Bronx

Deborah Fisher Paul Ramirez Jones <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

Almost 40 years ago the historic Old Bronx Courthouse building closed its doors. This past Thursday evening, the landmark structure reopened to host When You Cut Into the Present the Future Leaks Out, a thoroughly engaging multi-media exhibit, curated by Regine Basha for No Longer Empty Featuring over two dozen artists on three levels, its title references the remix suggested by William S. Boroughs. Here are a few more images captured on Thursday:

Teresa DiehlL-Alber-Into, Video and sound installation

Teresa Diehl <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

 Another view of  Teresa Diehl‘s ever-transforming hallucinatory musical installation

Diehl <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

Shellyne RodriguezPrototype For Belphegor’s Eye, 168 flesh-tint dyed mousetraps, rhinestones, gold chains, copper wire, plywood

Shellyne <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

Shellyne RodriguezGeperudeta, Ceramic

Shellyne Rodriguez Geperudeta <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

David Scanavino, Untitled, Linoleum tile

David scanvino tile installation <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

Ellen HarveyAlien Souvenir Stand (close-up), Oil on aluminum, watercolor on gesso board, propane tanks, plywood, aluminum siding and poles, aluminum diamond plate, magnets

ellen harvey alien souveneir stand <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

Lady K FeverAll Rise (close-up), Mylar on façade of  building

Lady K Fever Old Court House <em>No Longer Empty</em> Transforms Former Bronx Borough Courthouse: Deborah Fisher & Paul Ramirez Jonas, Teresa Diehl, Shellyne Rodriguez, David Scanavino, Ellen Harvey, Lady K Fever and more

The exhibit continues through July 19, along with a variety of programs ranging from fashion shows to presentations by such Bronx-based artists as Eric Orr, Per One and Joe Conzo. The old Bronx Courthouse is located at 878 Brook Avenue at East 161 Street and Third Avenue in the South Bronx. 

Note: First photo features Deborah Fisher and Paul Ramirez Jonas, Something for Nothing, Mixed media, Custom designed neon sign

Research for this post by City-As-School student Diana Davidova; photos 1, 5, and 7 Diana Davidova; 2-4, 6 and 8 Lois Stavsky

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Boone Room Bronx graffiti Cope2 Celebrating the Launch of the Boone Room Website Tonight at Exit Room

Some of NYC’s most vibrant and striking murals–on Boone Avenue between 172nd and 173rd Streets in the Bronx–were demolished last year to be replaced by residential buildings. But thanks to the efforts of SLO Architecture, various artists, neighboring Fannie Lou Hamer High School, Maria Krajewski, City-As-School students and several others, the spirit of Boone Avenue lives. Featuring dozens of images, interviews and more, the Boone Room website, constructed by City-As-School students, can now be viewed online. To celebrate its launch, the public is invited to join the City-As-School family, several of the artists and a host of performers and musicians tonight at Exit Room.

 Artists interviewed for the Boone Room website include: Cope2, Eric Orr, Marthalecia and Valerie Larko who has preserved the walls in her amazing photorealistic paintings.

Screen Shot 2015 04 14 at 3.59.41 PM.png Celebrating the Launch of the Boone Room Website Tonight at Exit Room

Lady K Fever

Lady K Fever graffiti Bronx NYC Celebrating the Launch of the Boone Room Website Tonight at Exit Room

Kashink — who was visiting NYC from Paris — to the left of Lady K Fever

Kashink Lady K Fever Street Art graffiti Bronx NYC Celebrating the Launch of the Boone Room Website Tonight at Exit Room

 Tonight at 270 Meserole Street in Bushwick

Boone Room Launch Party Celebrating the Launch of the Boone Room Website Tonight at Exit Room

Post by City-As-School intern Zachariah Messaoud with Lois Stavsky; photos 3 and 4 courtesy Maria Krajewski

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Interspersed among some of the drabbest streets in the South Bronx Mott Haven-Port Morris neighborhood is an intriguing array of public art.  Here’s a a sampling:

 Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Wepa Woman

wepa woman street art Bronx NYC Mott Havens Motley Medley of Street Art: Wanda Raimundi Ortiz, Seth Mathurin, Dek 2DX, Dennesa Usher and more

Seth Mathurin, Bronx Bull

seth mathurin street art Bronx nyc Mott Havens Motley Medley of Street Art: Wanda Raimundi Ortiz, Seth Mathurin, Dek 2DX, Dennesa Usher and more

Dek 2DX

Dek2DX street art mott haven Bronx NYC Mott Havens Motley Medley of Street Art: Wanda Raimundi Ortiz, Seth Mathurin, Dek 2DX, Dennesa Usher and more

Unidentified artist has money falling from trees!

Money on trees mott haven the Bronx NYC Mott Havens Motley Medley of Street Art: Wanda Raimundi Ortiz, Seth Mathurin, Dek 2DX, Dennesa Usher and more

Dennesa Usher, Unlock Your Dreams, close-up

D.Usher street art mott Haven Bronx NYC Mott Havens Motley Medley of Street Art: Wanda Raimundi Ortiz, Seth Mathurin, Dek 2DX, Dennesa Usher and more

 Photos: 1-3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4 City-as-School intern Zachariah Messaoud

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The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery1 The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery to Open Tomorrow with Tats Cru, Ces, Kingbee, Lady K Fever, Scratch and more

The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery, a new outdoor public art space located in the courtyard of Gustiamo at 1715 West Farms Road, officially opens tomorrow, Saturday, October 18, 1-5pm.  Committed to preserving and celebrating the culture of graffiti in NYC, its first exhibit features works by such Bronx legends as Ces, Kingbee, and Tats Cru, along with artwork by its curators, Lady K Fever and Scratch.

Here’s a sampling of what’s been going down:

Tats Cru‘s Bio, BG 183 and Nicer

bio bg183 nicer tatscru graffiti Bronx NYC The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery to Open Tomorrow with Tats Cru, Ces, Kingbee, Lady K Fever, Scratch and more

Ces

ces graffiti Bronx NYC The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery to Open Tomorrow with Tats Cru, Ces, Kingbee, Lady K Fever, Scratch and more

Kingbee

kingbee graffiti street art Bronx NYC The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery to Open Tomorrow with Tats Cru, Ces, Kingbee, Lady K Fever, Scratch and more

Lady K Fever

lady k fever graffiti nyc The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery to Open Tomorrow with Tats Cru, Ces, Kingbee, Lady K Fever, Scratch and more

BG 183 and Scratch

scratch bg183 graffiti street art Bronx NYC The Bronx Graffiti Art Gallery to Open Tomorrow with Tats Cru, Ces, Kingbee, Lady K Fever, Scratch and more

Hush Tours will provide free transportation from Manhattan to tomorrow’s event. For further information, contact Hush Tours at 212-714-3527.

All photos courtesy Scratch.

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Rappin Max Robot cover Eric Orr on Graffiti, Keith Haring, Hip Hop, the South Bronx, Comic Art, the New York Comic Con and more

Legendary for his collaborative artwork with Keith Haring on the NYC subways, Bronx-based artist and designer Eric Orr also produced the first-ever hip-hop comic book.  I recently had the opportunity to find out more about this multi-faceted artist who will be participating tomorrow – Friday – evening at the New York Comic Con panel discussion Hip-Hop and Comics: Cultures Combining, presented by Depth of Field.

You were one of the first graff artists to develop a distinct icon. Your “robot head” has since appeared on a wide range of surfaces – from T-shirts to record labels to international fine art exhibits. It has even made its way into Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses and catalogues. Can you tell us something about it?

It was inspired by the space age and the robotics era. I grew up in the age of Star Wars, Space Odyssey and the Robot Dance. And as tagging on walls and traditional graff didn’t do that much for me, my robot actually made it to the streets of the South Bronx where I grew up.

Orr meets Keith Haring NYC subway graffiti character Eric Orr on Graffiti, Keith Haring, Hip Hop, the South Bronx, Comic Art, the New York Comic Con and more

You may well be best-known for your collabs with Keith Haring that surfaced on the 6 Pelham Bay and the 4 and 5 NYC subways lines 30 years ago. You are, in fact, the only artist who ever collaborated with Keith in the subway system. How did you two first meet up?

Keith, it seems, had been eyeing my work for a while.  But we actually met, by chance, one day at a Swatch watch completion. I was wearing my hand-painted robot head shirt when Keith Haring approached me and invited me to collaborate with him on a series of artworks on the black panel spaces of the NYC subway system.

And these became a legendary part of NYC’s subway history! You also played a huge role in the hip-hop scene back in the day, producing work for Afrika Bambaataa and such hip-hop artists as Jazzy Jay, along with the brand logo for the Strong City Record label.  Can you tell us something about that? What exactly was the relationship between graffiti and hip-hop?  And was there one?

Yes! The same energy from the streets of the South Bronx that created the graffiti there in the late 70’s created hip-hop. Writers would go straight from getting up in the streets to hanging out at park jams and clubs. And it was largely the graffiti artists who designed the flyers for the hip-hop events.

Eric Orr hip hop character on comic Eric Orr on Graffiti, Keith Haring, Hip Hop, the South Bronx, Comic Art, the New York Comic Con and more

What about the relationship between hip-hop and comics? You produced the first-ever hip-hop comic and will be speaking about the two cultures at the  tomorrow – Friday.

From the beginning graffiti artists, MC’s and break-dancers adapted elements from the comic book culture. Just about everything — from our names to our fantastical identities to the flyers we designed — had comic elements in it. But only someone from the inside could have produced an authentic hip-hop comic.  My original “Maxwell Robot” strip ran in Rap Masters magazine.

Do you have a formal art education?

I studied art at the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League.

Was it worthwhile?

Yes, it inspired me to take my work to a commercial level.

Cosmonaut Label Eric Orr on Graffiti, Keith Haring, Hip Hop, the South Bronx, Comic Art, the New York Comic Con and more

How do you feel about the interplay between graffiti/street art and the commercial world?

I have mixed feelings. It’s great for me and others to get paid to do the things we love. But it’s also easy for artists to be exploited — if their art is used to market a product and they are not getting paid for their artwork or sharing in the company’s profits.

You’ve done workshops with kids in New Zealand – to which you originally traveled to create a design for Serato — and recently here up in the Bronx. Can you tell us something about that?

Having grown up in the South Bronx, I understand just how important it is for kids to have positive experiences that nurture their creativity in productive ways. My most recent venture was with Sienide, working with youth to design a mural on 172nd Street and Southern Boulevard for the Children’s Aid Society’s.

erik Orr robot for childrens aid society Eric Orr on Graffiti, Keith Haring, Hip Hop, the South Bronx, Comic Art, the New York Comic Con and more

What’s ahead?

Cornell University recently approached me about purchasing the original source material for Rappin’ Max Robot for its hip-hop collection of rare books and manuscripts. I am currently working on an a piece for an upcoming train show at Grand Central, scheduled to open on November 22. And tomorrow evening, I will be participating in the New York Comic Con panel discussion Hip-Hop and Comics: Cultures Combining.

Congratulations! It all sounds great! 

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of Eric Orr; final photo by Lois Stavsky

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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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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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The legendary Bronx-based graffiti artist John Matos aka Crash has been busy these days — with work on the streets, on exhibit and on Ferrari cars.  Here’s a sampling:

At work on the Lower East Side last month for the Lisa Project

crash paints in NYC The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

Recently-completed mural up in the Bronx for TAG Public Arts Project

crash graffiti Bronx The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

At opening of Broken English at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Crash at opening The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

With spray paint on canvas in Broken English at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Wrapped in My Own Existence

Wrapped in my own existence The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

On exhibit in City as Canvas at the Museum of the City of New York, acrylic on canvas, 1986

Crash city as canvas The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

For the Crash Ferrari Art Project, a collaborative venture with Joe “MAC” of Martino Auto Concepts and the Dorian Grey Gallery, on exhibit beginning today, July 24, through July 28 at Art Southampton

Matos art on Ferrari The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

Matos paints auto The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

Matos and Martino Auto concepts The Legendary John Matos aka Crash    on the Streets, on Exhibit and on Ferrari Cars

Photos: 1, 3 and 5 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; photo 2 by Lois Stavsky; photo 4 courtesy of the artist and photos 6-8, courtesy Bettina Cataldi

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All Girls graffiti graffiti universe Bronx NYC All Girls at Graffiti Universe in the Bronx with Scratch, Lady K Fever, Mrs, Vik and more

This past weekend, the walls of Graffiti Universe — located at 2995 Boston Road in the Bronx — were transformed into an all-girls’ canvas.  While up there on Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak to Scratch, who — along with Lady K Fever — organized the event.

This is a first for Graffiti Universe. How did it happen?

Lady K Fever and I had painted together earlier this year. We were eager to involve more female writers. I spoke to Dennis Stumpo, who manages Graffiti Universe, and he offered us nine walls!

scratch graffiti graffiti universe Bronx NYC All Girls at Graffiti Universe in the Bronx with Scratch, Lady K Fever, Mrs, Vik and more

Had you girls ever painted together before? How did you decide whom to invite?

Many of us had met and painted together at 5Pointz and a few of us recently did the wall on 207th Street in Inwood. We wanted to include girls who were serious about graff and who could have fun together. I’m from Sweden; Lady K is from Canada; Vic is from Poland; Erica is from Mexico.  And graffiti brought us together. We’re all at different levels, but we respect one another and we each want to get better and better. It’s not about who’s the best.

Lady K Fever graffiti graffiti universe Bronx NYC All Girls at Graffiti Universe in the Bronx with Scratch, Lady K Fever, Mrs, Vik and more

And this seems like the perfect way to hone your skills! Are there any particular challenges that you, as female writers, face?

We have this sense that we always have to prove ourselves. We are often not taken seriously enough.

Mrs Big Stuff graffiti graffiti universe Bronx NYC All Girls at Graffiti Universe in the Bronx with Scratch, Lady K Fever, Mrs, Vik and more

Have you any messages to the male writers out there?

We can do it without you! We can do it ourselves!

Vik graffiti graffiti universe Bronx NYC All Girls at Graffiti Universe in the Bronx with Scratch, Lady K Fever, Mrs, Vik and more

 What’s ahead?

More graff And we’d like to do some production walls with characters and backgrounds. That’s the plan!

Good luck! We look forward to seeing them!

Photos: 1. From left to right — Scratch, Anji, Lady K Fever, Erica, Chare and Vik — shutter by Topaz who had to “beg the girls to paint.”  2. Scratch  3. Lady K Fever 4. Mrs  5. Vik

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Born in Canada, Lady K-Fever is a NYC-based interdisciplinary artist, art educator and curator. A recipient of numerous grants, she currently works with the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Bronx River Arts Center and the Laundromat Project.

Lady K Fever graffiti NYC Speaking with Lady K Fever

When and where did you start getting up?

I started bombing in Vancouver, Canada in the early 90’s. I got all over the city. No block was safe.

What inspired you back then?

In 1992, I found The Faith of Graffiti at a thrift shop and bought a bootleg copy of Wild Style. I immediately fell in love with graffiti.  I was also into skateboarding at the time, and I was a member of the Riot Grrlzs: The Vancouver Chapter.  We were invited to create an installation for an exhibition “Artropolis 1993.” We collaborated to create a graffiti-inspired tag wall about human rights.

What spurred your interest and engagement in social issues?

I was inspired by activism of the Black Panthers and counter culture of the 1960’s & 70’s.

What about graffiti crews? Did you belong to any?

My first crew was the one I created with some of my friends in Vancouver, the ILC crew: The Independent Ladies Crew. I have since put down with lots of other crews: CAC, TLV (the Latin Vandals), IBM, and WOTS.  Right now I am down with KD-TDS-INDS.

Lady K Fever and Cern Speaking with Lady K Fever

Any early graffiti memories?

I’ll always remember the first three-color piece/bomb I did on my own.  It was all about timing.  It was in 1996 in downtown Vancouver, and I had hidden behind a car. I started to paint in the shadow of the car and hide when traffic was coming by. It was a thrill, and I wanted to do more.

When did you first get up in NYC?

My first time painting here was in 2001 at The Phun Phactory before it became 5Pointz. While there, I met so many people and artists who have helped me along my path. I am so grateful that there was a place like that – a place for the global graffiti movement to connect and blossom in New York City.

Have you ever been arrested?

Pleading the 5th and the 4th. 

Have you exhibited your works?

I began exhibiting my work in galleries in 1993 in Vancouver.  In NYC, I have exhibited at  the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, Longwood Art Gallery, The Corridor Gallery, Andrew Freedman Home and MoMA.

HOWIEGARCIA LADYKFEVER Kathleena 12 op 640x356 Speaking with Lady K Fever

What percentage of your time is devoted to your artwork?

100 percent. All day. Every day. It’s my life. Life is my art. My art is the facilitation of my experiences as a creative human on this planet. I am inspired and find inspiration all day long.

Have you made money from your work?

I sell pieces, do commissions, apply for grants and residencies, teach and consult with museums and arts organizations, speak at schools and conduct workshops. Hustle is hustle.

Any thoughts about the so-called graffiti/street art divide?

The boundaries continue to blur.  I thought we all fought hard for graffiti to be considered “art”. A writer is a writer; an artist is an artist. Both are valid and beautiful and all artists have the right to decide how they want to be identified. What I do not like is the dogma and the prejudices that arise. If graffiti and street art are ultimately forms of freedom of expression, then what really is going on?

Do you prefer working alone or working with others?

Both. I like working alone, and I like the interaction that happens when artists work together. I go through phases.

Lady Fever students Speaking with Lady K Fever

Do you have a formal arts education?

Yes and no. I studied fine art in high school and in college, but I formally went on to major in Theatre.  I worked as a studio assistant with a Canadian pottery artist and as a scenic painter on film/TV sets to gain art trade skills.

What is the riskiest thing you’ve done?

I have done a lot of risky things. On my last day in Toronto, I did a bridge piece along a highway in downtown Toronto.  I wrote the name Lady K Fever in huge letters on the whole bridge.  As I was finishing, I saw a set of police lights flash across the highway. I ran and hid all the way home. That was my exit from Toronto.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I’m influenced by all cultures. I go through inspirational phases. I love texture and color. I like to work with Indian, African and Mexican fabrics and designs.  Music is also an influence – its sounds, beats and lyrics.

Are you generally satisfied with a finished piece?

Yes and no.  Sometimes, I just have to walk away and move on to the next.

Fever graffiti South Bronx Husky Speaking with Lady K Fever

How has your work evolved throughout the years?

I continue to refine my style and explore concepts.

How would you describe the role of the artist in society?

The artist’s role is to tell stories through personal and collective reflections and responses and to raise questions. The artist is a messenger of universal truth who challenges others to see and acknowledge what they might not want to

Interview with Lady K-Fever conducted by Lenny Collado and edited by Lois Stavsky; photo credits 1. Lenny Collado; 2. Tara Murray; 3 – 5. courtesy of the artist

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