graffiti

Since September 26, 57 Great Jones Street — the former home and studio of Al Diaz collaborator, Jean-Michel Basquiat — has been the site of Same Old Gallery, a multimedia exhibit showcasing Al Diaz ‘s masterful wordplay and inventive aesthetic. Curated by Adrian Wilson and Brian Shevlin, it features a diverse array of new work by Al Diaz, in addition to historic photos and memorabilia from back in the day when the SAMO© tag that he and Jean-Michel Basquiat had conceived was the talk of the town. Several photos I captured while visiting the space follow:

Mixed media with stencil art

Another contemplation on the brevity of it all

Mixed media musings

With a message for these times

The 1978 Village Voice article that reveals SAMO©’s identity

And this weekend marks the launch of Al Diaz‘s book with a signing and talk

Photos 1-6: Lois Stavsky

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A master of style and ingenuity, the wonderfully talented and resourceful Sade TCM has been making his mark in the writing culture and beyond for over three decades. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit and interview the Mount Vernon-based modern legend.

When did you first get up?

I was in 7th grade when I hit the doors of Clark Junior High School in the South Bronx. I was hanging out in school with Rush M.P.C. who was tagging at the time with fat black markers. He suggested I try it. I did!

What inspired you to keep at it?

Graffiti was all around me. On ceilings. In hallways. Daze and Crash were doing gates that I passed every day while walking around my neighborhood.

And what about trains? When did you first hit the trains?

I was in 10th grade. It was the winter of 1982.

Have you any early graffiti-related memories that stand out?

There are many, but the one that stands out is the day I arrived. The previous evening, I was over at the Esplanade lay-up in the Bronx at the Morris Park/Esplanade stop. I had written SADEISM across three quarters of a  blue and silver car — a beige interior, cherry red outline, sky blue flame cloud with a regal blue outline and white highlights. The next day — as I was sitting on the Writers Bench at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse, along with Dez, G-man PGA, Sob and Cose — the train rolled by and and stopped directly in front of us. What a thrill that was! I knew then that I had arrived!

Did you generally hit the trains alone? 

I was often with my partner, Dune.

What was the riskiest thing you had done back in the day? And why were you willing to take those risks?

Running around in subways tunnels with live third rails and riding on tops of trains when they’re moving –- train surfing — were all risky. Why did I take those risks?  Youthful ignorance of consequences.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They mostly didn’t know about it. But my mother definitely didn’t like it. She thought it was stupid, and she warned me that if I got arrested, she wouldn’t be coming to pick me up.

Would you rather paint legally or illegally?

Back then, it was all illegal. But these days I’d rather paint legally. I like the leisure of legal.

You are a master of styles — over 1,000, in fact!. Is there anyone in particular with whom you’d like to paint with or battle?

Yes! I’d like to paint with Baby 168. And I’d like to battle Skeme, because he called me a toy!

How do you feel about the movement of street art and graffiti into galleries? Have you shown in galleries?

It’s a natural evolution. It legitimizes the value of the art. I’ve shown at Wall Works, at More Points and at the galleries of Westchester Community College and SUNY/Purchase University.

What is the main source of your income?

It has always been related to art. After I graduated from high school, I started my own business painting murals. But then after I was involved in a serious accident in 2000, I  switched to graphic design.

Have you a formal art education?

I earned an associates degree in visual arts from Westchester Community College and a BFA from SUNY/Purchase University. But when it came to graffiti, my primary educators were those writers I admired. I’d watch their work on lines as I was coming up.

Was your formal education worthwhile?

Carla Rae Johnson challenged me to use a pencil when I was a student at Westchester Community College. And at Purchase, I learned the most from my anthropology teacher regarding understanding cultures. A formal education did open my mind to broader possibilities.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand? Or do you just let it flow?

95% of the time I work from a sketch.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Am I satisfied with it? Yes! Am I happy with it? No!

What is your ideal work environment?

My living room and my courtyard, here in Mount Vernon.

What inspires you these days? I’m a visual junkie. Sometimes sculpture. It could be anything! I draw every single day, and I always attempt to do something I haven’t done before.

How has your art evolved through the years?

It’s evolved in both subject matter and technique. I now draw beyond graffiti letters, and draw with pencils, crayons, and charcoal brushes.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Edgar Degas, I like the way he captured light…Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Frazetta. Among graffiti writers: Crash, Daze, Baby 168, Dondi, Tac, Spade, Dez, Part and Kel.

What are some of your other interests?

Writing and cooking. I used to be into motorcycle drag racing.

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

I feel that the divide exists because of titles. Graffiti writers and street artists can inspire one another. An evolution took place. Many of the early street artists like Keith Haring, Hektad, A. Charles and Richard Hambleton bombed the streets in the spirit of graffiti. Problems arise when street artists scoff at graffiti. Graffiti has not yet gotten the legitimacy it deserves.

What about the role of social media in all of this? How do you feel about that?

It’s a double-edged sword. It’s great for gaining more documentation, knowledge  and exposure. But as the evolution of styles continues to grow at an alarming rate, the Internet has also ushered in an age of mediocrity.

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

A documentarian of the imagination, and the imagination is unlimited.

You recently curated an amazing event in the South Bronx celebrating the launch of the art collective, Ngozy. You were its principal founder.  What prompted you to launch it?

As an artist growing up in NYC, I know firsthand the struggles that artists face — particularly graffiti artists. Our culture is not given the value — nor the serious documentation — that it merits. We know that we have to start somewhere, and collectively we are stronger. Conversations with Ngozy partners John”Crash” Matos and Robert Kantor led to the birth of Ngozy

What is Ngozy‘s mission?

Among its many missions is to reach and educate the broad community about our culture.  We aim to facilitate the artists’ ability to sell and promote their art, as we make the art experience financially accessible to a wide public.

How can folks find out what artworks are available through Ngozy?

They can visit our site or download our free app for iOS or Android.

And what about artists? How can they become involved?

Anyone can register, set up an account, and submit work on the site or on the app. Blog posts and notices of events are also welcome!

I’ve recently registered, and it looks wonderful! I was delighted to discover the works of some of my favorite artists on the Ngozy site. What are some of the challenges you face in promoting the Ngozy collective?

The legitimacy of our art form remains a challenge. We need to shift the understanding of our culture on all levels. Getting exposure is essential, so that we can introduce Ngozy to new people. And we need sponsorship to accomplish our goals.

What’s ahead for Ngozy?

We are working on an all female live-painting event for October 27th, and we are currently seeking sponsorship. Among the many artists scheduled to participate are: Lady Pink, Shiro, Erotica and Steph Burr. Specific details and information will soon follow.

Note: Sade can be contacted at gfantauzzi22@gmail.com.

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of Sade.

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Gracing the 21-floor staircase of the new citizenM New York Bowery is MoSA (the Museum of Street Art), a rich range of images and words fashioned by 21 5 Pointz Creates artists under the curatorial direction of Marie Cecile Flageul. After visiting the soon-to-open hotel, I had the opportunity to speak to Marie who, along with 5 Pointz founder Meres One, has been directing the project since its inception:

This project is quite remarkable! Can you tell us a bit about its background? 

In Fall 2016, we held our first meeting with citizenM‘s chief marketing officer, Robin Chadha, a huge art lover who is intent on integrating art into his projects. He had been following the entire 5 Pointz story from Amsterdam, where he is based. He approached us because he was interested in bringing back a bit of 5 Pointz to NYC. The result is MoSA,

What about the staircase installation, A Vertical Love Letter to the Bowery? What is the concept behind it?

citizenM tries to understand and embrace the communities they move into. And this particular Lower Manhattan neighborhood has an incredibly rich history, which we attempted to capture with images of significant faces, places, moments and words.

How did you decide which artists to include?

Every artist included had contributed to 5 Pointz. Once I came up with the story line and quotations, it was easy for me to select artists. I had learned from Meres how to look at aerosol art and understand its visual voice.

What were some of the challenges that came your way in the course of managing and curating this project?

A major challenge was giving up control and trusting the artists once they understood the concept and direction of the project. There were also several logistic issues. There was no air conditioning early on, and the lack of elevators became a joke. But it all evolved into a kind of musical chaos, as all of the workers and staff here have been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive.

As it is nearing completion, what are your thoughts regarding the final outcome of this project?

I am humbled by the amount of love, hard work and dedication every artist has put into this project. Their attention to detail has inspired me. I am hopeful that thousands will see it — 5000 square feet that anyone can enjoy and a priceless gift to Downtown Manhattan.

How can folks who are not hotel guests gain access to the exhibit?

As early as October 1, anyone can come into the lobby — between 10am and 5pm — with ID and walk through the exhibition. I will be giving a personal tour to the first 500 folks who register. Groups of 10 or more people can email me at marie@5ptz.com 

Congratulations! And what a great way for visitors and students to learn about the history of this historic neighborhood! I look forward to revisiting it soon.

Note: All of the artists who participated in this project are identified here, and brief interviews with them with videography by Rae Maxwell, along with original soundtrack by Say Word Entertainment artists Rabbi Darkside and The Grand Affair, can be viewed here. In addition to A Vertical Love Letter to the Bowery, a court installation is underway by Rubin 415, Esteban del ValleDon Rimx, Lady Pink and Meres One. And gracing the plaza outside the hotel’s entrance is a captivating mural by Meres One, blurring the line between graffiti and fine art.

citizenM New York Bowery is located at 189 Bowery off Delancey Street.

Images:

1. Meres One

2. Marie and Meres on roof top of citizenM New York Bowery

3. Nicholai Khan

4. See TF

5. Zimad

6. Vince Ballentine

7. Kenji Takabayashi  aka Python

8. Elle

9. Noir

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos by Lois Stavsky

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Celebrating the launch of the Ngozy Art collective, along with the Point’s 25 years of community service and outreach in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, 20 legendary Bronx writers painted live this past Saturday on the Point Campus for the Arts and Environment. Produced by the Ngozy Art collective and curated by Sade TCM, the event, A Cultural Happening in Da’ Bronx, was an ode to the borough that forged a culture that has since impacted the entire world. Beginning next week, the masterfully crafted works — brimming with infectious energy, dazzling colors and expressive creativity — can be viewed on the website of the Ngozy Art collective that will offer local artists a platform to share and sell their artwork.

The image featured above was painted by BIO Tats Cru.  Several more paintings that surfaced last Saturday follow:

John “Crash” Matos

Stash

Chris “Daze” Ellis

Totem TC5

Sienide

Pase BT

Nicer Tats Cru

Saturday’s event also featured a gallery-style exhibition designed by the Point artist-in-residence Eric Orr.  And the legendary hip hop DJ and producer Jazzy Jay, presented by Christie Z, added the musical element to the day.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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Conceived and curated by Nic 707, the ingenious InstaFame Phantom Art continues to bring old school writers, along with a diverse range of younger artists, from NYC and beyond onto New York City subway trains.  Pictured above is Nic 707; several more images I captured while riding the 1 train last week follow:

South Carolina native Thomas Crouch

The legendary KingBee — with background by Nic 707

Veteran graffiti writer Spar One

Yonkers-based Fabian “Skaer” Verdejo

Brooklyn-based mixed-media artist Bianca Romero

Japanese artist Minori

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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Hosted by James Top, Joey TDS and Poke IBM, the 38th Annual Graffiti Hall of Fame took place this past weekend in East Harlem. Pictured above is the work of Vase One and KingBee  (standing to the left of  Shiro on the ladder). Several more photos of images captured yesterday follow:

Shiro tags subway map

Skeme

Terrible T-Kid

Cope 2

Break Uno

Delta 2 at work

And you can find more images from the historical two-day event on the StreetArtNYC Instagram.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Continuing through this weekend at Red Bull Arts New York is RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder, the historic solo exhibition focusing on the extraordinary, idiosyncratic talents of the late multi-media artist, graff writer, hip-hop pioneer and Gothic Futurist theoretician RAMMΣLLZΣΣ. A diverse selection of the artist’s visual works, music and writings, along with rare archival documentation and ephemera, presents an intimate portrait of the visionary New York cult icon. The mixed-media image above features one of the artist’s wildly imaginative Garbage Gods.  Several more images from the remarkable  RAMMΣLLZΣΣ: Racing for Thunder follow:

Letter Races, Mixed media

Monster models, Mixed media

Letter M Explosion, Mixed media

Luxturnomere Hammer Bar Hammerclef Force Field One, Spray paint on cardboard

Jams, Spray paint and acrylic on canvas

The man, himself

The exhibit continues through Sunday at 220 West 18th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan. Red Bull Arts New York is open from 12-7pm.

Photo credits: 1, 4-7 Lois Stavsky; 2-3 Karin du Maire

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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Twenty years ago, Bay Area photojournalist, artist and graffiti/street aficionado Iqvinder Singh published his first  zine — and the first graffiti zine to emerge from Oakland.  Earlier this year, Iqvinder aptly dedicated an entire issue of his ongoing zine, Suitable 4 Framin’to Oakland, dividing it into eight distinct sections from East Oakland and the Oakland Museum of Art to the Oakland Terminal Art Gallery and Tags and Throws. What follows is a small sampling of images in a range of media that made their way into Suitable 4 Framin’, Issue #12:

Deadeyes 

RasTerms

Mark Bode on denim at the Oakland Terminal Gallery

Barry McGee at the Oakland Museum of California

Broke sticker 

This All Oakland Issue of Suitable 4 Framing’ is dedicated to the late Oakland graff legend Mike Francisco aka Dream. You can purchase it, along with a few selected back issues of other zines, here. And each zine comes with a varied assortment of stickers and random goodies!

All images courtesy of Iqvinder Singh

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 following guest post is by Houda Lazrak

Earlier this year on a frisky afternoon, I met up with Noémi Nádudvari at a lively café in the 7th district of Budapest. A Budapest native and street art lover, Noémi, with the help of several like-minded individuals now known as the Colorful City Group, founded the Színes Város Festival (Color City Festival), the premiere large-scale public wall painting project in the country. Inspired by Hungarian painter Victor Vasarely’s vision that colors should play a vital role in city planning to make the world a more livable place, Noémi and her team have added over 70 murals to the facades of the Budapest City Center. I asked her a few questions about this project before she took me on a walking tour of the neighborhood.

It is a pleasure to meet you, Noémi. If I understand correctly, you work here at Café Dobrumba?

I do! I am the manager of Café Dobrumba. My team and I collaborate to create a rotating menu inspired from our travels abroad. Sadly, these are my last few weeks working here. I will be focusing my time and energy on the Színes Város Festival. It is impossible to have a full time job and, also, curate an expanding street art festival!

Yes, the Color City Festival! Tell us about this great initiative and how it all started.

The start of the festival was in 2014 with myself, my collaborator, Peter, and a super small group of people who were on board with the idea of creating an arts and culture initiative with murals by street artists at its center. We are now in our fifth edition. It is a little hard to believe sometimes. If six years ago someone had told me that I would be the curator of a city-wide street art festival, I would have laughed in their face! Today we produce around 8-10 murals each year, trying to find new wall spaces every cycle.

It sounds like you’ve come a long way. Was this festival your first experience curating? 

It was my first time curating a large-scale event. I studied aesthetics, philosophy of art and Latin in college, and then I worked in contemporary art galleries, auction houses, and was involved in the organization of festivals promoting young designers in Budapest. In 2011, I organized Urban Tactics, a one-day live painting event. It was the first-ever legal live painting in a public space in Hungary. We set up a series of panels on the street and presented an exhibition of work by six graffiti artists. That was my first real curating experience. At the time, we were struggling with money and permissions and did not think that something bigger would be possible.

Can you elaborate on the particular model of the festival in regards to the rotating themes and sponsors?

Because street art is so new in Hungary, we decided to collaborate with the city council and government to launch the project, along with sponsors who are keen on increasing the appreciation of street art in Budapest. Each year, we invite a sponsor to select a theme for the festival. It forces us to work within a certain framework. I then create a brief and reach out to local and international artists who may be interested in producing work around the topic. The mural painting then happens.

Can you tell us a bit about the topics that have been the focus of the festival?

In 2014, the topic was Let’s Start to Talk; in 2015, Hungaricum — a phenomenon that is unique to Hungary and represents great value for Hungarians; in 2016, Water and City / River and the City, focused on the Danube River which separates the city into the Buda and Pest sides; and in 2017, the theme was The Gastronomy of Art – The Art of Gastronomy.

Where are the murals located?

Mostly around here, the 7th District, but we started to do some walls in the Buda side of the city as well. Ruben Sanchez finished a piece there this past winter. The challenge on the Buda side is that we have to create murals that are more classical — in the vein of a 19th century-style aesthetic — to fit the context of traditional Hungarian architecture.

How have neighborhood residents reacted to the festival?

Good, actually. At first, there was some suspicion. But now, a few years later, we get more favorable reactions. Older generations have actually embraced it the most. They come with their grandkids to watch the artists paint, and a few have told us “We’d love to have this everywhere.”

What — would you say — were, or are, your biggest challenges?

Putting the festival together is pretty challenging, but as a curator/organizer, I would say the most difficult part is obtaining painting permissions. The city of Budapest does not easily give them. It’s a long process. We have to ask five different entities for permission before we can even begin painting.

It’s also difficult to find available walls. We’ve come up with a couple of strategies. The first is that we offer to renovate the building façade. It improves the state of the building and benefits the residents. Residents are then a lot more willing to give permission for a mural. As you can imagine, though, it then becomes very expensive for us. The second strategy is finding walls in parking lots. Since the walls are not immediately on the street, the permissions are easier to get. But, this means the mural will be erased when the parking lots are transformed into real estate developments. It could happen after one year or a few years, but in the meantime, the murals are there. Sadly, construction has started in a parking lot where we have some of our favorite walls by two members of Berlin’s The Weird Crew, HRVB and Vidam, who is half Hungarian.

The other challenge is dealing with sponsors who wanted to control the art aspect of the festival. I always insist that we need artistic freedom as soon as we start working with a sponsor. Each year this gets easier as sponsors develop a better understanding of street art and the goal of Színes Város.

How has the festival evolved?

Better artists, better walls. And more artists from abroad. Foreign artists love Budapest! Which is great because we really need a new image of the city… We want to invite international artists to show more street art styles to Hungarian audiences, as well. We were very happy to have artists like Adno, Dan Ferrer, SPOK ÉS KORSE, BreakOne, Ruben Sanchez and others painting walls in Budapest.

What is your main goal with Színes Város ?

At first, the goal was to expose Hungarians to street art and get them to understand what it is; I wanted to educate the public about this art form. Now that this goal has somewhat been met and people are starting to appreciate art that is less mainstream, I am trying to push the limit and include more adventurous, interesting, challenging pieces every year.

I always say in the press conferences that one of the main goals of the festival is to show the great variety of styles that exist. People should be more open and even excited about styles that are new to then, because there isn’t one common taste. No one has to like all the murals. but everyone will have their favourites. For me that’s an important message. You don’t have to love all of them, but try to understand them; try to speak about them; explain why you like a mural or not. Diversity is so important. It is even more important nowadays when the world is moving in a direction that doesn’t encourage inclusiveness…Trump being a prime example of that.

Do you feature other types of installations besides murals?

Not at the moment. There was a boom in the early 2000 of small street art pieces. Artists were trying to do small works. But there were too many risks involved because, unfortunately, you could go to prison if you get caught just doing a paste up. Graffiti and street artists mostly tried to paint outside the city, finding hidden lonely places where they can work easily without anyone bothering them. So that is why we are missing small pieces in the city. In cities like Berlin and London, you feel like something more is going on aside from the murals – you get that feeling because of the paste ups, stickers, stencils etc. That is a project for the future, focusing on smaller works as well.

Any other future projects or plans?

For the festival’s fifth year, I want to publish a catalog with images of all the walls. Maybe an exhibition, as well. In the longer term, I want to start an artist exchange program to allow Hungarian artists to go abroad, gain recognition in the international scene and collaborate with other artists. Fat Heat paints everywhere in Europe and Russia, which is great, but I would like to see more Hungarian artists represented around the world.

Sounds exciting! We wish you the best for what’s next!

Images

1 Lisbon-based AkaCorleone

2 Budapest-based Márton Hegedűs

3 Spanish artist Dan Ferrer

4 Portuguese artist BreakOne

5  Russian artist Adno (right) and collaborative mural by Spain’s Spok Brillor  and French artist KORSE 

6 Vidam (left) and  HRVB

7 Hungarian artist Péter Szabó-Lencz aka Petyka

8 Budapest-based TransOne and Fat Heat

All photos and interview by Houda Lazrak

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This past Saturday, Green Villain and Writer’s Bench  hosted a buoyant block party at the site of the former 2015 landmark Demolition Exhibition. The hundreds of folks who attended the massive celebration were treated to live painting and music, along with food provided by local vendors. Pictured above is Newark-based Mr. Mustart. What follows are several more images captured Saturday by David Sharabani aka Lord K2.

The legendary Bronx native Skeme aka 3 Yard King at work

On the scene with Skeme aka 3 Yard King’s work in progress

Philly-based Mecro at work

Jersey City-based 4Saken painting with Molly posing

Blackbook signing

NYC-based classic writer Mone TFP

NYC-based graffiti pioneer Curve at work

Young artist takes a break

Photos by David Sharabani aka Lord K2.

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