graffiti art

Brimming with exuberant energy and stylishly striking images, HIGH & TIGHT, LA2‘s solo exhibition, is a cause for celebration.  Proclaimed by Keith Haring — with whom he had collaborated in the 80’s — as the “Graffiti King of the Lower East Side,” LA2 is tighter than ever. Pictured above is LA2 standing next to the exhibit’s curator and gallerist, Jonathan Satin. Several more images captured while I visited the space at 198 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side follow:

Installation of several canvases, sneakers, skateboard deck and more 

 

Several more artworks and memorabilia reminiscent of LA2’s collaborations with Keith Haring

Canvases, repurposed traffic sign, skateboard deck, guitar and collaboration with London-based Stik

 

You can join LA2 tonight — from 8-11pm — at 198 Allen Street. He promises “live painting and dancing” in celebration of Independence Day. And through Sunday’s 5pm closing, the space is open every day from 12-8pm

Photos: 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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Pictured above is the bold and brightly-hued work of Barcelona native Pez. What follows are several more images of distinctly curious characters that I’ve recently encountered while wandering around Miami’s beguiling streets:

Barcelona-based El Xupet Negre aka the Black Pacifier

Parisian artist Combo aka Combo Culture Kidnapper, close-up

St. Pete, Florida-based Sebastian Coolidge

Mexican artist Curiot

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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Growing up in the Bronx in the 70’s  Osvaldo Cruz — under different aliases — began early on tagging and piecing wherever and whenever he could. His subway train art is featured, in fact, in Martha Cooper‘s and Henry Chalfant‘s landmark book, Subway Art. These days, with occasional stints painting legal walls over at Tuff City in the Bronx, Cruz focuses primarily on fashioning abstract — graffiti-inspired — images on canvases and is represented by Fountain House Gallery. An interview with the artist follows:

When and where did you first get up?

It was around 1978. I was eight years old. I lived near Yankee Stadium at the time, and I remember getting my initials, TC –Tito Cruz — up in the yard of P.S. 156, my local elementary school.

Did you have any preferred surfaces?

Anything was fine! I, especially, liked mail trucks.

Who were some of the writers that inspired you back in the day?

I was inspired by the local writers: FDT 56, Hoy 56, Kid 56, Hazzy Haz from the D yard, Blade from the 5 layup, T-Kid from the 1 layup and Flame.

Have you any early memories that stand out?

Meeting Blade in the CC layup on Fordham Road in 1979 and soon after meeting Iz the Wiz up there. They both were already established writers by the time I had hit the subways.

But many memories that are not positive also stand out. One of my favorite graffiti names was GINSU, and that caused a log of turmoil in Chinatown, as all of the the school kids assumed that the tagger was Chinese. There were endless wars and fights back then over everything from copying one’s letters to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was too much disrespect. Enough to make some of us stop painting burners – knowing that someone was going to write inside or around our pieces.

Did you get up alone or did you paint together with any crews?

I didn’t paint with any crews, but I did have a sidekick, OHenry. He was my link to many different subway layups and yards. OHenry, though, has lost all interest in spray-painting and in graffiti. He doesn’t even want to talk about it. So when I see him these days, I don’t even bring it up.

Had you ever been arrested back in the day for graffiti?

I was once falsely accused up at the 183rd Street Subway Station. I connected with a Legal Aid lawyer, and the case was dismissed.

What was the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Climbing into a yard up in the North Bronx off the 2 train. The fence was really high, and it was too easy to get tangled up in barbed wire. And I didn’t know who would be there once I made it in.

Do you have a formal art education?

I graduated from Art & Design High School in 1987.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

About 75% — whenever I’m not attending to my personal needs, I paint.

Do you make money from your art?

Yes! Through commissions and selling canvases.

At what point did you begin working on canvases?

I actually started to experiment with graffiti art on canvas in the early 80’s, but it wasn’t until 2000 that I began to focus almost exclusively on painting on canvases.

Which mode do you prefer?

I like them both, and I’ve been commissioned to do both.

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

I have no problem with it. I’m happy for the artists.

Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes. I’ve shown my work at Fountain House Gallery and at Pace University via Community Access.

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

No. I don’t work from sketches.

What inspires you these days?

My imagination!

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

 Yes!

Are there any particular cultures that influence you at present?

I don’t feel influenced by cultures other than my own, but I like what the European writers are doing. I especially like the Swedish graffiti crew WUFC.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s more complex — more sophisticated, and I use more colors.

What’s ahead?

I just want to keep on painting.

Good luck!

All photos courtesy of the artist; interview 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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This is the fourth in a series of politically and socially conscious images that have surfaced on NYC streets:

Chilean artist Otto Schade takes on gun violence in Chinatown — with East Village Walls

Shepard Fairey aka Obey Giant on the High Line

Colombian artist Praxis on the Lower East Side

Brooklyn-based Adam Fu and Dirty Bandits in Bushwick

Myth NY takes on Thanksgiving in Bushwick

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Tara Murray; 3-5 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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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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Once again, Union Street Park’s magical walls in Hackensack, NJ have been transformed. Pictured above is Washington Heights graffiti legend Totem. Several of these featured images were captured during Rozzy Ken Roz‘s birthday celebration — hosted by Darrius-Jabbar Sollas — two weeks ago. Others were taken when we revisited Union Street Park this past Wednesday.

The superb Sade TCM 

Bronx-based Ricky Montalvo aka Soze527

Flite (L) and Rocky 184 & Gem 13 Collabo

Classic writer Wore IBM at work

The legendary Seen TC5

Graffiti pioneer Part One

Wide view with celebration under way 

Photo credits: 1, 4, 5 & 8 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2, 3, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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Home to a rotating range of vibrant murals by first-rate, often classic, graffiti writers, Hackensack’s Union Street Park is a treasure. While visiting on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its founder and curator, Darrius-Jabbar Sollas also known as Nasty Neo.

When did you first begin curating this spot?  It’s a graffiti-lover’s paradise. We’ve been returning regularly to check it out since we first discovered it — by chance — several years ago.

It’s ten years now. I began curating it in 2007. We are celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Congratulations! How did you discover such an ideal spot?  And how did you come to manage its walls?

I used to pass it every day as I took my kid to school.  And it looked like the perfect spot to showcase graffiti. As I went about locating the owners of the adjacent building to secure permission to use the walls, I discovered that a friend of mine was one of the building’s owners. I was given one huge wall.

What was the initial response to your transformation of this space? How did the community react?

The response was wonderfully enthusiastic. The town’s officials couldn’t have been more positive. And soon I was invited to curate the entire space, not just one wall.

Among the many artists who’ve painted here, do any in particular stand out?

Among them: Serve, Bates, Hef, Med, Tats Cru, Poem, Sade, T-Kid, Wane

What have been some of your challenges in managing this space?

The artists themselves! They can be pompous and arrogant. All of the walls are buffed for them, and too many still need to be catered to.

I notice that you guys are buffing the walls now. What’s ahead? Are you getting ready for anything special?

Yes! We have a birthday barbecue coming up Saturday for Roz…our fifth annual one.

Who are some of the artists who will be painting at the birthday barbecue?

FliteServeWore, Jew, Pase, Python, Rocky 184, Gem 13

It sounds great! Have fun! And thanks for bringing so much vibrancy to Bergen County!

Images

1  Union Street Park curator and artist Darrius-Jabbar Sollas aka Nasty Neo

2  Staten Island-based Goal

3  Classic writer Sound7TC5

4  Graffiti legend Part One

5  The masterful Sade TCM

6  Doe of the RTH crew

Photo credits: 1, 4-6 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2-3 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Lois Stavsky

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From August 9 – 13th, Under Pressure held the 22nd edition of its annual graffiti festival in Montreal. The largest and longest-running event of its kind in North America, it is a celebration of hip-hop, graffiti and street art culture. The image pictured above was painted by the famed French graffiti crew and family 123 Klan. Several more images that we captured on site follow:

Montreal-based Adida Fallen Angel artworks on door and to its left

Canadian artists Scribe, Francois Leandre and Corey Bulpitt collaboration 

Montreal based MissMe

Montreal-based Monk.E at work on collaborative wall with Ankhone and Fonki

France-native, Montreal-based Sbuone at work

 Tattooist J Mats at work on collaborative wall

Rien, Borrris, Arnold, Naimo & Will Lyf3 203 Crew collaborative mural

Photo credits: 1, 5 & 8 Tara Murray; 2-4, 6 & 7 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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Continuing through this week at Avant Garde LES is Queens-based ZA ONE‘s exuberant solo exhibit, The Evolution of ZA ONE. While visiting last week, I had the chance to speak to its curator, Kate Storch.

ZA ONE is a style master; that is certainly evident here. And it was great fun watching him paint over at First Street Green Park last month. 

Yes! ZA ONE is a true artist. He is fearless in his determination to keep on pushing his craft further and further.  He spent the past two years working on these canvases.

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When did ZA ONE first hit the streets?

He first hit the streets in the mid-eighties. And in 2012, he started going all-city. It was non-stop adrenalin. He is a street killer, as well as a masterful artist.

How did you meet ZA ONE

Jerms introduced us about two years ago. I feel like ZA ONE was a gift. And I love the way he involves his children in his art.  He is a dedicated father, as well as a dedicated artist.

How did the opening of the show go? I’ve heard great things about it!

Yes, it was amazing. There was so much love from other writers. And the exhibit attracted a wonderfully eclectic mix of people including fine artists and musicians.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been busily planning and promoting this coming Friday’s Summer Classics Block Party in honor of National Hip Hop Day.

What can folks who attend it expect?

It will feature live DJs and some of the best graffiti artists and muralists — a mix of both legendary classics and contemporary talents.

summer-classics-block-party-NYV

It sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview with Kate Storch conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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

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Plasma-slug-A-colony-of-love

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.

plasma-slug-dna

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.

plasma-slug-black-and-white-painting

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.

plasma-slug-paiting

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.

plasma-slug-sticker-art

 Congratulations! It’s quite amazing!

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

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