Walls

Under the curatorial direction of Tag Public Arts Project founder, SinXero, the walls on and off the 6 line in the South Central section of the Bronx have become one of the borough’s visual highlights.  Loved by both local residents and passersby, these murals, in fact, are now incorporated into an official tour of the Bronx. Here is a small sampling of what can be seen:

Marthalicia Matarrita and Raquel Echanique 

Raquel Echanique street art Bronx TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Marthalicia Matarrita, close-up

Mathalicia Mattarita street art Bronx TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Sexer

sexer graffiti Bronx NYC 2 TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

 SinXero

Sin Xero street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

See TF

See TF street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Col Wallnuts

Col wallnuts street art graffiti Bronx TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Werc

Werc street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Daek William – in from Australia 

Daek William street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Damien Mitchell

Damien Mitchell street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Billy Mode and Chris Stain

Billy Mode Chris Stain street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Zimad – close-up 

Zimad close up street art Bronx NYC TAG Public Arts Project Adds Visual Intrigue to the Bronx with Marthalicia Matarrita, Raquel Echanique, Sexer, SinXero, See TF, Col, Werc, Daek William, Damien Mitchell, Chris Stain, Billy Mode and Zimad

Keep posted to our Facebook page for many more Tag Public Arts Project images and check here for piece painted by the legendary John Matos aka Crash.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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This is the third in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of creatures that share our streets with us:

Werc and Gera Luz in Gowanus, Brooklyn

Werc and Gera Luz street art Gowanus NYC A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Ishmael at the Bushwick Collective

ismael Rivera Bushwick Collective A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Kaffeine and Li Hill at the Bushwick Collective

Kaffeine and li hill street art Bushwick NYCNYC A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Mr. Prvrt in Bushwick

mr prvrt street art nyc A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

IDT Crew in Williamsburg

IDT Crew williamsburg NYC A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Kremen in Bushwick

Kremen street art Bushwick NYC A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Vers in Bushwick

Vers street art NYC A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

KA in Bushwick

KA street art BushwickJPG A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Hitnes at the Bushwick Collective

Hitnes street art Bushwick Collective NYC A Feast of Beasts on NYC Streets, Part III:  Werc & Gera Luz, Ishmael, Kaffeine & Li Hill, Mr. Prvrt, IDT Crew, Kremen, Vers, KA and Hitnes

Photos 1 – 3, 6 – 9 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; photo 4 by Tara Murray; photo 5 by Lois Stavsky

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Speaking with Sienide

August 13, 2014

sienide portraits rooftop Bronx NYC Speaking with Sienide

Bronx-based Sienide aka Sien is one of NYC’s most versatile artists. His delightful compositions — in a range of styles from masterful graffiti writing to soulful portraits — continue to grace public spaces throughout the boroughs. I recently had the opportunity to interview him:

When did you first get up?

I started tagging and bombing on the Grand Concourse in 1981 with my older brother. I was living at 176th street and Morris Ave. I did my first piece in 1985 with my then-bombing partner SEPH. Jean13 was also there, and he helped me shape up my letters. Ironically, my first piece was also a legal commission.

What was your preferred surface back then?

I really wanted to get into the yards. But I couldn’t, so I hit trailers instead. There was a great lot over in Castle Hill, where we painted and made a tree-house to store our supplies.

What inspired you to get up?

Everybody around me was writing.

sienide street art Bronx NYC Speaking with Sienide

Did you paint alone or with crews?

Both. In 1986 IZ the Wiz put me down with TMB after he saw my black book. Since, I’ve painted with the best of the best: OTB, FX, KD, GOD (Bronx) and GOD (Brooklyn), MTAInd’s,  Ex-VandalsXMEN, and TATS CRU

What about these days? Do you paint only legally?

Oh, yes! I’m too old to play around, and I want to get paid for what I do. I also want to paint in peace.

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

They weren’t happy. When I was arrested for motion tagging with my cousin on the 6 train, my uncle — who was my dad at the time —  told me that no one would ever hire me because I defaced public property.

Sienide paints Biggie Speaking with Sienide

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

At least 85% of it.

What is your main source of income these days?

It’s all art-related. I sell my work, earn commissions for painting murals and I also teach.

Have you any thoughts about the street art and graffiti divide?

I love them both. I have forever been trying to marry them.

sienide paints  Speaking with Sienide

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

I think it’s cool. I love to see my stuff hanging on walls, and when someone asks me to be in a show, I feel honored.

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about its engagement with graffiti and street art?

I have no problem with it. If the corporate bank writes me a check, I’ll cash it.

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

I would like to collaborate more with Eric Orr.

sien paints graffiti 5Pointz NYC Speaking with Sienide

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

The Internet is useful. It works for me.

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes I have a Masters Degree in Illustration from FIT.

Did this degree benefit you?

Yes, I now know my worth.

Sienide paints graffiti. NYC Speaking with Sienide

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

Outdoors, Florida-type weather and a generous paint sponsor.

What inspires you these days?

I’m inspired by the life I live and by the students I teach.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced you?

The human culture.

sien b boy on canvas Speaking with Sienide

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

I work with a rough sketch, but I never have colors in it. This prevents me from becoming a slave to my reference, and it allows my creative mojo to experiment freely.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Never.

How has your work evolved through the years?

My work keeps evolving and changing because I allow myself to experiment.  I don’t like being stuck in one particular mode. That bores me.

sien and Kid Lew graffiti Bronx NYC Speaking with Sienide

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

To give back… to share a gift that we artists have with others.

How do you feel about the photographers in the scene?

I think they’re helpful, but they should share any profits they make with the artists whose works they photograph.

What’s ahead?

I hope to be still doing what I’m doing while advancing my skills. I hope never to lose my passion.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos 1, 2 and 8 (collaboration with Kid Lew) by Sienide; 3, 4 and 7 (on canvas) by Lois Stavsky; 5 (collaboration with Eric Orr) and 6 by Lenny Collado

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abstrk and Miss Reds graffiti street art NYC 2 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Last weekend, the walls in Bushwick on Moore and White Streets became the canvas for Miami-based oo4′s East Coast tour. Here is a sampling of what was seen:

Ewok 5MH

Ewok graffiti letters NYC 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Duel RIS

Duel MCI RIS graffiti Bushwick NYC 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Ticoe

Ticoe graffiti NYC 2 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Jick

Jick graffiti Bushwick NYC 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Jick graffiti NYC 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Miss Reds at work and more

abstrk graffiti Bushwick NYC 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

Aloy

Aloy graffitiNYC 004 East Coast Tour in Bushwick with Graffiti Artists: Abstrk, Miss Reds, Ewok, Duel, Ticoe, Jick, Aloy & more

First photo is of Abstrk and Miss Reds. All action photos by Tara Murray; all others by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Born in Argentina and now based in Brooklyn, Lucia Reissig is a young photographer and artist with a deep passion for street art and documenting the streets. I met her in late spring in Bushwick when I was interviewing the Argentinian artist Cabaio, whom she had photographed at work earlier that day.  We met again last week at Exit Room, and I had the opportunity, this time, to find out a bit about her.

lucia reissig cabaio new york Lucia Reissig on Photography, Street Art, Community and more

When did you first become interested in photography?

I was 12 years old and living in Buenos Aires.  I had told my mother’s friend that I was interested in photography, and he gave me a camera. It was a 35 mm Canon.

And then what happened?

I didn’t know what to do with it. And so I took my new Canon to a camera store, and the shop owner installed film for me and set it on “Automatic.” He said, “Just shoot!” So that’s what I did! And I fell in love with the art form at once.

Did you ever study photography on a formal basis?

Early on, I began visiting photographers’ studios, and I started taking classes with them. The classes were informal – with no more than five students in a class.

cabaio street art NYC Lucia Reissig on Photography, Street Art, Community and more

What — would you say — is photography’s appeal to you? What is it about this art form that so engages you?

With a camera in hand, I feel that I am somewhat in control of my environment. And it allows me to create compelling narratives. I am obsessed with paradoxes – and recording them.

What brought you to New York City?

I felt a strong need to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

How has living here affected you and your passion for photography?

I quickly found myself seeking other Spanish speakers and other immigrants. And the streets became even more important to me. I see public spaces as a reflection of society.

Lucia Reissig Rockaways Lucia Reissig on Photography, Street Art, Community and more

And what about street art?  You’ve documented hundreds of images. When first I met you, you had just finished photographing Cabaio at work over at the Bushwick Collective and you seem to be quite involved over here at Exit Room – one of my favorite spaces. What is the appeal of street art to you?

It serves as both a mirror of society and as a perfect expression of resistance. I love the way the artists take ownership of the streets, and their work on city streets looks amazing. Street art has the power to change a city – visually and psychically. It also makes art accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise see it. It’s an always-open free museum. And documenting the art I discovered on these streets – along with its people – saved my life!

Have you any favorite artists who work on the streets?

Among my favorite ones are: Cabaio, Iena Cruz, Werc and Ever.

Lucia Reissig Lucia Reissig on Photography, Street Art, Community and more

What’s ahead for you?

Since coming to NYC, I’ve become more aware – than ever – as to the importance of community. There is a lack of community here, and there is a need for more alternative spaces where people can come together to create and to share. I am beginning an informal series of workshops on photography – similar to the ones I attended back in Buenos Aires. They are on a pay- what-you-can basis. I can be contacted at lucia.reissig@gmail.com.  And on a personal level, I am continuing a series I began earlier focusing on immigrant life here in NYC.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky. Photos by Lucia Reissig.

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stephen powers a love letter to the city Stephen Powers: A Love Letter to the City    A Look at the Book

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

To the discontent of many, the corporate advertisements plaguing the urban landscape have become integral to our every-day visual vocabulary.  As a response, street art is often offered as an alternative platform to reclaim public space from the impersonal iconography of corporate publicity.  However, Philadelphia native Stephen Powers has employed that very language to empower his own personal vision.

Steve Powers Espo street art Stephen Powers: A Love Letter to the City    A Look at the Book

A Love Letter to the City tells the tale of how artist Steve Powers’ witty lettering and profound insight turned advertising on its head.  Authored by Powers himself, the book is a visually astonishing compilation of his large scale public art projects in cities across the globe, such as Philadelphia, New York City, Dublin, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg.  With each chapter focusing on a metropolis, the book illustrates the artist’s engagement and collaboration with local communities and art organizations to “reflect their collective visions and dreams… to make art for the people.”

Powers’ outrageously honest introduction retraces his debut into the graffiti world under the moniker of ESPO in Philadelphia.  In first-person narratives, he highlights his experiences and encounters that propelled him to the status of acclaimed public artist.  Readers are treated to his eloquent personal recollections, as well as captivating photographs of his beautifully executed street art pieces.

Stephen Powers street art NYC Stephen Powers: A Love Letter to the City    A Look at the Book

Steve Powers’ employs signage style graphics to produce poignant conceptual pieces, ranging from single word slogans to multiple line phrases. The publication’s images bear witness to Powers’ ability to marvelously blend colors into the pre-existing urban hues.  Prior to hand-painting site-specific murals, Powers deeply immersed himself in the spirit of each city.  He embraced the values and needs of communities, deciphered central issues of local histories, and appreciated the soul of its neighborhoods.

Steve Powers Street Art NY Stephen Powers: A Love Letter to the City    A Look at the Book

In Coney Island, Powers worked with local citizens to revitalize an abandoned space into a sign shop/social club. The shop produced street signage for the inhabitants free of charge, which served to invigorate local businesses, as well as to enhance the community’s visual landscape.  In another instance in Dublin, Powers altered his design plans when he saw a neighborhood recurrent tag: “Please call me, I am home, the door is open, ” followed by a phone number.  Inspired by the message of love and loneliness, Powers then created a mural that spoke to similar concerns.

steve powers Espo street art Philadelphia Stephen Powers: A Love Letter to the City    A Look at the Book

A Love Letter to the City provides invaluable insights into the creative mindset of a unique street artist.  It sheds light on the back-stories of his sign pieces, from his improbable conversations with passersby to the formally held community meetings.  Ultimately, the book illustrates how Powers and his team remarkably wove intricate typographic art into the fabric of multiple cities around the world.

All images courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press

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This is the 13th in an occasional series of posts featuring images of girls — and women — who grace our public spaces:

Swoon in Bushwick

swoon bushwick close up. Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

Bàlu in Inwood

Balu art girl Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

Jana and Js at the Bushwick Collective

Jana and Jes street art Bushwick Collective  Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

Damien Mitchell at the Bushwick Collective

damien mitchell nina simone street art Bushwick 2 Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

William Power and Joseph Meloy in the Bronx

William Powers and Joseph Meloy street art Bronx NYC Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella at Welling Court

Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella street art Welling Court NYC 2 Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

Zeso in Garden City

Zeso street art Garden City New York1 Girls on Walls, Part XIII: Swoon, Bàlu, Jana & Js, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella and Zeso

Photos of Swoon, Jana & Js, Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella by Dani Reyes Mozeson; of Bàlu, Damien Mitchell, William Power & Joseph Meloy by Lois Stavsky; of Zeso courtesy of the artist 

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Keo xmen graffiti NYC Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

On exhibit through this week at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village is Born in the Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip-Hop. Among its many highlights are: memorabilia featuring personal narratives and archives of hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa;  hip-hop party flyers and clothing designed by the late Buddy Esquire; original cells from the animated sequences of Charlie Ahearn’s film Wild Style and prints of Joe Conzo’s photographs of the early days of hip hop.

Here is a sampling of what greeted us when we visited this past Tuesday:

On the exterior of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Afrika Bambaataa Born in the Bronx NYC Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

U.K.- based Paul Insect‘s portrait of Afrika Bambaataa

Paul Insect street art NYC Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

And inside the gallery — noted DJ, producer and poet Rich Medina going though the bins of duplicates from Afrika Bambaataa‘s record collection

Rich Medina DJ Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

 Close-up from installation of Buddy Esquire‘s clothing and flyer designs

Buddy Esquire installation Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

Afrika Bambaataa fashioned from Bambaataa’s records by Paul Insect and Bäst

Bast recycled records Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

Selections from Joe Conzo’s’s seminal Born in the Bronx

Joe Conzo Photos Born in the Bronx Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

Joe Conzo and Charlie Ahearn

Joe Conzo Charlie Ahearn Born in the Bronx Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

The pioneering MC and hip-hop historian Grandmaster Caz

Grandmaster Caz Born in the Bronx Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

And legendary b-boy Crazy Legs

Crazy Legs Spinning Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

With Charlie Ahearn

Charlie ahearn and crazy legs Born in the Bronx:  A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip Hop Continues through 7.26 at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village

Exhibited by Boo-Hooray and curated by Johan Kugelberg, Born in the Bronx is an extraordinary tribute to hip-hop’s early days and its everlasting influence. And if you can get over there tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon — between 1-3pm — you will be treated to a Born In The Bronx Hot Platter Lunch DJ Session with DJ Jazzy Jay and DJ Rockin Rob. The gallery is located at 620 Greenwich Street at the corner of Leroy Street in the Village.

Photos 1-4, 7, 8 & 10 by Lois Stavsky;  5, 6 & 9 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; photo 1 features mural by Keo X-men

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Speaking with Tone MST

July 18, 2014

Characterized by bold strokes and a vigorous flow, Tone MST‘s graffiti surfaces mostly in Brooklyn.  Lenny Collado aka BK Lenny had the opportunity to interview him earlier this year:

Tone graffiti mural NYC Speaking with Tone MST

When and where did you start getting up?

I was in the sixth grade back in 1992. I was making my own markers at the time and practicing on 200-page packs of paper that I used to rack from the corner store. I had to make my own markers because I was dead broke.

How did you make your markers?

I took men’s Brute deodorants, popped off the balls and emptied the containers. I then filled the containers with ink.  I cut up my school’s black board erasers to serve as felt tips.  It was markers until ’94. That’s when I started street and train bombing.

Did you have any preferred surfaces back then?

I liked the train ads in the subway stations, because I would write on them smoothly with my home-made markers.

Tone graffiti art Speaking with Tone MST

Any major influence at the time?

My major influence at the time was Ski MST. He was rolling with writers and he got me acquainted. I was a loner for the most part. He got me to rack paint, and we would vibe off each other for style. We would rack cans on Steinway Street and go to the freight yards to empty out the cans.

Any particularly memorable events?

There was nine of us — Ski MST, Dope, Neke, Cloke, Vare, Pane and a couple of others. We all set out to do a lay-up in the tunnel between 36th street and Queens Plaza and video tape it. One of us hid the paint and a video camera in a sandbox where the tunnel workers kept their supplies. We scoped out the station for a while before setting out on the mission.

How did you guys get into the tunnel?

Some of us through the hatches on the streets above and some through the station.  We started catching wreck on the two trains that had parked between the stations. As everybody’s painting them, Pane, Cloke and me went to the other car and started on some bubble letters. Just as we started, one of the train’s lights turned on and began to move into the station. I saw too that the police had made their way down towards us.

Tone graffiti with character NYC Speaking with Tone MST

So what did you do?

We bounced. When I got out of that station, I must have run about a mile before my lungs gave in from the burn. It was a thrill like no other, and I enjoyed it. I loved bombin’!

Were you in any crews at the time?

I only push MST.

What was the attitude of your parents and your friends towards what you were doing?

My mother hated it, so I lied to her. I built a compartment in my closet to keep supplies. She would find my cans and throw them out. My friends would always point out how dirty I was.

Tone tag1 Speaking with Tone MST

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

It’s a thin line. Both project the same language and image, but they take different avenues. It’s like a GPS. All get to the same point, but through different avenues. The concept of graffiti needs to be explained to people who don’t understand it. Street art is a different entity. I like when the two are combined, like what Shepard Fairy and Cope do when they collaborate. I will say that street art is an extension of graffiti. It originated from graff.

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

I think it’s dope! It’s progress — a positive thing. My gallery, though, is the streets. But if a gallery asks, “Hey, Tone, can you put a show together?” I’m flattered and take it as a step forward.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

Both! When I started bombing early on, I would do so alone with my Walkman on. I would listen to WKCR with Bobbito Garcia and Stretch and Tag. At one point, I was a vandal. They called me a vandal. But I didn’t get up as much as I wanted to. I didn’t do it to get status. I didn’t go all city, but I love what I did. It was who I was.

tonegraffiti Brooklyn NYC Speaking with Tone MST

Did you have a formal arts education?

I never pursued art school.

What is the source of your inspiration?

I’m inspired by Hip-Hop – rhyming and making beats.

Any particular artists who inspired you?

My influences are Hush, Gaze, Sub 5 and Emit of Sports Crew, MQ and Frantic and Free5. Giz from Queens also made impact on me. And there was Teck BS, Smith & Pink, Ve, Slash and Web13.

ToneMST graffiti Speaking with Tone MST

Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you do free hand?

It’s fifty, fifty. It depends on the situation.

What are your thoughts on the Internet in all of this?

The Internet is a tool, a means to communicate. Someone in Australia can get a look at what you’re doing here in NYC. But I think that graffiti has also been exploited because of it. It wasn’t meant for the masses, and the Internet made it accessible to everyone.

How has your work evolved throughout the years?

I’ve improved and honed my techniques. My pieces have gotten better.

TONE MST graffiti Greenpoint NYC Speaking with Tone MST

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

I’ll say there’s always space for improvement.

Interview conducted by Lenny Collado and edited by Lois Stavsky. Photos 1 (collab w/KA), 3, and 4 (combo) courtesy of the artist;  2 (collab w/UR New York), 5 & 6 by Lois Stavsky; 7  (collab w/Shiro and Yes One) by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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gallery nine5 will host a block party this evening — from 6-8pm — to celebrate the transformation of its gallery walls into a vibrant, magical public sphere. Here are a few recently captured images:

Vor138‘s completed piece with TATS CRU on the left and Bisco Smith to the right

Tats Cru andVor138 and Bisco Smith graffiti and street art gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

Vor138

Vor 138 graffiti gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

Shiro at work

Shiro paints gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

And her completed piece

Shiro graffiti characters Gallery Nine5 gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

Ket – who has been transforming his original piece with political references and names of victims of violence and war; it’s certain to look different this evening from the close-up captured here!

Ket political graffiti gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

And the always-wonderful Rubin415 at work on Monday

Rubin415 paints abstract graffiiti gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

gallery nine5 is located at 24 Spring Street, and if you can’t make it this evening, you can check out the site-specific exhibit through July 30.

group Ink gallery nine5 to Host Group Ink Block Party This Evening with Tats Cru, Vor138, Bisco Smith, Shiro, Ket and Rubin415

Photos: 1-4 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; 5-6 by Lois Stavsky

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