, His Upcoming Exhibit at Low Brow Artique and more

Australian native Damien Mitchell has been gracing NYC walls with his wonderful talents since moving here two years ago. We visited him at his studio while he was readying for his solo exhibit — Tools of the Trade — opening tomorrow Friday, the 13th, at Low Brow Artique.

Damien Mitchell Inwood street art Damien Mitchell on Graffiti, Street Art, Prague, NYC, His Upcoming Exhibit at Low Brow Artique and more

When and where did you first share your artwork on a public space?

My first experience with graffiti was at age 8. I wrote ‘fuk’ on the underside of our family’s coffee table. I then blamed it on my two-year old niece, Alice.

What or who inspired you to do so?

I can’t remember — though it must have been important, as I still do it now and then. Alice is getting really sick of my shit.

Do you have a formal art education? 

No.

Damien Mitchell street art nyc Damien Mitchell on Graffiti, Street Art, Prague, NYC, His Upcoming Exhibit at Low Brow Artique and more

How do you feel about the movement of works by street artists and graffiti writers into galleries? Have you exhibited your work in a gallery setting? If so, where and when?

It is what it is. When you take a work off a truck or wall and stick it in a gallery, it no longer moves like it does outside. It can’t sneak up on you or take you by surprise. That said, I am showing paintings at Low Brow Artique tomorrow, Friday the 13th, from 6-9pm.

When did you come to NYC? What brought you here?

I first arrived five years ago to visit my wife’s family. I was only here for a few weeks,  but I got a few walls up including one at 5Pointz – R.I.P.  We moved over here for a longer term on Independence Day two years ago.

What are some of the specific challenges of working/living here in NYC as an artist?

Like anywhere, when you give your work away for free on walls — often times against the will of the building owner — things can get a little weird. Luckily, there are lots of walls to go around, and sometimes they even pay you for it.

Damien Mitchell paints NYC1 Damien Mitchell on Graffiti, Street Art, Prague, NYC, His Upcoming Exhibit at Low Brow Artique and more

 Where else have you painted? Have you a favorite city?

When I was 18, I moved to Prague in the Czech Republic. I lived there for eight years painting everything I could. Say what you will about the hangover from the Soviet era but it sure left a lot of bare concrete walls. Also, I once painted my butthole blue just to see if it would change the color of my poop. It didn’t.

Any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide?

Personally, I wear two hats. I think it’s nice to be able to drink beer in the summer time, while painting a wall at a block party somewhere, but it’s also fun as hell to run around writing shit on walls on the sly. Graffiti heads get all pissy because their work is illegitimatized by street art’s aesthetics and message.

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

When I was growing up in rural Australia, the Internet was the only way to see any of this stuff. If it wasn’t for sites like Stencil Revolution, I probably would have become a plumber or something.

Damien Mitchell stencil art graffiti tools Damien Mitchell on Graffiti, Street Art, Prague, NYC, His Upcoming Exhibit at Low Brow Artique and more

Do you prefer working alone or painting with others? With whom have you collaborated? Is there anyone in particular with whom you’d like to collaborate?

For legal walls, I’m up for collaboration. There are things you learn and tips — you don’t realize you are giving — that make artists better when they work together. This last year I was lucky enough to work with Edob Love and Heesco painting a couple of walls here in NYC. Who knows what will pop up in 2015?

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

Both. When I’m painting a large portrait, I usually have some kind of sketch with me to start with, and then I let it go. Showing up to a wall with a big bag of paints and just emptying them all as it goes makes for some of my favorite work, though.

How has your artwork evolved during the past few years? Has living in NYC affected your aesthetic?

Since living in NYC, I’ve been offered larger walls, so I’ve had to significantly change how I work. For years I was painting primarily with stencils, but once the walls got big enough, I ditched them. As for aesthetic, I paint what’s around me, so the city and its residents constantly pop up in my work.

DM exhibit Damien Mitchell on Graffiti, Street Art, Prague, NYC, His Upcoming Exhibit at Low Brow Artique and more

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

I don’t know what the role of the fine artist is, though the role of the graffiti artist — in my opinion — is to be the voice of social change. When there is nowhere to raise your voice, grab some paint and write it on the wall.

Can you tell us something about your exhibit that opens tomorrow at Low Brow Artique?

It’s called Tools of the Trade. A homage to graffiti, it celebrates the tools used by graffiti artists.

What’s ahead for you?

After spending some more time here in NYC, my wife and I are heading to Brazil. The more I look, the more I like!

Photo credits: 1. & 4. Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2. & 3. Lois Stavsky & 5. City-as-School intern Zachariah Messaoud

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Featured in this past Monday’s New York Times, Nic 707’s ingenious Instaphame Phantom Art project continues to transform NYC subway cars into instant galleries. These are some images I captured on a recent ride from Yankee Stadium to Coney Island:

The legendary TAKI 183

taki183 subway art From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Kingbee

kingbee subway art From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Veteran graffiti writer Snake 1

snake subway art From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Praxis 

Praxis stencil art From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Nic 707

nic 707 kilroy From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Sketch

Sketch subway art From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Graffiti legend T-Kid

T Kid tag From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Brian M Convery

Brian Convery subway art From Yankee Stadium to Coney Island with TAKI 183, Kingbee, Snake 1, Praxis, Nic 707, Sketch, T Kid & Brian M Convery

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Speaking with Scratch

March 5, 2015

An impassioned graffiti artist, Stockholm native Scratch is the only female to have painted at the legendary Graffiti Hall of Fame for four consecutive years.  Last year, together with her writing partner, Lady K Fever, she founded The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery an outdoor public art space featuring several internationally acclaimed graffiti artists. Scratch‘s public works can be seen in the Bronx, East Harlem and in Upper Manhattan.

scratch 720 nyc Speaking with Scratch

When and where did you first get up?

I was 14 when I first painted in my native city of Stockholm.  But I was a toy back then!

What were the circumstances?

The Swedish town I was living in at the time had become concerned about its “graffiti problem.” And so the government decided to establish a “graffiti school,” where we would be taught to paint in legal venues. I just wanted a space and free paint.

What was that experience like?

There were no formal classes, so we were free to learn from each other. And of course just about everyone who attended improved their skills and continued to painting illegally! I was the only girl who showed up.

Were there any artists who inspired you back then?

Yes! There was Brain – who taught at the  “graffiti school.” He was a major inspiration. And others who inspired me were Circle, Ward, Ziggy & Dizzy and Zappo.

scratch graffiti graffiti universe Bronx NYC Speaking with Scratch

Did you do anything risky back then?  

One Christmas morning – when all the shutters were down – I went out and bombed just about every store on my town’s main street.

That does sound risky! Why were you willing to take that kind of risk?

I was only 14; I didn’t really think about the consequences of my actions.

You moved to NYC in 1998 to work as a graphic designer. When did you begin painting graffiti here? And what got you back into it?

I hadn’t painted for many years. And then one day, as I was riding the 7 train into Flushing, I passed 5Pointz.  I couldn’t believe my eyes! A few days later, I went back to check it out, and that was it! I was hooked again. That was back in 2008.

What was it like for you at 5Pointz?

It was great. Meres is an amazing teacher, and just about all the writers I met there were kind and helpful.

scratch tats cru train small Speaking with Scratch

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

Graffiti and street art are very different. There may be some crossover, but they will remain distinct art forms. Graffiti is still identified with vandalism, and street artists get far more respect and recognition than do graffiti writers. But graffiti – to me – is stronger. It is more honest and direct.

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

Graffiti wasn’t intended to be painted on a canvas. Sometimes it works; other times it doesn’t. But I have no problem with it. Yes, I’ve shown in a number of galleries.

What about the corporate world? Any thoughts about that?

I’m used to it. My background is in advertising.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I often work alone, but I’ve collaborated with Lady K Fever, and I assisted Kingbee and Vase at the Graffiti Hall of Fame.  I like both! I look forward to collaborating more with other artists.

scratch graffiti train Speaking with Scratch

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

I feel positive about it. I get to see artworks I would never, otherwise, get to see

Do you have a formal arts education?

No, my background is in advertising and marketing. I studied at Pace University.

What inspires you these days?

Fantasy. I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings.

Are there any particular cultures you feel influenced your aesthetic?

I’d have to say the early graffiti writers in Sweden. But there they are referred to as graffiti painters – not writers!

scratch graffiti hall of fame Speaking with Scratch

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

Yes. I always have some kind of sketch with me when I paint.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

No! I always want to change it.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s gotten better. It’s more detailed.

Pop up show Speaking with Scratch

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

To share his or her story with others.

What’s ahead for you?

More walls and huge productions. And also more opportunities to show my work.

Note: You can meet Scratch, along with other members of the The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery, tomorrow from 6 – 8pm at the spray can art show at Scrap Yard at 300 West Broadway between Grand and Canal Streets.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos 1, 3 & 4 courtesy of Scratch 2. Lois Stavsky, and 5, Dani Reyes Mozeson

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For the past several wintry months, fiber artist Naomi RAG has been beautifying East Harlem with her splendid yarn bombing. Yesterday, I spoke briefly to Naomi.

Naomi Rag yarn bombing NYC Fiber Artist Naomi RAG Yarnbombs East Harlem

 When did you first begin to grace public streets with your talents?

The first time I yarnbombed was four years ago back in Cambridge, England.

 What inspired you to do so at the time?

Via social media, I had heard about International Yarnbombing Day, and I loved the idea of bringing color and beauty to our urban landscape.

Naomi RAG yarn bomb east harlem street art nyc Fiber Artist Naomi RAG Yarnbombs East Harlem

naomi RAG street art yarn bomb east harlem New Years Eve Pointsettia nyc Fiber Artist Naomi RAG Yarnbombs East Harlem

Where else have you yarnbombed?

Liverpool’s Crosby District — where I was staying for a bit — and here in East Harlem, where I’ve lived for the past year.

 What is your impression of your new neighborhood?

I just love it! I especially love its diversity. It is quite similar to the London Borough of Hackney.

Naomi RAG east harlem tree yarn bombing Fiber Artist Naomi RAG Yarnbombs East Harlem

Naomi RAG east harlem installation nyc street art  Fiber Artist Naomi RAG Yarnbombs East Harlem

How have folks here responded to your pieces here in East Harlem?

All the feedback has been positive. And it’s the positive reactions that motivate me to keep at it.

What’s ahead?

My goal is to create one new piece a month to share here in the public sphere.

That sounds great!  We are looking forward! 

Photos 1-3, Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5, Dani Reyes Mozeson

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EKG closing party EKG♥NYC Closing Event Tonight at Skewville in Long Island City

Since the February 13th opening of EKG♥NYC, NYC-based writer EKG has been busy at work on his installation for the closing reception. We stopped by earlier this week and had the opportunity to ask the artist a few questions:

Your orange pulse has become an integral part of our city’s visual landscape. What does it represent?

It’s chemical communication...an expression of connectedness and collaboration. It’s a sign of energy vibrating on everything everywhere. I see it as the heartbeat of our city.

EKG Smells artwork EKG♥NYC Closing Event Tonight at Skewville in Long Island City

Why orange?

I like its intensity and the way it integrates into the cityscape.

This installation is astounding! The walls are covered with cryptic orange diagrams. A cloudy haze emanating from a heavy metal concert fog machine fills the air, and your iconic symbol is everywhere — on and amidst milk crates, ladders, spray cans, cages and more. What is going on here?

It’s an abstract sillouette of New York’s cityscape. All of the elements represent the connections among all things. The smoke and the electronic music heighten the intensity of it all.

EKG Installation EKG♥NYC Closing Event Tonight at Skewville in Long Island City

Your official opening was on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day. Can you tell us something about that? And how did that go?

It was originally intended as an All Hallows’ Valentine’ Eve celebration of misfit love, mutant science and aesthetic rebellion. The turnout was great and the entire experience was awesome!

EKG painting EKG♥NYC Closing Event Tonight at Skewville in Long Island City

I love your shop here. Your symbol is everywhere from t-shirts and zines to prints and paintings — and everything is so affordable!

Yes. It’s a homage to Keith Haring’s legendary pop shop, but as if it was created by Tim Burton, Marilyn Manson, Walter White and Stephen Hawking!

What can folks expect tonight?

I’ve continued to build up my installation, and the closing ceremony will once again feature the Doomdronecore performance by the avant-garde electronic artist, Jefferson Wells.

musician EKG♥NYC Closing Event Tonight at Skewville in Long Island City

Good luck! It is certain to be amazing!

Note: Tonight’s closing event begins at 6 pm at 35-18 37th Street in Long Island City.

Photos: First image features photo by Katherine Lorimer aka Luna Park; 2-5 by Lois Stavsky; image 2 is a collaboration with Smells.

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