Bronx

charlie ahearn in scratch ecstasy PPOW Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

Scratch Ecstasy, an exhibition of  work in a range of media by visual artist and legendary filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, continues through June 24 at P.P.O.W in Chelsea. A chronicler of the rise of hip-hop and street art culture, Ahearn has documented the movement since the 80′s through photography, film and slide shows.  The following is adapted from an interview conducted by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire with Charlie at the gallery:

Can you tell us something about the title of your current show, Scratch Ecstasy? To what does it refer? 

Yes! The word “scratch” actually has a double meaning. It refers to scratching on a surface, but it also refers to a technique pioneered by Grand Wizzard Theodore of a needle going back and forth on a record — which creates a very jazzy, electronic effect.

Ectasy Garage flyer Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

And what about the word “Ecstasy” in the title? What is its reference?

It’s a reference to a real place in a real time — the Ecstasy Garage, where I was listening to not only Grand Wizzard Theodore scratch his music, but also to Chief Rocker Busy Bee on the microphone or Grand Master Cass, along with many other artists who were performing there. I spent a lot of time at  the Ecstasy Garage doing a slide show and watching different hip-hop performances, largely to an audience of high school kids. It was a very out-of-the-way place.

charlie ahearn map Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

What was your mission back then? 

It is similar to the mission of this show — to create a record of what was going on so that people today can pinpoint certain people and places that should get recognition and be remembered.

What about your own paintings that are on exhibit here? Can you tell us something about the process?

It started with me doing the painting on canvas with the forms that would be in it. The colors I chose reflect the bright fluorescent colors that were prominent in inexpensive flyers that the kids would hand out to get others to show up.

charlie ahearn survival Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

And what about the slide show that is going on? 

It is the slide show that I gave at the Ecstasy Garage with Grand Wizzard Theodore as the DJ. As presented here with the music, it is a reflection of what was going on back there at the time. I gave it at the Ecstasy Garage as a kind of way of working on Wild Style — the slides in a particular order to tell a story, and it all ended up in the movie, one way or another.

lee quinones graffiti Charlie Ahearn on SCRATCH ECSTASY at P.P.O.W in Chelsea

Thank you for preserving and sharing so much history with us.

Note:  P.P.O.W will be screening Charlie’s 1979 kung fu film, The Deadly Art of Survival, tomorrow, Friday evening, at 7pm. The gallery is located at 535 West 22nd St, 3rd Floor, in Chelsea.

Images

1  Charlie Ahearn at P.P.O.W — as interviewed by Karin Du Maire — with Data Rock, silkscreen on canvas

2  Scratch Ecstasy, silkscreen on canvas

3  The World of Hip Hop, silkscreen on canvas

4  Nathan, silkscreen on canvas

5  Howard the Duck, Lee Quinones, LES mural

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Karin Du Maire; 3, 4 & 5 (still from slide show) Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Karin Du Maire and edited by Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

the art of tats cru The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

Opening tomorrow — June 3, from 2-6pm — is The Art of TATS CRU, an exhibit and block party celebrating 37 years of the legendary Bronx-based crew. While previewing the exhibit yesterday, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its curators, Eileen Walsh and Laura James.

Eileen Walsh and Laura James The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

This is such a handsome exhibit and such a wonderful tribute to TATS CRU. What spurred you to focus this exhibition on TATS CRU?

After curating BRONX NOW that showcased over two dozen artists in 2016, we decided that we wanted to focus on a smaller group of artists this year. And TATS CRU – Nicer, Bio and  BG183 — seemed the perfect choice. They represent the best of the Bronx and they “kick ass!”

Nicer tats cru artwork The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

How would you define the mission of the exhibit?

Its intent is to tell the story of these three artists — through their own artworks and through photos and videos produced by Miguel Teck Arteaga. It is the story of three Bronx-based artists who transformed a youthful passion into a successful career on their own terms. And although they have traveled throughout the world with their art, they’ve chosen to remain here — in the Bronx.

bio tats cru at Bronx Art Space edited 1 The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

How did you decide which artworks to present?

The artists — for the most part — made the selections. They wanted to represent themselves with a range of distinct styles and techniques.

BG183 at Bronx Art Space The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

In addition to meeting the artists and viewing their artwork, what can visitors expect to experience at tomorrow’s opening?

The Block Party will feature homegrown, Bronx entertainment. DJ Pusha will keep the party going, along with dance performances by BBoy and Emcee Chief69 and Hip-Hop legend Rokafella‘s Full Circle Souljahs dance troupe. There will be live music performances by up and coming Bronx MINDY artists Static Vision and by alternative music group The Nobodies. There will also be a presentation by spoken word artist and rapper Safiel VonayThe Bronx Children’s Museum will host creative activities for children and families and will have its Museum on the Go Bus parked on the street outside the gallery.

Bio and guests at Tats Cru previewjpg The Art of TATS CRU: An Exhibition and Block Party Celebrating 37 Years of the Legendary TATS CRU at BronxArtSpace

How can folks see the exhibit, particularly if they can’t make it to the opening?

Located at 305 E 140 Street between in the South Bronx, BronxArtSpace is open Wednesday through Friday from 12-6:30pm and Saturday 12-5pm. The exhibit will also be open on Wednesday, June 7, from 6-8pm for Trolley Night. And on Thursday, June 22, at 6pm there will be an artist talk with Hector Nazario aka Nicer, Sotero Ortiz aka BG183 and Wilfredo Feliciano aka Bio, along with the premiere of The Jardin Orange Project, a short documentary that features some of the world’s most renowned streets artists, including TATS CRU, as they come together to paint massive murals in the city of Shen Zhen, China.

Note: Tomorrow’s event — free and open to the public — is sponsored by neighborhood businesses JCAL Development Group, ID Studio Theater, Zaro’s Bakery, La Grata Italian Restaurant, Filtered Coffee, and Bronx Native, along with the support of Port Morris Distillery and The Bronx Brewery.

Images

1  Invite featuring BG183, Nicer and Bio

2  Curators Eileen Walsh and Laura James

3  Nicer

4  Bio

5  BG 183

6 Bio with guests at preview

Photos 2-6 by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky – who will also be moderating the Artist Talk on June 22. Special thanks to Scratch for her assistance at the preview!

{ 0 comments }

brazilian art at andrew freedman 1 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

A sumptuous selection of artworks by Brazilian street artists is currently on exhibit at the historic Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. This past Sunday, we had the opportunity to speak to the lovely Larissa Ferreira, one of the exhibit’s curators.

What an exhilarating exhibit! What inspired it? Any significance to its timing — as it opened on March 26th?

It is an homage to Brazil’s rich street art and graffiti tradition. And, yes, the date is significant! Brazil’s “National Day of Graffiti” on March 27th was established in 1987 after the death of the artist Alex Vallauri (1949-1987), one of the pioneers of contemporary urban art in the country.

Fefe Romanova lady siren and the seahorse 1 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

What, exactly, was your role in producing this exhibit? 

I curated it in collaboration with Ligia Coelho Martins of Duetto Arts and Roberta Prado of Urban Walls Brazil in partnership with Andrew Freedman Home and CUFA – Central Única das Favelas.

bugre family 1 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

How many of these artists are currently based in NYC?

Just three: Henrique BeloittiFefa Românova and Camila Crivelenti. The others are based in Brazil, but several will be traveling here to NYC in the months ahead.

HENRIQUE BELOTTI 1 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

What — would you say — is the mission of Synopsis of an Urban Memoir?

In recent months, we have witnessed the disappearance of art on the streets of my hometown, São Paulo. This exhibit is our way of paying homage to urban art as an artistic and social movement.

goms zoomorphia urbana 1 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

What were some of a the challenges involved in producing an exhibit of this nature? 

Finding the right site for the exhibition and selecting the artists.

mateus bailon Arauto do Outono <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

How did you go about selecting the artists?

With difficulty! We originally wanted to include 10-13 artists. We ended up showcasing the words of 19: Alto*Contraste, Branco, Bugre, Camila Crivelenti, Ciro Schu, Combone, Criola, Fefa Românova, Goms, Henrique Beloitti, Ju Violeta, Júlio Vieira, Mag Magrela, Mateus Bailon, Panmela Castro, Pecci, Siss, Tikka and Vermelho. Each of these artists represents a distinct style and sensibility.

vermeoho Gula <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

How did the opening of the show go?

It was wonderful! So much enthusiasm, spirit and great music!

ciro shu circuit seris 1 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

How can folks see this exhibit? It’s a definite must-see!

It remains on exhibit here at the Andrew Freedman Home – 1125 Grand Concourse, directly across from the Bronx Museum of the Arts – through April 14. Hours are: Mon – Thu, 9am – 7pm; Fri: 9am – 5pm and Sat: 10am – 5:30pm.

Images of artworks

1. Wide view of segment of the exhibit

2. Fefa Românova, The Return of the Wild Woman

3.  Bugre, Family

4. Henrique Beloitti, Raios de Oya

5.  Goms,  Zoomorfia Urbana

6. Mateus Bailon, O Portador das Flores

7. Vermelho, Gula

8. Ciro Schu, from Circuit Series

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 8 Houda Lazrak, 3-7, Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Houda Lazrak and edited by Lois Stavsky

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

en play badge 2 <em>Synopsis of an Urban Memoir</em>: An Homage to Brazilian Street Art Continues at Andrew Freedman Home through April 14

{ 1 comment }

serve graffiti art Exhibit  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

Serve FBA‘s current exhibit at More Points Bx is a brilliantly executed visual ode to the golden days of hip-hop. Here’s a small sampling of what I saw when I visited the Hunts Point space last weekend:

The Roxy, West 18th Street, NYC

Serve the Roxy graffiti art  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

Club Zanzibar, The birthplace of Jersey house music, in Newark NJ

serve zanzibar graffiti art  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

Studio 54, West 54th Street, NYC, Disco Man Heaven

serve studio54 graffiti art  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

Bar Two OTB Car, close-up

serve bar two otb car graffiti  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

 Two of several masterpieces — showcasing Serve’s extraordinary writing skills — on canvas

serve graffiti canvas  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

serve graffiti  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

And a closing reception for a chance to see it all and get to own at least one piece –

serve closing party  Joey Serve Vega Solo Exhibit at More Points Bx with Closing Party This Saturday, Nov 19

Also on display and for sale are subway maps and record covers designed by Serve, along with his BLACK BOOK.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

nether mural art tag project bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

Founded and curated by SinXero, the TAG Public Arts Project – a A 501(c)3 Not for Profit in NY State — continues to bring a wonderfully diverse range of public artworks to the South Central section of the Bronx. Pictured above is a mural recently painted by Baltimore-based artist Nether 410. Here are a few others — fashioned by local, national and international artists — that I came upon this past Friday while exploring the streets on and off Westchester Avenue along the 6 line.

Brooklyn-based Australian artist Damien Mitchell, close-up 

damien mitchell mural art Bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

Hong Kong-based Italian artist Barlo, close-up

barlo street art mural bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

The legendary NYC-based Daze

daze street art mural bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

With Brazilian artists TOZ & BR from the Flesh Beck Crew to his left, close-up

daze and fresh beck crew graffiti mural art Bronx NYC The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

 NYC-based Sole Rebel

sole rebel mural art bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

NYC-based Puerto Rican artist Ralph Serrano

serrano mural art bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

Rochester-based Mr. Prvrt and NYC-based A Visual Bliss, close-up

Mr prvrt visual bliss mural art bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

 Photo credits: 1 Courtesy SinXero; 2-8 Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

Tracy168 graffiti Bushwick Collective NYC Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

With his outstanding sense of color, style and design, Tracy 168 achieved legendary status early on in the most significant art movement of our time. The personification of wild style and the first writer to hit the subways with cartoon characters, the prolific artist wielded tremendous influence. On reviewing Tracy 168‘s work on exhibit back in 1999, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times art critic Holland Cotter had the following to say: “Tracy offers an astounding variety of styles, from 3-D to space-age spiky to Cubistic. He floats out words on cushions of colors, and ties them up in unreadable knots, festooned with tendril-like flourishes.”

When did you first get up?

I first got up with a crayon on a wall in my house when I was four years old. I remember drawing a tortoise and a hare. I lived across from the Bronx Zoo, and I always heard the sounds of animals from my window.

What about the streets? When did you first hit the streets? And the trains? When did you first hit them?

In 1969 when the Mets won the World Series, I first hit the streets. And I tagged my first train the same year. I was 11.

tracy 168 mets yankees graffiti train Bronx NYC Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

Tracy flint photo Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

What inspired you to do so?

I loved the sense of adventure…the adrenalin rush. I envisioned myself as a Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. And I loved seeing my name on the trains.

Had you any favorite spots?

I was all-city, and I loved painting anywhere with people whom I loved. But my favorite spots were New Lots Avenue and Utica Avenue on the IRT line in Brooklyn. Any train I painted there would run right away, and so I didn’t have to hang around too long to see my piece pass by.

tracy168 cartoon on subway train Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

What about crews? Did you get up with any crews?

I founded the Wanted crew. It was one of the largest crews ever, and just about anybody who was anybody of worth was in that crew. It represented Wild Style.

Had you any early role models or inspirations?

My mother, my grandfather, Jack StewartMichael Stewart… Michael Stewart gave his life so that others would live. After his death in 1983 — and the trials and investigations that ensued — the police were somewhat afraid of treating writers so brutally.  We are the true prophets…

Any particular risky ventures stand out?

I was always wild, always doing dangerous things.

tracy168 painting Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

How did you support yourself back in the day? What was your source of income?

In the late 70’s, I began to create all kinds of art-related jobs for myself — painting storefronts, memorial walls, murals… I was the first writer to do that kind of thing. I also worked in an advertising agency. Jack Stewart taught me about copyrights and trademarks. He was a true mentor. He told me real stories — not the ones from Fantasy Island.

Your work has been shown in all kinds of settings across the globe!

Yes!  I’ve been in museums and galleries all over the world. I was always breaking boundaries, Here in NYC my work has been exhibited in dozens of spaces including the New York Historical Society, the Brooklyn Museum and NYU.

I remember seeing your work at the Brooklyn Museum back in 2006.

Yeah! When I came by, I made some adjustments to my canvas with a paintbrush. That didn’t go over well with the security guards. They got the curator of the exhibit involved, who insisted that I couldn’t change anything, since it had already been photographed for their catalog.

tracy168 graffiti Bronx NYC Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

Did you have a formal art education?

My education is hands-on.

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

It can be used as a tool — if you know how to read the truth.

tracy sketch Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

What’s your ideal working environment?

Anywhere outdoors. Even when I paint canvases, I like to paint outside.

What inspires you these days?

My main inspiration is to express myself and grow as an artist in a world that is reluctant to see me as one.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Every culture. NYC is a melting pot, and I’m in the center of it painting.

tracy 168 abstract art in black book Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

I’m not done until I’m happy. As long as I’m alive, I can improve on it. But it must have meaning and exude positivity. Otherwise, why bother?

A few years back you were reported dead. What was that all about?

If I hadn’t died then, I wouldn’t be alive now. It had to happen.  When I vanished, I saw the world going in the wrong direction. This art form can save it.

How has your work evolved in the last few years?

It’s constantly evolving.  This movement is to art like jazz is to music. It’s a fusion of styles and cultures that knows no boundaries. It is a universal language. And the message of Wild Style is “Be yourself. Find out what your talent is and get good at it.” I love everyone, but I will not surrender the truth and lose my integrity.

Photos: 1, 6-8 Lois Stavsky; 2, 4 & 5 courtesy of the artist; 3 Flint Gennariinterview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Photos 7 & 8 were captured from Tracy’s current black book; special thanks to Flint for the introduction!

{ 2 comments }

rigoberto toress sculpture Daze graffiti At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

Among the thoroughly engaging exhibits currently on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts are two with special appeal to us street art and graffiti aficionados. Spotlight: John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres showcases a series of sculptures by the two artists, whose works continue to delight us on the streets of the Bronx.  And Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko features stunningly realistic renditions of Bronx graffiti, including some of our favorite walls that no longer exist. While visiting the Museum last week, we had the opportunity to speak to Lauren Click, the Director of Community and Public Programs.

Thank you for reaching out to us. Can you tell us something about your role here?

As director of community and public programs, I organize public programs related to Museum exhibits and events. I also work with the Community Advisory Council (CAC) a volunteer group of local residents with the goal of raising awareness of the Museum and organizing programming in response to community needs.

john ahearn and rigoberto torres Bronx Museum 720 edited 1 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

What are some of the successful means that have been used to accomplish this?

I like to introduce folks to new experiences while mixing them with familiar ones. For example, on senior Thursdays we combine tea services with multimedia collaborative activities. We also have a weekly newsletter we send to subscribers informing them of all the events that take place. This is part of our effort to establish a large presence on social media. Our twitter page has over 38,000 followers. And since admission has become free, we have had four times as many visitors than we used to.

Valeri Larco Graffiti Zerega Avenue Bronx 2008jpg At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

What are some of the challenges that you face?

The greatest challenge is fighting the stereotype of being located in the Bronx. People are not aware of how rich and varied the cultural opportunities are in this borough.

valeri larko ferris stahl meyer shipping 2013 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

What would you like to see happen here at the Bronx Museum?

I would like to see it continue to evolve and engage increasingly diverse audiences.

valeri larko power ball 1015 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

How can people stay informed as to all that is happening here at the Bronx Museum of the Arts?

They can follow our Calendar of Events on the Museum’s website. They can also keep up with us on Twitter, on Facebook and on Instagram.

Note: This Saturday – May 14, 2:00pm to 3:30pm – Valeri Larko will offer a free guided tour of her exhibit Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko. The Museum is located at 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx and is easily accessible by public transportation.

Images

1 Rigoberto Torres, Daze

2 John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres

3 Valeri Larko, Zerega Avenue

4 Valeri Larko, Ferris Stahl Meyer Shipping

Valeri Larko, Power Ball

Photo credits: 1 Tara Murray; 2-5 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen; interview Lois Stavsky, Sol Raxlen and Tara Murray

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

en play badge 2 At the Bronx Museum with John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres & Valeri Larko

{ 0 comments }

Kenny Scharf paints NYC The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

For the past week, Kenny Scharf has been at work on a massive mural along Third Avenue in the Bathgate section of the Bronx.  Replete with the artist’s colorful, fanciful characters, the artwork brings vibrancy and intrigue to this central Bronx neighborhood. Here are a few more images we captured yesterday:

A small segment of huge, block-long mural

kenny scharf flying creatures bronx mural The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

Another segment

Kenny scharf bronx mural nyc The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

Yet another fragment

Kenny Scharf characters mural Bronx The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

And eleven-year old Jadeden — who has been mesmerized daily by Kenny’s work — sharing one of his artworks

Jadeden young artist The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

Visible from the Cross Bronx Expressway, this mural was produced in collaboration with Krinos Foods and coordinated by KM Fine Arts.

An exhibit of Kenny Scharf‘s works remains on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art, where he will be painting live on Sunday, June 19, 12-4 p.m.

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-5 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen

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

en play badge 2 The Legendary Kenny Scharf Graces Massive Central Bronx Wall With His Buoyant, Magical Characters

{ 0 comments }

While down in Miami, I met up with Bronx native Mastro whose masterful graffiti designs and styles can be found on walls, hats and a range of surfaces throughout NYC, Miami and beyond. 

mastro graffiti the Bronx nyc The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

Can you recall any early graffiti memories?

My earliest memory is riding the 6 train to Pre-K. Everything around me was bombed. I remember thinking, “What is this magic?” Growing up in the Bronx, I saw classic NYC graffiti everywhere. Seen, Mad and Pjay were among the writers I saw on my day-to-day commute.

When and where did you first hit the streets?

When I was in 5th grade, I started with stupid, little tags – like Shadow and Ace – all along Zerega Avenue. I was also getting up in my school. I thought I was “King!” But I was a toy.

What inspired you to get up?

Graffiti was everywhere. How could I not?

mastro graff miami The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

When and how did you come up with the name Mastro?

I was in my mid-teens. It was actually part of my name, and none of the aliases made any sense.

Did you paint with a crew back then or were you largely alone?

I generally liked to keep it solo and quiet.

And thse days?

I paint both solo and with others. But I don’t think the crew should define the writer. Rather, the writer should define the crew.

mastro and eskae graffiti miami The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. I have a BA in Architecture from Pratt.

Did you go on to work as an architect?

After I graduated, I worked as an architect for a while. But at the same time I began customizing hats. And that business took off almost immediately – and was a lot more fun!  I thought, “Why should I work for someone else when I can do better on my own?”

And just how are you doing on your own?

I’m doing great. I never expected my business to go this far. Besides customizing hats, I get paid to do body painting and lettering. And I’m also commissioned to produce graffiti murals and installations.

mastro greenpoint The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

What would you say is the key to your success?

It’s a matter of my being in the right place at the right time. And that is something I work on doing.

Although you are based in NYC, you seem to spend more time on the road then you do back home.

Yes, I’ve been traveling just about full-time across the U.S. I try to cover as many music/art festivals and fairs that I possibly can. I tend to hang out where there are lots of people all the time.

What are some of the challenges of leading such a nomadic life?

The biggest challenge is having to do my own laundry.

mastro graffiti bronx The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

As you didn’t forge a career as an architect, would you way that your Pratt education was worthwhile?

Yes! It definitely taught me how to become a better artist. But it did not teach me how to sell my technique.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My parents get a kick out of it!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Technically – all of it. I create non-stop both on and off the wall.  My art is my “work.” The only aspect of it that actually feels like work is when I’m moving and lifting materials.

mastro graffiti style miami The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

What advice would you offer young artists who would like to build a successful art business?

Always have access to your presentation portfolio. Be prepared to share it with anyone at any time. Know how to write a proposal, a contract and a rider sheet. And be ready to easily accept all types of payment from credit cards to PayPal.

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

I don’t like the Internet. I don’t like having to use technology to promote myself. But I can’t deny that it does increase recognition, awareness and sales.

That would seem to be a good thing.

But social media can easily turn you into a techno-slut. Too many people seem to depend on social media to increase their value. It’s your work that should be valued, not your number of “likes” or followers. Back when I first started, we did it for the love of it; now folks do it for the “likes.” And back in the day, you had no idea what a writer in Australia was doing unless you saw it in a magazine. These days, it is just far too easy to borrow and regurgitate styles from half way around the world.

mastro graffiti tracks The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

Are there any particular cultures – or artists — that have influenced your aesthetic?

Growing up in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, I was influenced, of course, by everything that was happening around me – graffiti, hip-hop, breakdancing. The artist who had the hugest influence on my aesthetic was Wane COD, a master of intricate simplicity.

What are your favorite places to paint?

Abandoned places that are withering away, and those places that have stood the test of time where nature is flourishing

How has your artwork evolved in the past few years?

I’m trying to make it crisper and smoother. I would like all demographics to be able to understand my writing.

mastro bushwick graffiti The Masterful Mastro on Graffiti, the Business of Art, Life on the Road, Social Media and more

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

I’m here to create. I don’t think about it.

What’s ahead?

Building and creating wherever life takes me. Living my life as a “permanent vacation,” earning money doing what I love.

Note: Photos are of artworks seen in NYC and in Miami. Pictured in the third photo are: Mastro, Eskae and Disem – with Mastro and Eskae trading names.

Photo credits: 1-3, 7 & 8  Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5 Tara Murray; and 6 Mastro; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

{ 1 comment }

rocko the art of peace Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

Curated by Lady K Fever and hosted by Aldo Perez, Ihe Art of Peace, an exhibit of mural and graffiti art celebrating peace, opens tonight at the Al Iman Community Center. I had the opportunity to speak to Lady K Fever while visiting the space at 2006 Westchester Avenue earlier this week.

BG 183 the art of piece mural art Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

Can you tell us something about the concept behind this exhibit?

It is an exploration of the notion of peace from the perspective of artists representing a range of ideologies, nationalities, religious backgrounds and ethnicities. The title is a take on The Art of War by Sun Tzu written in the 6th century B.C.

meres the art of peace graffiti Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

What inspired it?

It was inspired by Peace December, an organization started five years ago dedicating the month of December to celebrating peace. As Sheikh Musa Drammeh of Peace December contends, trillions of dollars are spent on defense and none are allocated to promoting peace. 

chris riggs graffiti art Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

As curator, how did you decide which artists to engage in this exhibit? 

When Aldo Perez approached me to curate it, I sought artists from a range of backgrounds and communities. Many, in fact, had already been engaged in community-based projects promoting co-existence.

scratch and lady k fever the art of peace Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

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

My main concern was that the imagry would not offend the community. I also had to keep the artists’ egos in check, reminding them that The Art of Peace’s principal mission is to promote peace. And I was working with a limited budget.

lexi bella envision peace Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

The exhibit opens this evening from 6-10pm. How might folks — who can’t make it this evening — see it?

Yes, there will be a reception tonight with DJ Prince Tafari, the artists and special guests — including Assemblyman Jose Rivera. There will also be select artworks for sale. Folks who won’t be able to attend can email artists4peacebx@gmail.com and arrange a time to visit The Art of Peace.

the art of peace Lady K Fever Curates <em>The Art of Peace</em> at Al Iman Community Center with Rocko, BG183, Meres, Chris Riggs, Scratch, Lexi Bella and more

Images:

1.  Rocko 

2. BG183, Tats Cru with Lady K Fever and Aldo Perez posed in front

3. Meres One

4. Chris Riggs

5. Scratch and Lady K Fever

6. Lexi Bella

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky

{ 1 comment }