Bushwick

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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This is the 13th in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that have surfaced in NYC open spaces:

Toofly at the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens

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David Choe, close-up from his all-too-ephemeral mural on Bowery & Houston

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Cernesto at the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens

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Tristan Eaton at Coney Art Walls

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See One in Long Island City for Arts Org

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Berlin-based Spanish artist Victor Landeta aka Aum in Bushwick

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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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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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The gifted Portuguese artist Frederico Draw, along with his talented Colectivo RUA partner Contra, visited NYC last month. With the support of Spread Art NYC, they graced Bushwick’s Troutman and Knickerbocker with an elegant mural dedicated the late Puerto Rican poet and activist Julia de Burgos. While the artists were in town, I had the opportunity to speak to them. A brief interview with Porto-based Frederico Draw follows:

When and where did you first get up?

I started tagging with my friends back home in the town of Freamunde in 2001.

What inspired you at the time?

The New York City hip-hop culture that I followed was my main inspiration back then.

Do any early graffiti-related memories stand out?

I was about 12 or 13 on a trip to the beach in Algarve with my family when I saw massive amounts of graffiti for the first time. I was astounded.

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How did your family feel about your engagement with the graffiti culture?

They were very supportive. They taught me to do it responsibly. There are many artists – painters and architects — in my family.

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

I don’t feel it much.  There isn’t much of a divide in Porto. Most street artists do graffiti and respect it.

Do you have a formal art education?

I earned a Masters in architecture in Porto, but I never studied fine arts.  I had expected to be an architect; but when I started painting on the streets, my entire lifestyle changed.

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What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

All of it!

How do you feel about the engagement of the corporate world with graffiti writers and street artists?

It helps us artists live. But we need to work together; the relationship must be consensual, not exploitative.

Have you shown your work in galleries?  

Yes! I’ve exhibited in Portugal — principally in Porto — and I’ve had two exhibits in Italy.

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And what about festivals? Have you participated in any street art festivals?

I’ve participated in street art festivals in Portugal, Italy and Spain.

Here in NYC you are collaborating with Contra. Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I love both.  When working with others, I can exchange ideas.

Is there any particular street artist out there – with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I’d like to collaborate with Retna.

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What about crews? Do you paint with any crews?

I’m a member of Colectivo RUA. We are a group of artists based in Porto.

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

I often work with a sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I usually am.

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

It helps me get my work out. But I see it as my responsibility to get my artwork onto social media.

What inspires you these days?

Life…the environment…classical art…street art. I’m a huge fan of Borando.

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

To raise awareness. It is the role of the artist to direct others to think about issues that matter.

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And why have you chosen the streets as your principal canvas?

Because the streets allow me to reach and engage many more people than I would otherwise.

Images

1 Julia de Burgos, Bushwick, 2017

2 Frederico Draw & Contra at work in Bushwick, 2017

3 An.fi.tri.ão, Porto, 2015

4 APAV with Contra, Lisbon, 2015

5 VELHOS SÃO OS TRAPOS with Senior University for VOLTAGEM and Fundação EDP, Alfândega da Fé, 2016

6 EQUILÍBRIO with Contra, São Mamede, 2017

7  SOUR VIRGIN with Contra, Naples, 2016

Photo credits: 1 Karin du Maire 2 Tara Murray 3-7 courtesy of the artist; interview conducted and edited 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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Ranging from the mischievous to the mystical, Michael Alan‘s ever-evolving body of artwork always entices.  We recently had the opportunity to visit the prodigious artist’s studio and find out a bit about it and its role in his life.

What a great space in such an ideal building! How long have you been here?

I’ve been in this building for two years. I first began sharing a studio here with Nick Greenwald, an illustrator. That was soon after I had lost my previous space to a flood at my home in Staten Island. And when Ashley Azelinskie — who oversees this building — saw his much work I was doing, she provided me with this studio.

Your studio has such a warm vibe. It is so welcoming.

Yes! I have tried to duplicate the aesthetics of my home. I want to work in a place that is relaxed and motivating.

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How did you decide what to transport here to keep you company?

I chose to bring over the artwork, books, magazines and toy sculptures that matter the most to me.

Yes! I’ve noticed baseball cards — that you’ve refashioned — that must have been with you since your childhood. And your black books date back years! What about the logistics of moving everything here and setting it up?

I had put an ad on my Instagram — “Help me move, and we can draw,” — and 40 people showed up.  Then once I was here, Michael Kronenberg, a formerly homeless friend of mine — who’d been released from Bellevue after trying to harm himself — helped me curate the space. The studio is a place — for not just me — to create positivity. I wanted him to have a space he could work with me on, and not end up in a bad space again. He had landed in Bellevue after losing hope in art and ever attaining success. He is a talented artist, and I wanted to encourage him not to let others take him down. And my friend, Janna, helped me turn it into a home. It took about two to three weeks.

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What role does this studio play in your life?

It is my life. My sanctuary. A constant show for myself. I’d always been hesitant to look at my stuff. But now I do. I even put a book together here.

Can you tell us something about what has gone down here — in addition to what you paint, draw and endlessly create?

We host weekly performances and drawing groups that have attracted folks ranging in age from 18 – 70. People of all styles and skill levels are welcome. The next one will be held this coming Saturday evening, March 25th beginning at 8pm. Tickets and more information are available here.   Musicians have performed here, including Ramsey Jones of the Wu Tang Clan. Alan Ket has been here filming a documentary in which I am one of the featured artists. And I give tours to college kids and collectors here.

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How do you feel about this neighborhood — Bushwick?

These days I spend most of my life here. I like this building, and I like the people in it. But Bushwick is not my neighborhood. I find the gentrification here distasteful. The friends I grew up with couldn’t afford to live here. But I’m happy to have a studio here, as so many studios in NYC are infested with drugs, roaches and rats, along with people you don’t want to be around. I’ve been in studios where things were stolen from me and where my mother got robbed.

It’s great that you have this now. What’s ahead for you — in addition to everything that is happening in this space? 

I’m preparing for a solo show in a new, huge gallery, Space 42, in Jacksonville, Florida. It will open on Friday, April 28th at 7pm.

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 Good luck!  It all sounds great!

Photos of images: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 Tara Murray & 5 Michael Alan

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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“Helping to make the JMZ lines more colorful one wall, one gate, one space at a time,” JMZ Walls continues to bring a diverse range of first-rate street art and graffiti — by both local and global artists — to South Bushwick. I recently had the opportunity to speak to its founder, Alberto Mejia.

When was JMZ Walls first launched?

In the fall of 2014.

What spurred you to initiate it?

I’d been living in Bushwick – off the JMZ lines – for 20 years. In the past several years, I saw positive changes in in other parts of Bushwick that I didn’t see happening here.

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And many of these changes are directly related to the art that had begun surfacing on the streets.

Yes! My vision was to bring street artists, graffiti writers and muralists to my end of Bushwick. And I didn’t think that these genres should be kept separate from one another.  Why shouldn’t graffiti writers share space with street artists and muralists?

I agree! And the visual impact of JMZ Walls has been great. How did you go about getting walls for artists?

I know many of the building owners. At first I started asking for gates, and soon the owners were offering walls to me.

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Who were some of the first artists to paint for JMZ Walls?

The first piece was by a German graffiti writer, Byond.  He was followed by Queen Andrea, Claw Money and Dasic Fernandez.  I was inspired by Queen Andrea, in fact, to dedicate an entire block — Lawton Street — to female artists!

How do you decide which artists to include?

I’m interested in giving opportunities to local graffiti artists who haven’t had all that many occasions to paint in legal spots. And I love hosting talented artists from abroad who are seeking a space to paint.  I also like giving opportunities to artists who don’t generally paint in public spaces.

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Yes! I was introduced to several artists – including BK Foxx – through JMZ Walls. How has the local community responded to JMZ Walls?

Families have been very appreciative, and the kids love the art. I often hear them saying, “That’s cool!” when they pass by.

Yup! You have certainly enlivened this end of Bushwick! It’s worth a ride on the J, M or Z line out here just to see these walls you’ve curated! I’ve done it often! What – would you say – has been your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge has been financing it. Supplies and paints are expensive, and artists’ budgets are often limited. You can find out here how you can help support us through our recently launched GoFundMe Campaign.

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Thank you for all that you’ve done for the community and for all of us street art and graffiti aficionados. We look forward to what’s ahead for JMZ Walls.  And good luck with your GoFundMe Campaign.

Images

1. BK Foxx

2. Brazilian artists Thiago Valdi & l7m

3. Rio de Janeiro-based  Marcelo Ment

4. Kesta 

5. Montreal-based Philippe Mastrocola aka Spraycam

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Tara Murray; 3-5 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited 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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Moscow-based artist Yulia Vanifatieva aka Hula recently made her way to NYC and left her mark in Bushwick, Brooklyn. After she’d finished painting several outdoor murals in collaboration with JMZ Walls, I had the opportunity to meet up with her and find about a bit about the young Russian artist and her Pink Power art project.

When did you first get up in a public space?

A lot of my childhood friends were painting on the streets, and it was something that I had always wanted to do.  But I didn’t attempt to until four years ago when I was already a university graduate.

And what was it about street art that appealed to you?  That made you want to try it?

I liked the idea of expressing my individuality in a public space.

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How did the other street artists respond to you — as a woman in the scene?

At first no one took me seriously. But that has been changing.

Have you collaborated with other street artists?

I’ve never deliberately collaborated, but it’s happened accidentally — when friends start painting on a wall after they’ve seen me begin. Then it — unintentionally — evolves into a team effort!

Do you work from a sketch when you paint?

I have a basic sketch, but I don’t really refer much to it or think about the process. I just do it!

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Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. I graduated from the Ivanova State Textile Academy in 2008 with a degree in Fashion Design. And then between 2010 and 2012, I studied Visual Communications at the British Higher School of Art and Design. But I’d been drawing all my life, and I always knew I wanted to be an artist!

What has been your main source of income — as an artist?

Designing window displays for high-end department stores.

Can you tell us something about your particular aesthetic? How has it developed?

I am interested in experimenting with different surfaces, styles and materials. While studying Fashion Design, I began to use magazines as my canvas. I created fashion illustration sketches with cosmetics instead of with paint and with money instead of with paper. I am increasingly interested in concepts.

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Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

At first, I’m not! It takes me awhile to like it.

How has your work or process evolved within this past few years?

Initially, it was difficult for me to execute what I had envisioned. But that has gotten much easier.

Have you any favorite street artists? Artists who have inspired you? 

Among my favorites are Anthony Lister and Herakut.

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Yes! I  can see their influence. They are among my favorite ones, as well! Has your family been supportive of your career choice?

Always! My parents have always encouraged me to follow my passions. They understand how challenging and exciting an artist’s life is.

We street art aficionados have come to identify you with your Pink Power project.  Just what is the concept behind it?

It is a celebration of female power. The concept behind it is that a woman can be strong, clever and beautiful. A woman’s seemingly delicate veneer should not be confused with or mistaken for weakness.

You recently participated in Moscow’s Artmossphere Street Art Biennale. Can you tell us something about that?

Moscow’s Artmossphere Street Art Biennale is a huge showcase of international street art. This year’s marks its second anniversary. I was among 42 international artists — including Miss VanLi-Hill, M-City and the London Police — and 26 Russian artists whose work was presented.

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That’s quite impressive! You’ve painted several walls here in NYC — most recently in collaboration with JMZ Walls. What is your impression of our city?

I love it here. I love this city’s energy and its free atmosphere. NYC is such an open-minded place.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to do less commercial work so that I can focus further on developing and refining my own aesthetic and artistic vision.

That sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4-6 courtesy of the artist; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky with assistance from Anastasia Foresman whose translation skills came to the rescue!

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.

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Several stunning new murals recently surfaced on Morgan Avenue and Stagg Street in Bushwick. While visiting Livestream last week, I spoke to visual artist and curator Bianca Romero about Skillosophy, the movement behind these artworks.

Just what is Skillosophy? And when was it launched?

It’s an exhibition/showcase series that takes place four times a year with a focus on multi-disciplinary artists. It was launched last year by the co-founders of Lyricist Lounge & Defiant Ent and Livestream. For this past quarter, Danny Castro — Lyricist Lounge co-founder — and I decided to feature outdoor murals for the fall exhibition during Bushwick Open Studios, in addition to the art that is on exhibit inside the Livestream headquarters.

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What spurred you to add this outdoor element to Skillosophy?

Typically, Skillosophy is indoors, inside the Livestream studio space. But we wanted to take it outside for Bushwick Open Studios. It seemed like a great way to give exposure to the talented muralists and street artists, and it was a great addition to our Block Party to have it done live. We loved the communal and public aspect of it.

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You’ve done a wonderful job of curating it all. The art both inside and outside is wonderfully eclectic and is beautifully presented. Have you a background in art? 

Both my parents are artists. My father, in fact, was a pioneer in graphic design and has taught design at the School of Visual Arts and at the Parsons School of Design. My mother was a fashion designer, and I, myself, am an artist.

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And can you tell us a bit about Livestream? When was it first founded and what is its mission?

It was founded in 2007 with the mission to make any every event available live online through video.

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And how has Livestream responded to Skillosophy?

The love it. They’ve thoroughly embraced it. They love the idea of bringing the extraordinary talents of Bushwick into our offices. A walk through our offices — that are covered with work by local artists — is like a walk through the neighborhood!

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Who is Skillosophy‘s audience?

All art lovers! Anyone who loves any aspect of art — music, dance, film or visual art.  The venue has hosted hip-hop shows, film industry mixers and skillshares in addition to art exhibits. We’ve had a very diverse audience…from working class folks to art collectors to party people!

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How can folks best keep up with your events? And how can they arrange a visit to Livestream‘s headquarters for private viewings of the indoor art?

They can follow Skillosophy on Instagram, and they can contact us at skillosophyshow@gmail.com to schedule a private viewing and inquire about pricing and events. And any artist or performer interested in participating in a future Skillosophy exhibition and showcase can contact as at this email, as well.

 Images

1 & 2 Fin DAC at work

3 Rubin at work

4 Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella

5 Jerms

6 Misha T 

7 N Carlos J

Photo credits 1-5 & 7 Karin du Maire and 6 Tara Murray; interview with Bianca Romero conducted by Lois Stavsky

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