Jersey City

A veteran French graffiti writer, designer and illustrator, Jaek el Diablo shared his talents with us in Jersey City earlier this year, painting several walls in coordination with Green Villain, along with independent commissions.  At the time, street and travel photographer Karin du Maire had the opportunity to interview him:

When did you begin doing graffiti?

It’s been about 25 years now since I first started doing graffiti. I began in the early 90’s.

What inspired you at the time?

I was into the skateboard culture back then, and I met many other skaters who were tagging the streets. They exposed me to graffiti, street art, comics and pop culture, in general.

What, would you say, has had the largest impact upon your particular style — both as a graffiti artist and a designer?

Comics! I was always drawing, and the comics I was reading inspired my characters. I think that was the beginning of my story!

How would you define your style? What differentiates it from others?

If I had to define my style, I would describe it as cartoon. I was influenced early on by the Kermits, Disney, Hanna–Barbera… In my work, I try not to reproduce the same thing that I see. I put my own stamp on it! It’s kind of like sampling in hip-hop – a remix of sorts! I see my work as a tribute to some of my favorite characters. It’s always a tribute.

Can you tell us a bit about the difference between French graffiti and the graffiti you’ve seen here while painting in NYC or Jersey City?

I think that back in Europe, we’ve had other influences — such as Mode 2 and the cartoon styles that inspired him. And we have the German graffiti writers whose letters are always evolving. Here in NYC, the writers are very academic; they are Old School academic. Not all  — there is Rime MSK and a few guys who are next level. But most NY writers maintain the classic graffiti style. To me, the two books, Spraycan Art and Subway Art, are the Bible, the base. I love being here and discovering the origin of my religion!

What about the future of graffiti? Where do you see it going?

I see more and more big murals, especially tribute murals, and more illustrators doing street art. I see lots and lots of styles, but there will always be a return to the roots of it all – which is graffiti. I see it  going in a variety of directions. But, I think, in the future there is no museum. It is only in the streets!

Many walls in NYC are now curated. How do you feel about this trend?

On a positive note, the walls are better and better, because the artists are carefully selected. But it’s also a negative thing. Graffiti was meant to be open to all. If you had a can, the wall was free! But, yes, these curated walls help break down the negative stereotypes of graffiti. And that is good for my art! So maybe that is the future!

Photos by Karin du Maire; interview conducted by Karin du Maire  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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Deeply passionate about street art and graffiti, Green Villain has curated dozens of walls in a range of styles in Jersey City and beyond, including many in NYC.  On September 29th, the public is invited to celebrate the launch of Green Villain‘s second volume in an ongoing book series documenting various projects. Vol. II: Mural Program is a 124 page time capsule of the past four years of productions. The mural pictured above was painted in Jersey City by Victor Ving of Greetings Tour in 2015. What follows are several more images of street art and graffiti  — featured in the new book — that have surfaced in Jersey City. Specific locations of the artworks are provided in Vol. II: Mural Program.

Zimer, Jersey City, 2016

Rime, Jersey City, 2015

Dmote aka Shank, Jersey City, 2015

Clarence Rich, Jersey City, 2017

Rotterdam-based Eelco, Jersey City, 2014

Austrian artist Nychos, Jersey City, 2016

All are invited to join the Limited Edition Photo Book Launch —

Date: September 29th
Time: 6PM – 10PM
Address: 218 Central Ave, Floor 2, Jersey City
Music: Soul/Funk Vinyl Selections by Open Crates 
Catered Food and Beverages by River Horse

The following photographers contributed to Vol. II: Mural Program:  Charles A Boyce,  Vincent Marchetto, Marek Pagoda, Gregory D. Edgel, Billy Schon, Andrea Riot, Jayne Freeman and William Benzon.

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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A strikingly beautiful mural has surfaced across the street from the Jersey City Municipal Court. Spearheaded by the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, it is the work of the incomparable duo, Werc and Gera Luz. Contemplating the theme of justice, it features Maat, the Egyptian Goddess of Justice. Pictured above are the two artists at work. What follows are additional photos — all captured on site by street and travel photographer Karin du Maire.

Gera Luz, posing beneath Maat — the Egyptian Goddess of Justice — whom she remarkably resembles!

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An admirer with a gift for Gera Luz

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Close-up featuring the weighing of the heart with a feather — that determined the fate of the departed soul

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Werc and Gera Luz pose in front of their completed mural

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Special thanks to Karin du Maire for capturing and sharing these images.

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While visiting Ryan Bock‘s solo exhibit at Apostrophe NYC‘s Mana Contemporary studio space last month, I had the opportunity to speak to Ki Smith who — together with his brother Sei —  founded Apostrophe NYC  back in 2012. For the past several months Base 12, Apostrophe NYC‘s 12 emerging artists, have been working in a 8000-square-foot space through a one-year residency program at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City.

This is such an ideal space. How did this residency come your way?

Mana actually reached out to us after seeing the wide press coverage we received in response to our guerrilla-style pop-up exhibits.

Your pop-up shows were certainly unconventional! It’s not surprising that they — particularly your intervention at the Whitney Museum — generated so much media attention. It was your pop-up exhibits at the Kosciuszko Street stop on the J Line, in fact, that initially attracted my attention. When I first met you, you were based in Bushwick. 

Yes. But as a result of the opportunity that Mana offered us, several of us have since moved to Jersey City.  And we love it here! Mana is a very unique place and is located in a great area that’s just a short walk from Little India and all its great restaurants.

 

With your distinct styles and sensibilities, you guys all seem to work so well together. 

Since starting the Base 12 project we have all gotten to know each other quite well and I feel like every one has gained a lot of respect for each other’s work and practices. And with 12 of us working together to navigate the contemporary art world, we are able to accomplish so much more than if we were working individually — 12 times as much!

Here at Mana each Base 12 artist has been publishing a book to accompany his or her exhibit. That’s quite impressive.

I feel like making books and records of exhibitions is really important and something that very few smaller galleries do for artists, so we decided that we had a good opportunity to create a new company Apostrophe NYC Books. And in classic Apostrophe style we do everything in house, from printing to binding to working with the artists to designing and hand silkscreening the covers.  Making books is another great way to share art, and because of the especially quick turnaround on the shows we are currently doing, it’s also a great way to memorialize shows that people might miss the opportunity to visit.

What’s ahead?

The following solo exhibits are scheduled: Charlie Hudson on July 8th; Kolter Hodgson on July 22nd; Alana Dee Haynes on August 5th; Morell Cutler on August 19th; Julia Powers on September 2nd; Caslon Bevington on September 16th and James Reyes on September 30th. And next Saturday night, July 15th, is the opening of Base 12: Little Big Show, a group exhibit that critiques assumptions of virtual versus “real” representation with two allied narratives in sequential galleries: the first in an exhibition of miniature digital reproductions, the second in a series of original artworks.

That sounds very exciting! I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for you all!

Note: Tonight is the opening of  Charlie Hudson‘s solo exhibit.

Images

1 Ryan Bock artwork — with Apostrophe NYC co-founder Ki Smith

2  Julia Powers

3  Kolter Hodgson

4  James Reyes

5  Charlie Hudson

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky

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Distort-enraged

On view in Jersey City through June 16 is DISRUPTION, an exhibit of politically and socially charged artworks by a diverse group of NJ-based artists. While visiting the exhibit at Jersey City Theater Center‘s Merseles Studios last week, I spoke to its curator, Allison Remy Hall .

Can you tell us something about the title of the exhibit — DISRUPTION?

Yes! It is part of a larger series of events and performances presented by Jersey City Theater Center that focus on the theme of rapid change — from the environment and climate to industries and social systems — that has resulted in a sense of “disruption.”  Lucy Rovetto, Jersey City Theater Center‘s Visual Arts Coordinator, invited me to curate this exhibit.

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What has the theme of DISRUPTION come to mean to you — in the course of curating the exhibit?

I originally thought of it as a disruption of norms and expectations — as most prominently evidenced by the results of the November election. But I’ve since been thinking more about the moral and spiritual disruptions that characterize our present times as a result of these changes. We have come to value things solely by their material worth.

How did you get the word out to the artists whose works are on exhibit here? While I’m familiar with Distort, Mr Mustart and Sam Pullin from their work on the streets, others here are new to me.

I reached out directly to some artists whose work I know and like, and Jersey City Theater Center launched an open call.


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Did curating this exhibit exact any changes within you — how you, personally, think about these issues?

I feel now that what we are facing is bigger than just a political challenge. It’s not simply about left and right; it’s about right and wrong.

How have people responded to the exhibit?

They’ve responded really well.  It has brought people together and has started a conversation.

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How do you — as an artist and curator with a strong social consciousness — feel about the role of art in these challenging times?

Art allows us to reclaim the narrative.  It is a means for us to transmit a message: We are humans and this is how we are being affected. Art has an essential role in these times.

How can folks see the exhibit before it closes on June 16th?

They can email me at info@nosucharts.com. And ongoing events are posted here.

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Note:  Merseles Studios, a venue of Jersey City Theater Center, is located at 339-345 Newark Avenue, 2nd floor.

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A collaborative hub for artists, the Mana BSMT occupies the entire lower level of Mana Contemporary‘s Jersey City headquarters. After completing their residency there, Apostrophe NYC’s Base 12 artists presented their artworks in a series of installations and performances this past Saturday evening. The image pictured above was fashioned by Ryan Bock, whose talents have also made their way onto walls on the Lower East Side and Bushwhick. Here are several more images we captured:

Also by Ryan BockSacrificial Shanking

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Kolter Hodgson, Cryami, close-up

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James Reyes

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James Rubio with his new Power of Prayer paintings

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The Real Love Child, close-up

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Sei Smith, Yellow and Blue — as observed by Houda Lazrak — with artist as masseur

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Alana Dee Haynes, Photo Booth — with fashions designed by the artist

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Photo credits: 1-7 Lois Stavsky and 8 Houda Lazrak

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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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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kobra-close-up-bowie-mural-art-jersey-city

Recently in the news for setting the Guiness Book of World Records for the “latest spray paint mural by a team” with his Rio Olympic-inspired Ethnicities, self-taught Brzailian artist Eduardo Kobra has brought his extraordinary talents to Jersey City. Kobra’s rendition of pop icon David Bowie is the most recent addition to Jersey City’s more than 86 other public art works as part of the city’s Mural Arts Program launched in 2013 by Mayor Steven Fulop. This past Friday, a dedication ceremony was held at Jersey City’s Cast Iron Lofts where I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to the artist.

When did you first paint in an outdoor venue?

Ten years ago.

What inspired you to do so?

Everything I had seen and read about what was happening in New York City.

Can you tell us something about the first huge mural that you painted?

It was in Lyon, France. It was a tribute piece to immigrants in a building that was about to be dismantled.

kobra-david-bowie-street-art-jersey-city

Approximately how many huge murals have you painted since?

Over 30 in more than 20 countries.

The figures you’ve painted range from pop icons like John Lennon and Bob Dylan to historical figures inlcuding Ghandi and Nelson Mandela. What inspired you to paint David Bowie here in Jersey City?

Bowie’s creativity and vision had always inspired me. I’d actually painted this portrait six years ago on a canvas, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to paint it here in Jersey City on such a tall building. It is my way of keeping his memory alive among people who embrace him.

What was the greatest challenge that you’ve faced these past two weeks since you began painting here?

The height of the building is intimidating! And the mural, itself, is 180 feet tall.

kobra-david-bowie-mural-art-jersey-city

How have folks responded to the mural?

They love it. The response has been overwhelming.

Congratulations! It is wonderful!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos by Sara Ching Mozeson

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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greetings-tour-street-art-jersey-city

While exploring the streets in the vicinity of the PATH train’s Newport Station, I came upon a series of intriguing murals curated by Green Villain. Featured above is by Greetings Tour with Victor Ving. Here are several more.

Mr. Mustart

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Veer One and Tiper

veer-one-and-tiper-juan-street-art-jersey-city

Nychos, close-up

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Key Detail

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Clarence Rich

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Jaek El Diablo

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Photo credits: 1, 2, 4-7 Lois Stavsky; 3 Tara Murray

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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Currently on view at Jersey City’s Shuaspace is Street Level, an exhibit featuring works by a range of artists from Old School graffiti writers to contemporary muralists. While visiting the space this past Sunday, I had the opportunity to speak with its curator, Allison Remy Hall.

What a fun exhibit! It’s such a wonderful mix of styles and genres. How did it all come about? 

When the owners of Shuaspace, Joshua Bisset and Laura Quattrocch, met me at the previous show that I had curated, they invited me to curate in this space. I’d always wanted to curate a graffiti exhibit, and this seemed like the perfect venue and opportunity. I then contacted artists whom I knew, who put me in contact with other artists.

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Why graffiti? What draws you to graffiti?

I’ve always loved its aesthetic. I love its rawness and spontaneity.

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When and where were you first introduced to it?

My older siblings first introduced me to graffiti. I was about eight years old and living in New Haven at the time. Even as a child, I felt there was something bold and bad about it that appealed to me.

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What — would you say — is the mission of  Street Level?

It’s a celebration of the organic nature of neighborhoods. With gentrification so much of the aesthetics and social dynamics of neighborhoods have been lost.

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What was the experience of curating your first graffiti exhibit like?

It was wonderful! Everyone was so supportive and helpful and generous with their time. It was the most fun of any show I’ve curated!

Note: You can visit  Street Level, at Shuaspace this coming weekend from 1-6pm at 340 Summit Ave, a few blocks from Journal Square in Jersey City. You can also arrange a visit by contacting Alison at aremyh@gmail.com.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

1.  Ree and Snow, painted on gallery wall interspersed with black and white photographs

2. Curator Allison Remy Hall at gallery space

3. Distort and Acropainted on gallery wall interspersed with black and white photographs

4. Mr. Mustart

5. Sam Pullin aka Bedbugspainted on gallery wall interspersed with black and white photographs

Photographers on exhibit: Andrew Blumenthal, Miguel Peralta and Giovani Santoro

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