Walls

A master of style and ingenuity, the wonderfully talented and resourceful Sade TCM has been making his mark in the writing culture and beyond for over three decades. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit and interview the Mount Vernon-based modern legend.

When did you first get up?

I was in 7th grade when I hit the doors of Clark Junior High School in the South Bronx. I was hanging out in school with Rush M.P.C. who was tagging at the time with fat black markers. He suggested I try it. I did!

What inspired you to keep at it?

Graffiti was all around me. On ceilings. In hallways. Daze and Crash were doing gates that I passed every day while walking around my neighborhood.

And what about trains? When did you first hit the trains?

I was in 10th grade. It was the winter of 1982.

Have you any early graffiti-related memories that stand out?

There are many, but the one that stands out is the day I arrived. The previous evening, I was over at the Esplanade lay-up in the Bronx at the Morris Park/Esplanade stop. I had written SADEISM across three quarters of a  blue and silver car — a beige interior, cherry red outline, sky blue flame cloud with a regal blue outline and white highlights. The next day — as I was sitting on the Writers Bench at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse, along with Dez, G-man PGA, Sob and Cose — the train rolled by and and stopped directly in front of us. What a thrill that was! I knew then that I had arrived!

Did you generally hit the trains alone? 

I was often with my partner, Dune.

What was the riskiest thing you had done back in the day? And why were you willing to take those risks?

Running around in subways tunnels with live third rails and riding on tops of trains when they’re moving –- train surfing — were all risky. Why did I take those risks?  Youthful ignorance of consequences.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They mostly didn’t know about it. But my mother definitely didn’t like it. She thought it was stupid, and she warned me that if I got arrested, she wouldn’t be coming to pick me up.

Would you rather paint legally or illegally?

Back then, it was all illegal. But these days I’d rather paint legally. I like the leisure of legal.

You are a master of styles — over 1,000, in fact!. Is there anyone in particular with whom you’d like to paint with or battle?

Yes! I’d like to paint with Baby 168. And I’d like to battle Skeme, because he called me a toy!

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

It’s a natural evolution. It legitimizes the value of the art. I’ve shown at Wall Works, at More Points and at the galleries of Westchester Community College and SUNY/Purchase University.

What is the main source of your income?

It has always been related to art. After I graduated from high school, I started my own business painting murals. But then after I was involved in a serious accident in 2000, I  switched to graphic design.

Have you a formal art education?

I earned an associates degree in visual arts from Westchester Community College and a BFA from SUNY/Purchase University. But when it came to graffiti, my primary educators were those writers I admired. I’d watch their work on lines as I was coming up.

Was your formal education worthwhile?

Carla Rae Johnson challenged me to use a pencil when I was a student at Westchester Community College. And at Purchase, I learned the most from my anthropology teacher regarding understanding cultures. A formal education did open my mind to broader possibilities.

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

95% of the time I work from a sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Am I satisfied with it? Yes! Am I happy with it? No!

What is your ideal work environment?

My living room and my courtyard, here in Mount Vernon.

What inspires you these days? I’m a visual junkie. Sometimes sculpture. It could be anything! I draw every single day, and I always attempt to do something I haven’t done before.

How has your art evolved through the years?

It’s evolved in both subject matter and technique. I now draw beyond graffiti letters, and draw with pencils, crayons, and charcoal brushes.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Edgar Degas, I like the way he captured light…Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Frazetta. Among graffiti writers: Crash, Daze, Baby 168, Dondi, Tac, Spade, Dez, Part and Kel.

What are some of your other interests?

Writing and cooking. I used to be into motorcycle drag racing.

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

I feel that the divide exists because of titles. Graffiti writers and street artists can inspire one another. An evolution took place. Many of the early street artists like Keith Haring, Hektad, A. Charles and Richard Hambleton bombed the streets in the spirit of graffiti. Problems arise when street artists scoff at graffiti. Graffiti has not yet gotten the legitimacy it deserves.

What about the role of social media in all of this? How do you feel about that?

It’s a double-edged sword. It’s great for gaining more documentation, knowledge  and exposure. But as the evolution of styles continues to grow at an alarming rate, the Internet has also ushered in an age of mediocrity.

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

A documentarian of the imagination, and the imagination is unlimited.

You recently curated an amazing event in the South Bronx celebrating the launch of the art collective, Ngozy. You were its principal founder.  What prompted you to launch it?

As an artist growing up in NYC, I know firsthand the struggles that artists face — particularly graffiti artists. Our culture is not given the value — nor the serious documentation — that it merits. We know that we have to start somewhere, and collectively we are stronger. Conversations with Ngozy partners John”Crash” Matos and Robert Kantor led to the birth of Ngozy

What is Ngozy‘s mission?

Among its many missions is to reach and educate the broad community about our culture.  We aim to facilitate the artists’ ability to sell and promote their art, as we make the art experience financially accessible to a wide public.

How can folks find out what artworks are available through Ngozy?

They can visit our site or download our free app for iOS or Android.

And what about artists? How can they become involved?

Anyone can register, set up an account, and submit work on the site or on the app. Blog posts and notices of events are also welcome!

I’ve recently registered, and it looks wonderful! I was delighted to discover the works of some of my favorite artists on the Ngozy site. What are some of the challenges you face in promoting the Ngozy collective?

The legitimacy of our art form remains a challenge. We need to shift the understanding of our culture on all levels. Getting exposure is essential, so that we can introduce Ngozy to new people. And we need sponsorship to accomplish our goals.

What’s ahead for Ngozy?

We are working on an all female live-painting event for October 27th, and we are currently seeking sponsorship. Among the many artists scheduled to participate are: Lady Pink, Shiro, Erotica and Steph Burr. Specific details and information will soon follow.

Note: Sade can be contacted at gfantauzzi22@gmail.com.

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of Sade.

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Gracing the 21-floor staircase of the new citizenM New York Bowery is MoSA (the Museum of Street Art), a rich range of images and words fashioned by 21 5 Pointz Creates artists under the curatorial direction of Marie Cecile Flageul. After visiting the soon-to-open hotel, I had the opportunity to speak to Marie who, along with 5 Pointz founder Meres One, has been directing the project since its inception:

This project is quite remarkable! Can you tell us a bit about its background? 

In Fall 2016, we held our first meeting with citizenM‘s chief marketing officer, Robin Chadha, a huge art lover who is intent on integrating art into his projects. He had been following the entire 5 Pointz story from Amsterdam, where he is based. He approached us because he was interested in bringing back a bit of 5 Pointz to NYC. The result is MoSA,

What about the staircase installation, A Vertical Love Letter to the Bowery? What is the concept behind it?

citizenM tries to understand and embrace the communities they move into. And this particular Lower Manhattan neighborhood has an incredibly rich history, which we attempted to capture with images of significant faces, places, moments and words.

How did you decide which artists to include?

Every artist included had contributed to 5 Pointz. Once I came up with the story line and quotations, it was easy for me to select artists. I had learned from Meres how to look at aerosol art and understand its visual voice.

What were some of the challenges that came your way in the course of managing and curating this project?

A major challenge was giving up control and trusting the artists once they understood the concept and direction of the project. There were also several logistic issues. There was no air conditioning early on, and the lack of elevators became a joke. But it all evolved into a kind of musical chaos, as all of the workers and staff here have been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive.

As it is nearing completion, what are your thoughts regarding the final outcome of this project?

I am humbled by the amount of love, hard work and dedication every artist has put into this project. Their attention to detail has inspired me. I am hopeful that thousands will see it — 5000 square feet that anyone can enjoy and a priceless gift to Downtown Manhattan.

How can folks who are not hotel guests gain access to the exhibit?

As early as October 1, anyone can come into the lobby — between 10am and 5pm — with ID and walk through the exhibition. I will be giving a personal tour to the first 500 folks who register. Groups of 10 or more people can email me at marie@5ptz.com 

Congratulations! And what a great way for visitors and students to learn about the history of this historic neighborhood! I look forward to revisiting it soon.

Note: All of the artists who participated in this project are identified here, and brief interviews with them with videography by Rae Maxwell, along with original soundtrack by Say Word Entertainment artists Rabbi Darkside and The Grand Affair, can be viewed here. In addition to A Vertical Love Letter to the Bowery, a court installation is underway by Rubin 415, Esteban del ValleDon Rimx, Lady Pink and Meres One. And gracing the plaza outside the hotel’s entrance is a captivating mural by Meres One, blurring the line between graffiti and fine art.

citizenM New York Bowery is located at 189 Bowery off Delancey Street.

Images:

1. Meres One

2. Marie and Meres on roof top of citizenM New York Bowery

3. Nicholai Khan

4. See TF

5. Zimad

6. Vince Ballentine

7. Kenji Takabayashi  aka Python

8. Elle

9. Noir

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos by Lois Stavsky

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I stopped by HG Contemporary‘s impressive new gallery space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday as several artists were busy at work preparing for tonight’s official launch.

After checking it out, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean Sullivan who, along with Harris Lobel, has curated the gallery’s opening exhibit:

This space is ideal, and the artwork looks wonderful! How did the opportunity come your way to curate this exhibit for HG Contemporary‘s grand opening here in Williamsburg?

Last month, Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, the founder of HG Contemporary in Chelsea, approached me and asked me if I would be interested in curating an exhibit along the lines of First City, the one I’d curated awhile back in Long Island.  I saw it as a great opportunity to give artists I admire a chance to exhibit alongside the fine artists who generally show at HG Contemporary.

How did you decide which artists to include?

That was difficult, as I would have liked to include many more. I chose artists with whom I’ve successfully worked with in the past, along with five others whose artwork I’ve admired, but with whom I’ve never worked. The final selection was a joint decision between me and Harris Lobel, who was involved in curating, along with me, the First City project. We were interested in showcasing the works of artists whom we believe deserve wide exposure.

I’m familiar with several of the artists — especially those whose work I’ve seen on the streets. Several, though, are new to me. Who are the artists that you both agreed to include in this grand opening?

Our final selection included: Albertus JosephZimer, Gumshoe, Jenna Krypell, Jason AckermanFridge, Jenna Morello, OG Millie and Reso 914.

There’s quite a diverse range of styles here. Had you a specific theme in mind?

We were interested in representing the various elements associated with street art and graffiti.  And so we sought a mix of images, words, letter technique, characters, color and flow.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

As an artist who doesn’t like taking directions, I wasn’t all that comfortable giving directions to others. But it was something that I had to do. And it was difficult asking artists to put a halt to all that they were doing for two to three day, so that they could devote themselves for hours on end to this project.

I’m certain that many artists who worked with you in the past were disappointed that they weren’t included in such a significant exhibit.

Definitely! I was getting too many nasty direct messages. Dealing with that was another huge challenge. Of course, I would have loved to include more artists, and I do hope to include many others in future exhibits that I look forward to curating in this space.

In addition to the works painted directly onto the walls here, what else can visitors to the gallery expect to see?

All of the artists who are partipating will also exhibit works on canvas that are for sale. And in addition to the artists that Harris and I have brought in, HG Contemporary will be presenting a special installation by Franz Klainsek and works by Tim Bengel and Carl McCrow.

And how can folks who can’t make it to the official grand opening see the exhibit?

The gallery is conveniently located at 66 North 3rd Street off Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn .All are invited to visit the gallery during its regular opening hours.

Images

  1. Albertus Joseph
  2. Layer Cake
  3. Zimer
  4. Gumshoe
  5. Jenna Krypell
  6. Jason Ackerman & Fridge
  7. Jenna Morello
  8. OG Milli
  9. Reso 914

Interview and photos 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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Featured above is a mural fashioned by the renowned Italian artist Pixel Pancho.  Several more images — all captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — that surfaced at last month’s hugely popular Wide Open Walls Festival in Sacramento, California follow:

Hera of the German duo Herakut

Berlin-based, Argentine artist Guido Palmadessa

 Mexican native, LA-based Ilse Valfré

Brazilian artist Mateus Bailon , close-up

NYC-based Tom Bob

Organized by David Sobon and Branded Arts, the annual Wide Open Walls is the largest open air art festival in the USA. You can download a printiable mural map with exact locations here.

Photos by Karin du Maire

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Dedicated to promoting and celebrating public art, Wide Open Walls held its annual festival from August 9 – 19 in Sacramento, California. Local, national and international artists converged once again to transform the city into a tantalizing open air museum, featuring a wide range of diverse artworks. Organized by David Sobon and Branded Arts, it is the largest open air art festival in the USA. The mural pictured above — depicting Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is the work of Shepard Fairey aka Obey — his largest mural ever in California. What follows are several more images — all captured by NYC-based travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad.

LA-based Shepard Fairey aka Obey mural in progress

Shenyang, China native Lin Fei Fei

Local artist Michele Murtaugh at work

San Francisco-based Monty Guy at work

Portuguese artist Bordalo II

NYC-based Fench artist Hugo Kriegel 

Photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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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When the students return tomorrow to PS9 — a public elementary school in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn — they will be greeted not only by their friends and their teachers, but, also, by a delightful array of murals fashioned by a wonderfully eclectic mix of artists. Curated by Jeff Beler, the STEAM Mural Project is a model of community arts engagement. While visiting the school, I had the opportunity to speak to Jeff.

Can you tell us a bit about the background of this project? What initially prompted you to organize the STEAM Mural Project?

Last October while I was installing the nearby Underhill Walls, a local neighbor stopped by and told me about the recent death of Clara Ely, a six-year old girl who had been a student at PS 9. I thought it would be a great idea to create some kind of outdoor memorial as a tribute to her. When I approached the principal of the school, Sandra D’Avilar, with my concept, she enthusiastically approved. And then this past spring a group of artists came together and created a series of murals celebrating Clara’s life. That was the beginning!

How did it the mural project expand from “Clara’s Garden” into something as extensive as what is happening now?

At the end of May, I was approached by PS 9 parent, Mike Tilley. He, along with other members of the local community, loved what we had done and encouraged us to continue what had been started.

And so when did the STEAM Mural Project officially begin?

It kicked off in June with 5th graders — under the supervision of  PS 9’s Visual Arts teacher — painting alongside Chris RWK and Zimad.

You’ve been working pretty much non-stop since the project began. What is it about the STEAM Mural Project that so engages you? 

I love kids, and I love art. I love how art communicates.  I’ve lived in this community for 13 years and curating this project gives me an opportunity to give back to a neighborhood that has given me so much.

You involved 75 artists in the STEAM Mural Project. How did you connect with so many?

Some are friends; others were suggested by friends, and several connected with me through Instagram. They saw what was happening, and they wanted to be a part of it.

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in seeing this project through?

Because the community has been so supportive, the challenges have been minimal. Among them was making sure that all of the supplies — especially the ladders that were needed — were at hand.  Coordinating schedules was, also, a challenge, as was dealing with the unpredictable, sometime stormy, weather.

The local community seems to have been wonderful in terms of its enthusiasim and support!

Yes! It’s been 100% fantastic. People are forever saying, “Thank you!”

What’s ahead for the STEAM Mural Project?

Plans are now underway for a carnival that will take place on the grounds of PS 9 on Saturday, September 22. There will be DJ’s and live music and a chance for the entire community to meet and greet the artists. And a special reception will be held at 2:00 for the official unveiling of Zimer‘s portrait of Sierra Leone native and war survivor and Dutch National Ballet soloist Michaela DePrince with her sister in attendance.

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

I’m involved with the upcoming Chile Pepper Festival that will take place at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on September 29th. I’m curating the next edition of Underhill Walls that will be installed in mid-October. I’m also organizing a mural project for PS 316 on Classon Avenue and Park Place.

It sounds wonderful! Good luck with it all!

Images:

  1. Vince Ballentine
  2.  Adam Fu
  3. Charrow and Sean Slaney
  4. Justin Winslow and Peter McMath
  5. PS 9 5th graders at work
  6. Chris RWK
  7. Zimer
  8. Miss Zukie
  9. Myztico Campo
  10. Jappy Agoncillo
  11. Jeff Henriquez
  12. Subway Doodle with a fragment of Fluidtoons on left

Photo credits: 1-4, 8-11 Lois Stavsky; 5 & 7 Jeff Beler, and 6 & 12 Rachel Fawn Alban

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Hosted by James Top, Joey TDS and Poke IBM, the 38th Annual Graffiti Hall of Fame took place this past weekend in East Harlem. Pictured above is the work of Vase One and KingBee  (standing to the left of  Shiro on the ladder). Several more photos of images captured yesterday follow:

Shiro tags subway map

Skeme

Terrible T-Kid

Cope 2

Break Uno

Delta 2 at work

And you can find more images from the historical two-day event on the StreetArtNYC Instagram.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The annual Jersey Fresh Jam, Trenton’s premier urban arts festival, was held last Saturday, August 11. Arts educator and photographer Rachel Fawn Alban was there to capture the action as local and regional artists converged — despite intermittent bouts of rain — to bring their talents to the walls of Terracycle INC. What emerged was a wonderful fusion of graffiti and mural art representing a range of sensibilities, styles and themes. Pictured above — from left to right — are Damien Mitchell, Puppet Master Icky and Colombian artist Joems. Several more photos captured by Rachel follow:

Damien Mitchell at work

SoulsNYC with spray can and cell phone in hand

Meres at work with Mek on top

Kes1 at work — in collaboration with Seoz

Ras at work

Ron with multiple spray cans in hand

Photos by Rachel Fawn Alban

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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Ever on a mission, East London-based artist Annie Nicholson aka Fandangoe Kid has been busy here in New York City. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet up with her in Red Hook, Brooklyn at the site of her De-Construkt residency.

When did you first become interested in sharing your messages in public spaces?

Back in 2005 — when I was studying film and visual arts in Paris — I began leaving text messages on friends’ doorsteps. My artwork has always been narrative-driven.

Your current projects generally reference your family members. Can you tell us something about that? 

In 2011, my mother and sister were killed in a crash. Their bodies landed in the East River. Nothing has been the same since. For several years I was totally derailed. Sharing my thoughts in the public sphere and working with young people have kept me alive. My public messages are, also, my means to remove the stigma that exists around loss and mental health.

How have folks responded to seeing your text messages reflecting your very private — often deeply painful — reflections on your losses?

Many have approached me and shared with me stories of their own losses and vulnerabilities. It is part of their healing process, as well as mine.

And working with youth is wonderfully therapeutic — as I know! How did you connect with the young people with whom you work?

I’ve actually worked in art education for over 10 years — from the Tate Modern to the British Film Institute. And then four years ago, I began working with traumatised young people in a program I’d launched at the Hackney New School using the arts as a means to understand and share their stories more effectively.

Are there any particular artists who inspired or influenced your particular text-driven aesthetic?

Steve Powers — certainly! He is one of my favorite artists working in this genre and a huge inspiration. Others include: Jenny Holzer, Barbara Krueger and Camille Walala.

What brought you here to New York City?

For six years — since the loss of of my sister and mother here in New York City — this city has been hanging over me. I felt the need to spend some time here. And Laura Arena, who offers residencies in Red Hook to artists from all over the world, has given me the opportunity to do so.

Why the streets? Why do you primarily utilize the streets to transmit your messages?

I like the visibility that the streets offer. My messages are easily accessed on the streets, especially by young people.

What’s ahead?

I will be returning to NYC in the fall with plans to install large-scale works in more permanent public sites to create a platform for dialog.

Good luck with it all!

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 6 courtesy of the artist; 2, 4 & 5 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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Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet up with Poornima Sukumar. A muralist and community artist based in India, she is the founder and director of  the Aravani Art Project, a collective that creates spaces for people from the transgender community to connect with other communities and cultures in their local neighborhoods. In July 2016, Poornima was invited to present the Aravani Art Project at the Global Youth Forum, and she was hosted by the World Bank as a panellist for the LGBTQIA+ discussion in Washington DC. She is also a TEDx speaker.

What is the mission of the Aravani Art Project? Can you tell us a bit about it?

It aims to create a collective space for people from the transgender community by engaging them in public art and other interventions. We are interested in providing opportunities for members of the transgender community to collaborate with artists, photographers, filmmakers and general members of society to voice issues and engage in dialogues. We want to help society see people from the transgender community in a new light. We also make an effort to become invested in their personal lives. We look out for them just as we would look out for our own friends. The projects are completely built on trust and friendship, and friends always look out for each other! We are intent, in fact, on providing members of the transgender community with access to health care, as well as the skills they need to procure jobs.

When was it started? And why?

It began in January, 2016. After 3 ½ years of working on a film about the transgender community in India and making close friends among members of that community, I wanted to remain involved.  I was concerned about the violence and the prejudice that so many of them encounter. I felt the need to bridge the gap between  members of the their community and society, at large.

Who are some of the other folks who have worked with you in implementing your mission?

Among them are: Sadhna Prasad, who serves as the project’s art director; trans leaders Shanthi Sonu and Priyanka Divaakar and trans artists Chandri and Purushi.

About how many people has the Aravani Art Project engaged so far?

Since the project began in 2016, we’ve engaged over 1,000 folks in 25 projects.

How have you made these opportunities for collaboration and exchange happen? That’s quite an impressive number of projects.

As a muralist and illustrator, I know many artists. We’ve also received commisions. This past year, Facebook, in fact, invited us to their office in San Francisco.

How has the general community responded to the Aravani Art Project?

Very beautifully – folks open up to us slowly, and, organically, folks want to connect.

And what about the name Aravani? What is its significance?

The term Aravani means a person who worships Lord Aravan, the patron God of the transgenders.

What’s ahead?

We are looking to forge more collaborations internationally and reach out to more communities whose voices remain unheard. We are planning two projects abroad and five in India. We are always seeking visibility.

How can folks become engaged in your projects?

We are eager to engage all folks — straight, gay, transgender — in implementing our projects. And if you are interested in becoming involved, you can write to us here.

That sounds great! And we look forward to seeing you back in NYC with the Aravani Art Project!

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Bonnie Astor; all photos courtesy the Aravani Art Project

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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