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Cairo-based artist Mohamed Radwan aka Sober recently completed a mural dedicated to female empowerment at Sahel’s Sea Hub compound on Egypt’s north coast. A brief interview with the artist follows:

When did you first paint in the public sphere? And what motivated you to do so?

During the Egyptian revolution and particularly starting 2012, I was motivated by opposition to the political status quo.  I started painting on the streets as a form of political expression of this opposition and solidarity with certain revolutionary figures and ideals.

Why did you choose to create a mural on the theme of “Women Empowerment?”

I believe that graffiti must serve a social purpose or advance a cause. For this particular mural — because of its location and high visibility — I felt that it was important to choose a topic that wouldn’t be divisive and would, also, get the huge exposure it deserves. In my mind, there was no topic more in need of  attention in the Egyptian community, in particular –and globally, as well — as women’s rights and  empowerment.

And why did you decide to feature Wonder Woman so prominently in your mural?

Because Wonder Woman has evolved into a symbol of women empowerment globally. She even had a brief run as a United Nations honorary ambassador. And with the release of the Wonder Woman movie this summer, she has achieved iconic status.

What were some of the challenges faced in creating this particular mural?

The first challenge was the size of it. The wall is 70m long and 5m high. I had never worked on such a large scale before. And that was a huge challenge to me. The second challenge was the very limited time for implementation. We had seven days to complete the mural — which meant spraying 10 meters a day. This, coupled with the hardships of the coastal weather in Egypt — which is extremely hot in the morning and very windy and humid at night — made it very hard for us artists to work continuously for seven days. And not only that, but the humidity and wind were also affecting the stencils on site. Thankfully, I was blessed with a crew of highly professional and highly committed artists and volunteers, who were intent on making this happen.

Have any objections arisen among the religiously and politically conservative elements in Egypt to your subject matter or portrayal of women in an outdoor setting?

Not at all. Women are commonly portrayed in public settings in Egypt — in commercials, billboards and such. It’s nudity that normally causes objections, and I don’t have that in this mural.

How has the local media responded to your mural?

So far the mural was well-received by both formal and social media. But we are seeking more exposure for the mural and contacting numerous media outlets.

All photos courtesy the artist; interview by Lois Stavsky

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From August 9 – 13th, Under Pressure held the 22nd edition of its annual graffiti festival in Montreal. The largest and longest-running event of its kind in North America, it is a celebration of hip-hop, graffiti and street art culture. The image pictured above was painted by the famed French graffiti crew and family 123 Klan. Several more images that we captured on site follow:

Montreal-based Adida Fallen Angel artworks on door and to its left

Canadian artists Scribe, Francois Leandre and Corey Bulpitt collaboration 

Montreal based MissMe

Montreal-based Monk.E at work on collaborative wall with Ankhone and Fonki

France-native, Montreal-based Sbuone at work

 Tattooist J Mats at work on collaborative wall

Rien, Borrris, Arnold, Naimo & Will Lyf3 203 Crew collaborative mural

Photo credits: 1, 5 & 8 Tara Murray; 2-4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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

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The Wide Open Walls mural festival continues in Sacramento adding a widely diverse range of stunning murals to the city’s downtown and beyond. Pictured above is Sacramento-based Franceska Gamez at work. What follows are several more images captured by street art and travel photographer Karin du Maire:

Local artists Franceska Gamez and Shaun Burner at work

Venice, California-based Christina Angelina does Lady Gaga

Local artist John Horton, close-up

Italian artist Jorit Agoch at work

U.K.-based Phlegm at work

And local artist Raphael Delgado on exhibit at Beatnik Studios

Organized by festival founder David Sobon and Branded Arts, the Wide Open Walls mural festival continues in Downtown Sacramento through August 20th.

Photos by Karin du Maire

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

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Celebrating the diversity of street art and its power to transform neighborhoods, the Wide Open Walls mural festival is now underway in Sacramento, California. Continuing through August 20th, it is bringing over 40 local, national and international artists to Downtown Sacramento and beyond. Pictured above is Spanish artist Okuda. What follows are several more images captured on site by street art and travel photographer Karin du Maire:

Madrid-based Okuda, close up

Paris-based Ludo

NYC-based How & Nosm at work

Nevada City-based Miles Toland with his mural

And on view at Beatnik Studios in coordination with the festival:

Sacramento-based Shaun Burner

And local artist Bryan Valenzuela

Organized by festival founder David Sobon and Branded ArtsWide Open Walls is one of the capital’s key attractions.

Photos by Karin du Maire

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

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Run by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, the New York City Mural Arts Project has brought two murals to the Bronx and one to Manhattan this past year.

“Art has the ability to profoundly change the way we think, feel, and even spark meaningful conversation to begin to break down the strongholds of isolation and stigma,” said First Lady Charlene McCray.”The Mural Arts Project is an important investment…in improving our city’s mental health infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, lead artist Andrew Frank Baer began collaborating with Fountain House Gallery and members of the Hell’s Kitchen community in designing and painting a huge two-segment mural. Many of the Mural Arts Project’s participants struggle with mental illness and/or substance abuse problems.The impressive artwork they created has since found a home on West 34th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. After visiting the site, I spoke to Andrew Frank Baer.

I love the the collaborative nature of this project.  How would you describe the principal mission of the New York City Mural Arts Project?

Its principal aim is to integrate people with mental health issues into the community and to destigmatize mental illness.

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Could you tell us something about the process? Its beginnings?

Yes! The Fountain House Gallery hosted workshops where its members actively designed and sketched the artworks. And as the local community is involved in all stages of the process, there is constant interaction among us all.

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What is it about the project that engages you?

I’ve worked with similar mural-making projects for a few years now. I love drawing, and I love listening. And I especially love working with others and serving people with mental health issues.

What were some of the challenges that this project has faced?

Deciding on a design that would work — one that people would respond to. And, then, getting to know everyone on a sincere level.

The site of the two mural segments is ideal. The two wide, highly visible spaces couldn’t be more perfect! And I think we can all relate to its message: Some days I have to push myself to go outside and walk to the park. Say hello! We can embrace ourselves and open doors together. How has the community responded to it all? 

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We even had construction workers enthusiastically coming up to us while we were working on site!

Congratulations! I’m looking forward to future collaborations!

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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

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Continuing through this week at Avant Garde LES is Queens-based ZA ONE‘s exuberant solo exhibit, The Evolution of ZA ONE. While visiting last week, I had the chance to speak to its curator, Kate Storch.

ZA ONE is a style master; that is certainly evident here. And it was great fun watching him paint over at First Street Green Park last month. 

Yes! ZA ONE is a true artist. He is fearless in his determination to keep on pushing his craft further and further.  He spent the past two years working on these canvases.

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When did ZA ONE first hit the streets?

He first hit the streets in the mid-eighties. And in 2012, he started going all-city. It was non-stop adrenalin. He is a street killer, as well as a masterful artist.

How did you meet ZA ONE

Jerms introduced us about two years ago. I feel like ZA ONE was a gift. And I love the way he involves his children in his art.  He is a dedicated father, as well as a dedicated artist.

How did the opening of the show go? I’ve heard great things about it!

Yes, it was amazing. There was so much love from other writers. And the exhibit attracted a wonderfully eclectic mix of people including fine artists and musicians.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been busily planning and promoting this coming Friday’s Summer Classics Block Party in honor of National Hip Hop Day.

What can folks who attend it expect?

It will feature live DJs and some of the best graffiti artists and muralists — a mix of both legendary classics and contemporary talents.

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It sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview with Kate Storch conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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

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werc-and-gera-luz-paint-jersey-city

A strikingly beautiful mural has surfaced across the street from the Jersey City Municipal Court. Spearheaded by the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, it is the work of the incomparable duo, Werc and Gera Luz. Contemplating the theme of justice, it features Maat, the Egyptian Goddess of Justice. Pictured above are the two artists at work. What follows are additional photos — all captured on site by street and travel photographer Karin du Maire.

Gera Luz, posing beneath Maat — the Egyptian Goddess of Justice — whom she remarkably resembles!

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An admirer with a gift for Gera Luz

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Close-up featuring the weighing of the heart with a feather — that determined the fate of the departed soul

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Werc and Gera Luz pose in front of their completed mural

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Special thanks to Karin du Maire for capturing and sharing these images.

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guache-praxis-irving-ramo-street-art-bushwick-nyc

Four new murals — all fashioned by South American artists — have found a home on Harman Street off Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Curated by Spread Art NYC, each is distinctly intriguing. The wall segment pictured above features Colombian artists Guache and Praxis and Ecuadorian artist Irving Ramó. Several more photos captured at this space follow:

Guache at work

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Praxis gets some assistance

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A close-up from Irving Ramó‘s completed mural

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And the most recent addition to the wall — painted by  by Brazilian artist Raul Zito

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Photo credits: 1-3  Karin du Maire; 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky

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

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Senkoe-street-art-mural-Festival-Inspire-Canada

The third edition of Festival Inspire — held earlier this month in Moncton, New Brunswick — has brought 13 wondrous new murals to the Canadian city’s urban landscape. Greater Moncton is now home to 31 strikingly beautiful murals by international and local artists. The artwork pictured above was painted by Mexican artist Senkoe. What follows are several recent murals:

UK-based Wasp Elder

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Portuguese artist Bordalo II

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Toronto-based Jerry Rugg aka Birdo

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Athens-based WD

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French artist Etien

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Mexican artist Eva Bracamontes

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All photos courtesy Festival Inspire: 1 -6 Louis Philippe Chiasson; 7 Edward deo Dingle

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

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Plasma-slug-A-colony-of-love

Portal, a thoroughly enticing exhibit of new artworks in a range of media by the legendary Brooklyn-based artist Plasma Slug, continues through tomorrow at ArtHelix, 289 Meserole Street in Bushwick. When I stopped by yesterday, I had the chance to pose a few questions to the artist.

This is so impressive! Can you tell us a bit about the title of this — your third solo exhibit?

Yes! The exhibit is a portal — an entrance — to another world. Viewers will step into something that will take them out of their routine and they will, hopefully, leave with their minds expanded.

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These are all new works. About how many are in this exhibit? And how long have you been working on this particular body of work?

There are over 40 new pieces, and I’ve been preparing for this exhibit for the past four months.

How do the works on exhibit here differ from your previous ones?

I did not use spray paint to create these new pieces; after much soul-searching, I decided to paint with a brush.

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And why is that?

It was a way for me to “cross over,” — to gain more respect as an artist. The tools we artists use are important as to how we are perceived.

Any other differences between these new works and your previous ones?

This is the first time I’m showing three-dimensional work.

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What prompted you to do that?

My son was flipping out over a 3-D chalk board he was using, and I liked the effect.

Everything here is so engaging, and your prices are so reasonable.  How can folks see the exhibit if they missed the opening or if they wish to see it again? I could spend hours here!

We’re open today and tomorrow, Sunday from 12-6.

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 Congratulations! It’s quite amazing!

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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