hip-hop

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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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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Brilliantly countering any claims that feminism is dead and that the Hip-Hop culture “is detrimental to women and girls,” Jessica Nydia Pabón-Colón has written an impeccably researched study of the grrls who have paved their way into the predominantly male graffiti culture, claiming their own space.

Based on interviews conducted with over 100 graffiti grrls across the globe over the span of 15 years, the author, now an Assistant Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at SUNY New Paltz, provides us with a window into the minds, practices and experiences of a wide range of female writers crossing cultures and generations.

Among the many assumptions and false claims female writers often have to contend with are that they are writing graffiti to get noticed by guys or doing it to make their boyfriends happy. Or that they aren’t writing at all; it’s their boyfriends who are doing it for them. Rumors, too, regarding their sexual promiscuity are rife.

And yet, for various reasons, many are reluctant to identify as “feminists,” a term too often associated with man-haters. Pabón-Colón relates how when she first asked the famed bomber, Miss 17, if she was a feminist, her immediate response was a brusque, “No.” Five years later – in 2009 – Miss 17  had tempered her views, largely due to the friendships that she had developed with the likes of Claw Money and the author, herself.

Throughout Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hop Diaspora, the author convincingly advances both feminism and graffiti as positive and vital social and political forces. Australian artist Ivey, for example, recounts the pride she feels on seeing her tag up and credits the graffiti culture with helping her get through difficult times and motivating her to pursue her education after graduating from high school.

Whether of not graffiti grrls identify themselves as feminists or perceive themselves as political, Pabon-Colon compellingly affirms that their “performances of feminist masculinity” merge the fundamental social, cultural and aesthetic aspects of Hip-Hop culture with the feminist movement

Published by New York University Press, Graffiti Grrlz is the first academic study on women’s participation within the graffiti subculture. Appended with examples of black book pages, comprehensive notes and an extensive bibliography. Pabón-Colón’s work is a rich tribute to the grrls whose voices are too often silenced and a gift to all of us who love graffiti, perhaps the most significant art movement of our time.

You can order the book directly from the author with a special discount here. And follow news of her readings and signings here.

Note: The third image features NYC native Abby and the final one features London-based Chock painting in the Bronx.

Images courtesy of the author; book review by Lois Stavsky

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To the delight of us graffiti lovers, First Street Green Park has been showcasing artwork by a range of first rate, often legendary, graffiti writers and muralists. The image featured above was painted by Andre Trenier  and Zaone. What follows are several more murals that surfaced at last month’s Summer Classics Block Party hosted by DJNY Art:

Albertus Joseph and Jaylo YNN, tribute to the late Sean Price

Jeff Henriquez at work on tribute mural to the late Guru of Gang Starr

Wore IBM does Rakim

Graff masters T Kid and Doves at work

T Kid‘s completed piece

Completed Doves piece

And on Friday — September 8th — DJNY Art will be hosting “Welcome To The Lab,” a Pop Up event for Nike and Sneaker Lab at Van Der Plas Gallery, 156 Orchard Street on the LES.

Photos: 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 courtesy Kate Storch

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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Scratch Ecstasy, an exhibition of  work in a range of media by visual artist and legendary filmmaker Charlie Ahearn, continues through June 24 at P.P.O.W in Chelsea. A chronicler of the rise of hip-hop and street art culture, Ahearn has documented the movement since the 80’s through photography, film and slide shows.  The following is adapted from an interview conducted by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire with Charlie at the gallery:

Can you tell us something about the title of your current show, Scratch Ecstasy? To what does it refer? 

Yes! The word “scratch” actually has a double meaning. It refers to scratching on a surface, but it also refers to a technique pioneered by Grand Wizzard Theodore of a needle going back and forth on a record — which creates a very jazzy, electronic effect.

Ectasy-Garage-flyer

And what about the word “Ecstasy” in the title? What is its reference?

It’s a reference to a real place in a real time — the Ecstasy Garage, where I was listening to not only Grand Wizzard Theodore scratch his music, but also to Chief Rocker Busy Bee on the microphone or Grand Master Cass, along with many other artists who were performing there. I spent a lot of time at  the Ecstasy Garage doing a slide show and watching different hip-hop performances, largely to an audience of high school kids. It was a very out-of-the-way place.

charlie-ahearn-map

What was your mission back then? 

It is similar to the mission of this show — to create a record of what was going on so that people today can pinpoint certain people and places that should get recognition and be remembered.

What about your own paintings that are on exhibit here? Can you tell us something about the process?

It started with me doing the painting on canvas with the forms that would be in it. The colors I chose reflect the bright fluorescent colors that were prominent in inexpensive flyers that the kids would hand out to get others to show up.

charlie-ahearn-survival

And what about the slide show that is going on? 

It is the slide show that I gave at the Ecstasy Garage with Grand Wizzard Theodore as the DJ. As presented here with the music, it is a reflection of what was going on back there at the time. I gave it at the Ecstasy Garage as a kind of way of working on Wild Style — the slides in a particular order to tell a story, and it all ended up in the movie, one way or another.

lee-quinones-graffiti

Thank you for preserving and sharing so much history with us.

Note:  P.P.O.W will be screening Charlie’s 1979 kung fu film, The Deadly Art of Survival, tomorrow, Friday evening, at 7pm. The gallery is located at 535 West 22nd St, 3rd Floor, in Chelsea.

Images

1  Charlie Ahearn at P.P.O.W — as interviewed by Karin Du Maire — with Data Rock, silkscreen on canvas

2  Scratch Ecstasy, silkscreen on canvas

3  The World of Hip Hop, silkscreen on canvas

4  Nathan, silkscreen on canvas

5  Howard the Duck, Lee Quinones, LES mural

Photo credits: 1 & 2 Karin Du Maire; 3, 4 & 5 (still from slide show) Lois Stavsky; interview conducted by Karin Du Maire and edited by Lois Stavsky

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the-art-of-tats-cru

Opening tomorrow — June 3, from 2-6pm — is The Art of TATS CRU, an exhibit and block party celebrating 37 years of the legendary Bronx-based crew. While previewing the exhibit yesterday, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its curators, Eileen Walsh and Laura James.

Eileen-Walsh-and-Laura-James

This is such a handsome exhibit and such a wonderful tribute to TATS CRU. What spurred you to focus this exhibition on TATS CRU?

After curating BRONX NOW that showcased over two dozen artists in 2016, we decided that we wanted to focus on a smaller group of artists this year. And TATS CRU — Nicer, Bio and  BG183 — seemed the perfect choice. They represent the best of the Bronx and they “kick ass!”

Nicer-tats-cru-artwork

How would you define the mission of the exhibit?

Its intent is to tell the story of these three artists — through their own artworks and through photos and videos produced by Miguel Teck Arteaga. It is the story of three Bronx-based artists who transformed a youthful passion into a successful career on their own terms. And although they have traveled throughout the world with their art, they’ve chosen to remain here — in the Bronx.

bio-tats-cru-at- Bronx-Art-Space_edited-1

How did you decide which artworks to present?

The artists — for the most part — made the selections. They wanted to represent themselves with a range of distinct styles and techniques.

BG183-at-Bronx-Art-Space

In addition to meeting the artists and viewing their artwork, what can visitors expect to experience at tomorrow’s opening?

The Block Party will feature homegrown, Bronx entertainment. DJ Pusha will keep the party going, along with dance performances by BBoy and Emcee Chief69 and Hip-Hop legend Rokafella‘s Full Circle Souljahs dance troupe. There will be live music performances by up and coming Bronx MINDY artists Static Vision and by alternative music group The Nobodies. There will also be a presentation by spoken word artist and rapper Safiel VonayThe Bronx Children’s Museum will host creative activities for children and families and will have its Museum on the Go Bus parked on the street outside the gallery.

Bio-and-guests-at-Tats-Cru-previewjpg

How can folks see the exhibit, particularly if they can’t make it to the opening?

Located at 305 E 140 Street between in the South Bronx, BronxArtSpace is open Wednesday through Friday from 12-6:30pm and Saturday 12-5pm. The exhibit will also be open on Wednesday, June 7, from 6-8pm for Trolley Night. And on Thursday, June 22, at 6pm there will be an artist talk with Hector Nazario aka Nicer, Sotero Ortiz aka BG183 and Wilfredo Feliciano aka Bio, along with the premiere of The Jardin Orange Project, a short documentary that features some of the world’s most renowned streets artists, including TATS CRU, as they come together to paint massive murals in the city of Shen Zhen, China.

Note: Tomorrow’s event — free and open to the public — is sponsored by neighborhood businesses JCAL Development Group, ID Studio Theater, Zaro’s Bakery, La Grata Italian Restaurant, Filtered Coffee, and Bronx Native, along with the support of Port Morris Distillery and The Bronx Brewery.

Images

1  Invite featuring BG183, Nicer and Bio

2  Curators Eileen Walsh and Laura James

3  Nicer

4  Bio

5  BG 183

6 Bio with guests at preview

Photos 2-6 by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky — who will also be moderating the Artist Talk on June 22. Special thanks to Scratch for her assistance at the preview!

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rocko-and-zimer-street-art-nyc

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.

OGB-biggie-mural-bed-stuy

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.

ogb-and-artists

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.

quincy-and-bedford-bed-stuy

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.

Tyanna-Wallace-with-Biggie-mural

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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T-Kid-graffiti-nyc

Last Tuesday, First Street Green Park — on the corner of Houston Street and 2nd Avenue — was home to a buoyant celebration of International Hip-Hop Day. Hosted by PeepThis and organized by Anthony Bowman and Kate Storch, the event featured legendary graffiti artists, along with hip-hop and DJing pioneers. The mural pictured above was painted by T-Kid. Here are several more images we captured:

Jerms

Jerms-graffiti-first-green-park-nyc

Doves

doves-graffiti-nyc

Lady K Fever at work

lady-k-fever-graffiti-nyc

Andres Correa at work, to the left of Kool Kito

andres-correa-street-art-first-green-park-nyc

Marcelo Ment — in from Brazil

marcelo-ment-first-green-park-nyc

La Femme Cheri, Ree and Theresa Kim aka Resa Piece

Cheri-ree-and resa-piece-graffiti-art-nyc

The crew

Hip-Hop-International-Day-artists

Other featured New York graffiti and street art legends included: Will Power, Flint 707, Nic 707, Keo, Omni and Frank Wore Croce. The hip-hop music — featuring DJ Grand Wizard Theodore and DJJS1 — was broadcast live on Damatrix Studios.

Photo credits: 1-4 & 7  Lois Stavsky 5 & 6 Tara Murray & 8 Karin du Maire

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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raphael-gonzalez-and-Giz

While visiting Hip-Hop Utopia: Culture + Community at Hudson County Community College‘s Dineen Hull Gallery this past Friday, I had the opportunity to speak to Michelle Vitale aka woolpunk who — along with Fred Fleisher — curated the wonderfully eclectic exhibit.

What a fabulous tribute to hip-hop this is! What would you say is the exhibit’s mission?

Its mission is to celebrate the culture of hip-hop. Its four elements —  MCing, Graffiti, DJing and Breakdancing — have had a huge, positive impact on today’s society. This exhibit is our way of paying tribute to these elements and to the community that has nurtured them.

Dipset-graffiti

Did anyone or anything —  in particular — inspire it?

The notion of curating an exhibit on hip-hop was first suggested by Hudson County Community College Vice President Dr. Pando.  It seemed like a great concept, as I love the communal aspect of hip-hop. Among the many inspirations was music industry veteran Tony Drootin who serves on the board of  Hip Hop Public Health.

Yishai-Minkin-Biggie

Just what is Hip Hop Public Health? I see it is represented in this exhibit.

Based in NYC, Hip Hop Public Health uses music as a message to improve health literacy and encourage positive behaviors among school children.  Its founder and president, Dr. Olajide Williams, MDMS serves as Chief of Staff of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center.  Among the artists involved in Hip Hop Public Health are: Doug E. FreshEasy A.D Harris and Jordan Sparks.

Karlos-Carcamo-sculpture-mic

Can you tell us something about some of your other partners? There are some great T-shirts on display here!

Among our partners is Chilltown Collective, an apparel and lifestyle brand based here in Jersey City. It was co-founded in 2015 by Lovelisa Dizon as a platform for “passionate creatives.”

chilltown-collective

And there are quite a few bikes in the gallery!

Yes! We’ve partnered with both Grove Street Bicycles and Animal BikesGrove Street Bicycles is a nearby full-service shop that sells all kinds of bikes, accessories, clothing and shoes and handles all kinds of bicycle repairs. And Animal Bikes, owned by Ralph Sinisi, supplies bike parts for BMX street riding and also sells gear.

Fred-Samboy-and-more-art

What are some of the challenges you faced in curating an exhibit as multi-faceted as this one?

Once we knew what direction we wanted to go with the theme of Hip-Hop, everything came together easily. Our Karma has been great! We are showcasing works of noted established artists together with talented younger ones, several who are Hudson County Community College alumni. We have local DJ’s participating, as well as spoken-word artists.  We’ve planned a range of events open to the community.

Cultural-Affairs-Hip-Hop-Flyer-Spring-2017

How has the response to the exhibit been?

We’ve been open just a few days, and the response has already been great.  We’ve been featured in the Jersey Journal and listed as one of the top 10 current attractions in Jersey City.

Freddy-Samboy-Hip-Hop-Utopia

How can folks see the exhibit?

Our opening reception takes place Tuesday evening, January 31, from 6-8pm. The exhibit continues through Tuesday, February 21 at 71 Sip Avenue 6th Floor. Gallery hours are: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free and those who attend have a chance to win a graffiti-tagged, fat-tire bicycle donated by Grove Street Bicycles.

Michelle-Vitale

Congratulations! It’s looking great!

Images

1.  Raphael Gonzalez, The Art of the Throw Up! Giz

2.  Alex Melo, Diplomatic Immunity

3.  Yishai Minkin, Biggie

4.  Karlos Carcamo, One, Two Three… 

5.  Mr Mustart with Chilltown Collective, I free myself…

6. Freddy Samboy, two works suspended from ceiling; Grove Street BicyclesDonated Fat Tire Bikes and Videos courtesy  Grove Street BicyclesAnimal & Hip Hop Public Health

7.  Raphael Gonzalez, Danielle

8. Freddy Samboy, Breaking Free

9. Jeremy Coleman Smith, DJ Shrine with Michelle Vitale aka wool punk seated

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

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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joe-iurato

This past summer, Red Bull reached out to Joe Iurato — one of our favorite artists — to create his signature wooden cutouts to help support and promote the upcoming Washington DC tour dates of Red Bull Flying Bach, a new dance tour that fuses classical music, break dancing and modern dance, set to Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier.”

An interview with the artist follows:

Can you tell us something about the process of creating your distinct cutouts? 

It begins with a photograph of a central subject and a story in mind. Once I have the image I want to work with, I create my layer separations for the stencils.  I don’t use a computer program or a filter to create my layers. I just print the photo out multiple times in black and white at the exact size I want the wood cutout to be. Then, I cut my stencil layers by working directly from the unaltered photos, more or less drawing the tones loosely with a knife.  Once my stencils are cut, I make an impression of the first layer, a silhouette, on a piece of wood.

And how does the piece get cut? At what point is it ready for placement?

The piece gets cut on a scroll saw, which is good for making cuts up to 24”, as it has a thin blade and allows me to maneuver intricate cuts. The cut then gets sanded and primed. Then, I lay in my stencils – spraying them one layer at a time. When the piece is completed, I’ll varnish and seal it. Lastly, I’ll add any hardware to make it stand, float, whatever– all depending on the intended interaction. At that point, the piece is ready for placement.

Joe Iurato

How do you decide where it will be placed?

Sometimes I know where the completed work will be placed; other times, it’s a matter of hunting for the right location. I always install them by myself, mounting them securely. The challenge is finding a location where they will last for awhile! For this project, Red Bull is securing several locations, based on where they will work best, for 10-12 of my 16″ pieces. Three similar large scale wood cut pieces — roughly 6 feet tall — will be on display from January 6-8th at the Warner Theater for the DC performances of Red Bull Flying Bach.

How long does it generally take to create a 16 inch piece? 

It depends on the level of detail in the particular  piece and where I am in the process. If I’m going from initial concept through to final, then it usually takes me about three to four days to create the first one. But once the stencils are cut and it’s a matter of ripping wood cutouts and spraying them out, I can make duplicates within a day.

Joe Iurato

How does creating this work for Red Bull differ from the way you generally work?

I generally work from my own imagery, but in this case, Red Bull has provided me with photographs of the Red Bull Flying Bach dancers to work with and is involved in securing locations. As I don’t know specific locations, I’ve chosen a variety of movements that could work in a range of location.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience of working with Red Bull? 

It’s been very exciting. I, myself, was once a breakdancer! And Red Bull has given me complete creative freedom — something very important to my artistic process.

joe-iurato-dancer

Special thanks to Karin du Maire who met up with Joe Iurato at Red Bull Studios in Chelsea last week.

Photo credits: 1 & 4 Karin du Maire; 2 & 3 Drew Gurian, courtesy Red Bull

Note: Red Bull Flying Bach dancers will be performing in DC at the Warner Theater, January 6-8. Check out dates of all upcoming shows here

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