Brooklyn

This is the sixteenth in a series of occasional posts featuring the diverse range of trucks and vans that strike our streets:

Wane and Queen Andrea

Soten

ZaOne

Hoacs

Iena Cruz

PJ Linden at work for the House of Yes

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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Last week, Texas-based John Bramblitt, a professional artist who lost his vision in 2001, visited Bushwick, where he collaborated on a huge mural with Rubin 415 for JMZ Walls. While he was here, travel and street photographer Karin du Maire had the opportunity to interview him and capture him, along with Rubin 415, in action.

Can you tell us, John, a bit about how you got into art?

I think I could draw before I could walk! Art was always a big part of my life. And growing up, I was sick a lot. I had kidney problems. I had severe epilepsy that kept getting worse. All the way through high school, I was literally out of school half the time with something. And art made a bad day better, and it was a great way to celebrate a good day…and so I did art every day and I took every art class I could.

You are now creating art as a blind artist. When did you lose your eyesight?

I lost my eyesight in college, and I thought I lost art, as well. But I learned how to use my hands to do everything that a person’s eyes do. And so now I draw with lines I can touch and feel. When I was sighted, I used to feel excited if a drawing or painting that I did looked like someone. But now it’s more important that it feels like someone… that it is that person. And that’s where the colors and emotions come in.

You just painted your first mural. What was the experience like? How does it differ from working in your studio?

It’s been a great experience! As far as I know, I am the first blind painter to do a mural. It’s my first mural, and it’s been incredible. I’m a studio artist; I work with museums quite a bit. I do commissions all the time. But what I do is paint! Yet, this is so much different. You’re on a wall that’s so much bigger. I’m not going to roll it up and send it away when it’s done. It lives there on that wall.

Does anything in particular about the experience stand out?

One of the things that made this so special is that I love to meet other artists and be around people who are just as obsessed with art as I am. In this project I’ve been able to work with Tony — Rubin 415 – and the whole crew here has been so energetic. For me it’s a dream come true to be able to work with artists who are passionate about what they do. It’s been amazing!

And what about the community? Lots of people have been passing by. How have they reacted?

That’s been my favorite part of this entire experience. I’ve painted live before, but this is a completely different experience. During the whole time I was putting this up, people were coming over. This is where they live, and I feel as though I am painting it in their home! The feedback has been so positive! People seem grateful that you are making their community more beautiful and bringing energy to it. They come over and hug us! Today a little boy stopped by and added a bit to the mural – and so we have one more street artist in the making!

Now that you’ve painted your first mural, can you tell us a bit about what your plans are for the future? Do you plan to paint more murals?

I do. I expect to be painting a mural in Dallas to help a non-profit. And I will be working more with museums. October is National Disability Awareness Month, and I will be traveling all over the country. And I would definitely love to do more mural work. The impact it has on the community is incredible. You just can’t beat it!

Photos by Karin du Maire; interview conducted by Karin du Maire and edited by Lois Stavsky

Support for this inspiring project has been provided by See Now.

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

Guache at work

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Praxis gets some assistance

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A close-up from Irving Ramó‘s completed mural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And why is that?

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

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

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

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What prompted you to do that?

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

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

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

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 Congratulations! It’s quite amazing!

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

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I discovered David Hollier‘s distinctly provocative aesthetic a few years back when I came upon his huge murals of such luminaries as Nelson Mandela and John F Kennedy on the streets of Brooklyn.  Earlier this year, I saw his intriguing work on the 69th floor of the World Trade Center. And, yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit his solo exhibit, Ladies and Gentlemen, at Sideshow Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and pose a few questions to him.

When did you first start integrating text into your artwork?

I began in 2010.

What inspired you to do so?

Before incorporating text into my artwork, I was working with lines. I then started repeating words within the works. And when a friend commissioned me to create a portrait of her husband using words, I incorporated a brief biography into the portrait. The response was so positive that I continued working in this style. By 2012 I’d given the collection the name Imago Verbosa, meaning a picture made of words in Latin.

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What media or tools do you use in fashioning these portraits?

I sometimes use a vintage typewriter. I also use acrylic paint. Huge photographic images are often projected and copied onto a range of surfaces.

How do you choose the subjects of your work? Ranging from Susan B. Anthony to Jay Z, they cross generations, nationalities and sensibilities. Among them are many musicians and politicians. 

Yes! I generally select icons. But some are commissioned, and those are selected for me.

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We’ve come upon quite a few of your works on the streets of Brooklyn. Do you prefer working in your studio or working on the streets?

They’re different experiences, and I like both. But the streets can be more challenging.

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. I studied Visual Art and Public Art at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, and I earned a Masters degree in Computer Imaging and Animation from London Guildhall University.

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I’m fascinated by your choice of text infused into each portrait, as many have strong social implications. This exhibit is quite impressive. Do you devote yourself full-time to your artwork?

I divide my time between painting and teaching. I’ve taught at Parsons since 2006.

Congratulations on this! And we especially look forward to seeing more of your public artworks on the streets of NYC.

Note: A CLOSING RECEPTION takes place, tonight, Friday from 6 until 9pm. The show ends of Sunday, July 16th. Sideshow Gallery is located at 319 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Images

1 Taylor Swift, Text: “Never Grow Up,” Acrylic on board, 48″ x 48″

2 Jimi Hendrix, Text: “Fire,” “Voodoo Child” and “Are you Experienced?” Acrylic on canvas, 60″ x 60″

3 Star Stuff, Text: from Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” Acrylic on canvas, 72″ x 60″

4 The artist with Susan B. Anthony, Text: from “Women’s Rights to the Suffrage,” Acrylic on board, 27″ x 40″

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview by Lois Stavsky with Bonnie Astor

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The walls at and in the vicinity of  Brooklyn Reclaimed brim with first-rate graffiti by artists from near and far. Pictured above is by Brooklyn Reclaimed curator, Meres One.  Several more images that I recently captured follow:

The legendary T-Kid 170

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NYC-based Rath

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Bronx-based Pase

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The itinerant VIP Rap

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Texas-based Sloke

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New Jersey-based 4Sakn

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 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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Curated by Joseph Sitt and Jeffrey Deitch, Coney Art Walls has officially launched its 2017 season with the addition of ten new murals:  Featured above is the work of the legendary Lee Quinones. What follows are several more:

Noted comic artist, muralist and tattooist Mark Bodé, captured while gated

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NYC-based stencil artist Chris Stain

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Queens-native Skewville, close-up

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Egyptian artist Mohamed Fahmy aka Ganzeer

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Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz, work in progress

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UK native multidisciplinary artist  Shantell Martin

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Miami-based Jim Drain

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 Bronx-based John Matos aka Crash and BR 163

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Bordered by Bowery Street, West 15th Street and Stillwell Avenue near the Coney Island boardwalk and beach, Coney Art Walls is open daily 12pm – 10pm through September. Throughout the summer, Coney Art Walls — launched by Thor Equities — will host dozens of appearances and live entertainment.

Photo credits: 1-6 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 7 Roy Rochlin & 8 courtesy of Thor Equities

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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This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to meet up with Rocko, artist and founder of Spread Art NYC. We discussed the Biggie KONY mural that he’d painted with Zimer, the wide attention it has recently attracted and his efforts to preserve it.

When was the mural first painted? And how did you decide on its subject?

Zimer and I painted it back in 2015. As it was our first mural in Bed-Stuy, we decided that it must be of Biggie.

What about the specific site — on Quincy and Bedford? How did that come to be?

I researched Biggie and the neighborhood for about a year.  I picked this site for the mural because Biggie had referenced it in his first demo tape “Microphone Murderer.” I’d also found a video of Biggie freestyling at the age 17 on Bedford and Quincy. I located the site and was put in touch with the building’s owner, who agreed to let us paint a mural. We signed the agreement five minutes after we’d met!  I was impressed by the landlord’s kindness and generosity.

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What was the initial response to the mural?

Incredible! It was all over the news. And in 2016, when Borough President Eric Adams recognized Biggie’s birthday, May 21, as Official Biggie Day, it received even more attention.

When did you find out about plans to remove it?

About four months ago, the landlord told me that he wished to renovate the property and add windows to it. I asked him to see if it was possible to do so without damaging the mural. He agreed to speak to the architect. But soon after, he asked us to pay $1250 a month to maintain it.

Why $1250 a month?

He told me that advertisers are renting other walls he owns for at least $1250 a month. And that if he didn’t add windows, he would have to charge me the $1250 he would otherwise get.

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How did you respond to that request?

I offered a one-time payment of $5000, but he said he had paid more than that in construction costs and permits, and that our mural is causing him to lose money. At that point, I couldn’t argue with him. I knew that he was telling me the truth.

What spurred you to post about the situation on Instagram?

There are so many people – from DJ 50 Grand to Matty C  to the OGB crew — deeply connected to this mural and all that it represents. We felt that we had to go public with the sad news that our beloved Biggie mural might be put to rest soon.

When did you find out that what you’d put out was going viral?

The next day, I woke up to a load of emails from local news sources wanting to get more info. Zimer and I declined to comment until we knew what was really going on.

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Among the many efforts from community members and organizations was a landmark petition. That was problematic to you. Why?

I don’t have any issue with the people who started the petition. They genuinely care about their community and culture.  But I didn’t want to go the way of a petition. Look at what happened to 5Pointz! On November 19, 2013, the landlord whitewashed the building overnight. I think we all have learned from that tragedy. And we didn’t want that to happen to the KONY Biggie mural.

How did the landlord react to the petition?

The landlord refused to even meet with me because he thought I was the one who’d started the landmark petition. He told me that he would do what it takes to protect his property.  At this point, I knew we were at the edge of losing.

Why do you suppose the landlord had taken such a strong stand?

He is well-known and well-respected in his community, and was most likely upset that he was being portrayed in a negative light.

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What was your next move in your determination to save the mural ?

I had to convince the landlord that I had nothing to do with the petition.  We were planning to have a huge Block party on Biggie’s birthday, but we had to cancel. There was too much confusion and misunderstanding.

What — do you think — caused him to change his mind and decide to let the mural remain?

During a two-hour meeting last Monday, it became obvious to me that he was not aware who Biggie was or of Biggie’s connection to Bedford and Quincy. I informed him that the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta rapper TI, and various Mega companies were willing to pay whatever to save the mural, and that the Mayor and Congressman Jeffries are also offering support. Once he understood the significance of the mural, he agreed to keep it. I had also made the point that other landlords were paying thousands of dollars to artists they hire to paint their building’s facades – and that it did not make any sense to remove artwork that was “gifted” to him and the community.

What a happy ending!  So the landlord did not ask for any money?

No! We didn’t have to pay anything. At the end of our meeting, I shook his hand and said, “Thank you, Mr. Berkowitz! You just made so many people happy.”

Images 

1  Rocko in front of the mural

2  OGB Crew

3  Zimer, Deejay 50 Grand and Rocko

4  Deejay 50 Grand with former Source magazine editor Matty C

5  Biggie’s daughter, T’yanna Wallace

Photos: 1 Lois Stavsky, 2-5 courtesy of Rocko; interview by Lois Stavsky

Note: 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.

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made-street-art-nyc

The intersection of Underhill Avenue and St Johns Place was the place to be these past two weekends. Under the curatorial direction of Frankie Velez and Jeff Beler, over a dozen artists shared their talents, while delighting and engaging hundreds of passersby. The mural pictured above is the work of MADE.  Here are several more:

Another Biggie, this one by SacSix, with co-curator Frankie Velez to the right

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Allison Ruiz and Vanezza Cruz at work

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Albertus Joseph at work

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 JT Liss

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Ariana Febles

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Chris RWK

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Photos by Lois Stavsky

Note: 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.

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pablo-power-Gay-science-and-joyous-wisdom

Currently on view at Okay Space at 281 North 7th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is Philly VS New York: A Declaration of Co-Independence. Featuring works — fashioned both individually and collaboratively — by legendary Philly rapper Schoolly D and New York-based multi-disciplinary visual artist Pablo Power, this exhibit is a follow-up to their 2013 exhibition, Am I Black Enough?  Presented by Okay Space and Black Swan Projekt, Philly VS New York: A Declaration of Co-Independence continues through April 1. Pictured above is Gay Science and Joyous Wisdom by Pablo Power. What follows are several more images on display:

Schoolly D, Smoke Some Kill, Ink on paper

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 Pablo Power, Crack Another 40, A Birthday on Chrystie, Mixed media

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 Pablo Power, Dekalb Didactic, Mixed media

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Schoolly D,  Cheeba, Cheeba, Mixed media

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Schoolly D and Pablo Power, Philly Vs New York, Giclée Prints, edition of 30. Release and Exhibit Reception Tonight

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And on this coming Wednesday evening, a series of short films will be screened:

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 Photos of images 1-5 by Tara Murray

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